Written by Rebecca Libauskas
Experts paint a bleak picture: Time is running out to escape climate catastrophe, and animal agriculture is a leading cause. But the crisis is not just an environmental issue—it’s a moral one. We stifle our children’s natural compassion when we teach them that animals are mere commodities rather than sentient beings. So for this Earth Day, and every day, let’s go vegan.
While all species have differences, we’re alike where it counts. And although our dwellings may look different, Earth is the home we all share. Yet humans are destroying the planet for all living beings with animal agriculture.
According to a recent report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world is likely to surpass the 1.5 degrees Celsius warming threshold by the early 2030s. This report is a stark reminder of the urgency to go vegan: If we continue with business-as-usual emissions, the world could experience extreme climate disasters and folks will be unable to adapt.
We can have a positive impact on the environment by swapping meat, eggs and dairy for healthy vegan foods. Researchers at the University of Oxford found that we could reduce our diet-related carbon footprints by up to 73% by ditching meat and dairy. And a study just released in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals that vegan foods are much better for the planet and healthier than animal-derived foods.
Vegan foods are also kinder—as our children already know. My little boy’s face lights up when he sees animals because he recognizes them as friends. Recent research published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science shows that, compared to adults, young children are less likely to view animals on a farm as “something to eat.” Another study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that children view eating animals as morally wrong. As a parent, it pains me that we snuff out our children’s innate compassion. We must heed our children’s wisdom that animals are friends, not food.
Just as our kids enjoy playing outside on a sunny spring day, chickens enjoy basking in the warm sun and socializing with friends. But chickens raised on factory farms never have a chance to do anything that’s important to them. Mother hens, for example, teach meaningful vocalizations to their chicks before they hatch—but they can’t do that when the egg industry steals them. And chicks on factory farms are never allowed to have contact with their parents, let alone be raised by them. But chickens aren’t the only ones abused by animal agriculture.
Imagine how terrifying it would be to lose your child. Mother cows cry out in distress when their calves are taken away in the dairy industry. And on factory farms, after mother pigs give birth to piglets, they’re moved to farrowing crates, which are so small they can’t turn around or build nests for their young. Then the piglets are separated from their mothers when they’re as young as 10 days old.
Are we raising our children to be compassionate or complicit? Going vegan supports our children’s natural wisdom and saves countless animals from miserable lives and painful deaths. And since so many delicious, healthy animal-free foods are on the market, no one has to choose between their taste buds and their conscience. So let’s not leave our children a legacy of environmental devastation and animal suffering. Let’s go vegan!