Call me sentimental, but one of my favourite things to do on Earth Day is to gather my favourite people and treat them to a home cooked, candlelit dinner. My hope for each year’s meal is that we slow down and enjoy some beautiful food, company and conversation about how we can ensure our inspiring planet is around to nurture us for generations to come.
The 22nd of April will mark the 46th official Earth Day. While the call for this year is to plant 7.8 billion trees for the Earth, to divest from fossil fuels and to make cities 100% renewable, there’s something much simpler we all can do to honour the planet.
Each year I plan a menu that intentionally treads lightly on our world and is kind to the other species that call it home. And, I’m not the only one who thinks that the way we eat can have profound planetary consequences.
Just last month a striking new study calculated the reduction in planetary greenhouse gases (and the health benefits for individuals) that are within our grasp if we shift away from our meat-centric diets. Eating more plant-based foods on a global scale could cut out 29 to 70 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions linked to food by 2050 – plus, it could save millions of (human) lives and billions of dollars each year. Not to mention reducing the immense suffering and death of billions of animals.
The study did not account for the beneficial impacts of dietary change on avoided deforestation, meaning that the reductions in greenhouse gases and the overall positive environmental impact of changing our diets could be even higher.
While the findings of this recent Oxford study quantify the potential benefits, we’ve known for a long-time that animal agriculture casts a long shadow on our planet’s wellbeing. Political, industrial and cultural barriers to adopting a diet that cuts out animal products persist; but this Earth Day, I challenge you to take what might seem a massive leap by making different choices, one meal at a time.
It’s not about giving up on what you love to eat; rather it’s about inviting love to motivate the choices you make. Perhaps you’ll draw motivation from an aspiration to be healthier (plant-based diets have been shown to cut your risk, and even reverse the effects, of chronic conditions like heart disease, stroke and cancer); or from a desire to be kinder to animals, or maybe the beauty of this planet will inspire you to safeguard it so generations to come can experience its riches.
Whatever your motivation, if you do take this leap you may find that you look back (as many of us have) and see that it wasn’t quite the chasm you expected.
If you’re curious and ready to explore, start your own Earth Day tradition with friends and family. Put thought and purpose behind what you put on the table (and I’m not talking about candlelight). There are heaps of delicious animal-friendly recipes to tempt you on the SAFE website.
Ready to do more? There’s also 30 days of support and advice available if you sign up for SAFE’s Go Veg Challenge. It’s not only the best way to help animals, it’s the single greatest thing you can do for our planet, too. Check out our Go Veg site for more information.
Campaign Coordinator (Go Veg)