What you can do to stop climate change

Gavin Victor, Columnist

In the wake of the climate strike, it’s obvious that Americans are worried about climate change. We know our culture is doing something wrong, but we brush the guilt off of ourselves and onto corporations. This is an act of indifference: the deflection of moral burden is completely invalid. We should be actively trying all we reasonably can, and part of this is personal change. Being even slightly realistic shows us we need to do more. 

The issue is not awareness; it’s a lack of appropriate willingness to act. In a culture that antagonizes corporations and institutions, we forget that we, Americans, are the ones with the moral prerogative to change our own practices. Corporations literally must follow, as they only exist as a product of our demand. Apathy is a privilege stemming from our deeper privilege of choice. This is one we must not forget to exercise.  

I say this because the single most impactful thing people can do to mitigate their negative impacts on the environment, according to a study published by the University of Oxford, is to stop buying animal products. Americans are extremely hesitant to make the switch. Immediately, excuses are prompted, usually regarding health, expense or inconvenience. 

Two of the most well-known and well-respected health organizations in the world (the American and British Dietetic Associations) state that a diet free of these products is healthy at all stages of life. Given the state of chronic health issues in America, eating a plant-based diet is likely the best thing we can do to mitigate health problems as well.

The truth is, and I speak from experience, veganism is only more expensive when buying fancy animal product replacements. Expense, in the case of middle and upper-class Americans, is used as an excuse for those with more complicated reservations. These reservations are often simply reluctance to change, which is no excuse. Privilege to do wrong does in no way make it right. 

If you believe in climate change, you must also believe that a vegan diet is healthy and literally the most impactful thing we can feasibly do: the science equally proves each of these facts.

For those of us who choose what we eat, the switch is as easy as a different choice at the grocery store or on the menu. That is the extent of the choice that the Oxford study said is the most impactful thing we can do for the climate. It is absurdly simple. What is holding us back is fear of change: an atrociously ironic inhibitor. The longer we postpone legitimate change, the more horrific the change is going to be.

Individuals can fool themselves into doing horrendous things by looking around and excusing actions because they are the norm. Normal is not equivalent to moral. It’s time for us to make the better choice.