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At first, Before the Flood seems like any other climate action story, reinforcing the idea that high-tech energy and transport solutions are essential to success. The role of fossil fuel companies is certainly emphasised throughout, but the opening act pivots on the suggestion we will need more than energy-efficient light bulbs to build a sustainable world.
Vegans and others following DiCaprio’s work as U.N. Messenger of Peace will be glad to note that Before the Flood does not fail to address the link between diet change and climate. Although it does not carry the same punch as Cowspiracy, the message is clear: whether it’s land animals or sea animals, traditional diet culture is threatening our future.
At the 51 minute mark, following a segment on palm oil production, research professor Gidon Eshel makes the case for diet change:
“If you want something you can do, without appealing to any higher authority, such as the government … I can’t think of an easier ‘out’ than changing your diet. You can start tonight.”
Eshel describes the land use issues and methane emissions associated with animal agriculture, singling out cow herding as especially dangerous. After seeming to mock the belief system behind animal flesh consumption, he says “Let’s face it, it is fairly easy to switch your diet from one choice to another.”
The documentary stops short of endorsing veganism or strict vegetarianism directly, but it is notable for presenting the transition to sustainable food sources as a critical and urgent matter. Before the Flood is available to watch via YouTube, iTunes, and other platforms (https://www.beforetheflood.com/screenings/).
Michael Griffiths is a computer science student with a strong interest in veganism and plant-based nutrition.
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