Al Gore has taken a lot of heat from vegan advocates for ignoring the connection between meat production and greenhouse gases. In “An Inconvenient Truth” he avoided the topic entirely.
But in a recent interview, he finally makes the connection explicit, blaming climate change partly on, “The shift toward a more meat-intensive diet.”
Many vegans, including myself, have been saying for ages that you can’t be an environmentalist if you eat meat. But it’s a difficult message to share especially when environmentalist groups such as Greenpeace aren’t talking about how the meat and dairy industries are the biggest environmental problem we have. How is it expected that someone who doesn’t follow the science or statistics to ever draw upon the conclusion to be Vegan for the planet?
There is a lot of evidence around the concept of cognitive dissonance when it comes to eating and producing animal products. Cognitive dissonance is a type of mental discomfort experienced when one holds two or more conflicting beliefs at the same time or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas or values.
We become uncomfortable when new information comes to light about how meat and dairy production are destroying our planet because the beliefs, traditions, rituals and values we’ve held for so long are being confronted. It’s easier and less stressful to just look the other way.
I urge you all to do what makes sense to you and what gives you peace when making daily lifestyle choices and to share, create, inspire and inform those around you about this incredibly important issue.
There’s a lot you can do, get as informed as you can by reading what is on this site and others I’ve linked to. Watch movies, read vegan recipe and lifestyle blogs also. You can post and share your inspiring vegan meals on the Global Vegan Facebook page or Instagram account and tell the world that you’re an environmentalist who is doing everything they can or that you’re a vegan who cares for our planet!
Environmentalists do eat meat, but they wont for long.
Last week, 28 leaders of the European Union committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030 (1). This commitment comes as a result of promises made at the UN Climate Summit held earlier this year in New York. Citizen presence on the streets of New York and across the world must have had an impact on the level of commitment and enthusiasm from the leaders in the room that day.
Greenhouse gas reduction will be achieved in the EU with a combination of renewable energy and an increase in energy efficiency (1). It is one of the most ambitious, cost-effective climate energy policies to be agreed upon. However some in the EU are concerned about what this means for big business. Perhaps they will loose their competitive edge in the market place when making sacrifices for the good of the planet. With government’s history across the globe of colluding with big business (GFC), I’m uncomfortable with the idea of big business and government dictating climate policy.
In a capitalist economy such as ours, big business rules and so far the rich nations have been getting richer from the energy usage that has now ruined our planet and who is paying for it? The poorer nations and their people. Capitalism wins again. I become nervous when people speak of the necessity of government, global bodies and business making decisions about our earth, because frankly I don’t think they care much about it at all.
I understand that the issue of climate change has become too big for the mere individual to tackle with an energy-efficient light bulb but at the same time these new policies don’t fill me with much hope either.
What we’re dealing with is environmental obesity due to the insatiable consumption of the 21st century. Society is self-destructing and needs to detox if we have a hope of surviving. There needs to be a shift in attitudes, in culture and priority if we are truly going to make change.
This is where I believe we can have power on the individual level. Be the change you want to see in the world. Shift cultural perspectives, question traditions, do what you can in your community and with your resources and choices and maybe little by little, one at a time we can create a global movement and power shift. Big business is important, policies and promises and commitments to change are great but alone not enough. We have the power; everyday we can do something good for our planet and ourselves.
Paleo…..sigh. Its’ the nightmare of my vegan dreams. The Paleo fad is everywhere I look at the moment, especially because Facebook ads have picked up that I’m a bit of a foodie. I also have a few ‘friends’ who love a dash of Paleo. It’s a bit of a slap in the face, not just personally but for animals and the environment and I wonder if the Paleo champions realize the consequences of their diet?
What makes Paleo so appealing is that initially health-wise people get results. However this is definitely more likely to be the result of eating a less processed diet rather than sticking to the out-dated Paleo rules, which you can do on a vegan diet also. I have to momentarily tip my vegan hat to their health promoting policies of eating vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and cutting out dairy (a small win!). However what I have real beef with (sorry) is their promotion of meat, meat and more meat!
We have long standing research that shows a diet high in animal products causes all sorts of diseases, whereas there is no long-term data to suggest that a Paleo diet is healthy. And caveman data doesn’t count because none of them lived past 30 because they got eaten by Lions (or something). Speaking of the lack of research around the Paleo diet, there where many types of diets prevalent during the Paleolithic era depending on location and availability of food. Massive sweeping assumptions have been made to suggest that a meat rich diet even occurred. Carbohydrates from plants are the preferred fuel for the brain and body and relatively easy to gather in Paleolithic era, more calories for less exertion.
So lets assume that the people of the Paleolithic era did eat ass-tonnes of meat. How does that translate to our modern environment? The way that animals are farmed, treated and pumped full or hormones and antibiotics takes away from the potential health benefits of the good ol’ days. They would have eaten wild animals, the meat today is very different.
Another thing that makes me sad for those who have been bewitched by the Paleo fad is they cut out (or greatly reduce) legumes and grains! I love legume and grains! So sad! Whole legumes and grains provide fiber, vitamins and minerals that are essential for a balanced and healthy diet.
The environmentalist in me is also fearful for the planet. To sustain a large portion of the world on a Paleo diet we would need the resources of two earths. At a time when we really need to be doing everything we can to help the environment, promoting a diet with high levels of meat consumption is kind of irresponsible, especially since everyone can be super healthy on a vegan diet! There’s no need for meat, it’s killing our environment and promoting disease in our bodies. l like to believe that we’ve gained some intelligence in health and the environment since the cave-man days.
Most vegan activist and lifestyle gurus promote a vegan diet for its health promoting qualities and as a way to protect and protest for animal rights. I became a vegan because I didn’t want to contribute to cruelty of any kind, I wanted to save animals from pain and suffering. Since then, I’ve looked into animal farming and right now, I’m just as concerned about saving animals as I am about saving the humans from the effects of animal agriculture.
Globally, we’re raising and slaughtering about 56 billion animals animal agriculture each year. Not so good for the animals but also bad for the humans! Animal agriculture is killing us and ruining our planet. Globally, we don’t have a famine problem; we have a livestock problem. Feeding food to animals and then eating the animals is kind of like heating your house during the winter by burning wood outside.
Livestock covers 45% of the earths total land. It takes 18x as much land to feed a meat eater for 1 year than it does to feed a vegan. It takes around 15 pounds of grain to make one pound of beef – which can feed a couple people for a few hours. In comparison, 13 pounds of grain fed to humans directly can feed 13 people for most of the day. Livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, that’s 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions!
By switching from a meat diet to a vegan diet, you will decrease your carbon footprint by 50%, use 1/11th of the oil, 1/13th of the water and 1/18th of the land than you did as a meat eater. Each day you will save 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 square feet of forested land, 20 pounds of Carbon Dioxide and one animal’s life.
I understand that switching to a vegan diet isn’t all that easy for everyone but incorporating more vegan meals into your lifestyle is something we can all achieve.. Share the facts, post your vegan meals and inspire and educate to make change real. We have the power, we must save the humans!
According to the Oxford Dictionary a hippy is “a person of unconventional appearance, typically having long hair and wearing beads, associated with a subculture involving a rejection of conventional values.” So by this definition, the opposite of a hippy, a “non-hippy” would be a person of conventional appearance, typically having short hair and not wearing beads, associated with a mainstream culture involving an acceptance of conventional values. Ok, so I’m down with being a hippy now, if it means that I can question conventions and stand up for what I believe in, regardless of cultural traditions, sign me up (also sounds like I don’t have to cut my hair too, awesome!) I think most people on some level question conventional values and are involved in some alternative culture. Are we all Hippies then?
My instagram account got trolled by someone going by the name of lovers_of_speed_and_performac. Their account consisting entirely of images of cars and memes that humiliate people who buy environmentally conscious cars. I’m not sure how this person came across my account, it appears as if they were looking to provoke someone who has a different view to theirs. The comments left were harmless, “hippie”, “needs some beef”, “bull”. But it did provoke me into thinking about why people deny the science behind climate change and feel so threatened by a vegan lifestyle that they feel the need to add “some beef” to the conversation. So far I’ve come up empty.
Have you ever been called a hippy because of your beliefs and actions?
Eating a vegan diet is one really simple and effective way to stop climate change. Even though it’s a super fun and delicious way to help the environment, sometimes it can be difficult to stay motivated.
In a culture full of meat and dairy laden food habits and traditions, we all need help to stay motivated. So I have a few simple tips for you to take advantage of. These tips are great for everyone, even the most devout eco-vegans amoung us.
1. Remember the reason for changing in the first place
You’ve already seen the facts, the stats, you’ve got the knowledge and you’ve already made the decision to reduce or stop consuming animal products. What was it that got you to make that decision? Was it a movie clip? A new recipe? A research paper or article? Remember how motivated you where when you first made that decision and the reasoning behind that choice. Remember how good it felt to feel like you were doing something amazing for the environment and your health. Still want that cheese toasty? On to tip 2!
2. Don’t view it as a diet
Diets are designed to fail. The diet industry is the only industry that profits off it’s own failure. Reducing meat and dairy or being vegan is not a diet. There are many health gurus out there with various views and opinions on what it means to eat a vegan diet, but there really are no rules! There are amazing substitutes on the market for any and every craving so it shouldn’t be restrictive it should be empowering! Don’t reduce or eliminate meat and dairy just to be “on trend”, you will loose motivation if there’s no ethical reasoning behind your choice.
3. Remember your ethics
Every vegan meal makes a huge impact on your health and the health of the environment. We’re at a stage of climate crisis where we can no longer avoid or refuse to acknowledge how our actions contribute and impact upon the planet. So before you cook up a meat or diary meal, remember your ethics and where you personally stand on global warming. Honor your ethics and be true to yourself and your beliefs.
4. Watch films/read books
Everyone must watch food and climate documentaries whenever you get the chance. So many amazing docos, so little time. I am yet to watch it myself but Cowspiracy is getting amazing reviews and their website is very informative and comprehensive. I recently attended a screening of The Animal Condition which was really amazing. Books are incredibly motivating and cook books can add new ideas and perspectives to meal times.
5. Get involved in the community dedicated to change
Last but not least, motivation comes from action. Get involved in your local community in conservation and activist movements. Follow 350.org in your city to find out what’s happening in your local hubs to fight the power and stop climate change! Being around like minded people is essential for staying motivated to continue to eat the #foodforchange way.
How do you stay motivated to eat vegan and fight climate change?
97% of climate scientists agree that climate change is real and caused by human activity. As human beings on this remarkable planet, we are all connected. When the planet is sick we feel it and when human activity harms nature, it harms us too. The meat industry provides us with an intrinsically linked phenomenon of connected planetary and human health. Meat and dairy production is killing our planet at the same rate it is killing us.
Al Gore was asked why he never speaks of the fact that animal agriculture is causing approximately 18% of the gases that cause climate change, he stated “For most people, the role of animal agriculture in climate change is too inconvenient of a truth.” 1.
This isn’t good enough. This is a truth that now more than ever needs to be spread and acted upon. Is it too inconvenient for us to eat vegetarian and vegan meals more often? Animal agriculture is responsible for producing more climate change gases than every car, truck, bus, boat and plane on the planet combined.2. Meat is surely easier to give up than transport right?
But there’s another inconvenient truth that we’ve been avoiding. We don’t only have a global climate crisis, we also have a global health crisis. World health budgets are being heavily invested into curing people of diseases caused by the consumption of animal products. Meat and dairy consumption has been linked as the root source of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. 3.
Climate change is complicated and I don’t even pretend to understand most of it, but the connection between animal agriculture, our health and the planets health is so obvious. We owe it to our bodies and we owe it to the planet to eat more vegan and vegetarian meals and to lead by example to encourage others to do the same.
We have the power to shape our planet, our lives and our future for generations to come. Cook a vegan meal, share a vegan meal, post it, spread the message and make the connection. We can all make such a difference, and it’s now up to us. The truth is out!