An Open Letter To Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Dear Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,

First of all, I just want to say what an inspiration you are! I have loved following your journey from winning your primary, to becoming the youngest woman to serve in the House of Representatives, to being featured all over the media. You are so articulate, unafraid to challenge the establishment, and a powerful speaker and advocate. I was especially excited when I learned that you are also a fellow Intel ISEF alumni with a science background! All these reasons that I think you are so incredible, are also why I felt I had to write this letter to you today.

As you very well know, climate change is a huge issue facing the world. Earlier this week you spoke to a group about the United Nation’s latest report which says that we have just 12 years to take drastic action before we start seeing major devastation from climate change. Given this very short time frame and the large potential for harm, I’m sure you agree with me, that the government as well as all us individuals, should be doing everything that we possibly can to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. That is why I was so disappointed to see you eating ice cream on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert the other night. I know that may sound weird, so let me explain.

I understand that addressing climate change is a top priority for you, and I am thrilled that you are pushing hard for change at the governmental level with your Green New Deal, yet you are missing one very large piece of the puzzle. While the energy sector is definitely the largest cause of carbon dioxide emissions, animal agriculture is actually THE single biggest overall driver of greenhouse gas emissions! This is because cows and other animals produce enormous amounts of methane, which has 86 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, and because grazing animals and growing feed crops are driving deforestation. An analysis from the World Bank, found that animal agriculture is responsible for a shocking 51% of all greenhouse gases. And did you know that 91% of the amazon destruction is also due to animal agriculture?

The most comprehensive analysis to date drawing on hundreds of studies and looking at more than 37,000 farms, found that animal products supply just 18% of calories globally, while using 83% of global farmland, and more than 30% of the worlds fresh water. The authors of this study concluded that based on the data, even the lowest impact animal foods had a significantly greater impact than most plant-based foods. This means that both our individual food choices as well as the current Farm Bill which provides large subsidies to agribusiness, are having a huge impact on climate change. It also means that we as individuals have immense power to shift our current course.

I know that you are truly dedicated to helping people and stopping climate change. That’s why I am urging you to please quit consuming animal products and supporting the very thing you are working against. It is critical that you and everyone else educate yourself more on this topic and learn all about veganism. There are incredible plant-based protein sources (including ice cream!) that are available almost everywhere now. I’m happy to provide you with resources, and I have even linked to some below. While I am truly hoping, your Green New Deal is passed, I simply don’t believe it will be enough soon enough. That is where individual choices can make a huge contribution. In particular, because unlike carbon dioxide which persists in the atmosphere long after emissions are stopped, methane from animals actually breaks down much more quickly. This means reducing methane emissions has a much more immediate impact than reducing carbon dioxide emissions. That is why we need an immediate shift away from animal products, towards plant-based living, and I believe you could be a huge part of making that shift happen. You have a large platform, and an incredible opportunity to share this information while also setting an example for others. So please, for the sake of our future, stand with me in support of plant-based living and an end to animal agriculture subsidies which continue to prop up this terribly destructive industry.

Wishing you all the best from Kansas!



– Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret
– Forks Over Knives 
– Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home

Vegan Richa
Plant-Based-On a Budget
Sweet Potato Soul
Cheep lazy vegan

The Protein Myth: Proteinaholic
Nutrition Facts
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Healthy Human Revolution

Vegan Kit
22 Day Vegan Challenge

4 Comment(s)
  • Posted April 18, 2020 11:26 pm 0Likes

    thanks for this, sarina!
    under the impression of the corona-pandemic i more than ever think that the whole issue of a vegan lifestyle has to (finally!) be put on top of the political agenda, especially in western democracies (i am a german, living in sweden) – and therefore it is justified and inevitable even to publicly remind the key figures in the green/progressive part of the spectrum, how important the position is they take on this not only politically but also personally.
    although vegetarian/vegan culture in germany has made remarkable steps forward in the past couple of years, it has remained relatively apolitical, modest, shy. as you might know, germany does have a relatively strong green party (which was even part of the federal government in the early 2000s), but they hardly ever dare to touch the vegan issue because they fear to loose voters (probably rightfully so). but this tactic of fear cannot be a guideline for the upcoming years – and that‘s why i googled aoc‘s position and found your open letter to her.
    btw: one of the most interesting (and i guess most influential) figures in europe‘s vegan movement is a french author and really renowned tv-journalist, aymeric caron, who last year established a fantastic web-tv-channel called – maybe this is interesting for you or someone you know.
    thanks again and all the best from europe,
    ps: my punctuation is probably desastrous – sorry!

  • Posted May 25, 2020 8:19 pm 0Likes

    Thanks very nice blog!

  • Posted June 4, 2020 2:56 am 0Likes

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  • Posted July 11, 2020 7:11 pm 0Likes

    Sarina F, I hate to rain on your parade, but I think your letter is missing the point. I am sure that Representative Ocasio-Cortez knows that human can live perfectly fine on plant-based protein. (And I know it, too. I have been a devout vegan since 2017, and almost all-organically-grown since 2018).

    The reason green politicians don’t talk about veganism is probably because they know that the voters they represent love getting a dopamine rush from eating fatty, unhealthy foods like meat. In a democracy, politicians won’t get far by pushing unpopular ideas regardless of whether the truth is on their side or not. (In the case of veganism, the truth is certainly on our side, though the majority of homo sapiens are not.)

    That is not to say veganism is futile. Shifting to a vegan diet the most powerfully thing that most people have the ability to do to preserve land for ecological habitats, prevent future pandemics like COVID-19, reduce world hunger, save animals’ lives, prolong natural resource supplies, and as you have pointed out, reduce their personal contribution to global warming. Of course everyone should be vegan, but many people will not make that the shift until external forces like resource scarcity or a critical mass of societal change push them too.

    Sarina F, I am glad that you are trying to promote the truth of veganism to the world. But based on what I have seen of your media, both on this website and on your YouTube channel, I think that you are still laboring under the naïve Enlightenment principle that people with behavior virtuously if they are informed about facts and truth. Sadly, my own personal vegan journey has led me to doubt that truth can change the hearts of selfish people. AOC seems to a pragmatist who understands which fights she has a hope of winning.

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