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Can Reducing Meat Consumption Be Healthier for You and the Planet?

Quorn® is excited to announce its brand new short film with Jermain Defoe and Ben Fogle, looking at the impact of our modern, meat eating diets on the planet and how meat reduction could be healthier for you and the planet.

The film is the first of a three part series, which sees Ben Fogle embark on a mission to find out how easy it is to cut down on the amount of meat he eats and the benefits that change can have, not just on the environment but also on his own health. Ben will be joined by a variety of experts along the way, with Jermain Defoe and his nutritionist, Matt Lovell, starring in the first film.

Producing the meat we eat every year emits more Greenhouse Gases than all the vehicles on earth put togetheri. In fact, food production is the second biggest issue currently facing the earth via greenhouse gas emissionsii and inefficient land and water usage. A meat based diet generates a carbon footprint that is 50% bigger than a plant based oneiii. To put that into perspective, every single time we eat just one quarter pounder burger, it requires a colossal 2,800 litres of wateriv to make. That’s 11,200 cups of tea or 45 personal showers.

Ben Fogle, Broadcaster & Explorer, said: ‘I knew animal livestock production was a big contributor of Greenhouse Gas emissions, but I was honestly shocked to learn that it is currently the second largest cause of GHG emissions, second only to our energy usage. That’s a seriously scary fact and it got me thinking about why we don’t talk about it more? It’s not just about us and our planet, it’s about our children and their future planet. My children in particular have asked to eat less meat already, in fact, I’ve promised my son that if he gives up meat entirely, so will I. I don’t actually think it’s necessarily about giving up meat entirely, rather a less and better approach, so if we can all just make a small swap, just once a week, then it would have a huge effect.

Our planet’s environment is so fragile and our over consumption of meat in the developed world just isn’t sustainable. With our population set to increase, we need to address our diets today, and that’s why I’ve partnered with Quorn – to look into how and why we do this, right now.’

Filmed at Jermain’s training ground in Bournemouth, the first film questions head-on the idea that, in order to live an active lifestyle, you must rely on meat as a primary source of protein. The film reveals the environmental benefits of cutting down meat on the UK’s diets and most importantly, what can we eat instead.

Jermain Defoe, Footballer, said: ‘My performance on the pitch is affected by my diet so I take my nutrition very seriously. Protein forms a massive part of my weekly meal plans, particularly in the lead up to matches. Working with a nutritionist has really opened my eyes to how eating the right foods can have a positive impact on my game, so I made the decision to drastically reduce my meat intake and haven’t looked back since. I believe this new way of life has been key to me continuing to play at the highest level and I can honestly say that I haven’t missed meat that much. Don’t get me wrong, when my mum is cooking her jerked chicken and roast lamb, it’s hard to look the other way but there are so many other ways of getting your protein sources that are better for my health and the environment.’

Ben and Jermain have joined forces with Quorn in light of how it is much less harsh on the environment than meat. Quorn takes an innovative approach to protein production. It is far more efficient to produce, with Quorn Mince having 90% less CO2 emissions than beef mincev, plus lower land and water usage.

Products such as Quorn Mince and Pieces are also high in fibre, low in saturated fat and high in protein, with research showing the protein source may be as beneficial for your muscles as animal proteinsvi.

Peter Harrison, Marketing Director at Quorn, said: ‘When we say the word ‘environment’, we tend to think about car exhaust fumes and the ozone layer. We know that energy and transport are two causes of huge and damaging effects to our planet, but not everyone seems to realise the sheer impact of our diet choices too. We are eating far too much meat and with the population set to increase to 11bn by 2050, we need to reduce our meat consumption and eat more protein sources that have a low impact on the planet, now.

That is why we have partnered with Jermain, Ben and others. We want to help get the message out there that we all need to start considering the health of our planet as well as our own health when it comes to the food we eat. It doesn’t require a radical shift in our lifestyles at all. There are simple changes we can make and by just eating less meat once a week, we can honestly start to make a big change. We’re not asking everyone to give up meat entirely. But there are loads of tasty alternatives out there that can still give us the protein we need. If Jermain Defoe can go meat free and get picked for England, I reckon we can all afford a few more meat free meals as part of our weekly dinners.’

The three minute film marks the first of a series of three films that Quorn are creating with Ben Fogle, with the remaining two coming later on in the year.

Jermain Defoe continued: ‘I wanted to make this film to prove first hand, that you can reach optimum fitness levels without relying on meat all the time. If I can reduce my meat intake and actually improve my performance, then so can everyone else. At the age of 35, I feel and play like a 25 year old and that is down to my diet. I have more energy, less injuries and less fatigue. Even my sister is starting to try it out. I think we all need to start rethinking our diets, especially with so many great alternatives out there – personally, I rely a lot on chickpeas, nuts, superfood juices, sweet potato, fresh salads, pomegranate, beetroot and I love the Quorn Burgers’.

Ben Fogle continued: ‘When we think about muscle and fitness, a lot of us think meat. But look at Jermain and the huge number of international athletes all over the world going meat free as part of their nutrition plans. We have a lot to learn from them when it comes to how we consume protein.’

iChatham House, The Royal Institute of International Affairs, 2014; ‘Livestock – Climate Change’s Forgotten Sector: Global Public Opinion on Meat and Dairy Consumption’:

iiWorld Resources Institute, ‘Everything You Need to Know About Agricultural Emissions’:

iiPeter Scarborough, ‘Dietary Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Meat-Eaters, Fish Eaters, Vegetarians and Vegans in the UK’; Climatic Change, DOI: 10.1007/s10584-014-1169-1

ivCentre for Alternative Technology, ‘How much water does it take to make a burger?’: Data sourced via;

vComparison figures based on edible meat, ref: Carbon Trust, 2014

viUniversity of Exeter, ‘Quorn protein on par with animal sources’:

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