Over the last few weeks, we in the UK have experienced extremes in weather. From the hottest July day ever recorded just a couple of weeks ago, to the rain and storms of this weekend. Surely this is sufficient evidence to prove the doubters wrong in their assertion that climate change does not exist – whether they be sceptics for scientific, political or commercial reasons. But for the vast majority of people, there can be no doubt that climate change is having a devastating effect on the planet.
And now the United Nations has added fuel to the fire by their recommendation that a shift to a plant-based diet could help alleviate climate change – something ethical vegans have known for some time.
The report states that efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts of global warming will be ineffective unless there drastic changes in global land use, agriculture and human diets. The official report, commissioned by the UN, on climate and land by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) describes plant-based diets as a major opportunity for mitigating and adapting to climate change – and includes a policy recommendation to reduce meat consumption.
Figures show that up to 37% of the world’s total greenhouse emissions is caused by the production, transportation and refrigeration of food. Livestock alone contributes 14.5% of man-made greenhouse emissions, with cattle being the worst offenders, contributing around 65% of that 14.5% – around 4,523,000 tonnes of CO2.
Wastage is an important factor, with nearly one third of all crops and livestock produced in the world going uneaten and left to perish on farms, shops or, most importantly, in households. Dramatically reducing this waste would have an extremely positive effect on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the report finds. And as well as contributing to climate change, agriculture is suffering because of it, with extremes of weather threatening food production and forcing prices up.
Senior report author Debra Roberts, a climate change planner for Durban City in South Africa, recognises that a change in diet would massively assist in the fight to control climate change. “Balanced diets, featuring plant-based foods such as coarse grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, present major opportunities for limiting climate change,” she asserts.
And another report author, Professor Pete Smith of the University of Aberdeen, is keen to promote a plant-based diet. So it is now official – moving to a plant-based diet may just help save the planet. Let’s hope many more people are encouraged to carry the torch for veganism.
And don’t forget to check our recipes section – all our delicious dishes are 100% vegan.