Today is World Vegan Day, a day to celebrate a diet that not only harms no animals but also shows a commitment to saving the planet
The last evening of October is an orgiastic bon-bon bacchanalia, a colossal kid-and-candy Kit Kat Klub in which Trick or Treaters stuff themselves with chocolate, caramel, cane sugar, and a host of other sweets.
But when the calendar advances just a few hours later to today, the first day of November, we also flip the metaphorical food page from the sugar-fueled, glucose gluttony of Halloween to a different kind of celebration — one that is forward-thinking, responsible, virtuous, and considerably more climate friendly.
Yes, today is World Vegan Day. The antithesis to Halloween’s personal gratification — the “me, myself, and I” holiday — World Vegan Day is much more rooted in communal selflessness — an “us, ours, and we” vibe.
And believe it or not, a vegan diet has considerable more benefits for the planet, aside from benefiting one’s personal health. For example, as the Guardian reports, “Avoiding meat and dairy is the ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth.”
The Guardian cited a report published in the journal Science, which noted “With current diets and production practices, feeding 7.6 billion people is degrading terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, depleting water resources, and driving climate change.”
Repeat: our current diets are driving climate change.
The lead author on the report, Joseph Poore, of the University of Oxford, told the Guardian that “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use. It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car.”
Obviously there are those who extol a vegan diet because they also advocate for animal rights and against the cruelty of factory farming and the inhumanity of eating animals or animal products. Without even addressing the merits of those arguments, what is important to note about the above research is that meat and dairy consumption is proven to be bad for the planet before a single animal is harmed. That’s because of the process of creating ever-more space for livestock (often at the expense of rainforest, which is so critical for carbon drawdown and oxygen creation), as well as the amount of feed we need to grow to satiate these creatures that we will eventually consume.
An earlier report in the Guardian explains further, noting how “vast animal-feed crops to satisfy our meat needs are destroying [the] planet.”
In this instance, the research was executed by the WWF, and the Guardian, citing the WWF, reported that “the vast scale of growing crops such as soy to rear chickens, pigs and other animals puts an enormous strain on natural resources leading to the wide-scale loss of land and species.”
Okay, okay, you agree that a vegan diet is inarguably better for the planet. But what about taste? Doesn’t THAT have a say in this discussion.
Of course it does. And the good news is that vegan offerings are improving all the time. The latest example of a vegan offering has become an unqualified smash: the meatless burger. The two newest and largest manufacturers of meatless burgers — Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat — have become bona fide sensations, with the former even gaining popularity at Burger King restaurants.
And once you’ve consumed your main course on World Vegan Day, you’ll want a dessert. Ben & Jerry’s is here to help. The ice cream maker’s retail stores will be offering one free scoop of vegan ice cream to all customers, from 4pm to 8pm today. (Check here to find a participating outlet near you.)
Tomorrow, when World Vegan Day is over, you can go back to eating meat and dairy. But perhaps you’ll be inspired by the idea and consume significantly less meat and dairy in your diet. You can also participate in a month-long exercise in veganism, such as Veganuary. The bottom line is to remember that there are things you can do right now to help the planet, and it starts with your stomach.
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