By Anders Lorenzen
The UK based vegan charity, the Vegan Society, have said there are huge carbon savings to be made by switching to a vegan diet.
The charity made the savings estimations in conjunction with their campaign ‘Plate Up for the Planet’, a campaign where people can pledge to go vegan for a week. Their calculations were made by tallying up the carbon reductions from the 10,000 people who (so far) have signed up to the campaign. They said that the results are astonishing, amounting to 147,000 kg of CO2 savings. Put in various forms of context this is equivalent to: 767,143 km of long-haul flight travel – or flying to the moon and back, travelling 1,019,064 km by car – which amounts to driving round the world 11.5 times, 539,000 washing machine cycles – equivalent to washing the clothes of everybody in Cardiff twice, or 19,510,909 hours of low energy lighting – enough to light every home in Brighton for 3 days.
On top of the week-long stats they say that many of those who join the campaign choose to remain vegan after the week has passed, so the CO2 savings are even higher.
According to the charity, ‘Plate Up for the Planet’ is the single biggest campaign investment they have ever made. Its focus is a seven-day, emissions-reducing initiative which they are promoting through national advertising, high-profile celebrity endorsements, social media, presence at summer festivals, and a nationwide team of supporters. The seven-day challenge encourages participants to consume low greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions meal plans. They say they are able to tell the participants what GHG savings they are making, compared to an omnivorous diet.
The campaign is backed by high-profile names such as the poet Benjamin Zephaniah, the Harry Potter star Evanna Lynch, Made in Chelsea’s Lucy Watson, and the MP and environmental and climate change campaigner, Caroline Lucas, of the Green Party. The environmental organisations and businesses Friends of the Earth, Eating Better Alliance, Ecotricity, 10:10, Let’s Eat Better, International Trees Foundation and Global Action Plan have also shown support for the campaign.
The Head of Campaigns and Policy at The Vegan Society, Louise Davies said: “Going vegan is one of the most significant things an individual can do to help combat climate change, and indeed many environmentalists follow the lifestyle to decrease their impact on the planet.” She believes the campaign run by the Vegan Society will encourage more people to become full-time vegans: “What they’ve saved over the course of the week is astonishing and surprised many people, which we hope will lead to more people concerned with the environment choosing the vegan lifestyle.”
While so far only 1% of the UK population have opted for a vegan lifestyle, the results of a recent poll show that 1 in 5 say they would consider becoming vegan.
Mrs Lucas, a vegetarian, said that the campaign by the Vegan Society would make it easier to adopt a vegan lifestyle: “As a vegetarian, I’m very aware of the climate and animal welfare impacts of a meat-based diet, but in the past, I’ve struggled to eat only vegan food. The Vegan Society’s seven-day challenge provided a welcome catalyst to prompt me to go further, and reminded me just how delicious vegan food can be.”
The calculations made by the Vegan Society are not based on a particular diet, but on the estimated average savings obtained when switching from a meat and dairy diets to a vegan one.
You can sign up to Plate Up for the Planet here.