Plant-based eating

Plant-based Eating 101

Eating mostly or entirely plant-based food such as vegetables, fruits, whole cereals, legumes, nuts and seeds is good for the environment and for your health.

Even reducing your consumption of animal products a little has a surprisingly significant impact. For example, skipping meat for a day each week for a year shrinks your annual carbon footprint as much as not driving your car for a whole month*.

Aside from being lower in emissions, the environmental benefits of plant-based eating include less water and land use, reduced biodiversity loss, and reduced impact on the health of waterways and the ocean.

Did you know?

  •  Australia is one of the world’s top meat-eating countries with an annual consumption of around 95kg per person compared to the global average of 35kg
  • The destruction of vegetation for cattle pasture is the most significant driver of deforestation in Australia, the only country in the developed world in WWF’s list of global deforestation hotspots
  • Meat and dairy accounts for around 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions
  • Even if harmful greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels were stopped immediately, it would be impossible to keep global heating to the lowest safe limit without a shift to a more plant-based diet
  • The 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines say ‘appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthy and nutritionally adequate’
  • Plant-based diets could save up to 8 million lives by 2050 through the health benefits of reduced meat consumption, and increased fruit and vegetable consumption.

How do I go plant-based?

  • Challenge yourself to have Meat Free Mondays or shift to a vegetarian or vegan diet on weekdays
  • Try cooking a new plant-based meal one night a week, or every night for a week, or for a month with recipes from Vegan Easy or Veganuary
  • Learn about nutrition on plant-based diets from the Australian Government’s Health Direct website.

Tip: When choosing plant-based foods, try to prioritise seasonal and local products and minimise food waste to further reduce your carbon footprint.

* Meat Free Mondays calculation based on Weber CL and Matthews HS, Food-miles and the relative climate impacts of food choices in the United States, Environmental Science & Technology (2008), 42(10), pp. 3508-13.

For more information on this article contact the Environmental Educators: