Viola Hasani - Sharing the best approaches to change eating habits

This week blog post will be about Viola Hasani, an enthusiastic climate activist who has been a co-founder of the Worldwatchers to give measurements, transparency, objectivity and resource consumption for consumers and companies. We had a delightful and exciting discussion with Viola, in which she shared much interesting information that gave us a lot of inspiration on changing the eating habit to strive for a more sustainable lifestyle.

Viola studied Business Education followed by another specification in Human Resources. She had been working in the field for 5 years and in different kind of positions such as managing, optimizing HR processes and IT. She had also been trying out working in a couple of industries before landing where she is right now: HR, IT service and chemical industry.

When it comes to free time and leisure habit, Viola traveled a lot out of curiosity for different cultures and nature and the turning point was a trip when Viola saw plastic fields, touristic places being invaded. It came to Viola’s acknowledgement on how to travel more sustainably. Unfortunately, the answer was that she could not make the travel experience completely sustainable because flights, for example, produces a lot of carbon footprint in every one-way trip. For this reason, Viola starting looking and doing more researches on how she could maintain the sustainability in life. From what has been learned, Viola’s diet has changed from meat to vegetarian and then to vegan.

At some point during the journey, Viola has thought about establishing her own company but had no clue on where to start. The opportunity only strikes when she met Christoph, the founder of Worldwatchers. His business idea was that every consumer should have the ability to choose by seeing how their behaviors and consumptions are calculated based on CO2. This clicked with Viola's idea as well. She started as a project manager with Christoph and the original funders on small crowdfunding platform. Then she quickly rose to being a co-founder herself. The company switched from the consumer endpoint to the B2B perspective.

Worldwatchers focuses on complex questions:

· Product carbon footprint

· How to put CO2 on the center of all decisions: in the company itself but also consumers ( what they can do and how they can measure)

· Transparency -> show alternatives through data and solutions

The goal of the company is to become a startup accelerator providing great innovative alternative ideas to capture CO2 IN SOME PRODUCTS.

From meat, to vegetarian, to vegan

Although the first reason why Viola switched to veganism is because of climate change, the nutrition was also one of the critical reasons for her to maintain this diet. In Germany there was a trend of low carb but then the diet must be mainly meat and lean protein. Regard to nutrition contained in food, through education and research, Viola realized that vegan diet is even better. So, she switched her eating habits.

She believes that in life there are various levels of what someone can do for climate change and diet is one of the points she could change. Worldwatchers team is versatile, she is the only vegan while the others are meat lovers. Thus, everyone must find a balance somewhere and between each other.

''The world does not need 10% of vegans but 80% of people who eat less meat than before.'' - Viola Hasani

Rubbish industry is also a key point to where people could improve. Eating everything that is brought and not wasting food reduces CO2 emissions. Product carbon footprint does not yet include the fact that it the product will get thrown away, so the actual carbon footprint that we produced are much higher than what is recorded.

Cut meat or Less meat?

Viola argues that meat including dairy as well has the biggest impact on C02. However, it is not about cutting all meat out but searching alternatives and switch habits slowly. Everyone has a different approach and there is a possibility to offset actions. It is not great, and everyone should reduce their consumption, but consumers are the biggest lever in the industries. People cannot be encouraged to follow this movement if it too strict or inaccessible. The world, she says, does not need 10% of vegans but 80% of people who eat less meat than before.

How to change the eating habits?

The first step should be taken is to educate population and erase what we have been thought. Meat is not the only source of protein; the word is full of food and possibilities such as lentils, chickpeas, beans...

Viola thinks it is more important to focus on real foods already available. By researching she discovered new foods she could implement to eat richer and healthier diet although it was once set in her mind that meat is the main component in the dish as she was raised with potatoes and meat for every meal in Germany.

Secondly, if considering meat alternatives such as laboratory meat for taste purposes, it is important to consider the energy of production. The alternatives must be energy efficient and low carbon footprint or else it defeats the purpose. For example, there is on the market chicken alternative with soy protein, but the carbon footprint is similar. Plastic production is another issue when buying alternative meat. Smaller amounts are stored in plastic and to buy an equal proportion of such alternatives as meat it requires double plastic, which raises another problem.

Another point to consider is the price, in Germany, tax reduction is available on meat products which then makes it cheaper to buy meat than alternatives. If we compare coconut vegan cheese and supermarket cheese, the first is more expensive. Hence, governments have to work and make changes in price range. It takes time since it is a whole ecosystem that should be changed.

Viola stated that if we would cut all meat production today and supply and take all soy produce to give it as food, we could actually feed all the people on our planet. But such change is drastic and impossible. It is all about balance, but she does think that laboratory produced food will be the future. Because we will need to feed populations however climate change is also about equality. It is unfair to see how the resources are combined and moving to a more educated and informed base line will help the change happen in our society. Education is essential but innovation is needed because our timeline is quite short. Technology can save us, not only for the food industry but also for capturing carbon. It is important to combine industries.

The responsibility lies with companies like Worldwatchers to help different sectors and stakeholders become more transparent. Even though for marketing purposes we want to ensure with our methods that at least they are doing it right and that processes are actually benefiting the environment.

Thanks to the discussion with Viola, we have known more about the motivation and the actual reasons lying under the decision of going for a sustainable eating habit, which can help to support more people to join. Remember more people eating less meat can change the world.

Follow us on @thelabinnovation for more insightful updates of inspiring and interesting climate activists.