What is ‘Eco-Anxiety’, and how can we help others who show signs of it?
Hearing bad news about natural disasters, such as: floods; fires; drought; or habitat destruction, are enough to subject people to a wide range of feelings and thoughts. This is what has become known as: ‘eco-anxiety’, or ‘eco-distress’. Eco-anxiety is a phenomenon that is mostly encountered by young people, and could even manifest in convictions such as: not wanting to have children of their own; or a general hopelessness or pessimism about going to school and developing a career.
If you notice that a family member or friend is showing signs of eco-anxiety, reach out to them, get in touch, talk to them, and listen to them. If you think that their anxiety or distress is tied to the environment, suggest that you spend time with them in an activity that puts them in contact with nature, such as taking a walk in a local garden, forest, or park, or buying some pots, filling them with soil and fertiliser and planting some seeds, or building a bird feeder. Also, if your family member or friend is not already a member of a local interest group, you should encourage them to join it together. If they already are, but you aren’t, you should join it and show support and solidarity for not only the environment but also your family member or friend’s mental health and wellbeing.
How by exploring a more vegan diet you can help do your bit for the environment.
Despite being a small step, if you and your family member or friend regularly eat out together, consider exploring more vegan options. In 2010, the British livestock industry needed an area the size of Yorkshire to produce the soy used in feed, but if global demand for meat grows as expected, by 2050, soy production would need to increase by nearly 80%. The World Wide Fund for Nature (‘WWF’)’s policy manager, Duncan Williamson, stated that:
‘A staggering 60% of global biodiversity loss is down to the food we eat.’
With 23 billion chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, and guinea fowl on the planet, more than 3 per person, the biggest user of crop-based feed globally is poultry, with the pig industry being the second largest at 30%, with the average Brit eating on average 25kg of pork, nearly the whole recommended yearly intake for all meats. UK nutritional guidelines recommend 45-55g of protein per day, with the average Brit actually exceeding that with 64-88g, 37% of which is meat and meat products. The journal ‘Nature’ had stated that, in order to keep the global temperature rise by 2050 below 2 degrees Celsius, Brits would need to consume: 9 times less pork; 5 times more legumes; 90% less beef; and 60% less milk.
A promising start.
In response to climate change and global warming, more and more people are exploring vegan dietary options, as well as many more self-identifying less and less as ‘carnivores’ or ‘omnivores’, but as ‘flexitarians’, in a sense of duty to do their bit in order to become more sustainable and lower their carbon footprint. This is no better evidenced by the UK’s 2017 National Food Survey, where they had indicated a notion that the UK had perhaps reached ‘peak meat’ with consumption of raw beef, lamb, and pork, all dropping by 4.2%, and that of meat products, such as sausages, bacon, and poultry, all dropping by 7%, since 2012.
While it is a small step, it is still a step in the right direction. Undoubtedly, with the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, taking place in the city of Glasgow, fast approaching, there will be renewed interest in flexitarian diets and subsequently future dietary surveys will see a further drop in the consumption of animal products, all for the sake of sustainability and washing away that carbon footprint.