Earlier this month Jews around the world celebrated Tu B'Shevat, a holiday that honors our connection to the land. It celebrates trees in particular. I co-authored a piece with Rabbi Tara Feldman that reflects on the significance of this traditionally plant-based holiday and how Earth-friendly diets are connected to our faith.

Food is deeply tied into cultural identities and celebrations, so the recognition that eating less meat is consistent with religious values is powerful. Faith-based communities around the world are re-examining how individual choices — particularly around food — align values and action to create positive change. Plant-based foods are also more inclusive, allowing those with religious, ethical and medical dietary restrictions to break bread together.

Read on for more about shifting trends in plant-based eating and how to ease the pressure of population growth and overconsumption on wildlife.

For the wild,

Stephanie Feldstein

Stephanie Feldstein
Population and Sustainability Director
Center for Biological Diversity

P.S. Today's world population is: 7,767,267,450. We can still save room for wildlife — spread the word and share this email.

Mountain lion

A mountain lion naps in the bathroom at Chatsworth Reservoir in Southern California. Earlier this month the California Department of Fish and Wildlife recommended that six mountain lion populations across the state move toward endangered species protection. Mountain lions face numerous threats in California, including vehicle strikes, habitat loss and fragmentation, rodenticide poisoning and livestock production.

Endangered Species Condoms

Flowers, Chocolate ... and Condoms?

The Center urged couples living in the 10 cities rated as the country's most "sexually satisfied" to skip the usual Valentine's Day gifts and get wild with Endangered Species Condoms instead. More than 200 volunteers gave away 40,000 condoms on campuses, in local health clinics and at community events. And 17 Pillow Talk events took place at zoos and museums across the country, including after-hour date-night events, trivia and educational presentations about animal mating habits.

Read more about how Endangered Species Condoms helped make population and the extinction crisis part of the country's most romantic holiday.

Here's one thing you can do: Sign up to give away Endangered Species Condoms and bring the population conversation to your community.

National School Lunch Week

MyPlate and the Federal Food Fight

Most Americans probably don't think about MyPlate (formerly the food pyramid) every time they sit down to eat, but the dietary guidelines shape food choices made by millions of Americans each day. They also direct more than $80 billion in federal spending each year. And they're currently being revised by the Trump administration.

Trump tried to prohibit the advisory committee helping develop the guidelines from addressing sustainability. But the committee can still emphasize the importance of reducing meat consumption in its report. The recommendations could force the Trump administration to respond and help change the way Americans think about food.

Here's one thing you can do: Take action to urge the advisory committee to include sustainability in its dietary recommendations.

White-handed gibbon

20,000 Species Squeezed by Human Population Pressure

A recent study found that more than 20,000 species are experiencing intense pressure from humanity's footprint. There are many ways that the presence of humans affects wildlife, including the cumulative land-use changes from buildings, infrastructure, roads and crop lands that make up our footprint. And these effects will continue to expand as we add more people to the planet.

Sarah Baillie, the Center's Endangered Species Condoms coordinator, wrote an op-ed in Mongabay about this new study and why contraception is an important part of saving life on Earth.

Here's one thing you can do: The Center is conducting research to better understand knowledge and perceptions around population issues. Take the survey and share the link with your friends.

Quinoa bowl

Surveys Say Earth-friendly Diets on the Rise

A recent Gallup poll found that nearly 1 in 4 Americans have cut back on eating meat, and concern for the environment is becoming a major reason why. A Yale survey found that more than half of Americans are willing to eat more plant-based protein and less red meat.

Yet 64% of Americans say they've never been asked to eat more plant-based foods. About half said they would be willing to do so if they better understood the environmental impact of different foods or if they knew their family and friends were opting for a more Earth-friendly diet.

Here's one thing you can do: Eat less meat and more plant-based foods, and talk to your friends and family about why you're taking extinction off your plate.

Florida bonneted bat

Wildlife Spotlight: Florida Bonneted Bat

Florida bonneted bats are named for their spectacular, satellite-like ears that extend over their foreheads like bonnets. Like many other Florida residents, these bats have an intolerance for cold temperatures that keeps them from moving farther north. Unfortunately this puts their homes in the path of dangerous sea-level rise.

Bonneted bats prefer to forage in open spaces rather than crowded city spots and already face challenges in Florida's rapidly developing landscape. And with up to six feet of sea-level rise predicted by the end of the century, many of their roost sites will be inundated.

As the result of a Center lawsuit, Florida bonneted bats will get protected critical habitat, giving these unique critters a flying chance in the face of population pressure and climate change.

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Photo credits: Plant seedling by Pexels/Pixabay; mountain lion sleeping in bathroom courtesy NPS; museum exhibit with Endangered Species Condoms by Annette Hanson; National School Lunch Week courtesy USDA; endangered white-handed gibbon by JJ Harrison/Flickr; quinoa bowl by Ella Olsson/Flickr; Florida bonneted bat by Kathleen Smith/Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Center for Biological Diversity
P.O. Box 710
Tucson, AZ 85702
United States