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  • Writer's pictureNew York Youth Climate Leaders

Diet Change for Climate Change

Updated: Jul 30, 2020

By: Michelle Moczulski

Wild Mushroom Pizza from Blossom in New York City.

What do Leonardo DiCaprio, Ariana Grande and Tom Brady have in common? They’re all vegan! With the growing buzz on the environmental impact of animal agriculture, veganism is quickly becoming the new norm. In fact, to produce a quarter pound hamburger, you need…

  • 6.7 pounds of grain

  • 52.8 gallons of water

  • 74.5 square feet of land

  • 13.4 pounds of carbon dioxide

That’s a lot of environmental degradation for one meal. Eating less meat can not only help our warming planet, but can be very fun and easy! Here are some tips:

Get Vegducated: Before you decide to eat less animal products, make sure you know why you’re doing it. Books and movies like Eating for the Planet by Gene Stone, Diet for a Hot Planet by Anne Lappe and Cowspiracy on Netflix did the trick for me.

Become a Mediocre Dietician: It’s easy to overlook how many nutrients you actually need when you cut out animal products from your diet. Figure out where you’ll be getting your protein, iron and B12 from to avoid becoming deficient.

Communication is Key: Talk to your parents/guardians before making any changes. Provide them with solid facts to prove why it’s the right choice. If they’re not convinced, compromise to a weekday vegetarian diet or offer to cook your own meals. For college students, talk with the dining hall staff about incorporating vegan friendly options.

Find a Community: At first, it’s a bit intimidating changing your diet, but you don’t have to do it alone! Follow vegan influencers on social media. Check out vegetarian restaurants near you. Surround yourself with people who will inspire you and keep you going.

Get Creative: I never heard of foods like nutritional yeast, tempeh, nori sheets or jackfruit until I went vegan. You’ll find things that taste delicious and others that are just plain weird. But it’s all about trying something new. Thankfully, bread is vegan, in case you’re not adventurous.

Philly Cheesesteak from Berben and Wolves in Albany, NY.

Don’t Get Discouraged: It will be hard at the beginning. You might slip up and eat meat. You might encounter unsupportive people. Or you may feel like you’re not making a difference. But, have faith in yourself and remember that every little step makes a difference.

You Can Still be a Foodie: Don’t get scared that you’ll be eating kale salad for the rest of your life. Honestly, I don’t remember the last time I had a salad. There is an abundance of vegan restaurants and vegan friendly options out there that are very tasty. The world is your (vegan) oyster!

Cookies and Cream Cake from Garden Cafe in Woodstock, NY.

All in all, you can love hamburgers and combat climate change at the same time. It’s about balance. It’s the little, sustainable, and mindful choices we take everyday that cultivate a lasting change.


Michelle Moczulski is a current high school senior near Albany, New York. She has been vegan for a year and a half.

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