As you think about your next new year’s resolution, consider this small change, yet big statement, that can drive an incredible effect on our planet.
“Did you ever stop to notice
All the blood we’ve shed before
Did you ever stop to notice
This crying Earth, these weeping shores”
— Michael Jackson, “Earth Song”
Many people are banning plastic straws nowadays, and that is wonderful. If you are one of them or one of those who contemplated the move, pat yourself on the back. Any reduction of plastic usage can slow down climate change and ocean pollution. Do you know what else can help this?
In recent research published in Scientific Reports, researchers calculated that if every American replaced all beef, chicken, and pork in their diet with a vegetarian option, that would save the equivalent of 280 billion kilograms of carbon dioxide every year. Or, put another way, it would have the same impact as taking about 60 million cars off the road.
But one cannot expect that all Americans will stop consuming meat products, just like one cannot expect that all Americans will ban plastic altogether. Meat is so delicious, easy to make, and kind-of nutritious (if you put heart attacks aside). For many of us, meat also ties to good, fuzzy memories with the family.
Here’s my suggestion: let’s make babies our starting point and stop eating them. Not even all babies, just baby mammals. Just like straw-ban symbolizes aspiration to reduce plastic, abstinence from baby mammals can show resolve to limit the livestock industry’s contribution to climate change. You are likely thinking of that tasty veal steak or that finger-licking lamb kebab. I know, I know, you will miss that kebab, but hey—it’s 2019, and there are so many delicious substitutes. You can handle this, I’m sure. Estimates show that per-capita baby-mammal consumption in the United States is just around 1.5 pounds annually, but with a population of 327 million, that’s the equivalent of 4 million lambs, or more than 1 million calves. These are millions of living baby creatures a year in the United States alone. You banned the straw; you can give up the babies as well. Make it your new year’s resolution.
And it’s not just about climate change.
Most lambs are brought to the market when they are 6 to 8 months old. Veal calves are slaughtered at the age of 4 months. Do we have to eat babies in 2019? Yes, of course, that has been the norm for thousands of years. Everyone does that. But weren’t we told to be the change we want to see in the world? And so many behaviors—from sporadic murder to slavery—that were once the norm, became a thing of the past.
Some of our great-grandparents owned slaves, and it was not abnormal or against the norms back then. If the trend of choosing a plant-based diet expands, our grandchildren will not be able to understand how we could possibly rationalize eating meat. Go to a friend or stand in front of a mirror, and say aloud: “I love eating baby animals. I love the taste of young mammals.” How does it feel? Do you feel some sense of discomfort thinking of your grandchild hearing you say that?
Unlike slavery, animals cannot rebel. It is entirely up to us to create a more moral, just world for them. You are wise, and you are merciful. Have some mercy on the babies out there, find empathy within you, and make the world a better place.
Gavriel Goidel (MBA ’20, Section C) is originally from Israel, the country with the highest per-capita vegan population in the world. Once an avid meat eater, Gavriel turned vegetarian in 2014 following his first fishing experience. Over the years, he gradually became more stringent. In the past year, Gavriel started considering himself to be vegan. Gavriel’s wife is vegetarian, as well as two of his three children. Gavriel and his wife raise the children to be empathetic and merciful to all living creatures.