Want To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint And Help The Planet? Eat Less Meat.

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Imagine you are at your favorite non-vegetarian restaurant on your birthday with your friends to have your treasured Mutton Special Biriyani with Mutton Kasha. You flip open the menu card to find that the restaurant only has items that have a green dot beside them. You continue flipping the pages to search for your favorite non-vegetarian dishes, but unfortunately, you do not find a single dish with a red dot beside it.

What do you do next? You put some weird reviews on their website along with writing long posts on Facebook saying that the restaurant, which used to be famous for its meat kebabs and Biriyani, is now selling vegetarian food, which is unacceptable.

Am I right? I guess yes because I would have also done the same thing. However, you perhaps missed reading the small note on the top of the menu card, saying that ‘We have partnered with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to make this planet a greener one by shifting to vegetarian meals. Please try us once in our new attire.’

The average meat consumption per person has nearly doubled over the past 50 years.

Well, the assertion of whether having meat shall deteriorate the environment is a challenging question to answer. But citing the statistics, the average meat consumption per person has nearly doubled over the past 50 years. From 23 kgs in 1961 to 43 kgs in 2014, the rate at which meat consumption has increased is much higher than the rate at which the population grew over the same period. Coming back to the question, well, the production of meat is associated with various other secondary and tertiary food types. It might turn out that reducing the meat production channel may affect the secondary channels, which used meat production as the primary source of material influx.

However, recent studies have shown that the influencing index of meat production to the environment is much higher as compared to the downstream industries, which use meat as the primary inflow. Meat produces higher greenhouse gas emissions per unit energy as compared to what plant-based resources produce—owing to the fact that energy is lost at each tropic level.

Consumption of meat accelerates the production of all three major greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. The parameter is known as CO2 equivalents, which is referred to as a total carbon measure dissipated from all sources of carbonaceous phases for a given context. Using the composite measures, the CO2 equivalents in case of livestock production, including the greenhouse gases emission, accounts for around 15% of all the human-caused emissions.

I was reading a blog published by the New York Times, which stated that anthropogenic activities are responsible for 37 giga-metric tons of CO2. Thirty-seven hundred giga-metric ton of continuous emissions are estimated to cause 2°C warming. Thus, it is evident that each century shall account for the average temperature to rise by 0.1°C, which is a lot considering the participation of the secondary catalyzing factors.

As the world is continuing to increase its demand for meat and beef, the agricultural domains have also started to proliferate the breeding process extensively. But a question remains in this assertion: how can the grazing grounds be increased synchronizing with these rising demands?

Grazing helps to cultivate more resources below the ground because of the shear action, which helps in carbon sequestration, and thus, balancing the carbon cycle along with alleviating the nitrogen for the next generations. However, the greenhouse gases are intimately linked with these gaseous cycles. The demand for more meat eventually leads to overgrazing as the land area available for nurturing grass which is constant. This creates a misbalance in both the atmospheric carbon and nitrogen cycle.

Furthermore, raising the bar for livestock farming results in the loss of biodiversity as they are often converted to grazing grounds. The deforestation also has a severe impact on the global carbon footprints as the process drives one of the significant ecosystems to asymmetry with the global biome.

The above concerns and for the well being of the environment, there has been an emergence of the meat substitutes. The chicken flavored Maggi product is one of the classic examples where the company is using chicken-flavored tastemakers to bring the taste of chicken without incorporating any flesh.

History traces that the changes in dietary habits in response to a critical barrier are generally slow as there is a variety of factors which intervene in the strategy. However, with the help of the governmental bodies and organizations along with institutes may help to accelerate the process a bit more.

But above all, we must change. Next time when we visit a restaurant, let’s order one mutton dish with a vegetable side platter. Who knows, maybe this combination might taste better than the traditional mutton dishes we have. You do not need to be perfect to initiate a change, but for sure, your small jump can make the fallen pieces fit perfectly.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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