Climate politics

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.

Go vegan and viva la revolucion!

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Save The Humans

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!

5 tips to keep you motivated

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?

 

Meat the Truth

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!

Global Warming, I have my doubts….

I was studying at home yesterday, about to leave when a huge storm came in. I decided to wait it out. I’ve always loved the sound of the rain hitting the tin veranda while I’m comfortable and warm inside. I carried on studying, accepting defeat about my afternoon plans when I heard a strange noise on the tin verandah outside.

I looked out the window and saw hail for maybe the second time ever. Millions of balls of ice were thrashed and hurled across the sky and into my backyard. It looked like snow but sounded and felt a lot more sinister. In that moment, I felt kind of scared, not just ‘it’s a storm, hold me!’ scared, more like ‘what have we done?!’ kind of scared. I know it is an overreaction to a hail storm but it made me think that human induced global warming is already having a visible impact, literally on my doorstep.

I haven’t looked at the stats about how often hail storms occur in Sydney Australia mid-spring, but my life experience tells me…maybe never? In that moment it was like I finally got the message.

It’s easy to become complacent, we’ve known about climate change for ages it seems and those who follow the latest articles, science and activist groups might understand when I say it can sometimes become abstract or theoretical. Sometimes I think that the effects are so far off that it stops being a priority or real concern, something I can do or think about later. It’s like running, If I do it regularly now I’ll be fitter and healthier in my 60’s, but I kinda just want to lie in bed watching reality TV shows, you know?

I took some pictures (best shown above) of the hail storm and sent them to family and friends. My friend wrote back in response “Climate has always been changing. Man always over estimates his importance in the universe. We are having an effect there is no doubt but the extent is likely to be minimal as is our ability to influence the changes that are happening. P.S you haven’t Instagrammed my #foodforchange challenge yet!!!”

I’m not sure where on the spectrum I sit as an activist and sometimes I do feel defeated, especially when so many people, my friend included, aren’t even convinced of the basic science (they still did the #foodforchange challange though!).

All I know is that I saw something in that hail storm (other than an icy veranda) but I’m kind of hoping that this isn’t something we have to see to believe, because by then it will be too late.

What do you guys think? Are we doing enough? Is it already too late? Are we overestimating our control over it? I’d also love to hear if anyone has had a similar experience to me, seeing climate change in the flesh.

Peace. E.M

7 unlikely reasons to go Vegan

Second to being asked “where do you get your protein?” I always get asked “why are you vegan?” (ummmmm why aren’t you???) There are an infinite amount of reasons to be vegan (very few not to be), here are just 7.

1. NOT BEING VEGAN IS CONFUSING
If you’ve ever had a pet you might find the following confusing. Why eat some kinds of animals and not others? When you really think about it, what’s the difference between a puppy and a piglet? (apart from pigs having superior intelligence). Why befriend one and send the other to slaughter for brunch? It is always something that has left me puzzled. Some theorists say it’s speciesism, we’ve been culturally conditioned to think of some animals as different and less worthy of our care and protection. Cut the confusion (and the bacon), go vegan.

2. IT’S BETTER FOR YOUR HEALTH
Replacing animal products with plant-based foods will improve your cardiovascular health, lower cholesterol and decrease your chances of getting arthritis, type 2 diabetes and most cancers. You will likely drop some weight and have great energy levels!

3. YOU’RE IN GOOD COMPANY
If it’s good enough for celebrities, it’s good enough for me! Bill Clinton, Carrie Underwood, Al Gore, Natalie Portman, Ellen DeGeneres, Alicia Silverstone, Usher, Joaquin Pheonix and Thom Yorke – all my besties.

4. SAVE THE PLANET
Animal agriculture is the most destructive force on climate change. Methane emissions from farmed animals are twice as toxic as carbon that comes from burning fossil fuels. A recent food study showed that meat, fish, dairy and eggs emitted the highest levels of carbon per kilogram. For more info on this check out my post Food For Change.

5. IT’S AN EXCUSE TO EAT AND MAKE MORE BAKED GOODS THAN YOU EVER HAVE IN YOUR LIFE
There are few joys in this world that compare to vegan baking. Vegan baking involves a special alchemy that allows you to re-create your childhood favorites (sans cruelty and carbon) while taking flavor to a whole other level. It’s incredible what special pantry ingredients can be used to whip up the BEST cookies at a moments notice. If you’re a beginner, The Post Punk Kitchen will get you there.

6. PUT AN END TO CRUELTY
Factory farming treats animals like mechanical units of protein for profit. Animals are sensitive, intelligent with complex relational and emotional lives. It’s difficult to witness their pain and suffering as any different to ours. The worst part about the pain these animals go through in their short lives is that it is completely unnecessary. One of the best reasons to be vegan is to divest from cruelty.

7. YOU CAN PISS OFF YOUR PARENTS
My rebellious teen faze will never end! Although my parents have accepted my veganism (and even eat tofu with me occasionally), I can still give the finger to mainstream society. Always question, always be true to yourself and always do what you think is right, no matter what you’ve been told, conditioned or brought up to believe. Make up your own mind and don’t be afraid to rebel against the masses for what you think is right.

 

Why deny climate change?

Have you noticed anything strange on your television or in your newspaper? The denial or often the complete absence of climate change news via the mainstream media is truly puzzling. The topic is often referred to as the ‘climate change debate’. But what is the debate? There is no debate. 97% of climate scientists agree not only that climate change is happening but that it’s man made. So the question is, who would benefit from denying climate change? Could it be that the people who own the media companies also own the coal mines?

If you think this is messed up join The Peoples Climate March this weekend and check out Avaaz.

For a more humorous and eloquent take, check out today’s episode of The Trews below.

 

 

24 Hours of Reality

In just 11 hours the fourth annual live-streamed multimedia show dedicated to sparking action on climate change will take place.

Broadcasting September 17th-18th (AEST) the show will encourage everyone around the world to commit to a day of action with 24 reasons to be hopeful.

24 Hours of Reality is a live global event covering the climate crisis in every region of the world. On this day of action we stand together and demand real solutions to the greatest challenge of our time. World leaders, scientists, cultural leaders and everyday heroes discuss the shared challenges facing our planet caused by carbon pollution and point the way toward a better tomorrow.

The climate crisis can be solved, but only when everyone does their part. 24 Hours of Reality turns audiences into activists and gives hope. There is no challenge we cannot face, no matter how overwhelming, we can take action, we must take action.

Will you be watching? Will you be eating vegan snacks?

 

Should we cry over spilt Milk?

The carbon dioxide emissions (carbon footprint) caused by our personal behavior is driven to a large extent by the type and quality of our food. The amount of greenhouse gases caused by the production of food differs very much from one food type to the other. With the amount of food that is wasted in the average household, this carbon footprint rises significantly. 2

In Australia, 4,000,000 tonnes of food is wasted each year. If you add up all the food Australia wastes each year, it would be enough to fill 450,000 garbage trucks. When you throw out food, you also waste the water, fuel and resources it took to produce and get the food to your plate. When food rots with other organics in landfill it gives off the greenhouse gas methane, which is 25 more times more potent than carbon pollution that comes out of your car exhaust. 1

So should we be crying over spilt milk? The production of 1L of Milk causes about 0.9kg of CO2. The same quantity of CO2 is released when you burn about 4 liters of petrol. 1,000 gallons of water is required to produce 1 gallon of milk and a farm with 2500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people.3

Milk production is killing our planet and with its short shelf life liters are going to waste each year. With so many delicious, healthy and sustainable milk choices is there really any reason to keep consuming?

To learn how easy it is to make your own milk check out My New Roots – How to Make Nut Milk. http://vimeo.com/27840577

Food for Change

One of the greatest challenges that society faces today is how to reorganize and adapt to irreversible climate change. Since 1880 average global temperatures have increased by 0.8 degrees centigrade. Climate scientists have concluded that rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases trap incoming heat near the surface of the Earth, causing the rise in temperature. Due to humanity’s unhealthy dependence on fossil fuels, deforestation and land use greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide emissions are causing detrimental and irreversible changes in climate. A study funded by NASA predicted that due to climate change, civilization as we know it could be steadily heading for a collapse within the next century.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that livestock production is among the most destructive forces driving climate change. Large emissions from farmed animals are explained mainly by Methane emissions from enteric fermentation. A recent study showed that meat, fish, diary, and eggs had the highest CO2 emissions per kg. The study concluded that changes in diet toward more plant-based foods would be a possible solution for mitigating climate change.

If consumers ate less animal products, the animal agricultural industry would reduce their output of methane emissions. The pros of this solution are its effective and simple, it’s something that everyone can do, it puts the fate of the earth’s climate back into our hands and it’s a health promoting diet.

This is the most effective solution at the individual level to combat climate change. With this solution, we have a chance to have a real economic – and thus environmental – impact.

So I am proposing the Food For Change challenge! Challenge yourself, friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, randoms, everyone to go vegan! It’s incredible what a difference just one vegan meal can do for the environment and your health. So lets pic, post, upload, share and learn together to make a global difference.