In 2020, we closed out the decade with yet another environmental milestone, and not the kind you celebrate: It's been a traumatic decade of extreme weather: Melting ice caps and rising sea levels, all driven by human-created greenhouse gases (GHGs). There is simply no denying it: Our planet is heating up. Or as Greta Thunberg, the global activist, says, "Our house is on fire".

While such news can certainly overwhelm you, know that you are not helpless in this crisis, and it is not entirely hopeless when it comes to reducing our footprint. Each of us can cut our food-related environmental impact in half, just by making this the year to commit to eating a more plant-based diet.

After fossil fuels, animal agriculture is the second-largest contributor of carbon and methane emissions, and industrial farming is a leading cause of deforestation, water, and air pollution and accounts for biodiversity loss. If we continue with business as usual, by 2050, the emissions associated with the world's food system will be 51 percent higher than they are today. But there is hope, or at least mitigating ways that we can each dial back further damage to our planet Consider:

If a single person moves from a high-meat diet to a vegan one, he or she could reduce his or her annual carbon footprint by 1,560kg CO2e. That’s the same amount of carbon produced by driving 13,985 miles, or halfway around the planet. Do it as a couple and you save enough to drive ALL the way around the globe.

If all 320 million Americans replaced beef with plant-based alternatives, it would cut emissions by 278 million metric tons CO2ean impact equal to removing over 200 cars from the roads for one year, or NOT driving the 2,492,258 miles it would take to circle the world 100 times.

If every person on earth adopted a vegan diet, the GHGs associated with the world's food system would fall by more than half by 2050, making vegan the only diet capable of putting the planet on track to meet the international goal of limiting warming to two degrees Celsius by then.

So, are you ready to do your part? The Beet will be kicking off its 21-Day Plant-Based Challenge the first week of January. You pick the day you want to start, and we’ll supply the expert advice, shopping tips, restaurant recommendations, delicious recipes, and a whole community of supporters. Check back here in the days ahead for more information on how to get started.

Change your diet, save the world. It’s that simple.

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