With climate change threatening major changes that will affect food production, activists are promoting the Plant-Based Treaty as a means of reducing consumption of animal products. Of course, convincing people to change their eating habits is a years-long – if not generations-long – process.
Nearly two dozen cities around the world have endorsed the treaty, with Los Angeles the second member – and largest – of the C40 to do so ahead of the group’s mayoral summit, held in mid-October. Buenos Aires heads a list of cities internationally that have adopted the treaty, stretching to the United Kingdom, India and Turkey.
“L.A. is historically known to lead the nation in environmental trends,” journalist Jane Velez-Mitchell, the founder of UnChainedTV, said in a statement before the LA City Council action, Vegnews reported. “What happens in L.A. spreads to the rest of the world.”
About 1.6 million people in the U.S. say they follow a vegan diet, about 0.5% of the population. Expanding that to vegetarians, the number is about 3 million, or 1% of the population.
The Plant-Based Treaty, created by Anita Krajnc and modeled on the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, notes on its website that global temperatures already have risen more than 1 degree Centigrade, and the last five years have been the warmest on record. A study in Nature Climate found 80% of the world’s population already is being affected.
“Just like the Paris Agreement, the Plant-Based Treaty recognizes that no one single country can tackle the ecological impact of animal agriculture by itself. A global solution to a global emergency is essential to avert a climate catastrophe,” the organization says on its website.
It adds: “Adopting a vegan diet is the single biggest action a person can take for the planet and the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] agrees that a shift toward plant-based diets can significantly reduce food related greenhouse gas emissions. An Oxford University study calculated that large changes in the food system would be necessary, that is, everyone adopting a plant-based diet on a global scale, to reduce food emissions as much as 70%.”
L.A. Councilmember Paul Koretz said in a statement reported by The Beet the adoption of the treaty “marks a vital cultural shift as Americans prioritize both combating climate change and improving their health.”
But it’s that cultural shift that is the most difficult hurdle facing implementation.
Emily Meyers, founder of Garlic Head, told The Food Institute she thinks getting people to adopt a plant-based diet is possible, but the focus needs to be on the abundance of plants rather than the perceived deprivation of meat.
“It is unrealistic to think these shifts will happen suddenly. But with patience and persistence, it is possible,” Meyers said.
Shelby Kaplan of Morningardens.com said implementation of the treaty remains the ideal.
“Practically, it would be difficult to translate the ‘R’ principles – relinquish, redirect, restore – to the world’s nations, given their cultural, geographical, political, and historical differences. Its impact, however, has had a realistic effect thanks to social media. Awareness of the urgent rationale behind the treaty is now spreading across countries,” Kaplan said.