Do I have to go vegan to fight climate change?
Food for thought—it’s critical to acknowledge the impacts of meat production on climate change. It’s not only influencing health outcomes but also contributing to our planet’s greenhouse gas emissions. Where do we go from here?
Here’s what we’ll cover step-by-step:
Join us as we spill the beans on how we can shift towards a meatless future.
🎯 Action step 1 of 4: READ — Let's start by looking at a few articles together.
Making changes in your diet is one of the biggest ways you can create an environmental impact. Here are five facts to think about, whether you're a full carnivore or a vegan. Click on each of the links to learn more.
To learn more about how your diet impacts the environment, take this quiz!
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 1 of 4: READ.
🎯 Action step 2 of 4: LISTEN — we'll watch a short video or listen to a podcast to further expand on our topic.
We discovered an amazing podcast by The Atlantic called Crazy/Genius. It's under 30 minutes, extremely informative, and thought-provoking. All the episodes are future-oriented and ask big questions about science, technology, and culture. This episode asks, "Will We Ever Stop Eating Animal Meat?" We loved it because the episode features revolutions in food that may, someday (soon?) lead to more sustainable food production. It's a 25-minute episode—check it out.
The episode covers the case for eating less meat, the damage that meat production does, ways we can incorporate crickets into some diets, and lab-grown meat. Everything below is sourced from The Atlantic website or the podcast transcript.
You’ll learn that:
After that episode, we think the future looks like this:
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 2 of 4: LISTEN.
🎯 Action step 3 of 4: ACT — Now it's time to do something. Let's go!
One big takeaway: Just do a little better! Seriously. Just a little! Avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth. (They provide just 18% of calories, but take up 83% of farmland. Greedy pigs.) So, how can we start small?
If you're a hardcore carnivore, consider cutting back on beef. It's the most environmentally harmful food. Start with just one beef-based meal less than you originally planned.
As you think about creatively cutting other livestock (pork, lamb, etc.) out of your diet, swap your dairy milk out for plant-based alternatives! Oatly is a brand we really enjoy because it doesn't expire for days. We end up saving a ton of money, time, and headache of smelling disgusting rotten milk.
If we all went vegan, the world's food-related emissions would drop by 70% by 2050. That's fantastic and critical, but it's more important that we move towards that at a pace we can commit to, whether that's one less burger per week or no animal products at all.
While you ponder your choices, here's an extensive data visualization of food's greenhouse gas emissions. Click the photo to navigate to the actual post so you can read it better.
To help start your meatless journey, here are 5 vegetarian and vegan recipes that are delicious. These are in order of easy to hard, but even the hard one is not super difficult.
We noticed that even if people don't care about the environment or animal cruelty aspect of meat, they care about eating delicious food, saving money, or both. While you're at it, buy Trader Joe's veggie meatballs and some form of oat milk. They're the easiest/best/yummiest all-encompassing substitute we can think of for meat and dairy.
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 3 of 4: ACT.
Before we go any further, it's time for you to pledge your commitment. It takes less than 30 seconds to pledge and we can bother you about it in a friendly way, so we can hold each other accountable. Pledge here!
🎯 Action step 4 of 4: REFLECT — what can you commit to? What fresh perspectives can we look at?
Here are some commonly asked questions by Soapbox community members! You can learn more meat facts along the way.
Q: "Is lab-grown meat really healthier for us than regular meat? Has lab-grown meat existed for long enough for us to have reliable data on its healthiness or lack thereof?"
A: Short answer: we're still figuring it out. Lab-grown meat might be healthier than regular meat since its production should not require the use of antibiotics. Remember our panic about being destroyed by a superflu? Theoretically, lab-grown meat would minimize that version of the apocalypse.
Since it's grown in a lab, mad scientists can play around with different nutrient profiles—more fat, less fat, different fat…you get the picture. But we don't know what the overall health benefits (or detriments) of this fat-tweaking is going to be. So if you're a meat eater thinking of making the switch, watch this space closely.
Some are afraid that lab-grown meat will replicate the same environmental and socioeconomic problems in our current food system, because this higher price tag will only be accessible to a small number of people. The jury's still out on if the pros outweigh the cons.
Our take: lab-grown meat will be a "good" alternative to traditional meat... in moderation. Plant-based is still the way to go. (Thanks, Mark, for the question!)
Q: What other alternatives are there to being vegetarian or vegan? Is there a "good" way I can consume meat?
A: Pescatarian (fish only) or eating poultry are more environmentally sustainable alternatives. If you're feeling particularly loose, you could also be a flexitarian— someone who primarily eats vegetarian, but occasionally consumes meat and fish. That one's really honor-system based, but we trust you.
Q: What impact are people of color making?
A: The mainstream results were fairly lacking. The erasure of the vegan/vegetarian POC movement is real. There isn't a lot of intersectional analysis, but one thing stood out—we associate "vegan" strongly with whiteness and wealth, especially in America.
White people will often co-opt recipes and dishes from communities of color. These are turned into trendy, high-price restaurants, cookbooks, video trends, and more, often with no credit given to their real history. This article got us thinking a lot about white veganism and how exclusive it is, although people of color have been making vegan food for centuries.
If you like Mexican food, visit veganmexicanfood.com. It's free! It's launched by a Chicanx and vegan activist who wants to bring to light how much of Mexican food is actually not dependent on meat and dairy.
You have a lot of power outside your individual decisions. Think about the next work happy hour you plan, the next family dinner night you're at, or the next opportunity to share some delicious food—you can make it sustainable.
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 4 of 4: REFLECT.
Check out our membership community for more resources like free weekly events with social justice experts, sustainable product discounts, pre-written email templates, a social impact job board, and in-person hangouts with new friends. Thanks for taking action with Soapbox Project!
Get our free bite-sized climate action plans before you go!