It is very easy to get lost in the drama of our daily lives and forget that there is a big, giant world functioning around us. As a species, humans are very good at hyper-focusing on our personal lives, seeing the future only in terms of what we will do next, we make plans to achieve our goals without giving a second thought to how our daily actions might be impacting others around us. Of course, most of us do not do this with any malicious intent, but the fact is there are many things we do every day that have unintended consequences, and if we are not aware of them, it is easy to carry on business as usual without second thought.

Just take the example of our food choices. Most people don’t think about where their food comes from – or at what cost, especially in the case of meat and dairy. In the U.S., around nine billion animals are slaughtered for food every year, the majority of which are raised in factory farms. Not only are these animals subjected to horrific conditions during their lives, but the impact of the animal agriculture industry also extends far beyond this.

On a global scale, animal agriculture uses over 50 percent of arable land resources for livestock grazing and growing feed for animals. This industry also consumes around 23 percent of our freshwater supplies. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that livestock production is responsible for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, while other organizations like the Worldwatch Institute have estimated it could be as much as 51 percent. Additionally, this system causes rampant air and water pollution, land degradation, deforestation and is pushing countless species to the brink of extinction. And yet, one in eight people still suffer from food scarcity.

From the vantage point of a consumer in the grocery store, this impact is hidden from view, but if we dig deeper into the impact our actions, we would find the tremendous amount of damage we are unleashing on the planet all for one single choice. The wise words of Jane Goodall illustrate exactly why it is so important that we don’t ignore these facts but instead arm ourselves with information and take action.

“We must remember that we have not inherited this planet from our parents, we have borrowed it from our children. But we have not been borrowing their future, we have stolen it and we keep stealing it.”

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When we zoom out of our own worldview and see the larger effect of our daily choices, we can better understand how we’re connected to every other living being on the planet and all our futures are intertwined. It might be intimidating to embrace the reality of how something as simple as what we choose to put on our plates can have a grave downstream impact, but it can also be incredibly empowering.

By choosing to eat more plant-based foods, you can drastically cut your carbon footprint, save precious water supplies and help ensure that vital crop resources are fed to people, rather than livestock. And this is just one single example of how we can change a single thing in our daily lives to help salvage the future for our global ecosystem. We can either choose to be crippled by our failures or rise above them. We don’t know about you, but we are determined to head Jane Goodall’s warning and do the latter.

To learn more about how you can help create a better future with simple actions, check out these resources:

Image source: Jane Goodall Institute/Facebook