Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth


I haven't had much time to write today, but I wanted to post something really quick. This article in The Guardian was insightful, I thought:

Avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet, according to the scientists behind the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet.

The new research shows that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75% – an area equivalent to the US, China, European Union and Australia combined – and still feed the world. Loss of wild areas to agriculture is the leading cause of the current mass extinction of wildlife.

The new analysis shows that while meat and dairy provide just 18% of calories and 37% of protein, it uses the vast majority – 83% – of farmland and produces 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions. Other recent research shows 86% of all land mammals are now livestock or humans. The scientists also found that even the very lowest impact meat and dairy products still cause much more environmental harm than the least sustainable vegetable and cereal growing.

I've written about this topic before. But I think it's important to reiterate. The truth is that we're desperately losing the battle against climate change. Even if we miraculously went down to zero emissions as a planet, the temperature is still going to rise. But it isn't hopeless yet as people like Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein have written. And the one thing that all of us can do to help prevent disastrous climate change is to stop eating meat and dairy as much as possible. 

That seems like an impossible, unreasonable thing to ask most people. But almost ever big social change has felt impossible. Does that mean we shouldn't try?  

Why Not Eating Beef Can Help Save the World

Why Not Eating Beef Can Help Save the World

I recently became a vegetarian. I say this not to brag because it's not a big deal. But I think it's worthwhile to discuss why I made the shift. The decision was very much connected to climate change. 

Why Isn't Everyone Terrified of Climate Change?

Despite the many dire warnings that climate change is here and is going to have disastrous consequences for this planet,  I found a lack of urgency about it among political leaders but also among most everyday people. Some of it is because people are in denial that climate change is even real. Some of it is because the true causes of climate change are so ingrained in our culture, that reversing it would require wholesale changes in the way we live. 

But I think biggest reason of all is that most of us feel a lack of powerlessness around our politics. To put it simply: What are we supposed to do? We are a socially powerless and disengaged people who live to consume. This powerlessness is one of the byproducts of modernism and a neoliberal economy. All of us disconnected in some respect and check out because we have no idea how to act or meaningfully help the world. 

Learning to Sacrifice in a Capitalist World: 3 Ways to Consume Less and Push Back Against Greed

Learning to Sacrifice in a Capitalist World: 3 Ways to Consume Less and Push Back Against Greed

Recently I came upon this interesting bible verse,

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters-yes, even their own life-such a person cannot be my disciple.”- Luke 14:26

I’m not a bible scholar or even a Christian, but I find this bible verse fascinating. Is Jesus telling us to hate everyone we care about, including ourselves? Somehow, I doubt that’s true. My sense is that this is a metaphor. Jesus is discussing the notion of sacrifice for a greater good (in this case, to follow him and give up their old lives.)

The notion of sacrifice is a strange one in today’s world in that no one seems to want to do it. Capitalism, in particular, encourages us “to get mine.” As one of my favorite Buddhist teachers, Noah Levine, said in a recent podcast, “Greed, Hatred, and Delusion are the norm. It’s compassion that’s in scarcity.”