The meat industry accounts for nearly 60% of all greenhouse gas emissions from food production. Similarly, high emissions are also associated with the production of dairy products. They mainly derive from farming and specifically animal methane emissions. Fortunately, more people are turning to plant-based alternatives, which have boomed in recent years. Here are some interesting facts kids should know about a plant-based food diet.
Eating a plant-based diet, as the name suggests, means eating only food that comes primarily from plants. Food such as meat and fish are therefore not suitable for vegetarians, while vegans go the extra mile and give up dairy, eggs, and honey. Despite what many think, this does not mean that you are restricted just to fruit and vegetables. Eating vegan also means you can enjoy all types of nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, and beans.
Indeed, vegetarian and vegan diets are less environmentally intensive, as they require fewer resources such as land and water. Experts believe that adopting a plant-based diet would reduce global agricultural land use from 4 to 1 billion hectares! This is because producing meat requires more land than anything else.
Meat is also known for wasting huge amounts of water. It takes more than 660 gallons (approximately 24,000 litres) of water to produce just one burger! In comparison, one slice of bread requires ‘just’ 11 gallons of water (42 litres). Even plant-based meat alternatives have a much smaller environmental footprint, leading to between 30% and 90% less carbon dioxide emissions than conventional meat.
While switching to a plant-based diet can save the planet, it is not something everyone can or wants to do. However, you can always try it out for a period of time! Every year since 2014, millions of people join a 30-day challenge known as ‘Veganuary’, which encourages people to consume only plant-based foods for the month of January. The 2022 edition contributed to more than 1,500 new vegan products and menus being launched around the world.
As long as you follow a balanced diet and eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds as well as beans and legumes, you don’t need to worry about not getting enough nutrients. But to ensure that, it is extremely important that you educate yourself before deciding to go plant-based and that you understand the nutritional value of different food and especially how important these nutrients are for your body.
The biggest nutrient deficiency concerning vegans is Vitamin B12, which helps keep your blood and nerve cells healthy. This is because this essential vitamin is found almost exclusively in animal foods. Many alternative foods such as plant-based milk are fortified, meaning that they contain extra nutrients to meet your nutritional needs. However, you can also take supplements to ensure your body gets everything it needs to function properly.
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