Earth Day 2020 goes digital.
Not because it’s the 21st century and why not, but because the world is stuck inside.
Well, most of us anyway.
Whether you’re currently under lockdown, self-isolating by choice, or free to come and go as you please, there’s no denying the impact the coronavirus has had on the world.
Scientists may well find a cure for the current pandemic, but what happens when a new disease emerges?
There have been numerous big-name diseases linked to eating animals: Bird and swine flu, SARS, Ebola, MERS, vCJD and now, COVID-19.
If humans don’t change the way we’re showing up in the world, we’ll keep facing scenarios like the one we’re dealing with at the moment.
It’ll be like Stephen King’s version of Groundhog Day.
Earth Day 2020 and COVID-19
For Earth Day 2020, let’s commit to fighting climate change with diet change. Why? Because it’s our best chance of avoiding a repeat of COVID-19.
There are plenty of environmental reasons to go vegan (diminished natural resources, air and water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions), but they have yet to affect the majority of us directly.
And as we know, until a problem shows up in our living room, we’ll keep ignoring it. That’s just the way humans operate.
Unlike climate change, we can’t pretend the coronavirus isn’t a problem. It’s taken up residence in our homes and from the look of things, it doesn’t plan on leaving anytime soon.
By choosing to fight climate change with diet change, we can save the planet and potentially avoid another pandemic at the same time.
Two carrots, one knife.
The Real Reasons You Need to Fight Climate Change With Diet Change
At least 20% of the global population is, or was until recently, on coronavirus lockdown. Strict measures were put in place in an effort to flatten the curve.
Those of us living In South Africa, India, China, France, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, and the UK experienced the world’s largest and most restrictive mass quarantines.
By the time lockdown is lifted next week, South Africans will have been stuck at home for more than a month following an extension on the previous deadline of mid-April.
We’re allowed out only to fetch essential supplies (food and medicine) and alcohol and tobacco sales were banned for the duration. Gulp.
Lockdown (and the resulting repercussions) can be avoided if we choose to fight climate change with diet change.
Yes, these are first world problems we’re looking to avoid, but my guess is they’ll hold more sway than the usual reasons given for transitioning to a plant-based diet.
1. You Won’t Be Forced to Homeschool Your Kids (Or Grandkids)
Choosing to homeschool your children is one thing, being forced into the role is something else entirely. It takes patience and tenacity to grow young minds.
Adulting is hard enough without being responsible for someone else’s education. Especially if you’re relying on that someone to take care of you when we’re old.
Even if you’re not, you’d at least like them to support themselves at some point. Switch to bean burgers and let the experts educate the kids.
2. You Won’t Have to Turn Your Kitchen Into a Brewery (Unless You Want To)
Here in South Africa, everyone approached Prohibition 2020 differently. Some stockpiled, while others (like Sporty and I) saw it as an opportunity to dry out.
When the president extended the lockdown by another three weeks, we’d either run out of booze or dried out to the point of boredom.
The obvious next step was to ask Google how to brew our own alcohol. Queries like ‘can homemade pineapple beer make you drunk’ flooded the interwebs.
Buying your alcohol is easier and less risky. Wouldn’t you rather enjoy a Beyond burger with a cold beer than a beef burger with a glass of juice?
3. You Can Visit Turkey in Person, Instead of Scrolling Around on Google Earth
Tourism has suffered because of the coronavirus. With flights grounded almost everywhere, the pandemic has had a massive impact on the air travel industry.
Being able to travel anywhere in the world from your couch is novel, but it’s nothing compared to joys of visiting a place in real life.
How you reach Turkey is up to you. What matters is that you’re able to visit in person. Opt for vegan cheese on your pizza and you will.
4. Face Masks Will Be for Halloween (Or If You’re Starring in Phantom of the Opera)
Wearing a face mask is weird. It’s fine if you’re going to a fancy dress party (because alcohol), but covering your face to go shopping is horrible.
It does nothing for the image, people can’t see your smile and it makes breathing a challenge. Face masks are also a breeding ground for germs if used incorrectly.
Living in a world where humans wear face masks all the time doesn’t sound like much fun. Quit eating chicken nuggets and you won’t have to.
5. You Won’t Be Hosed Down With Sanitizer Whenever You Walk Into a Shop
There are worse things than being sprayed with hand sanitizer whenever you enter a shop, but it’s still not a fun experience.
A more agreeable scenario would be one where you can go shopping without having to worry about picking up a virus in the process.
Thumbing your nose at the meat, eggs and dairy industries is one way to ensure this doesn’t become our new normal.
6. You Can Go Outside Whenever You Like (Unless You’re Lazy or a Vampier)
If you’re a gamer, not being able to go outside won’t bother you that much. For most people though, staying inside when you’re not sick is frustrating.
The freedom to come and go as you please is something you only appreciate once it’s taken away from you.
Choosing to skip the bacon rashers, pork bangers and Christmas gammon can prevent that from happening again.
7. Toilet Paper Will Be Easy to Come by (Not Something You Fight Old Ladies For)
While I didn’t personally witness people wrestling each other for toilet paper, there was an undercurrent of panic around procuring the stuff.
Now that we’ve been under lockdown for a while, stockpiling has eased up. But, who’s to say it won’t be worse the next time this happens?
Making the shift to a more planet-friendly diet will help you avoid future TP fisty cuffs. It’s better than wiping au naturel. Don’t you think?
Eat More Vegetables, Drink More Wine
Instead of reacting to a disease or virus, let’s figure out how to avoid them occurring in the first place. Think proactive rather than reactive.
Given what we know about the origins of the big-name diseases mentioned earlier, it makes sense to stop using animals for food and laboratory testing.
While we’re at it, let’s stop stealing their wool and feathers for clothes.
This quote from a 2007 paper published by the American Society for Microbiology sums up our species’ willingness to ignore the elephant (iceberg, diseased animal, questionable eating habit) in the room.
The presence of a large reservoir of SARS-CoV-like viruses in horseshoe bats, together with the culture of eating exotic mammals in southern China, is a time bomb. The possibility of the reemergence of SARS and other novel viruses from animals or laboratories and therefore the need for preparedness should not be ignored.
Don’t be fooled, I don’t trawl the interwebs for interesting science papers to consume while waiting for my coffee to percolate.
But I digress.
As I said earlier, these are first world problems we’re looking to avoid. But since habit change only comes from having a relatable ‘why’ I figured I’d give you something you’d resonate with.
Like not having access to fresh air, wine or toilet paper.
For Earth Day 2020, let’s imagine a whole new world.
Imagine a world where everyday staples are always easy to come by.
Imagine a world where homeschooling isn’t the status quo and home brewing refers to coffee.
Now, imagine a world where climate change isn’t a problem and people don’t use animals for their own gain.
Go ahead, make your next meal plant-based.
Until we stop killing animals to eat them, humans and animals will suffer. —PETA