I’m TERRIFIED of public speaking.

I shake uncontrollably, my heart races, I sweat, and my voice cracks when I try to speak in front of a group of more than about 5 people.
BUT, I’ve been attempting to conquer this fear and become more comfortable with speaking in front of groups by joining Toastmasters club. Toastmasters is essentially a public speaking club/class that gives everyone an opportunity to perform prepared speeches and also participate in impromptu sessions at weekly meetings.
When I joined, I thought I would choose easy topics to develop my public speaking skills, and then head into what I REALLY wanted to talk about: going vegan.
But because I love to challenge myself, I went straight into veganism in my second speech, “Save the Planet Bite by Bite.”
Life is too short not to challenge ourselves. I could die tomorrow and just think if I hadn’t delivered this speech and planted some seeds of thought in my Toastmasters club members’ brains. I could have talked about something mundane, like my training schedule or my car. Instead, I spoke about something that really means a lot to me; something that could inspire change.
I apologize for the audio in this video, and I’d like to thank Joey Myers, author of three books, including his latest:
Catapult Loading System: How To Teach 100-Pound Hitters To Consistently Drive The Ball 300-Feet, for being the videographer for our club.
Without further ado, here’s the video, and below that is a transcript of what I SHOULD HAVE SAID, but not all of it came out exactly as planned. (I was nervous!!)

Save the Planet, Bite by Bite

How many of you care about our planet? Any environmentalists here?

Who has made an effort to take shorter showers or turn off the faucet while you’re brushing your teeth to conserve water?

Who drives a hybrid or electric car to reduce their carbon footprint?

Has anyone installed solar panels on their home?

Who is vegan and only eats plants?

We were on a roll there, and now you’re probably wondering “why is she asking about what we eat? I thought we were talking about the environment?”

Many people don’t realize that switching to a plant-based diet can have the most significant impact on the environment.

Think about this: all of the food a vegan eats in a year can be grown on 1/6th of an acre. It’s 3 times that for vegetarians, at ½ an acre, and 18 times more for meat eaters, at 3 acres. Vegans simply consume less in regards to land.

Let’s talk about everyone’s favorite topic: climate change.

Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming — which is more than all transportation combined, at 13%. That means cars, planes, buses, boats — all of that does not add up to the amount of methane, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases produced by the meat, dairy and egg industries.

Methane, aka what cow farts are made of, traps up to 100 times more heat than carbon dioxide during a 5 year period.

But what do environmental groups tell you to do? Cut your carbon footprint. Carpool. Ride a bike to work. Purchase low-emission or electric cars.

Just ignore the elephant — or, rather, the cows — in the room.

Let’s forget global warming for a second and move to water conservation.

Animal agriculture uses up to a third of the earth’s fresh water.

Environmental groups tell us to reduce the amount of water we use by taking shorter showers, installing low-flow toilets and shower heads, and replacing our lawns with drought-resistant plants. I actually did ALL of those things last year, assuming I was making a big impact.

So, how much water do we save just by installing a low-flow shower head, assuming we are taking 15-minute showers every day? 2,737.5 gallons per year. That’s good, right?

Turn down one pound of beef — ONCE — and you will save 2,500 gallons of water. It takes 2,500 gallons of water and 16 pounds of grain to make one pound of beef, since we’re breeding, feeding, and slaughtering an 1,800-pound cow.

And then there’s the dairy industry. It takes 1,000 gallons of water to produce one gallon of milk. Now you can counter that by saying, well, vegans replace cow’s milk with almond milk or soy milk or coconut milk or flax milk or rice milk, cashew milk (the list goes on!)

After doing some calculations, based on the number of almonds it takes to produce one gallon of almond milk, and the number of gallons of water needed to produce one almond, I found that it takes about 66 gallons of water to produce one gallon of almond milk.

One thousand gallons of water used for cow milk, and 66 gallons for almond milk. That’s quite a water savings.

Consider this: based on the average American meat and dairy consumption in the year 2000, a vegan would save 724,925 gallons of water per year. To match that water-savings, you would have to give up your daily 15-minute low-flow shower head showers for the next …. 66 years.

Animal ag is also the leading cause of species extinction, habitat destruction and ocean dead zones. But I’ve hit you with a lot of numbers already and those are topics for a second post.

But first, I need to throw one more in there: 7 million pounds. That’s how much poop is excreted by all of the industrialized cattle, pigs and chickens in the United States EVERY MINUTE. And the law doesn’t require farmers to treat animal waste, like we do with human wastewater facilities. All of that poop has to go somewhere, and typically it sits in cesspools — half of which, according to one study, have been found to leak into groundwater and our oceans.

Guess what? Plants don’t poop.

Why try?

Now you might think, animal agriculture is so big, and I’m just one person. I’ll just continue eating what I’ve been eating because if I give up meat it’s not really going to make a difference.

Would we ever tell our children: you are only one person. You can’t make a difference. No, right? Well then why would we tell ourselves this?

Now, becoming a vegan is a huge commitment, I get that. It changes your entire identity. When you go out to dinner with your friends, you have limited choices on the menu. You have to refuse pepperoni pizza at the office party because you’re vegan. You can’t go out for ice cream because you’re vegan.

Yes, it can be hard to eat differently from the majority of Americans.

But, knowing what you know now, how many of you would consider forgoing a hamburger for a veggie burger once in awhile? What about swapping scrambled eggs and chorizo for tofu scramble and soyrizo? Or maybe you can use almond milk in your latte rather than skim?

If you take a look at these numbers, you can see that one person CAN make a difference. Even one meal can make a difference.

So I implore you, the next time you look at a menu, do the planet a solid and consider the vegan option first.



All stats on animal ag and greenhouse gas emissions


Almond Milk/water use


Gallons of water for one pound of beef


Robbins, John. “Food Revolution“. Conari Press, 2001


A Global Assessment of the Water Footprint of Farm Animal Products by Mesfin M. Mekonnen* and Arjen Y. Hoekstra [states 1/5 of global water]

The water footprint of poultry, pork and beef: A comparative study in different countries and production systems by P.W. Gerbens-Leenes, , M.M. Mekonnen , A.Y. Hoekstra [States 27%-30%+ of global water consummation is for animal agriculture]

Freshwater Abuse and Loss: Where Is It All Going?” Forks Over Knives.

Thornton, Phillip, Mario Herrero, and Polly Ericksen. “Livestock and Climate Change.” Livestock Exchange, no. 3 (2011).


Oppenlander, Richard A. “Biodiversity and Food Choice: A Clarification.” Comfortably Unaware. 2012

Center for Biological Diversity, “How Eating Meat Hurts Wildlife and the Planet.”

Annenberg Learner,Unit 9: Biodiversity Decline // Section 7: Habitat Loss: Causes and Consequences

The Encyclopedia of Earth, “The Causes of Extinction.”

Osterman, L.E., Poore, R.Z., Swarzenski, P.W., 2008,Gulf of Mexico dead zone–1000 year record: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1099.

NOAA, “What is a dead zone.”

Scientific America, “What Causes Ocean “Dead Zones?”

Mountains of Manure http://www.sustainabletable.org/906/waste-management




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