Jane Goodall Says: Give Up Meat for the Environment, Animals and Our Health

|Updated Jul 14, 2021
Getty Images for Greentech Festi

The world's foremost expert on chimpanzees, beloved primatologist and environmentalist Dr. Jane Goodall delivered a message to her fans during her speech at a National Press Club (NPC) event recently to implore people to give up meat for the sake of the planet and our own health. Introduced by NPC president Michael Freeman with a quote from her British Vogue interview, Goodall told the crowd, "Human disrespect for animals and the environment is hastening our own destruction. Indeed, the COVD-19 pandemic is a direct result of that disrespect."

During her opening statement, Goodall took stock of the current climate crisis: "The situation that we're witnessing now is not exactly like World War II... this is different, World War II was imposed upon us by a foreign nation. The pandemic is a result of all of us, and the way that we have disrespected the environment and animals."

Fight Climate Change and Go Meatless

Goodall went on to say that one significant thing we can each do to try to build a better future and reduce the chances of another future pandemic is to lessen our individual meat consumption; "If we would just stop eating all of this meat, the difference would be huge because [of] all of these billions of farm animals. Whole environments are wiped out to grow the grain to feed them." Goodall, who hasn't eaten meat herself since the 1970s, believes reducing the demand for meat is one significant way we can benefit the environment, as well as all animals and each of our own personal health.

"The most important message is that each one of us– we might only make a tiny impact, a tiny difference with the choice we make of what to buy: How did it harm the environment? Did it cause animals to suffer? Is it cheap because of child slave labor and inequitable wages? And, if we all make ethical choices then were going to be able to contribute to mitigating climate change."

The UN Messenger of Peace and 86-year old activist crystalized one tangible thing that each of us can do to fight climate change, although she herself wishes that the governments would put into place more eco-friendly laws. Since many governments haven't enacted such laws, Goodall highlights one important way we can each help. "If everybody ate less meat, or preferably no meat, it wouldn’t only reduce cruelty, but it would also have a huge impact, positive impact on the environment.”

You can watch Dr. Goodall's full live-streamed conversation with NPC and Michael Freeman below.