A UN study made disturbing headlines this month for its dire conclusions regarding climate change. While Generation Z has generally been aware of the climate change discussion since elementary or middle school, the issue has been brought to the forefront recently following the current administration’s stance on climate change and controversial Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief appointments by President Trump.
In the midst of worsening climate change and increasing vocalization by those who oppose the idea of human-caused global warming, the issue has recently literally and figuratively been heating up. The results of the study, however, were alarmingly urgent: we have just over 10 years to get a handle on climate change.
According to NASA, climate change’s effects include rising sea levels, increasing frequency of severe storms and natural disasters, loss of sea ice and detrimental changes in animal habitats. Given this frightening new deadline, small-scale lifestyle changes on individuals’ parts are more and more necessary. One of these changes is both simple and affects what the EPA in 2017 cited as the cause of 24 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2010: agriculture.
This points mainly to the meat industry, as the Factory Farming Awareness Coalition highlights the fact that 75 percent of all agricultural land is used for livestock production. After factoring in aspects like GMOs, deforestation, water usage and other facets of the meat industry discussion, the easiest way to make an individual impact on this factor of climate change is with diet.
Reducing meat intake is not a black and white issue. Eating a steak per day and going completely vegan are opposite ends of a spectrum, not two sole choices. Eating less meat and making an impact is as simple as substituting tofu for meat every once in a while or replacing one meat-based meal per day with a vegetarian option.
Restaurants like Café Verve highlight the full potential of vegan and vegetarian food, replacing the stereotypical bland vegan salads with pastries, smoothies, sandwiches and even burgers that both taste delicious and provide sufficient protein and nutrition. While veganism, vegetarianism and plant-based diets are ideal and significant contributions to aiding in the fight against climate change, reducing meat intake in general, in any way possible, is a step in the right direction.