Rob Greenfield’s Guide to Dumpster Diving

I desire to put an end to food waste and hunger in the United States. Sure, it’s a lofty goal, a seriously lofty goal, but I believe that it is possible. In my youth, I see a time when every dumpster in the United States is completely void of all food. But in the mean time our dumpsters are full of perfectly good food and we may as well eat it! First and foremost, I encourage grocery stores to donate their excess food rather than throw it in the dumpster. But in the case of their social and environmental negligence, I encourage people to get out there, dive into dumpsters, eat the food, share the food, and raise awareness about food waste and hunger.

I want you to hit the dumpsters! Even if you don’t want to eat it or collect it for others I still encourage you to go see the waste for yourself.

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An Argument Against Veganism… From a Vegan

The topic of meat-eating can be quite controversial and often becomes pretty heated. So, whether you eat meat or not, please take a deep breath and chill out for a second.

To the vegans reading this, I want to be upfront that I utterly support eating vegan. It is one of my first recommendations to anyone who asks me how to live a more earth-friendly life. I eat an almost completely plant-based diet myself; about 95-99% of what I eat is plant-based.

To the meat eaters reading this, please read this fully before you quickly use this blog as an excuse to blindly eat food that is detrimental to the earth, to other species, and to you.

This is my argument against veganism by someone who strongly supports veganism.

We live on a planet that is home to seven billion people, and amongst that massive population there are many, many different cultures. Some are vegetarian by nature, some plant-based by nature, others eat a lot of meat and animal products, and of course there is a wide range in between. I write this argument, in part because some people believe that veganism is the one and only way, no exceptions. I really understand that mindset, given many of the horrifying practices that are taking place in our current industrial agriculture system. It’s easy to come to that conclusion through many of the films that are popular today.

There’s the factory farming with complete disregard to animals being living beings. Chickens are grown too big for them to walk. Female chicks are debeaked shortly after birth and the male chicks are thrown into the trash. Pigs are grown in cages so small that they never get to stand up. Cows never get to graze in the field and barely see the light of day.

There’s the fact that eating a plant-based diet is the single largest thing that an American do to decrease their environmental impact. Raising meat is the single largest contributor to our increasing droughts and our resource depletion. A hamburger takes over 600 gallons of water to produce.

There’s the rainforest deforestation that takes place to raise soy and grains to feed the animals that we eat.

There’s the health risk of eating meat as well. We are pumping our animals full of dangerous hormones and antibiotics that are doing a huge injustice to the human race.

The list goes on and on as to why we should all eat far less meat and animal products. We’d be doing a great service to the earth, to the other species we share the earth with, and to ourselves. But there is another side to the story that many vegans and vegetarians often leave out. There are cultures of people who eat meat and animal products in a manner that causes less harm to Earth and animals than some plant-based diets do.

All plant-based diets are not created equal. I would argue that a person who lives off the land and includes meat in their diet can have a smaller environmental impact than a person who lives in the city and eats all plant-based food (most of which may be packaged and shipped in). Plant-based diets often include food that is shipped from halfway around the world burning fossil fuels, food that is covered in packaging which is very resource-intensive (whether it’s recycled or not), and food that contains harmful ingredients like palm oil. There’s also the fact that creating cropland to grow plant-based food displaces animal populations and kills many of them. A plant-based diet made up of industrially produced food is likely killing animals or harming animals one way or another. Of course, diets that contain meat can do all of the above as well; so below, I’ve included some examples of diets that incorporate meat that may actually have a smaller environmental impact than an urban plant-based diet.

-I spent time in Louisiana and found it is a state with many self-sufficient people. For many of them, the bayou is their bloodline and they live off this land. Their diets include alligators, crayfish, fish, rabbit, deer and so much more. These swamps are absolutely teeming with life and I believe that when they hunt it responsibly, these folk can eat a more Earth-friendly diet than a person living in the city eating a plant-based diet from the supermarket. And a more environmentally responsible diet than going to the stores they have available in the area, where there really isn’t access to quality plant-based foods.

-There’s the exploding wild boar population in Texas that is causing serious environmental problems. They are one of the most destructive invasive species in the US today, displacing native species populations, devouring crops, and tearing up the land they roam. I think that hunting and eating these boars has a much smaller environmental impact (and likely even a positive impact) than just about any plant-based food you can buy at the supermarket.

-Hunting deer in your own neck of the woods, like my friends in Wisconsin do, can also be far less destructive than being dependent on large-scale production of any food. These deer live wild, eating grasses their whole life, and no unsustainable resources must be used in their existence. Plus, by having to hunt their food themselves, these hunters are often much more connected to their food than many urban vegans are.

-The Inuit people live primarily on animals that they hunt and trap locally. Imagine if they instead had all their food shipped in from warmer lands where it could be grown. That would be so much more detrimental than living off their land.

Those are just a few examples of why I would argue against a blanket statement for veganism. To say that everyone should eat plant-based, I think would discredit many of the societies and cultures that are currently or have in the past livied in harmony with the earth to a far greater extent than many of today’s urban vegans.

But after all that, many people would say that we’ve become an advanced enough society to know that it is inhumane to eat meat. Gandhi said“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” I completely agree. We do have a moral obligation to cause no unnecessary suffering now that we’ve learned that we can live very healthy lives (seemingly healthier) without killing animals. We absolutely must practice complete humanity towards all species. However, some would follow that line of thought and say that we have become so elevated that even just the death of an animal by our hands is inhumane.

That thought has one huge flaw in my mind though. I believe that idea separates the human species from all other species on Earth. It is saying that we are not a part of the circle of life like other species are. A wolf can kill a deer, and that is nature – but if we were to hunt a deer, many of us would not consider that nature, and many vegans go as far as to call that murder. Humans are still animals and we are a part of nature, and a part of the natural cycle of life. Yes, we are unique, but so is every other species. We are not above all other species, or any species for that matter. I believe that it is this separation thinking that has gotten us into much of the trouble that we are in. We know that we have only one earth. We know that everything on Earth is connected. Rather than think of us as separate creatures, above all others, I think we should remember that we are animals too and we are a part of the food chains on Earth. We can be the predator and we can be the prey. But if we are to be predators we must use the knowledge we’ve gained to be ethical predators.

I believe vegans should absolutely continue promoting plant-based diets and they should pursue it with great passion. We are in dire times and reducing meat consumption is something that most all of us can all do today to lessen our burden on the earth and other species. I commend all activists and organizations out there campaigning for meat-free diets. I commend everyone out there who is reducing their meat consumption. I commend all vegans and vegetarians.

One recommendation I would make to vegans and vegetarians is to be compassionate too all humans too, not just all animals. We live in a messed up time and it’s very challenging to make ethical decisions. It’s not easy in this country to do the right thing. So much of mainstream society stacks the odds against us leading environmentally-friendly lifestyles. So campaign hard and lead by example, but remember that all people have feelings too and have their own challenging circumstances.

I’m going to continue eating a plant-based diet myself. There really are very few arguments against the evidence – across cultures, a diet high in plants and low in animals is the most beneficial to human health. I used to eat a lot of meat but since I stopped a few years ago, I’ve seen so many benefits. I’m absolutely healthier than ever before. My body naturally stays fit with little need for exercise. I feel great about myself knowing that I’m not supporting any unethical businesses or practices. I’m living in alignment with my morals and beliefs.

I live in San Diego now and it seems to currently not be possible to support a meat-eating population ethically or sustainably in this city or any other densely populated area. So as long as I’m here, you probably won’t find me eating meat – unless I’m down at the pier to catch and take home a small fish. If I move out of the city to live off the land however, or if I am on a long trek through the wild, it could be a different story.

We all have a unique situation, so doing what is right for you, all creatures, and the earth is going to take some thinking and some resourcefulness. We can all make improvements no matter where we are today, but only you can decide to do this for yourself. To be of help to you, here are my top recommendations to make your diet more Planet-Friendly in relation to meat.

  1. Eat a plant-based diet, which means no meat or animal products.
  2. If you do eat meat or animal products do it in moderation. A few times per week is plenty. If you eat a lot of meat currently, start by eating one animal free day per week (such as Meatless Monday) or one animal free meal per day.
  3. If you do eat meat or animal products, get to know your farmer or hunter and get it locally.
  4. If you eat meat or animal products, try to raise it or hunt it yourself. Start with raising chickens for eggs, which can be done even in large cities.
  5. Choose dairy and eggs over meat. It is far more environmentally friendly to choose these over meat.
  6. Choose sustainably farmed chicken over beef and pork. Chicken has a far smaller environmental impact than beef or pork. Beef is the most environmentally taxing and often the unhealthiest, so choose beef last.
  7. Use every part of the animal and waste nothing. The liver and bone marrow are two of the most nourishing parts of the animal.
  8. Make a list of goals and take it one step at a time. Don’t be overwhelmed by all the things that you may want to change. Instead, make short-term and long-term goals and have fun checking them off the list.
  9. Realize that this will not be more expensive. Although it may appear to be to the untrained eye, eating plant-based and healthier food is not more expensive. Simple, primarily plant-based food, such as a meal of rice, beans, and veggies, is far less expensive than meat. My meals at home usually cost me between $1-$2. There’s also the money saved in health costs, gym memberships, diet plans, and the many other ways we waste money to make ourselves look better, which won’t be needed when you take control of your diet.

33 Facebook Pages I Recommend

In the last decade, I have gone from a drunk dude to a dude making a difference. I was wasting away much of my life partying, chasing girls, and being hungover. Don’t get me wrong–I was having a hell of a time, and I was pretty good at it, too. But I decided I really wanted to live a life that was good for the Earth, good for the people and animals I share Earth with, and good for myself. I didn’t know exactly where to start but I knew that the Internet was definitely my friend. I believe that I am largely what I surround myself with. So I aimed to surround myself with positive influences, both online and offline. These are some of the Facebook pages that had a positive influence on me and helped me to live with more happiness, health, and freedom than ever before.

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The Teeny Greeny is the Place for Me!

Here’s an update to my off the grid, tiny house life, in the city! I live here without a bill or debt to my name and life is splendid. I grow food, live on rainwater, compost, harness the energy of the sun with solar panels, practice a near zero waste life, and ride my bamboo bike around town.

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Dude Making a Difference in the News

Just a little over two years ago I called my first news station and told them about my adventure, Off the Grid Across the USA. I wanted them to come report and help me spread the word. Sure enough, they showed up. Since then I have cycled across the United States (twice) on a bamboo bicycle, went a year without showering, and dove into over a thousand dumpsters across the United States, all to inspire positive social and environmental change. Dozens of news stations all over the country have helped me to inspire more people than I will ever know. Now I live off the grid in a fifty-square-foot tiny home in San Diego, and they’re covering that too!

It all started with a few ideas. If I can do it, so can you.

Here’s my activism adventures as the news reports it:

This woman is dumpster diving her way through her PhD

I met Liselotte through Facebook when she commented on one of my posts, saying she is “dumpster diving her way through her PhD.” I wanted to learn more, so I invited her to do a guest blog for my website. She is an intelligent and inspirational woman doing good for the Earth and the people around her. I just had to share her wonderful story, so here it is!

When I started my PhD in environmental psychology in October 2014, I had been dumpster diving for a while, but I wanted to take it to the next level. The goal was to save as much money as possible so that I would be able to buy a nice block of land after these three years, build a simple eco-home and live mostly self-sustainably after that.

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The Life of a Barefoot Dude

There was a time when I wore shoes. I had all kinds, too: hiking shoes, winter boots, business shoes, running shoes, flip flops, slip-ons, slippers, Velcro shoes, skateboard shoes, water shoes, athletic sandals… and the list could go on and on. I think it’s safe to say that I liked shoes. I probably owned around a dozen pairs at any one point in my early adulthood.

But as I grew a bit older (I’m still very young) I decided to start pushing my limits. I decided to break free of my preconceived notions of what was possible. I wanted to push the boundaries of my body. And ultimately, I wanted to live simply, free of many of the modern luxuries and conveniences that so many of us consider necessities.I had an idea that our feet could function just fine without shoes. I had an idea that our bodies had evolved over hundreds of thousands of years WITHOUT shoes on our feet, and that today, our feet could probably still do just as well without them. In fact, I had an inkling that my feet might even be better off without shoes.

I had an idea that our feet could function just fine without shoes. I had an idea that our bodies had evolved over hundreds of thousands of years WITHOUT shoes on our feet and that today, our feet could probably still do just as well without them. In fact, I had an inkling that my feet might even be better off without shoes.
So I started to give it a try. Growing up I had done a fair share of being barefoot at the beach, playing in the fields, swimming, etc. But I’d never really tested the boundaries of these bad boys.

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FAQ for my Off the Grid Tiny House Life

Hi everyone,
If you are here it’s probably because you have a question about my life at my off the grid tiny house in San Diego.
Here you’ll find answers to the most frequently asked questions. If you have another question that was not answered please ask in the comments below and if it seems that many people have the same questions count on me to add it to the post!
Make sure you watch my latest video because this covers most of the basics. Also, subscribe to my Youtube page and my newsletter so you know when I put out more writing and videos!

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Off the Grid in a Tiny House with Rob Greenfield

It’s been 4 months since I moved into my tiny house and life is splendid! It has come along a bit slower than planned because of travels and other projects but today I felt it was finally time to share my life, off the grid, in the city! I am living a very low impact lifestyle- harvesting rainwater, eating local, harnessing the energy of the sun, composting, and riding my bamboo bike around town.

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I am a mere blink on the face of Mother Earth

I’m not telling you what to think about yourself. This is a reminder for myself and you have the option to contemplate this.

I am a mere blink on the face of Mother Earth. I am not that important.

I am one person among 7 billion currently living. Each one of us is the center of our own universe. Over 100 billion humans have lived and they all have died. They all lived for a mere blink on the face of our earth. No matter how big of a deal they were they still died and so will I. Doesn’t matter whether my face is on a billboard, whether millions tune into me on TV, whether I make the world smile around me, or if I’m the president of the United States.

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