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Kyle Luzynski aims to make the Midwest vegan by 2056 through his work as Executive Director of Project Animal Freedom.

When Kyle Luzynski was a child living in Pacific, Missouri, the remnants of a winter’s snowfall seemed to last for days.

He might knock over logs in his woodland garden and find spotted salamanders wriggling under his grip. The toad population was so large that he kept his eyes on his feet, lest he step on a frog.

When he returned to his childhood home almost a decade later, he didn’t notice any spotted salamanders and he no longer had to watch out for toads. These tiny details sounded the alarm for Luzynski that climate change was on the way.

Kyle Luzynski is the Executive Director of Project Animal Freedom. Photo by Zoe DeYoung.

“Study after study has shown that even relatively small changes can have a profound impact, and we are rapidly approaching tipping points at which we will experience catastrophic climate change,” Luzynski said.

Luzynski is the Executive Director of Project Animal Freedom (PAF), an animal rights organization that aims to build a “All-Vegan Midwest by 2056”. To achieve this goal, the organization uses vegan outreach initiatives such as film screenings, community development events such as potlucks and “peaceful protests”.

Much of PAF’s growth relies on donations and recruiting.

“We cannot bring about large-scale systemic change without a mass movement behind us,” Luzynski said. “That’s why we need to recruit as many leaders as possible and get as many financial resources as possible. “

Luzynski believes the donations will have a profound impact on PAF’s level of influence. He said the PAF is currently unable to financially support chapters beyond its only active chapter in Lincoln, Nebraska.

“We just don’t have the funding, the fuel to power these engines for social progress as much as we need to. So a major component of our mission is trying to overcome this huge deficit, ”Luzynski said.

Luzynski’s fervor towards the animal rights movement is tangible, but research varies as to whether an individual’s veganism can have a large-scale impact on the climate.

“I got to the point where I had to realize that you have to choose your battles wisely and try to create systemic change. Veganism is an effort, [and] largely individual action, ”Luzynski said. “But if you want a comprehensive environmental solution, you have to fundamentally change the systems. And you can only get that far by trying to change one person at a time.

Frank Mitloehner is a UC Davis professor who specializes in air quality with the university’s animal science department.

In an article by Sarah Marsh for The Guardian, Mitloehner shares similar views with Luzynski. He believes that a broad shift towards veganism rests on the shoulders of lawmakers.

“If we really want to make a difference in carbon emissions, we have to change policy,” Mitloehner told The Guardian. “We need to empower those who can reduce greenhouse gas emissions to do so. “

A BMJ Open study examined the impact of consuming red and processed meat on greenhouse gas emissions. This study showed the environmental impact of a person vegan: this is paltry compared to what could be achieved by reducing emissions generated by fossil fuels.

Nonetheless, Luzynski said he was convinced that “[Veganism] is the most comprehensive action you can take.

“It addresses the issues of water security, water pollution, land use and degradation, climate change, especially with regard to nitrous oxide and methane emissions, which are much more potent greenhouse gases than CO2, ”said Luzynski.

Luzynski said he is optimistic that the PAF can accomplish its mission of generalized veganism, even though his contemporaries think his hope is naive.

“I believe we can build a completely vegan world, when many of my contemporaries, especially those who have been in the animal rights movement longer than me, have become rather cynical about our chances of success,” he said. Luzynski said. “They call me young, naive and ambitious. These probably all apply to me, but I firmly believe that it is in our power. While it is in our power to cause these problems, it is also in our power to stop causing these problems and start repairing the damage.

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