Planted Expo highlights environmental impact of plant-based diet

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Planted Expo | Vancouver Convention Centre | June 4 – 5, 2022

Something that stood out at this year’s Planted Expo was the impact of animal agriculture on our environment and the ways in which eating a plant-based diet is the most important individual change we can make to combat climate change.

One of the weekend’s featured events was the Canadian premiere of the documentary Eating Our Way to Extinction. Narrated by Kate Winslet and directed by Otto Brockway, the film lays out the massive impact that animal agriculture is having on our planet. From deforestation and ocean acidification to freshwater shortages, and antibiotic resistance, the meat, dairy, and seafood industries are responsible for environmental destruction on a massive scale. The film states that the top five animal agriculture companies are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the three major oil companies combined.

The film not only paints a grim picture of the state of our natural world and the dangerous trajectory we’re on, but it also exposes the huge influence of lobbyists and the corporate corruption involved in many democracies around the world. Featuring scientists, doctors, academics, celebrities, and Indigenous peoples including Sylvia Earle, Gemma Newman, Jeremy Rifkin, Tony Robbins, Richard Branson, voices from many backgrounds and industries lend their perspectives to support the call for plant-based eating.

Beautiful cinematography, provocative interviews, and a thorough examination of all the ways that animal agriculture impact our lives combine for an important message about how little time we have left to make changes to our habits and how we can do that before it’s too late. The panel of speakers following the film — Gemma Newman (physician and plant-based nutrition specialist), James Wilkes (The Game Changers), Jennifer Stojkovic (founder of Vegan Women Summit), and Nicolas Carter (ecologist, co-founder of plantbaseddata.org) — helped to further discuss the issues raised in the film and answer questions from the audience.

Complimenting the film’s message, the exhibitors and speakers at Planted Expo are businesses and individuals dedicated to promoting plant-based eating and the vegan lifestyle. The event also featured an impressive line-up of speakers, which included Seaspiracy filmmaker Ali Tabrizi. His talk emphasized the importance of combining passion, curiosity, and humility to create real change in the world. He believes that passion plus purpose equals obsession, which is what allowed him to dedicate four years of his life to making the film. Tabrizi was also a special guest at the Nightshade VIP dinner and live podcast event.

Walking around the expo sampling all the delicious beverages, vegan meats, milks, and desserts, it struck me that while our climate crisis and the massive impact of animal agriculture are caused in large part by our capitalist economy, the Planted Expo is a capitalist response to this problem. I appreciate the push to develop innovative solutions and products to respond to the crisis, and plant-based products are definitely less harmful to our environment, but I wonder if we shouldn’t also be promoting less consumption instead of business as usual with different products — maybe we can’t shop our way out of this crisis, as much as we might like to think that our power as a consumer can go that far. The biggest thing we can do to reduce our impact on the planet, that Planted Expo makes very clear, is eat a plant-based diet.

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