My newest T-shirt design is “Save Trees Eat Plants”. It sounds kind of paradoxical, doesn’t it ? Trees are plants after all, how can we save plants by eating plants? I hope that this apparent paradox will be a nice way to start conversations in real life on the topic of deforestation and our dietary choices.
Meat is inefficient
If you’re following the page you probably already know what this slogan is referring to: deforestation caused by meat production. The demand for animal products is one of the driving factors for deforestation in the Amazon and many other places. The reason for this is pretty simple, animals need a lot more food to grow up and live than they produce. They didn’t evolve to be meat producing machines, so their metabolism burns most of the food we feed them. Producing calories or proteins from animals ends up taking quite a lot of land : 83% of farmland is used to feed animals. Forests are cleared to make way for mono-cultures like soy and maize or for pastures. All of this land use provides only a fraction of the calories and proteins we consume. Animal agriculture is a really inefficient way to feed humanity. This might not be the case in some parts of the world. A lot of tribal societies have learned to survive in very arid environments on animal products. Often times they use herbivore animals to convert the scarce plant resources into food that they can eat, but for the vast majority of people this is not the case. Practically everybody in the industrialized world has the option to eat foods that require much less land and need much less energy.
Eat more plants
While completely eliminating animal products from our diets would be a great achievement, it isn’t very likely to happen fast enough on a large enough scale. This said, I think we can all agree that we can eat far less animal products by replacing them with plant-based alternatives. It is safe to assume that when we replace animals products with plant foods we improve the environmental footprint of our diet. Some people are reducing their meat consumption by 100%, but this shouldn’t discourage other people to reduce theirs by 20, 50 or 75 percent. We don’t have the time to worry about perfection. It’s much easier to imagine a country where people eat 50% less meat, than to imagine a country with 50% vegans. The result for the environment would arguably be the same. It’s hard to see the connection between our plates and deforestation but it’s there and unless we become aware of it we’ll keep on over-consuming irreplaceable natural resources. The expanding middle class in populous countries is switching more and more to a meat-based diet and if this trend keeps on going on we’ll observe the complete obliteration of the last ecosystems. So I condensed this into this simple, yet provocative slogan: Save Trees, Eat Plants.
Not all plants are made equal
Of course, once the conversation around our food starts it shouldn’t be limited to animal products. There are many other luxury foods that we consume which are directly linked to deforestation : avocados in Mexico, palm oil in Indonesia, cocoa beans, coconut oil etc… Actually, all plant oils consume a lot of land and we don’t necessarily need them. All these topics should be a part of the conversation surrounding the footprint of our food. Changing our eating patterns doesn’t simply reduce the demand. Food is culture and habit, so by changing our diets we reshape our cultures and the market. We make it easier and more likely for people in the future to eat more ecologically efficient plant foods.
The proceeds of the sales help pay for the costs my websites and my bills, this allows me to invest my time and energy in developing the online communities that I manage. The shirts are an excellent way to start conversations about the environment. They bring the dialog from social media into real life, which isn’t always something simple.
You can order the shirts from this link if you’re from the North America, or from this link if you live in Europe. Check out the Eco-friendlier options, such as organic cotton and bamboo.
Selling merchandise is not the most environmental-friendly way to fund my work, and neither is advertising. If you would like to support me but you don’t need a T-shirt, and you enjoy the fact that my website is free of advertisements, please do so by subscribing for a monthly donation through PayPal or Patreon. Ideally, I would like to get all of my financing through crowdfunding as it allows to stay true to the anti-consumerist message which is at the core of our online communities.
And if you don’t have the financial means to help MTLA, keep on supporting the community through your online interactions. You’re the one who gives life to all the messages, news articles and ideas that we share across social media. And dare to talk about the environment with people in real life, I know it’s not an easy task.