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Is it plant based?It may be healthier for you and the planet

Is going vegan better for you and the environment?

You may have heard arguments both for and against – can you get all the nutrients your body needs from a vegan diet? Are you using as much water as you do?

So should we all go vegan or are we going to flexitarianism (casual vegetarianism that reduces consumption of animal-derived products)?

Australians love meat and milk

of The average Australian eats over 89kg of meat I drink over 95 liters of milk per year.

Producing all meat and milk requires large amounts of land and water resources, and the animal-based food production process produces large amounts of carbon dioxide.

Cattle are responsible for most of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions from livestock farming.(ABC News: Brendan Esposito)

according to Reported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nationsthe global livestock industry accounts for 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, with the majority (about 65%) of that emissions coming from cattle.

Governments around the world are working with the agricultural industry to curb emissions.

for example, global methane pledge It has 122 signatories, including Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, working to reduce global methane emissions by at least 30% from 2020 levels by 2030.

in Australia, emission reduction fund and Carbon Farming Outreach Program Helping farmers and land managers reduce or offset their emissions.

Marco Springmann is a Senior Research Fellow at the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford.

“It is clear that the food system is a major driver of environmental resource utilization and pollution,” says Dr. Springman.

To illustrate the environmental impacts of food and agriculture more broadly, Oxford University’s Our World in Data project shows that:

  • Food production accounts for over 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions
  • Half of the world’s habitable land is used for agriculture
  • Agriculture uses 70% of the world’s freshwater withdrawals.

Are plant-based alternatives better for the environment?

Does putting beef brisket in a sandwich use up more of the planet’s resources than eating a few slices of tofurkey?

Do cows emit more greenhouse gases than soybeans?

of United Nations Climate Change Panel Transitioning to a plant-based diet presents a golden opportunity to tackle climate change, he said.

“New food technologies, such as cellular fermentation, cultured meat, plant-based alternatives to animal-based foods, and controlled environmental agriculture, have the potential to result in significant direct food savings. [greenhouse gas] emissions from food production,” said the Panel’s 2022 report.

Grazier looks to chickpea harvest to capitalize on floods
Chickpeas can be used to make a plant-based protein alternative.Chickpeas use much less water and land and produce much less carbon than their meat counterparts.(ABC News: Brett Worthington)

Industries vary around the world, but Dr. Springmann points to international research by his Oxford University colleague Joseph Poore. Animal products are products with the greatest environmental impact.”

Using data from Joseph Poore and the Our World In Data website: Water footprint, carbon footprint and land breakdown for typical meat production Per kilogram of food:

  • Beef – 1,451 liters, 99.48 kilograms, 326 square meters
  • Pork – 1,796 liters, 12.31 kilograms, 17.36 square meters
  • Chicken – 660 liters, 9.87 kilograms, 12.22 square meters

it Water footprint, carbon footprint, and land required to produce common plant-based protein alternatives Amount of meat per kilogram of food:

  • Chickpeas – 161.39 liters, 1.34 kilograms, 15.57 square meters
  • Lentils – 14.31 liters, 2.54 kilograms, 27.47 square meters
  • Tofu – 31.18 liters, 3.16 kilograms, 3.03 square meters

Not all options are created equal

Does it really matter whether you drink your latte with soy, oat or almond milk?

Two hands holding a latte in a black cup and saucer.
Did you know that almond milk requires producers to use more water than other dairy-free alternatives?(ABC Southeast SA: Lucy Robinson)

Dr. Springman says yes.

“When you compare whole foods, animal foods have about 10 times the water footprint of plant foods in most cases,” he says, but there are some exceptions.

“For example, nuts use a lot of water, some fruits and vegetables use a lot of water, walnuts grown in California use a lot of water, and so do avocados.

Nut-based almond milk therefore requires more water to produce than soy milk or oat milk: one glass requires 74 liters of water, which is more than a typical shower.

(A typical Australian shower lasts an average of 7-8 minutes and requires 50 liters of water using a standard 3-star rated shower head.)

nevertheless Almond milk can be made with less water than a regular glass of milk..

However, when it comes to land use, Dr. Springmann says the evidence is clear. If everyone went vegan, there would be net savings in the use of arable land.One-third of the world’s staple crops are now fed to animals.

“So if you release them, you will not only have more fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds to eat, but you will have a lot of land available to release for conservation, to the forest,” he said. To tell.

However, much of the land currently used for livestock in Australia is not suitable for growing crops.

Is a vegan diet really healthy?

According to 2020-2021 data, only 6.1% of adults and 8.5% of children eat the recommended amounts of both fruits and vegetables. Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Nicole Diamon is a Certified Nutritionist Australia.

“The message of increasing plants in whatever kind of diet you prefer is a good message,” she says.

“We found that people who followed a vegan or vegetarian diet, or a diet high in plants, had a lower risk of chronic diseases such as cholesterol, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes, as well as health conditions such as improved bowel function. because they are getting more nutrients and fiber in their diet.”

A pile of vegetables on a metal table.
A vegan diet has its pros and cons.(ABC: Marty McCarthy)

But Diamond admits that a vegan diet isn’t perfect.

Animal foods provide essential nutrients that are hard to find in plant foods, such as iron, protein, zinc, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids.

And she pointed out that one nutrient in particular, vitamin B12, is found almost exclusively in animal foods.

“Usually, vegans have their B12 levels checked regularly when they see a doctor, and may need injections or supplements if they are not getting B12 from fortified vegan products.

Maintaining a healthy vegan diet requires planning.

“A vegan diet can be just as unhealthy as a diet high in meat,” Diamon warns.

“If not well planned, it could consist of processed vegan foods, oreos, etc. Just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy.”

of Australian Dietary Guidelines There are also recommendations on how much protein people should consume, whether it’s meat-based products or alternatives such as beans, lentils, and tofu.

For some people, not eating meat is undesirable, but for others it is not a viable option for socioeconomic and cultural reasons.

“Any reduction is really important,” says Dr. Springmann.

“Maybe I’ll be vegetarian or vegan for most of the week and see how I keep up with it.”

Watch all episodes of Courtney Facts ABC eye view and Youtube.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-10/are-vegans-right-health-environment/101867316 Is it plant based?It may be healthier for you and the planet

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