According to a 2017 paper published in the proceedings of The National Academy Of Sciences, we are in the throes of the 6th mass extinction, where we are losing biodiversity at an extremely high rate, and “painting a dismal picture of the future of life including human life.”
The single biggest harm to biodiversity is animal agriculture. The United Nations Food And Agriculture Organization says 26% of the earth surface is used for livestock grazing, and an additional third of the planet is used for growing livestock feed. Animal agriculture is responsible for more human-caused greenhouse gasses than the world’s entire transportation system combined. The major driver of deforestation is animal agriculture, which is going to make this planet uninhabitable for us – unless we act immediately.
One billion people chronically suffer from hunger and malnutrition. If land use was reallocated, we could feed families who do not have enough to eat. 2 million people die a year from hunger! Let that sink in – 2 million. 36% of plant food is going to animals, and it only converts (in animal death) to 4% of meat. In other words – we lose 90% of available calories when we convert plants to meat. Put another way – we feed 30 calories to a cow to get 1 edible calorie of meat. Animals are simply extremely inefficient converters of food. They eat much more than they produce.
“Poor countries sell their grain to the west while their own children starve, and the west turns around and feeds it to a cow to make a steak. Every morsel of meat we eat is slapping the tear stained face of a hungry child. “ Phillip Wollen
Methane is bubbling up in the arctic, making it look like an icy jacuzzi. We are the only species known set out to destroy ourselves. We need to fix this. Imagine if it were as simple as changing what you eat for dinner tonight, and imagine if that choice not only could save the planet – but your health!
Animal agriculture drives deforestation, displaces wildlife, and is the third leading cause of climate change.
According to the International Panel on Climate Change, we have about 10 years before we stop irreversible damage from this crisis. Climate change will increase infectious diseases, displace millions of people, and increase extreme weather events and disasters such as wildfires and hurricanes.
Not only is the land suffering, but the ocean is as well. There is now so much plastic in the ocean that micro filaments of plastic are found in almost all forms of seafood. The ocean is becoming more acidic and phytoplankton, which gobbles up greenhouse gasses, is also disappearing.
Every day the earth has been crying out – forest fires, hurricanes, floods – people talk about these crises, but what are we doing about it in our actual lives – daily – to end climate change?
While we are witnessing this global pandemic, please let us not forget our planets most dire threats.
Humans do lots of terrible things, but we are capable of doing great things as well. We are able to identify – over time – when things are wrong, and that we must fix them. For the most part, we ended slavery, gave women the right to vote just 100 years ago, and (in the majority of countries) eradicated child labor in factories. These things are all still works in progress, but we saw we needed to fix them, just as we know we need to eliminate factory farming.
In summary, embracing a plant-forward diet is the almost too-good-to-be-true solution to so many of the world’s most pressing problems: preventing pandemics, reversing and preventing chronic disease, alleviating greenhouse gases that cause climate change, and ending the suffering of millions of animals. When you choose plants, you are also choosing to eat foods that have the lowest possible carbon footprint. This does not mean you have to go full on vegan (of course, your body and our planet will have the best results if you do!) – but just by starting to reduce your intake of meat and dairy products would go a long way.
Equally as important, support organizations working to reverse these environmental and human health adverse systems and advance beneficial legislation, such as Mercy for Animals and Center for Biological Diversity.
Vote (Vote! Vote! Vote!) for leaders who will stand up for what is right when it comes to industrial animal agriculture, fossil fuel consumption, and environmental regulations.
Whatever you do, let what we have learned from covid inspire you to create change. You can help the vulnerable of this nation who have diabetes, heart disease, and cancer by teaching them to eat more plants – and hopefully eventually ditch the meat and dairy that is causing so much suffering.
I know that together we can create a better, brighter, and more compassionate world.