This past holiday season, I tried the (slightly infamous) food that is Tofurky. I had never tried it before, but I’d heard many people joke about it − perhaps because the name sounds slightly unappealing. In any case, I didn’t find it all that bad. I mean, it’s definitely not going to become my new favourite food, or even my favourite meat-substitute, but at least I can finally say I’ve tried it, after being a vegetarian for many years.
Originally, I decided to become a vegetarian after learning about factory farming practices. One of the most striking examples for me has been the way chickens are kept on these farms ─ in cages so small that when they move, their feathers are rubbed off against the cage bars so that by the time they die, they are nearly bald. Personally, I disagree with the lives of animals being used in an assembly-line style production scheme whose primary concerns are speed and profit, rather than care for the animals.
Another important reason for my becoming a vegetarian is that it greatly helps reduce our carbon footprint ─ clearly an important factor in the face of global warming. Agriculture is a major producer of greenhouse emissions, particularly animal agriculture given the methane animals produce through their manure. Becoming vegetarian has reduced my carbon footprint by up to a third, compared to an average meat eater’s diet.
So, if you are one for making New Year's resolutions, perhaps consider eating a more plant-based diet. Even if you don't want to become vegetarian, or don't feel ready to make such a big change, simply try reducing the amount of meat you eat by choosing one or two days a week to not eat meat. If that stills seems like a tall order, simly try reducing the amount of beef you eat, as its production results in the most greenhouse emissions out of all types of meat.
Consider it your daily food for thought: what we eat ─ and many other things we do every day ─ can have a positively impact the environment and help prevent the effects of global warming. One final suggestion that doesn’t require changing the foods you eat, per se, is to avoid buying foods that come in excessive packaging. For example, buy a larger glass bottle of juice, rather than small and individually wrapped juice boxes; or use reusable containers and water bottles to reduce the overall amount of garbage you are producing. I’ve even started bringing my own utensils to the cafeteria that I can wash, instead of using and throwing out the plastic ones they provide. So as the new year begins, consider making some changes to your daily routine because if everyone commits to making small changes, together, we can truly make a difference.