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A Censuswide survey, commissioned by environmental search engine Ecosia, has revealed new plant-based trends. Major takeaways include more than 20 percent of participants reducing meat intake in light of the climate crisis. It was revealed that 32 percent are willing to change their diets to help the environment. More than 50 percent of those asked identified the UK government as not doing enough to help the climate.
2021 was rife with examples of how climate change is affecting the planet. Heat waves, floods and wildfires, the latter contributing to record emissions, have propelled the worsening climate crisis into the consciousness of many. Tree-planting Ecosia commissioned a 2,000 participant survey to find out if tangible effects of climate change are affecting dietary choices in the U.K.
What the U.K. said
Ecosia has revealed that of all participants surveyed, one in 10 now refers to themselves as a climate activist. A change in diet or seriously considering one ranked as a common course of action. The gender split revealed that more women than men are making dietary changes, with women more likely to turn vegan. Men appeared to favour pescatarian nutrition. Geographical insights revealed that Newcastle reported the highest percentage of people already reducing or removing meat from their diets. 26 percent are said to be doing so, closely followed by Manchester with 25 percent and London, with 24 percent.
“The detrimental effects of the food system on the world are well publicised – contributing more than a third of greenhouse gas emissions, with meat accounting for at least 60% of this, as well as causing deforestation, biodiversity loss and polluting our water systems,” Sophie Dembinki, U.K. country manager for Ecosia said in a statement. “It’s no wonder that such a growing number of people are changing their diet because of the impacts of the food we eat on the environment and the climate. Whilst becoming a vegetarian or vegan won’t solve the climate crisis alone, reducing or eliminating meat from your diet can help contribute to a more sustainable food system and send a message to governments and food producers that there need to be systematic changes to the way we produce food if we are to reduce carbon emissions and limit global warming.”
Looking at data by age group proved insightful. Individuals between 25-34 were more likely to admit to diet change of some kind, for climate reasons. 29 percent claimed this to be true of themselves. This age bracket registered the highest number of vegans with 6 percent using the term. The 45-54 group demonstrated the highest percentage (13) of those specifically reducing meat consumption for the environment. People tagged 55 and older were the least likely to address climate change through eating less meat. Breaking the numbers down further, Ecosia claims that Gen Z (16-24) is most likely to change their diet. 46 percent would be willing to be flexitarian, vegetarian or vegan, if it would fight climate change. Overall, Ecosia has noted a general feeling of optimism across all age groups that as a collective, climate change can be addressed.
Who is responsible?
Speaking with Green Queen, Ecosia cited extreme weather incidents and a highly publicised COP26 as motivating factors for commissioning the study. The search engine company said it wanted to gain valuable insight into who the U.K. felt was responsible for initiating changes and who was already acting on their own.
Despite many participants already acting, only 36 percent feel it is down to individuals to counter the climate crisis. Just 5 percent of people feel the government is doing enough and 29 percent want climate change to be a priority above the economy. What was telling, was a mass desire to see fossil fuel companies bearing responsibility.
45 percent of participants felt fossil fuel companies should be penalised for their emissions contributions. Previous data published in The Guardian has suggested that 71 percent of all carbon emissions are made by just 100 companies, including Shell and BP. U.K. climate activists would like to see a total ban on fossil fuel pollution, not performative reductions. Increased rewilding was also shown to be a popular activity.
These findings are pertinent, as it has recently been reported that Google is allowing fossil fuel companies to sneak misleading ads into its search findings. Ads are included in key environmental searches, leading readers to believe that big companies are contributing meaningfully to the reversal of climate change. Speaking to Green Queen about these practises, Ecosia said the following:
“It’s unsurprising that Big Oil would try to obscure their ads and instead present them as search results,” Dembinski said. “They have owned the narrative on the climate crisis for such a long time and continue to do so by using the reach of platforms like Google. At Ecosia, we use 100% of our profits from advertising revenue to invest in climate action and have planted over 140 million trees around the world as a result, aiding in the restoration of forests, providing homes to endangered animals, protecting landscapes and empowering local communities. We also flag up polluters with a grey icon, so users are aware about who they are seeing results from.”
As greenwashing starts to be heavily regulated, such practises will, hopefully, be outlawed on all search engines.
Practising what it preaches?
Green Queen asked Ecosia about its own employees’ eating habits. The company revealed that there is no mandate in place to be vegan, but many staff are, including CEO Christian Kroll. It went on to confirm that in the face of increasing climate concerns, many staff members followed a plant-based diet. The weekly team lunch is all plant-based and prepared using local crops sourced from a regenerative farm. Alternatives to business-specific flying are compensated and extra travelling time accounted for, but the company’s stance on climate protest is what makes it stand out.
“We have a company policy which provides paid time off for employees to demonstrate their democratic right and participate in climate protests which is fantastic and also why Ecosia, alongside a number of other purpose-driven companies, has been vocal against the UK Government’s most recent Policing Bill,” Dembinski concluded.
Lead photo by fauxels from Pexels.