Global Warming & Climate Change: Is the Future Vegan?

protect nature and save the planet

Environmental topics have been discussed for centuries. Although it feels like it’s only started to become a popular discussion recently, not only from “hippy activists” but from everyone this time. Not sure if we really needed a worldwide pandemic to finally open our eyes, but it seems like it had an impact on people. My recent travels in Southeast Asia & the Pacific definitely contributed in my willingness to care more, it changed my mindset forever. Avoiding plastic and chemicals in products we use every day, recycling properly, prioritising walking over driving for short distances…etc. All of these actions are great and useful, but are they enough?

Current situation in 2021

Let’s start with a definition of two key terms. “Global warming” is due to human activities, primarily fossil fuel burning, which increases heat-trapping greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere. Whereas “Climate change” refers to both human and naturally produced warming, as well as the effects it has on our planet. Now let’s move to what’s happening and what will happen if we don’t do anything. The planet has warmed by an average of nearly 1°C in the past century. Human activity is said to be the dominant influence on the environment, climate, and ecology. So far, these changes have already had drastic impacts on all life on Earth.

If we don’t do anything and the planet keeps warming up faster than the natural process, we will face disastrous consequences. It would mean floods or droughts on various areas, the destruction of rainforests, and even the extinction of many other species. This list is not exhaustive and the speed temperatures are rising is now faster than ever before. To some degree (no pun intended), climate change is a natural phenomenon. But global warming is man-made… Which also means we can do something about it. Do you want to know what your environmental footprint is? WWF will calculate it for you by taking this quick questionnaire.

isolated house on ice melting
Trust me, I wish it wasn’t true.

How our diet impacts the planet

Our diet plays a huge part in our carbon footprint. Food is responsible for a quarter of global emissions. And almost 60% of food emissions come from animal products. Beef has the biggest carbon footprint, by far. And the main issue is the amount of beef that the world currently demands. The global population getting richer only makes things worse. We are asking big agriculture for more meat than we can sustainably produce. In comparison, a portion of the highest-impact vegetable proteins emits less than the lowest-impact animal proteins…

Some figures about what we eat (provided by Friends of the Earth):

  • 14.5% of global climate changing gases are due to meat and dairy production (more than all forms of transport)
  • 50% of habitable land around the world is used to produce food
  • 45,000 early deaths could be prevented in the UK every year if we ate low meat diets
  • Over 10 million tonnes of food is wasted in the UK annually
  • 8 billion animals are killed for meat every year in the UK

These figures are shocking. The fact that half of the world’s habitable land is used for agriculture should ring alarm bells. Basically, we need to buy less meat, milk, cheese and butter – but also eat more locally sourced seasonal food, and throw less of it away. Would you be prepared to change your diet for the planet?

What we can do about it

Eating more sustainable meat can already make a big difference. But less meat is nearly always better for your carbon footprint than sustainable meat. It is absolutely essential to reduce your meat consumption to curb climate change. Is going vegan the answer? The climate impact of plant-based foods is typically 10 to 50 times smaller than that of animal products. So of course a plant-based diet would drastically help reduce emissions. Switching to veganism (completely plant-based) would deliver the largest emissions savings, followed by vegetarianism (including eggs and dairy) – It’s no surprise. Bearing that in mind, you don’t have to go that far if you’re not willing to. To sum things up nicely:

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Michael Pollan

The bottom line

For some people, completely cutting out meat and dairy is not an option. If that’s your case, thankfully there are plenty of other ways to contribute! For example:

  • Go flexitarian
  • Eat vegetarian one day a week
  • Ban meat from your breakfasts
  • Eat more whole and locally grown foods
  • Reduce food waste
  • Eat less junk food
  • Eat smaller portions

I previously shared 3 awesome tofu recipes if you’re willing to give plant proteins a go to help reduce your meat consumption. You could also just cut out beef from your diet. Switching to pork, cod, chicken or soya beans could drastically reduce CO2 emissions. But personally, I do think the future is vegan. It’s a matter of time before consumers force food industries to adapt to the new demands. Have you already taken a step in that direction?

Big Girl x

How to Improve Your Diet to Positively Impact The Planet

burger and fries

Have you decided to become a healthier version of yourself? If so, I’m proud of you and I’m looking forward to sharing that journey with you! What if doing that also gave you the opportunity to take actions and save the planet? I hope you are interested because you can actually do both at the same time. Sustainable nutrition is the future we need.

What is sustainable nutrition?

What I mean is changing your food choices provides the simplest and largest impact you can have on the world and your body. Meat production has a heavy impact on the environment and it’s no secret to anyone that red meat (especially beef) requires a lot more land and more water to produce than poultry, resulting in significantly higher climate-warming emissions. By simply choosing chicken over beef for example, you could reduce your dietary carbon footprint by half! Or you can simply remove animal products from your diet to have an even bigger impact on the planet.

Is a plant-based diet the only solution?

I’ve always found it annoying when someone who chose to be vegan tries to make you feel bad for eating meat, but the truth is their diet is the least damaging for the planet. After a lot of research on the matter, my view on the topic has evolved quite a lot over the past few years. I think it’s all about limiting your carbon footprint without necessarily having to remove your favourite foods from your diet, sometimes it makes a vegan diet easy to adopt, sometimes it feels impossible. So for now I’ve decided to go halfway and have at least one plant-based meal a day.

Huel, short for Human Fuel

huel products in my kitchen

One of the reasons I love this brand so much is that they really care about the environment and are making an effort to talk about it more: “Halting climate change is possible, eating for our health is achievable and lowering our carbon emissions is simple. It all starts with changing the way we eat. It’s time to change the way we think about food.” Huel is 100% plant-based and any food waste becomes renewable energy. They provide all nutrients you need and they constantly innovate with new flavours, no wonder why they keep growing (and it’s really good news for the environment).

What can you do to improve your diet and reduce your carbon footprint?

  • choose fish/poultry over beef/lamb
  • choose plant proteins over animal products
  • eat less food high in sugar/fat
  • avoid fried foods
  • limit your consumption of alcohol
  • eat more fruits, vegetables, legumes (lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas), nuts and seeds

How I choose to contribute

Personally, I skip breakfast as part of my intermittent fasting so I have only 2 meals a day (which is not recommended for everyone so make sure you talk to a dietician if you have any doubts). I have Huel for lunch (I love their coffee caramel black edition, I add matcha powder to it) and I eat mostly fish or poultry for dinner (more and more rarely red meat compared to before but it still happens occasionally).

I have nuts as a healthy snack and include a lot of fruits in my diet. Also, I don’t eat gluten anymore and avoid dairy products as my body doesn’t seem to tolerate any of these very well. Gluten-free & dairy-free diets are not always easy to follow but it also benefits the planet, not just me. Bearing in mind I want it to be a lifestyle I can adopt in the long run, not just a temporary measure.

Want to find out more?

If you want to read more on the topic, check out the links below:

What positive change for both your health and the planet have you made so far?

Big Girl x

The Great Barrier Reef Is Shrinking… It’s Time to Act

In January this year I’ve been lucky enough to see the Great Barrier Reef during my trip in Australia. I could have snorkelled there but I wasn’t comfortable under water and I was worried about hurting the fragile coral. So I did a scenic flight instead and saw it from above. It was probably the best way to appreciate how big this natural wonder of the world is. It stretches over 2,300 km!

I took this picture from the scenic flight tour, you can see the famous “Heart Reef” on the right. How beautiful is this?

David Attenborough talks about the impact of climate change on sea life in his movie A Life on Our Planet (hope you’ve watched it by now) and this is pretty alarming. The world’s largest reef system has lost half of its coral since 1995. They provide habitat for fish and other marine life, so if coral disappears it means sea life also disappears. Too much stress on these corals drives them to “bleach”, meaning they lose their algae which normally gives them their colour.

“We used to think the Great Barrier Reef is protected by its sheer size – but our results show that even the world’s largest and relatively well-protected reef system is increasingly compromised and in decline.”

Terry Hughes, Professor of Marine Biology

You may think that the Planet warming up by only 1°C is not much… But according to an IPCC special report, 90% of the world’s corals would be wiped out if it reaches 1.5°C by the end of this century. How do we stop this path of destruction?

The Government can always put in place new measures to try and save the planet but it is not going to be enough… I personally believe the biggest part has to come from individuals. It’s the general mindset that needs to change. This is a list of ideas of what we can all do:

  • Buy less meat, milk, cheese and butter
  • Buy more locally sourced seasonal food
  • Throw less food away
  • Walk or cycle when possible, instead of taking the car
  • Prioritise trains and buses instead of planes
  • Use video conferences instead of business travels
  • Make sure our home is well insulated

There are so many ways to contribute, I found a very good article from another blog here for example: 22 Ways to Save the Planet in 2020. On my end, I completely banned cow milk at home or products made with it. Various milk alternatives are so much better anyway that it makes it easy to replace. I reduced my consumption of red meat to once or twice a month only and prioritise fish more. I cook fresh products, from a farm or market whenever I can, and don’t throw anything away (it’s easier when you know what portion you need!). I include plant-based meals in my diet like Huel once a day. Since we moved in London, we don’t own a car anymore. This is not much but if it doesn’t represent a big sacrifice it should be done!

“You might say you don’t have control over land use, but you do have control over what you eat and that determines land use.”

Doctor Debra Roberts, IPCC Co-Chair

What is your way to contribute in this battle to stop hurting the planet?

Big Girl x

Even Mobile Games Join the Fight to Save the Planet

Even mobile games join the fight to help save the planet

I remember when I used to play Angry Birds 10 years ago when it was still new. But then I got my first full-time job and I realised I spent too much time playing games so I removed them from my phone. It stayed that way for many years… Until lockdown happened earlier this year and I remembered how I used to fly these famous birds to destroy these nasty pigs. The game is now even better than it was before. But what if I told you that Angry Birds (among others) can also help save the planet??

“There’s something like three billion people with mobile phones and half of them are gamers. As an industry, we have a massive reach in comparison to other entertainment mediums. We feel like there is an opportunity and increasingly an imperative for us to do something.”

John Earner, Co-Founder of Space Ape

“Play for the Planet”, it’s pretty catchy. How does it work though? It’s not that easy to see the link between mobile games and environment… Well, if you consider that the video games industry is the fastest growing in the world, it would be a shame not to use its reach for a good cause! It’s becoming urgent to act now for the planet, so the biggest names in the gaming industry are acting together to create real-world impact via their most popular games. Now they’re on a mission to create environmental themes and raise awareness by gamifying real topics!

“We’re excited to see the gaming industry throw its weight behind global efforts to reverse the climate crisis. The climate emergency needs all hands on deck. In reaching out to 250 million gamers, we hope to inspire audiences to take climate action.”

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of United Nations Environment Programme

I didn’t realise Angry Birds was so invested in saving the planet until I noticed that event on my screen a few days ago – All players from the entire world having to pop as many pigs as possible to reach the goal of 6,500,000,000 (it gives you an idea on how popular this game is). I thought the initiative was absolutely brilliant so I had to share it with you. The link when you tap to find out more is Plant for the Planet.

angry birds for the planet

It turns out Angry Birds has been fighting against climate change for many years already! I’m still unsure how I missed previous campaigns such as Angry Birds Friends: Champions for Earth (“Angry Birds get angry about climate change”) back in 2005. This makes me feel more hopeful about our future, it’s the youngest generations that we need to educate about the impact of global warming and it’s mostly for them that we need to save our planet. This is definitely a great step in the right direction.

So… How many pigs have you popped so far?

Big Girl x

David Attenborough’s Message: A life On Our Planet

A life on our planet

I’ve been waiting for this documentary to be released for a while… It finally got available on Netflix yesterday! As a nature lover, I couldn’t wait any longer to watch it. I’ll tell you why you should watch it too. David Attenborough‘s life is fascinating. He was born at the right moment to be able to travel the world like never before, see the world like never before, show images like never before… But he also witnessed how humans started to destroy the planet, leaving less and less space for wildlife to sustain.

A man’s lifetime

This documentary shows how the planet evolved during his lifetime, what it could become if we don’t act now, but also how we can make changes to save it. It’s a reality check, an eye-opener and it doesn’t sugar-coat anything. It brings tears on your face, shows images that are not for the faint-hearted so you won’t be able to ignore what’s happening anymore. Everyone needs to see this, changes won’t happen overnight but our future looks pretty grim if we don’t act.

“This film is my witness statement, and my vision for the future. The story of how we came to make this, our greatest mistake, and how, if we act now, we can yet make it right.”

David Attenborough

It’s not a pretty picture

From the moment Attenborough was born until now, the population of our planet has almost quadrupled, while the space left to wildlife has been halved. “We’re replacing the wild with the tame.”, he says. The atmospheric carbon dioxide has risen considerably. The temperature on Earth has increased by 1 degree, which resulted in a loss of 40% of the sea ice we used to have in Antarctica. The evidence is in front of us.

“Our planet is headed for disaster. We need to learn how to live with nature, rather than against it.”

David Attenborough

Endangered species

If you don’t have Netflix, the documentary Extinction: The Facts is also available on BBC player and is quite similar in the way that it also explores how this crisis of biodiversity has consequences for us all. We gathered the family (which includes me, my partner and our 2 cats) in front of our 65 inch TV to watch it together. Our oldest cat didn’t seem so bothered (as you would expect from a cat) but our 6 months old kitten was more than intrigued… Especially when they showed images of the poor koala trying to escape from the burning forest (see picture below). In this documentary, Attenborough suggests the global warming impact caused by humans makes us more prone to pandemics. We are disrupting our biodiversity.

luna in front of extinctions bbc documentary

It got personal

It’s particularly emotional for me as I was there when Australia had a “dark summer”. I’ve seen fires starting out of the blue just because of scorching temperatures, I’ve been to the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie and witnessed the damages on wildlife. I’ve also seen the grey sky lingering over Sydney and breathed what was probably not the best air I’ve ever breathed… It’s always a lot scarier when it’s in front of you because you can’t pretend the media exaggerates things. It is very real.

So… Have you watched it yet? Who else needs to watch it?

Big Girl x