I find a lot of people still don’t really care about the environment, even in 2016 after all we know (and we’ve experienced). However, I don’t know many people who really, really, have no feelings about animals. So whether you are a dog person, a bird-watcher, a zoo-visitor, a safari-lover, a PETA-subscriber, or a hunter, take a sec to reflect on how your habits affect ecosystems and animal life. If you have no idea there is a correlation between both, go to 1. If you are ready to take your action to the next level, go to 2. And if you think you are doing everything that is humanly possible not to impact ecosystems, reflect on 3 (and let me know!).
1. Buy good meat
Captain obvious here: the meat you buy used to be an animal. Although I admit for a very long time I could not really see the chick in the pale flesh of chicken breast. It’s good to think about it, from time to time. And if you like animals, then it’s good to figure out what you believe is okay for them to go through in order to end up on your plate (if you need help defining it, read this and watch that). No judgement here, it’s a very personal question that should have a very personal answer, and there is a world of options between eating meat 3 times a day everyday and becoming vegan. If you want to continue eating meat, but you want to make sure animals are treated humanely, start making sure you buy good meat. You can most likely easily find a butcher or a good supermarket within biking distance (see what I did here?) that will carry meat that was not industrially farmed, and that you know for sure meets your standards.
However, be prepared to pay the price! Meat should cost more money than it does in regular supermarkets. As a matter of fact, in his book Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer writes: “In the past fifty years, as factory farming spread from poultry to beef, dairy and pork producers, the average cost of a new house increased nearly 1,500%; new cars climbed more than 1,400 %; but the price of milk is up only 350%, and eggs and chicken meat haven’t even doubled. Taking inflation in account, animal protein costs less today than at any time in history.” (Interestingly enough, that’s also true of clothes). Meat comes from living beings that need to be reared and fed for weeks or months, and that has a cost that should not be forgotten, especially if you want to eat good-quality meat.
2. Change your eating (and overall) habits
If you really cannot stand the idea of eating meat anymore, or want to go vegetarian/vegan most or all of the time, rest assured your stance will have an impact! Not only on the industry and the environment, but also on the people you spend your time with (trust me, talking about your choices may be uncomfortable sometimes, but it does make people think about their own, and change breeds change). Although, make sure your other choices are consistent: if you are super serious about not eating meat for moral or environmental reasons, extend your reflexion to other animal products you might have a problem with, such as leather. Again, buying secondhand shoes, bags, and accessories takes the edge off the problem. Don’t forget to check that the beauty and hygiene products you buy were not tested on animals (even better, that they are also not harmful to animals after being used, like unfortunately microbeads are).
3. Think about animal habitat and ecosystems in a broader way
Making sure your consumption habits don’t hurt animals is a very complex matter (like pretty much everything in this world). Pesticides, for instance, are harmful to insects and bees, but also, amongst others, to fish, amphibians and aquatic life, pets, birds, and bats. Buying organic produce is actually a pretty efficient way to help preserve our ecosystems. As a general rule, reducing your water or carbon footprint, as well as your waste, will help preserve the environment and therefore the animals that live in it. Being educated about issues that lead to deforestation and mass-destruction of animal habitat, such as the culture of palm for oil or soy, or the practices that may harm animals, like renting out bees to pollinate the Californian almond mono-culture, is especially necessary to make informed decisions as a consumer.
What would you add to this? Does that seem easy or in the contrary, impossible to achieve to you?