I’ve decided to change the way that I eat and eat a plant-based/vegan diet, and I want to talk about my reasons why. I’ll do my best to do this without sounding like a holier-than-thou yuppie.
I’m giving up meat for a different reason than you might assume – climate change.
Ever since I was 14 and my science teacher played An Inconvenient Truth for my class, I’ve had this feeling of ants creeping up my spine that it’s a much bigger problem than we want to admit, and it will come back to bite us – hence, it being an inconvenient truth.
So I’ve been looking up what we can do to help fight climate change, because although I’m a pessimist by nature, I want to be optimistic about this issue. I know that there are things that I can do to help, even just a little bit. And one of the biggest little things I can do is give up meat.
One of the biggest contributors to climate change is the meat industry and 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock. Cows belch methane gas as they digest, which is 84x more potent than CO2, which is what everyone is usually worried about with climate change. Aside from that, 26% of land around the world is used for grazing livestock and 33% is used just to grow crops for the livestock to eat, so that we can eat them. Smaller land animals like chicken, turkeys and pigs aren’t as large of contributors to climate change as cattle, but they still play a role. The giant facilities used to raise the animals have a huge carbon footprint from the amount of energy and land that they require, and from the horrific consequences they have on local environments.
And yes, I do feel sad for the animals and the way that they’re treated in those facilities. The conditions that the animals grow up and live in before they arrive on our plates is atrocious – thousands of animals stuffed inside one building, living in a constant state of filth and sickness. I don’t want to be responsible for an animal living in those conditions, and then dying after a life that was only lived to be served to me on a plate.
In all of this thinking about my fears of climate change and wanting to live differently, I feel like I finally understand Ghandi’s quote – “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. The idea always seemed so ambiguous to me, because I only thought of it in terms of my behavior toward other people, like being kind to a stranger (which is hard for a level 10 introvert!) to put some positivity into the ether. But now, I get it. If I want the world to get better, I have to start with myself. That’s the only thing that I can control in this situation.
I’m afraid of a problem that is so out of my control – I can’t make Trump turn the White House website’s page on climate change back on, I can’t shut down the fossil fuel industry and slap Rex Tillerson in the face, I can’t convince everyone to give up meat or make anyone believe anything that they don’t want to – but I can live my life in the way that I would like to see the rest of the world change. I know that I’m trying my hardest to help our little green planet.
So, I’m eating a plant-based diet.