Teaching 10 Year Olds About Veganism
So, I guess the first question I’d like to ask you all is have you heard of climate change before Right. And so what are the causes of climate change? Yeah. CO2. Great and where do CO2 come from? Yeah, absolutely. That’s a great answer. What else is a cause of climate change? Yeah. And where does methane come from? Yeah Caused by the digestion of animals–all the farts, right? Is that what you wanted to say? Exactly, yeah. So who here has heard the animals or animal farming has contributed to climate change? That’s great. So methane is even worse for the environment than co2. In fact, it could be anywhere between 20 to 26 times worse than carbon dioxide (conservative estimate). And we think about all these animals that we have that we farm: all the cows And the goats and the sheep and the fact they’re constantly consuming food and so they’re always digesting which means they’re always producing this gas. And then we take all their manure, all the feces that they pass for their digestion, and we use it for fertilizers for plants and for crops. Manure also releases toxic greenhouse gases like methane and also nitrous oxide as well Which is even worse for the environment. And we talked about the temperature’s rising and how that’s really bad for animals. And what about humans as well? What happens to humans that live in, say, the equator the really hot area of the world? What happened as the temperatures rise?
Go on. Yep, or, I guess another option would be that they move or they travel or they migrate. People have to move either further north or south and of course north makes more sense So they’ll come up to Europe into the North America. So we’re looking at the USA in Canada to try and find colder climates. Absolutely. But we have less resources because our planet is so hot. And apart from greenhouse gases, why is farming animals bad for the environment? Are there any other reasons? Yeah. Yeah, yes, so there’s the ethical argument as well which is why I went vegan to begin with and how animals are treated. And so that’s the thing about being–I guess the word is vegan, and we’ll come on to what that means in a minute –is that there’s so many reasons to live that way. But say so we have an area and that area is full of trees But we want to graze animals on that land or we want to build barns to put animals in What do we have to do with the trees? Yeah. Absolutely, so cut them down to make space. And what’s the problem with cutting down trees? Yeah. Less oxygen. And so we have a situation where we’re having to cut down huge amounts of trees and forests and land and habitats which is, you know, a bad thing because all those trees absorb all the carbon dioxide that we’re releasing through transportation and through other means. But at the same time were replacing those trees with animals that produce really bad greenhouse gases for our environments So it’s almost like we’re multiplying the problem by getting rid of a good thing and replacing it with a really really really bad thing. And so there was a study that was released last year. Well there were two studies last year. And the first one I want to talk about is the United Nations study. So who here heard about the study that said we had 12 years to avoid runaway climate change? Right. Everyone else? Everyone else hear that? Yeah. And so there was another study that was released last year, and this was a five-year study done by the University of Oxford in England and it’s the best study that’s ever been done about farming and the environment. And we were talking about land uses just then. And it said that 83% of all global farmland is used just for animal farming, alone. Yet it only provides us, we’ve said, 18% of our calories and around 30% of our protein worldwide. So we’re dedicating such huge amounts of land, but for such a small amount of our daily food, or unnecessary daily food, that we consumed globally. Obviously I’m talking alot about veganism. And so maybe we should establish: what does being vegan mean? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, that’s right. No cheese… Only plants. I mean, the good thing about being vegan is we can make cheese and we can make ice creams and things like that from plants. But you’re right in saying that we don’t eat or buy anything that comes from an animal. So that’s no meat, dairy, eggs. There’s no leather, fur, wool, down. You know, clothing as well. So this study that I just said, from the University of Oxford, also revealed that if the world went vegan, or went to a plant-based diet, we could reduce the amount of agricultural land–so farming land that we needed–by 75%. We could still feed every human on this planet where we could reduce it by 75%, which means all of a sudden we have so much more land that we can dedicate to growing trees and growing hedgerows and woodlands and forest lands and restoring natural habitats, which would be so amazing for animals in the wild. But it’d also be good for absorbing those greenhouse gases that we desperately need to get rid of. Yeah. No, exactly. But the good thing about switching to a plant-based diet is it requires such um a lower amount of land. So think about it this way. So, if we have a cow, we need to feed that cow with food, right? And so do you think that the cow eats more food than a human on a daily basis? Probably, right? And so if we have billions of cows, but we also have billions of sheep that are also grazing all the time, we have billions of pigs and billions of chickens that are always needing to consume food, that means that we’re growing lots of food already and we’re using so much land just to produce this food for those animals that we kill. And so it’d be a better use of our land, and also the crops that we grow, if we took out the animals from the equation and just gave all that food straight to humans. Which means that if we do get to, say, 10 billion people by the year 2050, as its predicted that we might, we’d still be able to grow enough food to feed every mouth on the planet just with the land that we use now to feed the animals that we don’t necessarily have to eat. I mean, I guess the question is: do we have to eat animal products like meat, dairy, and eggs to live, or can we survive on plants? What do you think? Yeah Yeah, so we can get protein from plants. Do you think? Yeah. Can you tell me any sources of protein in the plant kingdom? Yeah. Soy is a good source of protein. What else? Beans is another good source of protein. Yeah. What’s that? Oh. tofu. Yeah, that’s a great. That’s alright. I didn’t know what so if it was before I was a vegan. So what we have to remember is that farmers only breed these animals into existence because we buy them. And so what’s going to happen is: if the world gradually shifts to a plant-based diet, it’s gonna be a very slow shift. So this is where we are now with vegans and this is where we are now with the number of animals that we breed. So what will happen is: as the number of vegans rises very slowly, probably over a period of decades, the number of animals we breed into existence will slowly decline as well, because farmers won’t breed animals that they can’t sell necessarily. Which means that by the time we get to a point where the majority of us may be a vegan or plant-based, we’ll have very few animals left that were breed into existence. Yeah. That’s a really good question That’s an amazing question. So one of the the problems that comes with an increase in veganism is obviously there’ll be less animal farmers because less people would be eating animals. And that’s not necessarily a good thing because these farmers have families to feed, and indeed themselves to feed. And they need to make money to live just as, you know, all our families do. And so the question becomes: what happens to these farmers if they no longer need to farm animals? And so there’s a couple of solutions to that and one of the first solutions would be that many animal farmers can switch to plant farming. So we could give them… So we give farmers something called tax subsidies which is basically money that we as people in society give to the government called tax. And so they give this tax money to, or some of it, to farmers to help them with their jobs. So we could give them some money but help them transition to plant farming. Some farmers wouldn’t be able to make the switch And so we have to find ways of accommodating for their lifestyle as well. And so there’s a couple of options for that. And one could be this idea of vertical farming. Has anyone heard of vertical farming before? Ah, no. So vertical farming is really exciting and what it means is that we can grow plants in big warehouses anywhere technically in the world. And so we have an issue now where we fly avocados from Mexico or Peru which isn’t very good for the environment at all. But what we could technically do, is we could grow avocados here in Holland or anywhere in the world in this vertical farming system because it’s all indoor and the farmers basically simulate what it would happen naturally. So this is where we could use renewable energy. So we have an issue now where we use fossil fuels for electricity and energy. But how about in the future, if we championed renewable energy? What we could do is create more sustainable forms of farming through plant farming, but also use renewable energy to make sure that technology is powered effectively and sustainably for the planet as well. What do you think about that? Yeah, it’s all a process. Isn’t it? It’s going to take a lot of time to get to that point. But of the fact the matter is: we’re starting to think about these ideas a little bit more and we’re starting to get to more of these conclusions. Yeah. Exactly, and we help them, you know. Farmers are struggling, say, as more people drink soy milk and almond milk and oat milk, for example. Dairy farmers won’t be able to sell as much milk. And so what we can do is we can say to them: “Look. Why don’t you start producing oats or soya or something like that? And then you can join this growing market of plant-based milks and then you won’t have to worry so much about the money in the future.” But it’ll be a gradual shift. It not gonna happen overnight, which means that we’ll be able to have time to accommodate and help farmers as much as we possibly can as a society. But those are really excellent questions. Part of why I’m here this week and part of the vegetarian week in general on campus or in school is just to raise a bit of awareness about how our food does impact our environment and how actually what we three times a day can be potentially really damaging and we don’t even think about it and don’t know about it because we just do it every single day without necessarily thinking about it. And so I want you to imagine there’s a big lake in front of me, or a pond. What happens if we drop a drop of water into the pond? Yeah Makes a ripple. And then what happens to that ripple? Gets bigger. And so I want you to think of yourself as a drop of water and I want you to think of the world as being this pond. And so every time that you make a decision to help the environment–and that could be buying the vegan sandwich at lunch– what that does is: that means that you’re dropping into that pond. And that one impact or that one action may not seem that significant because the pond’s full of water. But actually what you do is you cause a ripple and that ripple gets larger and larger. And then if you talk to more people and influence more people and obviously your best friends buying that vegan sandwich, their ripple gets larger and larger and larger. And so that one drop of water may not seem like it has that much impact. Yeah, exactly. But then imagine if there’s a hundred drops of water and that effect becomes bigger and bigger and bigger. But that one drop of water can change the landscape of the pond. And so think of yourself as a drop of water that has the capacity and the ability to change how the world looks, just by making simple choices every single day with the abilities that you have. I think it’s quite apparent.