Youth Voices: Cut the meat

By Eugine Szeto


“How many pounds of beef do you eat a day?”

“Huh?” I remember thinking as I completed the greenhouse emission survey. “What does this have to do with carbon emissions?”

But if you think about it, what we eat has a lot to do with our carbon output. Aside from the large amounts of methane released by cows, consuming beef also contributes to our planet’s greenhouse effect because meat needs to be packaged and shipped to your grocery store, all before arriving on your dinner plate. This does not include the feeds these animals use and the trees felled for their pastures. According to a 2013 report released by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, about 14 percent of greenhouse gases are caused by supply chain livestock.

While a long harsh winter and a late spring combined with tree-snapping storms can be called random variations from our northeast climate, there exists plenty of other evidence that climate change will affect each and every one of us, regardless of where you live. The IPCC report, which is a scientific publication published every three years by a coalition of climate scientists around the world, has yet to be completed for 2014. But already, there are ominous signs. The New York Times March 31 headline gives us some insight: “Panel’s warning on climate risk: worst is yet to come.”

What is worse than devastating storms, soon-to-be-extinct species, and an ever-more-unstable world? The answer is more. More storms like Hurricane Sandy, which hammered our state and battered our neighbors. More mountain snowpack melting, which reduced the water supply for our sister states in the West. More regions drying up, which disrupted the economies of our fellow man in the Mediterranean region, contributing to the region’s uprisings. Everywhere we look, the stain of global warming is evident. No one can avoid it, no one can stop it. But together, we can overcome it.

As citizens of the world, it is your responsibility to allow future generations to enjoy the breath-taking landscapes and the harmonious species that have managed to survive the catastrophe thus far. So if you seek cleaner air for your lungs, if you seek a brighter future for our children, if you seek a better world for all, I issue you this challenge. The next time you are faced with the choice between meat and vegetables, choose vegetables. Not only is it generally healthier for you, but it will help us all breathe a little easier.


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