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Tom Seest

June 6, 2024

Can You Switch To A Plant-Based Diet In New Zealand?

Travel and Diet | 0 comments


Embracing a Plant-Based Lifestyle In New Zealand

By Tom Seest

Can You Switch To A Plant-Based Diet In New Zealand?

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The country of New Zealand is one of the best places in the world to live a vegan lifestyle. With its beautiful landscapes, thriving cities, rich history, and diverse culture, the country is a haven for all kinds of plant-based eaters. But it’s not always easy to make a plant-based lifestyle work for you. You may think you’re not a big fan of vegetables, or you may be worried about being able to get all your essential vitamins and minerals from the food you eat. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to start eating more plant-based.

Can You Switch To A Plant-Based Diet In New Zealand?

Can You Switch To A Plant-Based Diet In New Zealand?

Is New Zealand Leading the Way in Plant-Based Eating?

It’s a fact that animal-based foods have higher greenhouse gas emissions than plant-based foods. This is especially true for meat, which has the highest footprint. Grazing animals require a lot of land to feed, and they burp a large amount of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. They also release nitrous oxide, which is 298 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
As a result, animal-based foods account for almost half of the greenhouse gas emissions produced by food. The US, China and South and Southeast Asia are the top emitters. In 2009, livestock and other food-related activities contributed 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Plant-based foods are responsible for another 29 percent. Agricultural products with higher carbon emissions per unit weight include beef, pork and dairy.
Researchers have estimated that food-related emissions have increased rapidly in China. For instance, one kilo of beef produces 70 kilograms of greenhouse gases. However, there are other ways to minimize the environmental impact of food. For example, you can choose to cut down on sweet snacks, and replace them with less processed foods. Similarly, you can go for a low-meat diet and follow national dietary guidelines that provide reduced GHGe.
Research shows that people who eat a lot of meat have significantly higher mean observed GHG emissions than vegans and abstainers. People who eat a high-meat diet have 2.5 times as much GHG emissions as those who eat a low-meat diet.
The study compared the GHG emission profiles of meat-eaters, vegans, fish-eaters and abstainers. Using a database of food consumption data, researchers built consistent profiles for each of these groups. Their findings were published in Nature Food.
While the effects of animal-based foods on GHG emissions are often overstated, they are still a major contributor. According to the Food Agriculture Organization (FAO), animal-based foods produce 57 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with agriculture. These emissions consist of 20 percent methane, 6 percent nitrous oxide, and 32 percent carbon dioxide. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that comes from the methane produced by grazing livestock and from fertilizing soils.
Several studies have suggested that a plant-based diet could have a lower environmental impact, but others have shown that reducing meat consumption increases dietary GHG emissions. Fortunately, optimization programs have already been created that create low-meat diets and meet sustainability criteria. Moreover, national food-based dietary guidelines in many countries offer consumers a lower land and water footprint. Besides, public research can help support the development of new processes that can accelerate the transition to a more sustainable food system.
Increasingly, more young people are choosing meat-based diets. This has led to an increase in the demand for animal-based foods, resulting in an expansion of pastureland and cropland.

Is New Zealand Leading the Way in Plant-Based Eating?

Is New Zealand Leading the Way in Plant-Based Eating?

Is New Zealand the Best Place for Plant-Based Eating?

The vegan diet has an average climate impact of a mere 1.5 tons of CO2e. That’s a big difference from the meat, seafood and eggs that contribute 35 percent of our annual GHG emissions.
A recent study by the University of Otago’s Centre for Environmental Science and Health (CESTH) compared the carbon footprint of a number of foods commonly consumed by New Zealanders. It also measured how much energy it takes to produce each item. In particular, it focused on the food’s “life cycle” from seed to table. Specifically, it considered the origin, packaging, transportation, farming and distribution of the 346 food items.
The researchers found that the smallest measurable emission was produced when a family of four consumed a vegan diet. The largest contributor was the fuel used for harvesting seafood. For instance, a typical New Zealand diet emits 6.57 kilograms of CO2e per person per day.
In terms of climate change, the vegan diet is a promising solution to one of Earth’s most pressing problems. While meat and dairy production account for about a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, research has shown that reducing the amount of livestock on our planet may be the way to go. Livestock is the main culprit in contributing to global warming through deforestation and methane gas. As a result, scientists say a reduction in animal production may be the only path to a sustainable future.
However, the vegan diet isn’t for everyone. Many low-income households aren’t able to afford the costs of a healthy and nutritious diet. Despite the potential benefits, the cost of a vegan diet can be steep. At least for now, a meatless meal is more expensive than the average fortnightly food bill.
One of the reasons for this is that the meat and dairy industry isn’t always transparent about their contributions. For instance, the vegan burger patties you see on menus are actually made from plant-based meat substitutes. Those aficionados of meat, poultry and fish aren’t exactly enthused by the plethora of vegan alternatives.
However, a vegan diet has some major advantages. It saves money and water and reduces the eutrophication of our oceans. Besides, a recent study by the University of New Hampshire’s Center for Sustainability and the Environment found that replacing beef with nuts can reduce your emissions by a quarter. And that’s just the start. If you want to reap the rewards of a more sustainable diet, you may have to do a bit of dumpster diving.
Overall, the data shows that the best way to reduce your GHG footprint is to make a conscious effort to reduce the waste that comes with eating. By donating your surplus food, you can help feed the world while saving on food costs.

Is New Zealand the Best Place for Plant-Based Eating?

Is New Zealand the Best Place for Plant-Based Eating?

Why Should New Zealanders Embrace Plant-Based Eating?

There is mounting evidence that a shift to sustainable healthy diets (SHD) is the best way to protect the planet and avoid health disasters. The public health sector should encourage the shift to SHD and make plant-based eating part of its mission. However, the transition is accompanied by increasing costs and constraints. Policymakers must be mindful of these factors, especially when powerful food industry groups seek to oppose such initiatives.
A new study outlines the potential climate and health benefits of the switch to a plant-based diet. Its findings are country-specific, though they are consistent with international research. In particular, plant-based alternatives to meat offer the most significant health and cost savings. By far, the greatest health gains were achieved with a vegan-type scenario that replaced dairy products and meat with a wide array of plant-based alternatives.
While some policies have been implemented to promote the switch to more plant-based diets, the effectiveness of these measures has been underappreciated. A new study has explored the feasibility of demand-end pathways to support the transition. These pathways include subsidized and taxed foods, labels, and subsidies. Specifically, a new food emissions database has been developed to measure the climate and health benefits of a range of food choices. This data can be used to inform policy and improve the nutritional quality of diets in New Zealand.
Although the findings were not completely surprising, it is nonetheless notable that the greatest savings came from a diet that included higher protein plant foods. For example, replacing meat, seafood, and eggs with plant-based alternatives would have offered the greatest GHG savings, with a vegan-type scenario offering an additional 28%.
Although the health and environmental benefits of switching to a more plant-based diet are considerable, the requisite policies will take time and resources. In the meantime, the NZ health sector should adopt a variety of approaches to promote healthy food choices. Among these are further support for the growth of plant protein sources, updating the national nutrition survey, and advocating for more sustainable consumption practices.
Although the cost of the switch to sustainable healthy diets is likely to be higher than that of maintaining the current status quo, the resulting savings could be worth the cost. Indeed, an estimated 10% to 12% of daily diet-related emissions could be eliminated through household food waste. Likewise, a meat-free scenario can also provide significant savings.
One of the key findings is that the food system in New Zealand is not significantly different than that of most other countries. Its environmental impact is similar to that of most other countries, though the contribution of agriculture and highly processed foods is higher than most other regions. Nevertheless, the global food system is driving the climate crisis. Therefore, a well-designed public policy is needed to support the global food system.

Why Should New Zealanders Embrace Plant-Based Eating?

Why Should New Zealanders Embrace Plant-Based Eating?

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