The legendary animal conservationist wants you to #EatMeatLess—for your health, for other people, for the planet, and for the lives of billions of farm animals.

By Jane Goodall
April 19, 2021
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Jane Goodall's Call to Action: Small Steps Make a Difference
Credit: Emma Darvick

Every day we live, we have the choice of what kind of impact we want to make. Choosing to eat differently does not have to be a radical change. Small steps will make a difference. You have the choice to create a better world by considering the positive impact you can make through a plant-based diet. If you're new to the idea, or even if you have been plant-based for a while, my new recipe collection #EatMeatLess will inspire you. It demonstrates how easy, accessible, and affordable such a diet can be. More than anything, it is intended to help you realize how what we eat really does matter, really does make a difference as more and more people move toward a plant-based diet. When you #EatMeatLess, it makes a difference for you—for your health, for other people, for the planet, and for the lives of billions of farm animals.

When I first looked into the eyes of a wild chimpanzee, I knew that an intelligent being was looking back at me. I got to know the community members as individuals with different personalities; beings who could use and make tools, form long-term family bonds, and show true altruism. I was reprimanded initially by many scientists who tried to convince me that these attributes were unique to humans—that we were quite different from the rest of the animal kingdom. Eventually, detailed observations and documentary film forced people to abandon that reductionist way of thinking. We are part of and not separated from the rest of the animal kingdom. Cows, pigs, sheep and goats are highly intelligent. Hens, geese, ducks and turkeys can feel fear and pain. Pigs, for example, are in fact highly intelligent, comparable to dogs and primates. I have always loved pigs. 

It is important to realize that all these domestic farm animals are individuals and their lives have intrinsic value. It's up to us to speak out for them, for they cannot speak for themselves.

In addition, intensive animal farming inflicts terrible damage on the environment and contributes to the climate crisis. The animals must be fed, and large areas of habitat are destroyed for growing grain and for grazing. Studies have shown that it takes more land, water, and energy to produce a pound of animal protein than it does to produce a pound of plant protein. Beef, lamb, and dairy production are the biggest offenders.

Around the globe, fresh water supplies are decreasing and agriculture uses more fresh water than any other human activity. Almost one third of that water goes towards raising livestock. Cattle ranching is devastating vital rainforests, which, when cut down or burned, release massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, contributing to the greenhouse gases responsible for the climate crisis. As livestock digest their food, they release methane, another major greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. The fossil fuels required to operate farm machinery, produce fertilizer, and transport grain and livestock add to the grim picture. According to a special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the global livestock sector, which includes growing feed crops, manufacturing fertilizer, and shipping products is responsible for over 14 percent of all greenhouse-gas emissions. Those emissions are driving climate change, and in turn, climate change is hastening land degradation and destabilizing the world's food supply. 

We must do better.

Despite all of this, I have many reasons for hope—one of which is the remarkable human brain. There have already been so many innovations and ideas to change this system. There are more plant-based food options appearing every single day, and this book is proof that to #EatMeatLess doesn't mean sacrificing the pleasure, culture, or accessibility of food. But it all begins with you! You can help set the standard for a food system that cares about people, animals, and the planet. 

So, choose to #EatMeatLess as this small step can have big results. Imagine the world we could create—one bite at a time.

This essay was excerpted from Jane Goodall's new cookbook, #EatMeatLess: Good for Animals, the Earth, and All.

Ready to eat like a Climatarian? Try these three delicious recipes from Jane Goodall's cookbook.

cauliflower-pumpkin-seed-tacos-recipe-Jane-Goodall
Credit: Erin Scott

Cauliflower Pumpkin Seed Tacos

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The cauliflower in these tacos has enough texture to stand in for meat, and its mellow flavor pairs well with spices and seasonings. Pepitas come from a squash grown for its large hull-less seeds, and are very different from the seeds you scrape out of a Halloween pumpkin. They require less water to grow than most nuts, and contain protein, heart-healthy fats, and plenty of vitamins and minerals.

lentil-miso-soup-recipe: Jane Goodall
Credit: Erin Scott

Lentil-Miso Soup With Spinach

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Easy to find and inexpensive, lentils are the plant-based eater's friend, delivering protein, fiber, and minerals in comforting soups like this one. Instead of using a meat-based stock, you'll add umami and depth to the soup with miso, a Japanese condiment made of fermented soybeans and sometimes other beans and grains.

tofu-scramble-wraps-recipe Jane Goodall
Credit: Erin Scott

Tofu Scramble Wraps With Spinach and Spiced Sunflower Seeds

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Leave the eggs to the hens and try this tofu scramble for breakfast instead. In this recipe, the addition of chickpea flour and turmeric gives the scramble an eggy texture and color. Sustainably grown tofu has a low carbon footprint and its protein level is high, so buy a block or two next time you go shopping. If you want to eat the scramble straight out of the pan with toast, that works, too.