Happy new year! Many people find that the new year allows for a fresh start. “New year new me” and all that. It will come as no surprise that being healthier is one of the most popular new years resolutions. So in light of that our January sustainability hub article will cover Veganuary.
What’s the difference between vegetarian and vegan, I hear you ask. A vegetarian diet contains no meat or fish but some other animal products like eggs and cheese. A vegan diet contains no animal products (meat, fish, eggs, dairy etc), some vegans choose not to eat products produced by bees too. Both diets avoid animal by-products, such as gelatin.
Veganuary is a month long challenge to follow a vegan diet in January. The first Veganuary challenge happened in 2014 with around 3,000 people taking part. Since then it has grown in popularity. In 2022 more than 629,000 people participated in almost every country across the globe.
There are many reasons for someone to eat vegan, including moral, religious, health and environmental reasons.
A BBC Future study found that a vegan diet can save around 364kg of CO2e in a year compared to a vegetarian diet (9.9kg CO2e and 16.9kg CO2e emissions per week respectively). This increases to 2,028kg of CO2e emissions reductions per year if a meat eater changed to a vegan diet. According to the UNs 2022 world food and agriculture statistical yearbook, agriculture accounts for 21% of global greenhouse gases and of that 21%, livestock accounts for 40% greenhouse gases. Livestock also takes up 83% of global farmland but only accounts for 18% of calorie intake. A study done at the university of California found that producing plant-based products instead of animal products, there would be enough space to re-wild destroyed habitats as well as having enough space for food production to feed the global population.
A vegan diet is not flawless. Some alternative milks have more of an environmental impact than others. Soya is often used to make meat-free products like tofu, meat free burgers, and vegan sausages. However, soya is the second largest agricultural driver of deforestation, with beef taking the number 1 spot.
Good luck to everyone embracing these approaches and to those considering a change of diet as the New year progresses. However will be honest and say I am not considering a major change at this point. I have reduced my meat consumption in recent years but still like some and enjoy a fair amount of fish, like pasta too. I have tried and liked a few plant products though.
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