Why Are Plant-Based Diets Sustainable?

green leaf sustainability earth nature

There is a great deal of interest surrounding vegetarianism, veganism, and plant-based eating. The tremendous interest and demand for products such as Dr. Praeger’s Perfect Burger, or our other plant-based frozen veggie burgers is a great indicator of this.

A big part of why the plant-based diet has been embraced so enthusiastically is because of the positive impact it has on the environment and future of our planet. What exactly makes a plant-based diet “sustainable?” There’s a lot of information out there, so it can be difficult to sort the facts. The Dr. Praeger’s Health & Wellness Blog is your source for fun food and nutrition topics as well as credible and evidence-based nutrition and sustainability facts.

What Does Sustainability Mean?

Sustainability is a word that gets used a lot, but not everyone is on the same page regarding its meaning. Sustainability is a good word to describe the general attitudes and efforts that are being made to protect the planet from wasteful practices and harmful overconsumption of natural resources.

Overconsumption turns replenishable resources such as usable water and arable land into a finite resource as demand outstrips the ability for the ecosystem to regenerate these crucial elements of production. Sustainability simply means meeting our current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

To be sustainable, we must make efficient changes to everything from production of a product to altering eating habits, how we shop, and what we use in our day-to-day lives. This is to ensure that current and future generations will be able to exist in “productive harmony” as defined by the EPA—the Environmental Protection Agency.

Greenhouse Gas Reduction with a Plant-Based Diet

The main contributor to climate change is greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are released from many different industries, the largest of which are the energy sector, manufacturing, transportation, and agriculture. GHGs include:

  • Carbon dioxide
  • Methane
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Fluorinated gases

For definitions on these gases, refer to this handy EPA chart.

The most significant GHG is CO2, carbon dioxide. CO2 is a result from natural processes like respiration and from the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas. It is most notably absorbed by plants and trees as part of the overall carbon cycle of the planet.

Some greenhouse gases, like methane, are produced through agricultural practices. Year after year, greenery is cut down to make way for fields that can be used for farming, cattle ranching and other livestock breeding. Cattle represent approximately 65% of the livestock sectors emissions, according to the Food and Agriculture Association. Total emissions from livestock represent about 14.5% of GHGs from human activity. Reducing the demand for meat is one way of cutting back GHGs that contribute to climate change.

Switching to a Plant-Based Diet Helps Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

There’s no shortage of articles, academic papers, and studies done on the brutal effects of cattle ranching in the Amazon. Tropical deforestation in Latin America has been the subject of many embroiled debates on the long-term consequences of worldwide meat and dairy consumption. Meat and dairy consumption have been rising steadily as many countries are lifted out of abject poverty into a stable economy and greater standard of living.

The plot is often lost in a binary argument of whether meat should or should not be consumed, whether many facts are skewed by lobbying from the meat industry, or the agricultural industry, etc. Climate change and adopting a plant-based diet are heated topics in which ethics, nutrition, environmentalism, politics, business, and even the question of our future survival as a species collide into a spectacularly complex topic.

However, what is clear is this:

Reducing consumption of meat and animal products is a more attainable and productive goal for all parties.

A lengthy report from the United Nations Environment Programme states it simply:

“Both emissions and land use depend strongly on diets. Animal products, both meat and dairy, in general require more resources and cause higher emissions than plant-based alternatives” Therefore meaning, a diet high in animal products contributes significantly more to global warming compared to a diet rich in plants.

A report from the IPCC, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, concurs the sentiment while also suggesting that meat use need not be entirely eliminated, but can be a part of a balanced diet. As opposed to the current overindulgence (and waste) of meat and dairy products worldwide.

Sustainable Plant-Based Frozen Foods

The information above is enough to make anyone’s head spin, but Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods Philosophy simplifies it into something you can incorporate daily in your life, by delivering delicious recipes made from simple ingredients that make plant-based eating a positive choice, rather than an ethical sacrifice.

Our delicious frozen plant-based foods such as our Perfect Burger, or California Burger, strive to provide a delicious gateway into plant-based eating. For the convenience, for your health, for the environment, and most simply, because it tastes good.

For more information on our products, contact Dr. Praeger’s today!