You Can Make a Difference

Your biggest contribution to sustaining the environment: your plant-based diet

By Don's Early Light, Donald J. Brix, Ph.D.


You may already have. For years you’ve been dutifully recycling your newspapers, cans and bottles, wheeling your cart out to the curb on “your” day, or if you’re in the boonies, maybe driving to a collection site. You may have even sprung for switching out your light bulbs for LED replacements, installed a water-miser shower head, put on a sweater and dialed back the winter thermostat setting. Like me, your car may be a hybrid or some equally fuel thrifty set of wheels. Well, good for us and our Cinderella footprint.

A few of you though, whether you know it or not, have throttled back what your existence costs the environment by much more. A dozen or so of you who receive this piece from old one-note-Donny no longer eat any animal flesh, drink any animal milk or milk’s derivative products. And as it turns out, your decision to not eat animals makes the LED bulbs, reduced-flow shower heads and so on look like what they really are: baby steps in comparison to what you’ve done.


Here’s something I said a little over a year ago.

Tropical deforestation is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, estimated to contribute as much as a quarter of global emissions. In the Brazilian Amazon, the two most important drivers of deforestation have become cattle ranching and soybean cultivation.

So, cut or burn the trees, lose the oxygen production, lose the CO2 sequestration capacity, lose biodiversity, graze cattle thereby adding more CO2 from their breath, and methane from the other end as flatulence (I'm afraid I'd blush if I called it by that word you might be thinking) OR alternatively, raise soybeans to make livestock feed. Brazil's government is trying to regulate the problem but apparently has, so far, not been able to do it effectively.

If everyone stopped eating animals tomorrow it would probably stop the loss of forests forthwith, but the shock wave to the worlds' economies, the loss of livelihood for untold millions, if not billions, is unimaginable.

On the other hand, smarter persons than I have predicted that a time will come when eating animals will largely disappear as the ramifications of the unsustainability of the practice overwhelm us. But any given individual can jettison the flesh right now and have no fear of creating worldwide meltdown while gaining all the health benefits plus the joy of knowing you're stepping oh so lightly on the surface of the planet.


“…the biggest contribution each individual can make if they so desire is to eat traditional diets: grains, soy, vegetables, fruits, and if that’s too difficult for them, then to eat meat analogues, such as veggie burgers, and soymilk, and yoghurt ice cream, things like that. But that can be done by anyone who so chooses, and it’ll improve their health, and it’ll improve their pocket books because traditional diets are much cheaper than meat-centered diets… So it’s really up to us whether we really want to save the planet.”

So said the late Robert Goodland. For many years, until he retired in 2001, he was the lead environmental adviser to the World Bank Group where he was nicknamed, “the conscience of the World Bank.” He wrote and persuaded that organization to adopt most of its social and environmental safeguard policies, especially the official umbrella policy on environmental assessment.

So while the high profile crowd in Paris tries to hammer out an agreement about smokestack and tailpipe emissions, you can take charge in the comfort of your own home, at your own dining table, by opting to adopt the way of eating that can reverse heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, guard against cancer, end your support of the inhumane industrial farming of animals to eat, plus it’ll get you on the right side of all the stuff I’ve just drawn to your attention above.

Low-fat, Whole-Food, Plant-based. My message hasn’t changed. If you’re already on board, stay the course. If you’re not and can’t figure out how to do it, email me and I’ll coach you…and I work cheap.

Eat like your life depends on it, Don

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