On Tuesday, the World Meterological Organization reported that the Earth had its warmest year on record in 2016. With “extreme and usual” climate events continuing into 2017, the organization warned that it was seeing “changes across the planet that are challenging the limits of our understanding of the climate system.” Since 1900, the global average temperature has risen by 0.7 degrees Celsius, and the northern hemisphere is substantially warmer than at any point during the past 1,000 years. These alarming facts prompt a concerned observer to wonder what can be done, if anything. Like all parents, I wish to reverse the damage done to mother earth so that my children’s children can explore the abundance of her gifts.
There is no doubt that embracing a plant based diet is one of the greatest things that you can do for your body and the planet.
Meat production is a major contributor to climate change. It is estimated that livestock production accounts for 70 per cent of all agricultural land use and occupies 30 per cent of the land surface of the planet. Because of their sheer numbers, livestock produce a considerable volume of greenhouse gases (such as methane and nitrous oxide) that contribute to climate change. In fact, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has estimated that livestock production is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gases.
The growing of livestock and other animals for food is also an extremely inefficient process. For example, it takes approximately five to seven kilograms of grain to produce one kilogram of beef. Each of those kilograms of grain takes considerable energy and water to produce, process, and transport.
As meat consumption grows around the world, so will its climate impact. (http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/food-and-our-planet/food-and-climate-change/)
Here are some simple tips for embracing a plant based diet:
Choose local foods that have not been grown or processed using harmful chemicals or pesticides. Currently, the average meal travels 1200 km from the farm to plate. Food that is grown closer to home will therefore have fewer transportation emissions associated with it, and also be fresher and support local farmers. And as the distance food travels decreases, so does the need for processing and refrigeration to reduce spoilage.
Support organic farmers. Synthetic pesticides and fertilizers are widely used in agriculture, and are often made from fossil fuels. Manufacturing and transporting these chemicals uses significant quantities of energy and produces greenhouse gases. Not surprisingly, studies have shown that chemical farming uses considerably more energy per unit of production than organic farms, which do not use these chemical inputs. In addition, the use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers in soils produces nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that is approximately 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.
Organic farms, on the other hand — which rely on natural manure and compost for fertilizer — store much more carbon in the soil, keeping it out of the atmosphere.
Find new vegan or vegetarian recipes to try: http://www.vegetariantimes.com/
Take part in Paul McCartney’s Meatless Monday initiative: http://www.meatlessmonday.com/
Choose ethically. The IAKP has a wonderful working relationship with the matses tribe in the Amazon. They are considered protectors of the rainforest by fighting mining and big pharma companies and living naturally. In choosing to align ourselves with these keepers of the forest, we are supporting their efforts to protect the natural spaces and wild habitat for future generations.
I recently heard the most beautiful Aboriginal Legend that detailed a hummingbird’s journey back and forth to a large body of water while a forest fire raged on. In it, a sweet little hummingbird made the journey back and forth between a near-by lake and the forest to gather water droplets in her beak and drop them on the fire in the hopes of extinguishing it. When the animals in the forest questioned the little hummingbird about why she was making such a vast journey, the hummingbird replied “because I am doing my best…and if I don’t begin to make a difference, then nothing will change.” Wherever you are in your journey toward eating a plant based diet, know that you are the source of change; a beacon of hope in a vast forest. Change begins with you.