Here is the full transcript of Genesis Butler’s TEDx Talk: A 10-Year Old’s Vision for Healing the Planet at TEDxCSULB conference.
When I was three years old, my favorite food was chicken nuggets. I loved chicken nuggets. I could eat them almost every day. One day, I was sitting at the dinner table staring at the nuggets, and I started to wonder about where they came from. So I asked my mom, “Mom, where do my chicken nuggets come from?” She looked at me and she said, “From the grocery store.”
Well, I knew they came from the grocery store, so I tried again: “Mom, where do my chicken nuggets really come from?” She told me that we killed animals for them.
“What? We eat animals, mom? I never want to eat meat, ever again.”
That night, me and my mom stopped eating animals. One year later, I remember walking into my mom’s bedroom, and I saw her nursing my baby sister Zion, and it made me think about the milk I drink. So I asked my mom, “Mom, where does my milk come from?” She told me that we got it from mama cows. I said, “So that’s the same with taking your milk, just to give it to humans instead of my baby sister, right?” She said, “That’s exactly how it is. I’ve never thought of it that way!”
I knew I would stop drinking and eating dairy products. It’s been four years since I went vegan, and I love it! Because I know I’m helping animals and also the earth, too. Soon, my whole family joined me. Not eating animal products will not only save animals, but it will help stop much of the damage we have done to the earth.
Now, you may wonder, “What does veganism have to do with the planet?” I know I thought the same thing too until I learned these facts, and honestly, they really worried me. I hope they worry you too. According to many scientific studies, raising animals for food is the primary cause of global climate change, loss of biodiversity, pollution, and water shortage – just to name a few. The California Water Education study shows it takes 2,463 gallons of water just to produce one pound of beef, 2,500 gallons is like filling up a large bath pool of water 20 times.
It also takes close to 500 gallons for one pound of poultry or pork, and 900 gallons for one pound of cheese. The average American eats 198 pounds of meat each year. The world average is 75 pounds of meat. There are over six billion people on this planet who eat meat. That’s a lot of water used just so humans can eat animals.
In fact, the USDA states 80% to 90% of the water used in the United States is for animal agriculture. A five-minute shower uses 25 gallons of water, but it takes up to 1,300 gallons just to produce one burger. That is equivalent to almost two months of showers. I see a lot of people in their eco-friendly cars with their “Save the Earth” bumper stickers, but they are in drive-throughs ordering burgers. I wonder if they know animal agriculture causes far more environmental destruction than the entire transportation industry. That’s all buses, trucks, cars, boats, and planes in the world.
The emissions from animal agriculture are projected to rise by 80% in the next 30 years. But the emissions from energy are only projected to rise by 20%. Now, this really scares me. It makes me worry about the future of my generation and future generations, when people can change the way they eat, it’d have an immediate impact on the planet.
I have come to you as a representative of my generation and future generations to come. To ask you to think about the foods you eat if you eat animals and animal products, and how it has a negative impact on the planet I know, a lot of you may be thinking it may be hard to go vegan, or you just really don’t want to. I know this because when we first went vegan, I saw my mom in the back of her closet eating a chocolate bar. But that was before she knew there was a lot of great dairy-free chocolates.
I know, at first it may be hard, but it gets easier. It just is a choice you make every day. So, how do you do this, and where do you start? Shop in the colorful section of the grocery store. No, I’m not talking about the aisles with the foods with ingredients we can’t pronounce. The produce section has a variety of fruits and vegetables we need to try.
In fact, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states, “A vegan lifestyle can be healthy at all stages of life and bring all of the necessary nutrients we need, such as protein.” There are even companies that sell animal-free alternatives to your favorite meals. You can still eat your favorite foods knowing animals and the earth are not being harmed. It’s a total win-win, right? You can also go on the Internet and find thousands of fun, nutritious, and delicious vegan recipes that you can access at the click of a button. Think it will be hard? It’s actually not.
Many restaurants offer vegan options, or you can even ask your chef to veganize your dish by leaving off the meat and the dairy. Now that you have some information of how to take animals products off of your plates, I would like you to think about one of my favorite quotes, which is a native American proverb, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” Please consider my generation and future generations, and know that we are worried about our future on this planet. And we are looking for adults to help. The good news is that by changing what you choose to eat, you will become a part of healing our planet, saving animals, and ensuring a bright future for all of us.