The GREEN environmental team at Eastern Michigan University kicked off Green Week with Meatless Monday in Pray-Harrold.
Meatless Monday, taking place on March 19, was the first of four events put on by the Vision Volunteer Center’s group to promote better sustainability practices around campus. Other events on campus included Technology Tuesday, Waste Wednesday, and Thirsty Thursday.
According to GREEN President Eric Robinson, sustainability practices start small, and every little bit counts. This “small steps, big impact” strategy begins in the smallest scale place: people’s diets, specifically one that lowers the use of animal products.
Meatless Monday was set up as a get-together for students on campus who have been pursuing a plant-based diet, or are interested in getting into a plant-based diet. The event was catered by the recently opened restaurant Veg-O-Rama to create greater incentive for students to stop by the event.
GREEN makes a point to create more inclusive, forgiving atmospheres surrounding sustainability activism, according to Robinson. Patience, understanding, and inclusion are big points in bringing people in to plant-based diets.
“You can’t ‘just do it,’ it’s not that easy,” Robinson said. “It can take time.”
While GREEN notes there are many benefits to going vegan, the biggest benefit is the positive environmental impact it makes.
“Saving the animals is great, but that’s not it,” Robinson said. “That’s not what we’re doing here.”
The discussion began with abridged look at the 2014 documentary “Cowspiracy,” which highlighted the large amount of land and resources used to maintain the meat industry. According to the documentary, one gallon of cow’s milk takes 1,000 gallons of water to create, and that disparity of resources is a universal trend.
“We literally don’t have enough land to feed all the animals we kill to feed us.” An attendee said after the documentary ended.
While that may sound like an outrageous claim, according to the documentary it is not as far-fetched as it seems. In 2014, animal agriculture was responsible for 55 percent of water used in America, 51 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, 45 percent of worldwide earth use, and for 91 percent of the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.
Despite this, according to Cowspiracy, the largest environment agencies have ignored the impact that animal agriculture has on the world at large. That means, unless the larger agencies change their stance on animal agriculture, it is up to organizations like GREEN to promote less demand from animal agriculture, and slow down the overuse of the world’s resources, and the overpopulation of the planet.
According to “Cowspiracy,” the modern meat industry is slowly taking over the entire planet, and the first step in slowing its progress is reducing our demand for meat animal products as a whole.
According to Robinson, getting people to eat less meat isn’t about convincing everyone in the world to go vegan, but every little bit helps.
“There are going to be people who eat meat and dairy,” Robinson said. “We have to focus on consuming less. Something more achievable.”
GREEN can be reached via the vision volunteer center or their OrgSync website.