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How what you eat affects the planet

Four in five Brits are unaware of the key cause of climate change, research shows
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Restaurant menu written on a blackboard in Florence

Going vegan can reduce your food-related emissions by up to 50%, yet only a fifth of Brits are aware that farming cows and sheep results in climate change, according to research published by a leading vegan charity.

A survey of 2,000 UK adults commissioned by The Vegan Society shows that even fewer people know that livestock production results in extinction of other species (8%) and causes rainforest destruction (12%).

Plate up for the planet

The global meat and dairy industry is responsible for as much greenhouse gas as the transport sector, so the charity is urging people to ‘eat to save the world’ with its Plate Up for the Planet environmental campaign.

Celebrities who have taken the challenge or are supporting the campaign include Green Party leader Caroline Lucas, co-founder of the Eden Project Sir Tim Smit and Harry Potter star Evanna Lynch.

‘We’re always told to change our lightbulbs, cycle to work or take shorter showers but the huge carbon footprint of animal agriculture is largely ignored when it comes to fighting climate change.

‘The Vegan Society wants to address this pressing issue with our Plate Up for the Planet campaign which encourages people to think differently about what they eat and how it impacts our planet.

‘Going vegan is one of the most significant things an individual can do to help combat climate change and protect our natural world – why not give it a try?’

Head of campaigns and policy at The Vegan Society

When it comes to making a permanent lifestyle change, one in five respondents (19%) said they would consider becoming vegan; the UK’s current vegan population is around 1%.

Welsh are greenest

The survey showed that Brits are a green bunch, with 95% doing something on a weekly basis to help the planet.

Environmentally friendly habits include recycling (78%), turning the lights off when they are not using them (65%) and taking reusable bags to the supermarket (58%).

A further 41% make an effort to walk or cycle inside of driving, 49% use eco bulbs, 54% turn off the taps when brushing teeth and 51% only boil as much water as they need.

But despite our good, green intentions, we’re less conscious of what we put
into our mouths with eating less meat (15%) and eating less dairy (8%) ranking as some of the things we’re least likely to do.

The Welsh were the most environmentally friendly group surveyed, with all respondents doing at least one thing to help the environment each week. In contrast, 11% in the North East admitted they did not do anything on a weekly basis.

More efficient eating

Leading authorities on climate change, including the United Nations’s FAO and Chatham House, have warned it is unlikely that global temperature rises can be kept below two degrees Celsius in the absence of a radical shift in meat and dairy consumption.

By consuming their meat and milk, we receive back only 12 of every 100 calories fed to animals.

Click here to try the seven-day vegan challenge as part of #PlateUpforthePlanet.

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