‘Veganuary’ trend raises awareness on sustainable food and climate change

Global Business

'Veganuary' trend raises awareness on sustainable food and climate change

Veganuary, a word that’s a little hard to pronounce, but it’s catching on across the developed world. This year, the online-based movement and charity saw more than 225-thousand people worldwide commit to a plant-based diet during the month of January. CGTN Maria Galang explains.

“It’s no longer a counter-culture movement. It’s a movement that has entered the mainstream.” said Richard Hardy, Head of Campaigns, Veganuary.

Most decide to avoid consuming meat and dairy products because of animal rights or health concerns. But another reason is climate change.

Studies show that around a quarter of total global emissions come from food production. And almost 60 percent of those come from animal products.

Researchers at the University of Oxford have compared the environmental impact of what it takes to produce different foods. Their study found eating an orange twice a week for a year contributes about as much greenhouse gas to the environment as driving a car for 10 kilometers. By comparison, two servings a week of beef is like driving this same car for almost 25-hundred kilometers.

But is veganism really the answer to reducing carbon emissions

“It kind of depends on where in the world you are. Here in the U.S., where per capita beef consumption is one the highest of countries, it makes sense to shift,” said Richard Waite, Associate at the World Resources’s Food Program, “But looking across sub Saharan Africa, or South Asia where people are consuming little meat and dairy, it makes sense to not worry so much about meat consumption there.”

Companies around the world are cashing on the vegan trend… One research report says the global meat substitute market is expected to exceed 7.5 billion dollars by 2025

“A lot of those products right now are not cheaper, than the conventional animal-based products so I think that’s going to be another interesting thing to watch going forward.” added Waite.

Khepra Anu decided to scrap meat substitutes off the menu completely. He opened his raw vegan restaurant in 2011, and he says he’s says interest has grown significantly.

“One of the biggest challenges is trying to make healthy food, cool. Or hip or something that most people would wanna do, and my aim and my mission is trying to make healthy food just an, for everyone. The footprint of animal production is just whether it’s the fisheries or the cow production it’s just killing the planet so if we took care of this environment then it’s going to take care of everyone else.” said Khepra.

For those not quite ready to quit meat, what options are out there

“Maybe an even more interesting trend we’re seeing is this rise of people of flexitarianism. People saying, I’m interested in eating more plant based foods, maybe I’m not going to cut it out altogether, I could go vegan, I could go vegetarian, or I could just try to incorporate more plants into my diet and shift some away from meat. And that flexitarianism trend I think could be really powerful.” said Richard Waite from WRI.

The world’s population is projected to hit 10 billion by 2050. And as more people move to cities and incomes rise, so will meat and dairy consumption. Whether it’s meat or vegetables, in the end, the key is sustainability.

Milton Mills talks the economics of Veganism

CGTN’s Rachelle Akuffo spoke with Milton, a critical care intensivist at the United Medical Center in Washington DC about growing trend of vegan diet, and its impact on food industry.