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How Veganism Can Save The World

How the vegan diet has evolved over the years and how to make it perfect for you in order to protect our planet

Many people have turned to Veganism over the past 20 years for a multitude of different reasons, ranging from their own health to an effort to combat climate change. However, the majority of the population do not know enough about the diet and how it can benefit both themselves and society as a whole.

The basics of Veganism

The term vegan was first used in 1944. The diet however was first noted in 1806 by Dr William Lambe who adopted a 'vegetable diet' and removed all dairy from it for himself for health reasons thus forming the vegan diet. The requirements of the diet are for a person to consume no animal products, including dairy and eggs. The main foods included in the diet are fruits and vegetables, but also nuts as a source of protein. Nowadays, there are many sustainable alternatives for vegans.

How the diet has changed

In more recent years, there has been an emergence of plant-based alternatives to traditional meat dishes. The best example of this is the classic Greggs Sausage Roll. For many years it has been the staple of the bakery and is by far its most well-known and best-selling food item. In early 2019, Greggs launched its own vegan equivalent of their sausage roll. It was incredibly well received by consumers as many could not tell the difference between a meat product and its vegan counterpart. The product has been hugely successful for the company financially as well as in 2020, Greggs announced an increase in total sales of 13.5%, a large increase from the previous growth of 2.9% according to the Greggs official website. Other business saw these figures and realised it was in their best interest to launch more plant-based options on their menus. This movement overall has led to there being more options than ever for vegans. People who convert to veganism are now given a far wider choice of food, both when eating out at restaurants or takeaways, but also when shopping at supermarkets.

There are a whole range of plant-based products in supermarkets now that look, feel and taste just like the food they are mimicking. Well known brands such as Birds Eye are switching towards plant-based options for consumers such as plant-based fish fingers. The marketing methods they employ rely on consumers already having an experience with the previous meat product, and transferring that experience to the new plant-based options. Other brands such as Quorn have always focused on plant-based, with their main advertising and marketing revolving around the nutritional benefits of their products. The diet now isn't just about eating salads, nuts and beans as it used to be. Now the diet has addressed the issues it had before regarding the lack of certain nutrients such as protein and is therefore more appealing and suitable for a wider group of people. There are also studies showing improvements in the general health of people who adopt a vegan diet. The risk of heart disease and other conditions are reduced due to the vegan diet including fewer processed foods.

How vegans help the planet

Becoming vegan does more than just the direct impact of the person who is doing so. It also has a massive effect on the environment. A study from Oxford university stated that by going vegan, people can reduce their carbon footprint by up to 73%. Many farming techniques involve deforestation in order to create the landed needed for livestock. This leads to less CO2 being absorbed and converted into oxygen. There also requires a large amount of natural resources to feed and grow livestock. The amount of water and food needed for farms is astronomical compared to the amount of food each animal will produce. A plant-based meal on average will produce 90% less emissions than a meat meal. This alone shows why it is so important for people to switch to a vegan diet. There is also a significant amount of energy used in the production of meat. Firstly there is the pollution of transporting meat which varies depending on the country but most farms in the UK are not located close to the meat processing plants. Meat needs to be processed in order for it to be sold and this also requires a lot of energy. The energy needed to process a pound of beef is roughly equal to the energy that would keep a fridge running for a month.

With the majority of the population not being vegan, mass farming of animals is a large part of the UK's economy and provides jobs for many. However the drawbacks of mass animal farming, including the massive damage to the environment and climate far outweigh the short-term benefits felt by it. If more people were to become vegan, then there would be a shift as the economic goals and the sustainability goals of the Government would be in line and hence would lead to a more sustainable system in place.


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