I first realized that I was to blame for the climate crisis one day when I was gazing at the mountain by my home whose glaciers have shrunk colossally during the record-breaking heatwaves. I was eating my granola bar. I looked up at the mountain and then down at my hands holding plastic-wrapped quinoa. I was so ashamed.
Did you know quinoa is one of the five most devastating foods to the planet? I’ve read hundreds of lists of all the foods that I should avoid and it turns out you should avoid basically everything. Quinoa doesn’t always make the top five, but I cut out quinoa when I learned its environmental impact just to be safe. Also rice. Millet. Bulgur. Turns out, these so-called ancient grains have been destroying the planet for millennia. Though I don’t blame the food. It’s human beings and our appetites that are the problem.
Soon after cutting grains, I became a pescatarian. Grazing animals account for 14 percent of emissions from food production, and I figured that cutting the beef, so to speak, would be sufficient. I did not know that the oceans would be empty by 2048 because of my seafood habit. I hadn’t seen Seaspiracy yet. I also hadn’t wondered yet why they didn’t just call it “Conspirasea.” But once I watched it, it became abundantly clear: fish had to go too.
Free of all animal products, I switched to soy alternatives. Dear God, I was so naive. I poured soy milk into my morning coffee and still believed that I deserved to exist and consume things. Then I found out Amazon sourced my soy milk from the Amazon where 220,000 square kilometers of forest were decimated in the span of 10 years for soy farming.
The more I learned about the climate crisis, the more I realized that in order to save the planet, I have to stop eating entirely. It’s not enough to just digest documentaries named after utensils. We have to take personal responsibility. We can’t have our planet and eat it too.
Avocados? Just a cash crop for the drug cartels destroying Mexico.
Almonds? Sucking reservoirs everywhere dry.
Candy? Totally fine—as long as you like palm oil and killing orangutans.
Bananas? A delicious treat if you don’t care about the rainforest.
And don’t get me started on GMO corn.
I’m not sure which food is most responsible for the polar bears dying, but it might just be water.
I read a Guardian article on this topic three times, googled terms like “heterotroph” and “mutualism,” paced, watched Seaspiracy again, understood nothing, and concluded that I have to stop eating everything. We can’t possibly understand our impact in a world this complicated and the only answer is to have no impact whatsoever.
People think I’m crazy for starving myself to death. But I’m just trying to do my part. The climate crisis won’t stop itself and eating has an unconscionable impact. I admit: at one point, I hoped someone else might tell me what to do or even make policy decisions to address the crisis. I longed for a public discourse that didn’t reduce the global catastrophe perpetrated by fossil fuel conglomerates to a case of bad personal decision-making on the part of everyday people. In other words, I refused to hold myself accountable. I kept using plastic straws. I drank water every day. Then I realized it’s not about oil giants and big banks changing their policies. There are 7.6 billion of us and like five of them. Starvation is our only moral choice.
I do worry how they’ll dispose of my remains. Cremation? Greenhouse gas creation. Embalming fluids? More poison dumped into the ground. I’ve left specific instructions for when I’m gone regarding my mushroom burial suit. I just hope the fungi can minimize the horrendous trace I’ll leave when I depart this fragile earth.