With the drastic growth of the world’s population and the rising popularity and convenience of high fat, meat and sugar diets, there is not only considerable pressure on the global food system but also a huge increase in pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
The commercial meat industry is one of the worst culprits for emitting CO2 which is damaging the atmosphere and contributing to rising temperatures and the blame is mainly pointed at US citizens who on average consume over 100 kg of meat a year per person.
Veganism has been rapidly on the rise over the last few years with many new products and restaurants launching which take pride in being totally animal product free. There are many benefits to being a vegan, including environmental, health and ethical reasons. It has also been said that giving up meat and dairy not only helps us live longer but also reduces global warming and of course cruelty to animals.
However, not everyone is a true believer in this movement. Recently there have been criticisms that the environmental and ethical reasons aren’t all that accurate. People have noted the pressures that have been put on the avocado industry in Mexico as well as the almond industry, which contributed towards the drought that California saw a few years ago.
That being said, vegans who only take up 0.5% of the world’s population would have to be eating a serious amount of almonds or avocados to be creating droughts or world shortages alone.
Ultimately, the number of greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere by the farming industry far outweigh any of these negative implications resulting from veganism. The farming industry on a commercial scale is actually one of the world’s biggest polluters. If we proceed in the way we have been for the past 10 years then we’re going to see some life-changing results for many people across the globe. This has already started to happen with more flooding and treacherous weather affecting populations than ever before. Since 1975, the Earth’s temperature has already risen by 1.5° and that number is continuing to accelerate with experts attributing this to excessive greenhouse gasses. If this increase continues, they predict that our sea levels will rise far more than the predicted; 36.8cm by 2100.
It also takes far less water to produce one year’s worth of food for a completely plant-based diet than it does to produce one month’s worth of food for a diet with animal products.
We agree the vegan movement is definitely a step in the right direction but for us, it’s all about being a more mindful generation. Eat meat if that’s what you love, never completely deprive yourself of something because you feel you should. It’s just important to make sure you try to shop local and organic as much as you can because your local farm is giving back just as much to our environment as it’s taking away.
Fear not though, it’s not all doom and gloom. We aren’t just going to be living off cauliflower and cabbage for the rest of our lives. There are fantastic, sustainable alternatives which you can eat to your heart’s content.
To give you some inspiration, we’ve listed some of our favourite sustainable seafoods below:
Mussels – They’re all sustainably farmed and the wild ones are scattered across the entire English coastline. Legend has it that they’re at their biggest and best if there is the letter ‘R’ in the month. Mussels are the ultimate dinner party show stopper plus they’re super cheap, delicious and couldn’t be easier to cook!
Mackerel – Arguably the most beautiful and our favourite fish is widely available in supermarkets across the UK. The oily flesh is high in ‘good fats’ as well as being rich in ‘brain food’ – omega-3. They are abundant in temperate and tropical oceans around the world and reproduce extremely quickly.
Sardines – Another delicacy most famous in Portugal. This fish (also known as a herring) is high in fatty acids and omega-3. They are also relatively low on the food chain meaning that they are less likely to be contaminated with mercury or PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl).
Oysters – One of London’s oldest delicacies, they were said to be one of the most important industries around 1910 and were widely available for the rich and poor across the capital. oysters have a special skill of purifying the water around them (the reason they nearly became extinct, it was the water’s fault, not the oysters) meaning that they aren’t only great for the environment but if you throw enough of the shells back you can start a mini ecological system for other fish and fauna. Not just this but they’re delicious and incredibly healthy. Bottom line is, everyone should actually be eating more oysters!
If we all start eating more of these, the world is going to be a happier, healthier place!
By Benn Hodges, head chef at online gourmet kitchen, EatFirst