Tag Archives: university

That’s (almost) all folks! – by Ben Martin

Well, that’s almost it for this year’s Great Vegan University Challenge. So, how has it been for you? Interesting? Enjoyable? Maybe even fun? At the very least we hope that you’ve taken something positive from the experience and maybe learned something new.

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you made it to the end with out too many slip-ups, if any. In which case, everyone here at Animal Aid would like to say congratulations and a huge thank you for taking part in this year’s challenge! Simply by going vegan for the last 30 days you have collectively helped to save hundreds of farmed animals, which just goes to show how effective veganism is in reducing animal suffering.

Of course, you could help to save many, many more if you decide to stay vegan when the challenge is over. We hope that’s what you’ll do, but it’s completely up to you. If you do decide to make veganism a life-long commitment, remember that we are still on hand to answer your questions and provide support. And if you can’t fully commit to veganism, we hope that you enjoyed the challenge nonetheless and that you’ll perhaps depend less on meat, milk and eggs in the future.

Soon, we’ll be sending you an online questionnaire about your experience of the Great Vegan University Challenge. Please take the time to fill it in, as the feedback is vital in helping us to improve future challenges. And if you complete it before 17th March, you’ll be entered into a free prize draw! Details of that to follow.

Otherwise, all that’s left to be said is enjoy your vegan pancakes this evening, and farewell from this year’s Great Vegan University Challenge blog.

Vegan pancakes will rock your world – by Ben Martin

With tomorrow being Shrove Tuesday, a.k.a. Pancake Day, it would be tempting to think ‘I’ve made it this far, there’s no harm in buying some eggs and whipping up some pancakes’. But I’m here to urge you not to do that, beacuse if you do, you’ll miss out on the awesomeness that is vegan pancakes!

There are many, many recipes out there for vegan pancakes, but few are as easy as this:

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup dairy-free milk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  1. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.
  2. Form a well in the middle and pour in the dairy-free milk. Whisk the flour and milk together until it forms a relatively smooth batter.
  3. Heat a little oil in a frying pan over a medium to high heat and ladle in a portion of the batter, tilting the pan to cover as much of the bottom as possible.
  4. Cook until the edges begin to brown and curl up (a few minutes) and then flip the pancake over to cook on the otherside.
  5. Repeat until all the batter has been used.

But what about arguably the best bit – the toppings? Don’t dispair! Vegan pancake toppings are at least as good as non-vegan ones, and I’d say even better. Here’s a list of suggestions for you to try:

If you prefer something savoury to start with, maybe try one of these options:

  • Garlic, mushroom and vegan cream cheese (available from Tesco, Sainsbury and health food shops)
  • Roasted vegetables
  • Pan-fried tomato and mushroom
  • Avocado and salsa

 

Savoury snacks – by Kate Fowler

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll have seen the huge number of vegan sweet treats available, but what is there for those of us who don’t have a sweet tooth or prefer to avoid large amounts of sugar? The answer is: a lot!

Let’s start with our old favourite: the humble potato crisp. Walker’s crisps are found everywhere, so choose from Ready Salted, Salt & Vinegar, Worcester Sauce and Prawn Cocktail. If you’re ‘Old Skool’, try Skips, Crispy Bacon Wheat Crunchies and Walkers Salt & Vinegar Squares. Many of the supermarkets’ own-brand bacon-flavour ‘frazzles’ are vegan, too, but strangely real Smiths/Walkers Frazzles aren’t vegan as they contain milk products.

As for Doritos, try Lightly Salted or Chilli Heatwave with either their Hot or Mild Salsa Dip. And if you like a snack that scoops, Pringles labels on the packet which of its flavours are suitable for vegans. Currently, they are Original, Texas BBQ, Paprika, Tortilla BBQ and Smokey Bacon (warning: these are addictive). Need your crisps in a cute shape? Pom-Bears are the snack for you.

Moving on to posh crisps. Try Kettle Chips (Lightly Salted, Sea Salt & Black Pepper, Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar) and Tyrrells (Naked, Lightly Sea Salted, Sea Salt & Cider Vinegar, Sweet Chilli & Red Pepper, Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper, English Barbecue, Red White & Blue, and their Mixed Root Vegetable Crisps).

And what about crisps that are not quite crisps? Have you seen Hummus Chips made by Eat Real? Their range of flavours are all vegan and it says so on the front of the pack. Try Chilli & Lemon, Creamy Dill, Sea Salt or Tomato & Basil. Pop Chips are good, too, and less fatty than some other crisps. Vegan flavours are Sea Salt, Sea Salt & Vinegar and Ridged Smoky Bacon.

For something a bit different, try Crosta & Mollica’s Crostini with Oregano or Chilli, or their fennel seed-flavoured Tarallini (oooh, fancy). Or mini poppadoms which can be dunked in mango chutney (also vegan). We like Walkers Lime & Coriander Chutney Poppadoms.

Going to the movies? Butterkist Cinema Sweet Popcorn and Sweet & Salted Popcorn are vegan. Try Tyrrell’s Poshcorn (Lightly Sea Salted, Sweet, Sweet & Salty) or Propercorn (Sweet & Salty, Lightly Sea, Smooth Peanut & Almond or Fiery Worcester Sauce & Sundried Tomato).

You would expect salted nuts to be vegan, and you would be right. But, obviously honey-roasted nuts are not vegan, and watch out for milk products in some dry-roasted brands. Try Walkers Sensations Thai Sweet Chilli Coated Peanuts, KP Jumbo Salt & Vinegar Peanuts or, if you are feeling brave, Tesco Vindaloo Jumbo Peanuts and Cashews.

And don’t forget the humble breadstick. Lots of the plain and sesame seed ones are vegan, and both Morrisons and Asda stock a Black Olive variety, and Tesco’s a Rosemary one. Perfect for houmous-dunking.

By now, you’ll have read about the availability of dairy-free cheese (if not, then this is the blog post for you) and you’ll be wanting a cracker to go with it. Thankfully, there are a LOT of vegan crackers, and I’ve listed just a handful of them.

Counterintuitively, cream crackers are vegan, and so are most Ryvita Crispbreads (watch out for honey in the Fruit and Seed Crunch), melba toasts and water biscuits. Ritz Crackers are good, too, and supermarkets tend to stock their own brand of Poppy & Sesame Seed Thins. Try Hovis Extra Wheatgerm Crackers, Jacob’s Flatbreads (Salt & Cracked Black Pepper, Mixed Seed) and their Salt & Cracked Black Pepper Savours. Lots of oatcakes are vegan and you’ll be pleased to know that sweet pickle and piccalilli are vegan, too.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to create a canapé from a cracker, then pile olives, sundried tomatoes or artichokes on top of vegan cream cheese. The lactic acid they are preserved in comes from a vegetable source. Just watch out for olives filled with anchovies … what kind of madness is that?

More than just food – by Ben Martin

Despite what many people think, veganism is not simply a diet. It is about putting compassion for animals into practice by avoiding animal exploitation and suffering in all its forms as much as practically possible. Food is certainly a big part of that, as animal agriculture is probably the single biggest cause of animal suffering and death in the UK, with around one billion farmed animals being killed for our plates each year, not to mention countless fish. But it’s not the whole picture. Other ways in which animals are exploited for our benefit include producing clothing, testing products, and entertainment (such as zoos, circuses, and racing). All of these activities involve animal suffering and death, which is why vegans tend to avoid anything to do with these as well.

Now we don’t expect you to throw out all your toiletries or replace your wardrobe for a four-week challenge – especially given that you are students – but if you are considering adopting veganism long-term, you may wish to consider replacing these items with cruelty-free versions as they are used-up or wear-out. If that’s the case – and we sincerely hope it is – here is some advice on how to do that.

Toiletries

It’s surprisingly easy to replace your toiletries with vegan versions, once you know where to look. Your first point of call should be Superdrug as it labels all of it’s own-brand products that are vegan-friendly and non-animal-tested, which includes almost everything in the Superdrug range, including make-up, shampoo, deodorant, shower gel, toothpaste, etc. Another good place to try is the Co-op, as it also labels which of its own-brand beauty products are free of animal ingredients. For something a little more upmarket, or if you simply fancy pampering yourself, Lush have plenty of animal-free options in-store, all clearly labelled as being vegan-friendly, and none of their products are tested on animals. There are also a number of companies who specialise in making vegan, non-animal-tested toiletries, including Faith In Nature, Honesty Cosmetics and Beauty Without Cruelty. You can find all of these and several others on the Animal Aid online shop.

Clothes and Shoes

Given that animals are killed to produce leather, fur and silk (about 1,000 silk worms are boiled alive to make one shirt), it should be fairly obvious that vegans avoid these. But the same goes for wool, as shearing is a brutal process and wool helps to subsidise the meat industry. But fortunately there is plenty of fashionable clothing that is either produced from man-made materials or from natural plant fibres such as cotton, linen, hemp and even bamboo. You should have no trouble finding these in high street shops, just be sure to check the labels.

Finding vegan shoes can be a little more tricky, but not impossible. Budget shops, such as Shoe Zone, often have shoes that are 100% synthetic, making them suitable for vegans. Alternatively, you can find good quality animal-free footware from online retailers like these:

Ethical Wares
Freerangers
Veganline
Vegan Store
Vegetarian Shoes
Eco Vegan Shoes
Wills Vegan Shoes
Bourgeois Boheme
Beyond Skin

Cleaning products

Students may not be best known for doing housework, but you may want to have a spruce up before your parents come for a visit. If so, I’d suggest heading to Poundland and (bizarrely) Staples, where they sell the Astonish range, all of which are vegan-friendly and dirt cheap. As with toiletries, the Co-op are very good at lebelling which of their own-brand cleaning products are animal-free, and Marks & Spencer also label their vegan household products. Companies that specialise in vegan cleaners include Faith in Nature, Bio D, Method and Suma.

A word of caution – don’t be fooled by the Leaping Bunny logo. This indicates that a product has not been tested on animals, but it may still include animal products, making it unsuitable for vegans.

The vegan traveller – by Kate Fowler

The availability of good vegan food can make or break a holiday. There are towns, regions and countries that surprise you by the overwhelming choice, while others you might expect to be progressive turn out to be something of a disappointment. Like the restaurant in America where the chef came out to look me over before deciding whether to make me a meal, and the waitress said ‘You’re vegetarian? We had one in just last week!’ To avoid being sized up by chefs, here are a few places where you are bound to be well fed as a vegan.

Europe

While eating out in rural France can be tricky, most cities have now veggie/vegan restaurants. La Rochelle, Toulouse, Nice, Marseille and many others have at least one vegan restaurant and many veggie restaurants, and Paris is a vegan heaven. Since Lebanese restaurants are common in towns and cities right across the country, and there are plenty of organic food shops selling vegan products, you won’t go hungry.

Moving east, Germany has seen a huge surge in the number of vegan restaurants, with Berlin becoming the place to go if you want to be spoiled for choice. With an estimated 80,000 vegans in the city, there has been an explosion of catering outlets from a vegan ice cream parlour to a kebab shop (right) to a vegan butcher. With more than 60 totally vegan restaurants in the city, you can visit a different one for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of a three-week holiday, and that’s before you think about visiting the veggie restaurants that have incredible vegan offerings, too.

Perhaps a surprise vegan destination is Poland. Warsaw has around 30 totally vegan restaurants but you’ll be well fed in Gdasnk, Lodz, Wroclaw, Krakow, Poznan, and elsewhere too. There are so many foods to try, from gourmet burgers to borscht, but it would be a mistake not to try pierogi – the delicious stuffed dumplings.

To the north of the continent, an estimated 10 per cent of the Swedish population are meat-free, with that figure rising to 17 per cent in those aged 15 to 34. The future in Sweden is vegan. Stockholm, Malmo (left) and Gothenburg unsurprisingly lead the way with a handful of vegan restaurants each and a larger number of veggies ones that serve vegan meals.

America

America is a divided nation, that much is obvious. And this also true when it comes to veganism. Some of the unsurprising top cities for vegans include New York, Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle. Other cities with more than 100 meat-free restaurants include Boston, Baltimore, Atlanta and Austin. Chicago and Dallas are surprisingly good, according to Pricenomics, the data tracking site, given the ‘meat-centric regional cuisines like brats and barbecue’. But whilst the coastal areas and big cities are great for vegans, smaller towns – especially those in the central and Midwest states – can be a bit of a vegan wasteland, so take supplies if you’re planning to take a long roadtrip across the United States.

Australia

Every city in Australia caters for veggies and vegans, with Melbourne perhaps being the best option. In Perth on the west coast, we ate at every meat-free restaurant over a 10-day period and it was the first time I’d been offered vegan pheasant and vegan prawns. Honestly, neither appealed, but the vegetarian burger chain, Lord of the Fries (right), which has outlets in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, is a good bet.

Asia

Around 30 per cent of people in India are meat-free, with Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab having the most vegetarians and vegans per capita. In India – like the world over – it is easy to be vegan in the cities, but the country is both the largest producer and the largest buyer of milk, and dairy products get used a lot, so watch out for milk, cream, and ghee (butter oil). If you want choice, head to Chennai, which has more than 80 vegetarian restaurants.

In Thailand, Chiang Mai is the place to be, with dozens of meat-free restaurants in this beautiful city. In Taipei, Taiwan, you’ll also be spoilt for choice and you’ll be in the birthplace of the Loving Hut, a vegan franchise that has restaurants in Spain, Austria, Vietnam, Singapore, Russia, New Zealand, Canada and four restaurants in the UK, so if you fancy holidaying closer to home, try London, Brighton or Norwich.

But no matter where you are in the world, be sure to check Happy Cow to find out where the best vegan-friendly restaurants are.

Can meat, milk and eggs ever be ethical? – by Kate Fowler

Some years ago, Animal Aid undertook an investigation into British goat farms. The unsavoury facts about the production of cows’ milk were hitting home, and consumers were switching to goats’ milk in the assumption that – because they hadn’t heard anything bad about it – all must be well. It really, really wasn’t. Everything that was wrong with cows’ milk was also the case for goats, except that where some cows spend time on pasture, all commercially farmed goats are raised in zero-grazing, factory farm units. On these farms, we found mutilations, overcrowding, the use of artificial hormones to manipulate reproductive cycles, and dead and dying animals. We found a kid huddled up to her mother who had been shot in the head.

When we released our findings, we took more phone calls all asking the exact same thing than I have ever experienced before or since. The callers asked: ‘Is there a way I can get ethical goats’ milk?’ I replied; ‘there is only one way.’ And I went on to explain that, if they could find an animal sanctuary that happened to have recently taken on a goat who happened to be pregnant, and if the mother produced more milk than the kid needed, there was a chance the sanctuary would be able to spare a cupful of milk. I expected them to understand what I was saying – that, no, it wasn’t realistically possible – but without fail they all asked ‘Great. Do you have a number for such a sanctuary?

The truth is, there is no humane and compassionate way to produce commercial quantities of milk. Cows, goats and sheep must be made pregnant and the offspring are often no more than unwanted by-products. One goat farmer we investigated admitted he sent his unwanted kids to the hunt kennels. Calves may go for veal production or be shot at birth. The free-range milk promise, which sounds like a high welfare initiative, actually allows the cows just six months outdoors, and therefore six in. Now, being stuck outside all through the winter wading through mud as the rain lashes down is no fun, but if the only other option is six months stuck inside a barn wading through faeces, then something is wrong. If this is how milk is produced, then I welcome the huge and growing range of plant milks that don’t force animals into a life that is miserable – indoors or out. You may have heard of Ahimsa Milk, or slaughter-free milk, but this is not sustainable. The male calves will be kept at the farm and the older females will retire, and somehow the care for this ever-expanding herd of ageing, non-productive animals will be paid for by the sale of milk – a product whose price is in terminal decline. It looks a lot like the UK pensions situation – an ever-increasing older generation being paid for by a smaller proportion of workers, and we know that this model cannot work indefinitely. I visited the site’s FAQs to see if they addressed this issue, but all I got was an error message with ‘Oops! Something went wrong.’ It most certainly did.

Free-range eggs should not be mistaken for a genuinely high welfare product. The millions of birds who happened to be born male and therefore unable to lay eggs will still be gassed as day-old chicks. The females are likely to join unnaturally huge flocks of tens of thousands of birds (see photo from a ‘free range’ farm, left), once they have had the ends of their beaks cut off to prevent them harming one another. The birds don’t need to actually go outside to be free-range, they just need to have access to the outdoors. In such large flocks, weaker birds will be too frightened to cross other birds’ territories and so may never leave. Those who do get outside may find a scrubby patch of dirt is all they have. Far too many investigations have laid bare the reality of commercial free-range farming – birds in cramped, filthy conditions, the floor littered with rotting corpses. The images portrayed in adverts rarely match up to the reality. If they did, they wouldn’t sell many eggs. And, of course, productivity is everything. When egg numbers drop, the birds are gathered up by catching gangs, rammed into crates and sent off to slaughter. Where is the compassion there?

And what of meat? Is there ethical meat? Perhaps there is. It’s called roadkill. But an animal who spent a life of torment inside a factory farm – or even one who spent happier days on a truly free-range farm – will still have his or her life taken from them. And we know from our own investigations that there is no humane slaughter. Animals who were reared free-range, under the Freedom Food (now RSPCA Assured) or Soil Association labels, were battered and abused to their deaths inside British slaughterhouses every bit as much as factory-farmed animals. Those with a strong stomach can see how these ‘high welfare’ animals met their deaths below.

Social vegans – by Ben Martin

Being the only vegan in the village – or on campus – can feel a bit lonely. It’s fine if you have supportive friends who respect your decision and have a packet of bourbon biscuits stashed away for when you come over. But for lots of people it can feel like it’s you against the world.

But it really isn’t. There are over half a million vegans in the UK and it’s likely that some live closer than you think. When I moved to Maidstone – a fairly average town in a conservative part of Kent – it didn’t occur to me to even look for other vegans because I didn’t think there would be any to find. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that, not only were there other vegans in town, but they also had an active social group and met up regularly! Some of them have since become great friends.

As a student it’s even easier to meet other vegans – especially when you consider that almost half of vegans in the UK are under-35. Most universities and many colleges have a veggie and/or vegan society that organises trips to local vegan-friendly restaurants and pubs, pot-luck dinners, and other social events, as well as cookery demos, film screenings, outreach events and more. Check your student union website to see if there’s one where you are, and if there isn’t, why not set one up yourself? Pop along to your student union and speak to your Activities Officer (or equivalent) to find out what you need to do.

Of course it’s nice just to meet other like-minded people who understand why you are vegan, as well as go along to social gatherings where you don’t have to worry about whether there’ll be anything for you to eat. But there are practical benefits to vegan social groups too. They’re a great way of picking up local tips and advice about where to buy animal-free products or go for a vegan meal, for example. You can also get great recipe ideas and try vegan dishes you didn’t even know existed. Some have also used their collective consumer and political power to push for better (or even some!) vegan options at eateries at their universities or colleges.

But it’s worth thinking outside the university bubble, too, and bridging the town/gown divide, as many towns and cities across the UK have vegan social groups that anyone can join. They usually meet up once a month at a local vegan-friendly café or restaurant, but some have been known to organise much bigger events, such as vegan fairs. To find out if there is one near you, start with Facebook, The Vegan Directory and Meetup.com, and maybe ask at your local health food shop or veggie restaurant.

If, despite everything, you still aren’t able to find other vegans in your area, maybe try some of the vegan Facebook groups out there. Sadly. some can be a bit elitist, but friendly ones include What F.A.T. Vegans Eat, UK Vegans and 100% Vegan Products UK

Plant-based meals in minutes – by Ben Martin

If you’re anything like me, dinner on Friday night tends to a pretty rapid affair, before disappearing out for drinks with friends, or settling down infront of Netflix with some popcorn. But what can you just heat up and eat, as a vegan?

Since launching its own-brand dairy-free cheese range a few months ago, Sainsbury’s has introduced two cheesy vegan ready meals as well. First came the Deliciously FreeFrom Vegetable Lasagne, which is £3 per portion and cooks in the microwave in minutes – just watch out as there are very similar-looking products that contain beef and real cheese. Just recently we have seen the arrival of a vegan macaroni and cheese at Sainsbury’s as well, but it’s so new that it hasn’t yet been added to the company website. Again, it comes in at £3 each and just needs to be bunged in the microwave or oven. You could even get a frozen Basics garlic bread to go with it.

A number of supermarkets sell tinned meals that are vegan-friendly. You can find vegetable curry at both Sainsbury’s and Asda, and a vegan-friendly chickpea dhal at Sainsbury’s. Stagg Vegetable Chilli can be found in many stores too. Simply open the tin, warm it up and serve with some instant rice, cous cous or bread for a simple but filling dinner. Asian and Middle Eastern shops are also a great source of interesting tinned meals for vegans.

Another option is to go for dry packet mixes, like this Sharwood’s Tarka Dahl, Beanfeast bolognese, or this tomato and chilli pasta, which usually just involve mixing them with boiling water.

As usual, you’ll find plenty of options at health food shops, but these may be a little more expensive. Geo Organics sell a number of vegan ready meals through health food shops, as do Amy’s Kitchen, although not all of their products are suitable for vegans.

For the ultimate ‘quick and easy’ option, you might be surprised to know that certain flavours of Pot Noodle are suitable for vegans, including Beef & Tomato, Bombay Bad Boy and Sweet & Sour. A number of supermarket ownbrand versions are also vegan-friendly, but you will beed to check labels to be sure. And, of course, there’s always beans on toast.

Why don’t vegans eat honey? – by Kate Fowler

Most people understand why vegans choose not to eat meat and dairy, but even some vegans are puzzled as to why they don’t eat honey! Until quite recently The Vegan Society viewed honey consumption as a matter of individual conscience, but today it says that honey is absolutely, definitely not vegan. Surely, there is more to this decision than just a rigid principle of not eating any product from an animal?

There is.

If you’ve read Laline Paull’s extraordinary award-winning novel The Bees, you’ll already have an insight into the many dangers faced by these insects. One such danger are the people who remove honeycomb, having first subdued the hive with smoke. Inevitably some of the bees are killed during the process. In the book, the bees call this terrible act The Visitation. ‘Unable to come down through the powerful smoke, sisters glimpsed the atrocity and roared in disbelief.

Bees work hard to produce that honey, extremely hard, collecting nectar from five million flowers in order to produce 1 pound of honey, which they need to feed the hive over the winter months. Commercial hive owners replace the honey they take with a sugar water solution, which has neither the nutrients the bees need nor the power to protect their immune systems. This coupled with exposure to pesticides and destructive varroa mites – which were accidentally introduced when bee geneticists tried to make bees more productive in honey – means these insects are facing a rough future.

Even their natural behaviours are denied them in bee farms. Bees swarm to reproduce, and this creates significant genetic diversity in the population. Some conventional beekeepers prevent this process by clipping the wings of the queen, and may kill and replace the queens to keep them young and fertile. Without a robust genetic pool, bees inbreed, further compromising their ability to deal with mites, pesticides and other challenges.

Some commercial farmers even ‘cull’ hives after harvesting the honey as it is cheaper than feeding the bees through the winter months. Of course, they wouldn’t need feeding if someone hadn’t stolen their honey.

Any and all of these reasons may help explain why bees are in serious decline and whole colonies collapsing. Buying honey does not help bees; but having your own hive where the bees are not interfered with might. Other ways to help them are to plant clumps of bee-friendly plants in sunny places, plant flowers with single petals, and to provide nest sites for bees.

The good news for vegans is that there are alternatives to honey, including agave nectar (which comes from the same plant tequila is made from), but also maple, rice, barley and date syrups. Chestnut jam, which is popular in France, has a similar texture and taste, and various recipes for this, as well as homemade vegan ‘honey’ (made from apple juice and dandelion flowers) can be found online.

Still not convinced that honey is cruel? You might want to take a look at the video below, but be warned that it makes for uncomfortable viewing.

Saving the planet, one meal at a time – by Ben Martin

As well as reducing demand for cruelly produced animal products and improving your health, going vegan helps to tackle some of the biggest environmental and humanitarian issues the world faces – water shortages, desertification, feeding a growing human population, land and water pollution and, of course, climate change. According to the United Nations, for example, animal farming is responsible for at least 14.5 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than all of the planes, cars, buses, ships and other motorised transport on Earth combined.

A study conducted in 2014 by scientists at the University of Oxford similarly concluded that animal products are having a huge impact on climate change. By analysing the diet of tens of thousands of British people, it found that meat-based diets are responsible for around twice the greenhouse gas emissions of vegan diets.

So by going vegan, you’ve managed to slash your ‘carbon footprint’! But what about your ‘water footprint’? Well, given all the water required to produce feed for farmed animals, not to mention all the drinking water they need, it’s no surprise that it requires a lot more water to produce meat, milk and eggs than their vegan counterparts. For example, it takes half the amount of water to make a pint of soya milk as it does to produce a pint of cow’s milk. And you can get six tofu-based burgers for the amount of water it takes to produce just one beef burger.

This is especially important as climate change causes drought to become a growing problem across the world. Over the last few years, for example, California has experienced a crippling drought. Almond production, which uses ten per cent of the state’s water, has come under particular attack, but it is often overlooked that animal agriculture in California uses around five times as much water whilst providing far less nutrition per drop.

But animal farming doesn’t just use fresh water, it pollutes it too. According to the Environment Agency, it is the single biggest cause of water pollution in the UK, with dairy farms being a particular problem, and other countries around the world have reported similar findings. The trouble is that farming huge numbers of animals means they produce lots of waste (see right), and that slurry can end up in rivers and streams where it kills wildlife and has the potential to spread disease.

I’ve been told many times that vegans are destroying the rainforest because it is being chopped down to grow soya plantations. But whilst it’s true that large areas of former Amazon rainforest are now being used to grow soya, more than 95 per cent of it is used to produce feed for farmed animals, particularly in North America and Europe. Besides, most deforested land in South America – around 70 per cent, in fact – is now used to graze cattle and other animals reared for meat.

As we try to feed a growing global population, it is becoming increasingly clear that doing so will have to involve a shift away from animal farming towards plant-based foods. At present around a third of edible crops are being fed to farmed animals, instead of the millions of starving humans around the world. And the nutrition we get from the meat, eggs and milk from those animals is far less than we would have got from the crops fed to them. Animals use up calories and other nutrients as they move around and do the other things animals do, so they are a very inefficient way of producing food. Globally, animal farming takes up almost 80 per cent of farmland, and yet animal products provide just 30 per cent of our protein and 20 per cent of our calories. Whereas crops, produced on a fifth as much land, provide more than half of our protein and calories.

Put simply, we can feed far more people on a plant-based diet, cause far less pollution and use far less land and water.