It is increasingly recognised that meat-based diets have a substantial environmental impact: from deforestation for grazing land, to methane produced by livestock, to increased water requirements. All of this adds up to a very significant carbon footprint, with UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports stating that we need to make huge reductions in meat-eating to avoid dangerous climate change.
As a result, switching to a plant-based diet is now seen as one vital strategy in combating climate change and environmental degradation.
One recent study in Nature found that a global shift to a “flexitarian” diet is needed, with the average UK citizen eating 90% less red meat, and five times as many beans and pulses, as we do currently.
A couple of months ago we asked School members whether they would support a switch to providing only plant-based (vegetarian and vegan) food by default at catered School events. The results were overwhelmingly in favour: 92% said Yes, 4% maybe, and just 4% no. As a result, we introduced a new School Sustainable Catering Policy, which will significantly reduce the environmental impact of our catered events. In a nutshell, this policy means that any food provided at School events will be 100% plant-based.
We also asked whether vegan options should always be provided alongside vegetarian. There was clear support for this: 92% said yes, 8% maybe, and 0% no. A number of vegan colleagues commented that there is often not enough food for them, because non-vegans also enjoy eating the vegan options. Therefore, we also recommended that a minimum of 30% of our food orders were vegan.
Whether you are halfway through Veganuary or you just want to eat more plant-based food at home, check MeatFreeMondays for recipes and other flexitarian ideas!