I have always been passionate about the environment and welcomed every opportunity to make my lifestyle more “green” and eco-friendly. I thought I was living the least impactful life I could in order to preserve our planet, but it was only until I learned about the true drivers of climate change that I realized the active measures I was taking were only a small part of a huge picture.
If you had asked me four months ago what the leading contributor of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere was, I would’ve said automobiles without hesitation. In actuality though, 18% of all greenhouse gases in our atmosphere come from livestock production, which is more than the entire transportation sector combined.
Upon this revelation, I was overcome with a feeling of embarrassment, for being so misguided about the biggest emitter of toxic gas into our atmosphere. It was becoming undeniable that animal agriculture was the leading driver causing climate change and all other forms of environmental devastation. It was baffling to me at the lack of attention being given to this paramount issue. It seemed as though in the race to save the planet, someone had put a big blindfold on us. Why were all of our efforts at environmental activism aimed towards turning off a light switch or taking a short shower, but not urging people to limit our dependency on meat and dairy?
I struggled with this question, and still continue to do so, but not before I decided to remove all animal products from my diet, cold-turkey. I realized I could no longer consciously support industries that were antithetical to every belief I hold true about our environment. In addition to the benefits removing animal products has on the environment, it also has wonderful effects on your short and long-term health. In just a few weeks, I was already starting to feel more energy coursing through my body from the food I was eating. By eliminating these products, you commit to living a life that doesn’t warrant unnecessary harm to the environment, other animals, or yourself.
Before making this change, I had never successfully dieted or removed any product from my diet. I would joke with my friends about how impossible the thought of even going vegetarian would be, but once presented with these facts the choice was made for me. Thankfully, I found myself in New Orleans, a city stocked with options and filled with pride for their food. Vegan options are in abundance here – from Seed on Prytania Street, a completely vegan restaurant, to an uptown favorite like Surrey’s on Magazine, where you can substitute tofu for no extra charge! It may seem like a major lifestyle change, or an unattainable goal to some, but I must say that it hasn’t been that for me.
Cover Photo: Maya Curto
Let me know about your experiences becoming Vegan in the comments!