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Challenge Alert: How You Can Personally Decrease CO2 Emissions in 30 Easy Days
Food

Challenge Alert: How You Can Personally Decrease CO2 Emissions in 30 Easy Days

Everywhere you look, you see another reason to go vegan. It’s better for your health, it’s kinder towards the animals, and it’s even better for the environment.

With Livestock and their byproducts accounting for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions and animal agriculture water consumption ranging from 34-76 trillion gallons annually, it becomes impossible to ignore that eating animal products is a lot more than a personal preference. Our eating habits affect the earth more than any other choice we make.

As climate change progresses, the world’s most vulnerable populations will be the most affected, with environmental refugees fleeing food shortages, and animal habitats are sacrificed as well.  Ask then, as an environmentalist, why contribute to this devastating phenomenon.

Luckily, this summer is a great time to give veganism a try. Summertime means even easier access to fresh fruits and vegetables and these days, every major food market has meat, milk, and egg substitutes. As Philadelphia is one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the world, you don’t have to worry about your social life taking a hit and you won’t have to go without.

Peace Advocacy Network can make your transition even easier! Peace Advocacy Network (PAN) is a non-profit, volunteer-run organization with dozen of social justices campaigns under their belt. The group’s most celebrated effort, is its 30-Day Vegan Pledge. The program has been so popular that it has grown to include other cities (like NYC, DC and Charlotte) but it started right here in Philly. The program includes matching each pledge with an experienced vegan mentor, cooking demos, a nutritional lecture with a health professional, discussions of environmentalism and oppression, and even a grocery store tour to give participants ideas on what new foods to buy.  This summer’s vegan pledge runs from July 9th to August 6th, with weekly meetings every Saturday. If you’re interested in signing up for PAN’s vegan pledge, please visit http://www.peaceadvocacynetwork.org/find-a-city/philadelphia/.

Connie Martinez took participated in the pledge last summer and is still happily vegan today. Connie answered some questions for those who think they might be interested in taking the pledge this summer.

How did you eat before you signed up for PAN’s vegan pledge and inspired you to sign-up? 

I ate a lot of burgers, eggs, breakfast meats(mainly bacon). I loved ethnic foods, but usually opted for chicken. I also visited my fair share of fast food restaurants. I had a very unhealthy diet.

What were the meetings like? 

The meetings were very laid-back and a wonderful opportunity to talk to both new and experienced vegans and just get to know each other on a personal level. I took away so much information from each meeting and I learned about proper protein sources, ethical impacts and speciesism as well as how to navigate my way through whole foods and avoid ingredients that can be deceiving about their origin.

What information surprised you most? 

I think what surprised me the most was the horrifying way that animals are bred, raised and slaughtered for human consumption. I had begun the pledge for health reasons, but quickly began to feel personally accountable for what happens to other living, feeling sentient beings. I felt like I could not turn a blind eye to the factory farms and meat industry any longer and how they profit each and every day.

What element of the pledge did you find most helpful?

The mentor aspect was the most helpful for me. I found having someone who was experienced and willing to answer all of my questions(and there were many)was invaluable. Everyone affiliated with the pledge was wonderful about sharing their knowledge with the pledges.

We have a truly incredible community of beautiful vegans in this city who are inspiring to me with their passion, conviction and tireless fight for the freedom of all animals.

Why did you decide to stay vegan? 

It was a combination of things. Physically I was feeling healthier and better than I had in years, but also because in my heart, I knew that I didn’t want to be the cause of any more senseless death to the beautiful animals we share this planet with. I wanted to change the footprint I was leaving on the planet. I’m still learning new things as I meet new vegans in the community.

What advice do you have for others who would like to give veganism a try? 

Have an open mind, be adventurous to try new foods and trust your mentors. Also, definitely participate in the social events that are organized in addition to the meetings. I’ve made some wonderful friends and have learned so much from them!

It’s 30 days that will change your life in immeasurable ways.

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Amy Shafer
Since going vegan herself in 2010, Amy Shafer has mentored over a dozen people on going vegan, most through the Peace Advocacy Network's Vegan Pledge. She works at Vegan Outdoor Adventures (http://veganoutdooradventures.com/) as a Social Media Specialist and general assistant. View all posts by Amy Shafer

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