Plant-Based Diets: 3 Reasons They’re More Sustainable than Carnivorous Ones

You do not have to be vegan to follow a plant-based diet. Plant-based diets are those which consist primarily of wholegrains, fruits, and vegetables, and limit the amount of refined, processed and animal-derived foods. Since the issue of climate change is now more pressing than ever, changing to more sustainable, plant-based diets can make a huge difference on both the environment and your health. Read on to discover more in Plant-Based Diets: 3 Reasons They’re More Sustainable than Carnivorous Ones!

1. Reduced Environmental Impact

Globally, the food systems are responsible for 20-35% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Within this, agriculture accounts for 12%, and livestock is higher at 18%.

If we focus on livestock emissions and we discover that over 60% of the total livestock emissions comes from beef and dairy animals. Additionally, the carbon footprint of meat, from farm production to food consumption, is significantly higher than the carbon footprint of vegetables.

So, if increased efforts were made to follow a plant-based or vegetarian diet, and reduce meat consumption, greenhouse gas emissions would decrease, as would that of water consumption, pesticide and fertiliser use.

2. Plant-Based Diets Promote Biodiversity

Rearing livestock for meat requires large amounts of land, both in producing animal feed and in creating the actual space for livestock. This, alongside the increasing demand for food, is leading to an agricultural expansion and the production of fewer and fewer crops.

In contrast, vegetarian and vegan diets decrease these environmental pressures. Vegetable cultivation requires much less land space, and so if meat production decreased, space would be created on the land to grow more trees and more varied crops, which would ultimately prevent the rise of monocultures (growing a single crop) and promote biodiversity.

3. Better Health

Studies have shown that diets high in meat can increase the risk of mortality and cardiovascular diseases. In contrast, plant-based diets are much more sustainable for our health, and one well-studied example of a plant-based diet leading to enhanced longevity and well-being is the Mediterranean diet.

Adherence to this diet has been shown to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease, and also lower the risk of mortality. Furthermore, the European Prospective Investigation (EPIC) found that BMI (body mass index) was higher in meat-eaters and lowest in vegans.

Therefore, through an uptake in our consumption of fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, and plant-based protein sources, we can expect to enjoy better health through a corresponding reduction in our risk of cardiovascular diseases and obesity.

This list gives a brief overview, showing just three ways in which a plant-based diet is more sustainable than a carnivorous diet, and how you can decide to act if it sounds appealing to you. Just a few simple dietary changes can not only have momentously positive effects on your health, but also helps to contribute to the health ecosystem of the environment. Let’s face it, when you do your part to do something good like helping create a sustainable planet for the present and future generations, it feels great to be part of something bigger than yourself, and earn some karma credits, (or cookies!) in the process, doesn’t it?

Let us know what you think about the subject of sustainable diets in the comments below, or on FacebookTwitter Instagram!

Charlotte Ripley

Charlotte is a nutrition student at Newcastle University, aiming to pursue a career as a Nutritionist or Dietitian. She's been sporty from a young age and loves to run and go to the gym. A passion for healthy eating has organically followed this and now she's on her own vegan journey. Her other interests include reading and learning languages!

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