Does going meat-free reduce carbon?

Global attitudes towards climate change are evolving with many of us expecting businesses to do more to reduce their impact on the environment.

We can also affect change through our choices as consumers, for example choosing unpackaged food or buying from companies who measure and manage their carbon footprint.

And there are many other ways we as individuals can contribute to reducing global warming, for example going meat-free.


What is the Environmental Impact of the Meat Industry?

The vegetarian society says:

“Eating a veggie diet means 2.5 x less carbon emissions than a meat diet.”

This comes from the amount of land and water required to raise livestock, compared to that required for crops.

Another initiative Meat Free Mondays, founded by Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney in 2009, says

Vegan diets were found to be the least harmful to the planet in environmental terms (generating the equivalent of almost 3 kg of carbon dioxide daily), and meat-heavy the most (over 7 kg of CO2 daily). Meat-free diets generate just under 4 kg of CO2 a day.”

Aside from the established ethical argument against eating meat, concern about climate change may be driving the change in diets.


An Alternative to Meat

There have been meat alternatives for many years, with differing degrees of market success.

However, in 2019 food technology company, ‘Beyond Meat’, floated on the stock market in the US.  

It has developed a meat-free burger that has a realistic taste and texture.  

Their debut on the stock market didn’t disappoint. Shares rose 163% in the first trading, with the funding helping the company compete in a growing market place.


What can Employers do?

Effective change needs to be supported by organisations and individuals to have a real impact.

Employers can support their staff by making sustainable products easier to access, whether through their onsite facilities or incentives such as a cycle to work scheme. This contributes to positive employee wellbeing which can also support ISO 9001 the Quality Management standard and others.

Reducing all waste streams, including food, also helps to tackle climate change and improve the environment.  Businesses can identify opportunities to improve their efficiency by taking a Lean approach to their operational processes.

What small change can you make today?


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Robert Clements
Robert Clements
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