Five Reasons to Go Plant Based (and 5 ways to get there)

Have you considered going plant based but not quite made up your mind? Here are five good reasons to start eating less meat, dairy and eggs today and five quick ideas to ease your way into it.

FOOD & DRINK FAVOURITES

Liz de Vries

4/1/2022 3 min read

Key points:

Going plant based is the way of the future: it decreases our carbon footprint and reduces animal suffering. It’s also healthy and - with an ever growing offering of plant based foods in stores and restaurants - it’s easier than ever.

Simply eating meat-free one day a week, or one meal a day, or swapping dairy for plant based milk gives you a good headstart.

Going plant based is one of the more effective changes we as individuals can make to reduce our carbon footprint and minimise animal suffering on our behalf.

Perhaps you’re not entirely convinced that you can actually give up meat, eggs and dairy? Or maybe you think it will be impossible to go plant based around your meat loving friends and family? Are you worried about your protein intake?

Here are five good reasons to become (more) plant based, and five quick ways to get there. Remember: this is about making changes, not about being perfect.

1. It’s one of the most effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

Eating less meat, dairy and eggs decreases your carbon footprint. Why? Because agriculture accounts for around 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Our World in Data, humans are currently using half of the world’s habitable land for agriculture. A whopping 75% of global agricultural land is used for grazing and for growing crops to feed the animals that we humans will eventually eat.

Despite those large numbers, livestock produces less than 20% of the world’s calories and less than 40% of total protein. Our meat eating habits and the resulting industrial scale agriculture has a disastrous effect on the planet and is the cause of massive deforestation, pollution and extinctions.

2. It stops animals from suffering.

Most people who go plant based do so for animal welfare reasons - they simply don’t want animals to suffer in captivity and then killed on their behalf. But the livestock we don’t kill for food - dairy cows, hens - also suffer throughout their productive lives, only to be slaughtered when they’re no longer useful to us

In order to provide milk, dairy cows are repeatedly impregnated and their calves taken away soon after birth. And we still force chickens to live on top of each other in small cages and barns, and lay eggs at an unnatural rate.

In order to produce meat we keep animals in captivity in terrible circumstances, with insufficient space to move (to say the least) and often no or very little daylight. The majority of our livestock is sick a large part of their lives before they get slaughtered.

Farming on the industrial scale needed to ‘feed’ our dietary habits causes horrible suffering to animals.

3. It’s the way of the future.

We are increasingly aware of the devastating effect of our diets on the planet. Veganism and vegetarianism is on the rise. Although in many countries the number of people who are actually planning to go vegan isn’t very high, the number of people who are planning to eat less meat is now around 50 % and will only increase in the next few decades.

4. It’s healthy.

Humans are omnivores and we can thrive on a plant based diet. The often heard concern that we need to eat meat to ensure we have sufficient protein intake is simply not true. Most Western diets provide ample protein, while lacking in the dietary fibre we derive from plant based foods. Seeds, nuts, legumes and many other plant based foods are good sources of protein as well as dietary fibre.

5. It’s possible.

There are so many excellent plant-based meat replacements available these days - even if you haven’t yet explored the meat-free section in your supermarket, it’s worth having a look. You’ll be surprised at the variety and quality - and the marketshare of meat and dairy alternatives will just keep growing over the next decades.

Convinced? Here are five quick ways to get started.

1. Start Meat Free Mondays.

Introduce Meat Free Mondays to your household. One day a week without meat is a great start. Or make it Meat Monday - the one day in the week you do eat meat.

2. Eat one vegan meal each day.

Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, designate one of your daily meals to be vegan.

3. Reduce your portion size.

If you can’t live without meat, eggs and dairy, consider decreasing the amount you eat at each sitting. One sausage instead of two. Eggs, not bacon and eggs. 100 grams of chicken instead of a whole chicken breast.

4. Opt for plant-based milk.

Soy, rice, almond, hemp, nut, oat. Plant based milk products are everywhere. Some are delicious in smoothies, others work best in coffee. Try a few to see which work best for you.

5. Experiment and get inspired.

Be a dare devil and cook a vegetarian or vegan version of your favourite meal. Simply search the recipe with the word ‘vegan’ or ‘vegetarian’ in front. Inspriation guaranteed. Alternatively, borrow a vegetarian or vegan cookbook from the library.

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