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Take Our Climate Challenge: Cut Back on Meat and Dairy

Take Our Climate Challenge: Cutting Back on Meat and Dairy

Many Cup of Jo readers have been asking for posts about climate change, and we are so happy to keep up the conversation. Today, my dear friend Linsey Laidlaw is sharing one of the biggest ways we, as individuals, can help: cutting back on meat and dairy. Please take our challenge below…


Like so many of you, I’ve been holding my breath for friends and family in California and now Australia, praying their homes and families will be kept safe from the flames, mourning for those who haven’t. These tragic fires are the latest blaring siren that our planet is in crisis. “I want you to act as if your house is on fire,” the young heroine Greta Thurnberg implores, “because it is.”

The scale of the climate crisis is so big it’s practically paralyzing — how can one family’s biggest efforts make even the tiniest dent?! Too often, I’m inclined to fold in defeat. But for better or worse, my kids — ages 6, 8 and 11 — are exquisitely stubborn creatures, and they’ve been steadily (if not always gently) coaching us as we change our habits.

We try to make one or two goals per month — using up what we have and adding more sustainable tools as we go. We’ve taken up composting, switched disposables for reusables, ride bikes or use public transit as often as possible, and watch out if our first grader catches you leaving a light on or the sink running too long.

Of course these things help a little, but I was surprised to learn that by far the biggest, most effective way an individual can combat climate change is something my daughter steered us towards years ago: reducing our meat and dairy intake.

According to the Worldwatch Institute, livestock are responsible for 51% of annual global emissionsmore than all cars, planes, buildings, power plants and industry combined. There is a crystal clear line between the burning rainforests we weep for across social media and the barbecue we later gobble up.

If the image of ancient forests reduced to charred rubble doesn’t kill your appetite, this might: at this moment there are over a billion people in the world who are hungry, and our food choices are largely responsible. The affluent’s demand for animal products devours resources that could readily eradicate world hunger. In his newest book, We are the Weather, activist and author Jonathan Safran Foer elaborates, “Three million children under the age of five die of malnutrition every year. One and a half million children died in the Holocaust. Land that could feed hungry populations is instead reserved for livestock that will feed overfed populations. Factory farming starves the world as it destroys it.”

It’s often said that climate justice is social justice, reminding us that this is an issue of human rights and ethics as well as environment. Oxfam reports that the wealthiest 10% of the world population are responsible for half of all carbon emissions, while the poorest half are responsible for 10%. As we’ve already begun to witness: people in poverty, largely communities of color, are and will continue to be hit hardest by climate change, with the least ability to protect themselves despite contributing very little to the problem. Right now there are 70 million refugees worldwide — the highest level in nearly 70 years. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be 200 million climate refugees — that’s 1 in every 45 people.

This is exceptionally jarring math — but can it shock us into a dietary reinvention? A gastronomic intervention? Americans really like meat.

For our family, transitioning from a pack of happily omnivorous eaters with a weakness for pepperoni pizza and Shake Shack didn’t happen overnight — (although it did for my daughter Ivy, who passionately declared herself a vegetarian six years ago and never looked back). The rest of us cut back gradually as we strived to support her, learning substitutions and great new recipes along the way. We’ve kept it pretty loose and low-pressure: my daughter Rosie defiantly claims the title of “meatatarian” (which mostly means she sometimes eats a hot dog at the park but gets to maintain her rebellious identity) while my husband and son have settled at pescatarian, and I occasionally indulge in meat at a restaurant. But eating vegetarian at home truly doesn’t feel like a sacrifice anymore — it’s become just what we do.

My friend Gisela taught me the term “reducetarian”, and I wholeheartedly endorse the method: going cold turkey is incredibly hard for something as social, emotional and habitual as eating. That every human on the planet would convert overnight to absolute veganism is as ideal as it is unlikely, but we don’t have to let perfect be the enemy of good: every single time you choose a plant-based meal, you make a positive impact on the health of our planet. Our family’s next reducetarian challenge is to cut back on dairy — an even bigger challenge for this cheese-loving group.

While forgoing burgers and bacon can be a challenge, for me the biggest pain point is being a pain point. I dread being perceived as a nag or hypocrite or goody-two-shoes — who wants their dinner party to become a sad-trombone lecture? I’ve often coached my kids to be “quiet vegetarians” — let’s do this, but let’s not make a fuss about it.

When really, making a fuss should be our entire focus, because one family reducing their animal consumption won’t make a dent. But a million families working together and joining in the fuss-making? That’s a hefty bite, and more importantly, a loud call to businesses who respond to market demands and policy makers who listen to public outcry.

At the risk of sounding like a Times Square Prophet — our children are in peril. Climate change is a speeding bus headed for each of them, and doubly fast for our grandchildren.

This is an especially smart and empathetic corner of the internet, a community that cares for neighbors and strangers alike. I read your comments and am inspired by your actions — so many of you are leading on this and other urgent issues. I am neither a pioneer nor a perfect ambassador for this plea — but I can promise I’ll continue to think daily on how I can personally answer Foer’s invocation, “…to take less than one’s hands can hold, to eat other than what our stomachs most want, to create limits for ourselves so that we all might be able to share what’s left.”

Who’s with me?


If you’d like to join us, please comment below with how you plan to dial back on meat and dairy this month. Are there any vegetarian or vegan recipes you like? We’d love to hear…

P.S. Vegetarian dinners, and trying out slow parenting.

(Photo by Trinette Reed/Stocksy.)

  1. sarah-mai says...

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post!

  2. Amy says...

    I enjoyed reading this thoughtful post. Would you consider doing bi-weekly or monthly recipes featuring kid-friendly vegetarian and vegan recipes? I find my kids will eat vegetarian food with little nutritional value (think pasta with parmesan or cheese quesadillas), but often balk at vegetarian staples like beans and tofu. We’ve found a few successful recipes (sweet potato tacos, tomato soup, peanut noodles), but I struggle to get my kids to eat nutritional meals, much less ethical ones.

    • Stephanie says...

      Yes!!!! This!!!!

    • Maaike says...

      I strongly second this request!! I have a pretty good eater but most veggie or really vegan options are just not as popular as the chicken sausage or pasta bolognese. And most of the vegan mom blogs can be quite condescending in tone, seem to come from quite a bit of privilige, and seem to strongly rely on fruit with everything whereas what we need is protein and fiber …

    • Alina Swan says...

      Hi Amy, there are plenty of recipes out there for vegan mac and cheese ( with veggies hidden in the sauce) that you could try. My daughter has been vegan since birth, so it situation is different, but she loves pasta either with creamy spinach sauce, veggie curries with peanut and brown rice, and, of course, pizza ( whole grain crust loaded with veggies, smoked tofu and some kind of but cheese). Involving her in the coming process also always makes her more excited for the meal. I hope this helps a bit!

    • Mina says...

      I really have to recommend Green Kitchen Stories (instas, blog, app) and their book Little Green Kitchen! My kids are vegetarians and there are so many great tips from GK Stories (they have 3 kiddos). Good luck!

    • Meig says...

      My kids are the same way! I would love to see more kid-friendly vegetarian recipes. Or even how-to’s on great ways too prepare things like tofu!

    • Cortney says...

      Agreed! It would be great to have more vegetarian recipes featured on the site. As much as I love reading comments, a regular post or link-up would be so helpful. The vegetarian lasagna with chard from the COJ archives is one of our favorites, but as a working parent with 3 kids, I struggle to incorporate other good vegetarian options during the week without just falling back on pasta and roasted veg.

  3. Hali says...

    Oh you are BRINGING IT this new year Cup of Jo! I devour this content with the same delight and fascination as beauty uniforms and relationship essays. This is a conversation we need to constantly engage in for centuries to come, plant-based life is not a trend but a necessity. It’s a radical shift for our society, and it gives me hope when everything seems really bleak. All signs point to plants! Sustainability, public health, animal empathy… it’s all screaming please, just eat plants!

    I was raised vegetarian and was always shy about it growing up. My dad is a vegetarian they way I imagine some parents are with their political or religious beliefs: righteous and at times mildly belligerent about it. It’s not my favorite part about him. Like Lindsey, I cringe at the thought of being a fuss or a nag and since early childhood, I’ve often found myself saying “oh that’s okay I’m so happy with this side dish, don’t worry about me! I can eat around it!” But something feels REALLY different these days, there’s a sense an urgency that no amount of animal cruelty footage or heart disease data has ever produced to scare people into eating plants. We must start making decisions like grown ups for the planet. If not for our health, if not for animals, then for humanity. And with that urgency, I’m finding this sparkling sense of excitement and hope. We can do this! Cheese was fun, we truly, deeply, genuinely loved cheese… but we can move on! We can thrive with plants and be better off for it! I believe in us!

    I definitely don’t have the answer about small farms dying out before the big powerful industries are even effected, but I respect that it is a heartbreaking, terrible phenomenon. We’ve got to prioritize feeding humans over feeding animals. We’ve got to change the chemical makeup of the planet. I don’t have the answer but can’t see another feasible way forward. I’m interested to learn more!

    Lastly, this cheese recipe is bomb on broccoli, in mac n’ cheese, as nacho dip. We had it as an option at a fondue friendsgiving (told you I loved cheese) and people were like waaaaaht this is great!

    http://www.veggieonapenny.com/vegan-cheese/

    • Josie says...

      Love your words. RE small farms going first – this is also another way we can exercise our individual choice. If we choose that eating some dairy is the right decision from us, we should also think about where we’re sourcing that dairy from.

  4. Molly says...

    Love this post. I became a vegetarian at 14 and then vegan at 23 and have stuck to it for the past eight years. I’ve also tried to be a “quiet vegetarian” because I don’t want anyone to feel judged by me for their personal food choices. But I’ve found that everyone loves to ask questions, so I just aim to be super clear about the reasons why I’m vegan if people ask (namely, the environmental impact). My husband and eight-month-old baby are not vegan, but they eat a ton of plant-based meals too. For recipes, I always go to Oh She Glows, Cookie and Kate, and Plant-Based Juniors for kids/babies.

  5. TeraB says...

    I’ve been following the “VB6” stategy, which is basically eating all vegan until dinner.

  6. Justine says...

    Well done, CoJ. I have been a reader for years, and always identified with the thoughtful, compassionate voice of this blog. I wondered when the “food” portion of the site would catch up to the other progressive articles. As with everything, it’s an evolution. I’m really impressed and proud of you. Folks, I think the message here is simply to try and reduce animal consumption. It’s possible, it’s important and it’s easy if you do it gradually.

  7. Meg says...

    Great post!

    You in Jenny?

  8. Madeline says...

    Love this post so much, please more of this!!!!
    My boyfriend has been vegetarian for about 10 years and when we started dating I thought it would be a problem, when in fact I found it so easy to transition into veggie based eating and cooking. After realizing that I was already eating 90% vegetarian, I decided to commit full time. I made an exception when we were on vacation in Copenhagen over the holidays. I ate meat there when I knew the restaurant sourced it from local farms and made an effort to use all parts of the animal.
    I agree that it feels icky to lecture people on the benefits if vegetarian eating, but I’ve found that so many people are in the dark about the effects that it is necessary!!!! Honestly, if you have ever driven past a factory farm and smelled what comes out if there, you will change your ways too. I’ve become that annoying person lecturing people about the harm of meat and I DGAF.

    • Laura says...

      Hi Madeline, I applaud your commitment to your POV. However, I (and lots of people like me) am severely allergic (epi-pens and benadryl, etc etc etc) to all plant proteins and most other delicious garden foods. Having autoimmune issues, I also must avoid dairy, eggs, and grains, therefore meat is my most reliable and healing source of nutrition.
      I envy your ability to enjoy vegetarian fare (dearly miss lentils, beans, seeds, squash, and all of those colorful nightshade veg) and would never dream of bringing a DGAF voice to the table lest I take away from anyone’s delight in eating this way. Sometimes, a person’s dining preferences are based on health needs beyond their control.
      It’s a tricky issue, and I do the best job I can respecting animal life, and those who raise them for human consumption. There’s quite a lovely community of folks with health issues like mine out there who feel the same.
      While we all learn from each other about the impacts of human appetite, can we–all the voices and cooks and eaters and thinkers here–remember that no one diet best serves all?

    • Despina (Greece) says...

      @Laura
      Thank you SO MUCH for your thoughful comments and perspective, I totally agree with the points you are making.
      I’ve had many heated exchanges with my vegetarian (and slightly dogmatic) brother over the years lol. I have also tried being pescatarian for a year and half and have since decided that a balanced (emphasis on the word *balanced*) Mediterranean diet is most suited to my body needs and tastes.
      I like experimenting with food and I see cooking and dining as a very important cultural experience. I would try anything once:)
      We, omnivores, are not the preachy types. That’s why I react quite strongly when it comes to holier-than-thou declarations of moral & digestive superiority of the vegan or any other variety lol. ;)))
      Let’s all continue breaking bread with each other, nurture and listen to each other and, above all, let’s enjoy the food we happen to have on our table, whatever it may be.
      Let’s all take a step back from judging other’s people’s choices (often made based on ppl’s financial means) and let’s keep in mind that other people may not be so fortunate as we currently are.
      (After all, pumpkin lattes and avocado toast are still largely considered a luxury in so many parts of the world.)

  9. Sarah says...

    I’m with you! My family of five eats meat about once a week. It’s much cheaper to eat meatless and we don’t miss it at all! We eat lots of tofu, pasta, chickpeas and veggies. When we do eat meat, we use small amounts to season the meal (i.e, 1-2 small chicken breasts for the whole family, chopped up in a salad or soup, or half a pound of ground beef mixed with pasta sauce) rather than each eating a big slab. We’ve also replaced a lot of our meat dishes with venison (hunted by my husband) — it’s sustainable, organic, free range and almost free!

    My husband and I have also switched to almond milk, and my adult acne cleared up immediately. Now the hard part is reducing our cheese intake…

    • Liz says...

      Love the idea of using meat as more of a garnish than the main for meals that include it!

    • Rusty says...

      Almond milk has almost NO almonds in it … and it takes soooooo much water to make!
      Sorry to be the bell-ringer on almond milk, but water …. scarce and precious!
      In all of this discussion, THE most important thing is to KNOW WHAT’S IN WHAT YOU’RE PUTTING IN YOUR BODY … AND … HOW IT’S MADE.
      For instance, some brands of Lemon Pepper seasoning have CHICKEN in them!
      Read those labels and learn how it’s made. Or, even apply the “If I can’t easily make it myself, I’m not eating/drinking it.”

    • Amanda W. says...

      Rusty, please listen the episode of the “Science Vs” podcast on milk alternatives. Yes, almond milk requires the most water of all non-dairy milk, but it is still, by far, much better for the environment than dairy milk.

  10. Michaela says...

    A pretty easy way to do this is “vegan before 6”—or in my case, vegetarian before 6, as I haven’t cut out dairy. There’s a whole book on this philosophy by Mark Bittman, and I believe he’s a bit more focused on personal health than climate impact, but I find that simple phrase extremely helpful for guiding my eating principles—just try not to include meat in your breakfast or lunch. I don’t always succeed, of course, but it’s a start. It’s also opened my husband and I up to skipping meat at dinner time a few times a week too, since I’ve found more great recipes that don’t rely on meat.

    I also saw a great tip recently in an article about going vegan—focus on foods from cuisines that don’t use a lot of meat, like curries.

    • Owl says...

      This is so interesting for me because I have been doing this for so many years! My breakfasts and lunches are almost always vegetarian. It actually has the added benefit of helping me feel lighter and more energetic in the afternoon. In the evening, if I am cooking, I will often do a vegetarian meal (not always), and if hubby is cooking (which is usually) we normally include meat. Not perfect, but it makes a big difference and increases the amount of fruits& veggies I consume.

  11. Traci Barr Segal says...

    I stopped eating meat and dairy in August, because my cholesterol was high. I’m not overweight nor was I willing to take a statin as a quick fix. At the end of October, when my levels were tested again, I was down 33 points, and back in the normal range. I now eat this way for my life.

    • E.D. says...

      I’ve had a similar experience. I’m very physically active and have never been overweight, but with high cholesterol. After 6 months of mostly vegetarian/vegan eating, my cholesterol was down 63 points, putting me in the normal range. I’ve never been a big meat eater, but did consume a lot of dairy before. I’ve found reasonable substitutes like cashew cheese and plant milks, and now that I’m used to them, I don’t really miss cow products. I too will continue to eat this way for life.

  12. Jessica Lopez says...

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for this much-needed piece, Linsey. I went vegetarian (trying to be a vegan, slower change there) a year ago and my whole emotional wellbeing clicked once I allowed myself to “go there” and make the connection between the meat on my plate and the living, sentient animal it once was. Plus, I’m healthier, doing my small part for our hurting planet, and my heart is lighter.

    Thank you for sharing this point of view, Cup of Jo team. I’m teary as I type this and sending this article to every friend and family member in my orbit. XO

  13. Shannon Kessler says...

    We eat a largely plant based diet in our family. We still eat meat and dairy sparingly, but reserve it for special events. We have young children, but even still it was an easy transition. I love Food 52 for a variety of vegan recipes as well as the book Frugal Vegan for quick family meals.

  14. Brit says...

    Love this. We are a mostly vegetarian household (me, fully veg) but I need to cut back on dairy. I am finding it hard, so I am focusing on getting local dairy where possible, including from a farm where we can exchange glass bottles to reduce waste. I will use this challenge as encouragement to cut back further.

    I would love to see a post on parenting in the age of climate anxiety; seems perfect for CoJ. It feels so overwhelming, increasingly often.

  15. Kate says...

    I love this… I’ve been vegetarian for 11 years because of all my environmental/sustainability focused courses in college (it felt like the only thing I could DO at that time in my life).
    Last year I stopped purchasing new clothing (it’s been surprisingly EASY! Consignment stores, online thrifting on sites like ThredUp and Instagram accounts like noihsafbazaar are so helpful) because of the environmental impacts fast fashion.
    I bike to work everyday (and work for an environmental nonprofit).

    BUT. Articles like this (while they are SO incredibly important), news about climate change in general, politics in the US (and world!) today, etc. have totally and completely freaked me out regarding having children. I would LOVE to be a mama (and my partner would be a superb papa), but truly everyday I feel like it would be tremendously unfair to burden my potential baby with all that’s happening in the world (and everything that we know will happen in the future if we don’t change our trajectory fast).
    Did other generations feel this way?! I don’t think these are irrational fears… it’s real! Help! Convince me otherwise?! It’s such a personal decision but when I think about the big picture, I just don’t know what to do!

    • Christi says...

      Ditto 100% (to the last half of your comment).

    • Liz says...

      Yes. Always wanted to have children and I still do, but the fires in Australia have really scared me. I’m torn, and it helps to know someone else feels the same way!

    • Adrienne says...

      I think many generations have faced this. After World War 1, WWII, the Holocaust—I can’t imagine those parents skipped blithely into parenthood either. There haven’t been many generations that have had a choice about the matter, but children are so hopeful.

    • Kelsey Ann says...

      I also totally relate to the fears of having children due to climate change. On top of it, I’m in a same-sex relationship so we have to really think through *how* we’d want to have children – so climate change really makes me wonder if it would be a good move? But I’d sure love to be a mama too.

    • On the other hand... says...

      I get your perspective 100%. Here are a few thoughts to consider though: 1) perhaps have an only child, rather than no child at all? (This is the route I went). 2)If all progressive thinkers stop having babies because they are enlightened enough to see things realistically, what will happen in 15 or 20 years? There will be very few young people with progressive ideas! Just a thought… We need progressive people raising progressive children who will stand up for progressive ideas! Xo

    • Agnes says...

      Not sure fear (rational or not) is a good reason to make ANY DECISION, in my opinion.. Any child you have would no doubt be a warrior for the planet, given his or her parents, and wouldn’t that be needed?? The world is changing so fast, we have no IDEA how it will be for our children! Aware and compassionate people are and always will be needed! :)

    • Marianne says...

      I feel ya! I’m having a baby in February and I still haven’t convinced myself it’s the right thing to do. I guess my rationale is that the world needs more people who are sensible and care about the planet, so they can outnumber the deniers? Maybe your child will be an awesome scientist who can help on a global level, or just someone who isn’t afraid to speak up and change the minds of the aunt who insists on flying everywhere and leaving her car engine one while at the store. But I realize that’s a heavy burden to place on a child! I quite selfishly decided to have one because I don’t want to live in fear, I think. No idea whether it was the right decision.

    • Christine says...

      I felt the same way, but my husband said something to me that re-inspired to not feel guilty about having kids: we will raise a new generation of kids that will be mindful and conscious about their world and the people in it. Who knows? Maybe we will be the parents of geniuses or inspiring leaders that will finally solve climate change.

      Re-thinking about that way, made me feel less bad about wanting to bring kids into the world. It starts with us, raising our kids to be caring, loving, empathic, and to make the world a better place for them.

    • Katie says...

      I hear you Kate (on your last comment). It’s always a personal decision, but we’ve decided to only have the one child we have now for exactly those reasons. I look at my beautiful Eleanor every day and think, my God, what have I done? I’ve brought you here and you’re going to experience such harm and hurt someday as humans continue to ravage the planet’s resources and the planet reacts. But then I think how lucky I am to have her here so that I can teach her how to be a critical thinker and problem solver, and kind and compassionate (plus having one child felt better than two because two would only replace my husband and me, and at least one reduces the population a little). I don’t know. I wouldn’t change having her here FOR ANYTHING, but I’m TERRIFIED for what she’s going to have to deal with.

    • Olive says...

      Definitely not an irrational fear! It’s a topic I think about myself all the time, especially now that I’m in my 30s and ‘waiting for the world to get better’ is racing against the clock of biology. Honestly, at this point, we are pretty much at 1 child max, or very potentially none, because the kind of future we envision is not one that is fair to force on a human being.

      Minor comparison, but think about it this way – if you knew your company was laying people off, and there was a fair chance it might happen to you (and that you’d lose your home, stability, etc), would you say to yourself “Well, I’ve always wanted to get a dog, so I should just do it now and hope for the best”? Probably most people wouldn’t. But for some reason, many seem incapable of making that same connection – that it would be irresponsible, and potentially cruel – when it comes to kids. And hey, at least in the case of the dog, it already existed – you didn’t choose to *literally create* something that might suffer. But with the planet’s current trajectory? Massive devastating weather events, starvation, increasing violent conflict over limited resources, etc, I’m not sure how I could in good conscience decide to force that reality on someone who has no way to opt out of it. I imagine what it would be like to watch our family home burn to the ground after years of drought and deforestation and having my child ask me “Did you know that things were going to get bad like this?” and having to respond with “Yes”, because anything else would be a lie.

      Not being a parent would definitely make me sad. But having to blame myself every day and agonize over the world they’d be left with after I die? Worse. Also, since making more humans is *another* detrimental cause of climate change, it would compound every other living being’s suffering as well.

    • Emma says...

      Yep – 100% agree, turning 32 soon and my husband and I just can’t imagine bringing new life into this effed up world.

    • Francine says...

      Truly, I feel you. We had our daughter in 2016, and decided for her to be an only because of environmental impact of people in the developed world even before she was born. I feel that I would struggle even more today with that decision , and not sure that I would decide the same way.
      Would fostering or adoption (perhaps of an older or disabled child) be something that speaks to you? It would avoid the issue of putting a new human being into this world in turmoil, but of course each comes with its very own set of issues and challenges and is not an easy out.

    • C says...

      Same same same. I know part of it is that our generation is bombarded with news from all directions at all hours of the day, compared to previous generations, but I am also completely freaked out about potentially bringing a baby into this world!

    • Rusty says...

      They announced today on our national broadcaster (ABC Australia), that Koalas may be technically extinct after these fires.
      That kills me inside! ?

    • Meredith MC says...

      Previous generations overall didn’t feel this way- which is why they had huge families. My son is 27 years old. Knowing about the impact of population, we decided to stick with one, and it was the right choice for us. I would adore having grandchildren, but I also won’t blame my son if he decides not to bring kids into this world. It’s such a scary time and place, and there aren’t any answers that are convincingly hopeful.
      Your generation is taking the brunt of this now, but it will get worse before (and if, big if) it gets better. But there’s no way to know the future, and you only get to do this life thing once. Parenthood is like nothing else in human experience. I don’t want all of you to miss out on that.❤️

    • Kate says...

      Thank you all for the thoughtful responses!

      I’ve always imagined a big family, but one child would be so lovely as well!

      I’ve also considered adoption and have come so close to attending an info session in my area, but haven’t followed through. My husband isn’t as keen as I am, but I think he’d come around. Obviously not something that I’d ever want to force!

      Lately I’ve also been imagining life as an aunt (I am an aunt to my sister’s kiddo and many friend’s babes) without children of my own… In some ways it makes total sense and in some ways in makes me sad.

      I love the conversations on COJ and the kindness of the comments section! Thanks for inspiring this chat.

    • Valentina says...

      I have 2 little girls and I think there’s not even one day when I don’t think WHY OH WHY. I love them so, so much, and the only thing that I can do is raise them to be great people… But I totally understand your point. Probably if I was in your place today, I would be having the same feelings.

  16. Annie H. says...

    My boyfriend and I do “Vegan Monday.” Honestly, it’s a fun challenge and has opened us up to trying new foods and recipes. He is a vegetarian of 13 years (except for oysters and mussels, which filter the water and feel no pain), and I try to eat meat no more than one or two meals per week. I have low iron (even when eating meat), but I just take a supplement and am fine. Our goal is more vegan meals this year!

  17. Amelia says...

    Incredibly, incredibly grateful to see more climate content on Cup of Jo. Thank you! This ecological collapse truly is the bus heading straight for our children in the years ahead.
    I’m a vegetarian, but am personally most committed to “making a fuss” as this post says. The UN report of 2018 tells us saving ourselves from collapse requires transforming the world economy at a speed and scale that has “no documented historic precedent.”
    We need to be in the streets. We need to be making demands of our politicians and corporations as if our lives and the lives of our children depend on it, because they do.
    For anyone who is interested, this is a google doc I put together of resources for taking action on climate justice and staying informed. https://docs.google.com/document/d/17-Uw_sgxZ5BytaBAOhrEimaR8Z-F9EuFJg-Y0pC3iNw/edit?usp=sharing

    Lots of love to all in this fight.

  18. Andrea says...

    I often feel so alone in my concern for the climate crisis, as if I’m the only one of my friends who is actually concerned and trying to do her part. Reading these comments and seeing how many caring, involved individuals there are gives me hope. Thank you to all of you for eating fewer animal products, buying less stuff, biking, and all the other small actions you take. It makes a difference!

    • CS says...

      Thank you for this heartfelt comment, and all the beautiful comments here today, really. I am afraid of where things are heading, and it feels like we are on the cusp of something serious. But the comments here warm my heart, and maybe even give me hope.

  19. Jenna says...

    This beautiful article that was directed toward The Ellen Show after an uninformed ad by Ellen was made to eat less meat. In the article the cattle rancher Mom from South Dakota tackles common myths about the beef industry that unfortunately Ellen was unaware of when she spoke. She does a great job kindly explaining why we can’t eat our way out of climate change. She states: “If every American adopted in Meatless Mondays, U.S. GHG emissions would be reduced by just 0.37%. And if every American went vegan, U.S. GHG emissions would be just 2.6% lower”

    It’s a great read! https://www.beefmagazine.com/beef/ellen-degeneres-could-rancher-please-come-your-show

    • Hi Jenna, thanks for sharing this. I appreciate the tone the article (and your comment) is written in but I’m afraid I don’t think the article is very reliable. It has a lot of statistics in it, but no references to where those statistics came from. Her second point seems to suggest that if there were no cattle farms, then the environment would be worse off because they would be turned into ‘urban development’. This could be true for North American farms, but a huge amount of cattle are farmed in South America, where the Amazon rainforest is being systematically destroyed to provide more farmland. I think we can all agree that’s not good for the planet!

    • Rusty says...

      Everything must be taken with a pinch of salt.
      As we know, statistics can be skewed for either side of the argument. For my efforts, I look to the science. Quantifiable. Reproducable. Undeniable.

  20. Nur Azlin says...

    I love this! Every little acts counts. I’ve been trying to cut down on our meat for myself and my kids but it’s sooo difficult when you have 3 teenage and tween boys growing and so into this bulking up and becoming bigger. We’re Asians so we’re naturally smaller and sure takes a lot of protein to mass up. Nevertheless, I’ll do my part where I can. Though cutting down on dairy is slightly tougher…hmm ice-cream but there’s another good reason to cut down on it ☺️

    • Rusty says...

      You can have ice cream without cow’s milk.
      Research = answers.?

  21. Alex says...

    HELL YES TO THIS POST!!!

    We are currently doing at least one meatless meal a day + meatless Monday’s. I eliminated dairy from my diet when I was breastfeeding my youngest who had an allergy, and then I never went back. (Bonus – my skin looks the best it has in a decade!) Another thing to consider is where you get the meat you do eat. Buy from local, small farms as much as you can to reduce the emissions from big farming and transporting.
    Beyond Meat is a great company with Delicious plant-based “substitutes”.
    We also take public transit and drive a fully electric car.

  22. Martha says...

    Two things I consider most important for a sustainable diet:
    Source as much of your food locally as possible. Small scale producers are usually more sustainably run and kinder to the land and their animals than large factory farms.
    Speak up to your elected officials regarding sustainable food policy–individual actions at home are important, but so are our collective voices.
    One good resource for both recipes and policy is at http://www.foodprint.org

  23. Tia says...

    Read all the way through and was disappointed. I expected to see some recipes! :( Already on board and looking to learn from those who have been down the path before.

    • Agnes says...

      There are so many vegan websites offering recipes online.. check out Deliciously Ella! :)

  24. Jill says...

    Yes! As Julia said below, we need to elect people who support climate change! VOTE.

  25. Jill says...

    I disagree with the need to eat less meat. Maybe diary is good to eliminate because its inflammatory. Generally farming practices need to be changed and the sheer waste of food. Dumpsters are filled with food gone off.

    I think the biggest culprits in carbon are: transporting crappy goods from halfway across the planet, flying around like maniacs, the industrial farming process (small farms are way better), making and using plastics-crappy kids toys and crappy fast fashion accessories (DID YOU KNOW PLASTIC IS MADE FROM FOSSIL FUELS?? NOBODY SEEMS TO KNOW THIS. Think of all the plastic around you), the entire center food aisles are filled with processed crap that will make you feel like garbage and definitely created carbons during the creation of weird frankenfoods.

    Go vegan, but I do not doubt a vast amount of those eating just plants will feel unwell in a few years.

    • Liz says...

      These are also big problems, but the largest carbon contributors for the average person are meat/dairy and travel choices (plane travel, driving every day etc). What are your sources for the above? Are these just your feelings?
      We are in a climate crisis, but too many people are in denial and don’t want to look at the facts. The science is clear, it is time to act on known facts for future generations. It is NOT the time to tell ourselves stories so we can sleep at night. Or continue to spread false information or opinions as fact. Many corporations and a handful of “scientists” have done for decades and continue until this day and it should not be tolerated any more.

    • isabelle says...

      You…..disagree with facts?

      In any case, very few individuals have the power to instantly transform large-scale farming practices or eliminate CAFOs altogether. Our best bet is to vote with our dollars, so you’d be better off educating yourself and changing your own habits rather than sharing unfounded opinions and cynicism.

    • Constance says...

      Hi Jill. I’m 24 and made the decision to be vegan 11 years ago. It’s true that one can still be malnourished on a vegan diet, but if you do a little research and make sure to hit the different food groups, you’re good to go.
      The industry practices that you think are the biggest culprits (food transport) are in fact not- supply chains account for 18% of fossil fuel emissions in the food industry. Livestock and fisheries are the biggest contributors at 31% + 6% for production of crops for animal feed + 16% for land use. It took me a few minutes to find this data online (Our World of Data, run by Oxford).
      There are definitely many ways to lower our impact on the environment, and reducing meat and dairy intake may not be for everyone, but it’s good to be educated about it anyway! Especially with so much at stake.

    • Meli says...

      Hi Jill,
      you make a very important point about wasting food and farming practices. Just thinking about how perfectly fine fruit and vegetables never make it to the supermarket because the look/form doesn’t fit the norm (e.g. funnily share carrots)! Or dirty farming practices – from the maltreatment of animals to harmful and toxic fertilizers!

      Nonetheless, I encourage you to review your doubts about how trying to cut meat or even to go meat-free will make an impact. As Linsey says in her article:
      “According to the Worldwatch Institute, livestock are responsible for 51% of annual global emissions — more than all cars, planes, buildings, power plants and industry combined.” Consuming less or no meat will thus directly have an impact .

    • Vanessa says...

      I agree utterly Jill, meat and animal fats are important to the body and skipping them for tall sugary drinks and a handful of processed food seems to lead to anxiety and ill health.

    • Kristen says...

      Agree! Found this to be an excellent read on the topic: https://www.westonaprice.org/book-reviews/the-vegetarian-myth-by-lierre-keith/

      In short/the upshot: everyone–yep, even vegans–has blood on their hands. It’s part of what it means to be a human who eats food. Vegans decry animal death but turn a blind eye (or don’t think about) the animal and plant life lost when prairie ecosystems are devastated by monocrops like the soy and corn so many veg diets rely upon. And many people feel better physically with meat in their diets–not everyone, but many. And feeling good/strong is key to doing good social justice work in the world, so.

      I think most ppl can agree that factory farming is godawful, but small sustainable farms are a beautiful thing (that I do realize the issues with given our ever-increasing population and the lack of access/unaffordability of quality meats for the vast majority of humans).

    • CS says...

      You make some excellent points. All those things you called out (crappy plastic toys and nicknacks, and processed over-packaged foods!…) are a huge part of the problem, and something we should all be focusing on reducing! However, the science is clear that eating less meat would also help the environmental situation improve. So, whichever path a person focuses on – less meat or less plastic junk (or reduce both, even better), you will be making a change for the better.

    • Madeleine says...

      But the article didn’t suggest we go vegan. It suggested we reduce our meat and dairy intake. Personally I aim to eat wholefoods as much as possible, including high quality ethically sourced meat from local producers. Eating LESS meat means I can afford to buy better quality and support local, regenerative farmers. I appreciate the meat I do eat more, and use it fully — eg making my own stock from bones. The data is clear about the impact meat-based diets have on the planet, but contributing to the solution doesn’t have to mean eliminating it entirely. Rethinking the role meat plays in our diet is an incredible opportunity to support the small farmers actively helping regenerate the planet.

    • Rusty says...

      As humans, our bodies have not evolved differently to what they were tens of thousands of years ago (Australian Aboriginals 40-60,000 year old, living, culture!). Our minds and technology is another story – and no, our brains are not better because of meat. Many of the brainiacs of the past were vegetarian! Don’t believe me? Google it. Boom! ☺
      However, back then, as in many cultures today (think Hindu, Buddhist, many Asian cultures), meat was not a thing. If it was or is ever eaten it meant a once every few months or so feast. Not nightly, or even weekly.
      Saying humans will be unwell if they do not eat meat is simply untrue and (without prejudice), a little naiive and ignorant.

    • Amanda W. says...

      Respectfully, Jill, my husband and I have been vegan for nearly 14 years and we feel great. We get our levels checked every year during our physicals. We are both in our 40s, and come from families where cancer, diabetes, and heart disease are prevalent. Our B12, calcium — all the things we’re supposed to be lacking in a vegan diet — all come back normal. Our physician comments all the time how she wishes all of her patients were vegan because she knows the benefits.

  26. Whitney says...

    Thanks for this! You guys are the best! I committed to having one meal a geek vegetarian. I need to get my husband on board that their are better option than meat to eat at every meal and feel like this is an easy way to do it. Then I will gradually make more and more meals meatless as the time goes on. However I love all the other ideas on how to make out how more carbon zero!

  27. Anne says...

    Almost 20 years ago I read the book Fast Food Nation and it changed my life – and my husband’s too because we became vegetarians. We had been having meatless meals a few times a week anyway so the change wasn’t too difficult. There are so many other delicious things to eat! I’d encourage everyone to at least cut back on their meat eating for humane reasons and to help the climate.

  28. Kate says...

    I recently undertook a working holiday, working in the food a beverage department of a 5 star hotel. The food waste I saw was phenomenal! That was a wake up call for me! Combined with the fact that the rate of pay meant I wasn’t able to eat as well as I would at home, I adopted a vegetarian diet while I was there.
    It was actually fun challenging myself to come up with vegetarian meal ideas on a very tight budget and with little resources (while living in staff accomodation, akin to university dorm situation) I’ve brought back many great recipes I came up with and still eat little to no meat now I’m home. It’s simple if you approach it the right way :)

  29. Erin says...

    I loved this post! Last year, my new year’s goal was to learn how to make a few vegan meals for dinners. I started with Pinch of Yum’s vegan crunchwrap supreme and loved it. For me, shifting in baby steps toward exploring vegan cooking made reducing my meat and dairy intake feel less daunting. I focused less on how I was taking something out of my diet and more on the new recipes that I was adding in and the new cooking methods and ingredients that I was learning how to use. Eating a more plant-based diet feels easier this year.

    Also, I know somebody else commented that the 51% figure cited in this article is too high. The FAO estimates that total emissions from global livestock accounts for 14.5% of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. Still not great (and still definitely worth tackling through a plant-based diet if possible) but not quite as eyebrow-raising-ly high as 51%. Might be worth the CoJ folks double checking that statistic, or if somebody else with better knowledge of livestock emissions estimates could weigh in?

    • Hailey says...

      I think the 51% is the total not just directly from livestock, but from the whole chain of industry behind it. First you grow the plants, burn gas to power the tractors, etc., harvest the grain, process it, transport it, then feed the animals, etc. etc. It all adds up!

    • Jen says...

      Agree!

    • Rusty says...

      It’s also to do with how much water it takes to grow an animal and its food, so it can be killed so a human can eat it, because they like the flavor.
      Water, land degradation, power, fuel, the list goes on.
      Why are they raping the Amazon? To grow cows so people can eat them. ? Think about it. It doesn’t just arrive, plastic wrapped in the supermarket. Duh.

  30. Rachel says...

    Yes! Yes! Yes! This echoes the points in “One Meal a Day.” If you can’t go cold turkey, try one meal a day. That can be as simple as a pbj sandwich with fruit for lunch or granola with almond milk for breakfast. It’s do-able!

  31. Lauren says...

    Love this post and reading through the comments. As a life-long meat eater until recently, I’ve found it helpful to focus on flavors that are rich and satisfying rather than the “protein” of the meal. For example, ingredients like miso, smoked paprika, and chiles in adobo all add so much depth to a non-meat dish.

    My family also LOVES Jenny’s miso butter tofu recipe. When it cooks on its own in the oven, it gets a meatier texture (we roast a lot of veggies with our meals but I think they create too much steam in the oven for this recipe).

    • Rusty says...

      Muso = Umami = everything tastes better with it, it’s extra protein, delicious and good for you!
      Yes, yes, yes!

  32. Edwina says...

    Thanks for the post CoJ! Long term vegan here — just wanted to share one of my favourite recipes, a delicious kale salad by Angela of Oh She Glows. I never really enjoyed kale until I started making this salad and it is honestly so good. I end up eating it with toast for breakfast the next day — and all my non-vegan friends make it too. Cranberries, roasted pecans, lemony goodness, oh my!

    https://ohsheglows.com/2013/11/25/the-best-shredded-kale-salad/

    • Laura says...

      Officially making this for dinner tonight- sounds yum! Thanks for sharing :)

  33. Just wanna say HELL YES to this content from CoJ! More, please!
    I first heard the term “Eco Anxiety” when the last wildfires were raging and it has hit hard again recently with all of the scary images and stories coming out of Australia. I want to believe we’re leaving a healthy planet for the younger generations but I feel overwhelmingly as though we’re only going to be leaving them a legacy of massive, perhaps irreparable damage (both our planet and our political systems). Learning about what we can DO has been helping that anxiety this week.

    When my kids grow up and inevitably ask what WE did to combat this huge issue of our time I want to be able to face them and answer them with confidence that we fought for it. So more climate change content, pretty please!

  34. Katherine says...

    Thank you for this post! Cutting back on meat and dairy is one of the best things we can do.

  35. Marie-Eve says...

    I am so grateful for this post. As an enviromental biologist, I am very discouraged at the state of our planet. Its time to act and not wait on governments to do something for climate chang. Lobbies are so powerful, so I personaly don’t count on our leaders to reduce carbon emissions and such with politics or laws. Anyway, I think this is an amazing challenge. Humans beings are so resilient and adaptable, and there are so many vegetarian amazing recipes out there… Thank you so much for sharing this!! I am obviously taking the challenge. We are already pretty much vegetarian but we will cut back even more.

  36. Robin says...

    Yes! I’ve been vegetarian for years, for personal reasons (I looked at a table full of fried chicken and couldn’t see anything other than dead animals and never managed to switch back). But I’ve always eaten a lot of dairy, and this year I’m trying to cut back, and to shift my meat loving kids a little to more veg. This is the year of beans!!

  37. Megan says...

    Project Drawdown has a nice summary table climate solutions. Plant based eating is #4. Here is the chart. The more we can all educate ourselves and act and lead by example (and not be afraid to tell others–people genuinely want to know!) the better we can solve our climate crisis. Humans are strong and powerful and smart! We can be a force for good.
    https://www.drawdown.org/solutions-summary-by-rank

  38. Susie says...

    Thank you for posting more about what we can all do to combat climate change. This is real and it’s going to impact us in our lifetimes. I shudder to think about the impact in our children’s and grandchildren’s lives. I would be interested in any and all ideas, so more content like this please!

  39. Nina says...

    If this represents a new direction in Cup of Jo’s output for this new year, I am sooo happy about it! My family’s been vegetarian/pescatarian since the early ’80s. We don’t eat many (or in my case any) processed ‘meat substitutes’ (veggie burgers, sausages, fake bacon, etc), and instead rely on naturally vegetarian foods like beans, lentils, nuts, sometimes tofu. I recommend looking to India/South Asia where there have been many people following vegetarian and vegan diets for centuries – it’s not a new idea! Madhur Jaffrey’s classic Indian Vegetarian Cookbook is a great place to start.

    • Rusty says...

      Yes, because (again), so much of these pretend meatish foods have egg in them and use heaps of water and power to process. Sometimes, the food value that is left is negligible.

  40. This is SO WELL WRITTEN. And urgently needed. For religious reasons I grew up without meat or dairy half of the year, but slowly we’ve moved to eating less and less meat over time. I think it’s important for people to realize anything you can do to help makes a difference, so if you can’t commit to cutting out meat entirely, even reducing your intake by a day or two can have implications on your health and the health of the planet. This is one of the biggest public health emergencies of the decade, and I’m so glad to see the CoJ team use their platform to publicize this important issue.

  41. Jacie says...

    Good article! Well written. Completely agree with Jenny. As an alternative to cutting out meat and dairy entirely, I would like to suggest supporting reliable family operated beef and dairy ranchers as well. Growing up in rural Idaho, I witnessed firsthand that most ranchers love and respect their land and animals. In some cases, these ranchers were the first “environmentalists” of their time. Grass fed beef and dairy is healthy and supports local ranchers and the community. Thank you!

    • Anna says...

      Yes! We have bought a quarter cow from a local rancher the past few years. Grass-fed and humanely raised, just down the street.

    • Rusty says...

      Water.
      Land degradation.
      Water.

  42. Amelia Conlen says...

    Thanks for this! For future posts I’d suggest info on biking for transportation, especially family biking. This is another crucial step we can all take to reduce emissions, even if it’s just for some of your shorter trips.

    • Amy says...

      Yes! My husband bikes 25-30km per day for work. We intentionally live in walking distance to our kids’ school. We don’t bike all the time, but we make an effort to bike for groceries, or to church, or to the park rather than defaulting to driving.

      We’re omnivores and I doubt we’ll go vegetarian for a long time, but we get our milk from a small local dairy in glass bottles from cows with a grass-based diet (full disclosure: it’s my parents farm and I work for them haha!) and over the last couple years, we’ve been subbing in chickpeas for chicken and lentils for beef in various dishes (sometimes just a 50/50 sub).

  43. One important step in the right direction when we eat meat or dairy is to focus on PASTURE-RAISED or GRASS FED which nourishes the soil which in turn sequesters carbon. This is called regenerative agriculture. Extra points for buying locally-raised meat / dairy.

    • Kate says...

      Love this, Martha. A well managed pasture (or a diversified organic vegetable farm) can be a great carbon sink.

  44. Courtney says...

    This month, my husband and I are doing a cleanse where we only eat soup for a week (from our favorite local place, Soupergirl! they deliver nationwide!). They’re all vegan, really tasty and healthy, and it’s a way to get back to eating healthy food, less sugar, and also eat less meat. That’s on of my longer-term health goals for the year–we don’t eat beef and do eat 1-3 meatless meals a week, but we could do more. I need to look into meat alternatives. I don’t like tofu but we all like beans and there are some “fake” meats that we honestly could probably substitute without even noticing. I don’t think we’ll ever be totally meat-free (and definitely not cheese-free), but we can certainly do better.

  45. Nairika says...

    CupofJo, I’ve been reading your blog for 6 years now, and this is the best post I’ve ever seen. It brought me to tears: Our house is on fire, and it’s time we each take real measures to act. It’s hard to change quickly and make new habits, so I love Linsey’s approach to set realistic, baby step goals each week, that make us more responsible stewards of our environment. I also love that she’s taken a fact-based and science-driven approach to figuring out what actions REALLY have impact, rather than what actions FEEL good. Cutting out meat and dairy is second only to taking less airplane travel, and followed closely by composting. If you’re looking for small steps to reduce your carbon impact here’s some ideas:
    – Planning travel? Take the train or car instead of your next flight! A short flight produces more CO2 than many people do in a full year in developing countries.
    – Buy a small compost bin and put your food scraps in. There’s free drop offs weekly at your farmer’s market!
    – Opening up Uber or Lyft? Take the metro, or opt for the “pool” option to share your car with a neighbor.
    – About to go grocery shopping? Cut out one or two meals that have meat this week. Perhaps a family “Meatless Monday” commitment is in order?
    – Grabbing salsa or fruit? Opt for unpackaged options – they are fresher and reduce plastic trash that’s going straight to your landfill.
    – Spread the word: Use your next dinner party, family gathering, or school potluck to talk about your choice to cook a veggie dish, or cook foods not wrapped in plastic.
    – Putting money in your 401k this month? Buy a green ETF – they perform on par with other investment options, but do not include common investments in oil and gas, fracking, and other companies that do harm.

    Lots of love,
    Nairika
    Director of Strategy @ Global Environmental Nonprofit

    • Alex says...

      I never heard of an ETF. Looking into it right away. Thanks!

    • Aimee Rowland says...

      Thank you, Nairika!! This was such a helpful post. @CupofJo can you please highlight this comment in your weekly wrap up?

    • Rusty says...

      Love your thoughtful and well informed comment!❤

  46. Charlotte says...

    I was so thankful to be given “Vegan Cuisine” by Jean Christian Jury this holiday season. It is a TOME of gorgeous, restaurant worthy plant-based recipes. I’m a good cook and have been vegan for a few years but have always fallen back on the same staple meals. This book has been a game changer! So many new flavors and ways of approaching a meal. If you’re someone who enjoys cooking and looking to expand your plant-based options, I highly recommend it. “Vegan Cuisine” (with the leek on the cover) is his more expensive book, but “Vegan – The Cookbook”, is more budget friendly and also pretty good.

    Also, on the not making a fuss point– I get it. When I’m a guest at someone’s home I graciously say I’m a vegetarian, because people tend to find it easier to make a vegetarian side or main than a vegan one. So that’s the balance I’ve struck– vegan when I eat out and when I eat at home, vegetarian at others’ homes. It seems to work fine. Also, as someone who has not eaten meat for roughly the last 15 years, it is SO much more widely accepted now than it used to be. I know it depends on where you live, but for me, public acceptance has expanded significantly in the last five years or so, and I live in steak-centric Montana!

    • Hannah says...

      Love this post, especially your approach re making a fuss; also, always happy to find another vegan/vegetarian in Montana!

  47. Thank you for this post! Our family made a 2020 resolution to cut out beef entirely and eat only one meal of meat (mostly chicken) per week. After pledging to become carbon neutral now with the UN ( https://unfccc.int/climate-action/climate-neutral-now/i-am-a-citizen), we are also in the midst of developing a detailed accounting of our household’s carbon emissions from last year and setting a goal to reduce it further this year. Just like a financial budget.
    If there are folks out there wanting to do more, I’ve compiled a list of ways to become carbon neutral today on my website http://reflectionsonwater.org/climateneutralnow . I wanted a place to share with family and friends tips and tricks, since I’ve spent hundreds of hours researching this topic and want to make easier for others. We can do this people!

  48. Kath says...

    I’m sorry CoJ team but your 51% figure is grossly incorrect. Global livestock emissions (direct and indirect) are actually around 14.5% – a figure backed by the EPA, FAO, etc. The WorldWatch Institute report is not peer reviewed and their methodology is questionable at best. Transportation, industry, electricity production, etc., all account for far more of GHG emissions. Coal, oil, and natural gas are still the biggest problems. (Sources: https://theconversation.com/yes-eating-meat-affects-the-environment-but-cows-are-not-killing-the-climate-94968 and https://blog.ucsusa.org/doug-boucher/cowspiracy-movie-review)

    That being said, I do admire everyone’s commitment to reducing our carbon footprint but we have to push the conversation to accountability from the biggest offenders: the world’s elite. We need to ignore oil, coal, and natural gas defenders and make our votes count so we can transition to greener infrastructure, etc.

    • Sandra says...

      I love fact-checking! I have been a vegetarian for over 30 years and even I was like, wait, is that true????

    • JAM says...

      Amen

    • Kelsi says...

      Yes! Our biggest push this year (among all of us lowering our footprint with baby steps at home) should be to VOTE and loudly call on our neighbors and family members to VOTE for the future. It’s time to be that annoying SJW cousin if you aren’t already.

      Also, we need to collectively be mindful of the food scraps we throw away. Get a kitchen composter if you don’t already have one. Eat your leftovers. Methane-producing rotting food buried in landfills could be turned into sweet, sweet soil instead.

    • Eva says...

      Thanks for calling out the Worldwatch Institute stat, Kath. That raised flags for me (particularly the inclusion of “and industry” ..?) and a cursory search of the self-proclaimed “think tank” left me super suspicious.

      And cheers all around to the rest of your comment!

      COJ team: please issue a correction!

  49. Erin Close says...

    For the next installment – it would be meaningful if you addressed the fact that we, as Americans, buy too much stuff for it to be sustainable. Fast fashion and the beauty industry are huge contributors to climate change – from single use plastics, to textile waste, to synthetic fabric that releases microplastics into our air and water – we need to hold brands accountable (including those fast fashion and beauty companies that sponsor/are advertised on this blog) for making fewer, longer-lasting things.

    • Sandra says...

      YES! I want to go back to living like my grandparents did…natural fibers and fewer, high-quality items. But I can’t seem to find them anywhere. Even the higher-priced stuff isn’t great. I would gladly pay a hefty price tag for wool sweaters that were as good as J. Crew used to be in the 1990s.

    • Erin Close says...

      Sandra – @ajabarber is an incredible resource (her IG was hacked last week so she is not on there right now, but she has a Patreon where she shares her thoughts on specific brands), and I find goodonyou.com pretty helpful (as it rates brands on sustainability regarding both the environment AND labor practices) – it’s introduced me to a bunch of new brands. I also like Amour Vert, Nisolo, Winter Water Factory, and 2nd hand is always sustainable! Pretty obsessed with Thredup and Poshmark and local consignment stores :) Girlfriend Collective also sells a microfiber filter that attaches to your washer drain and allows you to help do your part keeping microplastics out of the water supply (feels like a drop in the ocean – pun intended – but makes me feel better)

  50. Sadie says...

    I’m trying to stop buying stuff online because of the carbon emissions of air shipping and I am shocked at how hard it has been.

    • Erin close says...

      The research on this is actually really interesting (and more complex than I was expecting) – if you pick slower shipping, and do not return large quantities of things, it can be better carbon-footprint-wise to order online instead of drive from store to store.

    • Amy says...

      Oh Erin! Thank you! I live in a small town and there is very little shopping beyond Walmart, Target, and fast fashion. Even food choices are limited. I do rely on online shopping and feel so guilty. Your comment gives me hope!

  51. Julia says...

    Yes this is great but also we need to ELECT PEOPLE who support action on climate change. Local, state, and federal levels.

    • Kelsi says...

      Hallelujah!

    • Allison says...

      YES!!!

  52. Chloe says...

    Yes!! I am so encouraged and enthusiastic about this. I resonated with so much of what you wrote. I accidentally became vegan for an intersection of personal health, breastfeeding constraints (babe was very allergic to dairy) but stayed vegan for ecological and environmental reasons. The toxic waste that animal agriculture produces impCts the poorest and most vulnerable communities, as well — it has become a feminist and classism issue for me, as well. I’m privileged to be able to avoid certain things and choose for myself, so I feel compelled to make choices that alleviate human suffering as much as possible, short and long-term.

  53. Sabrina says...

    I love this idea, but what about the people who cannot eat grains or legumes? I know a couple of people with autoimmune disease and only a Paleo diet allows them to live a normal life, outside of hospitals and medication. What about the children with epilepsy who are put on a Keto diet and see their attacks cut in half? It’s not so simple.

    • Sloan says...

      I understand completely, but this is a small percentage of the population. If the majority of us can make a shift, we can make a tremendous impact.

    • NH observer says...

      If you fall into those categories, obviously you have to follow the dictates of your medical requirements. However, for the vast majority of people, it’s a choice.

    • I agree, but I don’t think anyone is asking people to forego their health. If those who are able to reduce their meat and dairy intake do, it would make a massive change. Those who aren’t able to can be saved by those who ARE (kinda like vaccines). For many of us who don’t have any intolerances or health restrictions in our family, it IS simple. If it isn’t simple for your family, you can always find other ways to make a difference, like reducing plastic waste or purchasing what you can at zero-waste stores or riding your bike to work.

      If we all just do what we’re able to do within our own families, think of the magnitude of the change we’d still achieve – all of us together!

    • Natalie says...

      Yes! I would actually love to be vegetarian. I do not have a hard time cutting out meat and I love the financial benefits as well because meat is the most expensive part of our grocery list. However, I have an auto immune disease and the only diet that has helped is a version of paleo called auto-immune paleo. It involves eating a lot of vegetable, yes, but also a lot of animal products (whole chickens, homemade bone broth, grass fed beef, etc.) Really genuinely curious what the response would be to this dilemma! I know there are a lot of people with health issues that benefit from this type of diet.

    • Charlie says...

      Sabrina, There’s lots of ways to make a meat-free diet work. And there’s lots of ways to be more sustainable in our lives and consumption than we currently are. We have a responsibility to do so, for the sake of our planet. Those of us living in developed countries created this problem: we are responsible for the fires, climate refugees, drought, and famine that we saw in today’s news, caused by climate change. It’s time to act. I’m done listening to excuses. As folks in Australia are being burned alive, and sub-Saharan Africa experiences a climate-driven famine this year, the least we can do is adjust our diet, compost, and cut back on car/plane use. It’s time to stop making excuses and stop putting the “convenience” of “first world problems” above the lives of others.

    • Kara says...

      Then it’s even more important for those of us who can make these dietary changes to do so! It’s like herd immunity with vaccinations; we protect those who cannot get vaccinations for health-/age-related reasons by getting them ourselves if our health or age allows us to. Those of us that can are helping make an impact for everyone, including those who can’t.

    • Rachel says...

      Health comes first. They need to eat what they need to eat, even if that’s meat. If possible, they can therefore look to other ways to help – like only buy second hand clothing, compost etc. To me, it’s similar to why we must vaccinate if we’re healthy. We help protect those who, by no fault of their own, can’t.

    • Folks should definitely prioritize their health when it comes to nutrition. However, if your budget allows, you can always support more sustainable farms that use biodiversity and humane methods. The big polluter when it comes to animal husbandry are CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations), which is where big box grocery store usually get their meat. See if instead you can get your meat from your local farms market, or find a small local farm to support. If you have a garage where you can fit a freezer, you could look around locally to purchase a quarter or a half of an animal from a small farm for a cost savings.

      I grew up in a household where we raised our own cattle for our own food but also to sell to other families. We only had a handful of cows at a time and we raised them kindly. I remember picking them out when they were calves and bottle feeding them. We even grew their hay on an adjacent field. And while I was heartbroken at one point when I realized my friends in the field were also on our plate, in hindsight it was a huge gift. I knew where my food came from. And we loved those animals and it turn they literally fed us and helped support our family financially.

      CAFOs are a relatively new way of raising animals for meat and they are the destructive part of the process. Old school farming is much kinder on the animals as well as the environment.

  54. Abbie Patterson says...

    My husband read Greta’s essays and it was (gasp, a man who would happily eat meat alone for every meal) his idea for us to give up cow entirely for the month of January to start. It quickly changed to beef, dairy being so so so so so much harder, but I love the idea of small improvements toward a more drastic goal. We can all do this!

    • It was my husband’s idea first, too! I was shocked. We stopped buying meat at home over a year ago after the last climate change report and we’re surprised by how easy it’s been. Milk has been an easy substitute too as there are so many different alternatives readily available. I also have made all of my regular baking vegan with zero problems – lots of substitutions to choose from there as well! Our Last Frontier is CHEESE. Vegan cheese is even more expensive than cow’s milk cheese and my kids are cheese fiends! But we’re doing our best to reduce it and keep it as a treat.

  55. Megan says...

    Thank you! Love this post.
    For more climate change information, there is a book called Drawdown, edited by Paul Hawken. It details different ways (consulted by scientists!) our communities and industries can start reversing the amount of greenhouse gases we put into the atmosphere. It’s beautifully written and has gorgeous photos.

    • I second this- Drawdown is awesome! Also available on audible.

  56. Mims says...

    Another great resource: https://us.veganuary.com/
    Signing up for their vegan challenge is a good motivator: recipes, encouragement, real life stories. Every little bit helps!

  57. Hilary says...

    We have been 80% vegetarians for many years, but 100% vegetarian for the last few weeks. I’m also doing what I call “the sneaky vegan” and just making our regular meals with vegan subs and my husband hasn’t said a thing :) He’s on board with eating more plant-based, but for whatever reason the word ‘vegan’ is a trigger for him and others.

    We also visit the zero waste shop, wrap things in reusable containers, banned saran wrap from our home and installed a smart thermostat. Little efforts, day by day!

    • Yes, why is the word such a trigger?
      I’ve also found that there’s a huge difference for me between “vegan” and “plant-based” food. Vegan to me is about what you’re not eating, about the absence of meat, dairy, etc and what you’re excluding from your diet. I mean, oreos are vegan and there’s a ton of vegan junk food out there. So just because something doesnt have meat, dairy, or animal byproducts doesn’t make it healthy. In our fam we’re focusing on going more plant-based – eating more fruits and vegetables rather than just subbing meat for similar processed junk. It’s been a fun and educational way to learn more about food! And surprisingly not too difficult considering I have a 1 and 3 yr old to cook for. But the V-WORD is a big trigger though, haha. I think people associate a certain lifestyle with the v-word.

  58. Thanks so much for sharing this! Such a great way to start acting immediately on the most pressing issue of our time. For more on the topic, check out Global Greengrants Fund, an organization that supports local activists worldwide working to address environmental and social justice issues, including climate change, in their communities and having major success. They recently published this blog post on ways to act on climate in 2020: https://www.greengrants.org/2020/01/07/climate-action-in-2020-what-to-do-now/

    • Charlotte Bennett says...

      Done! Signed up from the UK. Thank you.

  59. Shannon says...

    I just made this recipe and it is delightful:
    https://elavegan.com/easy-lentil-stew-mashed-potatoes-vegan/

    Another thing- I think it’s really important to be better with waste reduction, but it’s equally if not more important to proactively CREATE technology that: redistributes resources, protects land, transforms waste to resources, and delivers environmental equity to climate refugees. Humans have been innovative in solving smaller scale problems throughout history- but the energy and ingenuity we need to protect the climate can’t come only through restraint. We need to *build* and incentivize large-scale, clean, innovative solutions.

    This article gave me goosebumps and a new resolve. I had NO IDEA that meat waste takes such an immense toll on the earth. Thanks Linsey Laidlaw.

    • Rusty says...

      Humans have become so, so lazy!
      Think “Wall-E” (I’m sure I spelled that movie title incorrectly! Humble apologies.)

  60. Annie says...

    Last year our family had a goal of one vegetarian dinner a week, this year our goal is two! Our kids sure keep us accountable, they always ask “what’s our vegetarian meal this week!” I have a list of vegetarian recipes on my phone so I can easily plan those 2 meals! Here’s my list if it helps anyone else out!

    butternut squash lasagne
    roasted sweet potato and egg quinoa bowls
    grilled cheese and tomato soup
    veggie spaghetti
    black bean/mushroom quesadillas
    black bean posole/soup
    veggie burgers
    veggie nachos
    rice noodles with veggies, egg and peanut sauce
    mushroom onion balsamic flatbreads
    pesto pasta
    chipotle rice and beans with cilantro and avocado
    eggs and veggie hash browns
    thai curry coconut pumpkin soup
    egg salad sandwiches
    veggie fried rice

    • Charlie says...

      Wow I love this list! Thank you for sharing!

    • Angela says...

      I found this so helpful i took a screenshot! We (or rather I) consciously started doing tomato soup and grilled cheese regularly and recently scrambled eggs and black bean breakfast tacos. Thanks for some other great suggestions! These sound doable and not too offensive for my carnivorous family.

    • Kelly says...

      Thank you!! Great ideas and very accessible to those of us beginning our plant-based journeys!

  61. Joanna R says...

    Longtime vegetarian here. No offense intended, but I find a lot of the recipe sites directed towards vegans and vegetarians boring.
    I instead flock to popular sites (NYTimes Recipes, SmittenKitchen, Bon Appetit) and look at the non-meat recipes or simply omit the meat in whatever recipe looks good.
    Also, Thai + Indian recipes… so good and so many options! And soups! Kids love most of these, I just dial back the spices when called for.

    • Kylee says...

      I feel it’s not so much the meat, but the production methods that are the problem. Mass farming of grain fed cows is hugely resource draining. Small farms with pasture grazed cows produce significantly less methane, and are beneficial for soil health and insect life.
      Vegetables produced on an industrial scale are also resource wasteful and nutrient poor (compared to pre world war 2 vegetables, after which was the start of fertilizer production). It also reduces the soil to dirt, with minimal insect life, earth worms, and good bacterial growth.
      There’s a wonderful book, Wilding by Isabella Tree which follows the return of her family farm to a natural wild state – fascinating ecologically and environmentally.
      Of course I applaud all our efforts to help rescue this poor groaning world, but I think there is a lot to think about even with vegetarianism about how our food is grown, and what nutrients are in these vegetables (or not!) and how they get there.

  62. Sarah says...

    I thought that Safran Foer’s book “Eating Animals” was an even more impactful argument against meat and dairy products. I really felt that it was a water-tight argument, and reading it was what finally made me change my meat-eating ways!

    A vegan Trader Joe’s meal hack that I’ve been making is gnocchi and spinach wilted into tomato soup. Yum!

  63. Meghan says...

    I was a vegetarian for 8 years, vegan for 2, and have recently returned to grass fed-beef and free-run eggs and chickens fed an omnivorous diet on the farm where I live & work.

    I noticed some people asking for cookbook suggestions and thought I’d share a few that have been loyal companions.

    Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and In my Kitchen by Deborah Madison
    Oh She Glows by Angela Kinsey
    The Modern Cooks Year by Anna Jones
    Isa Does it (great weeknight meals!) by Isa Chandra Moscowitz
    and we just picked up Ultimate Veg by Jamie Oliver and it looks very promising!
    Plenty & Plenty More by Ottolenghi

    I will also encourage folks with financial means to enroll in a CSA program from ecological farms such as the one that I work for. These farmers are really walking the walk when it comes to sequestering carbon!

  64. Kendra says...

    My family and I decided this New Years that we will reduce our red meat consumption to once a month. And the red meat we eat will come from local sustainable and trusted farmers whose farms are benefiting the planet (not taking from it). Additionally, our other meat (i.e. chicken) will also come from local farms. I love that a lot of these changes were your kids ideas – maybe there is hope yet!

  65. Lindsey says...

    Love this post! My husband and I are doing a vegetarian January, just for health and economy reasons (our grocery bill for the week was $75 this week…that’s like going out to eat and each having a drink one time!!). But we’ve both been commenting on how good we feel, and how easy it’s been. I had also read Foer’s book at the end of last year, and I appreciated his statement that reducing meat and dairy is the easiest thing we can do *right now* to begin effecting change. While it’s one of four major things that need to happen on a collective scale he talks about, he also points out that there are some things that need to happen on a structural, global level, and people want to start now and make an actual difference. Choosing a vegetarian or dairy free meal is something you can do today.

    While I’m not sure I could go full vegan (and I don’t think I’d want to…I do fully believe in and support small farmers who ethically treat, care for, and process animals and animal products), I’ve been thinking that it would be really easy to treat meat as a special treat. What if I ate vegetarian at home, and only had meat when I dined out? Something for me to think about. But for now, I’m really enjoying re-discovering just how good vegetables and whole foods can taste.

  66. C says...

    My 2018 resolution was to only eat meat on weekends, and I’m still going strong! Knowing that if I still really want a burger on Friday, I can have one, does wonders. It also means I basically never eat mediocre chicken breast, and my life is much better for it.

    • Courtney says...

      I love this comment and think it is a great idea I might need to steal :)

  67. Angela Liddon author of Oh She Glows is all you need. First cookbook is my favourite.

  68. SG says...

    I think this is a great post. I love how Linsey approaches this topic. Thank you for bringing awareness to how individuals can make better choices regarding consumption.

    I worry about anemia in young kids who go 100% vegetarian, though. My sister, my cousin, myself, and my daughter have all been vegetarians at times (half still are) and have all experienced anemia. I would be interested in hearing thoughts from the dieticians and doctors in the room. : ) From a health perspective, is there a baseline of meat that kids need nutritionally, or not?

    • Kamina says...

      Hi SG!

      From the position paper of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on Vegetarian/Vegan Diets (2016):

      “It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes.” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27886704)

      I was raised on a 100% plant-based (vegan) diet from birth (I’m 31 now). My mother is a dietitian specialising in plant-based diets and paediatrics and has just completed a PhD in the area of plant-based nutrition. (Only stating this so that you know my perspective is informed!)

      So short answer, no, there’s no baseline of any particular FOOD (e.g. meat) that anybody (child or adult) needs, but there is certainly a baseline of particular NUTRIENTS – it’s common for people to go vegetarian and just stop eating meat without choosing appropriate foods to replace the key nutrients they were getting from the meat.

      So it’s best to consult a registered dietitian for personalised solutions…there’s no one-size-fits all reason why people become anaemic, or a one-size-fits all perfect diet. So many factors!

      Hope this is helpful <3

    • teegan says...

      My husband and a couple of his siblings have been vegetarian at one time or another, and while my mother-in-law gets anemic if she doesn’t eat animal products, my husband and I have both been fine (he for twenty years, I for twelve), as have our two kids (age 7 and 4, veg since birth). Usually your family doc can test your kids to see if their iron is holding up or if the vegetarian diet isn’t working.

    • Kelsi says...

      I have dealt with anemia on and off, and it’s been a particular concern with my five year old, who was at one point mildly anemic and is also meat-averse. We took a closer look at food combining on the recommendation of our naturopath and make sure iron-rich foods, meat and non, are not paired with calcium-rich foods … calcium binds iron so you can’t absorb it (strangely, our pediatrician and other regular MDs we’ve talked to didn’t seem to know much about this). Plant based iron doesn’t absorb as much as heme iron (from meat) so you may need to supplement. Cook in cast iron pans and look for multi vitamins for kiddos that have some iron (like 25%) to boost but not go over board – you never want to supplement all of your daily value of iron due to risk of poisoning.

    • Rusty says...

      India, much of Japan, many Asian countries are not anaemic.
      It’s a myth that you cannot get enough iron or protein from plants!
      It’s about combining foods to become what is called “a complete protein”. In a pinch = e.g. a legume with rice.

  69. Erin says...

    We’re in! Our family of four has cut out red meat and is making January a vegetarian month to inspire us to reduce our meat and dairy consumption the rest of the year. It’s important to point out that animals have different emissions “intensity” based on the resources to rear them and their emissions. According to the FAO – dairy and beef cattle are by far the worst. So that’s a good place to start!

  70. Laura says...

    I love this concept, and I would love to know how anyone here with little toddlers has been able to reduce dairy consumption. Between milk 3x/day, yogurt, and cheese, it’s such a big part of their diet! Anyone have dairy alternatives their toddlers love that are still packed full of the fat/protein/vitamins they need?

    • Caroline says...

      Pea milk! Ripple is a great brand that has 8g of protein and twice the calcium and vitamin D as cows milk. It’s also free of soy, nut, and other allergens. My kids love the chocolate flavor as a treat too.
      It also tastes pretty neutral and nothing likes peas ;)

      If you don’t have a nut allergy, cashew cheese can be an amazing snack.

      Our family is vegetarian but huge dairy lovers. Cheese made up a large portion of our protein intact (not the healthiest of options).

      Last year my youngest was diagnosed with a slew of allergies and we had to cut out dairy. It was super challenging at first! I was so used to handing out cheese sticks!
      But now I don’t even think about it and plannings meals and snacks is no longer so stressful.

      My 3 year old and 1 year old are now eating much more fruits and vegetables as snacks. There’s also always a lot of hummus in our house ha.

    • Anne says...

      I have been thinking the same thing, having a 1 yo and 4 yo at home. Milk is by far the best way to get some solid calories into them. That said, my one year old refuses milk and dairy products —I think she just doesn’t like them—so we have had to seek out alternatives. Having talked to other moms in this situation, we lean on other high protein/fat foods such as avocados, pesto, olive oil or butter, lots of beans, and so much peanut butter toast. We still keep a lot of milk and cheese around for my four year old though and I haven’t figured out how to transition her back from it. She doesn’t drink much milk anymore but she is still in the “all I eat is a carb plus cheese” phase.

    • Kathy says...

      Laura, we do Silk unsweetened soy milk – it has the most protein, calcium, and iron of the milks I’ve seen. Ripple is good too. Kite Hill almond yogurt is the best I’ve found for yogurt (lots of protein and healthy fat, less sugar). Sadly not daycare-friendly because of the nuts, so we’ve also done coconut yogurt. Daiya makes cheese sticks that look like the ones the other kids at daycare eat – not sure they’re super nutritionally sound, but they work for us to keep the kiddo happy when her friends get cheese. Other than that we don’t do much fake cheese, it just doesn’t seem to have that much nutrition so we do other things for fat like peanut butter with added omega 3s, all the avocado we can get her to eat, and coconut milk.

    • Katie says...

      My 18 month old and myself are veg and while we do still include some dairy, we’ve had good luck with ripple milk, nutritional yeast for cheese/cheese sauces, cashew cream, coconut or nut yogurt etc. Avocado is also a great sub for mayo/cream and full of healthy fats. Also nut butters.

      As for protein and vitamins, we get plenty from lentils, beans, tofu, nutritional yeast, and eggs. Just be sure to include leafy greens when possible too for vitamin d, iron and calcium. If you’re really worried you can also use supplements. My son will eat anything in pancake or burger form, so it’s Been easy to pack him full of protein and veg. And if all else fails in our house, just cover it in tomato sauce or banana ;)

    • BeckyB says...

      I’m raising a vegetarian family (8,6 & 2). We eat dairy and eggs, but we’ve never been milk drinkers. Like it’s just not a beverage option. My general feeling is that the yogurt and cheese they consume is enough dairy, and more than that feels a little heavy in one food group. I make a lot of smoothies with various nut/seeds blended in, avocados, nut butter on toast, eggs, etc. I understand the struggle of wanting to reduce something a kiddo loves…one of mine would eat a cheese sandwich 3x a day if I let him, so suggesting alternatives (which I would love to do), will take some courage and prep from me.

    • Esbee says...

      Laura,

      Wildwood unsweetened soy milk has 7 grams protein, 15% of Vitamin A, and 30% of calcium per serving, which is comparable to whole cow’s milk. Silk is more widely available.

      Kite Hill unsweetened almond milk yogurt has 5 grams protein and 12 grams of fat per serving, which is a tad less protein and a tad more fat than Organic Valley plain whole milk yogurt. Nancy’s used to make a wonderful unsweetened soy yogurt that was higher in protein and lower in fat, but I haven’t been able to find it in my area for a while.

      Many plant milks and yogurts are enriched with vitamins just as the cows’ milk ones are. I would be mindful of added sugar and go for the unsweetened varieties.

      Non-dairy cheese is trickier – if you’re going for taste, Chao by Field Roast is excellent, but doesn’t have any significant amounts of vitamins, minerals, or protein. Just some fat and lots of good flavor. In a plant-paced diet, non-dairy cheese doesn’t provide much nutritionally.

      My four year old has been plant-based her whole life, and she’s a healthy, strong kid!

      Tip: avocado toast is her favorite. Toast thick hearty bread, spread with a tablespoon of coconut oil (trust me!), mash half an avocado on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Loads of fiber and healthy fat, nice and filling for a toddler. Or anyone really :)

      Good luck to you.

    • Laura says...

      These are such wonderful and helpful tips. I love this community <3 thank you all!

  71. Meredith says...

    I’d love to read more posts about this! I would love to reduce my meat consumption, though I find it difficult because I don’t tolerate soy, beans, or lentils well, and I run out of ideas for protein or filling meals very quickly. Recipes and tips for what the most sustainable options are when we do choose meat would also be so helpful!

    • alexis says...

      There was just an article on this – I think by Alison Roman? – in the nytimes cooking section. Some of her suggestions were things like making recipes where a small amount of meat has a big impact – like a pasta dish that only uses a small amount of bacon or something, so you’re not entirely going without but you’re also not making meat the main feature of the dish. Or if you’re going to make chicken, you could roast the whole bird and then save the bones and make stock and save the fat from the roasting pan to flavor otherwise veggie dishes. Also I think seitan is soy free?

  72. Bec says...

    So with you! I started eating plant-based maybe 5 years ago, but it’s a slow process. And I am not too strict when road tripping or at someone else’s house. I think the point is, we don’t need any one person to be 100% perfect, we need millions of people to change a bit. (at least when we’re talking diet and personal actions)

    • S says...

      I love this, thank you for stating it so clearly!

  73. Anna says...

    Yes, yes, yes. This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while and look forward to implementing. We have a freezer of frozen fish from the summer harvest and our goal is to not buy any meat or fish until that is empty. Learning how to prepare meals that our kids will eat and that we’ll all enjoy is a challenge and a worthwhile endeavor!

  74. Beth Ann says...

    We love Cookie & Kate as well as Minimalist Baker for great vegetarian and vegan recipes that I promise are kid-friendly (mom of a 5,3,and 1 year old)!

    Overall, I think moving towards a plant-based diet is good for everyone for reasons beyond just climate change, but I think this post is a little skewed with the information. I live in an area of the country that consists of a lot of farm land. Some of that farmland is reserved for livestock. As more development around the area continues, more farmland is being purchased and developed into condo complexes and shopping malls. By not supporting these small farms, we contribute to the overdevelopment of our land and that’s not good for the earth either. I understand the statistics, but at the end of the day we need to be looking at things from a “whole picture” point of view instead of labeling things (such as meat and dairy consumption) as definitively “good” or “bad” for climate change.

    • Rae says...

      Really interesting point Beth Ann. Have you seen The Biggest Little Farm? Sweet movie and it illustrates your point very well. All actions have consequences & we must look at the bigger picture.

    • Isabella says...

      I agree. While cutting back on meat and dairy makes good sense from many angles and is an admirable goal, the carbon footprint of livestock ranching is quite nuanced once you get away from the massive factory-farm-and-feedlot paradigm. I work for an agency that utlizies conservation grant money to protect smaller-scale family farms and ranches whose practices contribute positively to carbon sequestration, groundwater recharge, grassland biodiversity, and the local economy. My suggestion would be to not simply eliminate meat and dairy from one’s diet, but — to the extent that any of us have the economic privilege to do so — make informed, intentional choices about where our animal-based foodstuffs come from. I do recognize, however, that many people cannot afford to make that choice, or don’t even have the choice at hand, and that’s something that our society needs to address at a much broader scale.

    • Amber Grady says...

      Exactly this.

    • Yes! Industrial agriculture and regenerative agriculture are vastly different paradigms. When I eat meat, dairy, and eggs, I focus on the following key words: Pasture-raised, grass-fed, and local. In doing so, I support the local economy, help nourish the soil, shrink my carbon footprint, and enjoy much better tasting food. Win, win, win, win!

    • Alyssa says...

      Very much agree. I think it’s so easy to boil down these very complex systems to a black and white “yes” or “no” and to some extent, we do need to do that to be able to go about the living of our lives and to figure out what to eat for dinner. But these are complex issues and oversimplification doesn’t necessarily help things. I appreciate Beth Ann’s point about the potential for carbon sequestration, ground water recharge, etc. from well managed pasture land. A lot more of the US landscape is managed by folks who raise livestock and grain than fruit and vegetable production, which can also be incredibly energy intensive. For me, the solution is to know my farmers and buy food locally. I know it’s not a possibility for all people because of lack of access, economic inequality, and plenty of other factors, but I do believe it’s where the real solution to many of our modern issues are centered. We need to reclaim our communities!

    • Beth Ann says...

      Rae, I’ll have to check out that movie. Sounds great! Isabella, what an interesting job! And yes, totally agree with you about making informed and intentional choices.

  75. Alex says...

    I love this post so much. All of the current news stories involving climate change have been overwhelming, and I definitely understand that feeling of being so overwhelmed and downtrodden that no action seems worth it.

    I’ve seen a lot of other comments asking for activism ideas/other steps we can take, so I thought I would toss in my two cents. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 8 (now 27) and by far the most difficult time for me to adhere to that diet was while I was at college. It had nothing to do with willpower, and everything to do with access, and I think that is a key barrier that many people are facing when it comes to reducing meat and dairy use. Some ideas then – is there a college/university (or food pantry) near you? Find out what the meal plans are like, and if there aren’t accessible vegetarian/vegan choices, call the school, the town, or join student groups advocating for change. You can do the same for grocery stores in your area – is quality produce accessible and affordable? Is bulk buying to reduce single-use plastic an option anywhere? If the answer is no, then call everyone you can think of: your member of congress, your mayor or town supervisor, even grocery store managers and owners. If people in authority know that this is an issue in the community they will be far more likely to make changes.

    A few other random ideas – You can shop online for fruits and veggies that would otherwise be thrown out by stores for not meeting cosmetic standards. If you have friends & neighbors who want to make similar dietary changes you can purchase group shares of produce online and distribute it amongst yourselves. If you/people in your community have the green space, plant a small garden of vegetables. When buying online, many vendors have the option to offset any carbon emissions that shipping would cause through actions like planting a tree. Finally, one of the biggest actions you can take is to actually use all of the food you buy. Americans waste almost 40% of all the food we purchase in a year!!! Not only is that food that could have helped one of those starving children Linsey referenced, but 95% of that food waste ends up in landfills where it is buried and breaks down, releasing even more methane into the atmosphere.
    The most impactful changes aren’t going to happen on an individual level, but those of us who have the privilege to make these changes absolutely have an obligation to do as much as we can. There is no Planet B ?

    • Rusty says...

      Yes!
      No. Planet. B.

  76. Quinn says...

    YES! I’m in! Thank you CoJ for this post — so very important and empowering.

  77. Dakota says...

    Check out Minimalist Baker. All of her recipes are delicious, but start with her chickpea swarmas!!

    • Jude says...

      Although we haven’t entirely cut out meat, my husband and I make it a point to only buy chicken a maximum of once a week, as it has a smaller carbon footprint and we have less ethical qualms (a few thighs, generally enough for one dinner and some lunch leftovers). Dairy, I’ll admit, is much harder to let go for me. Cheese just makes everything better?

      Even though it’s not perfect, we’ve lasted two years sticking to this plan and haven’t bought beef or pork or lamb in all that time. Neither of us care that much about resolutions, but I’m proud of us for sticking to this goals. If everyone reduced – not necessarily eliminated, or anything “extreme” – it would make such a huge difference.

    • Barbara says...

      I love her vegan Alfredo…it’s an old one but my baby loves it too!

  78. Kristin says...

    So happy to read this! I don’t eat dairy and have meat 3x per week or less. I think it’s important to find a good protein supplement in addition to vegan/ veggie food protein options. I just started to see a nutritionist and was shocked at how low my protein intake was. Lots of good powders and pills out there.

  79. Bernadette says...

    We are definately doing this also, while not fully vegetarian we are cutting back – trying to do 2-3 nights a week without meat. One of our favourite recipes is a beautiful, comforting soup that with some nice bread makes a lovely meal. Healthy Morrocan sweet potato soup – absolutely divine https://www.cookingclassy.com/moroccan-sweet-potato-lentil-soup/

  80. Erin says...

    My kids are frequently asking for more meatfree meals. We typically do meatless Monday, but this week I added in two other meatfree meals. I feel like many of my friends are doing the same.

  81. Kelsey says...

    YES to this! We just embarked on meat-free January in an effort to get ourselves re-invigoraged about cooking plant based meals. It has been a great push to get creative with vegan alternatives to our staple recipes, and while we probably will not switch to an entirely plant based diet just yet, it gives us the tools to incorporate more and more sustainable choices in our home throughout the year. We love soba noodle or rice bowls with shitake mushrooms and bok choy, taco salad with beyond meat, and soups or stews full of beans and greens!

  82. Nina Nattiv says...

    We did this about two years ago. One daughter hated meat from day 1, the other could live on only meat. I buy meat maybe once or twice a month. Meals at home are cheaper, faster and less stressful (I treat raw meat like its toxic).

    Some meals we love:
    -black or green lentil soup, or the precooked black lentils from TJ’s
    -red lentil soup blended with zucchini, carrot and cauliflower
    -kale/sweet potato/crispy chickpea on a bed of quinoa
    -falafel (i buy frozen ones that are tiny so my kids like them best)
    -ratatouille
    -fried tofu with bbq sauce

    Tips:
    focus on the veggies, add in protein:
    we love tofu, seitan, quinoa, chickpea, lentil
    when in doubt, add pumpkin seeds (33g protein per 100g seeds)

    • alexis says...

      “I treat raw meat like it’s toxic” – hahaha me too!! Especially raw chicken, it is so stressful. I chalk it up to my mom’s neurotic germaphobia that I inherited and thirteen years, from teens to early adulthood, as a vegetarian, so when I started learning to cook I never made meat and now I’m still just not that comfortable with it.

    • Rusty says...

      Great suggestions! ?

  83. Nicole says...

    Love this! My husband was just asking me a question about this last night, and I think this topic is surprising for a lot of people. I started sneaking vegetarian and vegan meals into our dinners (I’m the primary cook) in the last year and we eat about 50/50 now. My husband shockingly hasn’t minded (he was pretty much raised thinking “it’s not a meal if there’s no meat”). Some of my favorite food blogs that aren’t 100% vegan/vegetarian but have a lot of recipes are Pinch of Yum, Budget Bytes, Half Baked Harvest, and Love & Lemons! I’m sure I’m forgetting some but those are my go-tos.

  84. Ashleigh says...

    More of this, please! I’m on week 6 of reducing meat in my family and feel a massive shift in the way my husband and I think about food (and my daughters, too!).

    I’d love to see this as a regular column, if possible. It’s our most important mission.

    • Charlotte says...

      I like the idea of it being a regular column too Ashleigh! I’d love to see profiles about individuals and families and different ways they’re approaching the issue (zero-waste, driving less or not at all, reducing consumption, vegan families, environmental activists, female environmental scientists, etc.) I’ve learned so much from COJ Beauty Profiles and Motherhood Around the World series and I think it’s because there’s something about seeing how actual people live their lives that feels comforting and do-able. Framing environmental concerns through this lens would be really impactful, I think.

  85. Sarah says...

    I’m in! My husband and I currently eat 1-2 meat-containing meals each week (though typically with the “meat as a side” mentality, like salami in a sandwich or chicken in a salad). My game plan for the month is to use this as an opportunity to check out the fishmonger in my neighborhood and swap out one meat-containing meal for a local catch. I’d say we’re moderate dairy consumers (yogurt for breakfast, a half gallon of milk each week, and a healthy appetite for cheese) so I would really love good low-dairy breakfast ideas. I did the almond milk smoothie thing for a while, but I always wonder whether a processed non-dairy item is any better than using small amounts of the original.

    • Kelsi says...

      I’m making my own oat milk and it’s a cheap, easy, fast, and yummy replacement. Maybe try making your own on the weekends? It stores great in glass jars in the fridge and eliminates that packaging concern.

  86. Laurie says...

    Okay- here’s how I think I (and other Americans) can realistically do this: eat 1/2 the meat you normally would. Add 1/2 the meat you’d normally use into recipes. 1/2 the meat into stews, soups, pasta sauces- compensate w/ more beans. Kid-sized burgers instead of huge ones. Eat 3 pieces of shrimp instead of 6. At a restaurant, ask them to bring 1 piece of bacon instead of 2. Many people eating half would make a huge difference!

    • Mollie Whalen says...

      That’s such a great and approachable idea! Thanks for sharing!

  87. Megan says...

    As a longtime vegan, I’m so thrilled to see this here! I love the website Nora Cooks for easy, delicious vegan meals: https://www.noracooks.com/

    Best of luck everyone!

  88. Tabitha H says...

    This is such a good idea! A year or so ago I made at least one vegetarian meal a week, but life happened and I haven’t been as structured about it recently. This is a great reminder to get back to it!

    The Faux Martha’s 20 Minute Tomato Soup is great, and completely vegan if you skip the cream. I also swear by Joy the Baker’s Spicy Vegetarian Tortilla Soup, and can be vegan depending on what toppings you pick! And The Vanilla Bean Blog’s Whole Wheat Pasta with Balsamic-Spinach-Basil dressing is to die for. We also make the mujadara from Molly Yeh’s Yogurt cookbook a lot.

    One thing that might help if you have people who tend to ask “where’s the meat?” is eating less red meat and more poultry. We love Jenny Rosenstrach’s chicken parm meatballs (originally discovered on Cup of Jo!) and try to eat chicken sausages instead of beef or pork. We also get certified humane eggs from local farms – to be certified humane, each chicken must have 108 sq ft to roam, perches, enrichments, etc. One farm includes a little photo of the “chicken of the month” in every carton, and I love it! Eggs are a great protein source and I like knowing that the chickens are happy.

    I agree with other comments about how this would be a great series! I would definitely be interested in reading about vegetarian/ vegan recipes and more sustainable swaps!

    • Erika says...

      Yes, I second the sustainable swap idea! My family cannot/will not go meatless. It is just not something I can sell to this crew. So … I have made a very concerted effort to buy only local, humanely-raised meats (from waldenlocalmeat.com) and regionally-grown produce (lots of cabbage lately). We have our own chickens for eggs (and companionship) and have a milkperson (!) delivering dairy from area farms. Some things are more expensive, some are less but we make it work with sacrifices in other areas.

      Please provide compromise solutions for those of us that cannot go cold turkey (or cold tofurkey).

  89. Kelley says...

    I second the commenters requesting a post of family/kid-friendly vegan or vegetarian recipes. My husband and I have been moving towards a 20% meat/dairy and 80% plant based diet for the last few years, but our kids . . . they are VERY tough customers when it comes to veggies, beans, and (heaven forbid!) tofu, inspite of our many, frequent attempts. Any tips or recipes that could win them over would be amazing!

    • Susan says...

      Yes!! Any recipes or tips that could help getting kids on board with plant based meals would be greatly appreciated. I eat plant based most of the time with just a little fish or chicken once a week, but my kids (boys 7 and 12) aren’t on board, unless they like the taste and their tastes are currently geared towards meat and dairy. So this means I often make two things for dinner, for example tonight I’m making a vegan and meat pasta sauce.

    • Kelsi says...

      Earthy Andy and Sprouted Kitchen both have good kid-friendly vegetarian/vegan recipes and tips.

    • Rusty says...

      Get a spiralizer and make veggie ‘noodles’. Kids scoff them down!

  90. Rae says...

    My favorite source for vegetarian recipes is Green Kitchen Stories. They have a wonderful blog and many cookbooks. I use their book Little Green Kitchen every week. It is aimed at cooking for the whole family and considers the more limited palate of most children — it really took the stress out of menu planning for me. My family is vegetarian and the vast majority of our meals are vegan. Having vegetarian, kid friendly recipes means no more working around meat or heavy spice!

    • Jamie says...

      Yes! HUGE fan of their recipes and overall philosophy. Even my 5 year-old loves their spinach pancakes :)

  91. Becka says...

    I swear by Love and Lemons when I need a meat-free meal (and/or have some particular vegetable that got picked up without a recipe thought). This recipe for roasted cauliflower steaks with romesco sauce is beautiful, delicious and filling:
    https://www.loveandlemons.com/roasted-cauliflower-steaks/

    Six Season: A New Way with Vegetables is a stunning cookbook. Everything I’ve made from it is delicious (truth, though, my favorite was “beef with lots and lots of onions”).

    For the planet and my health, I’m all in for reducetarianism. I live in Wisconsin, though, where we’re also dealing with the collapse of our family dairy farms. So when I do buy meat and cheese, I also challenge myself to buy from small, sustainable farms. It’s cool to see more restaurants in my pretty rural/blue collar area doing the same.

    How can we also push McDonalds and the like to increase their prices? It seems impossible to make a dent in cow slaughtering when $1 burgers are being promoted on every other billboard and tv commercial.

    • I’m so thrilled you loved the cauliflower steaks :) xoxo

    • Becka says...

      Jeanine, and so much more! Love, love, love your blog and cookbooks.

  92. I love this post and am so happy to hear/see more conversation about climate change and what we can do individually that adds in to the collective. My family has a small, rotationally-grazed farm, which we keep chickens, cows and sheep that follow each other on pasture – the cows and sheep graze, the chickens following them, pecking at what they leave behind. This process actually acts as a carbon sink, building soil and returning ecosystems to their natural environments. Having said this, we only meat a few times a week, balancing it with vegan/vegetarian meals the other nights of the week. But another large issue to face when tackling climate change is top soil erosion caused by our constant plowing/tilling of land and growing the same crops over and over again in the same place, with no diversity at all (Letting arable land lie fallow and returning it to grazed pasture for a period – as farmers used to, before artificial fertilizers and tractors made continuous cropping possible – is the only way to reverse that process, halt erosion and rebuild soil, according to the UN.). I think there are so many things we can do to help the environment, and going vegan/vegetarian is certainly one amazing avenue. But maybe another option is buying a local, pasture-grazed chicken from your local farmer, eating off of it for a few days, then making broth and soup from the carcass – no packaging, no fuel for a semi for transportation, and no freezer costs at your local grocery store.

    • Rae D says...

      Yes to this! Thank you for your work Seja, and for this perspective. It is so important for us to be talking more about our climate crisis and what we can do about it, and also, these issues are complicated. When it comes to our food production, so much of what is killing our planet is the wealthy of the world eating meat 2x/day — but, moreso, industrial agribusiness that makes that cheap meat possible. Eating more plant based is important, and so is saving the meat parts of our grocery budgets for meat raised humanely close to home and supporting our local foods systems that serve so many critical functions in our landscape, economy, and ecosystems.

    • Jenny T. says...

      Love this!

    • Erika says...

      Yes yes yes! We have to create a market for the lesser-loved crops and seafood that are more sustainable. Can we get a series on that?

    • Alyssa says...

      Seja, thanks for adding this context. Very much agree with your approach and appreciate the work you’re doing. I work with farmers who graze cattle within diverse grain rotations, the goal being maximum carbon sequestration and watershed impact. For folks who don’t engage directly in agriculture/food production, it’s so easy to demonize farmers who raise livestock without understanding the role they can play in a broader food ecosystem when managed correctly and consumed consciously.

    • Becka says...

      PREACH!

  93. Lisa Spayde says...

    Thank you for this post. I will have to look into that book.

    We have been doing vegan workweeks for the past couple months and it seems to be working out really well for us. We eat vegan meals Monday through Friday lunch and break our vegan fast on Friday night, eat whatever we want on the weekend (with sustainable and ethical meat choices) and start back up again on Monday. It’s a do-able thing for us. We decided that in January we’d give up the meat all together and are vegetarian on the weekends. It’s given us more energy, saved us money, and is helping the planet.

  94. Tess says...

    LOVE this!! Thank you CoJ!! I also really appreciate that most of these comments are positive and encouraging and acknowledge that there are so many ways for individuals to approach this problem. Nothing is more frustrating and counter-productive than when people want to argue about which solution is best- lets applaud people for TRYING!

    That said- I would love for the next Climate Change post to be about activism. I’m happy to see individuals making changes, but unless we have real political and corporate change in this world we are never going to turn this disaster around. Please, share some resources for activism!!

    • Tis says...

      Agreed! It’s invigorating and heartbreaking to see everyone working so hard on an individual basis, knowing all the silicone straws in the world won’t make a dent in relation to the horrifying consequences of corporate greed! Teach us how to figure out which politicians to reach out to and how to demand more from the businesses who get our money; give us scripts for our letters; tell us how to create the biggest impact. TY!

    • Allison says...

      Agreed!

    • Rusty says...

      Excellent idea!

  95. Erica says...

    Thanks so much for covering climate solutions! I’d love to see regular pieces on COJ about climate action we can take as individuals. I have slowly trended towards an all vegetarian diet, with exceptions made when I’m a guest at someone else’s home or traveling. I am now working at adding more vegan recipes to my rotation.

    I have really enjoyed being a part of a Meatless Monday lunch club at work and highly recommend starting/joining one if your workplace set up allows for it. Eight of us take turns cooking for one another once a week. It’s a great way to learn about different tasty recipes (and skip packing a lunch once a week). Unexpected bonus: it’s a wonderful way to get know some of my colleagues more than I ever would at a happy hour.

  96. Sonya says...

    Yay! I’m so excited for this! We eat vegetarian most nights but could definitely reduce our dairy consumption. Would love some ideas for alternatives to yogurt and cheese. If anyone is looking for a hearty, comforting winter meal, may I humbly suggest veggie chili and cornbread?

  97. Andrea says...

    Love this so much!! I went vegetarian when I was 12 because I couldn’t stomach the thought of factory farming and went vegan about 4 years ago (I’m 30 now). While ethics are still at the core of my decision, knowing that I am contributing positively to the planet and my health keep me rooted in this choice.

    In the 15+ years I’ve been on this journey, nothing has worked better in encouraging others to try going meat/dairy free than gentle encouragement and no judgment. I work hard not to shame or preach to anyone about their diets — food is so personal! But at the end of the day, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Every little bit counts.

    For anyone starting to move towards more plant based meals, some everyday tips: (1) Up your sauce game! A delicious sauce will make even the simplest bowl of rice and veggies satisfying; and (2) invest in some meal prep at the beginning. Its hard to think of a new way to feed yourself in the middle of a busy week, but find a few recipes on a Sunday when you have more time and prep what you can so you have options for your dinners and lunches. If you need some inspiration, I’ve never been led astray by Deliciously Ella or Love & Lemons

    <3

  98. Olivia says...

    LOVE this post, and it’s so timely, respectful, and important. Maybe in the coming months CoJ can share vegan recipes, or more content that goes hand in hand with this message?

  99. Trisha says...

    I love this and our family has been focusing on MOSTLY vegetarian/vegan meals, especially at home, during the work/school week. BUT, it is a struggle, especially on busy nights.
    Can you do a post, or continuing articles about the quick, weeknight meals that families are really eating? Jenny has provided many ideas, but I would love all the suggestions I can get. My family of five, with three teens, can’t be the only one out there who struggles to keep the car headed home (instead of into a burger drive-thru) after late night ballgames when everyone is starving! Thanks!!

    • Emma says...

      I am working on this too–my partner and I both work physically demanding manual labor jobs and we’re on a baseball team to boot, so the time and energy for cooking a filling meal at the end of the day is in low supply.

      My best strategy so far has two parts: (1) make something in bulk at some point in the week that can be reheated at short notice, (2) also having good snack options around–stuff like nuts and apples. Well and really part 3, which is that pasta is always pretty quick and easy as a backup option.

      However we also definitely get chicken sandwiches some nights after baseball! To me the key point is reducing meat and dairy overall, and also trying to source high quality stuff locally. I grow most of our vegetables, buy mushrooms, meat, and milk locally, use a lot of off-cuts/organ meat/low-impact animals (i.e. chickens and rabbits over beef). We often eat meals where at least half of the ingredients are from the backyard, so I don’t feel too bad about occasionally eating junk food away from home.

      Also, it’s worth looking into the supply chain practices of whatever food spots are nearby–many places are moving towards requiring meat to be raised without antibiotics, for example, or putting alternative patties on the menu (like the Impossible Burger), and supporting those companies shows that consumers want supply chains to move in a different direction.

  100. Jenny T. says...

    I’m in on cutting back!

    I do want to comment, though, that a lot of habitat that is used for grazing isn’t suitable for growing other types of food. The Flint Hills of Kansas, for example, are too rocky to be tillable. The Flint Hills grasslands evolved with grazers and tilling them would devastate the ecosystem and release a ton of carbon. It would also ruin the livelihood of local ranchers, who are undoubtedly better land stewards than others who might own the land, like developers.

    So while I completely agree that we can all cut back on meat and love the term “reducetarian”, I do want to note that for some ecosystems, grazing is actually the highest ecological use and that Safran Foer’s point about turning grazing lands into tilled soils would devastate the nearly pristine state of some grasslands that are grazed. Let’s cut back on meat, but if we we do buy it, let’s support small ranchers and farmers who raise animals humanely and steward their lands for future generations.

    • Rae D says...

      Yes to this! Nothing is one-size-fits-all — it’s also about reconnecting with our local food systems and specific places.

    • Jenna says...

      So true, Jenny! I am mostly vegetarian but when I buy meat, I REALLY try to make sure it’s locally and ethically sourced. Same with eggs and dairy products.

  101. Jess says...

    THANK YOU for this!! Seriously it’s the major issue that keeps me up at night. It’s a relatively easy change to make once you put a bit of effort in, and makes a huge impact on our environment, our personal health and well, obviously on the health of the animal :) Any little bit helps!
    My husband is vegan and myself and our 3 & 6 year old sons are veganish. I guess we are sort of ‘quiet vegetarians’ as it’s weird how people can react, especially to the term vegan, as soon as we leave our LA bubble. I suppose like anything, ignorance is bliss but I can feel a real change coming.
    (Also, a great site and podcast is Deliciously Ella and for some vegan comfort food I recommend The School Night Vegan :)

  102. Yes! My husband had to stop eating dairy last year for medical reasons, so that’s helped us reduce our family’s overall consumption (although cheese is still my daughter’s favorite food).

    For meat, we started only eating sustainably raised/humanely treated meat a few years ago for animal welfare reasons. This naturally reduced our consumption because that type of meat is expensive! As it should be. It helps me be more mindful of whether a dish really *needs* meat or not, and to think of it as more of an occasional thing than a staple.

    Finally, having a membership to the Sprouted Kitchen Cooking Club has introduced us to a ton of fantastic vegetarian or even vegan meals that have become part of our normal dinner rotation. Sara Forte is a genius with sauces, which makes vegan meals so good you don’t miss the meat or dairy at all!

  103. Ruth says...

    We have cut back on meat significantly, as well as made a lot of lifestyle changes similar to Linsey (composting, reusable, etc.). While dairy cut back will be harder for us, we’re still mindful of how much we eat and where it comes from (woohoo for local, glass bottled milk!).

  104. Helen says...

    I just made this recipe last night and it is so easy to make and my kids and spouse loved it! I didn’t have mushrooms on hand so I used onions instead. The sauce would be good with any vegetable-eggplant, zucchini, green beans, etc. Just stir fry in a little oil, add sauce until veg gets glaze-y and eat with rice/quinoa!

    https://seonkyounglongest.com/vegan-bulgogi/

  105. Kathy says...

    Thank you for this! My husband, two-year-old and I are all vegan so know that it can be done! For those looking for kid-friendly veg meals, here are a couple that we love: https://food52.com/recipes/66790-victoria-granof-s-pasta-con-ceci
    https://www.cdkitchen.com/recipes/recs/511/Beaches_and_Sandals_Rice_and_Beans42619.shtml
    https://sweetsimplevegan.com/2018/07/one-pot-5-ingredient-hummus-pasta/
    Bean burritos are another good option. Nut butters are an awesome source of protein that kids love, too.

  106. Kimberly says...

    I so appreciate Linsey’s perspective and the information contained in the post. Reducing the amount of meat I consume is something I think through consistently – as a starting point, I’ve all but given up beef.

    But I think we need to acknowledge that being able to go plant-based is such a privilege in most of the world. It’s not a cheap lifestyle to adopt. Part of the reason meat is so prevalent in our diet is its price point. What can we do as a society, as a culture, to make it easier for those without privilege to access quality produce?

    I believe most of the parties involved in the plant-based movement are so well intentioned. Hopefully, the dialogue will become more inclusive.

    • Mj says...

      I think this can be true from an eating out perspective (burger vs salad at McDonald’s) but my grocery bill is significantly cheaper without meat. lentils, beans and grains are much less than meat.

    • Tess says...

      This is actually such a common misconception! Plant-based is actually by far the cheapest way to eat if you are cooking and eating whole foods like beans and legumes, rather than manufactured meat substitutes!
      That said, I do agree with your point about access to quality produce, its a major issue that is under-represented in the conversations about going plant-based.

    • Dana says...

      I’m a dietitian and I respectfully disagree ! Beans, lentils, eggs and tofu are much cheaper and stretch further than animal proteins like chicken and beef! I often coach my patients to buying mostly cheaper proteins (canned black beans, peanut butter, eggs, etc.) and supplement with a less amount of meat (whatever’s on sale!). Convenience and pre-prepared foodie vegetarian items can be more expensive – but not necessary. Hopefully that is helpful :)

    • Veggie says...

      When you buy meat you’re also paying for all the meals the animal ate. When you buy plants… those are the meals :) hence it’s so much better value.

      Nothing cheaper than a few tins of lentils, some spices… super healthy, super delicious.

    • Sarah says...

      That is an interesting perspective, Kimberly!
      I am working class, Canadian, and have been mostly a vegetarian for 25 years. Lentils and chickpeas are super cheap. And versatile and healthy. My income has fluctuated a lot over the years – but there isn’t a cheaper protein than legumes. To prepare them? You do need access to a kitchen, and writing from a city with a housing affordability crisis, I don’t take that lightly.

    • Lizzie cogan says...

      Interesting point. I think many traditional cuisines such as Indian and Mexican are delicious and cost pennies. What is cheaper than rice and beans? In fact, I fear that it’s the utter cheapness of these foods that keep meat free choices off the menus of many prestigious/ pricy eating establishments. I do struggle with going vegan (from vegetarianism), but it’s more due to a love of creamy dairy than cost. Some good news is, if you can afford an instant pot and a cookbook, new worlds await!

    • Rusty says...

      Wot?!?!
      This comment is completely baseless and factless.
      It’s entirely cheaper to not eat meat!
      ?

  107. Ari says...

    Granted, I’m only 17 months in, but I have been blessed with a son whose favorite food is beans (all kinds!), so we mostly eat vegetarian. I hope he stays this way as my husband and I were raised with terrible nutrition habits. Our go-to meals are usually veggie or bean patties (think shredded zucchini or chickpeas), with something on top, like salsa or an herb sauce. 101 Cookbooks isn’t always accessible, but when it is, the recipe is in rotation for a loooong time. Some of our favorites:
    https://www.101cookbooks.com/ultimate-veggie-burger/
    https://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/roasted-pumpkin-salad-recipe.html
    https://www.101cookbooks.com/caramelized-tofu/

    For those of you parents interested in getting more involved in climate activism, I’d like to shout out Moms Clean Air Force: https://www.momscleanairforce.org/

  108. Joey says...

    I am absolutely in favor of actions to mitigate climate change and think that eating less meat is a good idea for many reasons, but I think we need to be mindful of where we are getting our information and the science supporting various claims.

    For example, there is information here https://www.ethicalomnivore.org/cowspiracy-debunked/ and here https://ghgguru.faculty.ucdavis.edu/ disputing the animal agriculture exceeding transportation emissions claim.

    Similarly, I would look at the funding sources for Game Changers and ask yourself whether there is no conflict of interest in investors of plant-based protein companies producing this type of film.

    We all need to take immediate responsibility for our planet but let’s make sure we do so in a way where we are not giving inaccurate facts the potential to misguide policy and derail legislative efforts that would enable real, impactful change.

    • Jenny T. says...

      Yes! This topic is nuanced and not as black and white as quick research might lead us to believe. Would love to see posts like these researched a bit better in the future.

      (Also, my exact comment to my husband after seeing Game Changers was, “This film was brought to you by the kale lobby.” Turns out that maybe wasn’t too far off the mark.)

    • Thank you for this. An intention I have for 2020 is to be more fact based in my understanding of current topics/trends. It can be hard to find scientific evidence and I so appreciate these links. Whatever your food choice, I think we owe it to each other to be a bit less biased in how we digest popular opinion and trends.

    • Sarah says...

      I agree, and I’ll add that when I read “a billion people on the earth are starving,” I grimaced. The WHO reports that there are 815 million people in the world who are undernourished, and only a portion of those are “starving.” I am not bringing it up because I don’t believe that there are absolutely horrific inequities in the world, because I do. 815 million is 815 million too many. But when we report inaccurate data in our journalism that isn’t cited, we can really damage the very important work of the climate change movement. (https://www.worldhunger.org/world-hunger-and-poverty-facts-and-statistics/)

      That said, am thankful for COJ’s participation in the conversation and looking forward to participating in the challenge in healthy ways!

    • Wylie says...

      Thank you for this comment. A lot of the claims in this article are more complex than the writers acknowledge regarding emissions and the role of animal agriculture. “Meat” is regarded as a single category with no distinction between industrially produced meat and other ways of raising animals. There is also no discussion of the role of culture in dietary practices, or of how animals fit into sustainable agricultural practices (Omnivore’s Dilemma has a great chapter on this), or of how veganism is a phenomenon mostly among urbanites who have little connection to land.

    • Alyssa says...

      A few thoughts:

      1. People are starving around the world because of power and poverty, not because of livestock. We grow WAY more food than is needed for all of us to eat – starvation is caused by human-invented political systems, distribution issues, and greed. Starvation is not caused by cows and pigs and chickens. Using Oxfam data but not explaining that component is just unfair and untrue to their mission and efforts: https://www.oxfamamerica.org/explore/issues/food-farming-and-hunger/

      2. Dairy farmers have been struggling mightily over the past decade. We *need* to eat dairy products to support these farms and to keep rural communities alive. If you enjoy eating dairy products, do it! But buy your dairy from local, farmer-owned cooperatives or individuals farms that take care of our soil, water, and planet. The Wisconsin Farmers Union is doing great work to improve the dairy economy and to bring farmers together for political impact: https://www.dairytogether.com/

      3. Personal action is essential – both for the planet and maybe even more so for our individual mental and emotional well being. But we all have to remember to not only buy less, better animal products (and less stuff in general!), but to also engage in civic life and hold politicians and corporations who hold the big strings accountable to making a change.

      There is so much complexity here, and this article (while well intentioned and with a sentiment I absolutely agree with) doesn’t paint a full or accurate picture about how we can support the people who grow our food, the land we share, and to protect the climate we all need to survive.

    • Linsey Laidlaw says...

      There are indeed varying figures out there, and looking at who is contributing to the reports is telling, but there are many leading scientists who stand by the cited numbers—Foer actually has a whole chapter in the appendix titled: 14.5 percent / 51 percent —  the bigger number accounts not just for animal emissions but deforestation (specifically the burning of forests) and the loss of those missing forests photosynthesis.” You can read more on that here: https://bittman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/11/fao-yields-to-meat-industry-pressure-on-climate-change/?searchResultPosition=2

  109. Madi says...

    I celebrated being vegan, alongside my husband, for one year this January! We have LOVED it. Every day, I think to myself, “I love that I am doing this.” When we first started, we took 6 months to fully transition to veganism. Like this post points out, it can be very hard to go cold turkey. So, we took the 6 months, and each week we ate less and less meat and animal products. Our primary reason was based on moral reasons/animal rights, and our love for animals (thanks to our dog Thomas, for showing us how much animals add to our lives). We have found that since it is more accepted today, people are more ready to ask us questions. I would encourage you to find the reason(s) that excites you most – for me, all of them! There are SO many benefits – animal rights, your own personal health, environmental impact, etc. We use “Isa Does it Again” – an amazing vegan cookbook, that has our taste-buds doing somersaults every meal. You won’t regret the effort, and the longer you practice, the more proud of yourself you’ll be. It is empowering knowing that one choice we can make, can truly cause a ripple effect across literally the whole world – it touches every.single.life and being.

    • Hilary says...

      I love your comment Madi because there is clearly a lot of joy for you in making these choices! I’m a certified coach and we talk a lot about the happiness that comes from being and doing “on purpose” and living in alignment with your values.

      It’s also cool because the most common refrain I hear from people is “I know I should be vegan because climate change, but I just love bacon…” and they feel guilty or sad at the thought of giving something up. Making a big change should be celebrated and going vegan can be a celebration or a bacon funeral…it’s all about our perspective!

  110. Mallory says...

    I am in. This is my action plan: substitute, reduce portions, reduce footprint. Substitute: I hope to start with the simple substitutes. Reinvent recipes I currently love. For example, when baking, coconut oil, flax eggs, and plant milk work so well for most recipes! Reduce portions: so often when we consume meat, it is in an inappropriate portion size. I vow to not let meat account for more than 1/5 of a plate. Reduce footprint: When I do consume meat, I will make sure it is locally raised. This means I am at least reducing the transportation emissions!

  111. katie says...

    It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Occasionally eating meat and/or dairy isn’t the real problem. Factory farming is. If people ate less of it and only bought from local, organic farms where animals roamed and grazed, we’d be in a much better position. And you’d be much more likely to convince people to make a difference instead of the “you can’t eat meat” mantra. Also consider the people who hunt and fish for food. Not all people do this because they like killing animals.

    To me, a nuanced, balanced approach is better than good vs. bad.

    I mean, if you’re going to preach about what you buy at the grocery store, are you all buying pre-packaged items, like all the lettuce that comes in plastic containers, or are you buying the bunched, loose lettuce and not putting it in a plastic bag? And canned goods? Instead of buying the can of beans are you buying from the bulk bin, putting in a reusable container and making them at home? Do you buy what’s in season and locally instead of the produce that was shipped from Mexico or where ever?

    I definitely agree there needs to be a change. I think there are responsible, sustainable ways to farm, both produce and meat, and it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

    I know people will not like my comment, but I do think if we started small – supporting local farms and sustainable practices – we would be better off in the long run and people would be more likely / willing to change.

    • Seja says...

      Yes!! I totally agree, Katie.

    • Verena says...

      Wholeheartedly agree with you. It’s even been shown that cows grazing on grass make the soil more fertile and diverse in micro organisms.
      I’ve been lucky that recently a plastic free shop opened near me and I can take containers. I’m overwhelmed by the reception that shop received. They’re so often sold out of stuff – which is great! I think they didn’t anticipate their own popularity!

    • Heather says...

      I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments. My husband and I have started along the path to a zero-waste lifestyle, and are more conscious than ever about what we consume. One of the things we have changed is to stop buying meat at the grocery store, and instead buy local meat from butchers or directly from farmers in our area. Not only are they wrapped in brown paper (rather than styrofoam with plastic wrap), but the transportation emissions are less. Similarly, we only eat fish caught by us or neighbours (luckily we live in an area where this is a thing). While meat from the butcher is more costly than meat from the grocery store, we eat so much less of it that our actual meat costs in a month are far less. Better tasting meat, less environmental impact, and same/less cost = win win win.

      Going vegetarian or vegan, and then consuming any number of pre-packaged products is not the answer (although not suggesting that this is what the author meant). A careful balance between a reduced meat diet, less packaging, and more locally raised food is what we have chosen to do.

    • Rae D says...

      This is such an important part of this conversation. I wonder if part of the benefit of talking about plant-based diets can be bringing a new group of people in to thinking about how they source their groceries, and lead them down a path like what this comment describes — eating what is in season and grown close to home, and supporting our local food systems instead of big food interests (which are responsible for the glut of cheap meat, too).

    • Leanne says...

      Katie, I just wanted to let you know I appreciate your comment. I have such a hard time with the tone of some of the comments here and the entitlement/privilege that I find can be associated with vegetarianism/veganism. I think the tone of this article struck a nice balance.

      I’m the daughter of a dairy (then beef) farmer. We worked around the clock on our small family farm and lovingly cared for those animals. My sisters’ families are both multi-generational small farm families. In a big city now, with a (relatively) big income, I have options for things like going out and buying cashew cream or oat milk or eating at vegan restaurants or whatever, but many people don’t. And as a double-income household with two small kids, I certainly don’t have the energy/time to make my own. Our family almost lives on eggs, always having some around as a nutrient-dense quick meal solution. We have people in our lives who react to legumes, to gluten, to different frequent alternatives for meat, which make it hard to make that transition and get the same nutrients at a reasonable cost. Monocultures from growing the crops we demand without proper rotation/care for the soil can also be hugely problematic. Faux meat alternatives can have some sketchy additives in them, and the future impacts of these things are unknown.

      I try to eat real whole food and limit waste and make sustainable choices as much as possible, and I like the mantra that we don’t need a few people doing things perfectly – we need everyone doing whatever they can as much as possible. Trying to live like our ancestors who didn’t have the option of getting berries year-round or being so wasteful.

      My husband, a scientist, has been huge in raising some of the questions for me about motivations behind specific research – who is funding what article/video, what are the effects of some of these alternative options? Everything has a trade-off and no solution is perfect, so how do we determine which solution is the best? We all need to think as critically as possible about our choices and about the huge mass of information coming at us.

    • laeti says...

      I agree!

    • Tori says...

      I love your comment! I try my best to do all of the things you mentioned, and I love it.

    • Wyatt says...

      Thanks for this comment. Wholeheartedly agree. There are also heath issues to consider in the balance. People with allergies or blood sugar, autoimmune, metabolic or weight issues often can’t handle, for example, the carb load or of vegan or even vegetarian diets which can rely heavily on grains. Many people with damaged guts cannot digest the sorts of foods that figure heavily in modern vegan/vegetarian diets. The idea that vegan or vegetarian is across the board healthier is just not true. Most traditional diets include at least some animal foods, and from a nutrient perspective animal foods are hard to beat for healing. Much vegan food is just packaged processed junk, and I’ve known many obese vegans. So it’s just not that simple. I’m not against veganism or “plant-based diets;” what I’m against is the kind of oversimplification of blog posts like this represent and perpetuate.

    • Erika says...

      Yes, thank you! All or nothing is a hard line to take. Let’s get a variety of options/solutions out there so that we can all find what works best for our families, our regions, our budgets.

    • Alyssa says...

      Thank you, Katie. I very much agree. I have been a COJ reader since the beginning and this post made me the most frustrated of anything I’ve ever read on the site. I appreciate the interest in mitigating climate change (we have to!) but doing so without engaging the nuance of farming systems only increases our polarization as people and a country and is frankly just unhelpful. I’m with you in the effort to support local food systems and small farmers that are raising livestock responsibly as part of a broader ecological agricultural system. Thanks for adding back some nuance.

    • Kelly says...

      You’re totally right.

      Additionally, I have friends who hunt to feed their families wild game-really thoughtful, ecologically intelligent folks who are culling invasive animals/populations that are out of control (red tailed deer in the PacNW and feral pigs & axis deer in Hawaii). Meat is nuanced and vegan isn’t the only option out there.

  112. A Local says...

    Going vegan for a year is half the impact of skipping one transatlantic flight (with respect to carbon emissions). I have eliminated meat/dairy from my diet, so am fully in support of this post, but hope you’ll do a follow up post on reducing non-essential travel!

    • LDN says...

      Seconded – every change helps but stopping/massively reducing flying is the elephant in the room.

  113. CS says...

    I’m in! I loved how you framed the idea that every time you choose a plant-based meal, you are doing something positive to combat climate change. It’s such a great way to think about it! Thanks for this powerful article. It was the reminder I needed, and I will be preparing more meat-less meals. Thank you!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i loved that part too, and it has really been affecting how i eat, especially when choosing a meal at a restaurant.

  114. Brittani says...

    Thanks so much for posting this! I’ve been a vegetarian for about five years now, and I highly credit Oh She Glows with educating me on how to cook plant based meals. Her first cookbook is fantastic. She also gives suggestions in her recipes for how to make things kid-friendly or gluten free, etc. I also frequently use Food52 Genius Recipes, Smitten Kitchen, and Moosewood for other meals in our rotation. I’m really looking forward to seeing more plant based conversations here!

  115. Rita says...

    I enjoyed this post. Thank you for writing it and sharing your experiences.

    I have some thoughts on this:

    “[G]oing cold turkey is incredibly hard for something as social, emotional and habitual as eating.”

    It doesn’t have to be. Moving from eating to meat to being vegetarian is incredibly easy. You just stop eating meat and fish. Done. Outside the home, restaurants and shops are full of vegetarian and vegan options. And if they aren’t where you live – plan ahead. The hardest part is learning how to cook differently. Lean to food from cultures where spice and herbs are core. Indian, Italian, French, Mexican, Thai, Japanese, Ethiopian, the list is endless. Learn how to cook with vegetables, pulses, tofu, “meat substitutes”, grains.

    But – don’t waste too much time on vegetarianism. You might as well continue eating meat. I ate meat until I was 11. Then was vegetarian for over 20 years. I became vegan 5 years ago and I regret those 20 years of eating eggs and dairy. How many animals died and were tortured just so I could eat an omelette or gorge on chocolate?

    If you can, go vegan. It’s very straightforward. Think of all the millions of people who are largely vegan by default because they live in Indian villages and do just fine on a diet of pulses, grains and vegetables.

    We don’t need to kill animals just because we think we need meat, fish, eggs and dairy to live. Because we don’t.

    • Sarah says...

      I agree. Air travel is not aspirational to me anymore for this reason.

  116. Ee says...

    I am so glad to see CoJ starting the year off strong with a commitment to more coverage of climate change and how we all can (and need to!!) shift our habits. In the US, climate change has often gotten funneled into a consumer purchase decision (should I buy x or y) when we know it takes so much more, at every level to create the kind of change we need. I’m encouraged by this post.

  117. Jenna says...

    Great, inspiring post. Eating less meat, reducing food waste, and composting are big goals for me and my family this year.

  118. Claire says...

    Thank you! I have been waiting for a post like this! More plant based recipes would be great to see too :).

  119. Preeti says...

    Last year we saw the documentary Forks over Knives on Netflix. That prompted our move to eating vegetarian meals over the weekdays. With a busy schedule where both the parents work, and the need to have dinner before 7, it was so easy for us to fall in the trap of making quick meat dishes. We also realized that before coming to the US (we’re from India), meat comprised of only 1/5th of our plate, rest was always some kind of vegetable, daal (lentil soup), salad etc.

    With this new rule of vegetarian only meals, we found that even though there’s more work in terms of planning & prep work beforehand, the kids have become more open to trying new foods. A happy side effect was them eating more Indian dishes. It hasn’t been the most easiest transition, but definitely a rewarding one.

  120. Lisa says...

    Our family has nearly cut out all dairy and reduced meat. Side benefit-cutting out cow’s dairy has cured my arthritic knees! Who knew!? I am running now (in 40s) like I did in my 20s! Hurrah!

  121. Jill says...

    I am a human. Humans use animals as a food source. Animals use humans and other animals as a food source.
    Some animals give humans the GIFT of milk, butter, eggs, cheese, and honey.
    I respect everyone’s choices.

    • Sarah says...

      Not sure that animals willingly give us anything. I think we take it from them. The world is a different place these days and there are so many plant based options that are kinder to your health, the planet and the animals. ?

    • Carrie says...

      Sadly, the fires in Oz were acts of arson.

    • Zoe P. says...

      If you actually look at how dairy comes to us, I think you’d beg to differ that it’s a “gift”. Dairy cows produce milk to feed their babies–all cows with milk only have it because they’ve recently given birth to a calf. We take the milk meant for the calf, rip the babies away, and put them into tiny pens to become veal. Veal is a byproduct of the dairy industry. When mama cows’ bodies give out from repeatedly giving birth, they’re discarded and slaughtered. Can you imagine? It’s basically like the Handmaid’s Tale.

    • Rusty says...

      “Gift”???
      Does a cow gift its life to become steak?
      Does a pig gift its life to become bacon?
      There’s a reason meat isn’t called the name of the animal that died for a human’s preference for a particular flavor.
      The animals surely didntchoose to have their brains electrocuted just before their throats wrre slit!?!?
      Aaah, ignorance. ?

    • Rusty says...

      Carrie….check your facts, unless you truly consider humans causing global warming arson instead of selfish, mindless belligerence.

  122. Liz says...

    This is great! I’ve been thinking a lot about that stat about carbon emissions from meat production, along with ethical treatment of animals… this is a great goal. I was vegan for a few years a while ago, so I’m doing a vegan January that emphasizes vegetable dishes, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. My goal is to be inspired by colorful, tasty, plant-based dishes so that if/when I do add back some animal products, I do so sparingly and with awareness. Thanks for highlighting this issue!

  123. Joanna says...

    Maybe a post with worth trying vegan recipies? It is still not easy

  124. Leda says...

    Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook is filled with recipes that include meat, but in lesser amounts than in many “traditional” recipes. It’s been great for my family — where we still love meat, but want to find ways to reduce without going vegetarian.

  125. Poppy says...

    This is wrong. That is not the number one thing we can do. Where is the citation for that? Meat is only around 3% of the US emissions (farming is around 8%). Most of our emissions come from transportation and energy. In fact, the evidence is really overwhelming that the single biggest change you can make is going car free. And reducing your flying. And green energy. I have been changing my lifestyle for climate change for about 20 years, and I am not a big meat eater nor a meat industry supporter. But I am a science and evidence lover, and I think this article should be edited.

    • Adele says...

      AGREE!

    • MJ says...

      I agree with your point as well. Also, the science behind many of these Netflix “documentaries” is sketchy.

    • Rae D says...

      Yes. I know it is so hard to know what to do, and I really credit CoJ for starting this conversation, but I hope to see deeper research and citations in these types of articles in the future. So much of our individual power rests in changing our energy use, from increasing efficiency of our home heating systems, to switching our energy generation to renewable sources, to using those renewable sources to power our heating and ground transportation systems… and so on. And of course, so much of our power as individuals is not in our consumer choices, but in our power as citizens to effect policy change.

    • Jill says...

      Yes. Agree.

      Sustainable farming needs livestock.
      Avoiding meat and dairy won’t save the planet.
      Claims against meat fail to consider the bigger picture.
      Anti meat campaigns ignore the essential role of grazing animals play in genuinely sustainable agriculture. Livestock production must be reformed, but eliminating it would do more harm than good.

      Read Richard Young “Why Avoiding Meat and Dairy Won’t Save the Planet”

      That being said, I eat many vegetarian meals, especially fruit and veggie snacks! Balance is the best nutritional plan.
      PLEASE don’t overload us with vegetarian and vegan recipes. There’re ALL OVER the Internet. Ad nauseum.

    • Starla says...

      Yes!

  126. Kim says...

    Will you please do a vegetarian/vegan recipe series? With simple ingredients? I get overwhelmed trying to switch some time and easy, delicious recipes would help.

    • Jill says...

      All u hv to do is search the inter web. Those recipes r EVERYWHERE!

  127. Anna G says...

    My significant other and I have been 6 day a week vegetarians for years.
    In 2020 we are trying to replace our cows milk with an alternative.
    This week I purchased oat milk and am hoping that will be the replacement since we can easily make our own.
    Small changes can lead to big changes.

  128. Kelli says...

    Yes! I love this!! My husband is vegetarian and I’m reducetarian (what a great name for it, thanks!!) We’ve found a lot of great vegetarian recipes from the Cookie and Kate blog (cookieandkate.com), and her cookbook is fantastic!!!

    • Joanna says...

      Love these recipes too! They’re easy to follow, simple, and always delicious!

  129. B says...

    I have eaten a mostly vegan diet for the past ten years and I love it. Embrace garbanzo beans, lentils, seeds, nuts, tofu. And certain fake bacon is excellent! (Really!) Try Purple Carrot, a vegan meal kit service that Mark Bittman helped to develop, for help getting into a vegan cooking groove. There are lots of great vegan instant pot recipes, too. We eat lots of salads with homemade salad dressings. Cup of Jo, would you ever consider interviewing someone who can help us learn how to compost? I really want to do this, but feel so intimidated. Thanks, as always, for the awesome work that you ladies do.

  130. justyna says...

    Hi! My family has slowly started this, striving for 2-3 vegetarian meals a week (yes to reducetarians!). A recipe we LOVE and I make almost weekly (although we do add cheese to it) is Oh She Glows’ enchiladas: https://ohsheglows.com/2016/02/01/next-level-vegan-enchiladas/ (we skip the cashew cream and just throw some avocado on there).

    With the current state of the world, this tiny action makes me feel like we are doing SOMETHING.

  131. Allie says...

    Me and my husband have cut out dairy and while we haven’t cut out meat, we now shop at our local butcher and know where the meat is coming from. He loves going and it appeases my more environmentally friendly side :). We also go to the farmers market every Saturday to shop for local, in-season produce and eggs.
    We also cut out regular paper towels for bamboo based paper towels that are reusable (honestly they are SO much better. And bamboo is a far more sustainable material), linen napkins instead of paper, tree-free toilet paper, refillable soaps to cut back on plastic, and we never use plastic bags for the store or for storing food (Stasher bags all the way!). Always looking for more ways to help the fight against climate change so keep these posts coming!
    Allie

  132. Kristyn says...

    I eat a vegan lunch and breakfast daily. I’m vegetarian for most dinners and only eat meat (fish or fowl) a few times per week. I used to eat meat all the time. It’s taken me a year to transition to this new routine, mostly because I needed to overhaul my cooking repertoire. Now I make my own almond milk, learned the benefits of pressing tofu and my kitchen counter always has beans and grains soaking. I really love Amy Chaplin’s cookbooks and Healthier Together by Liz Moody.

  133. Lauren says...

    Love this post! Would be amazing to see monthly. So helpful to focus in on one specific thing we can do to help our world. For some great plant-based recipes, I love Deliciously Ella. Not preachy, and most recipes are very doable: https://www.instagram.com/deliciouslyella/

  134. Annie says...

    We Are The Weather was the best and most impactful book I read last year. I’m glad it’s getting more attention. I wholeheartedly recommend it!
    But, mostly, I’m eager for guidance. The book has me convinced but I don’t know where/how to begin. Please continue with advice on how to proceed!

    • Rusty says...

      Yes. The fires we have in Australia are CREATING THEIR OWN WEATHER SYSTEMS!!! They’re that hot and huge…
      The vision is scary as!
      Imagine a tornado…..only…..made of fire!!!! ?

  135. Joyce says...

    Thanks for posting! The last Foer quote reminds me of the adage, “Live simply so others can simply live.” Which can be a nice guide while considering food, clothing, travel, and life in general :)

    • J K says...

      Oh I love this quote! My friends and I try to live by the motto “Live simply to give generously”. Even as college students, we tried to give up the little things to give group donations to causes; now as adults, those small sacrifices have grown to giving away 10% of our monthly income. It’s like a muscle that we’ve trained over time.

  136. Heather says...

    Amen! Hear hear! YAAS!

    I have been pescatarian for a few years now and have not missed meat for a long time.

    Also – “It’s often said that climate justice is social justice” – indeed! The intersection is known as environmental justice. Like Flint, MI water crisis.

  137. Jami says...

    Yes! This is such a great post! Vegetarianism is honestly not that hard, especially now that so many people are demanding more choices learning how to make good food (not just substitution-style veg food). After a month you won’t miss it at all. Promise. And if you do – just watch any documentary about animal agriculture and hopefully you’ll be grossed out enough never to eat a burger or chicken breast again. Have you ever driven by a feed-lot cattle operation? It stinks like you wouldn’t believe, it’s full of suffering, it makes a HUGE impact on the land, and it’s just downright depressing.

    Try loveandlemons.com and cookieandkate.com for awesome veg recipes.

    Another side benefit to eating this way is you’ll save money – its much cheaper to eat plants than animals. Thanks CupofJo for highlighting this issue, and thank you to everyone here willing to try!

  138. Barb says...

    YES YES YES!

    I just read We are the Weather and I’m fully on board. I’ve made steps in the past to reduce my meat eating – we eat primarily vegetarian at home and I order from grass roots coop any meat that we do eat – but I’ve now realized that milk and cheese and butter are also animal products and contributions to this global crisis. We’ve made our goal this year to eat less of these products as well.

    I like how in the book, Foer suggests that you don’t need to make being vegan all-or-nothing. He suggests just eating animal products one meal a day. It has been amazing how many meals I now eat that are unintentionally vegan (although it is a lot harder to make this effort if you eat out more often than you cook, I’d imagine). I’m looking forward to raising my now 1 year old son to recognize how important it is to respect our planet (while still being able to enjoy all of the foods that we do!)

  139. I’ve been 99% for two years now and influenced my husband to be plant based recently. Honestly, if he could give up in meat, anyone could. They key is making it slow progress, cook abundant and comfort vegan food, and let body tells you how great these food make you feel.

    I don’t preach to others about being vegan because I think it’s a personal decision, but I’m happy to share experience to whoever is interested to learn more about veganism. Through this process, many of my friends are eating more plant based meals and starting to think veganism is not such a terrible idea.

  140. Anna says...

    YES! This is such a simple way to feel some power against climate change, which can otherwise make me feel so powerless.

    One way to eat less dairy and meat is not to look for vegan recipes, but to simply replace or omit the meat/dairy in a recipe. For example, Dinner A Love Story’s Indian Butter Chicken is delicious with a pound of lentils replacing the chicken. This Bon Appetit black bean soup doesn’t even need the bacon (https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/instant-pot-black-bean-soup). Even the Cup Of Jo Kale, Beans, & Sausage meal is wonderful with the meat sausage subbed out for a veggie sausage.

    Thank you for posting about this!

    • Lainey says...

      Yes! As someone who was raised vegetarian in the 80’s and 90’s when it was considered fringe, subbing veggie options (tofu, plant-based meat substitutes, beans) in meat recipes was pretty much how we did it. You’d be surprised how much you don’t miss the meat in most dishes!

  141. Claire says...

    Wonderful post and thank you for this challenge! I love an idea that Paul and Linda McCartney pioneered a few decades ago with their Meatless Mondays. They encouraged meat-eaters to try just one day a week of vegetarianism. Personally, I find that meat gives me a helpful boost of energy, but I don’t love the taste of it and find it challenging to contend with the idea of eating another creature’s flesh. So I have a few meals a week with meat, but mostly try to skip it. Thank you for the encouragement that, even if you eat meat occasionally, it still makes an impact to reduce consumption.

    Recipe-wise, I love the New York Times’ Red Lentil Soup with Lemon. (Except I prefer it without lemon!). It keeps well in the fridge and is great with crusty bread and veggie broth. I also love to make broccoli and tofu with rice, marinated with garlic, soy sauce, and a little ginger.

    Maybe this month’s recipes on the blog could be vegetarian?

    • Elaine says...

      Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you, Cup of Jo. Meatless is the best. I love the meatless recipes at Chocolate Covered Katie and Vegan Richa. But there are dozens of other websites. Podcasts are an added blessing: Rich Roll, Howard Jacobson, Victoria Moran, Ian Cramer, Simon Hill, to name a few. The health benefits alone are worth it. Then there’s the environment and the animals. Peace.

  142. Lisa says...

    This has been a big topic among my friend set. But then I worry about what my children will eat (all under 10) when they eschew sauces and lots of more “complex” vegetables or flavors. For what it is worth, my kids eat a solid variety of veggies and fruit, but I’m not sure if it is enough to sustain them as vegetarians without resorting to back-filling with lots of pasta and white rice (again, my kids don’t love quinoa, brown rice, etc), which they would love, but my 40 yo self would not. Someone tell me how to make this an eas(ier) transition!

    • Jess says...

      Hi Lisa! As a mom who cooks vegetarian and vegan (my husband is 100% vegan) I totally get this conundrum and every kid’s pickiness is different. But some things my boys (3 & 6) consistently eat are Banza pasta (a chickpea pasta that is really delicious..but they are happy with any pasta in a pesto or tomato sauce), bean & cheese quesadillas or burritos, tofu and noodles, Gardein crispy ‘chicken’ tenders with sweet potato fries…
      Good luck!

    • Baily says...

      Here is a great resource for raising kids vegan. https://easyanimalfree.com/post/onraisingchildrenvegan

      Anna’s posts are always well researched and easy to read. She is also amazing to follow on instagram. She is “kind of like the Bob Ross of plant-based cooking”

    • Sarah stephenson says...

      Check out the Bosh boys on YouTube. They have the best recipes that the whole family will love. You can veganise anything these days with a bit of creativity and knowledge ??

    • S says...

      Maybe try taking some of their favorite meals and start with small substitutions to make them a little healthier? You can make tacos, meatballs, or sloppy joes with lentils (or part lentils) that still taste the same. You can make lasagna healthy by replacing the cheese (or part) with tofu, adding spinach, mushrooms, etc. Lately I have been making a lot of zucchini rollups using zucchini instead of lasagna noodles, and we can’t get enough! You can find some relatively healthy flatbread or wraps to use for making pizzas. Small changes can make a big difference over time!
      Good luck!

    • alexis says...

      I thought my kids wouldn’t eat Brussels sprouts so I rarely made them. Then one day I decided I would just roast a bunch for myself and make something else for the kids. So naturally as soon as I sat down with the Brussels sprouts all they wanted to do was steal my food! And now it’s a regular veggie in our rotation. I know it’s easy to say “just make a lot of different food all the time” and virtually impossible to pull off, but what’s helped us expand our kids palates is having a variety of foods on the table, including some stuff we know they’ll eat and some stuff they may reject, or will maybe demand to have once they see us eating it. Meal times can still be very stressful though! And they say it takes like twenty to thirty exposures for kids to accept a new food. I eat a lot of rejected food to try to waste less ?

  143. Audrey says...

    I’ve been in the don’t-make-a-fuss vegetarian camp for a few years now. I agree that it doesn’t feel like enough anymore. Meatless meals at home are a great place to start! My husband and son both eat meat, but happily go sans-meat when I provide a hardy vegetarian meal. Rice and beans are your best friends.

    thanks for this!

  144. Our family just watched GameChangers on Netflix and have committed to going no meat and eventually no diary. We have solar panels, use a pellet stove and are as sustainable as possible in our daily life but the meat issue was big for my husband. He has a physically demanding job and the need for protein was high for him. The documentary helped to show us that protein can be found through plants and meat is not required. We are one week in. A big change but we are all committed! Loved seeing this piece on the site. Thank you!

    • While I applaud the effort to address topics related to climate change, it is unfortunate that it has been done in a way that distorts facts and misrepresents the data. Animal agriculture is in no way the leading cause of emissions – it’s transportation. As far as how folks chose to consume meat, a discussion of sourcing and animal husbandry would be much more useful. Rather than eliminate meat, choose to support farms that are raising animals on pasture and practicing high welfare animal husbandry. A better challenge would be to pledge to change the source of the meat you eat, not simply eating less from CAFOs and mega dairies but instead only eating well sourced meat and dairy.
      It’s not the cow, it’s the how. A list of certified Animal Welfare Approved producers in your area can be found at agreenerworld.org. Regenerative livestock operations need and deserve our support. They are part of a resillient food system that is an integral part of solving the climate crisis.

  145. JC says...

    Awesome! Thank you SO much COJ for covering this :)

    Individual action *does* work – in the wise words of Greta “no one is too small to make a difference” and when people change, other people change.

    I’ve seen this ripple effect *so much* in my friends and family. I gave up flying, my parents have now done too. And maybe some of their friends will hear about this and also give it up :) at work we’ve ditched beef on the menus (check out #0beef) and loads of people have pledged to buy no new clothes this year (who does not love a clothes swap find?!)

    p.s. can you do a post about stopping flying and offsetting (I love Trees for Life and FlightFree!)

    p.p.s. the whole of the US could basically reach its emissions target by ditching beef! https://informationisbeautiful.net/beautifulnews/348-swapping-beef-for-beans/

    p.p.s. This is an awesome article – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-49756280 – quote below!

    “The point”, she told me “is to create an opinion. By stopping flying, you don’t only reduce your own carbon footprint but also that sends a signal to other people around you that the climate crisis is a real thing and that helps push a political movement. I don’t fly because of the enormous climate impact of aviation per person.”

    • Claire says...

      I also would love a post on flying less and offsetting carbon emissions which result from flying. I know that air travel is one of the worst possible things to do for the environment, but I also love exploring new places. Could we have a post on how to travel more consciously?

    • JC says...

      Train travel is awesome! I’ve been to such brilliant places since ditching flying. It’s SO much less stressful and anxiety inducing than airports and cramped planes and you get to see beautiful landscapes. Also sleeper trains are the cutest way to wake up in a new place!

  146. Erin D LaDue says...

    I have recently gone back to my vegetarian ways and then even took it further and gave up dairy and eggs. So far I have found that my family is not interested in joining me and I have had to make separate meals. I am not deterred and I feel it is easier to lead by example. Perhaps my eleven-year-old will learn that plant-based foods are better than the cheeseburgers he chooses. Baby steps….

    • Joanna says...

      I’ve been a a quiet vegetarian for about 7 years now – most of the time trying not to make a fuss. I’m slowly trying to give up dairy but it proves difficult with my cheese loving husband, and family and social outings with others doing the cooking! The struggle I find is meals that are quick to prep and cook and still filling. Grain bowls and hefty salads have been my go to!

    • Sarz says...

      Erin, do you have any advice on motivating yourself to cook a separate meal? My husband isn’t the worst Meat-and-Potatoes type you’ll come across, but he’s always hankering for what he considers “real” protein. Right now, there’s only a few strictly-vegetarian meals he enjoys. I’d be happy to cut out meat entirely, but gosh, some days *one* meal seems like an effort, let alone two. Kudos for sticking to your principles.

    • I love that you’re posting about the impacts that we can have as individuals. Reducing meat/animal product consumption is so important, as is supporting the farmers who raise animals responsibly and with care. I’d also love to see an article about the importance of supporting regenerative agriculture since so much of the U.S.’s soil is being depleted by our monoculture farming practices due to our obsession with corn, wheat, and soy products. Thank you, Cup of Jo team!

  147. Colleen says...

    I love this! Can it become a monthly feature for sharing recipes, more green ideas etc? My husband and I are in the process of closing our accounts in a gigantic bank that is one of the four top global investors in fossil fuel and are moving to a local bank with a strong social footprint as well as wonderful financial products. I feel good about that and need to work more on meatless eating. I’m psyched!!

    • J says...

      Call it meat free not meat less then you’ll feel less like you’re missing out :))

  148. Kay Lynn says...

    I’m in, but I would appreciate some really good, picky-four-year-old-friendly, vegetarian recipes. We ate way more vegetarian dishes before my second child was born! Thanks for your help!

    • Lucy says...

      I agree! I eat very little meat myself but my kids love on chicken. One thing they do love is “taco night,” which is basically white flour tortillas filled with shredded mozzarella and whatever veggies they will tolerate—steamed broccoli and carrots, corn, and avocado. Lately my 7-year-old son has been squeezing a wedge of lime over his—a major step ;)

    • Lana says...

      Beans and rice! Kids love them so much. We top them with a sauce that the school my kids used to attend lovingly referred to as Savory Sauce. It’s equal parts Bragg’s, nutritional yeast and flax oil—go easy bc it can be a bit salty. Migas (which is not vegan but a great vegetarian week night meal). Pan sautéed vegetables—any kind you want—tossed with penne pasta and roasted pine nuts. Hummus and roasted veggies served with pita. My kids love this, especially if we have a few different kinds of hummus and the pita is warm.

    • Hannah G says...

      Sprouted Kitchen and SK Cooking Club are great resources for plant-based diets, and the cooking club especially focuses on family-friendly meals.

  149. Carrie says...

    YES! SO IN!