Earth Day is Friday, offering a challenging opportunity for all of us to consider how we can transform our lives in small and large ways in order to mitigate the climate crisis. This is an annual invitation to reflect on how our religious values of living within the interdependent web of existence happens each and every day.
We know from some excellent researchers, that our carbon footprint matters, and our choices around diet, travel, heating/cooling, education, and gardening (among other things) all impact our carbon footprint. In more detail, we know a meat-centric, highly processed, often-excessive Western diet is on the rise around the world. This is a huge problem because a meat centered diet is a major contributor to carbon emissions due to agricultural practices, transportation, and refrigeration. Eating locally produced meat products helps a lot, particularly if sustainable and low impact agriculture practices are used.
I became a vegetarian in 1983 while attending the University of Durham in England. I gave up meat due to the combination of the poor quality of British institutional cooking and reading Frances Moore Lappe’s book Diet for a Small Planet. I have not given up dairy, I love cheese and ice cream too much; I even married a meatless man who fortunately loves cheese as much as me. Living a meatless lifestyle has worked really well for me, it helps that I love tofu and vegetables.
Plant based diet enthusiasts include the Buddha, Confucius, Pythagoras, Leonardo da Vinci, Leo Tolstoy, Gandhi, Gaudí, Percy Bysshe Shelley and George Bernard Shaw. For me, being a vegetarian is an important spiritual practice as much as it is about my health, and supporting our beautiful land. I give careful attention to what I’m eating in order to get my protein and balance the other elements in my daily meals, but also to notice the relationship between land, water, food, and my body.
Maybe being a full-time vegetarian is not for you. Maybe you can reduce your meat consumption to one or two meals a week. It helps slow carbon release when your reduction is combined with thousands of other people. If not this change, maybe there is another change in your life that can help transform humanity’s relationship with the climate. Whatever change you choose, do so intentionally, and do so knowing it is a spiritual practice and connected to your UU religious values.
At our annual meeting on May 22, we will likely be invited to vote on a congregation-wide focus on climate justice. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the whole community to use our collective power to learn, be climate activists, and build partnerships with other religious communities and non-profits who share our concerns and desire to mitigate the climate crisis.
There’s a lot of power in changing our individual lives, but there’s even more power in linking with other members of the Pittsburgh community. Maybe then Earth Day won’t be just one day a year, maybe every day will be Earth Day.
Love, Rev. Kate
Susan Cox has moved to Room 354 in Westminster Place, and her husband, Paul Cox, moved into Woodside Place on the Presby Senior Care campus, located at 1215 Hulton Road, Oakmont 15139. Though emotionally challenging, these transitions have been successful. Susan’s phone number and email address are unchanged: 724-831-8655, email@example.com. Susan welcomes cards and calls.