Climate change can also be mitigated and the next pandemic potentially prevented.
The subject of diet is sensitive. Everyone dislikes being told what or what not to eat, especially if it doesn’t run with their culinary traditions or taste buds. However, Neil deGrasse Tyson reminds us that science does not care about what you eat or how you prepare it. There’s no denying that a plant-based diet slows climate change and prevents the next pandemic.
Human-non-human animal relationships are dysfunctional – particularly when centered around meat consumption – which is the root of both crises.
A major source of greenhouse gas emissions is industrial agriculture and increased meat consumption. While humans colonize animal habitats, they raise animals in cramped, unsanitary conditions and sell them in similarly unsanitary places, which increase the likelihood of novel zoonotic diseases spreading from animals to humans.
Our habits should be brought in line with what science deems necessary: Meat consumption should be minimized or eliminated entirely if we are serious about stopping the climate crisis and preventing the next pandemic.
Scriptures in Hinduism extoll the virtue of not killing animals for food as well as treating them (and the planet in general) with dignity and respect.
“What kind of compassion can he show, who eats the flesh of animals to feed his own body?” Saint Tiruvalluvar, a poet and philosopher of Hinduism’s Shaivite sect, wrote this in his text titled “Tirukural.”
In Hinduism’s Vaishnavite tradition, the Srimad Bhagavatam declares, “Earth, air, fire, water, planets, trees, plants, rivers and seas, they are all organs of the Divine.” An adept respects all living creatures by remembering this.
A great nation can be judged by its treatment of animals, according to Mahatma Gandhi.
Yoga’s first yama is ahimsa (non-harming). The dharmic principle of abstaining from meat eating is the foundation of the Hindu religion.
Science also endorses this virtue.
In scientific reports published over the past decade, it has been shown that vegan diets have far greater environmental benefits than meat-based diets. Vegan diets are still better than meat-based diets. It has a profound effect even if you don’t eliminate meat entirely.
Yet, there is often resistance worldwide to a whole food plant-based diet.
Often, vegetarian programs get labeled as an imposition by upper-caste Hindus attempting to enslave subaltern cultural practices of meat eating in India and the Indian diaspora. In the United States, particularly in ranching and big farming states, moving away from meat is perceived as an attempt to erase a way of life that has gone on for generations.
Although Netflix documentaries show how high-level athletes and bodybuilders perform just as well or better without animal products, veganism is perceived as unmanly, weak, and elitist. Across the globe, there are similar stories and objections, but with local flair.
There is no doubt about the need for action, however.
Chatham House published a report. 80% of globe’s farmland is used to raise livestock, but only 18% of the calories consumed come from their flesh. If we restore pastures to their natural state, it could store seven years’ worth of greenhouse gas emissions.
Add that to the American assertion. According to the Center for Disease Control, 75% of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic, and the next steps are clear.
We need to change our diets and farming practices to consume less meat and dairy – better still, none at all. We must stop taking over the habitats of other animals to the greatest degree possible.
Especially those already eating planet-friendly diets should not internalize doing this as failure or weaponize it as superiority.
A new circumstance or piece of evidence should never be a reason for us to avoid reassessing our habits and practices. Evidence shows that rethinking how we grow and consume food can help solve two of humanity’s major threats: the climate crisis and future pandemics. A diet for covid19 like disease is a plant-based diet. A diet for diabetes is WFPB diet. Order a tiffin service near you based on plant meals. Eat a healthy food. Live a healthy life.
Be Blessed by the Divine,
Dr. Achyuthan Eswar.