This past week, many of the world’s leading climate scientists expressed concern over the unusually high temperatures in the Arctic and the region’s record-low amount of sea ice.
At the height of winter, the region’s temperatures are as high as those normally seen in May. Meteorologist Eric Holthaus tweeted, "The northernmost permanent weather station in the world, just 440 miles from the North Pole, has warmed to 43°F today—in the middle of months-long darkness during what is normally the coldest time of the year.”
This record warmth is melting the already dangerously low amount of sea ice. The disappearing ice exposes coastal communities to terrifying storm surges and endangers wildlife that relies on it for survival. Animals like polar bears, the Pacific walrus, and the arctic fox all need this ice to find food.
Last year, a heartbreaking video of a starving polar bear taken by photographer Paul Nicklen of the conservation group SeaLegacy went viral. The video shows an emaciated bear clinging for life on iceless land, foaming at the mouth, and fighting to keep his eyes open. He digs through garbage cans in search of scraps from fishermen before collapsing to the ground. As ice cover continues to decrease, the starvation periods of polar bears lengthen, placing the entire population at risk of death.
But we all have the power to do something about this.
By cutting all animal products from our diets, we can reduce our carbon footprints by half. "That carbon footprint of meat production is more than just a big number,” according to the Center for Biological Diversity. “For polar bears, it's a factor in whether or not they'll live to see the end of this century."
In fact, according to the National Resources Defense Council, the top five climate-damaging foods are all of animal origin: beef, lamb, butter, shellfish, and cheese.
Furthermore, raising animals for food produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined, and one pound of beef requires 13 percent more fossil fuel and 15 times more water to produce than the same amount of soy. What’s more, animal agriculture is culpable for nearly 91 percent of Amazon destruction and uses more than one-third of the earth’s landmass, forcing wild animals out of their natural habitats.
Let the Arctic’s record-breaking temperatures serve as a wake-up call for humanity. It’s time to get serious and recognize that the food we eat can negatively impact our planet. There is no way to eat animal products without contributing to climate change. “Sustainable” meat is a myth. To put it simply: You cannot be a meat-eating environmentalist. Period.
But a vegan diet isn’t just good for the planet—it also spares countless animals a lifetime of misery at factory farms. Pigs, cows, chickens, and other farmed animals suffer horribly. From birth to death, these innocent animals are caught in a nightmare: crated and caged, cut and burned, and brutally killed.
Just as there is no question that climate change is real, there is no question that animal agriculture is a major contributor. Join the millions of people who are helping protect the planet and farmed animals by switching to a vegan diet. Click here to get started. And check out our Pinterest page for thousands of recipe ideas.