With the return of Veganuary, more people are turning to veganism as a lifestyle, diet — even a political choice. Celebrities such as US rock star, Meatloaf are getting involved as he announced he would also refrain from eating animal products for the first month of the decade. The success of the month-long pledge to eat meat-free has urged retailers and restaurants to introduce vegan products in time for the 2020 challenge.
This trend is making a profit but is it making sense? We explore the reasons behind veganism, especially its environmental benefits, that people can’t afford to overlook.
Improve Health and Wellbeing — The plant-based diet is sometimes dubbed as a “rabbit’s diet” due to its leafy green exterior. Despite the critics, veganism is undeniably healthy, providing a viable alternative to dangerous diets riddled with red meat and high-fat dairy products. Vegan diets are known for being associated with lower body weight, lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol, as well as focusing on micronutrients, such as essential vitamins and minerals. Vegans that stray away from processed foods (and ignore how tempting the new murder-free Greggs steak bake sounds) will enjoy a rainbow diet full of colourful, nutritious foods.
Stand against Factory Farming — Although hard-core vegans are against the consumption of meat altogether, some new recruits are turning to veganism to raise awareness around factory farming, in particular. A few months ago, UK breakfast show, This Morning welcomed a debate around meat-free products where social influencer Lucy Watson lashed out at her opposition, claiming 70% of farms in the UK are classed as factory farms. Whether or not this stat is true is questionable. However, campaigners such as Lucy are raising awareness about conditions where animals are housed without outside access and exposure to sunlight.
Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions — Veganism has recently been connected to the environment. Some journalists have gone so far as to say veganism is the “single biggest way” to reduce environmental impact. So now, the vegan community is a much more diverse crowd with some people who aim to save the planet by going plant-based. Cattle production is disastrous for the environment, producing more greenhouse gases than driving cars (according to the UN). The sheer amount of resources used to rear cattle is a result of high demand that culminates in mass meat production.
Save Water and Simplify Processes — Meat production is also to blame for excess water and land use. For example, 70% of the world’s agricultural land is either directly or indirectly linked to meat production. This pairs with the high volume of water used in the rearing of cattle to which that used in plant production is a drop in the ocean. Vegans argue a shift in perception and eating habits could free up space for other types of farming such as vegetable production if enough people stray away from eating meat regularly. Plus, it could reduce packaging waste as the non-recyclable plastic needed for preserving meat could be swapped for sustainable packaging alternatives to house less temperamental items.
Boost the Local Economy — Responsible veganism could help to boost the local economy, as long as processed vegan offerings don’t entice plant-based people. Think McDonald’s Veggie Dippers, Subway’s Vegan Meatball Marinara and Pizza Hut’s fake pepperoni pizza — all launched at the start of 2020. Environmental vegans are often devoted to shopping at waste-free stores that boast minimal supply chains and zero packaging. Most serious vegans agree this is part and parcel of being vegan and having a kinder outlook to life. However, a new type of vegan — termed the junk food vegan — is living without meat but with arguably more environmental guilt. These vegan diets are full of science-made foods that are supposed to replicate traditional meat meals.
As you can see, veganism isn’t a one-size-fits-all concept. Like any tight-knit community, some vegans have strict values and some a looser grip on its meaning. Which approach to veganism do you think is right? And will you be joining the troops of people trying to steer away from meat this January?
Adam Middleton became the Business Development Manager for Takeaway Packaging after a varied career in PR, shipping and marketing within the packing industry. With a Bachelor’s degree in Human Geography and a Masters in International Marketing, Adam has a keen interest in the environmental impact of consumerism.