I have been on-off vegan for years. I stopped buying milk in my early 20s (I get to say that now, I'm so old) and gradually cut out all dairy. Quitting eggs came a bit later. I was less aware of the harm caused to animals and the world in their production. I've not always been perfect but I'm very motivated to eat a plant-based diet.
When I started, animal welfare was the driving force. As a veggie from my teens, I hated the idea of animals suffering. It was learning that male chicks are disposed of in a heartless and gruesome way as a by-product of the industry that finally made me give up eggs.
But involvement in the vegan world soon shows you the other reasons to avoid animal products. The Netflix film Gamechangers focused on the health benefits of a plant based diet. And other films such as What the Health have demonstrated terrible truths about the meat industry. Animals injected with hormones and steroids, which canât fail to pass along the food chain to humans.
Today, however, it is not the personal health benefits, or the animal welfare arguments that I want to focus on. It is climate change.
As the COP26 Summit begins, I truly believe that it is through government action that real change can be made. Frank Mitloehner, professor and air quality extension specialist at the University of California and Davis, goes so far as to suggest that putting responsibility on the individual is a distraction from causing bigger changes:
"f we really want to make a difference in carbon emissions we need to change policy. We need to have a cost for carbon that is appropriate. We need to incentivise those who can reduce greenhouse gas emissions to do so,".
So what's the point in eating more plants and fewer animals if it is only through policy change that significant improvements will be made? Well, consumer power can be pretty powerful. By buying plant-based products, we are voting with our money, creating demand for products that are better for the planet. All of us have to eat everyday. Thatâs a lot of voting power!
And also, have you heard of climate anxiety? It's that feeling of impending doom, that the world is f**k*d and thereâs nothing we can do. I have climate anxiety when I think about the refugee crisis. There are enough reasons for people to have to leave their homes and migrate to different countries. War and persecution affect people in countries too numerous to mention, but when climate change is also causing your town to disappear, devastating weather events mean that food supplies are destroyed and the irresponsible practices of the West are affecting your daily life - then you have to think about finding a new life somewhere else.
My friend Chiara Fabbro is a photographer. She met Ricardo Ortega in Gran Canaria, he is from a generation of fishermen, but there are no fish left.
"The ever-intensifying effects of industrial fishing have been suffocating the local fishing communities over the course of the last 20 years. "European industrial fishing fleets claim to fish sustainably, but they don't""
We must be aware of the interconnectedness of everything. Our consumer choices have an impact on the world.
So, whilst my carrot-eating habits aren't going to change everything, perhaps if all of us ate fewer meat burgers and more carrots, we're showing the government that we want to change. Maybe by discussing our eating-habits and listening to the opinions of others, we can open a dialogue for change. And perhaps by demonstrating the need for change with our shopping habits, governments will realise that the people they represent will support them in policy changes that will see a reduction in the speed of climate-change.
What do you think? Would you swap meaty meals a couple of times a week as a gesture towards change? âDo you think it's too late and we might as well give up? Or do you think that promoting discussion with people who have different opinions can lead to ripples in a pond? Comment below and continue the dialogue.