Our Diet: Leading to a Sustainable Future or Killing the Planet - Part 10
Written by Aryan Tavakkoli
Created Tuesday, 13 November 2012
Transcript for the following video on changing our diet to save our planet:
Herein lies both the challenge and the solution.
Do we continue with our current behaviour of pumping toxic gases into our atmosphere, at least one fifth of which is totally preventable and directly linked to what we eat? Do we continue with the decimation of our natural forests? Do we continue with our insatiable desire for meat?
Or do we realise that by doing so we are, by our own actions, bringing ourselves closer and closer to Omega Point? The planet’s carbon emissions are rising all the time, despite everything that we are doing to reduce them. And the problem is not just that we’re producing more and more toxic gases, the problem is that we are destroying the very ecosystems that would absorb these gases – we are destroying our forests. We need to understand how close we are to experiencing abrupt climate change in our lifetime,
But there is something we can do to ensure a better future for our children -
And it comes down to some very simple steps, beginning with our choice of diet -
Which brings me back to the beginning of my talk. And I think you will have realised by now, that one of these burgers is a meat burger – the one on the left, and the burger on right is made of mock meat – it is a vegetarian burger.
For me, there is a world of difference between these two choices.
And I hope that Mr Einstein will forgive me for re-arranging and re-interpreting his equation, but for me, this is what it really means to eat meat. Because when we bite into a piece of meat, we are eating a piece of forest, we are contributing to the death of our oceans, and we are eating into the future of our children.
Knowing these facts now, what action can we take as individuals, to reduce, prevent, or even reverse the many-fold destructive effects of our dietary choices? Because we know that in order to make the world a better place, we must begin with ourselves –
Well we know it’s important to re-use and re-cycle, to use our cars less and walk more, to try to buy environmentally friendly products. It would also be beneficial for us to try to lead a more compassionate life, to incorporate prayer and meditation in our lives.
Also we know that there are large issues where our governments need to provide effective leadership –it’s vital, for example, to stop deforestation, and we can pressurise our governments on that issue - but the problem is that a lot of action on climate change is focused at high levels –many people feel that any contribution we make as individuals is relatively minor – but that is not the case at all – there are choices we can make that would have a very significant impact on climate change - and I’m going to tell you about some of the most powerful…
All of us can switch to using companies that produce green electricity - electricity that results in little or no global warming pollution. In this way, every household can save several tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year.
All of us can plant trees. It is estimated that a tree absorbs on average nearly one ton of CO2 during its lifetime. We can calculate our carbon emissions, there are many websites that help you to do this. Let’s say, for example, that we emit 8 tons of carbon dioxide per year – well then we could aim to plant 8-10 trees per person, per year. At least that would help to absorb the carbon dioxide that we do produce. We can plant in our gardens, in our neighbour’s gardens, around our homes, on rural properties , it doesn’t even have to be in our own country – again, there are websites showing us how to plant trees all over the world (show :)
But most importantly - we can choose a green diet– we can reduce, or even better, eliminate, animal-based foods from our diet – eating low on the food chain is the most powerful way of reducing our ecological footprint - it results in a reduction in water use, a reduction in land use, reduction in water pollution, reduction in deforestation, reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (by 1 ½ tons CO2 equivalents per person per year). We cannot achieve such a huge reduction in our personal ecological footprint with any other single practical lifestyle change, not even by switching to a hybrid car. The single, most effective, most rapid and most logical way that we can reduce our carbon footprint and combat climate change is simply to stop eating meat. And preferably dairy.
Just to illustrate the point of how effective it is to choose a plant-based diet:
It’s been calculated that if everyone in the UK ate no meat for just one day a week, this would save 13 Megatons of CO2 – this would result in greater carbon savings than taking 5 million cars off the roads in the UK.
If everyone in the UK ate no meat for 2 days a week, it would save the equivalent of almost 73 million return flights from London to Ibiza
Not surprising when you consider that producing 1 kilo of beef leads to the emission of GGs with the warming potential equivalent of 36.4kg carbon dioxide
The average household would reduce their carbon emissions more if they halved their meat consumption than if they halved their car usage.
Some other amazing facts to consider:
Consuming an animal free, or vegan, diet, you could leave the shower running for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and still not waste as much water as by eating an animal-based diet.
In one year, a vegan saves one acre of trees, equal to millions of sheets of photocopied paper.
And the commonly quoted one: as a vegan driving an SUV you would still be more environmentally friendly than a meat-eater riding a bicycle.
And now, amongst a plethora of Hollywood celebrities who have gone vegan and speak openly about the benefits of an animal-free diet, politicians, and other high profile figures are now speaking out about the benefits and indeed the need to change to a plant-based diet. These are just a selection of quotes from many VIPs around the world who are speaking out…
Ladies and gentlemen we really don’t have time to debate anymore – the Omega Point is almost upon us – we have to act now as individuals, each one of us who is aware of these issues, and we have to spread this message, tell our family, our friends and our associates. We have individual responsibility to make a difference, to act on climate change. This planet is our home - we all have to take responsibility. Although it is important to make our governments aware of the need to change policies nationally and globally, we can’t wait for our governments, we don’t have time to blame anyone – the responsibility to take action is ours, as citizens of our home planet – yours and mine. In this talk I have presented the evidence to you that changing our diet is by far the most powerful way to curb climate change and to protect our environment. We can do much more than use eco-bulbs and take shorter showers. I have shown you the greatest water waster, the greatest water polluter, the greatest threat to our environment. If we really care about the environment, if we really care about ensuring a future for our children, then we would do well to make a transition to a plant-based diet - because each time we bite into a piece of meat, we are literally eating a piece out of our childrens’ future. In fact if we don’t stop the enormous destruction to our environment through the meat-eating diet, then no green technology or other intervention will really make a difference to human survival.
It is now up to each one of us who is aware of this information, to take this message forward by informing others. Indeed if we care about our children, we should consider doing this with some degree of urgency
We can make a significant difference as individuals. We can create a greener, more sustainable, more harmonious world. We have great power as individuals.
By making a wise choice about the food we choose to consume, we make the choice to preserve our environment. Because when it comes to protecting this planet, a plant-based, animal-free diet makes sense. Similarly, If we are concerned about maintaining our good health and reducing our risk of developing certain cancers and chronic degenerative diseases, a plant-based diet makes sense. If we are concerned about a fairer distribution of food on a global level, a plant-based diet makes sense. And if we are concerned about the needless suffering of billions of animals, a plant-based diet makes sense.
Whilst adopting a vegetarian diet is a great step forward, in all respects it is the organic vegan diet which leads to the greatest benefit for health and environment, and which will lead to a truly sustainable future for this planet.
The organic vegan diet offers the greatest protection to our natural ecosystems, our forests, oceans and air. It means compassion to our bodies, to our environment, and to our animal friends.
There is absolutely no reason why anyone should feel ‘alternative’ in any way by following a vegetarian or vegan diet – there is nothing alternative about a plant-based diet, it is simply the most logical choice, for every possible reason. In the words of Albert Einstein:“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival for life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet”.
If I have been at all successful in encouraging a reappraisal of your diet, may I suggest that you contact the NZ Vegetarian Society on www.vegetarian.org.nz. (Addendum: NZ Vegan Society website: www.vegansociety.co.nz). They will be able to give you a wealth of information regarding healthy eating, recipe ideas, tips on how to make an easy transition from meat-eating to vegetarian diet, and much more.
There are also many websites with hundreds of tasty vegetarian/vegan recipes, tips and information – these are a suggested few - please look them up
One of the best sites I can recommend is Supreme Master Television –– if you’re interested in knowing more about climate change or plant-based diets, Supreme Master Television offers a wealth of information. You can access it online at www.suprememastertv.com - click on ‘SOS Global Warming’ to find interviews with scientists, VIPs and politicians who are promoting a plant-based diet, as well as many other resources that can be used to educate both ourselves and our friends and family with regard to the environmental impact of our diet.
I would like to acknowledge that for this talk, I used information from a book called Diet for a New America, by John Robbins, and also from the New Zealand Vegetarian Society.
I would like to end with a dedication:
This talk is dedicated to the nobility and compassion
May we grow in wisdom, that we may preserve this
Earth in all her beauty,
and that we may protect our animal friends so that all on this planet may co-exist in harmony.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for listening to me.
Dr Aryan practices as a Consultant Physician in Respiratory Medicine in the Hutt Valley, New Zealand. Dr Aryan is also interested in the many-fold and far-reaching effects of our diets, and particularly how our diet affects the environment. She has written and spoken widely about this topic and has presented her talk, Our Diet: Leading to a Sustainable Future or Killing Our Planet? in many venues around New Zealand. She has been interviewed about the link between diet and climate change by both local and national radio and newspapers and runs VegSense.
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