Q. SEE (Climate Diet) is entering its 3rd year of operation with you as President for this time. Do you see sufficient progress—it does seem that the discussion of meat reduction in regard to climate change (SEE’s mission) is much more known than a few years ago?
A. Yes! I totally agree! SEE has helped bring more awareness to how meat reduction can have positive impacts on climate change. There has definitely been more awareness and movements by individuals to change their personal diets to do their part to practice meat reduction. The hope is that as more people make these individual decisions, it will start to have a bigger impact on the global market for livestock agriculture.
Q. Follow-up question: Do you see areas where SEE could have provided more influence?
A. I believe that the growth potential for SEE to further its mission is aligning with businesses that are bringing to market food products that use less or no meat or otherwise promote a reduced meat diet. Further, SEE should continue its effort to educate different populations on how to prepare meals that do not require meat but still provide the same nutrients.
Q. SEE for cost benefits, has focused on the media and coverage of the issue of animal agriculture and its impact on environment. SEE pivoted to make this a consumer issue to create “The Meat Down Pledge,” which about 600 people have signed (to reduce meat consumption at least 1/day/week. Do you think the media has done its job?
A. I believe that more can always be done to bring into focus the issue of animal agriculture and its impact on the environment. It’s a long road because of how entrenched meat production is with the global economy and diets.
Q. SEE’s goal of education is both general and specific. SEE launched “The Power of Food” program and taught it at a Maryland High School (J.F. Kennedy H.S./Wheaton MD) and all students were most interested in the climate impacts from diet choices (over health impacts). Does this indicate a divide in those who quickly see benefits of meat reduction and harm to environment, being a younger demographic?
A. There might be. However, it is always a good strategy to bring new ideas to youth because they are naturally more curious and receptive to new ways of thinking. Our youth will soon be the stewards of our planet and will have to make important decisions on how to best deal with climate change policy. This will include examining how diets affect climate change.
Q. Edgar, you are drawn to causes of helping others—working with disabled and homeless women as Chair of Open Arms Housing, where I served on Board and met you, then a new non-profit “Workplace Fairness,” and Sustainable Earth Eating. Can you talk about the importance and perhaps any intersection of these issues?
A. There are connections. We are starting to understand more that climate change will impact vulnerable people the most. This past summer with all the heat waves, showed that the unhoused population were unable to adequately protect themselves from the heat and were at risk of heat related illnesses. Similarly, workers that work in many industries – farmworkers, delivery drivers, warehouse workers, to name a few, are also at risk of facing increased workplace safety issues due to climate change. If we can turn back climate change it would prevent unnecessary suffering and limit the impacts to the economy if we need to collectively expend more resources to deal with unsafe workplaces or not enough housing for people exposed to harsher weather.
Q. Do you think public secondary schools have begun to focus on the health problems created from dairy and particularly red meat?
A. Yes and no. It depends on the school district and how the leaders place value on this specific issue. Unfortunately, some school districts do not have the resources to address this item or might be hostile to the idea.