When the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, people were concerned about air and water pollution and the survival of endangered species. They talked about how the growing human population was crowding out wildlife and how we all have a responsibility to take care of the planet. Now, 44 years later, there are 3.5 billion more of us in the world, and our appetite for energy, land and meat has skyrocketed.
It’s time for a renewed call to action for the planet and wildlife, and we can start by taking extinction off our plates.
Many people don’t realize how many ways their dietary choices affect wildlife, but eating less meat is one of the most powerful things you can do for the Earth and all of its inhabitants (along with choosing to have a smaller family). That’s why the Center for Biological Diversity launched the Earth-friendly Diet campaign, to encourage people to save more wildlife by eating less meat.
Replacing just one-third of the meat in your diet with plant-based options can save as much as 340,667 gallons of water, more than 4,000 square feet of land, and the greenhouse gas equivalent of driving 2,700 fewer miles a year. You also help wildlife by saving habitat from pollution and degradation, and reducing deadly livestock-wildlife conflicts. The more often you choose meatless meals, the more good you do for other species and the planet.
Check out TakeExtinctionOffYourPlate.com and GreenYourDiet.org to learn more about the ways that meat consumption threatens the environment and wildlife. Then take the pledge to reduce the amount of animal products in your diet. Already vegetarian or vegan? You’re an important advocate for wildlife, and that’s why we need you to get active and help spread the message this Earth Day.
Stephanie Feldstein is the Director of the Population and Sustainability program at the Center for Biological Diversity, where she leads the Center’s work to highlight and address threats to endangered species and wild places from runaway human population growth and overconsumption.