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Plant-based diets are everywhere, but do they actually save the planet?

19th Jan, 2022

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The plant-based diet has gone from fringe to mainstream over the last decade. It used to be almost impossible to find a decent plant-based option on menus, but now, there are entire supermarket aisles, restaurants and even festivals dedicated to the meat-free diet. 

For some, eating plant-based is all about animal welfare, others switch to it for the health benefits. But a growing number of people are forgoing the foie gra because of global warming.  

What’s the beef?

The global food system is damaging the planet. It contributes to deforestation and a loss of biodiversity, and it emits CO2 from transporting and storing the food we eat.

The biggest polluter is livestock, contributing just 18% of the calories we consume around the world, but it also emits more than half of the greenhouse gas emissions produced from all food.

This is because of the methane gas cows produce, as well as the land that livestock takes up, which could otherwise store more carbon dioxide. It's also inefficient to feed livestock with plants that human populations could eat.

Does adopting a plant-based diet help?

While industry is responsible for the vast majority of CO2 emissions, individuals are also looking for ways to help. Cutting down on meat and dairy is one of the best ways to do that. 

A Study by The University of Oxford found that cutting meat and dairy products from your diet can reduce your carbon footprint from food by two-thirds.

What’s more, a 2010 report by the UN says shifting towards a plant-based diet is vital if we wish to protect the world from the worst impacts of climate change. Since then, further research has backed this up.

Die-hard meat-lovers might be overwhelmed or put off by the prospect of swapping entirely to a plant-based diet – but cutting down is better than nothing at all. And there are movements to support people doing this, including the Climatarian diet, and the Reducetarian diet or just becoming a flexitarian. 

Around the world, huge strides are being made with technological innovations to give meat- and dairy-lovers plenty of plant-based analogues to their favourite foods. However, some argue it isn’t just as simple as swapping meat and dairy for plant-based alternatives. 

What else?

We also need to make efforts to eat all the food we buy, scientists say. Purchasing lots of plant-based food and throwing it away is much worse for the planet in the long run. 

At TYME we are passionate about reducing food waste, which is why we only purchase and make the amount of meals that are ordered. What’s more, our meals are all plant-based, so you don’t need to worry that you’re contributing to the worst polluter within our food industry. We also source as locally as possible and prioritise British produce - and, if you hadn’t noticed already - our meals change with the seasons.

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