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Veganuary - with a pinch of salt

Veganuary – with a pinch of salt

The report by Eat Lancet Commission was published by the prestigious Lancet medical journal this month. This 2 year project, involving 37 experts from 16 countries outlines the steps needed to achieve a healthy and sustainable global food system. One of the authors, Tim Lang from City, University of London states that:

‘The food we eat and how we produce it determines the health of people and the planet.’

Researchers studied how food is produced and eaten across the world, and the impact it has on the environment. The steps they identified include reducing food waste by 50%, improving the use of fertilisers, and protecting the remaining natural habitat.

The key recommendation from the report deals with our diets. They say that in order to keep ourselves and the planet healthy, we need to reduce our consumption of red meat, dairy and sugar and increase our intake of fruit, vegetables, legumes and nuts. In fact, the report implies that here in Ireland, we need to reduce our red meat intake by 90%!

Why? Meat and animal based foods typically take more resources to produce, and have a higher impact on the environment than plant-based foods .

A 90% reduction is intimidating to anyone. If can’t imagine a life without hot chicken rolls or a Sunday morning fry, stay calm – there’s still plenty you can do.

First of all, start by reducing food waste. In Ireland, we throw out an estimated 10% of the meat and dairy that we buy. This level of waste means we are creating an even higher demand for animal products than we are actually using. Try to avoid buying more than you need. Focus on making sure that food, especially any meat, dairy or eggs you buy, actually gets eaten.

Reduce your intake of animal products slowly. Introducing small steps over time will probably work out better in the long run than any sudden changes. Ask anyone who’s ever been on a diet! Whether it’s the odd vegetarian lunch, Meat Free Mondays or even just swapping half of the mince in your spag bol for lentils, every little bit helps. Here are five recipes from The Irish Times that may help you get started. ‘Flexitarian’ has a nice ring to it!

Veganuary is the latest in the trend of January pledges. Similar to Dry January, where people commit to a month with no alcohol, Veganuary invites people to go vegan for the month i.e. exclude all animal products like meat and dairy from their diet. The trend is growing rapidly. This year, over 250,000 people worldwide had signed up online at the beginning of the month.

Veganuary has a certain ring to it but January may not be the easiest of months to make any drastic changes. Whatever the time of year, if it’s something you want to pursue, why not choose a vegetarian or vegan diet for one month? It’s a good way to find out what foods you can and cannot do without. See how it goes for you.

Here at Stop Food Waste, we believe that food should be enjoyed and appreciated (and of course not wasted)! While this is a global issue, it’s no good taking on the weight of world. Do what feels good for you, and celebrate whatever small changes you can make!