Going Vegan

Concerns About Going Vegan & The Big Impact

written byMatt Davies Co-Founder, Mossy Earth

Matt Davies

According to scientists behind the most comprehensive analysis of the damage farming does to the planet, avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact.

Here we decode veganism and address the main concerns around going vegan.

A plate without meat?

For much of the Western world, it’s difficult to envisage a mealtime without meat.

Overcoming this culturally ingrained hurdle and finding tasty and convenient solutions is one of the toughest tests to going vegan. Fear not, the world wide web has an infinite number of recipes for the novice to the master chef, as well as nutritional advice and FAQs.

Here are 3 of our favorite go to vegan websites; VeganHealth, VeganKitchen, and HappyCow. Alternatively, read our Being Vegan guide for additional meal ideas.

Going vegan means getting creative! A plate of sweet potato chips topped with vegan sour cream and accompanied with a side dish of guacamole
Going vegan means getting creative! Photo: Ella Olsson

The Protein Question

Being asked "Where do you get your protein?" is the bane of all vegetarians and vegans' lives.

In fact, compared to other mammals, humans are naturally adapted for a comparatively low protein intake, requiring just 10% of our daily calorie intake. This amasses to 50 – 60 grams for an average person, yet the UK’s National Diet and Nutritional Survey found we are eating considerably more at 75-100 grams.

As a vegan, it’s very easy to source 60 grams of protein from oats, nuts, beans, wholegrains, lentils, chick peas, green peas, brown rice, quinoa and tofu to name just a few.

Going vegan and the protein question. Here are two glass jars containing green lentils and kidney beans, just two easy sources of protein.
Lentils, beans and chick peas are all great sources of protein.
A delicious vegan beetroot burger and sweet potato fries

Take action now

Do you want to have a direct impact on climate change? Sir David Attenborough said the best thing we can do is to rewild the planet. So we run reforestation and rewilding programs across the globe to restore wild ecosystems and capture carbon.

Get involved

Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies

Vitamin B12 (essential for cell production), Selenium (an antioxidant to fight disease), Iodine (important for the metabolism and healthy functioning of the thyroid gland) and Zinc (vital for a strong immune system) are vitamins and minerals that vegans are more prone to be deficient in.

However, a regular intake of leafy greens, wholegrains (barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, rye, cous-cous, millet) and yeast extract for B12, will easily keep you in check. There are also some cool supplements out there designed specifically for vegans such as Athletic Greens, which is a daily all in one supplement with 75 proven, whole food sourced ingredients.

A bowl of brazil nuts. These nuts are an excellent source of selenium, which is often a concern when going vegan.
A single Brazil nut contains 68 to 91 micrograms (mcg) of selenium, meaning that just one nut per day can provide the daily recommended adult allowance of 55 mcg.

A lack of energy?

I regularly compete in ultra marathons, recently completing 170km mountain ultra eating just brown rice/nori balls and homemade flapjacks. A well-balanced vegan diet with daily wholegrains and legumes will not leave you feeling lethargic. In fact, many vegan athletes will say they have more energy since adopting a plant-based diet.

For more insight and inspiration, watch The Game Changers. It is a 2018 documentary film about the benefits of plant-based eating for athletes. The documentary follows former UFC fighter James Wilks who, while recovering from an injury, travels the world and talks with elite athletes who follow plant-based diets. Athletes include Novak Djokovic, Lewis Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Patrik Baboumian, and Dotsie Bausch.

Going vegan doesn't mean you'll lack energy. Here, a plant based ultra trail marathon runner passing over a grassy hill.
Going vegan doesn't mean you'll lack energy.

Going Vegan and Climate Change

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and contributes to 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions. – The stats speak for themselves!

If you are in doubt about how much impact going vegan could have on the environment, then take heed from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In their 2019 report on Land Use, the Panel’s 107 scientists concluded that dietary choices can play a major role in the adaptation and mitigation of Climate Change. The report states “the largest potential for reducing AFOLU (agriculture, forestry and other land use) emissions are through reduced deforestation and forest degradation, a shift towards plant-based diets and reduced food and agriculture waste.”

To give you an idea of the distinct differences in food-related emissions, a portion of the highest-impact vegetable proteins emits less than the lowest-impact animal proteins. With animal agriculture being the leading cause of deforestation, more people adopting a vegan diet would mean using less land but getting more out of it.

The scale of the challenge is on a global level, although until policymakers implement change, you can empower yourself to combat climate change immediately by consciously choosing what you eat every day. There’s plenty of power on your plate!

If you’re able to kick the habit by going vegan, you’ll significantly lower your carbon footprint while helping preserve the environment. However, if veganism is still a step too far, consider a Flexitarian or Pescatarian Diet.

A large digger deforesting an area of rainforest. Going vegan will have a significant impact on lowering your environmental impact.
Huge swathes of rainforest are cleared by machinery to make way for rearing cattle.

Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth

The Guardian, 2018

Safety Hand

Going Vegan Tips

Systematically reducing meat, fish and dairy
Getting creative and re-inventing your go to dishes
Doing your homework and getting the right balance of vitamins and minerals
Sourcing protein from beans, lentils, chick pea, nuts, seeds and more.
Minimising your impact on the planet
Preparing wholesome food at home so you're not caught out when on the go
Eating locally and seasonally
Enjoying greater energy levels and shorter recovery times

Sources & further reading

Peer Reviewed Research Section
  1. Evaluating the environmental impact of various dietary patterns combined with different food production systems - nature.comExternal linkIcon Peer Review
  2. Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers - sciencemag.orgExternal linkIcon Peer Review

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