Eat Green or Go Home!

Did you know it takes twice as much water to produce a litre of British cows’ milk compared with soya milk, or that for the amount of water needed to produce one beef burger, you could produce six tofu-based ones? On top of that, research shows that the carbon footprint of vegan diets are 60% lower than that of meat eaters and 24% lower than that of vegetarians! Could you make a change to the way you eat?

Why not master The Great Vegan Challenge this November, and join hundreds of others going vegan for 30 days!

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Diet challenges can be tricky alone, so get a buddy to sign up with you. That way, you can swap tips and take turns making lunches. You can also find some amazing vegan recipes that will ease the transition here.


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4 thoughts on “Eat Green or Go Home!”

  1. Interesting stats! I was under the impression that the statistics on meat production/water use was generally somewhat flawed, and usually based on the caloric content of the lean muscle meat only, not taking into account all the calories that are available from fat and organ meats (if only we would get back to eating them!)

    Also, can you provide a source for the numbers quoted? Are they based on the American CAFO system of production, a very different animal (excuse the pun) than the systems of meat production that exist in much of Europe.

    I’m all for living a life that impacts less on the planet and improves the lives and welfare of animals, but much of the statistical observations I see on the subject are espoused by the vegan lobby that cherry picks the data to suit its cause.

    Not suggesting you are doing that for a moment, but some citations of where your numbers come from would be great

    1. Thanks for your reply, Steve! It’s great to open up a dialogue about things like this.

      All statistics previously quoted are from studies referring to or performed in the UK. Scarborough et al. (2014) provide the source for the statistics on GHG emissions. They compared carnivore, pescetarian, vegetarian and vegan diets in the UK and found the mean GHG emission in kilograms of CO2 equivalent per day were 7.2 for high meat eaters, 5.6 for medium meat eaters, 4.7 for low meat eaters, 3.9 for pescetarians, 3.8 for vegetarians and 2.9 for vegans.

      The water efficiency statistics came from a study by Ercin et al. (2011) who compares the water footprint of soya milk (Figure 7) and soya burgers (Figure 8) with their animal product alternatives produced in various regions of the world. While it’s encouraging that the UK beef and dairy industry actually has one of the lowest water footprints compared to the other countries listed, using soya products could reduce it even further, even if it is just for one month of the year!

      Do you think you’ll give it a go?

      Ercin, A. E., M. M. Aldaya, and A. Y. Hoekstra (2011). The water footprint of soy milk and soy burger and equivalent animal products. Value of Water Res. Rep. Ser. No. 49. UNESCO-IHE, Delft, the Netherlands.

      Scarborough P, Appleby P.N, Mizdrak A, et al. Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK. Climatic Change. 2014;125(2):179-192.

  2. Thanks for the reply Jo

    What are your views on the estrogenic effects of soy products? There is some debate on it, but there seems to be a growing discomfort about the effect of large amounts of soy on the hormonal system.

    I’ll check out the sources you cited and report back, thanks for taking the time to reply.

    1. Hi Steve,

      I wasn’t aware of this issue until recently, so I’d be lying if I were to tell you I knew much about the effects of soy products on hormone levels. From what I’ve seen, though, there’s no real consensus on the health detriments (or indeed benefits) of tofu and other soy based products. Clearly more research is needed!

      Obviously, diet is all about balance – too much of anything is a bad thing. If people are worried about the effects of using too much soy milk, try including rice, almond, hazelnut or coconut milk (the latter often hailed as the most sustainable alternative out there) on rotation on your shopping list! Instead of soy burgers, try seitan, vegan Quorn products and bean burgers (great, now I’m hungry)!


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