“Should we all go vegan to save the environment?” That’s the question posed by Jimmy Pierson, the UK director of ProVeg International, an organization focused on the reduction of global animal consumption.
In an op-ed for The Independent for World Vegan Day, Pierson looks ahead 40 years to 2057 and imagines a world most of us would want to live in – one where the threats of the looming climate crises have been eradicated.
“We did it,” he writes. “We managed to halt [climate change’s] seemingly unstoppable path to destruction. Best of all, it was done by the people. Through individual action alone, food emissions are down by around 70 per cent. Our oceans are once again full of life, our rivers repopulated and unpolluted. Trees are back on previously bare hills, and wild animals have taken up residence in our countryside. We’ve re-engaged and reconnected with nature, and we are much happier for it.”
And it’s not just the planet that’s faring better, notes Pierson. Human health has finally improved too, with diseases like heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and even cancer considerably lower than current statistics. Likewise, economies are stable, food systems sustainable, and governments generally more proactive.
“How was this new world achieved?” Pierson asks.
“By major technological breakthrough? Did science come along to solve all our problems? No. It was a change so simple you probably wouldn’t believe it. We just started substituting meat with plant-based alternatives. Meal by meal, day by day, we transitioned to plant-based living.”
Pierson isn’t the first to make this argument. Scores of health experts and environmental organizations have linked our current dietary habits with the pressures facing our planet and future generations. Yet despite the warnings, global meat consumption continues to rise, even while alternatives have never been more accessible.
But shifts are happening. Nondairy milk sales continue to outpace the growth of the declining dairy industry, plant-based proteins and even clean meat tech, are not only gaining ground with consumers but with the meat industry, too.
“This idyllic future is within reach for you and your children,” Pierson writes.
“Start by eating less meat today, less again tomorrow, and even less the day after. Be as vegan as you possibly can be. The future is plant-based. The sooner we all realise that, the better for everyone.”