“Through small shifts big change can happen.”
When I was a kid, I had the opportunity to live on a farm where I became captivated with the surrounding natural environment. A clear memory I have is watching an insect in the grass. As I watched I became more and more focused on this small patch of grass and to my amazement, discovered that it was teeming with life. This is when my fascination of ecosystems and the interconnection of all life began. So did my anxieties about the impacts humans were having on the natural environment. I think there is a term for this now: eco-anxiety.
To combat my anxieties, I was provided with some excellent advice, which was to live by example and to do what you can to #BeTheChange. Doing what we have control over, making the choice to walk or ride your bike, not turning on the air conditioning, not accepting plastic bags, using a refillable water bottle, choosing ecologically thoughtful products, wearing sweaters in the winter to keep the thermostat low, owning one car for a four-person family and eating a predominately vegetarian diet are conscious decisions that I have made to try to live by example.
Life is busy. It’s not always easy to make the best decisions and live perfectly ‘by example.’ Add kids in the mix and it can be even more challenging. The thing is, we don’t need to live perfectly to have an impact and contribute to the shift to an ecologically mindful society.
I came across a campaign, called ‘One Meal a Day for the Planet,’ which asks that we dedicate one meal each day to be entirely plant-based (https://omdfortheplanet.com/). One plant-based meal a day. That is doable. Even the meatiest of us out there could eat one plant-based meal a day.
It is very well documented how eating a plant-based diet benefits the environment. Here are a few facts to consider (https://omdfortheplanet.com/why-it-matters):
- Animal agriculture is the #2 contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, more than all transportation combined.
- Animal agriculture is the #1 contributor to extinction and biodiversity loss due to the land needed for grazing and growing feed for livestock.
- Beef generates 20x more GHG emissions and requires 20x more land than beans, per gram of protein.
- If the world ate a vegetarian diet, GHG emissions could be cut by two-thirds by 2050.
- If you eat just one plant-based meal a day for a year, you will save almost 757,000 liters of water and the pollution equivalent to 4,800 km driven in your car.
- A global shift to a plant-based diet could reduce GHG caused by food production by 70%.
I committed to the one plant-based meal a day several months ago and I’m enjoying recreating familiar meals with plant-based alternatives. On football Sundays, I have made nachos with cashew cheese, buffalo cauliflower bites, black bean taquitos and chili. Everyone tries it, but not everyone in my family is ready to transition to a complete plant-based lifestyle, however the conversation of why I am choosing plant-based meals and ingredients is prevalent in my house/circle and I believe that alone is a win…small shifts in thinking can have big impacts.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that it can’t be all about me, or you. Our choices, our decisions impact everyone and all life (#OneEarthCommunity). Making decisions that contribute to a global shift in our behaviours and our mindset, to one that is thinking about the ecosystem as a whole, and always thinking of what our impact is…is a good thing.
At RVA, we believe that climate action not only relies on what our organization does, but on the individual choices we make each and every day. Our #BeTheChange stories seek to inform, challenge, and inspire people to learn about the impacts of climate change, and empower them to take make responsible choices at home and at work. By increasing climate literacy and promoting a culture of sustainability within our firm and beyond, we can help drive collective action at the scale required to facilitate the transition to a low-carbon future.