Eat your greens and save the planet

Eat your greens and save the planet

Blog #1 from our series "The Green Revolution"

More and more research has begun to conclude that adopting a more plant-based lifestyle has major benefits for both the environment and the economy. Livestock farming has taken place since the Neolithic Revolution – dating back over 10 000 years ago. But, due to the growing population there has been a surge in the demand for mass-produced meat products. Coupled with growing global environmental issues, such as climate change, research has been directed to looking at the alternatives to animal farming to address both environmental degradation and world hunger.

To start, let’s take a look at the most pressing issues that are facing many countries across the globe, and how animal farming and plant-based diets contribute to these issues.

1. Water scarcity

Following on from our water series, it is quite certain that farmers from several countries are struggling to make a living with water shortages or an inability to trade water.

Most of the water used in animal farming is used to clean the enclosures and keep them sanitary, as well as to water the crops for animal feed. According to research done by Pimentel et al, in 2006, estimates suggest that Americans alone consume 7 billion chickens for consumption every year. At 32 gallons of water consumption per kilo of chicken meat, this means that just in America alone, over 2 trillion gallons of water are used annually to produce chicken meat. This is not considering the water used in producing other meats, dairy products, eggs etc.

According to research by Marco Springmann of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food, if we were to adopt plant-based diets globally it would cut food related water use by 38%. To put it into a more relatable comparison, the diagram below shows the different amounts of water needed to produce the same weight of food product.

From the above diagram that was used from a study by R. Santo, it is evident that the highest water footprint foods are nuts, beef, pork and chicken. The lower water-footprint food sources come from animal by-products such as eggs, and vegan protein sources like pulses and cereals.

2. CO2 Emissions

The amount of carbon dioxide produced by livestock is a serious threat to the environment. In fact, it is estimated that livestock contribute 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions – around half as much as all transportation combined (USDA-ERS).The same research showed that adopting a vegan diet would reduce C02 emissions by about 6.6 million tonnes per year if everybody went plant-based for a day.

Plants have been shown to remove four times more C02 from the atmosphere on average than the same area of land used to produce livestock, making it a greener option (H/T).

“The most ethical diet just so happens to be the most environmentally sound diet and just so happens to be the healthiest.”

― Dr. Michael Greger, physician, author, and internationally recognized speaker

3. Economic growth

In terms of economic growth, many question whether it will be economically viable to turn towards plant-based diets. However, data shows that economy would greatly benefit from it. For example, according to research by the Humane Research Council, if all US citizens adopted a plant-based diet, it would create 2.6 million jobs which is more than double of all U.S. jobs in transportation combined!

Much of the reasoning behind preferred economic growth with the adoption of plant-based diets, is that we see that the potential losses from climate change will negatively affect famers should we continue with animal-based farming.

Investing green

For those not quite ready to take the leap into veganism, but rather want to explore the route of green investing, there are several plant-based companies that have sustainable mission statements to invest in. These include Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, Danone, WhiteWave and GreenGrocer in Australia

These plant-based/vegan companies have experienced rapid growth over the last 5 years. The two largest of these are WhiteWave and GreenGrocer.

Our top 5 plant-based companies

1. Beyond Meat has generated revenues of $87.9 million since its launch in October 2016 and has had a Market Cap of $534.2 million since the 21st of January 2017.

2. Impossible foods has generated revenue of $108.3 million up until the 30th of July 2018, with their market cap being $1.16 billion since the 2nd of July 2016. Impossible Foods has had a high growth rate of 168% since its launch in 2015 however this company is at the beginning stages of develop- m ent and many view it as risky, with it's fair share of competition. Impossible foods currently holds 74% market share in meat alternatives.

3. Danone is a leading company within the dairy industry and produces a variety of plant-based products. The French based company reported a revenue of €20,748 million in 2017 which is up from €19,151 million in 2016.

4. WhiteWave is an American company that was founded in 1977 and the economy size is currently at $4.7 billion. Its headquarters are based in WhiteWave, Colorado, USA. The economy size for this article has been taken from Yahoo Finance where it can be found under current market capitalization ($4.7 billion).

5. GreyGrocer is an Australian company that owns a range of plant-based / vegan companies such as Earth Island, Almond Breeze and Wallaby Yogurt. The economy size is currently at $0.6 billion which makes it the biggest economy in this article. Its headquarters are based in Victoria, Australia.

The WGP Opinion

It is no surprise, looking at the statistics, that some of the Greats knew and promoted the benefits of following a more plant-based. Don’t believe us? Take a look at what these guys said:

“By eating meat we share the responsibility of climate change, the destruction of our forests, and the poisoning of our air and water. The simple act of becoming a vegetarian will make a difference in the health of our planet.”

― Thích Nhất Hạnh, global spiritual leader, poet and peace activist

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”

― Albert Einstein, does he even need an introduction?

In our opinion, we have seen several global diet change adaptions that reflect the anti-C02 and climate change sentiment. From an increase in companies like Beyond Meat, to adoption of cleaner energy sources. We at WGP Global believe that the next step that will propel action towards adopting more plant-based diets will be the lack of readily available drinkable water.

The issues surrounding water trading and redistribution are becoming more and more evident as climate change effects the livelihoods of local and global farmers. From the research done in our water series, which you can find HERE, there is no doubt that economic agents will need to adopt their personal and professional agendas to account for water savings and redistribution.

The insights provided in this article provide us reason to believe that one of the more obvious solutions to water scarcity would be a global adoption of a more plant-based diet.

Overall, we at WGP Global pride ourselves in looking out for our clients, investors, and the planet! We hope you have enjoyed our green series and keep an eye out for more to come in the near future!