I remember when I was in college when I first heard of Earth Day… and about how we should contribute to the preservation of the natural resources of our planet. I bought myself a book called 50 Simple Things you can do to Save the Earth. It was something I developed a great passion for and instilled it into the rest of my family members – I made people start recycling at home, I wanted to buy air-flow aerators faucets, buy products with less packaging… those are the ones I remember mostly. I even did a project in college about influencing and persuading people to recycle.
However I do not remember ever reading in that booklet that GOING VEGETARIAN would be a way to really contribute to the preservation of our beloved Mother Earth. Maybe because at the time I was not prepared to make the lifestyle change to becoming vegetarian… maybe I just skipped that recommendation altogether. Hey – this was about 12 years before I discovered Vegetarianism as a lifestyle I wanted to follow.
I also have seen the trailers for the award-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth. I’ll be honest… I didn’t see the movie because I was afraid of what I was about to see and learn. I did not want to be panicked. If you have seen it, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, at least you can see a trailer right here…
But in doing some research for a lecture I needed to do for our Yoga Center on the benefits of Vegetarianisms I was surprised that if you really love the Earth and would like to make the least impact for generations to come… going vegetarian yields the most benefit in comparison to other more “commonly accepted” ways of being GREEN.
What’s the MEAT INDUSTRY’s impact on our Planet?
- ½ the potable water resources in the world are used to maintain the meat industry
- 70% of the corn and wheat produced annually are used to feed cattle and animals destined for slaughter
- 80% of the agricultural land is dedicated to raise animals for slaughter
- Farm animals raised for slaughter produce 130 times more excrement than humans, which in turn:
How does being VEGETARIAN contribute to saving the Environment?
A carnivore has 16 times the impact on the environment than a Vegetarian… why?
Because it takes 16 lbs of grain to produce 1 lb of meat. So it is almost as throwing away in the trash those 15 lbs of grain that otherwise could have been used to feed other people/vegetarians. Could you imagine if all those extra 15 lbs of grain/food would be used to feed people? Don’t you think we could possibly…
Eradicate world Hunger?
If you are vegetarian and minimize the demand for meat products, you are actually:
- Saving the lives of at least 100 animals per year
- Saving 1 acre of trees and forest land per year
We live in a world of demand/offer. If the demand for meat products is less, eventually the offer will decrease too, which will yield the benefits I am describing here. The impact is so amazing, that it is said that becoming vegetarian yields more benefits to the environment than driving a hybrid vehicle.
What other Little Things can we do to save the Earth?
- Consume locally grown food – It is said that food travels an average of 120 miles to get to your table. That accounts the travel distance from the farm, to the processing plant, to the supermarket, to your house. That’s a lot of fuel and gasoline to eat… that’s why CSA farms are a great alternative to being more environmentally conscious.
- Try to consume Organic Foods – These types of food are cultivated maintaining the soil and environment as intact as possible. Now there’s a great debate to determine if it’s better to eat LOCAL vs. ORGANIC. This is my take… LOCAL and ORGANIC are best. However, with our city lifestyles, not all our food supply can come from the farm down the street. If that is not available and your concerns are mostly health-oriented, you should pick ORGANIC vs. CONVENTIONALLY GROWN. However, if the concern is mostly environmental, LOCAL vs. IMPORTED FROM AFAR works best. It’s a balancing act, just like everything in our lives… but try to do what’s best for you, your family while trying to create the least negative impact.
- Avoid purchasing food with excessive packaging – Fresh fruits and vegetables are practically package free… and when you use bags to carry them home, try to recycle or reuse them in various ways to help reduce your waste volume by an average of 10%.
- Bring re-usable bags to carry your groceries home – Even though I still get some groceries in plastic bags because those are my trash bags (it’s been over 10 years since I have bought a box of trash bags), I have greatly reduced my plastic bag inventory by bringing canvas bags to the supermarket. This is still a rare behavior in Puerto Rico and people look at you funny, but it will catch up soon enough. I have a few from Whole Foods, including the one designed by Sheryl Crow, made from recycled plastic bottles. Cool, huh??
- Plant a Tree – Planting trees help to reduce the impact of the deforestation going on somewhere else in the world. It may seem like a little thing to do, but you’ll be helping to refresh the environment. And I also like the idea of giving trees as a wedding or birthday present.
- Recycle - Reduce your impact on landfills by recycling plastic, glass, newspapers, magazines, white paper, cardboard… I stopped a few years my subscription to the daily newspaper and I read it online. It’s cheaper and my recycling bags are much lighter.
- If you’re not ready to go 100% vegetarian, at least, consciously choose to build meat-free meals 3 days a week. This will reduce about 40% the demand of meat products overall and eventually reduce the overall offer.
You might be thinking… what impact could I make?? I am just one and there are SOOOOOOOOO many people in my community and around the world that do not share this same conscience. I will not make any difference if others continue to do the same…
Well I say that change must start somewhere. And it starts with YOU. It starts with ME. It starts with educating others with our example and behavior. Imagine if everyone thought the same and no one would change… however if we all did something, something different from what we are doing today, the effect will be exponential.
And to close with the great words of the great living philosopher of today, Michael Jackson… with pieces of the lyrics of a song that impacted me from the day I first listened to it in 1987- Man in the Mirror:
I’m Gonna Make A Change,
For Once In My Life
It’s Gonna Feel Real Good,
Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right . . .
I’m Starting With The Man In The Mirror
I’m Asking Him To Change His Ways
And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself,
And Then Make A Change
Be the change we need to make this world a better place.
HAPPY EARTH DAY