This July 4, try eating green when you celebrate the red, white and blue. Environmental scientists say that phasing out animal agriculture and eating vegan is “our best and most immediate chance to reverse the trajectory of climate change.” So, I’m asking you, my fellow Americans, to go vegan to give our country and our planet a fighting chance.
The production of meat and other animal-based foods is making the planet scorching hot. If you plan to grill out over the holiday weekend, opt for veggie burgers, not beef burgers or other animal-derived foods.
The average American eats about four times as much beef as people in the rest of the world, and according to studies published in Nature Food, people who eat beef do 10 times as much damage to the climate as vegetarians. Eating pork does six times as much damage, and eating chicken is twice as harmful.
The World Economic Forum says that dairy cheese is one of the biggest greenhouse-gas generators, behind beef and lamb. Research shows that eating vegan cheese instead of dairy varieties can reduce carbon emissions by as much as 50%.
Eating vegan foods, including fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and all the great-tasting meals that can be made from them, won’t just help curb greenhouse-gas emissions, it will also help conserve resources, reduce deforestation and spare animals an enormous amount of pain and suffering. And eating vegan doesn’t stop us from enjoying fun summertime activities like picnicking and cooking out.
Beef and other animal-based foods aren’t the only options when barbecuing. Try grilling corn on the cob, portobello mushrooms, zucchini, potatoes or marinated vegetable kebabs. Roasting fruit and vegetables caramelizes their natural sugars and brings out their flavor. If you like flipping burgers on the barbecue, you’ll love the popular vegan Beyond Burgers, which generate 90% fewer greenhouse-gas emissions than a typical quarter-pounder.
A report from Johns Hopkins University indicates that in general, vegan meats have a 93% smaller carbon footprint than beef. They also require considerably less energy, land and water to produce.
If you haven’t already gone vegan, now is the time to do it. All around the world, we are seeing floods, tropical storms, heatwaves, wildfires and other climate-related crises becoming more regular and intense. There’s no way to justify eating animal-derived foods when doing so causes so much pain and suffering, both to humans and animals alike.
Even animals who aren’t raised and killed for food are suffering because of humans’ taste for meat, eggs and dairy. Marine animals, for example, are facing extinction because of warming ocean waters. Climate scientists warn that extreme temperatures and frequent droughts may even chase our national bird out of the U.S.
No one wants that. So declare your independence from meat, eggs and dairy-based foods on the Fourth of July, and then stand firm. The American flag isn’t green, but Americans should be.