The often repeated statement “most important for the climate is being vegan” is simply untrue.
Industrial meat and dairy production (as opposed to natural farming) are a terrible crime in many ways, there is no doubt about it. I have not (consciously) eaten a piece of meat in almost 40 years because I find it disgusting, too. But if we speak about the climate effect, our individual diet only has a tiny impact in comparison with air travel.
Meat has always been eaten by most species on the planet – including humans – without causing global warming. Meat consumption is just a very logical part of the ingenious recycling business that our whole ecosystem is. If humans decide to stop eating meat… well, there’ll be more for others.
The only cause of climate change is ultimately fossil fuels. And there are not too many machines that can burn fossil fuels faster than a jet. Even worse: There is hardly anything less important than travelling. It is certainly and sadly enough only one of the many problems that our “northern” lifestyle causes (heating, electricity, concrete, steel). But air travel is distinct because it has the highest impact on the climate per individual by far. It is also distinct because we can do something about it. We can simply stop it.
Only an estimated 200-300 Million humans fly. Us. We only fly because we want to feel good about ourselves and are obscenely rich (by definition, simply because we can afford burn lots of carbon without satisfying any fundamental need).
On the other hand all 7.5 billion humans must eat and not many have the choice that rich Westerners have (as always at the expense of others). How dare we judge others? The CO2 created for food can be (slightly overall) reduced if _we_ ate seasonal and regional (and yes, less meat if you are a meat eater).
All global food production (including meat) and air travel are supposed to have about the same CO2-equivalent output. One side of the equation is needed by everyone. Yes, it needs to be regionalized again. But the other is just for the fun of a few who are rich because their ancestors have robbed the ancestors of those who still suffer today. Air travel emits 100% fossil CO2. On the other hand cows can be raised practically without using any fossil fuels (in fact that’s how most farmers in the global south still do it). Thus meat production is often times climate neutral. Air travel is never climate neutral.
I often receive hateful responses whenever discussing with “veganists”. Yes. We all must stop air travelling. There are so many other ways of enjoying life truly mindful. Wherever you are: Just open your eyes and see the beauty right in front of you. If there is no beauty, start engaging in creating beauty wherever your are. Very soon our whole planet will be beautiful again. Stop running away from what we all need to do.
The whole point is: Ultimately we have to do BOTH. But air travel is first. Without stopping it there is simply no hope for billions of humans. All children!
If you would like to make a true difference regarding your CO2 footprint:
- Stop air travel. At least for a year, another one, forever.
Simply understand how cruel it is to destroy the future of all beings on our planet just for the fun of a small global elite (us)!
- Then convince all your friends to stop as well
They probably all travel by air. Let us multiply our impact
- …. Then reduce shopping, reduce heating, lessen energy consumption etc. etc.
Stop (!!!!) blaming (the diet of) others. Rather stop consuming avocado-cashew-acai-super-smoothies that are worse than regional meat.
Before repeating usual urban “alternative facts” again and again: Simply check out your own CO2 footprint and see what a horrible difference your typical flight agenda makes. https://uba.co2-rechner.de/.
If you are into “vegan-supremacy”. After entering your flights see the tiny difference your diet makes. This is an easy to understand summary (data from 2019, the current data seems to be slightly lower than that for airtravel but the scale is the same):
All these numbers are per passenger. Multiply it by the number of passengers in each jet!
Facts are the foundation of meaningful communication: One return flight Berlin to Bali emits more than 6 tons of CO2-equivalents. With 200 passengers that is 1200 tons of CO2. For fun. Just one plane.
Just a few thousand jets on the whole planet emit as much CO2 as ALL food production!
On the other hand by being a vegan you can save about 6 tons of CO2 in 10 years. But only if you have been the worst type of meat eater before and eat only seasonal regional vegan food all those 10 years. That is cabbage and potatoes in every winter.
If you have been a vegetarian before you can – at best – save 2 tons of CO2 in 10 years.
All CO2 calculators reveal that the most terrible meat eaters are often climate saints in comparison with us. Just because they do not fly as much. In fact most humans on the planet never ever fly in their lives. Let them eat what they want. They deserve whatever they can get.
Many of us are vegan long distance travelers. Us urban hipsters are the real climate killers. We must stop blaming others as long as we need to change a much bigger problem: Ourselves and our glamorous Yoga industry.
How often have we flown in the past decades? How often have we told all our friends how great it was here and there?
How many beach pictures have we posted on social media? All that is our karma.
Non-harming and truthfulness are supposed to be our yogic DNA.
We must stop believing and promoting lies that simply make us feel better about ourselves but do not require any self-inquiry.