For more than three years, Davina Schembri has been following a plant-based diet. Her main motivation for switching her food choices was the potential environmental impact.
“At the time, I was following a few vegan Instagram influencers who inspired me. And after watching the documentary Cowspiracy I realized that I can’t wait for restaurants to change if there is no increase in demand. “
It has since seen an increase in awareness and people trying to reduce their environmental impact.
“I think there needs to be more general awareness, as most environmental campaigns focus on reducing plastic, with no focus on reducing meat consumption.”
Yoga teacher Mariah Gatt reiterates the same thoughts.
“I believe that while knowledge about veganism is improving, I don’t think it’s purely about environmental impact. People think that if they don’t use plastic straw they are making an impact, but then they continue to eat fish or meat. “
The 26-year-old admits that she never enjoyed eating meat, even when she was young.
The average carnivorous diet produces 7.2kg of carbon dioxide per day.
“It simply came to our notice then. Until the age of 15 I started experimenting with a vegetarian diet, but at that time Malta did not cater to that type of diet. ”
“After almost five years of being completely vegan, feeling much better and spending time abroad in Mexico and living with indigenous people, I learned how important our planet is.”
Davina and Mariah are two of a growing number of people who choose a vegan or vegetarian diet in a country where restaurants cater most to carnivores.
The average carnivorous diet produces 7.2kg of carbon dioxide per day, almost double that of a vegan diet.
Livestock is responsible for about 15 percent of global emissions and, according to researchers at Oxford University, adopting a vegan diet is one of the best ways to reduce your impact on the environment.
Why do more people switch their diet?
According to recent data collected by a local vegan platform, more people are switching to a more plant-based diet for environmental reasons.
Almost 25 percent of those who participated in the Malta Meat Free Week challenge in 2020 say they have changed their diet for environmental reasons. This shows an increase from the previous year, when 18.5 percent took the challenge for the same reason.
For the past four years, Veggy Malta has organized a Malta Meat Free Week challenge, where for seven days people stop consuming meat or dairy products.
Vegans do not consume meat, eggs or dairy products, as well as any substance that is derived from animals. Vegetarians do not eat meat but consume dairy products.
“We have seen more people, especially young people, take a plant-based diet because they are constantly learning about the impact that agriculture and livestock have on our environment,” said Darryl Grima, coordinator of Veggy Malta. Times of Malta.
Dozens of nations have joined a promise by the United States and the European Union to reduce methane emissions by at least 30 percent by 2030.
It is produced by a range of human activities, from agriculture such as cattle and rice production followed by the energy sector.
A a recent UN report on the Environment shows how livestock, manure and burps emissions from ruminants account for about 32 percent of man-made methane emissions.
Who is going green?
Grima said that while veganism is predominant in women, over the past three years there has been an increase in male participation.
In terms of age groups, the most predominant vegans are those aged 21-29, (29.9 percent), followed by those aged 30 and over. and 39 years (28.4 percent).
“It’s clear that different ages have different priorities, young people take on the challenge because of the environment, while older individuals do it for health reasons.”
According to the data, 19.5 percent of the participants took the challenge for health reasons.
Half of those who mentioned ‘animal rights’ for their food choices were vegans and vegetarians before the challenge.
While more catering establishments in Malta are starting to provide more plant-based options and awareness has increased, the question remains whether going vegan will really help address climate change.
The environmentalist and director of Friends of the Earth Malta, Martin Galea De Giovanni believes so.
“Switching to a vegan diet not only helps reduce methane emissions but also other greenhouse gases that are the leading cause of climate change,” said De Giovanni, who has been on a vegetarian diet for more than 20 years. .
He said many are under the impression that the transportation system is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
“However, the global livestock industry produces more emissions from the combination of cars, trains, ships and aircraft all together.”
It is also beneficial for people to support farming practices that reduce the amount of methane produced while reducing waste that may end up in the landfill.
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