How ve­gans can save the world

DIET for one or diet for all? Turn­ing ve­gan, eat­ing less meat and cut­ting out the booze and pas­tries could all have a pos­i­tive im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment. LISA THOMAS ex­plores.

North Coast Times - - FRONT PAGE -

IT may sound crazy to some, but many sci­en­tists and re­searchers claim a plant-based diet could be the way to save the planet from global warm­ing.

Agri­cul­ture is the third largest con­trib­u­tor to global emis­sions, with meth­ane and ni­trous ox­ide pro­duced by the farm­ing of live­stock con­sid­ered more harm­ful to our en­vi­ron­ment than car­bon diox­ide.

Re­cent stud­ies from Ox­ford Univer­sity es­ti­mated that if the world were to sud­denly adopt a ve­gan, plant-based diet – on a global scale – we would pro­duce 49 per cent less food-based green­house gas emis­sions, re­duce acid­i­fi­ca­tion to land by up to 50 per cent, re­duce eu­troph­i­ca­tion to rivers by 49 per cent and save 19 per cent more water.

Mur­doch Univer­sity global health re­searcher Ana Rita Se­queira said the live­stock in­dus­try also caused land degra­da­tion, water con­tam­i­na­tion and de­ple­tion, and loss of bio­di­ver­sity through de­for­esta­tion and cre­ated waste.

“We know the main causes of global warm­ing are the burn­ing of fos­sil fu­els for en­ergy, the burn­ing of fos­sil fu­els for trans­porta­tion, meth­ane emis­sions from live­stock and the use of chem­i­cal fer­tilis­ers,” she said.

“If we want to ad­dress global warm­ing as con­sumers then we have to find al­ter­na­tives, which some peo­ple have done through so­lar or re­new­able en­ergy in their homes, sus­tain­able forms of trans­port and chang­ing their diet.”

Dr Se­queira said while a 100 per cent plant-based diet would re­duce emis­sions, peo­ple could also re­duce their foot­print on the en­vi­ron­ment sim­ply by re­duc­ing the amount of meat and dairy they con­sumed on a daily ba­sis.

“If cit­i­zens are will­ing to change their own diet and do some­thing then that’s great, but we need busi­nesses to fol­low,” she said.

CSIRO prin­ci­pal re­search sci­en­tist Dr Brad Rid­outt doubted a ve­gan world was at­tain­able but said peo­ple could im­prove their health and re­lieve the en­vi­ron­ment by re­duc­ing the amount and types of foods they ate.

He said cut­ting out or lim­it­ing dis­cre­tionary foods such as al­co­hol, cake and pas­try could help.

“Peo­ple are con­sum­ing far too much food and food en­ergy – there is a cor­re­la­tion be­tween how much you eat and emis­sions, as well as food waste,” he said.

He said tra­di­tional di­ets were be­ing re­placed by western di­ets, with over­con­sump­tion of live­stock prod­ucts af­fect­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity.

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