The following is an open letter from University of Guelph Environmental Governance Student Alanda Tideman to Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Glen R. Murray on the environmental benefits and need for a plant based diet
Honourable Glen R. Murray
Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
11th Floor, Ferguson Block
77 Wellesley Street West
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2T5
Animal Agriculture, The Silent Killer
Hi there, my name is Alandra Tideman and I am a 19-year-old Environmental Governance student at the University of Guelph.
I have always been a lover of animals, nature and our environment.
Through my studies and my own personal inquiry, I have learned about climate change, and ways in which I can slow the advancement of it.
It was liberating to know I could make a difference so easily just by recycling, biking instead of driving, and using less water at home. Every five-minute shower I took, and every plastic water bottle thrown in the Blue Bin felt like a small win.
As the years went by, and climate change continued to grow as a global issue, I wondered if there was anything more I could do. I stumbled upon the documentary Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (2014) and was absolutely astonished by the facts presented to me. I never could have imagined the toll that animal agriculture has on our environment.
I was riding my bike to school everyday and avoiding the car whenever possible, just to find out that animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined. I was recycling all my paper and plastic, only to find out animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91 per cent of Amazon destruction.
Every year when I closed my eyes to blow out my birthday candles, I wished to end world hunger, just to find out that we are currently growing enough food to feed 10 billion people, yet at least 50 per cent of grain is fed to livestock worldwide.
I expected to see more in your Ontario Action Plan about this topic, but was disappointed to find a lot of excuses and justification where animal agriculture cannot be justified.
Yes, it is true that plants and vegetation reduce carbon, but 45 per cent of the Earth’s land is used for farmed animals and everyday more of the forest is being destroyed to create more open land for grazing.
I am happy to see your plans to increase tree planting, and expand the greenbelt, but I want Ontarians to know the simplest way to reduce their carbon footprint is to reduce the amount of animal products they consume.
I am aware that animal agriculture corporations are donators to all of the biggest environmental groups such as Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, and Sierra Club and I am aware that animal agriculture corporations have a huge role in our economy. It will probably never be feasible or socially acceptable for animal agriculture to be stopped completely, but that is not the expectation I have for Ontario.
My concern is that society has not adequately educated about the fatal effects that our consumption of animal products will have on our planet. There will soon be no rainforest, ocean or clean air left to protect, and there will be no economy to worry about if changes are not made.
In your Ontario Action Plan, you have called for bolder action. I am asking you to create an action plan that will create awareness about animal agriculture, and that will encourage people to switch their lifestyles to a plant based diet. It is unfair to allow the externalities of meat and dairy production to affect ignorant people. This information needs to be right in front of our faces, on TV, and taught in school.
Animal agriculture is the number one cause of climate change, and the majority of our society has no idea.
I challenge you to stop allowing our Earth to suffer in silence. Education of the public is our best opportunity for change, and I have faith that Ontarians would rise up in the face of this new information to make a positive change toward a more sustainable future.
University of Guelph
Environmental Governance Student