Why plant-based (vegan)? Part 2 — Beyond Local

Sustainability is on everyone’s lips. This is reflected in the acquaintance, who increasingly ditches meat, in the advertising of well-known sugar water corporations as well as in the growing alternative offer of the large supermarket chains. We are aware that we only have this one planet to live, and we adapt our lifestyle to this realization in both small and large. This includes things like the renouncement of unnecessary plastic waste or deliberately rare flying. But how far the influence of our diet reaches, how much lies in our hand and how we can change the world with our food choice, we’re usually not aware of.

An increasing number of people are choosing to consume fewer animal products such as eggs, milk, and meat, or choose to completely go without animal products. The reasons for an increased plant-based and vegan diet are manifold. Two years ago, we published an article on the reasons for a plant-based vegan diet. There we have explained our personal point of view.

In this article, we now take a closer look at the global context of a plant-based diet. Here is the second part of our answer to the question “Why plant-based (vegan)?”.

Why focus on the diet?

In addition to the areas of mobility, housing and leisure, in Switzerland nutrition is the largest part of our personal ecological footprints. It accounts to about 30 percent.
Nebst den Bereichen Mobilität, Wohnen und Freizeit macht in der Schweiz die Ernährung den grössten Teil unseres persönlichen ökologischen Fussabdrucks aus. Rund 30 Prozent.

Under the term ecological footprint , we understand the space, which is necessary to sustain our current lifestyle on earth. 1 planet would be the ideal value. If all people were to live like the average Swiss we would need 3.3 planets.

For the most part, we have in our hands what we choose to eat. Most of us eat several times daily, which is why for a sustainable lifestyle it is worthwhile to make your own diet more sustainable.

Meat and Feed

The production of meat, eggs, and cheese is much more energy consuming than fruits and vegetables. According to Worldwatch, 51% of global greenhouse gasses come from livestock farming. A large part of this is due to soya and maize feed. The corn, which could be directly consumed by humans, feeds livestock such as cows, which actually eat grass. Until such an animal has grown, it will be fed a multiplicity of what would fill a man. One can imagine how big the difference in terms of energy consumption is to plant foods.

In other words, an average of 25 times more energy is needed for the production of animal food than for the production of plant foods.

In addition, a large part of this feed — not just the animals or the animal products themselves — is transported throughout the world, as in the example of soy from Brazil. That is why Swiss or regional meat, milk or egg includes not only the region of processing itself but also all transport routes and resources for the production of feed in other countries.

Therefore, comparing regional animal products such as beef with vegetable products from abroad, the ecological impact of the most widely used plant-based products for direct consumption is much smaller.

A Sustainable Diet

WWF-Switzerland, together with ESU-services, has examined various nutritional styles according to their greenhouse gas balance.

Source: Ökoprofil von Ernährungsstilen, ESU-services GmbH, 2015
* Addition by Journey to Real Life to compare a vegan diet using FOODprints® recommendations.

According to the comparison, the vegan diet is the diet that elicits the least amount of greenhouse gasses. However, you can also see that it makes a big difference to consume fewer animal products.

The FOODprints® nutrition includes dietary recommendations of the Swiss Nutrition Society (SGE), which include some of the tips listed below.

Here are three easy tips for a sustainable diet with a big impact.

  • Consume mainly plant-based foods and choose the vegetarian or vegan option when eating away.
  • Only buy as much food as you consume, keep leftovers and recycle food waste
  • Pay attention to products from fair organic or Demeter agriculture when shopping.

According to our definition, a sustainable diet includes the above-mentioned environmental aspects, social aspects as well as health and enjoyment. The form of nutrition, which one chooses for oneself, is only sustainable if one can also sustainably enjoy it.

How does a sustainable diet look like for you?

The reasons that are given in this article confirm my decision, which I had taken three years ago, to have an exclusively plant-based vegan diet. Since then, I have been able to experience many new tasty flavors and cooking concepts, which I would not want to be without. In addition, the regional biological orientation of our consumption enriches our food experience at home, as we always get to know interesting new ingredients and simply enjoy cooking with fresh products.

If you want to learn more about having a sustainable and healthy diet, we would like to invite you to register for the start of our new semester course for a sustainable, healthy and plant-based diet. To be among the first to be notified of the new course, click on the following button.

You find some plant-based inspirations on Lisa’s blog :-).



This article was published on the 14th of February 2017.

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