With President Trump’s move this week to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, it’s more important than ever that we as private citizens do what we can to mitigate climate change.
A growing body of evidence tells us that the best way we can do this is to eliminate animal products from our diets. While analysts disagree about the precise extent to which animal agriculture contributes to climate change, there is broad agreement that the impact is huge. The December 2014 Chatham House report Livestock – Climate Change’s Forgotten Sector, for example, concluded that “greenhouse gas emissions from the livestock sector are estimated to account for 14.5 per cent of the global total, more than direct emissions from the transport sector.”
I am particularly proud that one of the two largest initiatives of the Gregory J. Reiter Memorial Fund is a partnership with Food for Thought – a U.S. nationwide program of Animal Place, the California organization that inspired Greg and me to become vegetarian and then ultimately vegan.
The Food for Thought program provides resources to help organizations adopt vegan or vegetarian menu policies for their events, and it initially focused primarily on animal shelters.
In the first months after Greg’s death, I contemplated how I might best honor his legacy – combining his commitment to veganism, animals, and the environment. Brainstorming with the Animal Place team, the answer became clear: through the Greg Fund, I would help the Food for Thought program expand to include wildlife and environmental organizations.
In 2016, the Fund made an initial grant to support targeted information and outreach to these organizations. Then in 2017, the Fund made an additional contribution specifically to provide one-time recognition grants to wildlife or environmental organizations that newly adopt vegan or vegetarian menu policies.
As of today, twenty-six wildlife organizations have signed up as formal endorsers or supporters of the Food for Thought program, along with eight environmental organizations. These and other groups have shared their sample vegan or vegetarian menu policies via the Food for Thought website.
Also, just last month, Food for Thought awarded the first two grants to wildlife organizations that newly adopted animal-friendly menu policies for their events: to Colorado Native Bird Care and Conservation, which has decided that all its future events will at least be vegetarian but with vegan as the goal; and to Animal Help Now, developers of a nationwide wildlife emergency database, which has adopted a fully vegan approach to its meeting and event food purchases.
Through the Greg Fund, I look forward to continuing to work with Food for Thought to help many more wildlife and environmental organizations adopt vegan menu policies for their events.