It’s that time of the year where Earth Day is right around the corner. As thousands of young people gather at countless locations around the world to make their promise to respect, love and care for Mother Nature, I wonder what can we do in Kuwait or in the Middle Eastern region? The names of the GCC countries continue to top the tables for the most polluting countries per capita, and most greenhouse gas emitting countries per capita, which means it’s our duty to do the most, but with extremely limited options and equally busy schedules, I figured a healthy solution that doesn’t require lifting a single finger would suit us all best: become a vegetarian.

I’ll admit, when I first quit meat it wasn’t about animals rights or the environment or anything even remotely inspirational; I simply didn’t like the smell or the taste. Eating meat was the equivalent to water boarding and torturing all 5 of my senses at once, and so I quit. But as time passed and I started working on environmental causes, I found out that the meat and poultry industry emits more greenhouse gases than the automobile industry, at which point, I quit anything and everything related to meat, poultry, and fish.

What’s even more shocking is the ridiculous amount of energy it takes to produce these slaughtered animals; over 32,000 calories are required for each 920 calorie steak. That is 32 times the amount of energy you receive, compared to vegetarian options, such as tofu or soy meat, it only takes 8 times as much energy to produce these healthy alternatives.

The inefficient use of non-renewable energy isn’t the only damage caused to the environment by the notion of meat, but water use is equally wasteful. Cows, as you probably know, eat grass and grains. Both require water, and plenty of it. With the impending water crisis affecting our nations, especially a country like Kuwait that faces extreme water shortages due to our obsession with washing our Porche’s daily, even if we know a sandstorm is coming our way, it is vital that we think twice about water. Over 1 billion people in the world live in extreme water shortage; it is ridiculous that 13% of our water resources are taken up by the livestock industry. You can change this.

Although research shows that vegetarians are less likely to suffer from obesity, coronary heart diseases, high blood pressure or type II diabetes, I’ll be the first to admit that being a vegetarian is not the easiest decision one can make, especially considering we live in a society whose moto when it comes to food is ‘a meal with no meat is no meal at all’, but it grows on you, just like vegetables grow on the ground

There are also countless vegetarian support mediums out there, including Meatless Monday’s and Fish-Free Fridays. You could always start by cutting your dead animal-intake slowly, then go cold turkey – no pun intended.

Will you stop being a chicken, not eat cows, and take the pledge? Will you support ending extreme poverty, hunger, disease, climate change, violence, war and animal suffering, or will you chicken out? Take the pledge and let us know by using the hashtag #coldturkeyED on twitter.

– Yara Al-Wazir

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