One of the greatest ways to reduce your impact on the planet

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the scale of the climate crisis and powerless about our individual contribution to find a solution.

For years now, my cousin Otto has been passionately telling the family the huge positive impact that can be made for our planet by making simple lifestyle changes and moving more towards a plant-based diet. Indeed, avoiding meat and dairy is one of the greatest way we can reduce our impact on Earth.

Holly, Sam and Richard Branson at the dinner table

2018 study conducted by a researcher at the University of Oxford, Joseph Poore, found that cutting meat and dairy from your diet can reduce the land required to produce your food by about 75 per cent. The same study found that food production is responsible for a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. Meat and other animal products make up more than 50 per cent of this figure.

This has been backed by numerous other studies, including a 2018 special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which called for people to eat 30% less animal products.

Ten years ago today, Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney launched ‘Meat Free Mondays’ – an awareness campaign that has left a significant impact on the eating habits and carbon footprint from people all over the world.

Meat Free Monday digital banner

Thanks to Otto’s passion and knowledge, my family and I have been following Meat Free Mondays for several years now. In fact we now eat less and less meat on other days too. Many of our friends have followed suit and we often talk about how much better we feel because of it. 
 
We’ve also embraced Meat Free Mondays at Virgin Management. It’s proven to be a really effective way to encourage people to embrace more conscious eating habits and learn how nutritious, inexpensive, easy and delicious a meat-free or meat-reduced diet can be.

Meat Free Monday poster

There are plenty of other ways to reduce your carbon footprint when it comes to food consumption. Here are a few other considerations I’m really trying to stick to:

  1. Eat local and seasonal foods – It’s important to remember the carbon cost of transporting food.
  2. Ditch the plastic-packaging – When I can, I head to the local markets to avoid all of the plastic packaging form the major supermarkets. It’s a really nice weekend ritual.
  3. Take note of your food waste and buy less accordingly.
  4. Try to eat organic to eliminates soil and water contamination – It’s more expensive, but much more viable when you take meat out of shopping list.
  5. Learn more about how your diet as a whole is impacting the environment – This carbon calculator is incredibly insightful.

Do you have any other tips or suggestions for following a more conscious diet? I'm always looking for more tips!

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