A 15-year-old vegan climate activist with Asperger’s just schooled world leaders on climate change.
Greta Thunberg, who lives in Sweden, captured the attention of politicians around the globe during her speech at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) in Poland earlier this month. Responding to their failure to commit to protecting future generations, Thunberg didn’t hold back.
Delivered on behalf of environmental organization Climate Justice Now, Thunberg’s moving speech to leaders from more than 200 countries included a glimpse into her future:
The year 2078, I will celebrate my 75th birthday. If I have children, maybe they will spend that day with me. Maybe they will ask me about you. Maybe they will ask why you didn’t do anything while there still was time to act.
In an interview with CNN after her speech, Thunberg said:
We must hold the older generations accountable for the mess they have created … and say to them you cannot continue risking our future like this.
To ensure she leads by example, the teenage activist has taken significant action to reduce her own carbon footprint; she no longer flies, consumes meat and dairy products, or buys new items. She continues to inspire young generations around the world with protests demanding adults take climate action, like switching to cleaner energy sources. Thunberg even convinced her entire family to go vegan after learning how consuming animal products contributes to environmental damage.
An analysis of the meat-heavy menu at COP24 found that production of the food from the 12-day conference could generate the same amount of greenhouse gas as burning 500,000 gallons of gasoline if all attendees chose meat-based dishes. This is the equivalent of flying 3,000 people from New York to Katowice.
On offer to about 22,000 delegates were cheeseburgers, gnocchi with Parmesan and Parma ham, and beef with smoked bacon. According to nonprofits Farm Forward, Brighter Green, and the Center for Biological Diversity, only two vegan options were available.
Animal agriculture is a leading contributor to climate change. Raising animals for food produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars, planes, and other forms of transportation combined. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, greenhouse gas emissions from raising farmed animals make up about 15 percent of global human-induced emissions, with beef and milk production as the leading culprits.
There is no such thing as “sustainable” meat, dairy, and eggs, and plant-based alternatives take a mere fraction of the resources to produce as their animal-based counterparts.
But a vegan diet isn’t just good for the planet—it also spares countless animals a lifetime of misery at factory farms. Pigs, cows, chickens, fish, and other farmed animals suffer horribly. From birth to death, these poor animals are caught in a nightmare: cruelly confined, brutally mutilated, and violently killed.
If world leaders won’t fight to protect the planet, we should. Join the millions of people combating climate change by switching to a vegan lifestyle. Get started today. Order your FREE Vegetarian Starter Guide and find thousands of vegan recipe ideas on our Pinterest page!