How can I let another Earth Day go by living in one of the most pristine places in the US without another plea to remember what Earth Day is supposed to be about…taking care of the earth.
Pictures say a thousand words, so I hope the pictures I took this week will make it here.
Photo 1: I’m running along the beach as I often do and see ahead of me a ginormous, almost crater sized hole. It was easily the diameter of three adults lying down in a line. I’m used seeing all kinds of tunnels and holes dug by tourists while I run, but this one was definitely the largest one I’ve ever seen since we moved here in 2004.
As I got closer I saw a sign that had been attached to a small palm branch. It read, “It’s sea turtle nesting season. Please fill in beach holes so we don’t fall in.” A picture of a sea turtle was the signature. I couldn’t tell if it was an official sign made by the Anna Maria Turtle Watch organization which counts eggs, nests and tries to make sure the endangered Island turtle hatchlings survive.
I interrupted my run, which I never do, to follow the sign instructions. It appeared others had as well. As I began trying to unsuccessfully kick the sand back into the hole, a woman in front of a home about half a football field away starts screaming, “My grandson built that! Leave it alone!” I’m sure that if she had had a gun, she would have shot me. “I quipped, “Have you read the sign? This is dangerous for endangered turtles and people.” She started heading toward me. I decided my civic duty was done and thanked the Universe for fast-twitch running muscles.
On the same run, I came across photo #2. In front of a rental property, 8 garbage bags could not fit into the already overstuffed garbage can. Inside the unclosed lid, I could see food packaging of all kinds, including a pizza box. Eating a plant-based diet does not generate this kind of garbage. Healthy, unprocessed produce in natural states don't come in boxes, packages, wrappings or bags. One huge garbage can was not enought? We fill this same garbage can up maybe every 3-4 weeks. If that.
I had a friend who owned a landfill in St. Louis who had to quit because she couldn’t acquire more land when the existing landfill was filled. Where/when does it all end?
Here’s my Earth Day message. I don’t jump on my soapbox too much, but at least on the Earth Day eve, I need to.
There are many organizations and studies now making the argument that it is much better for the planet to eat a plant-based diet.
Here are just a few stats that show up on many websites:
• Because it takes 10-16 pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef, it takes many more resources to feed an omnivore compared to a vegan.
• About 2,500 gallons of water are required to produce a pound of steak. About 8 times more fossil fuel energy is required to produce animal protein as compared to plant protein.
• Only 1/6 (one-sixth) of an acre of land is required to feed a vegan for a year, while 3 1/4 acres of land (about 20 times more) is required to feed a meat eater.
• The United Nations reports that "livestock now use 30 per cent of the earth's entire land surface, mostly permanent pasture but also including 33 per cent of the global arable land used to producing feed for livestock."
• Approximately 72% of the cereal grains grown in the U.S. feed livestock, not people.
The studies I’ve seen say eating a plant-based diet does more to reduce carbon emissions than giving up driving altogether! Another study says simply, factory farming is not sustainable. As I fly all over the country on my book tour, I’m struck by how many farm fields are dried up supporting the frequent news stories I hear about how global warming is creating more fires and that farms in Texas just can’t water and feed their cattle. I see more plumes of smoke than I ever used to. As I half jokingly say, we all may be eating vegan soon whether we want to or not. Hope your Earth Day was memorable.
Ellen Jaffe Jones is the author of the best-selling cookbook “Eat Vegan on $4 a Day.” In between book tours arranged by her publisher, she is an AFAA certified personal trainer and RRCA running coach. She is can be reached at www.vegcoach.com or email@example.com or on Facebook.