Why Sir David Attenborough advocates for a mainly plant-based diet and what that means for our planet as well as for our personal health. Read about the impact of a more sustainable diet:
Voices advocating for more action to prevent a climate catastrophe are getting louder every day. Most of them are directed towards politicians or big corporations. Definitely the starting point for big scale transitions. Political and corporate pivots are crucial and we see only slow adjustments. But out of convenience we often forget how much power actually each single one of us has:
- True, the major emitter of greenhouse gases is energy. Including electricity and heat it accounts to 57% of global emissions. Energy is more difficult for us to control directly. We can choose greener providers, we can try to consume less energy.
- Also transport with 16% is a big one. Flying less, choosing the bike over the car are obvious choices on how to lower our personal carbon footprint.
- But another crucial factor determining our personal carbon footprint and one of the easiest to adjust is our diet as food accounts for about 18% of global emissions.
Take aways from Sir David Attenborough’s ‘Life on our Planet’
In his new documentary and witness statement ‘A Life on our Planet’ (a must-see for everyone), naturalist and environmentalist Sir David Attenborough urges to reduce our meat consumption and adopt a more plant-based diet: “We must change our diet. The planet can’t support billions of meat-eaters.”
To put it in numbers, he explains that (all measured in terms of their weight):
- 70% of all birds on this planet are domestic, mainly chicken raised to land on our plates
- For mammals, the numbers are even more shocking: Only 4% on this earth are still wild!
- We humans make up for about 35%
- While 60% of all mammals are domestically raised to feed us!
- This is the reason why about 50% of fertile land is used as farmland.
- In the ocean, it does not look any better: 90% of fish populations are already either overfished or fished to capacity.
Another research study published by Science (2018), reported that 83% of agricultural land is used for animal farming even though animal products provide only 18% of global calories. So what can we do about it?
The impact of Adopting a Sustainable plant-based Diet
A study from Oxford University (2016) calculated that a global transition towards a plant-based diet would reduce food-related land use by around 3.1 billion hectares, which is the land size of Africa! Land that could be given back to nature. Land that could be transformed into forests and thereby helping to pull out carbon dioxide out of the air leading to more biodiversity and lower carbon dioxide levels in the long-term. Depending on the diet, the cut of food-related emissions would lead to:
- Minus 63% for a global adoption of a vegetarian diet
- Minus 70% for a global vegan diet
The Planetary Health Diet
In ‘A Life on our Planet’, Sir David Attenborough is not stating that all of us should become strictly vegan overnight. But adopting a mainly plant-based diet by everyone would be one of the most effective measures against climate change and also great for our personal health. A great way to start eating in a way that is better for the planet as well as for your own health is following the recommendations for the Eat Forum and their scientifically advocated Planetary Health Diet. For adults, that means each meal should consist of:
- 50% of fruits and vegetables
- the other 50% consist primarily of whole grains, plant proteins and healthy plant oils.
- Meat and dairy make up a very tiny part of the diet.
For us in the Western world, that means drastically reducing our livestock consumption while increasing our protein intake from plant sources like beans, lentils, pulses, nuts, and seeds.
Start your day with a Vegan Breakfast
Much information, much to digest. But where to begin? Jonathan Safran Foer, we suggest doing one good deed first thing in the morning: Have a vegan breakfast! There are so many delicious choices - for example, just opt for a Z-Ora Bowl. Containing mainly nuts and seeds, the optimal start to the day full of essential minerals and vitamins and a great source of plant protein!
Written by Isabel Zapf, founder of Z-Ora