By Naomi Harris, GLOBUS Correspondent
With November 1st being World Vegan Day, there is a lot of buzz around this time of year about the benefits of going vegan.
Many of us know the stats: animal agriculture produces more greenhouse gases than all transportation combined; 90% of the Amazon rainforest cleared since 1970 has been used for grazing livestock. We’ve all heard the phrase: ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’.
But what I found most disturbing is that, “if the UK population was killed at the rate farmed animals are killed around the world, it would end in just 11 hours”. Clearly, meat consumption is bad for the environment, so cutting meat out of your diet will surely save the planet? Yes – and no.
As significant as going vegan is, or at least, as reducing your meat consumption is, veganism is not the only part of the food revolution that this planet needs in order for us to have a future on it. Meat consumption and farming plays a huge role in greenhouse gas emissions, land destruction and water usage, but so does the whole agriculture process.
I recently watched an eye-opening documentary, The Need To Grow. What surprised me watching this is what little focus is put on common agricultural practices. Did you know that we only have 60 years of farmable soil left? In my case, I will be alive when our food runs out. This is the most pressing issue of our time; we cannot live without food. We need to start focusing on how it is sourced.
The Need To Grow taught me a lot about soil and the importance of healthy soil to produce large yields of nutrient-rich food. In a single handful of healthy soil there are more microorganism than people on this planet! According to the documentary, enough healthy soil could the offset all the carbon on Earth. Yet, we are destroying are soil at the rate of 30 soccer fields every minute.
But what can we do? We’re not farmers, we do not have the time, the skill or the land to grow our own crops and rear our own livestock. Thankfully, we don’t have to.
There are simple changes you can do in your shopping habits to help the environment. This is what the campaign, The Big Food Switch, is hoping to achieve. From September 1st to November 30th they’re hoping to raise awareness of the impact of your diet by promoting three simple changes – eating plant-based, easting local/seasonal and eating fair.
Instead of buying produce that has been covered in pesticides and chemicals, opt for those that have been organically farmed. The best way to ensure this is to shop local.
If you’re in Leamington you can support a local business and help to environment by shopping at Hilltop Farm. They cover everything from deli to bakery to meats to beer. They’re based just outside the town, but if you don’t have a car, they offer a home delivery service. Leamington also has its own farmers market which takes part throughout the year. You can find other local options here.
In Coventry, the farmers’ market runs on the third Friday of the month, between 9am and 3pm, selling locally sourced produce. There are also many stores that offer organic food, such as Down To Earth who offer free delivery on produce boxes in the Coventry, Kenilworth and parts of Leamington areas. Also, The Green Unicorn Vegan Store at Fargo Village offers a zero waste shopping experience alongside vegan goods.
Saving our planet was never going to be an easy task. There are so many areas that have been overlooked and exploited for so many years, our global food system being one of them. However, there is hope, and we can make a change. By becoming a conscious consumer – shopping local, seasonal, plant-based and fair – we have the opportunity to make a difference.