An elderly couple asked me recently if I believe there is hope for our planet. It is my nature to be optimistic, so I said that I did. But I walked away from the conversation feeling troubled.
Jonathan Safran Foer gives voice to these mixed feelings in his book We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast. He might just as easily have called it Planetary Suicide, or How We Are Killing Ourselves.
It is a sobering read. At times, he presents our current situation as beyond hope. His analysis is blunt:
“We cannot keep the kinds of meals we have known and also keep the planet we have known. We must either let some eating habits go or let the planet go. It is that straightforward, that fraught.”
What led him to such a conclusion? The problems our insatiable demand for meat is causing:
· “Humans use 59% of all the land capable of growing crops to grow food for livestock.”
· “Animal agriculture is responsible for 91% of Amazon deforestation.”
· “If cows were a country, they would rank third in greenhouse gas emissions, after China and the United States.”
When confronted with these facts, however, we face an enormous obstacle: denial.
Safran Foer warns, “We are killing ourselves because choosing death is more convenient than choosing life… Because we believe that someday, somewhere, some genius is bound to invent a miracle technology that will change the world so that we don’t have to change our lives.”
Why take that chance when the fate of humankind is hanging in the balance? Wouldn’t it be easier, and far wiser, to begin eating for both our personal health and the health of the Earth?
Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast
Even as we insist on seeing climate change as someone else’s problem, Safran Foer calls on us to begin the “small collective sacrifices” that can turn the tide. All that’s required, he suggests, is to eat plant-based breakfasts and lunches.
Do I really believe there is hope for our planet? Thanks to voices like Jonathan Safran Foer’s speaking the truth and offering practical solutions for the problems we’re facing, I have the clarity to focus on realizing my vision for a plant-based future.
So if that elderly couple asked me again, my answer would be the same.