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Vegan energy: why it matters

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28 Jun 2022

It’s four years since we became the only energy company in the world certified as vegan by both the Vegan Society and Viva!, the vegan charity. In that time, there have been some huge changes – the UK has left the EU and we’re living through an energy crisis and an ongoing global pandemic.

We thought the four year anniversary of our certified vegan energy would be a good moment to take stock, to look at what vegan energy is, why it’s so important and what the future of vegan energy holds.

What is vegan energy?

Vegan energy is energy produced without involving animals. Renewable electricity from solar, wind and geothermal is vegan as you’d expect.

Things get stickier when it comes to gas. Several big energy suppliers use by-products from livestock farming in anaerobic digestion vats to produce biomethane, which is then delivered as household gas or burned to create electricity. This energy finds its way into around 60% of homes in Britain.

Why is vegan energy so important?

Both our electricity and gas were certified as vegan in 2018, with ongoing checks since then. We’re proud to tell people about our vegan energy but we’d be even prouder if other energy suppliers joined us.

While using animals or animal by-products to make energy isn’t illegal, we think everyone should know what goes into their gas and electricity. Across Britain, millions of ethical people are unknowingly buying energy made with the by-products of the meat and dairy industries. We believe energy should be clearly labelled with its real sources.

Vegan energy is also crucial in the fight against the climate crisis. Livestock farming is one of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions in the UK and around the world. Energy companies who use animals to make energy are supporting the factory farming industry, which is a huge problem for the climate.

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What we’re doing with vegan energy

We’re committed to the ethical treatment of animals in our mission to end fossil fuels. Part of that is making sure our own energy is certified vegan. The other part is raising awareness of the other side of the story, where companies are using animals to make energy.

Back in February this year, ITV News at 10 reported on a six-month undercover investigation funded by our founder, Dale Vince, into brutally killed hunt dogs being used to power our homes. Undercover footage showed puppies and adult dogs being shot and thrown into bins, alongside foxes, badgers and partridges, which were then taken to power stations. This is a huge issue and we’re going to keep investigating until something is done.

The future of vegan gas

Our new green gas mill – the first of its kind – will produce sustainable household gas from grass. It uses the anaerobic digestion process, a bit like a cow’s stomach, to produce biomethane to be fed into the gas grid.

It’s vegan and genuinely green – when the gas is burned, carbon will go into the atmosphere, then be reabsorbed when the grass grows back. It’s a sustainable, natural cycle.

The green gas mill we’re building near Reading will produce enough green gas to supply 4,000 homes, saving up to 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. And if we grow grass on all the marginal land in Britain, we could in the future make enough vegan green gas to supply the entire country.

Building a network of green gas mills would be a fraction of the cost of installing heat pumps in every home, which is the UK government’s current strategy for hot water and heating. What’s more, we’ll be able to keep using the boilers and systems that we’ve already got, avoiding the creation of huge amounts of waste.

All this is possible thanks to Ecotricity customers – turning your bills into mills and helping to fight the climate crisis.

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