Environment: February 2008 Archives

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.


Anirvan Chatterjee is a San Francisco Bay Area tech geek and bibliophile.


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This page is a archive of entries in the Environment category from February 2008.

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