That's just one of many shocking figures from the Meat Atlas 2021, a comprehensive look at the meat industry released by European nonprofits the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, Friends of the Earth Europe and BUND Tuesday.
"Europeans today eat an average of 66 kilograms (approximately 146 pounds) of meat per year per capita, which is almost twice as much as the World Health Organization actually recommends, and this persistently high consumption and production also comes with immense social and ecological costs," Lisa Tostado, head of the International Climate, Trade & Agriculture Policy Programme for Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, said at a public launch event. "And to raise awareness, provide information, and also foster a nuanced debate on the livestock center, the Heinrich-Böll Foundation and Friends of the Earth have compiled facts and figures on meat."
Launch of the Meat Atlas 2021: Facts and figures about the animals we eat www.youtube.com
Listen to the Science
The Meat Atlas 2021 is a comprehensive account of the industry's impact on environmental and public health, totaling more than 70 pages and covering more than 30 topics from land use to greenhouse gas emissions to pesticides. These impacts include:
- Climate Change: The food and farming sector in industrialized countries accounts for about a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. The livestock sector alone is responsible for 14.5 percent of global emissions: 45 percent of that from feed production and processing, 39 percent from methane release from ruminants and 10 percent from the storage and management of manure. In fact, 20 top livestock companies together emit more than Germany, the UK or France.
- Land Use Change: Meat and milk require more land than any other consumer product, and 77 percent of agricultural land is used for either livestock or livestock feed. This means that the expansion of livestock agriculture is a major driver of land conflicts that displace Indigenous and traditional communities. The conversion of land into cattle pasture drives at least two-thirds of deforestation in the Amazon region, for example.
- Public Health: The coronavirus pandemic has drawn attention to the dangers of zoonotic diseases, diseases that pass from animals to humans. Almost 75 percent of these diseases can be traced to wildlife, and the land grabs of the meat and dairy industry increase the chance that humans will encounter new zoonotic diseases as habitat is destroyed. The rampant use of antibiotics in agriculture also increases the risks that bacteria will evolve to resist these drugs. Already, drug-resistant bacteria kill 700,000 people a year, yet 73 percent of the antibiotics used worldwide are used on animals.
Despite these and many other consequences, both meat consumption and meat production are on the rise. Meat consumption has more than doubled in 20 years, and is expected to rise another 13 percent by 2028. Meat production has also been trending upwards. In the 1970s, it stood at one third of current levels, though it declined slightly in 2019 because of an outbreak of African swine fever.
The increase in production has been enabled by many of the things that make that production so problematic: more and more animals are kept in feedlots instead of pastures. This requires their feed to be grown somewhere else, gobbling up more land. Further, such crowding is only possible with antibiotics to prevent infections from spreading in close quarters.
With all of this evidence, the report argued that reducing meat consumption in industrial countries is a case of "listening to the science," something world governments have yet to do seriously with regards to this issue.
"We are talking not about a lack of information, and politicians not acting because they don't know," the atlas' chief executive editor and head of the International Agricultural Policy Division at Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Dr. Christine Chemnitz said at the launch. "We are talking about a lack of political will to steer or transition the agricultural sector into a climate-friendly and biodiversity-friendly direction."
A Meat Atlas 2021 graphic summarizes meat's impact on the world. Bartz / Stockmar / CC BY 4.0
Race to the Bottom
One clear indication we are headed in the wrong direction, Chemnitz noted, is the sheer numbers of animals slaughtered: 75 billion a year as of 2019.
But this death translates directly into profits for the largest meat and dairy companies, Shefali Sharma, one of the report authors and director of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) European office, said at the launch.
Sharma explained that the top companies are so powerful that they can set the prices they pay to producers at below the cost of production, and governments will either directly or indirectly subsidize the difference.
This creates a "race to the bottom of cheap prices, more animals, more production, more profits," she said.
However, there is a way up and out. Sharma recommended a three-prong strategy of:
- Redirecting resources away from industrial agriculture and towards more regenerative approaches.
- Regulating companies and holding them responsible for the emissions generated by their supply chains.
- Regenerating by shifting to agroecology.
Agroecology means growing food in ways that respects natural limits while incorporating local and traditional knowledge, Stanka Becheva, a report contributor and Food and Agriculture Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, explained during the launch.
"It's really the only transformative framework which will help move the industrial... farming sector away from the concentration and the devastating impacts it has," she said.
She also called for a ban on factory farming; turning to more diversified mixed plant and animal farming solutions; ensuring fair prices for small-scale, sustainable farmers; and changing diets to emphasize fresh, local, plant-based food.
A Strong Statement
One hopeful indicator cited by the report is the shifting attitudes of young people. The atlas highlighted a representative survey conducted by the University of Göttingen in Germany of young adults between 15 and 29 years old. It found that nearly 13 percent of them were either vegan or vegetarian, more than double the percentage of the overall German population. A further approximately 25 percent considered themselves flexitarians and only ate meat every so often.
But what was especially striking to Chemnitz was the motivation behind these decisions.
"One thing young people made really clear is that they see their reduced meat consumption as a political statement," she said.
Their decision was not based on taste or health, but opposition to how the current meat industry operates.
The survey found that 75 percent of the vegan and nearly 50 percent of the vegetarian respondents saw themselves as part of the climate movement. Moreover, young people were in favor of government policies directed at creating a more sustainable food system. More than 70 percent of them thought the German government should encourage people to eat a climate-friendly diet and make sure food is produced in an environmentally friendly way.
"This is a strong statement," Chemnitz said, "and it's a strong call for our government to get active."
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No matter how filling and nutritious your meals may be, there's always a temptation to snack. For those on a vegan diet, it's important to keep your fridge and pantry stocked with quick-and-easy snack items that meet your dietary needs.
Thankfully, that's easy to do. There are plenty of vegan-friendly snacks that are both nutritious and yummy, as well as some vegan food brands that provide excellent pre-packaged options. From vegan jerky and vegan cheeses to vegan chocolate and vegan plant-based meal replacement shakes, there are more options today than ever.
If you're looking for the best healthy vegan snack ideas, consider a few of the following options.
How to Choose a Vegan Snack
Before we get into specific vegan snack ideas, it's important to know exactly what to look for. Here are four things to consider when selecting your snacks:
- Look for snacks that are rich in protein. Protein matters for a simple reason: It'll help you feel full and energetic, meaning you won't need to reach for another snack within an hour's time.
- Are they travel-ready? Snacking often takes place on the go. Make sure you have some snack options that are easy to transport for running errands or road trips. This is where the pre-packaged options really shine
- Consider the ingredient list. Just like with vegetarian snacks, look out for added or synthetic ingredients, especially sweeteners or preservatives, which can compromise your snack's nutritional value. Healthy vegan snacks should be dairy-free, gluten-free, non-GMO, and free from animal products.
- Check the price tag. You want to find the tastiest snacks, but you also need to avoid over-priced options. While you can find most of these at the grocery store, you can also order prepackaged vegan snacks that are ready to eat.
The Top 10 Best Snacks for Vegans
Based on those criteria, here are a few of our picks for the best vegan snack ideas.
1) Fruit with nut butter
A sliced apple with almond butter, or a banana dunked in peanut butter, just hits the spot. This is a great vegan snack idea because it's both refreshing and filling. It also offers plenty of nutritional value, including protein, fiber, fruit, and vitamins. The only downsides: It's not always super-portable, as the nut butter can make a bit of a mess. And, you need to watch out for added sugars, which are common among almond and cashew butters, in particular.
Edamame is one of the best vegan snack ideas because of its plant-based high protein content. We recommend preparing them with either sea salt or soy sauce to give them a little flavorful zest.
3) Roasted chickpeas
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are nutrient powerhouses. Not only do they offer a huge portion of protein, but they are also rich in iron, copper, magnesium, and more.
Yes, it takes some premeditated effort to roast them, but once they're prepped, chickpeas make for a uniquely delicious vegan snack option. Chickpeas are also used to make hummus, another healthy vegan snack option.
4) Rice cakes with avocado
If you aren't familiar with them, rice cakes are basically like crackers, shaped from puffed rice. Rice cakes made with whole-grain brown rice are the most nutritious option, offering you a crisp, tasty snack with a low calorie count. Spreading some avocado or guacamole on top will also give you healthy fats, which can keep you full until mealtime comes around.
For vegan-friendly, on-the-go snacks, fruit and veggie smoothies are tough to beat.In terms of flavor combinations, you can mix and match your personal favorite fruits and vegetables. Note that to keep your smoothies vegan-friendly, you'll need to mix your ingredients with plant based milk, or simply use water as your liquid base.
Try adding a plant-based protein powder, or flax or chia seeds to enhance your smoothie's nutritional value even further.
What could be better than a fragrant dip made with chopped tomatoes, onions, garlic, lime juice, and other aromatic spices?
Salsa works best with tortilla chips, though here you'll need to be careful: Most of the store-bought options have too much salt to really qualify as healthy. Homemade chips are easy, though. Just slice some tortillas, drizzle olive oil over them, and bake them for a few minutes.
7) Fruit and nut bars
Some of the top vegan snack companies produce fruit and nut granola bars that are delicious, portable, and dense with nutritional value. Fruit and nut bars, as well as vegan protein bars or even trail mix, are pretty close to ideal for grab-and-go snacking.
8) Kale chips
A healthy and low-carb alternative to potato chips, kale chips are easy to make and are loaded with nutrients. You can make these by coating kale leaves in olive oil and putting them in the oven on a baking sheet until crispy. Add some sea salt to them for flavor and enjoy. You can also make chips or fries out of sweet potatoes as an alternative to regular chips.
9) Frozen grapes
Grapes are not only yummy, but they are filled with vitamin contents, including vitamins D and K. Frozen grapes can be an especially refreshing treat, and very easy to keep on hand. Just make sure you've got a bowl of grapes in your freezer at all times, and dip into it whenever you need a quick bite.
A final option to consider is keeping a jar or two of olives in your fridge. Not only can they satisfy your cravings for something salty, but they are also loaded with healthy fat, which makes them pretty filling. Consider pairing them with grapes, raisins, or berries for a sweet-and-salty option.
Our Favorite Vegan Snack Brands to Consider
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
As you look for pre-packed vegan snacks, here are five brands to keep on your radar.
Sunbasket is a meal kit delivery service that offers options to meet any diet or lifestyle. You can filter their products to see items that are vegan-friendly. In addition to snacks, you'll find lots of vegan recipes and meal options.
Why buy: While the subscription options are pretty lavish, you can also stock up on excellent vegan-friendly snacks, including nuts, chips, and crackers of all kinds. There are a lot of great flavor options to choose from, ranging from sweet to spicy.
Care/of Plant Protein Powdertakecareof.com
Care/of makes a lot of great vegan products, but their plant protein powder is especially recommended. Use it to amp up the nutritional value of your smoothies and other snacks.
Why buy: This plant protein powder is made from organic pea, pumpkin seed and hemp protein, and comes loaded with 18 grams of protein and antioxidants in each serving. It's a great way to promote muscle growth and recovery, or to make your vegan snacks more filling.
This brand offers "snack boxes" and allows you to filter their products according to lifestyle or dietary needs, including vegan options. They have tons of great snacks in this category, including kettle corn, green chile mixes, dried fruit, pretzels, and beyond.
Why buy: We recommend NatureBox not only for their outstanding range of flavors, but also for their reasonable prices and their emphasis on nutrition. You can find vegan snacks that are crunchy, crispy, chewy, salty, or sweet.
Love+Chew Vegan Protein Cookiesloveandchew.comBest for Desserts: Love + Chew
For protein-rich cookies, we recommend the Love+Chew brand. Their products are made with superfoods like almonds, dates, chia seeds, bananas, dark chocolate chips, and cherries.
Why buy: Clear, transparent nutritional information. Minimal ingredients. Incredible flavors ranging from cherry almond to banana bread. These vegan superfood cookies are the real deal.
Sunwarrior Plant-Based Protein
Sunwarrior's Plant-Based Protein Classic Plus is a dietary supplement made with rice protein, peas, chia seeds, quinoa, and amaranth. It comes in some fun flavors, too, including a delectable chocolate that's perfect for shakes.
Why buy: Sunwarrior offers another great way to boost the nutritional value of your next vegan snack. And the price is very reasonable.
Shop for the Best Vegan Snacks
Everyone needs to stop for a snack at some point during the day. For vegans, having the right products on hand is crucial. Start snacking smarter today with some of these easy vegan snack ideas.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. He covers natural health, nutrition, supplements, and clean energy. His writing has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.
For nearly as long as solar panels have been gracing rooftops and barren land, creative people have been searching out additional surfaces that can be tiled with energy-generating photovoltaic (PV) panels. The idea has been pretty straightforward: if solar panels generate energy simply by facing the sun, then humans could collectively reduce our reliance on coal, oil, gas and other polluting fuels by maximizing our aggregate solar surface area.
So, what kind of unobstructed surfaces are built in every community and in between every major city across the globe? Highways and streets. With this in mind, the futuristic vision of laying thousands, or even millions, of solar panels on top of the asphalt of interstates and main streets was born.
While the concept art looked like a still from a sci-fi film, many inventors, businesses and investors saw these panels as a golden path toward clean energy and profit. Ultimately, though, the technology and economics ended up letting down those working behind each solar roadway project — from initial concepts in the early 2000s to the first solar roadway actually opened in France in 2016, they all flopped.
In the years since the concept of solar roadways went viral, solar PV has continued to improve in technology and drop in price. So, with a 2021 lens, is it time to re-run the numbers and see if a solar roadway could potentially deliver on that early promise? We dig in to find out.
Solar Roadways: The Original Concept
Solar roadways are complex in execution, but in concept, they're as simple as they sound. They're roads "paved" with extremely strong solar panels that are covered in glass that can withstand environmental stressors and the weight of vehicles driving over them on a consistent basis.
The idea was something that got people really excited when the initial Solar Roadways, Inc. project (which is still seeking funding) burst onto the scene in 2014:
More advanced designs included solar roadways outfitted with LED lights that could be used to illuminate lane lines, communicate to drivers and more. Other iterations included weight sensors that would detect when obstructions were on the road or could alert homeowners if unexpected vehicles were approaching their driveway. Embedding these kinds of technology into the solar roadways renderings only added to their appeal and the initial hype around the concept.
Key Selling Points of Solar Roadways
Early innovators of solar roadways touted the numerous benefits of their ideas. These included:
- Sunlight shines down on roads at no cost, making the energy not only readily available, but also free (aside from installation and maintenance).
- The ability to power street lights with solar roadways eliminated the need to pull extra energy from the grid.
- Having electronics embedded into the roadway opened up a world of possibilities for communicating with drivers in ways that didn't require painting and repainting of roads.
- The ingenuity to attach weight sensors on the solar panels could be used to alert drivers about potential obstructions, such as animals, disabled vehicles or rocks on the road.
- In a future of electric vehicles, the possibilities were seen as even more beneficial, as solar roadways could be used to power electric vehicle charging stations or to charge the cars while they're driving.
While some early thinkers may also have envisioned these roadways sending solar energy to the local power grid, the most impactful way solar roadways could utilize the energy they generated is right around the road itself: lighting street lights, heating mechanisms to melt snow on the roadway, or powering small emergency equipment on road shoulders.
Using the energy for on-road applications would mean that the power didn't have to be sent long distances before being used, which results in energy loss. However, in more rural or remote locations, having the solar roadway energy available for nearby homes and businesses could be a huge benefit, especially if there's an outage in the overall grid.
Why Solar Roadway Tests Have Failed
To much of the general public — and especially to people who weren't well versed in the intricacies of solar panels or road structures — solar roadways seemed like a slam-dunk solution that both looked futuristic and had benefits that went far beyond electricity generation. It was the kind of innovation that had people exclaiming: "How has no one done this yet?!" But in reality, the execution of solar roadways was much more complex than the idea.
Here are a few reasons solar roadway tests have failed:
Cost of Manufacturing and Maintenance
The cost of the energy from the sun may be free, but the investment to install and maintain the solar roadways was undeniably prohibitive. The reason asphalt is used by default to pave roadways is because it is immensely affordable and low-maintenance, which is especially critical on vast, expansive roadways and interstates.
In 2010, Scott Brusaw, co-founder of Solar Roadways, Inc., estimated a square foot of solar roadway would cost about $70. However, when the first solar roadway was built in France by a company called Colas, it measured 1 kilometer and cost $5.2 million to build — or about $1,585 per foot of roadway. Of course, this was a small iteration and bulk manufacturing would cost less, but either way, it's hard to believe the cost of a solar roadway would ever be competitive with the price of asphalt, which is about $3 to $15 per square foot.
Further, the cost and complexity to send a crew to repair individual panels that fail would far outweigh those to maintain asphalt. So, while one of the presumed benefits of solar roadways is the cost savings associated with self-generated energy, even back-of-the-envelope math highlights how the numbers would simply not add up to be more cost-effective in the long run.
Energy Required to Produce the Panels
Another limiting factor appears when considering the energy it takes to make asphalt versus high-durability glass and solar panels. Most asphalt used on roads today is a byproduct of distilling petroleum crude oil for products such as gasoline, which means it makes use of a substance that would otherwise be discarded as waste.
The solar roadway panels, although intended to save energy in the long run, take much more to produce. Typical rooftop solar panels can easily make up for the extra energy used in production because the glass doesn't need to withstand the weight of vehicles driving over them, but solar roadways have that added complexity.
Power Output of the Panels
When estimating power output, early optimists seemed to perform calculations based on the raw surface area they could cover — and not much else. However, beyond the stunted energy generation that any solar panels face on cloudy days or at night, solar roadways presented unique new performance challenges.
For example, vehicles constantly driving over solar roadways would interrupt sun exposure. Plus, they'd leave behind trails of fluid, dirt and dust that can dramatically reduce the efficiency of solar panels. Being installed on the ground is a challenge in itself because of how readily shade would find the roads; that's the reason you find most solar panels on rooftops or elevated off the ground and angled toward the sun.
Issues With Glass Roadways
Lastly, driving on glass surfaces is simply not what modern cars are designed to do. Asphalt and tires grip each other well, being particularly resilient in wet conditions. If the asphalt is replaced with glass — even the textured glass that's used for solar roadways — tire traction could be reduced dramatically. Wet or icy conditions could lead to catastrophic situations on solar roadways.
Could Recent Advances in Solar Technology Bring Solar Roadways Closer to Reality?
For all of these challenges and even more roadblocks that early solar roadway projects have run into in the past, the reality is that solar technology continues to improve. In the seven years since the first Solar Roadways, Inc. video went viral, solar panels have developed to be more durable, more cost-effective and more efficient at converting sunlight to electricity. To put some numbers behind these trends:
- The average solar PV panel cost has dropped about 70% since 2014.
- In 2015, FirstSolar made news with panels that were 18.2% efficient. Today, the most advanced prototypes are able to exceed 45% efficiency.
- Total solar energy capacity in 2021 is nearly six times greater than in 2014, and with that explosion has come advances to flatten the learning curve and increase the general public's acceptance of the benefits of solar.
- Solar jobs have increased 167% in the last decade, giving the industry more capable workers able to take the reins of a solar roadway project and more professionals who know how to affordably install solar.
The question to ask is whether these advances are enough to bring solar roadways from failure to success.
Despite the improvements, many of the original challenges with solar roadways remain, and the scale of execution is immense. Even with decreasing solar PV costs, outfitting long stretches of roadway with such complex technologies will require tremendous capital.
Rather than a future where solar roadways cover the country from coast to coast, a more likely outcome is that these advances will bring solar roadways to viability in narrow, niche applications.
Just like tidal energy is a great opportunity for small coastal communities but can't be scaled to solve the energy crisis across the world, it's conceivable that limited-scope solar roadways could be constructed around the world. However, large-scale solar roadways may never be more than a pipe dream.
By Danielle Nierenberg
The food system accounts for more than one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to a recent study published in Nature Food.
But with every meal, consumers have the opportunity to make climate-friendly decisions that reduce their carbon footprint. From eating seasonally to adopting a plant-forward diet, Food Tank is highlighting nine ways to eat well and support the environment.
And tune in at 2:00 p.m. EDT on April 28 for Food Tank and Compass Group's Stop Food Waste Day. Chefs, policymakers, food system experts, and more will share impactful ways that everyone can reduce food loss and food waste and support the environment. Learn more and register here.
1. Eat Up
The best foods are the ones we don't waste at all. Most of us only eat the florets from vegetables like broccoli, but the leaves can be tasty as a side dish instead of spinach; they can be roasted with the florets; or sautéed with olive oil and salt and pepper. Or Chef Haile Thomas of The Happy Org suggests making pesto of almost anything that is wilting in your refrigerator—including surprising veggies like lettuce. Blended with walnuts or pine nuts and olive oil, lettuce pesto can be a delicious spread or used on pasta. You can hear more tips like this one from the Compass Group and Food Tank Stop Food Waste Day event.
2. Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food
Locally and regionally grown foods give eaters a chance to know who grows their food and the farming practices they use. Because regional food choices are not shipped hundreds or, even, thousands of miles, they tend to be more delicious. They have the extra benefit of contributing to the local economy. Let's not forget that local and regional farmers were able to pivot during the pandemic and were able to keep many of us fed.
3. Perennial Goodness
Perennial, those that don't need to be planted from year to year like annuals, have several benefits. According to The Land Institute perennials do not require annual plowing or herbicide applications to grow so they're better for the environment. Asparagus, grapes, artichokes, rhubarb and grains like Kernza are delicious ways to incorporate perennials into your meals and there's even a beer made from Kernza!
4. Eating Seasonally
Most of us are used to getting whatever foods we want at any time of year—whether it's strawberries in November or blueberries in February. According to FoodPrint in-season produce usually tastes better. And they say that seasonal food can be more nutritious than food consumed out of season.
5. Becoming Plant-Centric
From Meatless Mondays to Veganuary, there are a lot of campaigns encouraging eaters to consume less or no meat. And while going vegan or vegetarian may not be for everyone, there are lots of benefits to eating less eat a few days week. Chefs and advocates like Dan Barber have been advocating for years to make vegetables the centers of our plates with meat used sparingly, more like a condiment.
6. Supporting BIPOC, Asian, and Women-Owned Businesses
It's no secret that the pandemic has unveiled a lot of painful truths about inequity in the food system. Now is the time to recognize businesses that have lacked support and attention. Guides from Esquire, Vice, and Spoon University can let eaters know how to support these businesses.
7. Avoiding Big Meat, Dairy, and Eggs
The Double Pyramid created by the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition highlights that foods that are the worst for human also can hurt planetary health. And industrial animal products are not only high on the pyramid, but they have a huge impact on workers—from those who work in factory farms to processing plants. Grass-fed and organic meat and dairy tend to have more Omega-3s and again, can support local economies.
8. Ditching Ultra-Processed Foods
While many of us have found comfort in cookies, chips, and other ultra-processed foods over the last year, these foods are high in fat, sodium, and sugar and low in nutrients. According to a recent study in JAMA Network Open, those of us who were under shelter-in-place orders gained about half a pound every 10 days or roughly two pounds per month. But not all processed foods are bad—canned foods, especially those made from produce from our gardens, can be a healthy and delicious way to save produce. And dehydrating and drying herbs and veggies can make our harvests last a long time.
9. Escape From the Cult of Fresh
While fresh fruits and vegetables are nutritious and delicious, overzealous buying at the grocery store or farmers market can mean that much of them go to waste. Frozen food sales, including vegetables, soared during the pandemic—they're convenient, easy to use, and because they're typically harvested and frozen at their peak, they maintain their nutritional value.
Danielle Nierenberg is the president of Food Tank and an expert on sustainable agriculture and food issues. She has written extensively on gender and population, the spread of factory farming in the developing world and innovations in sustainable agriculture.
Reposted with permission from Food Tank.
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All of us know what it's like to be in an energy slump, and most of us tend to address low energy levels with caffeine. Whether that's in the form of coffee or one of those little energy-shot drinks, there are plenty of caffeinated options. While caffeine has its place, excessive consumption of caffeine can contribute to some unwanted side effects including headaches, insomnia, heart palpitations, and beyond. Plus, many energy drinks are full of sugar and calories.
Fortunately, there are healthier alternatives available. These healthy energy drinks and supplements can help you with a lack of energy without the jitters and unwanted side effects. Keep reading to learn more about the best energy supplements and vitamin subscriptions available today.
Our Picks for the Best Energy Supplements
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. Learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a commission.
- Best for B-Vitamins - Care/of B Complex
- Best for Athletes - Onnit Active B Complete
- Best Magnesium Supplement - Sunwarrior Liquid Magnesium
- Best for Energy Production - Bulletproof Forbose Energy
- Best Liquid Vitamin - Nested Naturals B Complex
- Best Vitamin Bites - GEM Daily Essentials
- Best Organic Option - Global Healing Vitamin B12
- Best Gummy for Energy - Goli Nutrition ACV Gummies
- Best for Mental Energy - Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered Superfood Honey
What are the Best Vitamins for Energy?
One way you can minimize caffeine dependence while boosting your natural energy levels is to make sure your body has the vitamins and nutrients it needs to support energy production at the cellular level. A few of the best vitamins for energy and overall wellness include:
You probably know that vitamin B12 is necessary for building red blood cells, which help to transport oxygen throughout the body. And that oxygen, in turn, helps the cells to produce energy. A vitamin B12 deficiency is often linked with fatigue.
One of the most abundant of bodily minerals, magnesium supports over 300 different functions, including energy production. It also helps promote restful sleep, which allows you to wake up feeling recharged and ready for the day.
Like vitamin B12, iron is essential for transporting oxygen throughout the body, supplying cells with the resources they need to produce energy. Iron deficiency, meanwhile, is linked with anemia, which can leave you with chronic fatigue and can impact your mental energy.
This Indian herb belongs on any list of the best supplements to boost energy. It helps fortify your body against mental or physical stressors, allowing you to conserve and increase energy levels.
A naturally occurring hormone, melatonin helps regulate healthy sleep cycles, allowing your body to replenish its energy reserves. The best melatonin supplements can help you get the rest you need to be vigorous and productive during the day. Getting enough sleep is also associated with health benefits like boosting your immune system.
The 9 Best Vitamin Supplements for Energy
What are the best multivitamins and dietary supplements for energy? Here are nine of the top options you can buy online.
Best for B-Vitamins: Care/Of B Complex
- Includes large servings of vitamin B12, vitamin B6, Niacin, Riboflavin, and Thiamin.
- Made with rice hulls, acacia, and sunflower oil.
- Non-GMO, vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free.
Best for Athletes: Onnit Active B Complete
- Supplements your level of thiamin as well as vitamins B1, B2, B5, and B6.
- Includes small portions of rice hulls and sunflower oil.
- Gluten-free, soy-free, and caffeine-free.
Best Magnesium Supplement: Sunwarrior Magnesium Liquid
- Liquid magnesium fortified with chloride, sulfite, and boron.
- Soy-free, zero added sugars, gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan.
Why buy: Magnesium can help you with everything from sleep to muscle recovery, making this an all-around great option for anyone who wants to increase their physical energy and stamina. This supplement is an affordable and convenient way to boost brain function, fight fatigue, muscle cramps, and more.
Best for Energy Production: Bulletproof Forbose Energy Production
- Contains three ingredients that promote energy production and recovery: ribose, Coleus forskohlii root extract, and magnesium.
- Includes rice extract blend.
- Vegan and vegetarian.
Best Liquid Vitamin: Nested Naturals B Complex
- Provides a full range of the essential, energy-producing B-vitamins.
- Includes rice flour.
- Vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free.
Best Vitamin Bites: GEM Daily Essentials
- Each Daily Essentials supplement includes a different lineup of vitamins and minerals, including ashwagandha.
- Made with ingredients such as chickpeas, chia seed, curry leaves, quinoa, and other real food sources.
Best Organic Option: Global Healing Vitamin B12
- Includes a big boost of vitamin B12.
- USDA organic and vegan friendly.
- Supports energy, metabolism, and sleep.
Why buy: This is a simple, no-nonsense vitamin B12 supplement that can help you enjoy greater levels of energy and better metabolism, as well as more restful sleep. Also take note of the incredible value, including a year-long money-back guarantee. This is a great all-natural energy booster.
Best Gummy for Energy: Goli Nutrition Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies
- Includes apple cider vinegar as well as beetroot, citric acid, pomegranate, B vitamins, and pectin.
- Gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO.
- Promotes healthy digestion, energy, and detox.
Best for Mental Energy: Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered Superfood Honey
- Made with royal jelly, propolis, and bee pollen.
- Made without dairy or gluten.
- Caffeine-free, paleo-friendly, all-natural.
Why buy: Royal jelly offers incredible, natural compounds that help boost cognitive ability. This superfood honey is a great option to choose if you're seeking a natural supplement to help you power through brain fog or tiredness without added sugars or caffeine. This raw honey with bee pollen also contains amino acids and antioxidants.
Find the Top Supplements to Boost Energy
We all need a pick-me-up sometimes. Rather than reaching for that third cup of coffee for a short-term jolt, consider fortifying your diet with the essential, energy-boosting vitamins and nutrients your body needs. Use this guide to the best energy supplements as you consider healthy, holistic ways to increase your natural energy.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. He covers natural health, nutrition, supplements, and clean energy. His writing has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.
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By Edwina Hughes, Richard Waite and Gerard Pozzi
With people increasingly aware of the climate impact of their lifestyles, the spotlight is falling on the food we eat. Agriculture and related land-use account for nearly a quarter of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. But not all foods are created equal, and plant-based foods are generally a lot less resource-intensive to produce than animal proteins. Take beef vs. beans: per gram of protein, beef production uses 20 times the land and generates 20 times the GHG emissions as beans.
Much attention is paid to unusual innovations aimed at offering a wider variety of food options with a smaller climate footprint — like crackers made from insects or algae protein bars. But large institutions that want to offer diners climate-friendly food options are finding it's more straightforward than expected. That's in part thanks to recent behavioral science research, which shows that small changes in menu language or creating delicious plant-centered dishes can greatly increase the uptake of sustainable offerings. In short, they've found it's already possible to eat tomorrow's climate-friendly diet today, through easy changes that don't compromise on flavor or cost.
New data from the Cool Food Pledge — a group of restaurants, cities, hospitals and companies that have committed to cutting GHG emissions associated with the food they serve by 25% by 2030, in line with Paris Agreement goals — show that members were able to collectively reduce emissions by 4.6% overall and by 12% per plate in just four years. Some members have reduced emissions even more quickly, showing big changes are possible within a short time.
Food consumption in restaurants, workplace canteens and school cafeterias has fallen dramatically during the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns. While the industry begins to revive amid calls for a "green" recovery, these results can serve as inspiration, showing what could be achievable when the wider food service industry picks up again post-COVID. When diners return, food service operators should seize the chance to ensure strong and engaging sustainability credentials are at the center of their menu offerings. Offering more plant-rich options is key to hitting climate targets since as they are generally much less resource-intensive to produce.
So what does that mean for organizations serving food? And how feasible is it? Lessons from Cool Food Pledge members show that meaningful progress toward a sustainable food future is simple. It's just a case of keeping the spotlight on what's delicious, cost-effective and low-carbon.
Here are the three main lessons:
1. Make It Delicious
Climate-friendly food doesn't have to be dull. Take the example of biotech company Genentech, which has 10,000 staff based in California, and an in-house culinary team creating chef specials. When it joined the Cool Food Pledge it changed the chef specials to plant-rich options — serving up even more vegetables, pulses and grains. Some of the new dishes included "Vegan Jackfruit, Okra and Seitan Jambalaya" with brown rice, Creole sauce and shaved scallions as well as "Charred Yucatan Vegetables" with an array of vegetables, stewed black beans, habanero pickled red onions and flour tortillas. Following positive responses from employees, demand for the new plant-rich options grew while demand for the more traditional, meat-heavier options declined. Between 2018 to 2019 alone, the company reduced the climate impact of each plate of food it serves by an incredible 33%.
2. Keep It Cost-Effective
Climate-friendly food doesn't have to increase costs — and can even reduce them.
In the health care sector, at UCSF Health, forward-thinking chefs decided to couple a more climate-friendly ethos with a cost-effective one while feeding patients and visitors. UCSF had a 100% beef burger that wasn't selling well, so switching to a 70:30 beef/mushroom blended burger in 2017 that sold better was a no-brainer. The Department of Nutrition and Health Services at UCSF Health realized the blended burger would cost less, the mushroom would ensure it remained flavorful and the reduction in beef would help UCSF Health hit its climate-friendly target for food.
At the same time, its central menu evolved from serving 20 entrees featuring beef in 2017 down to just three by 2020. This more plant-rich menu has proven both better for the climate and more appealing to customers. UCSF Health's total food-related GHG emissions dropped by 13% in just three years, the biggest reduction amongst the health care members of the Cool Food Pledge.
3. Explore the World of Plants
A welcome consequence of committing to a climate-friendly menu offering has been a surge in the quantity of vegetables, pulses and grains procured and served by member organizations. In fact, members purchased 12% more plant-based food items in 2019 relative to the base year. The University of Cambridge's University Catering Service, which manages 14 cafés and canteens and caters for 1,500 events a year, has phased out ruminant meat completely, and guests can enjoy Swedish-style Vegballs, Smoky Moroccan Chickpea Stew and sweet potato burgers instead. Emissions dropped by more than 30% even as the university served 30% more food, reflecting the significant change in the ingredients that make up the meals it is serving.
Having an Impact Isn’t Rocket Science
This variety of progress reflects the distinct environments in which these organizations operate and the different diners they serve. Many are cutting emissions even as the number of meals they serve grows.
While every dining facility will have its own unique operations, the Cool Food Pledge is providing structure and guidance to help the food industry lower the carbon footprint of food in line with climate science. Members are guided through a three-steps of "pledge, plan, and promote": they pledge to reduce food-related GHG emissions by 25% by 2030; they develop a plan to achieve their aims using the latest behavioral science; and by promoting their achievements, they are on the front lines of a growing movement that's slashing the impact that food has on the climate.
Reposted with permission from the World Resources Institute.
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JasonOndreicka / iStock / Getty Images
Twenty-five years ago, a food called Tofurky made its debut on grocery store shelves. Since then, the tofu-based roast has become a beloved part of many vegetarians' holiday feasts.
"Tofurky and Thanksgiving are forever intimately tied in my heart," said Jan Dutkiewicz, a visiting fellow at Harvard Law School's animal law and policy program.
He said Tofurky was different from most vegetarian fare because it could actually stand in for a turkey roast.
"It allowed me to be at a Thanksgiving meal having a sort of centerpiece of my own and not just eating stuffing and nibbling on veggies and whatnot," he said.
Today, there are many more meat alternatives on the market. Some brands such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat work hard to appeal not only to vegetarians, but meat lovers too.
"The strategy has been to offer a product that's as close as possible in taste, texture, and price to the products that meat consumers are already eating," Dutkiewicz said.
Producing plant-based proteins generates much less carbon pollution than animal agriculture. So Dutkiewicz said making plant-based foods that appeal – even to meat eaters – can help reduce global warming on Thanksgiving or any day of the year.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
Animal Agriculture Responsible for 57% of Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Food Production, Study Finds
By Brett Wilkins
Global food production accounts for more than a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, with meat and dairy responsible for twice as much planet-heating carbon pollution as plant-based foods, according to the results of a major study published Monday.
According to research published in Nature Food, 35% of all global greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to food production, "of which 57% corresponds to the production of animal-based food," including livestock feed.
"The global population has quadrupled over the last century," the study notes. "Demographic growth and associated economic growth have increased global food demand and caused dietary changes, such as eating more animal-based products. The United Nations projects that food production from plants and animals will need to increase 70% by 2050, compared to 2009, to meet increasing food demand."
"Increased food production," the paper continues, "may accelerate land-use changes (LUCs) for agriculture, resulting in greater greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, reduced carbon sequestration, and further climate change."
Beef production — which according to the study contributes 25% of all food-based greenhouse gas emissions — is by far the biggest culprit, followed by cow's milk, pork, and chicken. Among plant-based foods, rice production is responsible for 12% of food-based emissions.
The publication notes that the provision of adequate grazing land and food for livestock fuels deforestation, while the animals also produce tremendous quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas found to be up to 87 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.
"Global GHG emissions from animal-based foods are twice those of plant-based foods." A new study @NatureFoodJnl es… https://t.co/u5A8XdOv1H— Leila Niamir (@Leila Niamir)1631568176.0
"To produce more meat you need to feed the animals more, which then generates more emissions," University of Illinois researcher and study lead author Xiaoming Xu told The Guardian. "You need more biomass to feed animals in order to get the same amount of calories. It isn't very efficient."
The paper notes that while it only takes 2.5 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions to produce one kilogram of wheat, producing the same quantity of beef emits 70 kilograms of emissions.
"I'm a strict vegetarian and part of the motivation for this study was to find out my own carbon footprint, but it's not our intention to force people to change their diets," study co-author Atul Jain told The Guardian. "A lot of this comes down to personal choice. You can't just impose your views on others. But if people are concerned about climate change, they should seriously consider changing their dietary habits."
Jain added that "this study shows the entire cycle of the food production system, and policymakers may want to use the results to think about how to control greenhouse gas emissions."
20 meat and dairy firms emit more greenhouse gas than Germany, Britain or France. These emissions make up 56 to 58… https://t.co/jGwwpemIkp— Greenpeace (@Greenpeace)1631102387.0
The new study's findings closely mirror those of separate research published last week by Friends of the Earth Europe, its German arm Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz, and the Berlin-based Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, which concluded that worldwide food production accounts for up to 37% of global greenhouse gas emissions, with animal agriculture responsible for more than half of that amount.
Noting that "industrialized meat and dairy production are killing the planet, poisoning rural communities, and hurting independent farmers," the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) said Monday that the Farm System Reform Act — legislation reintroduced in July by Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) — "would end some of the worst practices and begin building a just food system for people and the planet."
Industrialized meat and dairy production are killing the planet, poisoning rural communities and hurting independen… https://t.co/gXfWyAUOIo— Center for Bio Div (@Center for Bio Div)1631539803.0
"Meat and dairy production in the United States is based on heavily subsidized factory farming — a leading contributor to climate change, pollution, pesticide use, biodiversity loss, wildlife killings, and worker exploitation," CBD explains in a petition supporting the proposed legislation, which is endorsed by more than 300 diverse advocacy groups. "This broken system is the result of the unequal power that multinational meat corporations wield over federal farm policy."
Reposed with permission from Common Dreams.
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As our lives become busier and busier, eating well becomes harder and harder. Preparing a healthy, nutrient-rich meal can be time- and labor-intensive, to say nothing of expensive. That's why there's been such a surge in popularity among meal replacement powders, shakes, and drinks. These products make it quick and easy to get the nutrients you need, and also make it easy to choose plant-based protein powder options. As you look for the best plant-based meal replacement, we've put together a few products to consider.
Why Choose a Plant-Based Meal Replacement Powder?
Plant-based diets can provide you with everything you need to live a healthy life and feel full during the day. Ideally, plant-based meal options will give you a rich assortment of fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and beyond. Plus, following a plant-based diet is better for the environment. In addition to things like vitamin subscription services and vegetarian meal delivery services, these powders and shakes make nutrition more convenient.
Plant-based meal replacement mixes can help ensure that you always have a filling and nutritious meal, or healthy vegetarian snack, at the ready. The best meal replacement shakes and powders are portable, take just a few seconds to prepare, and don't require any effort at all to consume. They're an ideal solution for anyone who wants to adopt a healthier lifestyle without breaking up their busy schedule while also doing something good for the planet.
The Top Plant-Based Meal Replacement Options for 2021
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. Learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a commission.
- Best Overall - Kate Farms Nutrition Shake
- Best for Energy - Sunwarrior Lean Meal Illumin8
- Best for Weight Loss - Your Super Skinny Protein
- Best Protein Powder - Care/of Chocolate Plant Protein
- Best Keto Option - Bulletproof Coffee Kit
- Best for Athletes - Onnit Plant-Based Protein Powder
- Best Vegetable Powder - Nested Naturals Super Greens Powder
How We Chose the Best Meal Replacement Shakes & Powders
In seeking the best meal replacement products, we considered a number of different factors. Specifically, our criteria included:
One of the goals of any meal replacement mix is to ensure that you can get all the nutrients you need to be healthy, to have robust energy, and to feel full. We took into account each product's basic nutritional data, including their calories, protein, fats, carbs, vitamins, and minerals per serving.
Let's be honest: One thing that can keep people from embracing meal replacement powders and shakes is if they don't taste good. However, the seven plant-based meal replacement options we recommend are shining examples of meal replacement products that actually taste great.
A good meal replacement mix can appeal to a wide range of dietary needs, from vegan to keto. We have paid special attention to powders and shakes that come with dietary certifications, as well as brands that use USDA-certified organic ingredients.
Naturally, when looking for the best plant-based meal replacement options, you have to think about your budget. Our list includes some options that we think offer good overall value.
7 Best Plant-Based Meal Replacement Shakes, Powders, and Drinks
Best Overall: Kate Farms Nutrition Shake
- Nutrition - 330 calories, 12g total fat, 38g carbohydrates, 18g total sugars, loads of vitamins and nutrients
- Ingredients - Organic pea protein, organic agave syrup, organic brown rice syrup solids, organic vanilla flavor, organic coconut oil, organic flaxseed oil, organic rosemary extract
- Certifications - USDA organic, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free
Best for Energy: Sunwarrior Lean Meal Illumin8
- Nutrition - Around 140 calories per serving, 3g total fat, 14g total carbohydrates, no sugar
- Ingredients - Organic pea protein, organic coconut oil, organic acacia fiber, organic guar gum, organic soluble rice bran, organic chia seed, organic chocolate flavor, organic coconut flour, organic cinnamon, organic green coffee bean extract, organic stevia leaf extract, organic mushroom blend, organic whole kelp, fruit blend, vegetable blend
- Certifications - Vegan, soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, no added sugars
Why buy: These delicious smoothie and shake powders from Sunwarrior are designed to help you lose weight and stay active. They're loaded with proteins and superfoods to provide you with a natural burst of energy from organic ingredients like pea protein, mushrooms, vegetables, and fruits. We also love that it comes in recyclable packaging.
Best for Weight Loss: Your Super Skinny Protein
- Nutrition - 50 calories, 1g fat, 1g carbohydrates, 0g sugars, iron, Vitamin A, and Vitamin B12
- Ingredients - Organic hemp protein, organic pea protein, organic moringa, organic spirulina, organic alfalfa powder
- Certifications - USDA organic, vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, dairy-free
Why buy: If you're looking for the best plant-based meal replacement powder to help you lose weight, Your Super Skinny Protein earns our highest recommendation. Use it to control your hunger and boost your post-workout recovery. Note also that it's developed by trained nutritionists and is certified USDA organic for a nutrient-dense superfood that can help you stay fit.
Best Protein Powder: Care/of Chocolate Plant Protein
- Nutrition - 150 calories, 4g fat, 14g carbohydrates, 2g total sugars, 4mg iron, 258mg potassium
- Ingredients - Made with organic pea, hemp, and pumpkin seed protein, MCT oil, organic cocoa powder
- Certifications - Vegan, Vegetarian, non-GMO, gluten-free, dairy-free
Best Keto Option: Bulletproof Coffee Kit
- Nutrition - MCT oil (140 calories, 14 grams caprylic acid triglycerides), grass-fed Ghee butter (120 calories, 13 grams of fat, vitamin A)
- Ingredients - Ground coffee, grass-fed Ghee clarified butter, MCT oil
- Certifications - Keto-approved
Best for Athletes: Onnit Plant-Based Protein Powderonnit.com
- Nutrition - 100 calories, 1g fat, 3g carbohydrates, 0g sugars, 44mg calcium, 5mg iron
- Ingredients - Pea protein, pumpkin seed protein, sunflower seed protein, watermelon seed protein, avocado powder
- Certifications - Vegan, soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free
Best Vegetable Powder: Nested Naturals Super Greens Powder
- Nutrition - 30 calories, 0g fat, 5g carbohydrates, 2g sugars, lots of vitamins and minerals
- Ingredients - Barley grass (whole leaf) powder, alfalfa grass (whole leaf) powder, wheatgrass (whole leaf) powder, spirulina powder, chlorella (cracked cell) powder, dulse powder, spinach powder, broccoli powder, parsley powder, collard green powder, apple powder, rice bran solubles powder, jerusalem artichoke inulin powder, beetroot powder, acerola extract powder, eleuthero root powder, echinacea powder, acai juice powder, green tea extract powder, milk thistle powder, gingko leaf extract powder, luo han guo extract, raspberry powder, blueberry powder, carrot powder
- Certifications - USDA organic, vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free
Shopping for the Best Plant-Based Meal Replacement Powder or Shakes
There are plenty of options to consider as you seek the best meal replacement powders, shakes, and drinks. Make sure you read nutrition labels carefully, taking into account not just vitamin and protein levels, but also the presence of added sugars, which can sometimes compromise the health benefits of an otherwise-sound plant-based meal replacement mix. Experiment with the best times to use your meal replacement shakes and powders, whether that means early in the morning, just after a workout, or in place of your regular lunch.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. He covers natural health, nutrition, supplements, and clean energy. His writing has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.
By Martin Kuebler
Pulses, a broad category of edible seeds that includes pantry staples like lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas, are one of the world's most important food crops.
This underrated legume has featured heavily in diets around the world for thousands of years. Pulses are the main source of protein for people who don't eat meat — whether by choice or by circumstance — they're good for the environment, nutritious and tasty.
Environmentally Friendly Meat Alternative
Changing our diet, and how we produce what we eat, can have a huge and positive impact on the planet.
A recent key report on food and biodiversity loss linked global eating habits to around 30% of human-made emissions in terms of energy and fertilizer, making them a "key driver of climate change." It also highlighted the devastating impact of our food production on nature.
A big part of the problem is meat and other animal products. Though it might be a good source of protein, meat is terrible for the environment. Getting a kilogram of beef to your kitchen emits as much as 60 kilograms (130 pounds) of CO2-equivalent, according to a 2018 study published in Science. And with the world population set to surpass 10 billion in a little over 30 years, increasing demand for food — especially meat and monocrops like wheat, corn and soybeans — will further stress the climate, limited natural resources and biodiversity.
Pulses like peas and lentils, however, produce some 0.9 kg of CO2-equivalent for every kilo grown. And they provide a far higher protein yield per square kilometer than a herd of cattle or flock of chickens, meaning existing farmland can be used more efficiently and untouched forests can be spared.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has promoted pulses as "a good alternative to meat," pointing out that they "can play a key role in future healthy and sustainable diets." In recent years, calls from environmental groups for people in the Western world to drastically reduce their meat consumption, has inspired a growing trend toward vegetarian and vegan diets.
In a September analysis, climate data provider Carbon Brief said "a global switch to veganism would deliver the largest emissions savings out of any dietary shift," preventing some 8 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions annually by 2050. Current food production is responsible for around 13.7 billion tons per year.
"It is now becoming clear that a plant-based diet is not just a crock," said Christina Ledermann, head of the German advocacy group Humans for Animal Rights. "The future of nutrition is plant-based, or there is no future."
Pulses Enrich Soils, Save Water
Pulse crops are very efficient when it comes to capturing existing carbon from the air and storing it in the soil. One analysis suggested that legumes can store 30% more carbon than other plant species due to their ability to fix nitrogen in the soil via root nodules.
These nodules, which are formed by rhizobia bacteria attached to the roots, absorb inert nitrogen from the soil. This symbiotic relationship helps increase microbial biomass and improve soil biodiversity, while also providing plants with nutrients and energy.
Nitrogen, along with phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, calcium and magnesium, is one of the key macronutrients found in soil. And according to estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 190 million hectares (470 million acres) of pulse crops contribute to as much as 7 million metric tons of nitrogen in soils around the world every year.
This naturally produced fertilizer results in higher yields for pulses and other crops and implies a lesser need for polluting organic and synthetic chemical fertilizers, reducing direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions and preventing further contamination of soils and waterways. Bean crop residue — stalks, leaves and seed pods — can also be used as fertilizer, or as fodder for livestock.
Beans also get by with much less water, making them ideal crops for regions prone to drought. The FAO has estimated that growing a kilo of lentils requires around a third less water than a kilo of chicken, and just a tenth less water than a kilo of beef. Some pulses like pea and lentils also rely more heavily on rain and other surface moisture for their water needs, leaving more groundwater available down below for future crops.
Healthy Way to Improve Food Security
Pulses make up 75% of the average diet in developing countries. Countries in South Asia, especially India, are famed for their extensive use of pulses — which are also very healthy. Besides being an excellent source of protein, pulses are also high in fiber, have little fat and no cholesterol.
The FAO devoted an entire year to pulses in 2016 to raise awareness about how important the likes of lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas are for billions of people around the world. And over the last decade, new seed varieties developed by programs like the Tropical Legumes initiative have made high-yield, climate-resilient pulses an increasingly important crop for smallholder farmers.
Pulses such as chickpeas and lentils are a key component of agricultural practices like intercropping, which help regenerate soils and foster the growth of other non-pulse crops. Planting them in rotation with other plants also helps ward off certain pests and diseases that only affect specific species.
Reposted with permission from Deutsche Welle.
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Concerns about the environment and pandemics like the coronavirus have made a growing number of people hungry for meat alternatives, The Guardian reported Tuesday. At the same time, the plant-based meat market in the country is growing to satisfy this need, and analysts say China could even become a global player in the industry.
"[W]ith a local abundance of non-GMO soybeans and huge capacity to process plant-based raw materials including soy and pea, China has the potential to play a major role in accelerating the plant-based meat trend around the world by increasing production and bringing down costs," Global Food Institute Asia-Pacific (GFI-APAC) managing director Elaine Siu said in a 2019 GFI report.
Meat consumption in China has risen significantly since the 1960s, when the average person consumed five kilograms (approximately 11 pounds) of meat per year, The Guardian pointed out. By 2015, that number had risen to 48 kilograms (approximately 106 pounds). In the U.S., for comparison, per capita meat consumption was 218.6 pounds in 2018, according to Dr. Derrell Peel at Oklahoma State University.
China still eats 28 percent of the world's meat and half of its pork, according to The Guardian. Its meat market is worth $86 billion. However, in 2016 the Chinese government announced a plan to reduce meat consumption by 50 percent in the country and urged its citizens to limit their meat intake to 40 to 75 grams a day. While the government has not done much to forward this goal since the initial ad campaign, it is notable because few countries have incorporated the issue of meat consumption into their plans to address the climate crisis.
At the same time, there are signs that the food culture in the country is shifting. The vegan market in China was expected to grow 17.2 percent from 2015 to 2020, the fastest growth rate in the world, Inside Retail Asia reported in 2016. In Shanghai, the number of vegan restaurants rose from 49 in 2012 to more than 100 in 2017, Business World reported.
Even among those who don't identify as vegan or vegetarian, the new interest in plant-based meat is catching on, GFI reported. While more than 90 percent of Chinese people surveyed by the institute did not identify as meat-abstainers, 86.7 percent of them had tried plant-based meat. In 2018, the country's domestic plant-based meat industry was $910 million and experiencing a yearly growth-rate of 14.2 percent.
This is evident in restaurants across the country, The Guardian noted. KFC in China sells vegan chicken nuggets, while Burger King offers an Impossible Whopper and Starbucks offers Beyond Meat products. Domestic plant-based companies are also getting in on the action. Hong-Kong based OmniFoods has placed plant-based pork in McDonalds in Hong Kong and Aldi, White Castle and Starbucks in mainland China. It also is launching in 13 other countries this year.
This represents a real growth opportunity for China and the world, according to GFI. The country is already a major exporter of plant proteins and has great capacity to continue being so. As of 2016, it had the capacity to process up to 79 percent of global soy protein isolate, 50 percent of global textured soy protein and 23 percent of global soy protein concentrate.
Within China, OmniFoods is opening a factory next year, and hopes to decrease the cost of plant-based foods, which are currently more expensive than meat alternatives. However, the CEO of plant-based mince-maker Z-Rou thinks he can persuade middle class consumers to adopt the new foods despite the higher price.
"They would even be willing to pay more as they know they're getting a healthier product that's helping ensure the future of the planet their children are inheriting," CEO Franklin Yao told The Guardian. "That's priceless."
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Bill Gates is out with a new book on how to solve the climate crisis. How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: the Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need follows his general history of emphasizing technological innovation over policy changes. But, in an interview promoting the new book, he did propose one dramatic behavioral change: People living in wealthier countries should switch to plant-based meat alternatives.
"I do think all rich countries should move to 100% synthetic beef," Gates told the MIT Technology Review Sunday. "You can get used to the taste difference, and the claim is they're going to make it taste even better over time."
In the interview, Gates gave shoutouts to Beyond and Impossible, two companies that have made headlines with their plant-based burger alternatives in recent years. (He is, in fact, an investor in both, the article noted.) While these meat alternatives currently represent less than 1 percent of the meat in the world, they have quality and cost roadmaps that make them competitive, he said.
On the other hand, he did not think that lab-grown alternatives like Memphis Meats, in which he also invests, were likely to be economically viable on a wide scale.
In the interview, Gates did not think that poorer nations would have to give up beef. In Africa, he said, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation focuses on lowering the emissions per cow using genetics.
"Weirdly, the US livestock, because they're so productive, the emissions per pound of beef are dramatically less than emissions per pound in Africa. And as part of the [Bill and Melinda Gates] Foundation's work, we're taking the benefit of the African livestock, which means they can survive in heat, and crossing in the monstrous productivity both on the meat side and the milk side of the elite US beef lines," he said.
His ideas may be a hard sell, however. The claim that the Green New Deal would force U.S. residents to give up hamburgers has been a major right-wing talking point, as TIME noted in 2019.
However, Gates thought a shift to plant-based meat was possible over time.
"Eventually, that green premium is modest enough that you can sort of change the [behavior of] people or use regulation to totally shift the demand," he said in the interview.
Food & Living Vegan opined that his argument made sense from a climate perspective.
"Oxfam revealed that the richest 1% is responsible for double the carbon emissions as the poorest 50%, therefore even if it is just wealthy nations switching to lab-grown or synthetic meat, this will have a huge impact," the magazine wrote.
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Eating healthy doesn't have to be hard, and it doesn't have to be boring. Meal delivery services have made it easier to serve up delicious, nutritious meals at home. And Purple Carrot makes it easy to eat a plant-based diet while helping the environment at the same time.
How We Review Meal Delivery Services
When evaluating each meal delivery service, we based our review on their food options, ingredient sourcing, packaging, and customer reviews to ensure that they are both good for you and for the environment.
- Dietary options - We considered both the quality and variety of the recipes and whether they offered vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free options.
- Ingredients - We looked to see how they sourced their ingredients, whether they were organic, non-GMO, and locally grown. We looked for important eco-friendly labels from authorities like the USDA, Non-GMO Project, and the Marine Stewardship Council.
- Packaging - A very important component was also the packaging for each meal. We wanted to know how much was recyclable or biodegradable, and whether the brand used recycled materials in their packaging.
- Customer reviews - Finally, we looked at customer reviews to see what users liked or didn't like about each service.
Purple Carrot Overview
Many people want to eat better, but they don't know where to start or how to properly prepare the variety of produce available. Purple Carrot takes the lead by providing all of the ingredients along with step-by-step directions to cook a meal packed with flavor but no meat. The Purple Carrot philosophy is not anti-animal, but rather pro-plant, choosing to focus on the potential of the vast array of edible plants available – which total more than 20,000 around the world. They make it easy for anyone to enjoy vegan meals with simple-to-follow recipe cards and ingredients.
Many of the products used in their weekly menu, from chickpeas, quinoa, sweet potatoes, and arugula to tofu and vegan cheeses, are organic and non-GMO whenever possible. Using all-natural ingredients is important and provides greater nutrition in addition to being better for the earth. All meals are vegan, and there are also gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, low-carb, and high-protein options to fit a variety of lifestyles and dietary restrictions.
Eating a plant-based, vegan diet is good for overall health. Consuming more plants and plant-based foods can help reduce risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. Many processed foods are packed with preservatives and artificial colors and flavors; Purple Carrot sources natural ingredients so you know exactly what you are eating. Plus, with a meal delivery kit, you'll have all the ingredients you need which can help reduce food waste.
Purple Carrot's Focus on Sustainability
Ordering from a meal kit delivery service like Purple Carrot, Sunbasket, Hello Fresh, or Blue Apron can be more eco-friendly than purchasing a meal from the grocery store because it typically has a smaller carbon footprint. But Purple Carrot does even more. By emphasizing the use of plants as the foundation for each meal, is saving water. While producing one pound of vegetables requires about 40 gallons of water, producing one pound of beef requires about 47 times more water. And cutting out just one burger a week can save around 320 miles in carbon emissions, according to their site.
Products are sourced from farmers and vendors across the country and organic, non-GMO products are used whenever possible, but not everything they use is certified organic. Their meal options do not include any animal-products. The company adheres to Proposition 65 requirements in California and provides detailed nutritional information for each recipe. Consumers are informed about any potential risk to uphold the utmost commitment to safety.
Recycling Purple Carrot Packaging
In an effort to further reduce its environmental impact, Purple Carrot strives to use recycled and recyclable packaging. Some recycling may be limited by the type of plastics or products specific communities accept.
- Boxes: Their boxes are made of corrugated cardboard and can be broken down and easily recycled, or they can be reused and repurposed around the home.
- Cooling Packs: The cooling packs contain 100% non-toxic gel that can be safely disposed of in the trash can, and the plastic bag can be recycled. In addition, these ice packs can also be refrozen and reused.
- Liners: Both plastic and bubble liners are recyclable in communities that accept #4 and #7 products. The insulation inside the liner is compostable and can be safely thrown in the trash.
- Plastics: Ingredients come in a variety of packing including jars, bottles, and bags that include #1, #4, #5, and #6 recyclables. These containers can also be cleaned and reused for other purposes.
- Food waste: If you happen to have any food scraps such as banana peels or carrot shavings, they can be tossed in a compost bin where they'll help create nutrient-rich soil.
Purple Carrot is always looking for ways to provide more sustainable, eco-friendly packing and solutions.
Purple Carrot Meal Plan Pricing Options
When it comes to ordering, there are two main options available:
- Two Serving Plans: This is ideal for individuals or couples. Choose from a three- or four-dinner option with meals priced at $11.99 per serving and free shipping.
- Four Serving Plans: This is a great option for small families and priced at just $9.99 per serving. Shipping is free, and there are two-dinner or three-dinner vegetarian options available.
- Extras: There is also a variety of breakfast and lunch options, as well as plant-based snacks that you can add on to any package. These let you enjoy even more healthy vegan food before dinner time.
Choose from a wide range of vegan recipes and veggies to suit your taste. Spice things up with Roasted Red Pepper Shakshuka, enjoy a classic with Eggplant Florentine, or curb your craving for Mexican with Mexican Molletes with refried beans and Pico de Gallo. A popular breakfast option is the Loaded Avocado Toast. And plant-based snacks don't have to be dull either – choose from items like mushroom jerky, peanut butter cup truffle pouches, or sugar cookies.
Meal packages are customizable to fit your needs and interests. If it is going to be a busy week with less time for meal prep, you might add more breakfasts, lunches, and snacks, while lighter weeks might just be dinner. All of the ingredients are pre-portioned, and everything you need (with the exception of a few pantry staples such as salt, pepper, and olive oil) is included in your box. You also receive step-by-step directions for how to prepare each dish, leading to a stunning and tasty result.
Purple Carrot Pros and Cons
We love how easy Purple Carrot makes it to eat a plant-based diet, especially for those who are new to a no-meat lifestyle. Their recipes go way beyond new spins on salad, and could help customers learn fun and creative ways to introduce more vegetables into their daily lives. They also do a good job of explaining the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.
There are two primary drawbacks to Purple Carrot, however. First, they do use a a lot of plastic in their packaging. You'll need to make certain that your local recycling program accepts all of the different types they include; otherwise you will wind up with a lot of waste. Second, while they do say that organic and non-GMO produce is used whenever possible, not all of their ingredients are certified organic. If you want to eat 100% organic, Purple Carrot may not be the best choice.
The primary benefit of choosing Purple Carrot for the environment is the chance to reduce your meat consumption and enjoy the eco-friendly aspects of a plant-based diet.
Enjoy Plant-Based Meal Kits Good for You and the Environment
Purple Carrot is the way to go if you want to integrate more plant-based meals into your diet. Even cutting out meat one or two times a week can be beneficial. Purple Carrot recipes are full of flavor and a variety of colors. If you're looking to "eat the rainbow," this meal delivery service can be a great place to start. Their subscription service makes it easy to skip a week or change up your order using their convenient ordering system. Each week, you get to choose the meals and extras you want, and the menu is always changing and adding new options.
Get out of your recipe rut and try some of the delicious vegan options available through Purple Carrot. Plus, you'll know you're helping the planet at the same time.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. His writing on natural health, nutrition, and supplements has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.