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Earth Day and the vegan challenge: Are you a climate vegan?

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Photo: Climatevegan.org

Earth Day happened this week. It seemed like it was going to be ignored, especially by our elected representatives, so a group of climate activists got together outside Toronto City Hall. They wanted to introduce the new kid in town – the Climate Vegan Campaign. “Climate Vegan” is a term recently coined by a group of Toronto activists whose aim is to join the dots of forest destruction, water usage, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions to the cow in the china shop – animal agriculture.   

Well, the activists certainly made their mark – they chalked a colourful 10 foot high “Climate Vegan” in two different locations in front of their local government offices.  Although covered in chalk and nursing bruised knees, the chalkers were very satisfied knowing that the message will remain there for quite a few days.  People will walk right over it – the politicians, the employess and tourists will be enjoying the colourful artwork – and puzzling over the message… what the heck is a climate vegan?!  I can imagine the googling frenzy happening!

Everyone can really make a difference every day, three times a day, whenever they eat.  I’ve been vegan for over 20 years, out of concern for our animal friends. I’m now also joining the climate vegan craze! While watching the film Cowspiracy, I was amazed to hear about the greenhouse gases produced by all the different aspects of animal agriculture – and then at a Climate Vegan teach-in I learned that eating one meat burger is the same as showering for 2 months! What?!  Why don’t we learn these facts in the mainstream media?

Reputable resources are now coming out with research that supports these claims.  For example, Chatham House - The Royal Institute of International Affairs, is an independent policy institute based in London, UK. Their report Livestock – Climate Change’s Forgotten Sector: Global Public Opinion on Meat and Dairy Consumption at has some shocking facts:

Human consumption of meat and dairy products is a major driver of climate change, but this new paper finds that there is a major lack of public awareness and understanding of the link between eating meat and dairy and climate change.

Consumption of meat and dairy produce is a major driver of climate change.

  • Greenhouse gas emissions from the livestock sector are estimated to account for 14.5 per cent of the global total, more than direct emissions from the transport sector.
  • Even with ambitious supply-side action to reduce the emissions intensity of livestock production, rising global demand for meat and dairy produce means emissions will continue to rise.

Our Earth Day volunteers also served up free vegan food– illustrating how easy and tasty it is to eat vegan. On offer were delicious and easy to make home-made dips with a selection of crunchy chips and Tofurky Foods sausages on a stick – all of which really delighted the public’s taste buds. Free information was also on hand via the Toronto Vegetarian Association’s climate vegan postcards and Mercy for Animals vegan starter kits.

The week around Earth Day is a wonderful opportunity to ask all your friends and family to save the planet from catastrophic climate change and adopt a vegan lifestyle.  Rabble.ca are here to help! Their Vegan Challenge will provide resources for vegan eating and living. Please join them as they eat vegan for one week… and beyond! If you've been vegan for years, they want you to share your tips. If you're just trying it out, join them at rabble.ca for recipes, resources, and thoughts on the politics of veganism. If you didn't try it this week there's no reason not to try next week.

Jenny McQueen is the communications coordinator for climatevegan.org.

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