Want to Reverse Climate Change? Just Eat Dinner!
What do you think about when you consider how to reduce climate change? Fossil fuels? Miles per gallon? LED lights? Mass transit? Kudos for considering how your behaviors affect climate change. But, did you know that you can potentially have an even bigger impact by changing what you eat for dinner tonight?
Why Meatless Matters to the Planet and Our Bodies
Livestock production produces more greenhouse gases than the world’s entire transportation sector — cars, trucks, planes, trains — combined. When you choose a meatless meal, you significantly reduce your carbon footprint. That’s why engaging in Meatless Monday (or another day of your choosing) is one of WiseTribe’s 10 #WiseWays, a lifestyle guide for generating collective impact.
The practice of reducing meat consumption is one of a food citizen. Food citizens engage in food-related behaviors that support, rather than threaten, the development of a democratic, socially and economically just, and environmentally sustainable food system. Food citizens understand the wide-reaching impact of his or her decisions about what and where to eat and act accordingly.
Becoming a food citizen has far-reaching impact, as it heals so much that ails the world right now. Many of our vexing societal problems— hunger, poor health, injustice, greed, and overuse of resources—are linked to food. In addition, as a country, we are suffering from unbalanced diets that are high in sugar, starch, and fat and low in essential nutrients to build healthy immune systems. Food is a key determinant of chronic diseases that affect more than half of adults in the US.
Shifting from “Food Consumers” to “Food Citizens”
By viewing ourselves as just “food consumers,” we assume a passive identity which undermines our potential as a change-maker. Being merely a “food consumer” suggests minimal (or no) involvement in how one’s food is produced and processed. There is little agency in being labeled a food consumer. We face limited choices and we are forced to accept what is made available—a diet that is the result of a food system that erodes public health, degrades our ecosystems, and takes advantage of the poor and marginalized.
In contrast, a “citizen” is informed, deliberate, and active. A “citizen” knows it is up to them to make the most of their value and function as an individual in a democratic society.
So how does a “food citizen” exercise its agency? A food citizen is more than a conscious consumer. A food citizen:
- Is actively aware of food system issues.
- Employs socially and environmentally conscious decision-making
- Supports a democratic process of involving people within food system dynamics
- Chooses food based on its origin, how it’s produced, and who’s producing it
- Influences many aspects of the food system, including socioeconomic justice and environmental sustainability
Stepping into an identity as a food citizen is no small or simple task, but WiseTribe can help. When you commit to forgoing meat once a week, it’s good for your health, good for our planet, and good for society. By embracing the global movement for Meatless Monday, we can help reduce the incidence of chronic preventable diseases, preserve precious land and water resources, and reduce climate change.
How to Get Started
Here’s your personal prescription for integrating Meatless Monday into your life:
- Plan in advance: We recommend starting the week with Meatless Monday because it sets the stage for eating more fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based meals throughout the rest of the week. However, if Meatless Wednesday or Sunday works better in your life, go for it!
- Choose in-season ingredients: Check out the Delray Green Market, which kicks off Saturday, October 23, for locally grown, in-season produce, reducing the environmental costs of transportation.
- Try a new recipe: We can’t wait to try this Butternut Squash Lasagna! If this doesn’t appeal to you, don’t despair - we love Minimalist Baker, Cookie + Kate, and the Monday Campaign for recipes.
- Make it fun: Invite a few friends over and ask them to bring a meatless dish to share.
- Use the Tribe: Did you find a great recipe? Are you running into barriers to eat more plant-based? Share your comments and questions on our social media pages.
There is simply too much at stake to maintain the status quo in our diets. They need a complete overhaul if we are to avoid ecological catastrophe and declining health as a society. Make a plan today to bring Meatless Monday into your life. World Food Day is October 16 - join us in reimagining a healthier, more balanced world.