In the weeks since the inauguration of President Donald Trump, environmental activists and scientists across the globe have raised their concerns about the future health of the earth. Political views aside, the current environmental crisis is not slowing down and is certainly not going to improve by a complete lack of acknowledgment. Need proof? According to NASA, the rate of global warming has increased tenfold in the past decade alone. This is being perpetuated by CO2 emissions, garbage waste, deforestation, consuming products encased in plastic, and, to be frank, the idle motivation the population has on an individual basis to make change.
So, how do we make change? I’m sure you’ve all heard of the classic “3 R Rule”: reduce, reuse, recycle. But what does that entail? And is there more you can do? One of the simplest ways you can positively impact the environment is by reducing your consumption of animal products. Yes, this means refraining from the beloved DS chicken strips. I know what many of you are thinking, “I could never be vegetarian or vegan. I love meat way too much.” The decision to become vegetarian or vegan is not an easy one, but if you want to make a difference, this is one of the most impactful and direct ways to do so.
Did you know that raising animals for food, which does include the land used for growing the crops to feed these animals, is currently taking up 30 percent of the total landmass on earth? This is a significant amount of land, especially considering that 70 percent of the earth is made up of water (which is continuing to rise, because, you know, global warming). Designating this much land to animal production means we are infringing on other land, often times completely destroying it. In fact, 80 percent of the deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest is now being used for cattle pasture.
These statistics should make you incredibly unsettled. We often neglect to think about the impact our eating habits have on the environment, especially when most of the things we eat are readily accessible, prepackaged goods. Not only is switching to a plant based diet better for the environment regarding animal production, it also lowers your carbon footprint. Reducing or completely stopping your consumption of animal products means eating out (specifically fast-food) becomes more difficult. I know this can be frustrating, especially when going out to eat is a social activity. However, choosing to eat more plant-based food can mean using 13 times less fossil fuel, 12 times less land, and 15 times less water.
I’m not trying to offend any of you who eat meat. I’m a transitioning vegetarian myself, and still indulged in a chicken strip on chicken strip day. I’m simply encouraging you be mindful about the possible repercussions your actions have on a broader scale. If this means limiting your meat consumption to once a day, once a week, or once a month, so be it. That’s great and you are trying to make a positive change.
If you’re up for the challenge, though, it is highly rewarding, both morally and physically. Navigating a vegetarian or vegan diet can be tricky, especially if you have a meal plan through DS. For breakfast, there are plenty of vegetarian breakfast options. Lunch and supper generally have less choices, but the salad bar is always available along with soup, and options in both sizzle and explore. Unfortunately, DS has even fewer options for vegans, so you might have to spend money on groceries to accommodate. Whatever you choose to do, remember that we are living on a planet that can only withstand so much. Make environmentally sound choices and keep fightin’ the good sustainable fight.