How can being vegetarian help the planet?

May 12, 2021

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Isaac Pelham-Chipper

 

This Monday (10th May) marked the start of National Vegetarian Week, the somewhat lesser-known sibling to the now ubiquitous Veganuary. With news, social media, and television frequently discussing climate change and veganism, while fast food restaurants plaster adverts for new vegan burgers across bus stops up and down the UK, it’s easy to forget that somewhere between the discourse of meat eater vs. vegan lies the humble vegetarian diet. Vegetarianism is the seemingly forgotten dietary middle-ground that may serve as a steppingstone towards a more sustainable diet for many. National Vegetarian Week challenges people to go vegetarian for just seven days to help spread awareness of the environmental threat our diets pose.

How much better is vegetarianism for the planet?

Broadly speaking, a lot. The amount of meat we eat and the way in which it is farmed and produced has huge impacts on the environment, with the farming industry contributing to 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions. A vegetarian diet can emit 2.5 times less carbon per year than a meat-heavy diet, save masses of clean water, and reduce the amount of fertiliser and other chemicals entering and destroying natural habitats. As an example, it takes over 542 litres of water to produce one chicken breast, roughly the same amount as needed for six and a half very full baths.

While going vegan can reduce someone’s environmental impact even further, vegetarianism is certainly a step in the right direction, even if it’s just for a week – in fact, every meal counts!

How can I help as a business?

In the hospitality sector, food and drink is at the very core of what we do. While most establishments now provide vegan meals and serve soy or oat milk flat whites, National Vegetarian Week is seeking to raise awareness of the wide range of meat-free options available. As businesses, this week can help shine a light on the positive impact customers can have by choosing macaroni and cheese over a beef-loaded Spaghetti Bolognese.

We would encourage you to consider the impact that your menus have on the environment, and use National Vegetarian Week as a tool for raising awareness and promoting the positive impacts that vegetarian and vegan diets can have. Could you add more options to your menus, or include information for your customers on the positive environmental impact of choosing a meat-free meal? Could a ‘meat-free’ day be introduced for staff meals? For us at Considerate Group, National Vegetarian Week serves as another widely recognised event highlighting the impact we as individuals and hospitality businesses have in shaping a sustainable future.

When thinking about sustainable menu options for your business, it is also essential to keep in mind where the food you buy comes from. How much do you know about your food suppliers? Look out for our blog coming up soon for more on responsible sourcing.