Veg out

Make meat a treat

Nothing beats a succulent steak (except perhaps a bacon butty after a night in a tent). But you can have too much of a good thing - and we humans could do with taming our increasingly carnivorous ways.

Make meat a treat for a couple of months and you’ll improve your health, wallet and culinary expertise, not to mention your carbon footprint.

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Why

Here are a few reasons to take action.

Click for more info or scroll to read them all.

Climate change

Cows burp. A lot. And pigs eat. A lot.

Up to 37% of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by agriculture and the food industry.1 That’s more than is produced by transport. The emissions are a result of increasing deforestation (largely to make space for growing animal feeds) and the methane gas emitted from belching cows. On top of all that, there’s the energy-intensive production of fertilisers and all the transport involved. Experts agree we won’t hit our climate targets (keeping global warming to 1.5C or less) without serious attention to land use, farming methods and livestock.2

In other words, meat is an inefficient (albeit tasty) energy source. And, as you probably know, the amount of land and energy needed to feed most vegetarians is a lot less than that needed to feed a ravenous meat-eater.

One

beef steak emits more CO2 than driving for an hour and leaving all the lights on at home.2

Animal Welfare

From horsemeat scandals to battery-farmed chickens, a common motivation for vegetarianism is to help reduce poor animal welfare. Just listen to Jonathan Safran Foer for a glimpse into the reality of where our food comes from, or if you really want a raw idea of what’s going on, watch Earthlings. Warning: not for the faint hearted. If you can stomach this, you can stomach anything (except meat).

Deforestation

The primary cause of tropical deforestation is agriculture.4 Aside from staggering greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation leads to a whole host of wider problems. It displaces local communities, causes social unrest and corruption, disturbs rainfall patterns, increases flood risks, contaminates rivers and endangers native species. Basically, it’s bad news.

70%

of agricultural land is used up by livestock, providing grazing land and feedcrop.3

Health

Eating too much red meat is bad for us – particularly our waistlines and arteries. Meat and dairy are the main source of saturated fats in our western diets, and their growing popularity is partly responsible for the huge increase in cases of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and bowel cancer5.

A study carried out by the Harvard School of Public Health found that regularly eating a small amount of processed red meat leads to a 20% increase in mortality rate6. In other words, eating bacon, salami and sausages every day will knock (on average) two years off your life.5

Water

Not only does raising cattle take up space, it requires an enormous amount of water. One third of the world’s freshwater supply to be exact, according to Cowspiracy. One hamburger alone uses 660 gallons of water, which is the equivalent of showering for two months!1

Global Goals

Global Goals

In September 2017, an historic agreement was signed by UN member nations agreeing to work towards 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development by 2030, otherwise known as the SDGs.

Achieving these ambitious goals will require action from governments, businesses, NGOs, and individuals alike. We can - and must - all play our part.

By making the 'Veg out' pledge, you are contributing in your own small way to the following SDG targets:

2.4: By 2030, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality

3.4: By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being

6.4: By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.

12.8: By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature

13.3: Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning

15.2: By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally

15.5: Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species

How

You needn't become a die-hard vegetarian to reap the benefits of this Do Action (although don’t let us stop you!). In fact, just going meat-free for a few days isn't too tough and (depending on your current meat-o-meter) could really shift the dial on your impact. (Just check out the Meat-Free Mondays campaign if you don’t believe us!)

And of course, you can use the money you'll have saved to buy some deliciously wholesome free-range or organic meat when it's time to treat yourself.

Here are some inspiring stories, handy recipe books and other resources to get you going:

  • Yotam Ottolenghi's 'Plenty' is a fantastic selection of vegetarian recipes bursting with flavour. YUM.
  • Less Meat, More Veg is another classic recipe book to help you cook up a hearty vegetarian storm.
  • National Vegetarian Week is a wonderful resource, full of recipe suggestions including many from the good old Hairy Bikers.
  • To ease the transition, why not have fresh veg delivered to your doorstep? Organic veg box schemes like Riverford are super handy.
  • With vegetarianism (and veganism) on the rise, there are more and more vegetable-friendly restaurants out there to choose from. Check out Vogue’s list of London’s most desireable vegetarian restaurants.

Want to take your veg-pledge to the next level? Start growing your own! There’s little more satisfying than a home-grown crop of beans, beetroot or (if you’re really brave) broccoli. We love Real Seed’s collection of vintage seeds - get yourself some 10-foot peas or purple carrots!

Success Stories

2,972

Pledges
in total

135,482kg

CO2
pledged

I really enjoyed this pledge. I decided to aim for one veggie/vegan meal a day which I feel is so achievable. It's become virtually second nature.

We now order a local veg box, it’s been a challenge thinking of things to cook but actually I’ve found that most of my usual dishes can be adapted.

I've been trying to go meat free at least 3 days a week, and managed to do this without too much of a problem. I'll definitely continue as it's had a positive effect on my health and pocket.

This challenge made me far more aware of how much meat I was consuming, and I took active steps to reduce this. Even my husband, Mr "no meat, no meal" enjoyed the veggie creations I served up. Whilst I won't be going completely vegetarian, we have reassessed our relationship with meat and will decrease our weekly intake.

We reduced our meat consumption so that the whole family was only eating meat at the weekends (apart from one or two slips). When we did eat meat, we made sure it was organic or home grown. Whoop!

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