Climate change is the most pressing issue of our generation. While corporations extract irreplaceable natural resources through processes like fracking, mountaintop removal, and tar sands extraction, our earth is suffering in irreconcilable ways. The earthquake in Nepal, the nuclear explosion in Japan, the droughts in California—these are all symptoms of a dying planet, and we’re not doing anything about it!
Lawmakers are too mired in bureaucracy and securing financial interests to make any real progress, so it’s up to us to do what we can as individuals until the rest of the world catches on. Changing light-bulbs, buying second-hand goods, eating local foods, and utilizing public transportation are all great ways to cut down on CO2 emissions that contribute to global warming, but these actions are not enough. One of the most important and meaningful ways to help protect the earth is by cutting out one main “ingredient” that we take for granted every day—meat.
Studies have shown that vegetarianism is an incredibly effective way to reduce our individual carbon footprint. Think of it this way: an animal is like a middle-man in a transaction of energy. The calories provided by one animal are so much more “expensive” than the calories provided by the vegetation that the animal eats! We don’t realize this, however, as meat is all around us. In fact, there are many places (especially fast food restaurants) where vegetarian fare is simply not an option! Meat has become expected and expendable, in contrast to how our ancestors viewed it: as a precious, life-giving commodity worthy of reverence and respect.
Considering the current agro-industrial complex that produces most of the meat the world eats, there is very little room for “reverence” or “respect” on our plates these days. If local, sustainably-produced meat is not available, which it usually isn’t, veggies are the way to go. In fact, those who stick to a vegetarian diet show reduced symptoms of heart disease and tend to live longer, on average. Plus, vegetables are delicious, and there are tons of creative and cost-effective ways to prepare vegetarian meals in a hurry.
So, do it for yourself, and for the planet!