On the surface, it seems like teenagers are ditching animal products because this generation is simply just getting in touch with their compassionate side. But if you look closer, the reason behind it is much deeper.

Climate change is a frightening issue, especially for teenagers like me because we are the generation that will watch our world face devastation if nobody takes action. I had heard about veganism before, but I didn’t know why so many people decided to switch to that lifestyle. It wasn’t until I watched a film called Cowspiracy that I learned about the environmental devastation that took place in order to make the food on my plate.

Animal agriculture is a huge contributor to climate change. In addition to that, it is the leading cause of species’ extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction. Since approximately 70 billion animals are killed for human consumption each year, there is no sustainable way to raise them without environmental devastation being involved. Livestock raised for food takes up about ⅓ of Earth’s land and is responsible for 91% of amazon deforestation to make room to raise the animals. Raising livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide per year. That’s 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.

This is why the UN is urging a global move to a more vegan diet. Since the population will approximately be 9.1 billion by 2050, many people speculate that the meat industry may have to come to a halt, and that big fast food companies will be forced to switch to meat substitutes. If the demand for meat grows as the population grows, which means that the damage done to the environment will only increase.

When I tell adults about this, I’m shocked at how many are clueless about this going on. Or perhaps they are aware about what’s going on but merely don’t care since most of them won’t be alive by 2050. I will be 50 years old in 2050. I and other teenagers cannot just sit back and let this happen and then be forced to wallow in the destruction that the older generations left us in. Though it feels like we can’t stop climate change as a whole, we can tweak little aspects of our life to help the cause. We can stop eating meat. We are the generation that has the power to change.

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