Gavin Schmidt, the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which maintains the NASA temperature database, noted that February’s temperature record was “special” and commented simply: “Wow.”
It is estimated that one-half of Earth's plants and one-third of Earth's animals will be relocated or extinguished within 40 more years.
Could Going Vegan Become Your Path to Happiness?
from Alternet by Kristie Middleton
The following excerpt is from MeatLess: Transform the Way You Eat and Live—One Meal at a Time
Aligning Our Plates With Our Values
How can we free ourselves from fried chicken and break away from bacon? We know that eating too much of these products is bad for us, our planet and animals. But there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Some people decide they want to go vegan and do so cold turkey (pun intended), while others opt for smaller changes such as going meat-free one day a week. What works for one person may not necessarily work for you, and ultimately the best choice is always the one you stick with.
I was vegetarian for several years before learning about the benefits of a vegan diet and making that transition. Through the process, I learned about new foods I’d never before tried. I ate sushi for the first time and learned you can order avocado, carrot and cucumber rolls. Indian food was brand-new to me. I explored Ethiopian, Thai, Vietnamese fare, and more—all foods I’d never eaten. but loved immediately.
The journey turned out to be a wonderful one, if for no other reason than it so greatly expanded my culinary horizons. I now take pictures of my meals (yes, I’m that annoying person at the table), enjoy scouring through cookbooks for inspiration, and my weekend isn’t complete without ambling through the farmers’ market, taking in all the colors and sampling the delicious produce.
My transition was a slow one, as it often is for many others—eliminating chicken from my diet, then beef, then pork, and then dairy and eggs.
Although some people have a lightbulb moment after watching a documentary or reading a book and immediately clear their freezers and refrigerators of animal products, others are simply enjoying more plant-based meals while still eating meat from time to time. As the saying goes, different strokes for different folks. The key is finding what’s right for you.
The Incredible Shrinking Man
Argentina native Ken Chadwick, now the food service director for American University in Washington, DC, exudes passion for food. Chadwick's love for exquisite cuisine is clear. The great-grandson of Chilean cattle ranchers, Chadwick spent the summers of his youth herding cattle, and he spent his formative years in major cities throughout South and Central America, informing his refined palate.
His passion for his job is clear too. Working as a food service director at a university setting often means long hours and juggling lots of responsibilities such as responding when things go wrong—when staff call in sick, when equipment breaks, or guests complain. And guests do complain. It can often be a thankless job. It can be a rewarding one too.
In September 2014, as he was starting his first year of operating the food services program at AU, Chadwick brought vegetarian and vegan students together to provide feedback on the campus dining options. Having worked at some of the most prestigious universities in the nation’s capital such as Georgetown, Catholic University, and George Washington University, Chadwick was used to meeting the varied needs of his guests. He heard from many students at AU they wanted more vegan options, and at this meeting students said there simply still weren’t enough. They were putting meatless options on the menus that he’d tested, but as he recounts, “The students had very reasonable complaints. Here was a staunch meat eater creating a vegetarian menu. My best wasn’t even close.”
Chadwick was inspired. He wanted to see things from the students’ perspective. He ended the meeting and declared that, as of the next day, he would be vegan. An all-or-nothing guy, he doesn’t take a sip from the faucet; he, in his own words, “drinks from the firehose.”
Very quickly Chadwick learned that it wasn’t as easy as he thought to eat vegan on campus. With a laugh, he shared, “The first day was a six-pear day. The first week was an all-pear week.” He rallied the support of his dietitian Jo-Ann Jolly and that of chefs Norbert Roesch and Kyle Johnson to come up with unique options that would ensure that whether he was eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner on campus—and sometimes this workaholic dines on campus for all three—there was something vegan, hearty, and delicious he could enjoy.
Students at AU soon found options such as a falafel bar on campus where they can build their own wraps, roasted seasonal vegetables, marinated portobello mushroom caps, smashed English peas on toast, and so much more.
The menus weren’t all that changed. Chadwick also found his own health improving. For years he’d been medicated for high cholesterol and high blood pressure. He was also overweight, his 6-foot-5 frame tipping the scales at 327 pounds. He had gastrointestinal issues and had to have his appendix and gall bladder removed in his late 30s.
“I was experiencing bone pain,” he said. “I looked a million years old, and I wasn’t happy.”
When his gall bladder started acting up, the doctor marveled at the fact he was still alive. Chadwick was so overweight his doctor was worried he might die on the operating table, but his gall bladder was 97 percent non-functional, so they had no choice but to remove it.
His doctor warned him he should consider changing his diet, to which he replied, “Doc, it’s not a meal unless it has meat in it.” When Chadwick was at his heaviest, even getting dressed in the morning was a struggle. He recalls one painful memory of a morning when he was so overweight he couldn’t lift his leg up high enough to put on his socks because of the girth of his stomach.
'An Inconvenient Sequel' Leaves Out One Big Truth
It's our diets, stupid.
from AlterNet by Rachel Krantz
At the end of An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power, the audience is asked to take the pledge to #BeInconvenient—to keep demanding schools, businesses and towns invest in clean, renewable energy. “If President Trump refuses to lead, Americans will,” the call to action reads, encouraging viewers who want to fight climate change to use “your choice, your voice, your vote.”
Feel-good cheers in the audience abounded, but in my seat, I was seething over the truth that was conveniently omitted from the new sequel to An Inconvenient Truth: that the most significant thing we as ordinary individuals can do every day to fight climate change is to adopt a plant-based diet.
Al Gore himself went vegan in 2014, but aside from a split-second where he mentions that “agriculture is another major cause” of CO2 emissions, the subject is entirely left out of the film.
And that’s disgraceful.
You want me to #BeInconvient? OK, here are some facts:
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the livestock sector is one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide pollution, and the single largest source of both methane and nitrous oxide.
According to the World Bank, animal agriculture is responsible for nearly 90 percent of Amazon rainforest destruction.
The rainforest is our planet’s lungs, and we are destroying it simply to make enough space to kill more animals. More than 80,000 acres of tropical rainforest—and 135 animal, plant and insect species--are lost due to this destruction each day.
If that kind of devastation is too massive to comprehend, consider these more convenient truths:
If every American committed to just one Meatless Monday a week, it would be the environmental equivalent of all of the cars on the road switching from sedans to hybrids. The link is so significant that according to research published in the journal Climate Change, if you adopt a plant-based diet, you’ll cut your carbon footprint in half.
Yet the bulk of An Inconvenient Sequel focuses on former Vice President Al Gore’s quest to save the world, and the behind-the-scenes drama at the Paris climate accords. While it’s inspiring to watch Gore help convince India’s leaders to use more solar energy, far too much of the documentary is devoted to spotlighting him as a leader rather than informing viewers about the many concrete actions they can take to limit their own carbon footprints.
Telling viewers to fight back simply by taking the hashtag pledge to #BeInconvenient and ambiguously “vote with their choices” is a cop-out.
What about the very concrete choice we can all start making today to leave animal products off our plates?
Perhaps the filmmakers thought mainstream American viewers couldn’t handle that message. After all, when we’re still trying to get parts of the country and politicians to admit climate change is real, the bar is awfully low when it comes to confronting reality — even transportation’s impact on the climate went unmentioned in the film.
But Gore is right when we he argues that we don’t have any time to waste. If sea levels continue to rise at current pace, scientists estimate that New Orleans and Miami will be underwater by the end of the century. Due to our warming oceans, weather events are becoming more and more extreme—as Gore says, “every night on the evening news is like a walk through the Book of Revelations.” Lobbying for solar power alone isn’t going to cut it.
So yes, by all means, #BeInconvenient. Demand alternative energy reforms, vote in every election, and consider making the ultimate environmental statement by leaving animals off your plate—if not for their sake and your health, then for humanity. Because here’s one of the most uncomfortable truths: We talk about climate change as if Earth’s destruction hangs in the balance. But the truth is, the planet will persevere. It is mankind—and the many species we should be stewards of—that may not.
Rachel Krantz is lead writer for Mercy For Animals. A founding editor of Bustle, she is also the host of the podcast Honestly Though. Follow her on Twitter @RachelKrantz.
So Chadwick started exercising. He’d struggle to finish a one-mile walk and would be in horrible pain all day. His knees hurt. But he was determined to lose weight, so he started running. He recalls running his first mile, and although he wasn’t anywhere near home when he finished, he had to lie down in the grass and rest for an hour. After a while he was running five to six days a week, trying to remain at 320 pounds and not gain weight. “It was a constant battle to remain at 320 pounds back then,” he said.
So in the fall of 2014, when Chadwick dove in head first with his vegan diet, he found that the weight started dropping effortlessly. He lost 45 pounds by Christmas, shocking his family during the holidays. It happened so fast that his colleagues on campus dubbed him, “The Incredible Shrinking Man.”
By the spring semester, Chadwick’s weight was down to 250 pounds. Within six months, he was able to eliminate his blood pressure and cholesterol medication. Two years later, he told me with great enthusiasm, “I am down to 205 pounds! I haven’t been this skinny since high school. Last Saturday I spent two and a half hours boxing then ran six miles, which I can do without even getting winded.”
Chadwick added that he eats what he wants whenever he wants it. He never passes up food out of concern for his weight. He eats more consciously, though, and truly appreciates the foods he’s eating.
“I want to understand where my food comes from, how it’s handled, how it’s being treated,” he says. “The days of just slamming stuff into my mouth are gone.”
Although he still eats vegan on campus and the majority of the time at home, there are some favorite foods that he eats on occasion. Oysters and softshell crabs, he confesses, are his weakness. They’re available in the summer for a couple of months, so he might eat them once in a while when in season, or a piece of cheese here and there.
The vast majority of his meals, though, are plant-based. When asked what he eats, he shares a simple red lentil pasta recipe and describes the curries, chutneys and dals that adorn his plate and appease his palate.
At 43, he’s in much better shape than he was at 30. He regrets that so many of his younger years were spent in abject pain because he hadn’t connected how he ate to his health, which seems so obvious now.
“I’m a different person in so many ways,” he said. Though he can’t get those years back, he’s grateful for the knowledge he’s gained—and is passing it on. “I truly believe I’m one of the people making this worldwide change. I’m feeding 1,800 of some of the most influential, affluent kids in the nation at this institution every day in hopes one day they’ll be in power and some of the things I’ve taught will make an impact.”
Chadwick’s advice to those who want to understand his experience? “It’s nowhere near as hard as you think it is. It’s far more enjoyable than you think it is. If I tell you the benefits, you won’t believe me, so try it so you can see for yourself.”
Kristie Middleton is the senior food policy director for The Humane Society of the United States and the author of MeatLess: Transform the Way You Eat and Live—One Meal at a Time (2017, Da Capo Press). She lives in Oakland.