Take the Veg Pledge with YCCN!

Where to begin with Climate Justice?

The climate emergency is arguably the most pressing and prominent social justice issue for young British Christians today.

In some ways this is an issue many Christians feel comfortable with. The church has developed strong theological and practical climate focuses in the last few years, from forest church and sermons on creation and stewardship, to A Rocha’s eco-church programme and campaigns for church divestment from fossil fuels.

However, it can be difficult to see the best individual actions to take in aid of climate justice. Online debates rage between defenders of strict eco-friendly behaviour in day-to-day life, with others seeing that there is ‘no ethical consumption under capitalism’ as the phrase goes. Both views - mandating a very rigid, shame-creating personal environmentalism and denying any individual agency on climate change can lead to climate doomerism and inaction.

It is not surprising that a subjective approach is needed: balancing between individual action and involvement in bigger, more structural climate advocacy and campaigning.

Who are YCCN?

YCCN, the Young Christian Climate Network, is exactly what it sounds like. A group of young British Christians, passionate about climate, who since 2020 have been advocating for a Christian response to climate injustice. YCCN as a voluntary organisation is a great example of individuals putting in their own time and agency into a bigger project: pooling resources together to ensure a bigger impact.

Past YCCN campaigns include our 2021 Relay to COP26 in Glasgow, and a 2022 campaign asking the Lambeth Conference to take action on the climate crisis. If you want to see YCCN in action our prayer vigil at the Lambeth Conference was featured in a documentary by Al Jazeera about how different faith groups are mobilising to protect our planet.

Take the Veg Pledge

Our food system is one of largest contributors to climate change, responsible for about a third of global emissions, with meat as the largest contributor. The Climate Change Committee - the UK independent body that makes recommendations to the government on climate policy - has shown that for the UK to meet our climate change targets, the UK needs to reduce consumption of meat and dairy by one fifth by 2030. Reducing meat and dairy is a very significant way to mitigate climate change, improve health, and increase food security.

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 the one of the largest single steps you can take to reduce emissions. Compared to the practical difficulties and costs of reducing your transport and energy carbon footprint, eating less meat allows for cheaper vegetarian alternatives, more creative meal times and a healthier diet.

Feast days, fasts, fish on Fridays: food has always been part of the Christian sphere of worship and making space and time for God. We owe it not only to future generations, but to people around the world suffering the consequences of climate inaction today, to reduce emissions in any way we can, and taking a pledge to eat less meat is a great way to do this.

To make this a manageable step to take, the Pledge runs from Monday 5th to Sunday 11th June, or during a summer Christian festival you might be attending. Taking the pledge to only eat a vegetarian diet for the week is a great way to make an individual action count for much more through collective action. The dilemma of a totally personal undertaking versus stepping away from individual action completely is a false binary: We can take individual steps that can fit into our everyday lives, whilst maximising the impact through taking a stand together, in solidarity with each other and Christians and non-Christians alike the world over.

If you care about climate justice, and are feeling unsure where to start, or want to start thinking about how changing you diet can be one of the biggest personal impacts you can have, then check out the Take the Veg Pledge campaign here. If you are already convinced, then sign up to taking the pledge here!