In the fight to end climate change, we need all the help we can get. While we all like to complain about how summer heat comes earlier every year or how our winters are so mild compared to when we were kids, if we don’t take a stand now, it’s the future generations that will be in serious trouble. There is more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere than ever before, which is causing global temperatures to rise. Not only does this mean more temperature extremes, but it contributes to issues like ocean acidification, habitat degradation, and ultimately species extinction for those that can’t adapt quickly enough. Within the past 40 years, we’ve lost over half of the world’s wildlife – and if we let climate change progress unchecked, we will not be far after these other species.

Taking on the declining state of the planet may sound scary, but the good news is, it’s easy to take steps to reduce your carbon footprint and it starts by changing the way we eat. How? Simply by cutting back on the amount of meat and dairy we consume, we can help make a change for the better. In Denmark, a group of politicians is recognizing the connection between diet and the environment, so for the good of the planet, they’ve decided to take on a 22-day vegan challenge — yes, like Béyonce.

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UK newspaper Metro reported that politicians from Denmark’s Alternative and Red-Green Alliance parties will be eating a plant-based diet for 22 days in order to highlight the strain that the animal agriculture industry puts on the planet. This is great news – because it’s not a small strain at all.

Currently, 45 percent of our global land is occupied by livestock, 33 percent of arable land is devoted to growing feed for that livestock, and 23 percent of the world’s freshwater supplies are expended in the process. On top of that, it’s estimated that the animal agriculture industry is responsible for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, though some sources estimate that it may be as high as 51 percent – either way, that is more than the entire transportation sector. There’s no getting around it — industrial animal agriculture is bad for the environment.

Uffe Elbæk, the leader of the Alternative party, told Metro, “Western food production has an enormous climate footprint. Political action is needed, and I find it important that we, as politicians, take the first steps and begin to ‘walk the talk’.” Maria Gjerding, the Red-Green Alliance’s environmental secretary, is on the same page, “We need to take action on both a personal and political level in order to address the serious issues of climate change.”  This mindset of leading by example echoes that of Barbara Hendricks, Germany’s Federal Minister for the Environment, who recently banned meat at official functions.

While the 22-day vegan challenge will only be temporary, we are hopeful that it will engage Danish people about the relationship between our appetite for meat, dairy, eggs, and the environment. By cutting back on our consumption of animal products, we are actively taking a stand for the planet in the easiest way possible. To learn more about how you can help be the change, check out One Green Planet’s #EatForThePlanet campaign.

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You can #EatForThePlanet starting today. Just follow the three simple steps below.

1. Replace: Try to swap animal-based products in your daily diet with vegan alternatives (milk, butter, mayo, cheese, grilled chicken, beef crumbles, sausages, cold cuts, etc.)
2. Embrace: Add plant-based whole foods (local and organic when possible) to your diet like greens, fresh fruits, and vegetables, whole grains, plant proteins like lentils, nuts/seeds, beans, tofu, etc.
3. Moderate: Limit consumption of your favorite meats like beef, lamb, pork, etc.

“The #EatForThePlanet Way is not about restricting your diet, but about changing the way you think about your food choices,” says Zacharias. “When you Eat for the Planet, you make the conscious decision to reduce your negative impact on the world around you.”

We all have the power to create a better future for our children, and the countless animals we share the planet with, by making one easy swap. If you’re ready to start doing this in your own life, check out One Green Planet’s #EatForThePlanet campaign. 

Click on the graphic below for more information

Lead image source: Asier Romero/Shutterstock

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