It's a fact that humans are grossly accelerating the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, the warming of the planet, and the frequency of catastrophic natural disasters. Those who reject this science are called climate change deniers.
It's a fact that the single leading cause of anthropogenic climate change is animal agriculture. The growing, feeding, maintenance, slaughter, refrigeration, packing, transportation, consumption, and disposal of animal products accounts for over 51% of greenhouse gas emissions. Those who reject this science are every bit as much climate change deniers.
It's a fact that marching down a street won't save the planet ... nor will handing out pamphlets or recycling plastic bags. It's also a fact that no amount of action on the part of political leaders—cap-and-trade, the end of fossil fuel subsidies, tremendous investment in renewable energy—can bring the environment to manageable stasis without measurable sacrifice on the part of the people. It's a fact that the single most impactful way to reduce environmental harm, politically or personally, is to transition to a plant-based diet.
These are the facts of political science and economic science and natural science, and the nice thing about science, says Neil deGrasse Tyson, "is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
This isn't an omnivore-shaming screed—just a gentle reminder that pointing the finger at Wall Street and Capitol Hill and the United Nations is a convenient way of passing the blame. Environmentalism doesn't mean simply liking the environment; it means being willing to fight for it, to change one's behaviors, lifestyle—even diet—for it.
It's your planet or your cheeseburger. Scratch that: it's our planet or your cheeseburger. Me, your grandkids, the drowning people of the Maldives and the typhoon-whipped survivors of Southeast Asia. Or that cheeseburger, just for you.
I'll love you, whomever you are, no matter how many more cheeseburgers you eat. I promise. I'll love you and I'll respect the limits of your will and I won't say another word about the 9.5 pounds of greenhouse gases released or the 53 gallons of water used in the production of that quarter-pound cheeseburger.
Just please, don't call yourself an environmentalist with a mouthful of ground beef and pepperjack.
By the way, I have a long-standing offer still in effect: try going vegan or vegetarian for one month, and I'll buy you a dinner or one big bag of groceries. No questions, no strings—just shoot me a message and let me know.