Think Globally and Act Locally
If anyone was unaware of the fact that we are all one global human family, COVID-19 has most likely awakened them! Clearly what happens in one part of the world has ramifications for all of us. Coronavirus has also beautifully demonstrated that when the stakes are high enough, most people are willing to greatly modify their lifestyles to contribute to the well-being of the community. As the pandemic evolves, we can truly see that our local efforts make a difference. This idea of acting locally while being conscious of our global interconnectedness is central to Eat for the Earth’s work. This approach is also essential to the larger crisis we face as a global family, that of the climate emergency.
Eat for the Earth launched in Santa Cruz on January 19, 2019 out of our concern for the ongoing habitability of the Earth. As we engage in outreach and education and work with our partners to develop and implement projects, we create models that are replicable in diverse settings. In order to maximize our effectiveness and reach, we provide tools and support for activist groups in other communities to create change in their local areas. We also participate in regional, national, and international coalitions working toward sustainable diets, and give input to broader planning efforts. For example, we are members of the international Food and Climate Alliance and we submitted a policy paper to the People’s Green New Deal Working Group.
Prior to March, 2020, most of Eat for the Earth’s direct activism was focused on change in our local community of Santa Cruz County, California. COVID-19 put a halt to our local in-person outreach, so we pivoted to online activism. On April 22, 2020, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we offered our first webinar, “What’s on Your Fork: 5 ways it impacts the Earth and what you can do to help.” This event was part of the national online Earth Day Live, organized by the US Climate Strike Coalition and Stop The Money Pipeline Coalition. A second webinar followed on April 25, and more are being planned. Additionally, to respond to the current realities, Eat for the Earth launched a series of online whole food plant-based culinary classes featuring our founder, Rev. Chef Beth Love, author of the Tastes Like Love book series, and nutrition expert Sandi Rechenmacher, a Food for Life instructor with Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
At the same time as Eat for the Earth has begun to establish an online presence, we are also continuing to move forward with local campaigns and initiatives to the extent possible in the current circumstances. It is our sincere desire that our human family emerges from this pandemic with a deep commitment to together face our common global threats and to work toward a more sustainable, healthy, just, and compassionate human presence on Earth!
What We Do and Why
Eat for the Earth makes it easier for people to eat more plants and less animal products to sustain all life on earth.
In these times of unprecedented jeopardy for all life on earth, the people of the earth and our leaders must come together to effectively address accelerating environmental degradation, especially disruptions in climate, the most critical issue of our time. The United Nations has said we must drastically reduce emissions before 2030 if we are to avoid runaway global warming and the point of no return. Many scientific authorities believe this projection is overly optimistic.
We have already reached a state of climate emergency, with Americans and others around the world losing homes, lives, and livelihoods to extreme weather events, fires, and other disasters induced by climate change.
We cannot afford to procrastinate any longer before taking bold, creative, and courageous action to drastically and quickly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from all major sources, including not only the production of fuel and energy, but also from the ways we produce food for human consumption. In fact, several recent studies have come to the conclusion that even transitioning to 100% carbon-free fuels and energy will not avert runaway warming unless we also fundamentally change global human diets toward more plants and less animal products. This is the call to action out of which Eat for the Earth was formed.
Although the facts are stark, this is also a time of unprecedented opportunity. If we as a global community rise up to the challenge of successfully addressing climate change, so much good can come of it. The prestigious international interdisciplinary Lancet Commission has said that addressing climate change presents the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century. If we successfully reduce emissions to safe levels, the health of humans all over the world will benefit.
Eat for the Earth is committed to this vision, focusing on reductions of the extremely potent greenhouse gases associated with animal agriculture by making it easier for people to eat more plants and less animal products.
How We Do It
Eat for the Earth educates the community about the environmental benefits of incorporating more plants and fewer animal products in our diets. Studies show that it is not sufficient to just teach people why change is needed, but also to show them how to make the change. In addition to education about the “why” and “how” of dietary change, Eat for the Earth engages in systems change projects in partnership with institutions such as government, education, media, corporations, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations. Each project is designed to implement policies and/or practices that result in increased plant consumption and decreased animal product consumption.
Santa Cruz County Policy Campaigns
Our first large campaigns target the food procurement practices of the County of Santa Cruz. We have begun a conversation with the County Board of Supervisors to implement policy and practices that shift food procurement from animal-centric toward more plant-based and plant-rich offerings. We are also engaging in conversation with the Sheriff’s office to improve the sustainability and nutrition of foods served to inmates in the county jails. Once we have made progress with our advocacy with the county, we will approach other government jurisdictions to implement similar policies.
Earth-Friendly Restaurant Program
We have also developed a program to provide incentives to restaurants that provide significant earth-friendly plant-based options on their menus. Incentives include announcements in media and social media, write-ups on Happy Cow, and an award they can display in their establishment to proudly let customers know that they serve earth-friendly options. We recognized nine partner restaurants for round one of the program, and celebrated each one with a group meal at their establishment during VEG OUT Santa Cruz in September, 2019. Our second round, scheduled for spring, 2020, was interrupted by coronavirus, but we are working with five additional partner restaurants and look forward to celebrating in person with them when shelter-in-place orders are lifted.
Giving People the “How”
Many people know that the production of animal products is harmful for the environment and want to shift their eating patterns, but need support to do so. Eat for the Earth shares information about sources for recipes, menu plans, culinary classes, prepared foods, peer support, and other resources for plant- based eating. This is one way in which we support people to not just know why it’s important to change their diets, but also how to do it. We have also begun offering online culinary classes in which we provide tools, recipes, techniques, and inspiration for eating whole, healthy plant-foods.
Eat for the Earth does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, gender expression, age, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, dietary composition, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all people. In addition to insuring non-discrimination, we actively seek and promote participation by people of diverse demographic characteristics.
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