In case you missed it, yesterday was Earth Day—a designated time to reflect on the natural world we live in, and consider the steps we individually and collectively can take to preserve our surroundings, by practicing acts of protection, concern, and respect. For me personally, Earth Day is a time to reflect on the meaning of two things very close to my heart: 1) a plant-based lifestyle, and 2) connecting with the natural world on foot, be it by way of walking, running, hiking, or even chasing waterfalls.
1. “V” IS FOR VEGAN
If there’s anything that I find to be synonymous with Earth Day, it’s celebrating the vibrancy, and wonder of plant-based foods. On the vegan front, Earth Day reminds me of a story I wrote not too many months ago for the Independent News, Pensacola, Fla.’s alternative weekly newspaper. At the time I wrote the story, a local environmental group was putting together a presentation on Veganism, using the environmental arguments for choosing a plant-based diet as a stepping off point to open up a dialogue.
Thanks to the presentation falling during World Vegan Month, the stars aligned for this subject to be on the cover of our paper that week, making for one happy vegan. Since my personal vegan journey is one that first and foremost is driven by health, the concern for the health of the planet is certainly a piece of this puzzle. Writing this story allowed me to share bits of my own vegan experience, and reflect on the relationship between Veganism and the environment, while shedding light on the countless positive benefits of a plant-based lifestyle.
When it comes to our dietary choices in relationship to the environment, my favorite quote from one of my local environmentalist subjects interviewed sums it up best, offering poignant food for thought.
“We spend so much time getting wrapped up over plastic bags, or plastic bottles, when really we can make a monumental difference just by forgoing a single hamburger or single car trip.”
This isn’t to say we shouldn’t care about recycling our plastic bottles, or picking up plastic bags; however, what it does mean, is that a little perspective goes along way.
2. EVERY STEP COUNTS
Speaking of avoiding car trips, there are few things I enjoy more than exploring and getting to know a new territory by way of a run. In my opinion, it’s the best way to get to know a place. That said, connecting with the environment by foot doesn’t have to involve running. It could mean walking to your nearby destination, instead of driving, or taking an intentional walk for leisure, simply for the sake of enjoyment, or for exercise. Ultimately, the more actual footsteps (or bike rides) you take opposed to jumping in the car, the more minimal your carbon footprint becomes. Plus, you just might find the experience changes your whole perspective on the day in front of you.
Ultimately, if we woke up treating every day like it was Earth Day, that is, really considering the weight of each action and reaction we take throughout the day, not only in relation to how it effects us, but how it either helps or harms the environment around us, I imagine the world would be in much better shape.
And so, perhaps above all, Earth Day is the perfect occasion to reawaken our own mindfulness and appreciation for the beauty that can be found in the natural world around us, when we open our eyes. The beauty that begs us to take notice. The beauty that inspires us to get up, get out and grab hold of it. The beauty that needs us to take care of it. The beauty that exists not only on Earth Day, but every day.