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GSI and vegetarian catering

Global Sustainability Institute

Faculty: Science and Engineering
Category: Student blogs

20 August 2019

Illustration of vegetables

Eating a plant based diet is one of the most effective ways an individual can contribute to a more sustainable planet. So it only makes sense that the Global Sustainability Institute started exclusively using vegetarian catering in 2017. Providing vegetarian meals could encourage more people to take a step towards healthier diets and a healthier future.

Although efforts to be more sustainable can be seen through changes like the plastic straw ban, there is still a resistance to change to a vegetarian diet. At least 46 percent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch mass was compromised of fishing nets, while microplastics, like straws, made up 8 percent. According to World Watch’s report on livestock and climate change, livestock and its byproducts account for 51 percent of annual worldwide greenhouse gas emissions through factors like land conversion, fertilising, transport, and waste. A lack of awareness towards the harms of supporting the meat and dairy industry discourages a move towards a diet that aims to prevent further damage to the planet. A BBC article published in 2016 suggested that if the world went vegan, ‘emissions declines would be around 70%.

An individual’s interest in vegetarian products and meals can go a long way. In 2018 more vegan food products were launched in the UK than any other nation. A survey by Just Eat showed a huge increase in the demand for vegetarian and vegan meals, proving that even takeaways can now be more sustainable. A response often heard when discussing vegetarian diets is a lack of protein. However, the World Health Organization’s ‘healthy diet’ publication recommends a focus on fruit, vegetables, and legumes, with no mention of meat or dairy. Its guidelines suggest limiting consumption of meat, ‘with very small amounts, if any, of processed meat products.’ Even a ‘flexitarian’ diet would be a move in the right direction. Simply consuming less meat and dairy on a daily basis could lower the impact of livestock on the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A higher consumption of pulses, beans, and grains would assist with rehabilitating farmland and biodiversity.

By offering vegetarian menus at GSI events, awareness can be raised around the accessibility of plant based diets and the range of options available. Visiting a seminar, workshop, or exhibition by the GSI not only informs people of the environmental challenges society faces but also offers a step towards living more sustainably by providing sustainable food.

Louise Pam, GSI Intern
July 2019


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