My Turn: It’s OK to say ‘stop eating meat’ |

My Turn: It’s OK to say ‘stop eating meat’

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; Movie stars, TV news anchors, newspapers and public educators spend many days preceding Earth Day talking about a list of things people can do to help the environment.

You hear recycle, turn off lights, take shorter showers, buy local, bike when you can, reuse. Itand#8217;s a great list, yet it always leaves out an important fact that you can also stop eating meat to help the environment.

The United Nations explains how factory farming is one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems at every scale, from local to global. A vegan diet can combat the worst effects of climate change; it can help to eliminate the excrement from animals raised for food that produces runoff from factory farms and pollutes our lakes and rivers; it can help to stop the Amazon rainforests from being cleared for meat production; it can save 95,000 gallons of water a year that would normally be used to clean the filthy factory farms and give the animals water to drink; it can help save fossil fuels because it takes eight times as much fossil fuel to produce animal protein as it does to produce the same amount of plant protein; it can stop endless suffering to dolphins, birds, sea lions and other bycatch animals that get caught in commercial fishing nets; and a vegan diet would also stop the billions of animals from being mutilated, confined and violently killed by the U.S. meat, dairy and egg industries every year.

Iand#8217;m not sure why this topic continues to be ignored by some of our public figures and educators, but I promise it is OK to pledge to stop eating meat as one of the things you will do this year to help the environment. Actually, if you eat no meat or even less meat, you will not only help the environment, but you will also help your health and help to stop endless animal abuse and suffering.

I have not eaten an animal in 22 years and I have lived an amazing life. I enjoy hosting vegan Thanksgiving dinners and vegan Easter dinners for my friends and family where everyone always goes back for seconds. When at restaurants with friends, someone always looks to my plate and says, and#8220;I wish I ordered what you did. It looks delicious!and#8221;

I enjoy good, healthy food that keeps me healthy and active. So active, I have run a marathon and completed a triathlon with no training; hiked, biked and even paddle boarded around all of Lake Tahoe; swum 5 miles across a lake in the dark; back country skied Jakes many times, as well as rock climbed Half Dome and Mount Whitney.

I have done all these things without a single ounce of animal protein in my body. My life as a vegan has been great, and I enjoy eating a cruelty-free diet; knowing that I am contributing to help save this wonderful Earth that all living beings need to thrive makes me very happy.

My husband and I have volunteered and run a booth for the past five years at our local Squaw Valley Earth Day Festival. We have baked 1,500 vegan chocolate chip cookies to hand out with some educational literature about why meat is not green.

This year we decided to bake 1,500 vegan brownies. Every year is such a success that we run out around 2 p.m. and people are willing to stick their hands into our and#8220;crumb bag,and#8221; just to get a taste. Itand#8217;s been a pretty great vegan life and I hope one day soon all the TV stations and all the public schools will add to the list and#8220;stop eating meatand#8221; as one of the things you can do this Earth day to save the environment.

Heidi Timinsky is an Olympic Valley resident.

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