The Vegan Power Revolution
Your energy supply may be green but is it vegan?
If Ecotricity isn’t your supplier, there’s a high chance you’re powering your home with electricity and gas made with the by-products of the meat and dairy industry.
A major UN report recently concluded that switching to a plant-based diet can help fight climate change, because of the huge emissions created by animal agriculture. We believe it’s nonsensical for ‘green’ energy suppliers to support the same farming practices that are causing climate change.
Our founder, Dale Vince, says: “Unwittingly supporting the meat and dairy industry through their choice of energy company comes as a bit of a shock to many people. Our electricity and gas have been vegan for as long as we’ve been aware of animals being used in the supply chain.”
What is vegan power?
Ecotricity is the only certified vegan energy company in the UK – but what does that mean and why does it matter?
Vegan power is the production of electricity or gas that doesn’t involve the use of animals or animal by-products. Our green gas and electricity have been both been certified as vegan by The Vegan Society since November 2018.
We think this is important. If you look hard enough, you’ll find that some energy companies admit to ‘recycling’ dead fish and animal body parts into power, but we believe the energy you buy should be labelled clearly and honestly.
The Vegan Society say: “Ecotricity have a longstanding policy of refusing to buy energy from animal-related sources and have agreements in place with all of their green gas generators, ensuring that any food waste or organic matter that feed their anaerobic digestion sites are free from animal by-products."
The feedstock of all the sites Ecotricity uses can be checked through the independent Official Information Portal on Anaerobic Digestion. This means we can be confident in Ecotricity’s adherence to vegan energy.”
How does it work?
There are two main ways that animals are used in the production of energy in the UK: anaerobic digestion and biomass. Both of these can use animal by-products including factory-farmed livestock, slaughterhouse waste, fish parts and animal slurry.
At the moment, while all energy providers have to declare the fuel mix they use, they don’t have to declare whether animals are used in the energy they produce. We think this is wrong.
What makes a vegan energy supply different from green energy?
More and more people are switching to green energy with the aim of helping to fight climate change. As the first supplier to offer green electricity in the UK, back in 1996, we’re delighted to see this progress – but green energy isn’t necessarily vegan.
Fundamentally, green energy is electricity or gas that’s produced using renewable resources, not traditional fossil fuels – but there’s nothing that stops animals being used in the supply chain of ‘green’ energy.
Many green energy companies, like Good Energy, Bulb, and Octopus Energy, supply electricity that’s been generated using animals or animal by-products.
So switching to vegan power is essential if we’re going to be able to generate electricity and gas in the future.
Why does a vegan diet have a smaller carbon footprint?
Standard ‘green’ energy helps to lower carbon emissions but vegan power takes an important extra step.
Animal agriculture has such a huge impact on global carbon emissions, so much that according to a study undertaken by researchers at the Oxford Martin School, “a widespread adoption of a meat free diet could see emissions drop by 63 per cent […] or 70 per cent if veganism were taken up.”
Switching to a vegan diet is one of the biggest ways you can cut your personal carbon emissions according to the WWF's Livewell report.
Animal farming is harming the environment
Most of us are aware of the effect that fossil fuel emissions are having on the planet – but did you know that animal farming is responsible for at least 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the second highest source of global emissions and greater than all transportation combined.
Research by Poore & Nemecek published by the BBC illustrated that over a quarter (26%) of all global emissions came from food. And of that 26%, almost 60% of emissions were related to animal products.
And then there’s the gases from the actual animals to consider. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently admitted that methane (CH4) produced by livestock “represents over a quarter of the emissions from the agriculture economic sector”
And its not just emissions of harmful greenhouse gases that come from animal farming that have a detrimental effect on the environment, there are huge impacts on global land and water use too.
Studies by PETA (The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) show that while it takes about 1,790 litres of water to grow 1 kilogram of wheat, we’d need to use more than five times that for 1 kilogram of beef.
Since the 1960s, the world’s population has doubled but world meat production has quadrupled and is continuing to grow all the time. As The Vegan Society say:
“This trend will continue to contribute to global warming, widespread pollution, deforestation, land degradation, water scarcity and species extinction. More animals mean more crops are needed to feed them: the planet cannot feed both increasing human and farmed animal populations, especially when there will be between 2-4 billion more human mouths to feed by 2050. “
Switch to vegan energy
We’re in the middle of a climate change crisis, UK carbon emissions may be dropping but global fossil fuel emissions continue to increase.
Vegan power is the biggest personal difference you can make in the fight against climate change, when it comes to your energy supplier.
As the only certified vegan energy company in the UK, we’re committed to being open and honest about how our electricity and gas are generated.
Vegan power combines our green energy, peerless eco credentials and dedication to the lowest possible carbon footprint.
And until all energy suppliers adopt Vegan power, the best way to influence other companies into changing their ways is to switch your power supplier to Ecotricity.
Dale Vince in conversation with Viva! founder, Juliet Gellatley
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