In order to protect our planet, we have to start changing our lifestyles.
If you’re reading this, you probably love this planet. You probably love to travel and experience new cultures. You probably love the diversity of flora and fauna in the oceans, the mountains, the grasslands, the deserts and the forests. You probably enjoy the beauty that Earth has to offer. And you probably know that current human activity is quickly destroying it.
Every day it becomes increasingly more evident that we have to protect the Earth, or we will destroy it. In order to protect our planet, we have to start changing our lifestyles because it is clear that our habits are unsustainable. There are a lot of ways to decrease your impact on climate change: biking to work, recycling more, showering faster, shopping retail less, using reusable water bottles and straws, shopping less, donate to eco-friendly charities, supporting sustainable businesses, etc.
An Easy Fix
A popular method of minimizing your effect is by changing your diet. Veganism and vegetarianism have grown exponentially over the last decade. I would argue that it is more convenient now than it has ever been to cut animal products out of your diet. Almost anything that is made with animal products, has a vegan alternative. A FooDS survey from 2018 found that 8.8% of US citizens are self-identified vegetarians compared to only 4.7% in 2013.
There are a lot of reasons why people choose to eat less animal products: health reasons, taste preferences, animal rights, and to reduce your contribution to climate change. In my opinion, the final reason is the most important and the most pressing issue. Planet Earth is extraordinarily unique, and it’s the only viable planet that we know of. If we don’t act fast, we will lose it which will effectively end the human race.
How I Do It
Unfortunately, determined omnivores regularly pummel me with excuses like “I can’t live without a burger and bacon” and “I need the protein to get yoked.” I’m here to tell you that you can cut most of the meat out of your diet and it’s not that hard. A lot of professional athletes are vegan and crushing it; you can be strong on a vegan diet. There are a lot of vegan protein options. Additionally, there are vegan alternatives for almost everything made with animal products; you can eat good food on a vegan diet. But if you are adamant that you can’t cut out meat, I’m here to tell you that you do not have to.
I consider myself vegetarian; I eat fish once every few months, and I eat red meat less than once a year. I buy eggs once a month and I don’t buy cow’s milk or coffee creamer. I’m a huge fan of alternative milks! My current favorite is banana milk. I love cheese and I probably eat cheese at least once a day.
The most important thing for me is to not eat meat out of convenience. If I’m going to eat animal products, I want it to be for a really special occasion. Meat still tastes good to me, but I ask myself “Is it worth it?” before sit down for a meal. It’s worth it if I know where the animal was sourced and if it lived a natural life or if it’s a genuinely special meal. If I decide it is worth it then I savor the flavor forever!
My recommendation is to start by giving up certain types of meat; maybe just cut out mammals. Even just cutting out beef drastically decreases your impact. Then start giving up all meat and fish a couple days a week. Building up new sustainable habits is the best way to live a more environmentally-friendly life. Before you sit down to eat meat, think about whether or not it’s a genuinely special occasion and if you’re truly excited to eat the meat. Just as I did, you might realize that you eat a lot of meat just out of convenience and not because you actually desire it.
Like a lot of people, I thought that veganism/vegetarianism were just fad diets for shallow body image reasons. Two years ago, I found out the significant impact that our diets have on the planet. Eating less animal products not only decreases your impact on climate change, but it also decreases your risk for heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. In general, vegans are more energized and healthier than their meat-eating counterparts.
Cutting out animal products is not easy for everyone. The good news is that it’s not necessary to completely cut them out of your diet. However, it is necessary to significantly cut back. Decreasing your animal product intake is one of the easiest and best ways to slow climate change. If we protect our planet then we can continue to explore it and enjoy its beauty. The choices you make do have consequences. What impact do you want to make?
Here are some good articles that explain the importance of eating less animal products:
CNN – Change your diet to combat climate change in 2019.
University of California – How your diet affects climate change.
National Geographic – Eating meat has dire consequences for the planet, says report.
BBC News- Climate change food calculator: What’s your diet’s carbon footprint?
PETA – Fight Climate Change by Going Vegan.
1 Million Women: How reducing consumption of animal products benefits the environment.
Storrey has been vegetarian for two years.