(Posted on 20/01/20)

'Sustainable' has become a very popular word in recent times. The word lines the packaging of food, hits the headlines and flashes up on our screens. But what is sustainability and what does it have to do with you and me?

First of all what is sustainability? Sustainability ensures our species' survival. It requires us to stop using resources and food faster than we can replenish it. If we don’t, we don't survive. As an environmental scientist I have always been interested in the natural world, how humans are impacting it and what are the ways we can conserve it. When I was younger it wasn’t a big deal to think about our impacts on the world, no one really cared that much, because people weren’t aware. Even recycling wasn’t a council run operation like it is now. I use to go to the supermarket with my mum to take glass to the bottle bank, because that was the only way to recycle. But times have changed, reducing our daily impact on the world is now a big deal. We became aware of the problems humans were causing on the climate, on species extinction, and on ourselves. People now want to change to become sustainable!

One of the biggest changes of the last 20 years toward sustainability is diet! 14% and 7% of the UK population are Vegetarian and Vegan respectively, there has been a 700 times increase in Vegan diets in just 2 years. Vegetarian and Vegan diets used to be purely about animal rights, and although that is the concern for many Vegetarians and Vegans, sustainability is now one of the biggest reasons to choose those diets. I am actually one of those people. I chose to not eat meat because I don’t believe that we can justify environmental damage for something that ‘tastes good’.

It’s staggering that we could currently feed the worlds population if we stopped feeding grain to c ows in the beef industry. It takes so much food and water to produce 1kg of beef, that in the future, with rising population, it would not be possible to feed the world a meat eating diet. Then added to this, you have the pollution and green house gases that are produced when raising beef livestock… And believe me, its a lot!

I am not a person who pushes my opinion on diet, I do not preach my thoughts to everybody. I am happy to engage in conversation and talk about the benefits of a pescatarian (fish only), vegetarian or vegan diet. I think it is important in todays climate (no pun intended) that we start to look at the facts about what we eat. Sustainability is essential for our species' survival and it’s all about what will you do to help?

- Montana Hull