Going Green: Eat less meat and dairy for healthier planet and future

Monday, 10th January 2022, 8:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 1:17 pm
Plea to eat less meat (photo: Shutterstock)

Green campaigner and consumer expert, Angela Terry, separates climate change facts from fiction and explains how you can take simple, practical steps to help save the planet. Follow @ouronehome & visithttps://onehome.org.uk/ for more advice.

Q: Is eating less meat and dairy really better for the planet?

A: Yes, there’s no doubt that cutting animal products from your diet helps the environment.

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Plea to eat less meat (photo: Shutterstock)

In fact, according to research by scientists at the University of Oxford, it’s the number one thing you can do.

In a study, they found that meat and dairy production is responsible for 60 per cent of agriculture’s global greenhouse gas emissions – while the foods themselves provide just 18 per cent of people’s average calories and 37 per cent of their protein.

On a planet in crisis, this is a huge waste of energy and resources.

Farmed animals are also one of the main causes of deforestation.

In Brazil, farmers are deliberately setting forest fires – like the Amazon rainforest fires you may have seen on TV – to clear space for cattle ranching and to grow animal feed, like soya, for farms back in the UK.

By reducing the demand for farmed animals by eating more meat-free meals, we can all do our bit to address this situation.

Of course, you don’t need to go fully plant-based.

Now Veganuary’s underway, you are probably hearing a lot about ditching dairy and meat altogether – but you could consider trying one or two meat-free days a week and seeing how you get on.

If you keep eating meat, try to make it white meat, like chicken, instead of beef.

If possible, go for locally-sourced and organic.

Both are better for the planet.

Contrary to dated stereotypes, plant-based eating’s a whole lot of fun.

You can still enjoy all your favourite foods – like cakes, puddings, biscuits, burgers, lasagne, stews, curries and roast dinners – and also embrace new meal options too.

These include things like black bean burritos, sweet and sour sticky tofu or lentil shepherd’s pie.

If you’d rather pick up something ready-made, all the major supermarkets are now offering delicious plant-based ranges.

You can buy everything from chicken-less Kievs to fish-free fingers.

Vegan treats – like chips, crisps, sweets and chocolate – are widely available too.

As a welcome side-effect, you might discover that the health benefits of dropping animal products are many.

All those old tales about eating your greens were actually true.

One scientific study showed that vegans live longer than meat eaters.

The nutritionists at Harvard University came to the conclusion that dairy doesn’t do the body any good.

What’s more, a healthy plant-based diet can lower cholesterol levels, reduce the impacts of type two diabetes and cut risk factors associated with heart disease. It really is all about being kind to the planet, animals – and you.

Celebrity spot

Hollywood is known for vegan stars – Joaquin Phoenix and Pamela Anderson – but British stars are increasingly vegan.

A Place in the Sun presenter Jasmine Harman has given her London home a vegan makeover.

Other famous vegans include actor Alan Cummings, singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding, TV presenter Fearne Cotton, BAFTA-winner Benedict Cumberbatch.

Famous actor and vegan Benedict Cumberbatch (photo: Shutterstock)

Also comedian Romesh Ranganathan, Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage, X-Factor winner Leona Lewis, Music icons, Brian May and Boy George.

Green swap

Clingfilm is a single-use plastic. Can’t be recycled, doesn’t decompose. Over hundreds of years it breaks down, creating dangerous microplastics.

Try swapping it for reusable wax wrap or keep sandwiches in washable cloth bags. Store leftovers in glass jars.

Wax paper is a great alternative to cling film (photo: Shutterstock)

 Why it’s important to talk about climate change

Important climate change discourse (photo: Shutterstock)

Talking about climate change can be hard.

Believe me, as someone who spends their life doing it, I know.

What we’re doing to our planet is so huge and overwhelming, a lot of people find it easier to avoid thinking or talking about it.

It’s entirely understandable, but not very helpful.

The thing is, we all do have the power to help turn this situation around – just by talking about it.

After all, we can’t solve a problem if we don’t admit to each other it’s there.

For example, sea level rise, caused by fast-melting ice, will transform the UK’s coastal communities but we rarely hear this issue discussed.

The way to build an unstoppable movement for change is by raising the alarm, getting everyone on board and demanding action.

And it all starts with a chat between friends.

It’s how to raise awareness and help turn concern into action.

Which will mean a greater chance of the widespread reduction in pollution that our kids and grandchildren’s futures depend on.

Here are four tips ...

Start climate conversations

Reaching out to those who are not yet engaged is vital, but tricky.

One good strategy is to channel our British obsession with the weather and link it to the rise in global extreme weather events.

As well as the international increase in cyclones, tornadoes and hurricanes, even here in the UK, we are experiencing heavier rainfalls and more flooding.

Anyone who gardens or walks their dog can attest to that.

Voice your concerns

It can be as simple as expressing how worried you are and then empathising when your friend or loved one tells you they’re concerned too.

Knowing they’re not alone will legitamise their feelings.

Once we understand others are with us, it can embolden group action.

Focus on solutions

From electric cars to veggie meals, you can talk about all the actions you are taking to lower your carbon footprint. Concentrate on the benefits they bring to you and your family.

Don’t be a doom-monger

If people think there isn’t any hope, they give up.

That’s the last thing we want!

The truth is we have pretty much all the technology we need to turn this situation around.

There is time.

We just need to act fast.

And that starts with sharing our worries and being evangelical about going green.

Fact or fiction

Eating meat-free is more expensive. False!

Many plant-based proteins like lentils, chickpeas and beans, are cheaper than meat.

As with any diet, it becomes expensive if you consistently rely on ready-made products and processed foods.

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