Each April, students at Deerfield compete to see who can save the most energy and water by unplugging electronics, taking shorter showers, and living in dark dorms for weeks. Students are excited and motivated to save energy during the “Green and Blue Cup Challenges,” which allow the academy to save money and help the environment at the same time. With these competitions, it’s clear that Deerfield prioritizes efforts to help the environment.
However, Deerfield would be able to save energy and water at an exponentially higher rate, while also helping improve world hunger, if it took the initiative to make a relatively minor change in the dining hall: serving meatless meals for one day a week.
In fact, veganism and vegetarianism are widely regarded as the most impactful practices an individual can do to help improve the environment worldwide. The documentary Cowspiracy, shown at DA in October, offers clear statistics on how animal agriculture dramatically hurts the environment, and how just one person eating a plant-based diet can significantly benefit the environment as a whole. For instance, the Cowspiracy website mentions that it takes 660 gallons of water to make a single hamburger, which is equivalent to the amount of water used by one person in two months just for showering. Although Deerfield currently encourages small changes to save water such as taking shorter showers or turning off the faucet, students could save over 100 times more water by simply replacing one meal a week with a plant-based option.*
While eating a more plant-based diet has a dramatic impact on one’s personal energy and water usage, it can also influence greater environmental issues, making the choice to eat less animal products even more beneficial.
Carbon dioxide emissions are a leading cause of climate change overall, and while these emissions are often attributed to vehicles or major factories, statistics show that 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock and their byproducts.* Switching to a plant-based diet would reduce an individual’s carbon footprint by 50%.* Furthermore, few recognize the link between extinction and animal agriculture. A leading cause of species extinction is the destruction of a species’ habitat as a result of deforestation, and animal agriculture is responsible for as much as 91% of the deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.*
However, these negative effects can be alleviated. If Deerfield, as a community, simply replaced one meal a week in the dining hall with a plant-based option, our community would be doing its part in combatting the greatest environmental threats of our time.
At The Scroll, we call for Deerfield students and faculty to recognize how this simple change can have a major influence on our school’s carbon footprint. We believe that this step is key in ensuring that our community makes every possible effort to combat the climate change and environmental destruction plaguing our society today and which could have potentially devastating effects in the future.
*All statistics come from “Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret”