Reducing Meat Consumption for Human and Planet Health
Watch Aalok Bhatt’s video here-
My name is Aalok Bhatt and I am an Eco-Ambassador and a junior at Millburn High School. This summer, I decided to raise awareness in my community about the health and environmental benefits of reducing meat consumption. I chose this topic because last summer I attended a talk in NYC about sustainable development, where I was shocked to learn about the detrimental impact of increased meat consumption on our environment. The amount of water it takes to produce a pound of beef is equal to the amount of water used by an average person to shower over three years! Another reason why I picked this issue is that Covid-19, which has brought the entire world to a standstill, also originated in an unhygienic meat market in Wuhan. I knew I had to do something to convince people that even if we abstain from eating meat for one day a week, it will have a huge impact on our health and the health of our planet.
As I was researching this topic, I found that the entire public school district of New York City has adopted the Meatless Mondays initiative. A lot of hospitals like the New York Presbyterian and restaurants, too, have implemented this program. My goal is to launch this program in my community and then scale it up to include New Jersey public schools and hospitals.
Given the fact that we are living through a global pandemic, I realized that I would need to take an unconventional approach for my project. With that in mind, I sent emails to various experts in the fields of health and nutrition, environmental protection, and animal rights. I was successfully able to host two talks. The first one was with Nutritionist Monika Mahajan on the health and environmental impact of meat consumption. The second talk was with Ms. Daniel Schwab of Illuminate Supply Chains about the importance of eating local and seasonal foods and setting up sustainable supply chains in communities.
Unfortunately, I faced many roadblocks this year as compared to last summer, where I raised awareness on eliminating single-use plastic in my town through a poster campaign. Most of the people I contacted did not respond. For instance, I sent many emails to Monday Campaigns to organize a talk on Meatless Mondays for my community, but they were not very responsive. I also contacted faculty members from the Columbia School of Public health for guidance on implementing Meatless Mondays in hospitals in my area, just like they have done in NYC. However, I still haven’t heard from them. I am in talks with the Humane League, which works for animal rights and against factory farming for a one on one interview. I hope to post it on this website soon. The talks that I did host so far had a limited number of participants and viewers.
In the middle of August, I realized that this was not going anywhere and I would have to do something else. I thought for a while about what I could do next, and then it hit me: I could create a short animated video in the form of a story. I created a google slides document and used pictures from a website called Freepik to create a short educational film. The story is based on a fictional cow, named Moodles, who talks about the drawbacks of eating too much meat. I had a lot of fun making this film and researching all the facts. In the coming weeks, I will ask the principals of Millburn Elementary Schools, Millburn Middle School, and Millburn High School to share this video with their students and parents. I also plan to put it up on my town Facebook group and other community platforms. I’m determined to continue spreading awareness on this issue throughout this year.