No sirloin for Sir Richard
10 July 2014
Yesterday Sir Richard Branson announced in his blog that he had given up beef, adding that “Eating less red meat can be healthier, better for the environment and – surprisingly to me – really easy to do so.” His blog also asked for the views of veggies and vegans.
Lynne Elliot, the Vegetarian Society’s Chief Executive, commented, “This is a great decision by Sir Richard Branson not only to cut down on his beef intake but also to talk about it. People who, like Sir Richard, are interested in finding out how making decisions about the food on our plates can make a real difference to individuals, the planet and animals might like to visit our www.everymealcounts.org website.”
Recently large studies, on both sides of the Atlantic, have confirmed what many small studies have suggested for some time. The Soret Study1 research plotted health and environmental benefits of plant based diets. What it showed was a significantly lower mortality (16%-19%) and a beneficial impact on personal carbon footprint (a third lower emissions). While the EPIC Oxford2 research group also reported similar findings suggesting that greenhouse gas emissions from a British vegetarian are up to 2.5 lower than a meat eater. This sends a strong message to anyone who is environmentally aware that vegetarianism is good for the planet.
The Vegetarian Society, founded in 1847, inspires and supports people to be vegetarian. Visit www.vegsoc.org for recipes and ideas about reducing your meat intake and download our free recipe app for inspiration. Take a look at how your meals count by visiting www.everymealcounts.org to watch the films and take the online test.
Notes to editors
• For more information please contact Su on 0161 925 2012 / firstname.lastname@example.org or John on 0161 925 2016 / email@example.com
• There are many environmental benefits in reducing your meat intake. Growing grains and pulses to feed to animals is much less efficient than eating them ourselves. The livestock industry uses huge amounts of land, water and fossil fuels, while producing greenhouse gas emissions and all sorts of other pollution.
• The Soret Study 1 Soret Study: North American Meat Diet 2.5 Times more GHGs
The scale of the study is significant: it’s a large study of 73,000 people over a third were vegetarians. (26,000 vegetarians).
The research plotted health and environmental benefits of plant based diets. What it showed was a significantly lower mortality (16%-19%) and a beneficial impact on personal carbon footprint (a third lower emissions).
The vegetarian diet has a smaller impact on the environmental at every stage of food production from farm to fork. The emissions related to the production and sale of meat are higher: feed, fertilisers, refrigeration all have a carbon cost, and that’s on top of the animals’ emissions.
Interestingly this US study compares the relatively health conscious segment of the population - the Seventh Day Adventists, many of whom are vegetarian. However an average American consumes two and a half times more meat and so, as the authors point out, potential benefits to the general public and to the urgent battle against climate change could be even greater than those observed in the study.
• The EPIC Oxford Research 2
Oxford University study finds greenhouse gases from eating meat twice as high as vegan diet
Using data from the Oxford University on-going cohort study of over 55,000 UK citizens the researchers studied the relative impacts on greenhouse house gases, the major cause of our planet’s changing climate. Data from 15,000 vegetarians and 2,000 vegans was analysed as part of the collaboration between researchers funded by the British Heart Foundation, the Oxford Martin School and Cancer Research UK. The study found that meat diets have approximately twice the greenhouse gas emissions of vegan diets.
In conclusion the authors said a government update on dietary recommendation for sustainable diets must include lower consumption of animal products.