The thought of cutting meat from our diets seems to generate responses on either extreme these days – people either adore or abhor the idea. Why is that the case? In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the main reasons why people resist plant-based eating - and attempt to debunk some myths...
1. Plant-based eating is all-or-nothing.
There’s a whole spectrum of meat-free diets, from veganism to vegetarianism to pescatarian... As Animal Allies recommends, the most long-lasting lifestyle changes are more gradual than immediate.
Perhaps first going flexitarian might sound less intimidating. Unlike veganism, this form of plant-based living does not mandate that you eliminate meat or dairy entirely from your diet.
But what’s best to do? It’s a complex area and you’ll find thoughts from both sides - with some arguing for vegan-only diets for the planet, whilst others arguing that eating some meat is better for the environment than going completely vegetarian. “Some” here refers to treating meat as the side dish rather than the daily staple.
Dairy seems to be the biggest differentiating factor between a vegan and vegetarian diet. Just this week, Guardian released a shocking report revealing that the largest 13 dairy companies in the world combined give out emissions equivalent to that of the entire UK, the sixth biggest economy in the world. The study went on to further show how a flexitarian diet (⅔ vegan), could decrease diet-based CO2 emissions by over 50%.
Regardless of which plant-based diet you pick, jury’s out with us… something is definitely better than nothing!
2. I am not going to make much of a difference alone.
To achieve the 1.5°C emissions target set by the 2015 Paris Agreement, we must cut global emissions by 7.6% every year for the next decade. So, how much difference could you make if you moved to plant-based eating?
A vegan diet can reduce a person’s carbon footprint by up to 73% - this means that going more plant-based may empower you to hit not only your personal emissions target, but maybe even that of several of your loved ones! Simply put, more people can be fed on less land if we consume plants ourselves rather than feeding them to livestock. This BCC article breaks it down beautifully for those of you who want to find out more.
Don’t discount the effect of strength in numbers and the simple economic rule that demand drives supply. In 2019, Tesco, the third largest retailer in the world, announced the shutting down of its meat counters across the UK and replaced them with a new range of plant-based selections due to changing consumer demands. Arguably, going plant-based might be one of the single biggest steps we can each take to reduce pollution. You are part of a movement.
3. You don’t want to burn a hole in your wallet.
No doubt, some plant-based products such as Beyond Meat cost much more than traditional meat, and data shows many are willing to pay a premium. However, plant-based diets are definitely not exclusive to only those who can afford them.
It all depends on how you do it… and going plant-based could even save you up to $750 a year. This is because animal products have become 40% more expensive in the last decade, while plant staples like legumes, beans, lentils and chickpeas have always remained the cheapest sources of protein on the planet. If you love home cooking and being thrifty, maybe going plant-based is the way to go!
While there are many glorious vegan food accounts on social media, day-to-day plant-based eating is often less glamorous, but such is the case with any other diet. Check out this very relatable account featuring plant-based foods that aren’t just all pretty bourgeoisie salads.
Track your plant-based journey with Capture!
The Capture app enables users to track, reduce and offset CO2 emissions from everyday life, and we have recently launched our food emissions tracker! You can now log your food-based emissions according to your chosen diet, shame-free. Download Capture now via the App Store or Google Play; we would love to hear about your user experience at firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. Maybe you've been thinking about the health pros and cons of plant-based diets too? It's a huge topic... as non-health experts, we wanted to exclude this from the article as we believe that other authorities are more qualified to address these concerns. We definitely encourage you to find out more about plant-based diets and your health; and here's a resource to help you get started!