As American’s across the country gorged themselves on turkey and other animal products in celebration of Thanksgiving yesterday, I thought it timely to share an insightful and informative post by the lovely Renee Peters of Model for Green Living.
Environmental organizations and mainstream media tout the benefits of reducing our carbon footprints by doing things at home like taking shorter showers, using reusable bottles and bags instead of plastic, and taking public transportation or carpooling to work. All of these things are great, but we don’t often hear that reducing our consumption of animal products would make a much larger impact than any of those things. I think it’s important to share with others the damage that our collective consumption of animal products is doing to our environment. What we eat is a sensitive topic for many, but one cannot argue with science-based data that irrefutably shows that we need to shift towards plant based diets.
The following post, Why Meatless Monday Isn’t Enough, was originally posted on Model for Green Living in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme and the Ethical Writers Co leading up to and during the climate change conference (COP22) in Marrakech earlier this month. Renee uses her platform to engage her audience in issues surrounding ethical fashion, sustainability, the environment, and plant based living.
Why Meatless Monday Isn’t Enough
I became vegan 3 years ago, after 4 years as a vegetarian, because I care deeply for the environment and wildlife. The decision arose from a startling awareness of the need for a drastic change in my consumption habits and society’s as a whole. I realized, in the beginning, that I could make a positive impact by changing the way I consumed each day. I no longer use plastic bags, stopped purchasing products with biologically harmful chemicals, boycott products with palm oil, and gave up fast, unethical fashion. The most important change I made, however, was with food. I realized that, by giving up animal products for good, I could make a positive change, 3 times a day, 365 days a year.
Despite these personal lifestyle choices, the motivation for environmental progress on a broader scale lags sorrily behind. The little things that we, as individuals, have been doing to help mitigate global warming are simply not enough. Meatless Monday, an international campaign that encourages people to not eat meat on Mondays (1), while commendable for participants, is not enough to neutralize the massive scale of environmental damage already done. According to the UNDP, “The planet’s surface temperature has increased an average of 0.85 °C from 1880-2012, and during the past year, measurements taken across the globe during various periods have reported abnormally high temperatures.” July 2016 for example, was the hottest month on record – ever (2).”
Carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that usually comes to mind with regard to climate change, is not the greatest gaseous emission causing rising temperatures. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “Methane is even worse for global warming than carbon dioxide is. “For example, over a 100-year time horizon, one metric ton of methane and 21 metric tons of carbon dioxide trap an equal amount of heat in the atmosphere (3).” If methane has 21 times more global warming potential (GWP) than carbon dioxide, we need much stricter regulations on animal agricultural industries and innovative approaches, such as permaculture, to make the industry cleaner (4). Industry responds to the demands of the people, therefore, society as a whole must insist on greater change. Giving up meat once a week is not enough. To safely limit the increase in global mean temperature to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, we must commit to eating less meat every day.
“According to the IPCC, “Methane is even worse for global warming than carbon dioxide is.” / Photo of a cattle farm and its waste lagoon in Dalhart- Texas 2013 by Mishka Henner titled “feeder”
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