Brooklyn Boro

OPINION: You can be a climate activist at the grocery store

September 27, 2019 Eric Adams
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane

“I’ll see you in the streets,” 16-year-old Greta Thunberg told an audience days before last Friday’s Global Climate Strike. She was right.

Globally, some 4 million people turned out to show their solidarity. Locally, an estimated 300,000 New Yorkers took to the streets and were joined by many public school students, allowed an excused absence from their day of studies if they had parental consent. The strike occurred just days before the opening of the United Nations Climate Summit in New York City.

Thunberg noted last week, “Activism works.” She’s right about this too.

People in America and around the world have displayed their support for, disapproval of, or gratitude for causes and events. Whether people marched for civil rights, opposition to war, or pride for a community, they devoted their time and energy toward something about which they care deeply.

There are few things more empowering than having the realization that I can not only do something about this issue or that cause, but I can also translate that awareness into action.

While we can’t all take to the streets in solidarity with Greta and our fellow New Yorkers, we can all take to the grocery store with a new appreciation for the choices that we make from the shelves and their significant impact on our entire planet. Animal agriculture is the leading contributor to climate change. Choosing plant-based foods, at the grocery store or in the lunch line, is your way to march with Greta and be an activist, one meal at a time.

I cared about the environment and climate change long before I started eating a whole-food, plant-based diet. Initially, I changed my own diet for health reasons, but I stay with it, in part, because I know how much it matters to the planet.

Using animals for food has negative consequences on the environment mainly due to carbon emissions, deforestation, and pollution. Last month, international coverage shed light on the Amazon rainforest fires. What was not always mentioned however, was that the fires are intentional (and many are still burning, by the way) in order to clear land — for animal agriculture. In fact, 80 percent of deforestation in the Amazon happens to support beef production.

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Ultimately, our food choices matter.

What I choose to eat matters not only for my health and wellbeing, but also for the wellbeing of the planet. I take pride in knowing that my plant-based lunch is not only keeping me healthy and free of chronic disease, but also that it is not contributing to land degradation and exacerbating climate change.

I choose to march with Greta not only through my advocacy of preserving and protecting the environment and curbing climate change, but through each and every food choice that I make — whether at the grocery store or dining with friends.

The exciting part is that you, too, can march with Greta and make your contribution to helping protect and preserve the planet through what you choose to have on your dinner plate.

Eric Adams is Brooklyn’s borough president.

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