Nothing sparks political discussion and debate more than a family dinner during the holidays. In this explosive political climate, chances are the conversation will run wild during Thanksgiving even more than it has in the past. To give you some ideas for the upcoming holiday season, here are some environmental topics to help spur your political discussion while you enjoy your turkey dinner.

American flag in grass at sunset

Elections

With a major midterm election happening just this month, politics will be a hot topic at Thanksgiving dinner tables across the country. In addition to Republicans who doubt climate science being voted out of the House of Representatives, there were also many environmental measures on the ballots in states across the nation. But the results on these key issues sent mixed messages that are sure to get people talking.

leftover pumpkin pie on black plate

Food waste

One-third of all globally produced food ends up wasted, and that makes food waste a huge problem. Americans throw away more than 40 percent of the food they buy, which is also a major factor in climate change.

To tackle this problem, some cities are passing laws banning restaurants from throwing out food, and that is a step in the right direction. But making changes at home will help just as much, if not more.

If we don’t change our food waste habits, a new study says the problem will continue to increase, and we will be throwing out 66 tons of food per second by 2030. What better time to bring this up than during your Thanksgiving feast? It’s a great time to encourage everyone to take home leftovers.

oil refinery factory under gloomy gray skies

Climate change

The latest UN report on climate change has revealed that we are not on target to maintain the Earth’s temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius or less. If we want to avoid more extreme weather events and species’ extinction, we need to make some major changes to hit that goal.

During the 2015 Paris Agreement, nearly 200 nations pledged to keep the ceiling for temperature rise at 2 degrees Celsius, but that isn’t enough to avoid irreparable damage to Earth’s ecosystems.

While discussing climate change, you can add a new twist on the topic and bring up the new study on barley production, which says that beer prices will soar in the near future because of climate change.

several plastic cups with plastic straws

Plastic bans

The ban on single-use plastics is starting to trend all over the world, and the word “single-use” just became Collins Dictionary’s 2018 Word of the Year. States are banning plastic straws and other single-use items to reduce the waste, and the European parliament just supported a major ban of single-use plastics that member nations will implement over the next few years. Let everyone at the dinner table know it’s time to ditch straws or stock up on reusable options.

Related: Plastic straws are a thing of the past, but which reusable straw is best for the future?

red stop sign with a sticker that says, "Eating Animals" just below the word, "Stop"

Veganism, vegetarianism and flexitarianism

The meat industry has taken a big hit in recent years thanks to the diet trend of veganism, vegetarianism and flexitarianism. Vegetarianism has been popular since the ’90s, but veganism have become mainstream in recent years, with new vegan-only restaurants popping up in cities across the world.

Now, flexitarianism is on the rise, which is a diet that is mostly plant-based but does have some select meat dishes incorporated on a limited basis.

Related: 12 plant-based recipes for a vegan or vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner

With this growing trend away from meat, a third of the people in the U.K. now have little to no meat in their daily food intake. But we still have a long way to go if we want to avoid a climate crisis. Perhaps it’s time to swap out the turkey for a vegan option.

person wearing white fur coat by the beach

Animal welfare

There are many different issues making headlines on the topic of animal welfare —  including Trump’s border wall, which is threatening the National Butterfly Center. This year, California became the first state in the country to ban animal testing for cosmetics, and Los Angeles also put a stop to the sale of fur. Burberry also vowed to stop using fur in its products, and an entire Fashion Week went fur-free. Encourage friends and family at the table to do the same.

No matter where the discussion takes you, try to keep the environment in mind for every topic of your conversation. One of the most important things we can do is spread awareness about the major problems that are harming our planet and educate our loved ones on how to help.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Images via Aaron Burden, Patrick Hendry, Sagar Chaudhray, Simon Matzinger, Tamara Bellis and Shutterstock