Why Plant-Based Options Like Tofu May Be the More Sustainable Choice for the Planet

In the last decade, mainstream media portrayed veganism in a cynical light, with a narrative that plant-based food could lead to deficiencies. 

The tide has changed. People have become aware that human activities put a tremendous toll on our environment. The insurmountable evidence demonstrates that dietary systems rich in plant-based sources and lower in animal-based products, are healthier and impact the environment less.

A 2020 research of Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, estimated that plant-based food uses 89 percent less land than beef from dairy cows. 

With the climate crisis, the global shift in driving sustainable development normalizes plant-based alternatives. 

The worldwide demand for plant-based meat and high-protein vegan foods like tofu is amplifying. It has been observed that millennials may be the core generation driving this shift from animal-based to plant-based.

In 2019, The Economist reported that sales of vegan foods rose 10x faster than food sales as a whole in the US. Vegan and plant-based meals were booming. 

In 2020, plant-based meal sales were over $29 billion and as per a report from Bloomberg Intelligence, these sales are projected to increase fivefold by 2030. 

Amidst the pandemic, concerns about sustainability and ethical treatment of animals urged people to switch to plant-based diets. People feared that consuming meat and other non-vegetarian food could lead to drastic viruses as they were unaware of the hygiene quality. 

Why Is Sustainable Development Essential?

“Our planet’s resources are finite and consuming them at an unjustifiable rate will eventually deplete them.”

Sustainable Development is essential for all living beings because it helps to ensure that the needs of the present are fulfilled without compromising or sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. 

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) help in protecting the ecosystem that supports life on Earth. This includes factors like clean water, clean air and biodiversity. It also helps in improving the quality of life for people.

Of the 17 SDGs outlined in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, five SDGs that are benefited by altering diet practices are:

1. Climate Change
2. Good Health and Well-Being
3. Responsible Production & Consumption 
4. No Poverty 
5. No Hunger

Sustainability of Plant-Based Food Options Like Tofu:

“The lowest animal product footprint exceeds the average footprint of plant-based recipes.”

Plant-based diets such as vegetables, seeds, fruits, nuts, whole grains and legumes are sustainable food options that are less demanding on the ecological system and also require fewer natural resources for production. 

Animal products like red meat are mainly processed. The consumption of energy and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission is higher, which impacts Global Warming significantly. 

Of the different types of meat, generating a single pound of Beef utilizes the most land and an astonishing 2000-5000 gallons of water, followed by Pork, Chicken, Eggs, and Milk. 

In a 2018 report, Science says that producing just five percent of the world’s calories creates 40 percent of the global environmental burden. 

Tofu, plant-based foodPlant-based meals and sustainable food are here to stay. Image Credit – Pexels Photo by Lina Luoto: https://www.pexels.com/photo/vegetable-salad-on-white-ceramic-plate-1211887/Here are a few reasons why plant-based meals are a more sustainable choice for our planet: Resource Consumption: 

Plant-based protein sources like tofu typically require fewer natural resources such as water and land. Plants can convert sunlight into energy more efficiently and thus, have a lesser resource consumption in contrast to the highly-processed animal products.  

Greenhouse Gas Emissions: 

Cultivating plants generates fewer Greenhouse gas emissions compared to raising and processing livestock. A study from the University of Oxford in 2021 found that switching to a plant-based, eco-friendly diet could reduce greenhouse gas emissions created by the meat industry, by an astonishing 73 percent. 

Potential to Feed:

Amidst concerns about animal-borne food viruses, plant-based meat (meatless meat) took the food market by storm. Research suggests that 12 million consumers will eat meat-free in 2022. 

The former CEO of McDonalds’, Don Thompson, is now a board member of one of the leading plant-based meat burger businesses, Beyond Meat. 

People’s main demand for the food they eat is protein. Tofu is a great alternative for those looking for a vegan or vegetarian protein source. It’s a great source of calcium and protein and is often used as an alternative for meat, potatoes or eggs.

Plant-based sources are more efficient at converting, which means that they can produce more protein per unit of feed compared to animals. This indicates that plant-based meals have the potential to feed more people using fewer resources.    

Cleaner Water:

Animal agriculture leads to water pollution. A report from the UN states that untreated manure enters water which is used by humans to drink, wash and bathe. An influx of pesticides also kills fish and algae, which jeopardizes fresh water. 

Reducing animal products and increase in sustainable food alternatives will create a ripple to provide clean water sources. 

As the global population grows, the environmental benefits of plant-based protein choices like tofu make a sustainable choice for the plant.

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