Oscar winner and Beyond Meat investor Leonardo DiCaprio is fighting climate change by urging his 37 million social media followers to replace meat with vegan burgers at least once a week.
The actor is a Beyond Meat investor as well as an ambassador for the vegan brand. He took to Facebook and Twitter on Thursday, March 4, to encourage his combined 37.5 million followers to make different food choices. He asked them to take incremental steps in order to lessen the effects of climate change and aid the planet.
“Every single person can help the planet and reduce climate change with one small choice every week. Join me and @BeyondMeat in our mission to rethink the future of food,” DiCaprio, 46, tweeted with the “BeyondMeatPartner” hashtag.
DiCaprio’s tweet (and identical Facebook post) also included a photo of a delectable looking Beyond Meat burger and French fries. Just above the plant-based food, the Inception star included a key statistic. It highlights the impact of eating just one meat-free meal per week.
The informative text reads: “If every person in the U.S. replaced just one beef burger per week with a plant-based Beyond Burger, it would be the equivalent of taking 12 million cars off the road.”
DiCaprio’s social media followers were quick to praise the post. “Thank you Leonardo. Beyond is such a wonderful company and tastes so amazing,” one Facebook user wrote.
A Twitter follower added: “Brilliant initiative! Works so well for vegetarians AND non-vegetarians.”
The official Beyond Meat account even weighed in on Facebook, writing: “Appreciate you Leo.”
Can Vegan Meat Really Help Fight Climate Change?
According to The University of Michigan’s 2018 LCA, California-based Beyond Meat has a proven, positive impact on the environment. When compared to a standard quarter-pound 80/20 beef burger, a plant-based Beyond Burger requires far fewer resources.
More specifically, a Beyond Burger has 99 percent less impact on water scarcity. It also has 93 percent less impact on land use and requires 46 percent less energy. It generates 90 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than beef burgers.
Generally speaking, meat and dairy, particularly from cows, have an outsized impact on global warming and climate change. Livestock accounts for around 14.5 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases each year, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. That’s roughly the same amount as the emissions from all the cars, trucks, airplanes, and ships combined in the world today.
Additionally, beef and lamb have the biggest climate footprint per gram of protein. On the other hand, plant-based foods tend to have the smallest impact. Pork and chicken fall somewhere in the middle.
These statistics, among other things, are why DiCaprio and others want people around the world to be more mindful of their meat consumption and even take steps to reduce it.
Last month, Bill Gates, who is also a Beyond Meat investor, even went so far as to say that wealthy countries that don’t depend on livestock rearing for survival should ditch real beef in order to reduce climate change.
“I don’t think the poorest 80 countries will be eating synthetic meat,” he explained. But added: “I do think all rich countries should move to 100% synthetic beef.”
In April 2019, former Vice President Al Gore declared that vegan burgers can help reverse climate change. “We now have an Impossible Whopper… This is cause for some hope,” he explained at the time.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s History of Environmental Activism
The Beyond Meat post is hardly the first time DiCaprio has spoken up about climate change and the environment. In fact, in recent years the Academy Award winner, who has also faced criticism for his frequent private jet travel, has become increasingly vocal about issues that impact the planet in a myriad of ways.
In 1998, he founded the eponymous Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation to help tackle some of the world’s biggest environmental problems. And he has remained dedicated to the organization (and the planet) ever since. DiCaprio has produced a number of environment-focused documentaries and movies. He’s also encouraged others to speak out against climate change.
In 2018, The LDF partnered with the Jane Goodall Institute to launch a full vegan clothing range in support of ape conservation. The range, which was named “Don’t Let Them Disappear,” included organic T-shirts and a recycled fleece hoodie with all the items sporting that urgent appeal.
In June 2020, DiCaprio confirmed that he’s slated to produce a new film about endangered mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park in the Congo. The upcoming Netflix movie, which is an adaptation of the 2014 award-winning documentary Virunga, will be written by Academy Award-winning director and screenwriter Barry Jenkins.
Virunga National Park, Africa’s oldest and most biologically diverse protected area, is close to DiCaprio’s heart. “I had the great honor of meeting and supporting Virunga’s courageous team in their fight against illegal oil drilling in 2013,” the actor said in May 2020.
At that time, he also launched a $2 million fund for the park through Earth Alliance. He co-founded the wildlife protection nonprofit with the Emerson Collective and Global Wildlife Conservation and the European Commission.
In October 2020, the California native expressed his support for the Preventing Future Pandemics Act on Instagram. The bipartisan bill—introduced by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and John Cornyn (R-TX)—aims to shut down live animal markets. It also aims to stop the trade of certain wildlife for human consumption.
“If you care about preventing the next pandemic, please ask your Senator to co-sponsor Senate Bill S. 4749, the ‘Preventing Future Pandemics Act,’ introduced by @corybooker and @johncornyn,” DiCaprio wrote at the time. “So that we can reduce the risk of a pandemic like COVID happening again.”