My #MeatlessMonth: How to decrease your #emissions through #diet - #ClimateChange

My Meatless Month: Even the smallest changes make a difference

Photo of Byward Market in Ottawa, Ontario by Jamie McCaffrey
Beginning New Year’s Day, 2017, I have been eating a vegetarian diet, as a way to lower my carbon footprint and make a positive impact on the environment. I’ve been calling it my ‘Meatless Month.’ For more than a year now I have two vegetarian days a week, sometimes three. This is the first time I have gone vegetarian. 

I’ve had a few people ask me why not eating meat would affect climate change? It’s a valid question. Usually we look to the energy and transportation industry for challenges and solutions in regards to greenhouse gas emissions. Factory farming and animal agriculture also contribute to emissions and deforestation. The food industry has its own set of climate challenges to overcome including:

  • De-forestation; not just to pasture but also to grow feed, we are even seeing deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest (the lungs of the Earth)
  • Methane emissions; cattle produce methane gas, and methane in water run off can contaminate natural water sources and wells
  • Water consumption; not just for the animals but also to water feed crops, vegetables don’t need to be fed

These are just a few of the reasons for my ‘Meatless Month.’ The easiest way to make a positive impact on the environment is how we act as consumers. As a consumer, our dollar gives us power; it gives us control and the ability to change things. By adjusting my diet- even for a month- my spending habits are saying “this is what I want, for my future.”

Photo by j_arlecchino via flickr
The key was to get creative with my meal planning. I did a fajita night but instead of meat I sliced Portobello mushrooms and seasoned them like you would fajitas. I was inspired by this recipe on Yumly. I made a Mexican corn salad on the side with red onion, jalapeno, red pepper, tomato and seasoned with cumin, paprika and chilies in a lime aioli sauce.

Diet has a big impact. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published an agricultural practices report that found that 24 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions came from the agriculture industry. Another EPA report on agriculture sector emissions in 2014 showed that greenhouse gas emissions have increased 11 percent since 1990.

Did I miss meat? Sometimes. I really missed mussels and scallops. I missed my turkey meatloaf and my cheese stuffed turkey meatballs. Although clean energy is much more affordable now, it may not be easily available to all North Americans. Changing my diet and how I shop gave me the power to make a positive change. By being meatless for one month I reduced 134 lbs of CO2 emissions and saved 17 animals lives! That’s not including methane emissions reduced! I’m excited to learn more at the Climate Reality Corps Leadership training this March in Colorado. You can donate to my travel fund on my Go Fund Me page and enter in my prize draws for donating!

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