Sustainability and Veganism

Here at Polestar, we have written some interesting blog posts on food trends. I have written one on the edible insect market, while Oli researched the West’s relationship with meat, and Joe covered the horsemeat scandal. Safe to say, we all have an interest in food topics.

But the food trends are all good and dandy – as long as they are sustainable. In Oli’s article, he covered that people in the UK are eating less and less meat. Consumption has fallen 17%. This obviously raises some eyebrows in the vegan markets. While the vegan industry sounds very tree-hugger… Is it actually sustainable? I found an interesting article that covers sustainability in all kids of diets:

  • Researchers from six US universities including Cornell have developed a biophysical simulation model that represents the US as a closed food system, in order to determine the land requirements per capita of human diets and the potential population fed by the agricultural land there.
  • Within the simulation, 10 different diet types were held up to one another, including those of vegetarians, vegans, and meat-eaters. 
  • The vegan diet was not the the best of the three but, while it may come out on top when it comes to animal rights, it’s actually not as sustainable as you might think. Diets with small amounts of meat, as well as lacto-vegetarianism and ovo-lacto-vegetarianism, can feed more people, therefore making them more environmentally sustainable. 
  • The vegan diet leaves too many resources unused. Different crops require different types of land for an adequate yield. Very often nothing can be cultivated on standard pastureland due to the fact that the soil doesn’t provide the necessary nutrients. 
  • The most sustainable diets according to the study were vegetarian diets, with lacto-vegetarianism occupying first place. 
  • The researchers’ overall conclusion? Altering our consumption habits as a global population will significantly improve our chances of providing future generations across the globe with adequate nutrition. While both veganism and regular, substantial meat consumption would lead to severe food shortages, a lacto-vegetarian diet may be the most efficient way to maintain sufficient nutrition across the globe in the long run.  

I thought the conclusion to the research was definitely interesting. With documentaries and a lot of information on the internet, like Seaspiracy, I would have always assumed a vegan diet is the light at the end of the tunnel. But I was surprised to read that it may not be, and that it’s important to understand both sides of the equation.

Whether vegan or insect, the alternative market is definitely worth keeping an eye on, especially as more and more consumers become aware of how important their diets impact the environment. Through our previous deals within agriculture and research done within this area, Polestar would love to help expand your business in this growing field. 

The most sustainable diets according to the study were vegetarian diets, with lacto-vegetarianism occupying first place.

By Anusheh Khan on 28/10/2021