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  • Jamie Fox

Is plant-based Meat changing the Food Game?

Updated: Aug 29, 2022

Veganism is a growing movement and lifestyle that continues to gain new practitioners worldwide. In recent times, interest and exposure to it have soared for several reasons, one of them being our acute and growing concern with environmental issues.

Veganism or plant-based living has been shown to have a more favourable impact on the environment than more traditional, meat-based diets. To truly understand the impact that meat substitutes can have on the planet, it must first be quickly highlighted how harmful animal agriculture is.

The University of Oxford has conducted numerous comprehensive studies and backed up that red meat (pork, beef, mutton, and goat) and processed meat had the highest environmental impacts of all food types. In addition, “plant-based diets reduce food’s emissions by up to 73% depending where you live.”

Switching to plant-based diets would also cause a drop of 25% in fresh-water usage and an enormous 3.1 billion hectares of farmland, which nature could re-capture. The plant-based food industry is growing five times faster than any other. Its increased exposure is primarily due to our acute and increasing concern with environmental issues.

These plant-based alternatives replace foods like beef, pork, chicken and dairy, which experts increasingly agree the consumption has a detrimental impact on the environment. Plant-based meat emits 30%–90% less greenhouse gas than conventional meat, depending on the type of substitute.

Now obviously, if we switch to a plant- based lifestyle, we won’t be chomping down on fake chicken and beef burgers all the time. But if we were to replace the ‘real thing’ with these meat substitutes, it would go a long way to achieving reduced harm to our planet.

Most people worldwide love a good burger, a quick midweek meal that’s easily prepared. Two of the most popular beef burger alternatives are the Beyond Meat and Impossible Burgers. They are not only delicious and perfect for a barbeque as we approach summer, but they also produce about 90% fewer greenhouse gas emissions in comparison with beef. Cows produce a vast amount of greenhouse gases every year, most notoriously methane. Opting for a plant-based burger will significantly reduce these gases seeping into our atmosphere. Producing just one hamburger sometimes requires thousands of gallons of water usage.

A lot of our beef comes from South America, so when this is exported to other countries, it racks up the air miles, which is detrimental to our atmosphere. Plant- based beef substitutes are often made by a process called extrusion, which occurs in a factory where the ingredients don’t have to be imported or excessively consume natural resources. Although not relatively as high as beef, chicken and pork production also have a similarly destructive impact on the planet for the same reasons. Quorn products are a great go-to here to replace these meat products. They have a wide range of options, including burgers, chicken pieces, sausages, and ham slices, among many others.

According to Clarify Green, they use their trademark protein source, called mycoprotein, which uses 90% less greenhouse gas and saves 200,000 tonnes of C02 compared to meat equivalents. Quorn has been on the scene for a while now and is probably the most recognisable vegetarian franchise with the most extensive range of products. If you choose a vegan option from them, though, check the label, as not all their products are entirely plant-based.

Plant-based meat substitutes do not require the substantial land and water use of direct animal farming. Animal farming is one of the most destructive industries to the environment for many reasons, especially land use. It is the cause of large- scale deforestation and the use of millions of acres of pasture worldwide.

To ensure that we begin to reverse the harm that meat-based diets have caused, we must shift to a more plant-based diet of vegetables, legumes and fruits. Giving up traditional meat-eating is difficult for many, so the fact that these wonderful meat substitutes are widely available is a true game-changer in guiding people toward green living.

Read more informative sustainability content in our free online magazine, Earth Mother Magazine. You can even download it as a pdf to read offline.


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