This week, environmental activists from around the world will join former Vice President Al Gore in Chicago for training through the Climate Reality Project. It’s a three-day summit focusing on public speaking, community organizing, and the latest climate science, with the expectation that in the next year, they’ll each host their own climate-related events and submit articles to newspapers about this important issue.
These newly-trained leaders will be able to share Al Gore’s climate change presentations at their future events — a key component being the “solutions” section. An often-overlooked component of climate change is the devastating effect of animal agriculture. The good news is that Al Gore does recognize the benefits of eating less meat. And the better news is that among the hundreds of people attending his conference, there will be a contingent of vegans, including vegan race car driver Leilani Munter, ready to share a powerful message about protecting our planet — and animals — using our forks.
As the timeline below demonstrates, the scientific consensus is clear: raising animals for food is a leading cause of pollution and resource depletion.
2005: University of Chicago report states switching to a vegan diet will do more for the environment than switching to a hybrid car.
2006: United Nations’ (UN) report “Livestock’s Long Shadow” estimates that meat production accounts for 18% of human-induced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and further states that “livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems.”
2007: National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science report concludes, “A kilogram of beef is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution than driving for 3 hours while leaving all the lights on back home.”
2008: The German Institute for Ecological Economy Research reports even if all animal agriculture operations were optimized to reduce their effects on the environment, the ideal dietary approach for the environment would still be to reduce overall meat consumption.
2009: Article in World Watch magazine suggests that in 2006, the UN underestimated animal agriculture’s role in GHG emissions, and states it’s closer to 51%.
2012: A study published in Environmental Research Letters warns that to avoid the worst consequences of future climate change, meat-eaters should cut their consumption by 50%.
2013: “Our Nutrient World” report by the UN’s Environment Programme suggests a “key action” to produce more food with less pollution involves reducing personal consumption of animal protein.
Considering all this research, it’s clear that one of the single most important actions we can take to reduce our carbon footprint is simply to choose plant-based foods.
Are you interested in helping spread this message? Please share this on facebook or twitter — and you can also request copies of our popular Eating Sustainably brochure.