Scientists continue to enforce the idea that a drastic cut in world-wide meat consumption is needed. In January 2019 the Lancet medical journal published a study that called for dramatic changes to food production and the human diet, in order to avoid “catastrophic damage to the planet”. A further study, published in October 2018 in the journal Nature, estimated that meat consumption must be reduced by 90% to avoid unsustainable global warming, water shortages and deforestation. So how can we best respond to this cry for help? One response is moving the planet towards flexitarianism; a diet consisting of largely plant-based food with occasional meat additions.
The global food system is certainly damaging our planet. And when it comes to tackling the environmental impact of meat consumption, scientists endorse the flexitarian diet: "We can eat a range of healthy diets but what they all have in common, according to the latest scientific evidence, is that they are all relatively plant based," said lead author Dr Marco Springmann from the University of Oxford. "You can go from a diet that has small amounts of animal products, some might call it a Mediterranean based diet, we call it a flexitarian diet, over to a pescatarian, vegetarian or vegan diet - we tried to stay with the most conservative one of these which in our view is the flexitarian one, but even this has only one serving of red meat per week."
If the world moved to become more flexitarian, greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture would be reduced by more than half. In fact research analysis by Oxford University scientist Joseph Poore shows that if every family in the United Kingdom swapped a red meat meal to a plant-based meal just once a week, the environmental impact would be equivalent to taking 16 million cars off the road.
It must be good news, therefore, that 1 in 3 Americans now consider themselves flexitarian. A study conducted by OnePoll, in conjunction with So Delicious Dairy Free, examined the eating habits of 2,000 Americans and found that 59% eat plant-based meals at least once a day.
The report found that the top 5 reasons consumers reported to be flexitarian were:
1. To eat healthier without feeling I am depriving myself (70%)
2. To feel better physically (69%)
3. To feel better mentally (57%)
4. To lose weight: (46%)
5. To set a good example for my children/others: (27%)
With scientists informing us that the environmental impact of our food system could increase by 50–90 per cent by 2050, we need solutions, and flexitarianism seems a great place to start. Of course, there are many ways consumers and food producers can reduce the environmental impact of food production, including reducing food waste. Cashmere has developed software which reduces the amount of waste your food and beverage company produces. So GET IN TOUCH today to learn more.