God’s creation is a gift and we have been tasked with stewarding it. It is not enough to recognise that climate change is a threat to God’s creation. We must accept that humans are part of the problem, and acknowledge that it is our responsibility to take appropriate action. I wanted to be part of a community of like-minded Christians who believe that it is our job to steward, and fight for the care of, God’s creation.
I became a member of the Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN) at its launch in summer 2020. YCCN is an action-focused, ecumenical community of 18-30 year old, UK-based Christians. All of them are choosing to follow Jesus in the pursuit of climate justice.
YCCN has enabled me to turn my passion for climate justice into action. Through YCCN, I have been involved in, and organised, many events that raise awareness of the role that Christians have in caring for God’s creation. I have also gained many friendships, which I will value for life.
This year, YCCN are asking Christians to switch to a vegetarian diet for a week – to ‘Take the Veg Pledge’! Lots of people joined the Veg Pledge during a dedicated week in June. For me, a flexi-vegan (who doesn’t eat much meat or dairy but isn’t ready to give up cheese and chocolate), the week was an opportunity to try lots of new veggie recipes with ingredients that I wouldn’t normally cook with. I’ve always been a little nervous of butternut squash for example, but overcame that by making a roasted squash puff-pastry tart, which turned out great! I will definitely be making it again.
During the week, I also committed to pray for those around the world who are affected by climate change, and to read some news stories online to help me better understand what people are going through. I’m not great at having a prayer routine, so I really valued having something specific to pray about.
As someone who eats a roughly 80% vegan diet, I probably won’t change my meat and dairy consumption much after taking the Veg Pledge. But what I will do is commit to eating more local, sustainably grown produce. I will also commit to being more mindful about how my food choices contribute to climate change and impact the lives of many people around the world.
We want as many people as possible to ‘Take the Veg Pledge’. Our food system is one of the largest contributors to climate change – it’s responsible for about a third of global emissions, with meat as the largest contributor. People don’t often think that their food is a big part of their carbon footprint, but at an individual level, reducing meat consumption is one of the most significant single steps you can take to reduce emissions. Taking the pledge to eat a vegetarian diet for a week is a great way to make an individual action count for much more through collective action.
We are also inviting Christians to ‘Take the Veg Pledge’ at Christian festivals this summer. We will be at some of these to deliver workshops and seminars about food, faith and climate, including the Satellites Festival and Greenbelt. Keep an eye on our social media to find out where we will be.
If you are going to a festival either by yourself or with a group, we would love you to join us, to commit to eating vegetarian, and to dedicate some time to reflect on the relationship between your faith and your food choices. Please pass on this message to anyone you know who plans to attend these festivals.
This article was written by Sophie Mitchell for the Wild Christian email, ‘nature and summer.’ Sophie is a trustee of the Young Christian Climate Network. She works for a Christian charity and is doing a Masters in Religion and Politics.
For more food for thought, view our recent ‘Redeeming Food’ webinar [here].