The holidays wouldn’t be complete without a little guilt, and no one’s better at leveling guilt than environmentalists.
Your Thanksgiving, they’d like to remind you, is slowly destroying the climate and killing the earth. Your turkey is choking off the planet and probably leaving your children to die vying for the last can of tuna in an arid, apocalyptic landscape. Your mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce is causing your next mass extinction.
The Huffington Post (now, HuffPo), published a lengthy diatribe on the subject Wednesday, heaping scorn upon scorn upon stuffing.
“Meat and meat byproducts (cheese, butter and heavy cream, for example) have a larger environmental footprint than plant-based ingredients,” the outlet sobs. “According to research done by Carnegie Mellon University, the carbon footprint of a 16-pound turkey creates a total of 34.2 pounds of CO2 — the same amount produced by turkey gravy, cranberry sauce, roasted Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, rolled biscuits and apple pie combined.”
Fortunately, that’s because turkeys are “efficient” at growing. They’re among the most carbon-emission friendly animals available for consumption, though, environmentalists are quick to point out, it’s still not as carbon-emission friendly as “Tofurky.”
“[P]lant-based foods consistently have been shown to have lower carbon footprints ― so those walnuts, chestnuts, mushrooms, etc. are far more efficient to produce in total resources than conventional animal products, especially red meat,” an expert told the HuffPo.
If that doesn’t shame you into forgoing your turkey dinner for a foraged feast, HuffPo goes on to explain how much carbon is emitted bringing the food from farm to table, the environmental cost of factory farming, how much food Americans waste (something along the lines of 30% – 40% of the food they purchase), and how, beyond anything else you might do this holiday season, your travel is the real carbon culprit.
That, of course, has an upside. If you don’t want to travel cross-country to spend the holidays with relatives you don’t like or that one cousin who insists on using the yearly sit down meal to sell a “Medicare-for-All” plan, you now have an excuse: you’re saving the planet.
“Researchers at Carnegie Mellon determined that four people flying a 600-mile trip produces 10 times the emissions of the Thanksgiving meal,” HuffPo reports. “Driving is less detrimental, but American cars emit close to a pound of CO2 per mile driven. Orchi Banerjee, a recent graduate of the department of Social and Decision Sciences at Carnegie Mellon, said, ‘It may help the environment if [your guests] stayed home and cooked their own meal.'”
That could probably only improve a holiday spent with an environmentalist.
To be fair to HuffPo, environmentalism’s preachers of the apocalypse have been shaming Americans out of their holiday meals since at least 2009. The amount of concerning carbon emitted during a Thanksgiving meal varies by outlet — HuffPo says 70, VICE says 80, and some other outlets can go as low as 50 — but they all agree that you’re killing the planet.
Thankfully, the University of California at Berkeley has some helpful hints on how to scale back your carbon consumption this holiday season: eat that Tofurky, explore your local farmer’s market (if you’re privileged enough to live somewhere like California, where those markets are year-round), “ditch the disposables” and single-use plastics (no straws!), compost your food, take a walk instead of falling into a food coma on the sofa, stay home for the holidays, and avoid the uber-capitalistic holiday of Black Friday.
That last one might not be environment-related.