In an effort to determine whether or not climate strikers are aware of the impact of meat consumption on the planet, TheirTurn asked participants at the Youth Climate Strike what steps individuals can take in their day-to-day lives to reduce their carbon footprint:
Angered by the government’s failure to address the global climate crisis, an estimated 250,000 New Yorkers took to the streets of lower Manhattan on September 20th to demand climate action from elected officials. Absent from this and previous Youth Climate Strikes was messaging about what individuals can do to reduce their carbon footprint. While youth climate leaders are demanding accountability from world leaders, they are not using their platform to encourage their constituents to take personal steps, such as switching to a plant-based diet, to mitigate their impact on the planet.
The failure of youth climate leaders and mainstream environmental groups to address the impact of animal agriculture on the planet and promote a plant-based diet has been a source of great frustration for the animal advocacy community.
“Going vegan is the most impactful step individuals can take to reduce their carbon footprint, yet the youth climate strike movement, like the larger environmental movement, is turning a blind eye,” said Edita Birnkrant, the Executive Director of NYCLASS, a NYC-based animal rights group that participated in the Climate Strike. “Until the environmental movement embraces and promotes plant-based diets, vegans need to come to these marches in large numbers to deliver the message directly to consumers that animal agriculture is a leading cause of climate change.”
In recent weeks, the burning of the Amazon rainforest to make more space for cattle grazing has started to create public discourse around the impact of animal agriculture on the planet. Before the fires, the leading environmental groups skirted the issue out of fear of alienating meat-eating donors. This conflict of interest was exposed in the award-winning 2014 documentary film Cowspiracy, which follows filmmaker Kip Andersen as “he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today – and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it.”
On October 20th at 1:00 p.m., the Chelsea Film Festival in New York City is hosting the world premiere of another documentary that addresses the impact of animal agriculture on the planet. The film, Countdown To Year Zero, is directed by journalist and animal rights icon Jane Velez-Mitchell.