The ultimatum of climate change is – literally – on our plates.
Recently, writer Chris Hedges published a powerful essay on the factual reasons he and his wife decided to go vegan. Animal agriculture causes more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector. Hedges states that livestock account for 51 percent of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
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Significantly, Hedges also says his wife was “the engine behind our family’s shift.”
Why is this significant? Because, on the personal and the political, women often drive movements for change. In 1960, it was women who proposed escalating the Nashville sit-ins with a consumer boycott of the downtown stores. Again in 1985, women in South Africa urged anti-apartheid organizer Mkhuseli Jack to organize the pivotal boycotts of white-owned businesses in the city of Port Elizabeth.
Women make the majority of purchasing decisions – including what’s for dinner. Corporate marketing and advertising firms have known this for centuries. When the personal weds the political, women move mountains to make change.
“The world will be saved by the Western woman.” – H.H. Dalai Lama
Today, women in the United States have the opportunity to take up the torch of struggle for justice and launch a boycott of the meat and dairy industry to demand action on climate change.
By connecting our society’s diets to our society’s demand for action to halt catastrophic climate change, we can leverage a boycott of meat and dairy into political objectives such as renewable energy transition plans for utilities, slashing of oil and gas subsidies, and expansion of public transportation.
Meat, dairy, oil and gas are linked together in the deadly equation of greenhouse gases and climate change. Our nation’s overall emission output is too high to sustain. We will destroy life on earth if we do not make serious changes. If politicians refuse to change our nation’s climate-destroying energy system, then we, the people, as human beings cognizant of our social responsibility, must take immediate action to prevent catastrophic climate change by eliminating meat and dairy from our diets.
Furthermore, a recent Princeton study demonstrated that businesses and wealthy elites determine the course of our nation, and average US citizens have zero impact on public policy. However, by crippling the meat and dairy industry with a consumer boycott to demand renewable energy, we can force businesses and the wealthy elites to divide on climate change and push for a renewable energy transition – or the people may never eat another hamburger again.
Our boycott of meat and dairy must be unequivocal and politically charged. While some may become vegan for ethical reasons around consuming animals, we must be clear that for many others, the choice to renounce meat and dairy is the tool of an outraged and frustrated populace. We have been demanding renewable energy for nearly four decades. The climate crisis has been escalating from the greed-motivated political obstinacy of our elected officials. We will boycott one cause of climate change in order to leverage change on the others.
Our strategy of boycotting meat and dairy must be as clear as our demand: We want a planet to live on. We want renewable energy. And we will give up meat to get it.