A powerful way to protect animal welfare, public health and the planet! It’s never been easier to try a plant-based diet. And it’s never been more important.
Every year in Canada, more than 800 million land animals are killed to satisfy our demand for huge quantities of cheap meat, dairy, and eggs. The vast majority of these animals are raised in unnatural, filthy, barren environments; subjected to confinement and cruelty that would be illegal if we were to do it to a cat or dog; and ultimately slaughtered at a fraction of their natural lifespan.
Meanwhile, the loss of wild areas for livestock grazing and growing crops to feed farmed animals is also a leading cause of wildlife extinction.
Reducing our consumption of animal products and increasing our intake of fruits, vegetables, and legumes—cornerstones of a plant-based diet—have been linked to a host of health benefits. Vegetables and fruits can help protect against heart disease, stroke, and cancer while meat increases the risk of cancer. Plant-based eating reduces the risk of both type 2 diabetes and obesity and are associated with a longer lifespan. And beans and peas contain vital nutrients that are in short supply in our nutritionally deprived society, while being fat-free.
Canada’s new Food Guide recommends shifting consumption to more plant-based foods, including encouraging Canadians to choose plant-based proteins more often. The guide also acknowledges that many of the well-studied healthy eating patterns from areas of the world where people statistically live the longest include mostly plant-based foods.
In a major report, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization found “livestock’s contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale..the impact is so significant that it needs to be addressed with urgency.”
In addition to climate change, animal agriculture is a major contributor to air and water pollution, water use, land degradation and deforestation, biodiversity decline, and ocean degradation.
Animal agriculture is so devastating for the planet for a simple reason: raising plant crops to feed livestock is far less efficient than eating plant crops directly. Thanks to its incredible inefficiencies, animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector.
The most comprehensive analysis to date recently revealed the huge environmental footprint of animal agriculture. The global study found that while meat and dairy provide just 18% of our calories and 37% of our protein, it uses 83% of farmland and produces 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The scientists also found that even the very lowest impact meat and dairy products still cause much more environmental harm than the least sustainable plant-based crops. They concluded that avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce our environmental impact on the planet.
Getting Plants On More Plates
Since 2015 VHS has worked with schools, businesses, hospitals, food service providers and the general public to encourage a transition toward more plant-based foods.
Through our Meatless Monday initiative, we’ve supported institutions in introducing plant-based specials to their menus on Mondays.
Through our new Plant-based Plates initiative, we’re helping institutions take the next step by expanding plant-based offerings to their regular menu.
Interested in introducing or expanding plant-based menu options at your school, workplace, business or community? Get in touch! We offer free resources, including presentations, recipes, promotional materials, marketing best practices, outreach and culinary and sampling support.
Plant-based Eating Tips
Many of us are already consuming plant-based meals without even realizing it. Global cuisines from Indian, to Chinese, to Thai, to Ethiopian, to Lebanese feature flavour-packed vegetarian dishes. Even familiar foods, such as pasta primavera, peanut butter, and baked beans are veg family favourites.
Serve up black beans in tacos, sear tofu for stir fries, swap lentils for beef in pasta sauce, bulk up your chilis with extra beans, add chickpeas to your curries, and spread hummus on sandwiches. Veggie dogs and burgers, along with other plant-based “meats”, are delicious, convenient, and widely available from local supermarkets. Visit our pinterest page for plant-based tips and recipes. Learn more about the importance of a plant-based diet and consider checking out Vancouver’s Meatless Meetup for group dinners and opportunities to connect with others interested in eating more plant-based foods!
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