Feature

The big reasons to go vego

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The big reason no.1 to go vego: animal rights.

Credit: Photos by Louise Lister. Styling by Emma Bowen.

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The big reason no.2 to go vego: a healthy diet.

Credit: Photos by Louise Lister. Styling by Emma Bowen.

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The big reason no.3 to go vego: sustainable sustenance.

Credit: Photos by Louise Lister. Styling by Emma Bowen.

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SUSTAINABLE SUSTENANCE
The newest breed of vegetarians is the folk who have converted to a plant-based diet for environmental reasons – namely, that far more resources are required to produce meat than to grow fruit, vegetables, legumes and grains.

Research published in World Watch found over 50 per cent of global human-caused greenhouse gases can be attributed to livestock and its by-products. In Australia, livestock industries are responsible for about 10 per cent of our total greenhouse gas emissions. Now that’s a whole lot of methane gas. And according to the CSIRO and the University of Sydney, 92 per cent of all land degradation in Australia is caused by animal industries.

For most eco-vegetarians, it’s a done deal when they learn that it takes many thousands of litres of water to produce 1 kg of beef compared to the production of 1 kg of wheat. In the protein stakes, producing 1 kg of meat-protein requires about 100 times more water than 1 kg of grain-based protein.

“Initially people weren’t really familiar with the concept of being vegetarian for environmental reasons but after the recent drought it became so obvious just how water intensive meat production is,” says Mark Doneddu, president of Vegetarian Victoria. “There are more environmental vegetarians than we’ve ever seen before.”

Plus, think of all the grain we feed farm animals, which uses resources that could’ve gone directly to crops on our dinner plates. “The grain that we feed to cattle worldwide is enough to feed 8.7 billion people,” Doneddu says. “That’s more than the entire world’s population.”

Not all meat is created equal, with a recent lifecycle analysis revealing that lamb has the greatest cradle-to-grave environment impact, followed by beef, which has more than twice the emissions of pork and nearly four times more than chicken. At the other end of the spectrum, protein and nutrient-rich lentils and beans are more sustainable choices.

To make it as an environmental vegetarian, Doneddu says it’s vital to be educated about your choices. “People need to be informed. The thing that stops people becoming vegetarian is they’re concerned about what other people think.”

Next, plan ahead to sustain your appetite. “Have a good collection of recipes so you’ve got something different to prepare each day – this makes it easy to stay on a vegetarian diet,” says Doneddu.

For more info on becoming vegetarian visit www.animalsaustralia.org, www.peta.org.au and www.meatfreemondays.com.au

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