The debate on eating meat and its effect on the planet remains a hot topic, with many people consciously turning towards veganism to make an individual positive impact.
Today kicks off World Vegan Month, where for the whole of November, more people will cut animal products from their diet. This was a once challenging feat now made more accessible by scientists and food manufacturers who have showcased cutting-edge technology to introduce new plant-based foods to mindful consumers.
Gone are the days of the bland mushroom stroganoff being the only option for meat-free diners. Now the hospitality industry is making considerable strides in reducing its impact, with more hotels and restaurants catering for both vegetarians and vegans, with a wider range of innovative, fresh dishes.
What inspires people to become vegan?
Acre’s Harco Leertouwer, Managing Director Europe, is vegan, while his wife and two children are vegetarian.
He said: “I decided to adopt a plant-based diet nine years ago for a combination of environmental, health and animal welfare reasons. Our daughters were born prematurely which was life-threatening for them and their mother and I realised how valuable, yet precious life is, so I wanted to do all I could to protect our planet.
“Adopting a plant-based diet is the easiest way to support the fight against the climate crisis and to have a healthy diet while protecting animal welfare. It is completely normal for my children to be vegetarian – they don’t understand that people consume meat and fish.
“We do not need a small minority to do everything perfectly, we need fundamental system change as the world is on fire. For this, we need the majority of people to take small steps and these steps will then drive change. It is already happening, and it cannot be stopped.”
Acre, which has an office in Amsterdam, is delighted to join the companies situated on the Zuidas in the Netherlands that are switching to more plant-based meals and catering.
The rapidly developing business district in Amsterdam has a new initiative launched by its sustainability impact organisation Green Business Club Zuidas. It will see businesses move towards an 80 per cent plant-based menu goal, with a focus on organic and local produce and a maximum of 20 per cent meat by 2027.
The scheme called ‘Green Meal: Zuidas plant-based’ is an ambition statement which will see firms sign up to work towards a greener future. Canteens across Zuidas are currently contributing an average of 25 per cent to the CO2 emissions of big offices, resulting in several law firms, consultancies, the Vrije Universiteit van Amsterdam and other businesses, including Acre, signing up to the pledge to help combat the climate crisis.
Moreover, a balanced plant-based food is so much richer in nutrients, lower in saturated fats and the more varied sources of proteins such as seitan, tofu and tempeh, lentils, beans and peas deliver more valuable nutrition than eating meat.
So, how are animal products contributing to the climate crisis?
Greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), such as methane, are detrimental to the health of the planet, with cattle and other agricultural animals producing an estimated 14 per cent of human-induced climate emissions.
The methane, produced from cows’ burps and manure, has been hailed a major climate concern but reducing it could help combat global warming by 2040, according to experts.
Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development and a lead reviewer for the IPCC, told The Guardian: “Cutting methane is the biggest opportunity to slow warming between now and 2040. We need to face this emergency.”
Methane emissions contain more than 80 times the global warming potential of CO2 over a 20-year period, although methane remains in the atmosphere for less time than carbon dioxide and a reduction in levels will be more noticeable than with CO2.
How can I get involved in supporting World Vegan Month?
There are many ways to support this initiative:
Stop eyeing up that steak and focus on whipping up a plant-based dish, or if you’re not a dab hand in the kitchen, order a delicious vegan takeaway
Donate to a vegan charity that promotes animal welfare
Watch an inspiring film about the benefits of plant-based diets. We mention one in a previous Acre blog which might motivate you
Participate in one of the many World Vegan Month campaigns to collaborate with other like-minded vegans
Volunteer at an animal shelter