What's on Your Fork webinar video

Think Globally and Act Locally

If anyone was unaware of the fact that we are all one global human family, the events beginning in late 2019 and early 2020 have most likely awakened them! Clearly what happens in one part of the world has ramifications for all of us. When we were told that an estimated 4% of us would die from an infectious disease, billions of people rallied. Governments and individuals around the world took swift, decisive action that resulted in radical lifestyle changes in a very short period of time.

This collective action demonstrated the possibility of transformative action applied to the larger environmental crises we face. It is our sincere desire that our human family commit to face our common global threats together and to work toward a more sustainable, healthy, just, and compassionate human presence on Earth!

Eat for the Earth is working to make this possibility a reality. Acting locally while being conscious of our global interconnectedness is central to Eat for the Earth’s work. Local and global consciousness and action are essential for our survival as a worldwide family.

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. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Eat for the Earth also 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. Food prep classes are still being offered online to be accessible to our growing national and international followers, and we recently resumed in-person classes as well.

Although Eat for the Earth’s formation was inspired by a desire to maintain the habitability of the Earth, the dietary pattern that is the most environmentally sustainable is also the diet that is best for human health. We welcome people into our movement regardless of the door through which they have come, so in addition to our work focused on the environment, in recent years we have also initiated a strong nutrition and health focus. Our ask of people is they eat more plants and less animal products; what we teach is Whole Food Plant-Based and oil-free. We have a strong focus on supporting marginalized populations to reclaim their health through adopting and maintaining such a diet.

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, one of the most critical issues 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 the climate crisis.

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 disruption, 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.

The collective consciousness and action that will enable us to successfully address climate disruption can also result in improvements in all of the other areas of environmental breakdown that are impacted by current dietary patterns: biodiversity loss, desertification, deforestation, water and air pollution, ocean dead zones, and so many more. Together we can restore environmental systems and insure the habitability of our beautiful Earth for many generations to come. Eat for the Earth is committed to this vision by supporting a shift to healthy, Earth-friendly diets.

How We Do It

Eat for the Earth educates the community about the environmental benefits of plant-based and plant-strong 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” of dietary change, we show people “how” through programs and initiatives that build capacity for eating in a way that nurtures human health, environmental sustainability, and so much more. In addition to the “why” and “how,” Eat for the Earth engages in systems change projects in partnership with institutions such as government, education, healthcare clinics, 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.


Sample Initiatives and Programs

A healthcare worker takes a blood sample from a woman as others line up to get tested.

Community Rx/Salud en tu Plato

In Santa Cruz County, as elsewhere, community members suffer and die from diet-related diseases regardless of race, income, etc. Barriers to accessing accurate information, support, and healthy food exist for all groups. These include the ideology of carnism, the protein myth, confusing nutrition messages, industry influence, scant support for healthy diets, and minimal nutrition education in medical schools.

Although all groups experience such impediments to healthy eating, factors such as racism and the colonization of indigenous diets create additional obstacles for some groups. Highly addictive “hyperpalatable” foodstuffs can hinder anyone from eating healthfully, but have more impact on populations with reduced access to healthy food and disruptions in family life due to NAFTA, immigration law, and economic pressure. In Santa Cruz County, one outcome of these disproportionate barriers to healthy eating is that rates of diabetes, obesity, and other conditions caused by diet are much higher among Latino/a/x communities than within white communities.

In order to address this systemic disparity in health outcomes, Eat for the Earth launched a nutrition education and diet immersion program that primarily targets the Latino/a/x community. By partnering with healthcare institutions that serve these communities, we not only support individuals to reclaim their health, but also work towards systems change as healthcare providers witness the powerful healing that can occur within their patients through diet change.

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 education about how to do so. Eat for the Earth offers online and in-person culinary classes in which we provide tools, recipes, techniques, and inspiration for eating whole, healthy plant-foods. We also share resource referrals such as links to sources for recipes and meal plans, nutrition information, 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.

A group of people enjoy a delicious potluck lunch together.Support and Community are Crucial

When people make a decision to shift to or towards healthy, sustainable plant-based eating, they might find that their friends, co-workers, and family members are less than supportive of this decision. Or, even if loved ones are supportive, they may not be knowledgeable about nutrition or plant-based cooking. While Eat for the Earth partners with institutions to work toward the goal of normalizing plant eating (and shift is occurring), we have not yet reached that goal. Therefore, most people need support and community when adopting a plant-based diet. Our monthly potlucks provide a supportive environment for learning, sharing recipes, and creating community for people eating plant-based or moving in that direction. We also provide support and community through our Facebook groups, volunteer opportunities, resource referrals, and more.

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 had identified five additional partner restaurants and have included these and others on our Earth-Friendly Dining page. If you live in the Santa Cruz area and would like to see more plant-based sustainable foods on restaurant menus, please consider getting involved with this initiative!

Non-Discrimination Policy

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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