TBS Next Gen: You can’t eat meat and be an environmentalist

What does the next generation think of today’s issues? The Big Smoke’s Next Gen program publishes Australian students mentored by TBS writers. Today, Bailey Mason calls out those who deign to call themselves environmentalists.


Student: Bailey Mason
Mentor: Jordan Rivkin
Topic: Can you call yourself an environmentalist whilst consuming animal food products?

Environmentalists eating meat and drinking organic dairy milk is humorous and incredibly hypocritical. In 2018, we are being made aware of global warming, species extinction and ocean dead zones but are we really combating climate change while eating a cheeseburger?

Scientists are continuing to show the public the effects of climate change and that our planet is going to continue to face a mass species extinction due to our putting money before the wellbeing of our beautiful planet that needs our urgent protection. There is a lot of talk about carbon emissions but very little talk about the major destruction we are causing when we simply have some dairy milk with our cereal in the morning or a steak on our plate for dinner.

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of global warming, water depletion, deforestation, species extinction and ocean dead zones. The world’s cars, buses, trains and planes make up 13% of all greenhouse gas emissions and animal agriculture is responsible for a shocking 51% of greenhouse gas emissions. Animal agriculture is also consuming one-third of all fresh water and occupies 45% of the earth’s land mass. Animal agriculture is also responsible for 91% of the Amazon rainforest’s destruction and the leading cause of habitat loss as well as species extinction.

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There is a misconception that grass-fed, pasture-raised or organic makes meat products and dairy milk somehow better for the environment. But it’s obvious once you take the time to think about it and understand the truth. If we were to switch to pasture-raised farms for cattle for the animals’ welfare because of the cruelty of standard farming, or to make the switch out of concern for our planet, it would not work but simply cause more destruction. Cattle for pasture-raised farms need more land and that means more land clearing, which would be extremely unsustainable.

It’s hypocritical for the streets to be filled with people protesting climate change and encouraging governments to take action, holding signs such as “protect our earth”, while having a beef burger in the other hand, considering animal agriculture is the leading cause of global warming. It’s not enough to be turning the light switch off or participating in local beach clean ups. We can’t be perfect and it’s unrealistic to be the “ultimate environmentalist” but to stop purchasing the bodies of animals and their milk is simply easy. It’s easier than ever in 2018 to eat plant-based foods and it’s not only better for the environment but also for our own health and the health of the animals who continue to be bred into existence to be slaughtered for our poor eating habits.

Ocean protection organisation Sea Shepherd has a strong stance against animal agriculture and commercial fishing. Sea Shepherd is known for fighting for the whales using their massive ships. They only serve plant-based food because it’s Sea Shepherd’s policy. Captain Paul Watson, the founder of Sea Shepherd, explains why Sea Shepherd’s ships are vegan, and it’s not for animal rights… it’s for protecting the oceans. “We are vegans because it is an ecological crime to eat fish; we are vegans because we are marine conservationists and not because we are animal rights activists.”

Animal agriculture is destroying our planet and we should no longer turn a blind eye but rather take urgent action. We can’t claim to be environmentalists while eating meat.


This article is part of a series for The Big Smoke Next Gen.

The Big Smoke Next Gen is a program which matches professional and experienced writers, academics and journalists with students who wish to write non-fiction articles and voice their opinions on what is shaping the nation.

For more information about our program at The Big Smoke, or to become a mentor, please contact us.


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