Letter: "Sheffield has an enviable reputation for vegan food - and this is why going plant based is so vital"
Vegetarian and vegan eateries such as Make No Bones, POM Kitchen and the long-established Blue Moon Cafe have helped to give Sheffield an enviable reputation for amazing meat-free food, helping to boost the local economy.
Virtually every pub and restaurant now has a fully vegan option. This is a vast improvement from the lack of choice and awareness when I became vegan ten years ago. Now my only problems when eating out are my waistline, my wallet and the endless choice of options. And knowing that my delicious dinner is produced without cruelty is a wonderful feeling.
Supermarkets have also developed and expanded their vegan food ranges – I can now choose from a full range of plant-based milks at the small Asda in Walkley when popping to the shops, and I enjoy trying new plant-based supermarket foods – all the major supermarkets are making life easier and a lot more enjoyable for vegans and vegetarians. I also love supporting ethical local businesses such as Beanies, where I pick up a weekly veg box that’s mostly locally grown.
It’s a great time to try a plant-based diet. It’s better for you – with fewer saturated fats and more vitamins and minerals – it’s kinder for animals, and it’s kinder for the planet as a vegan diet releases far less CO2 into the atmosphere.
Although supermarkets are doing a fantastic job at expanding their plant-based foods, it’s a drop in the ocean compared with the amount of industrially reared meat products on the supermarket shelves.
I was recently shocked to find that Tesco buy chicken and pork from suppliers Moy Park and Pilgrim’s Pride, UK subsidiaries of the Brazilian meat giant JBS. This company is notorious for its role in forest destruction. British-reared chickens and pigs destined for Tesco are fed on soya beans imported from deforested land in Brazil, such as the Cerrado, a wildlife-rich savannah. Did you know that around 99 per cent of the soya imported to the UK by Tesco is used to feed meat and dairy livestock? Did you know that due to deforestation for beef and soya (for animal feed), the Amazonian rainforest now emits more CO2 than it absorbs? I find these facts shocking, especially as time is running to combat the effects of man-made climate change.
I am a Tesco customer, and I love their meat-free products, so it would be brilliant to see Tesco and other supermarkets changing their ways and reducing the amount of meat on their shelves, as well as cutting ties with industrial meat producers. Supermarkets need to work with their customers, reducing the impact of climate change and protecting valuable wildlife and habitats.
Next time you are eating out or food shopping, please take a few minutes to decide whether you want cruelty and environmental destruction in your dinner, or could you choose a plant-based option instead?