Meat and global warming

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I started eating a primarily lacto-vegetarian diet about a decade ago, driven primarily by selfishly anthropocentric environmental concerns. The more I read, the more obvious it became that eating lower down on the food chain’s more sustainable for human societies, because it uses fewer resources than eating meat.

Over the past year, I’ve been reading more about animal rights and global warming. Animal rights is clearly linked to vegetarian (or better yet, vegan) diets, but global warming? The data’s depressing.

Food writer Mark Bittman summarizes some of the latest findings in a recent New York Times article, “Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler”:

  • global demand for meat is skyrocketing
  • raising livestock for meat is incredibly land- and energy-inefficient
  • the FAO estimates that livestock production causes more greenhouse gases than transportation; sources include animal manure, methane, and trees felled to provide pastureland for animals
  • Americans eat way too much meat as it is, and about twice the recommended daily allowance of protein

According to an often-cited University of Chicago study, switching from a meat-based to a vegan diet eliminates about 1.5 tons of CO2 per year. While the implications of this have been widely debated by environmentalist number-crunchers, it’s clear that eating an increasingly vegan diet is a useful (and easy) way to help ensure more usable croplands for all humans, and a lighter carbon impact on the planet.

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1 Comments

I'm glad to see you blogging, and I'm looking forward to continuing to read your posts. Thanks for letting me know about it!

Re: your comment on my blog (my apologies for not saying anything sooner) I have not read either of the books you mentioned. Well, actually I started the Omnivore's Dilemma, but I had it out from the library for only a week and I didn't have time to read more than the intro and first chapter. It looked right up my alley and I would love to go back to it, I just haven't remembered to get it out from the library again. I haven't heard of the other one, but it looks interesting as well. I'll try and put them on my library list for the next week or two. And thanks for the dishwashing detergent recommendation, I'll have to try that out - I would really like to find something that works for when we move. I know lots of people on septic systems use all sorts of stuff in their systems, but that still doesn't mean it is a good idea.

But anyways, this is all a bit of a digression. Thanks for the recommendations and I'm glad you're blogging!

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