Veganism as a Case for Modern Environmentalism

25/04/2016 11:03

This Friday (22 April) marks Earth Day, a global celebration of people around the world doing things to protect the environment. The idea to have a Earth Day started back in 1970, since then a lot has changed in the way we think about what it means to be an 'environmentalist'.

In 1970 when Earth Day started, climate change was still purely the business of a small group of scientists making terrifying discoveries. Back then our environmental causes of choice were saving the whales, stopping the destruction of the rainforests and cutting out the use of toxic pesticides which threatened our health and degraded our environment.

Since then so much has changed in the way we think about protecting our planet. Our focus has rightly shifted to the threat of climate change. And today even the unscientific amongst us talk in scientific terms about carbon atmospheric levels, temperature changes and different types of greenhouse gases.

Despite the changes in the way we talk about protecting the environment and the type of actions we need to collectively take to protect it, the aims are very much the same.

To be an environmentalist is to care for the planet; to keep our oceans and rivers clean; to make sure everyone has access to fresh water. We want to keep the chemicals out of the soil and atmosphere, we want healthy and plentiful food.

As communicators we would do well to step back and recognise this. Let's speak about the natural habitat and the animals we want to protect. Let's recognise that halting the the rapid rise in atmospheric temperatures means saving millions of humans and other animals lives.

In 2016, the world is a complicated place- we are bamboozled by a deluge of information designed to keep us scared and confused. I believe we are all environmentalists at heart, we all appreciate beauty in the natural form, whether, forests, beaches or wildlife.

We all want the silver bullet the cure to stops the rapid degradation of our environment. Our ability as individuals to change the actions of governments and corporations who jeopardise our environment can make us feel powerless.

This has proven to be a source of much internal conflict in my own life. For me I found veganism to speak to every part of the environmentalist in me. It has helped me find peace in my mind, knowing that a vegan diet is a low carbon diet. It also is a diet which doesn't involve the death of beautiful animals and it is a diet that puts less pressure on our scarce water and food supplies.

I believe that someone following a vegan diet is the epitome of the modern environmentalist. It's a social justice movement to tread more softly on the planet we inhabit. And it is rapidly gaining momentum, caring about the environment is cool again. Being vegan doesn't mean rejecting the people you know and the culture you grew up in. It simply means choosing something different as a way of life which is truly reflective of a responsible way to live on the planet.

And the scientists are starting to agree that our desire for animal products is a major contributor to climate change. Recently the think-tank Chatham House released a report titled: Changing Climate, Changing Diets: Pathways to Lower Meat Consumption. This report found that our efforts to curb global temperature increases as a result of climate change could only be achieved if we start to reduce global meat consumption as well as carbon emissions.

In life we all have to follow the path we feel is right for us. But talking from my own experience choosing veganism made my environmental conscience feel good, it was the best decision I ever made. And these days I may get the odd flight, like this summer I will fly to an animal rights conference in Berlin and then help set up an animal sanctuary and permaculture project in France.

I will keep campaigning for affordable trains and re-nationalisation of public transport. This is my bargain with myself. This Earth Day ask yourself what is important to you? And do something about it, I suggest trying veganism, you might just like it.