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Posts Tagged ‘climate change’

In this post I wanted to give some love to Food for Change, PB&J Campaign and Veg Climate Alliance.  Each focuses their blog on the connection between meat and global warming.  I recommend them all!

Food for Change

Food for Change promotes food choices that are sustainable, ethical and environmentally responsible.

This blog from the UK has a unique focus on animal agriculture on the environment and was founded a year ago by Sophie Pritchard.  Learn about her motivations, ideas and more about the impact of livestock on global warming, the environment and health in her recent interview on Green Girls Global.  Then check out her other posts!

I became frustrated that environmental organisations continued to turn a blind eye to the environmental impact of livestock, particularly when both environmental and humanitarian organisations strongly and publicly oppose biofuels because of their environmental and social impacts when I knew that they caused only a fraction of the problems that the livestock industry does. I asked all these organisations about why they focused on biofuels, considering their impacts are the same as meat, but lower in scale. They all told me that the issue with biofuels was that they were making matters worse, whereas the devastation caused by livestock is long-standing. That didn’t seem like a good enough reason to ignore the issue to me.


PB&J Campaign

The PB&J Campaign is working to combat environmental destruction by reducing the amount of animal products people eat.

I really like how they emphasize that even a small reduction in the consumption of animal products generates significant results.

Check out the PB&J Pledge that will calculate the impact of your meals on greenhouse gas emissions, water and land based on whether or not you consume animal products.   The methodology is derived from sound scientific studies.

PB&J has a long-running blog (since April 2008) with MANY interesting posts on the impact of meat on global warming.

Graph on climate impact of meat consumption

meatgraphfull1


Veg Climate Alliance

Veg Climate Alliance, a new international alliance of vegetarian, environmental and animal rights activists and organizations, stresses that the best thing a person can do to stop global warming and its catastrophic consequences is to switch to a plant-based diet.

Mission Statement

Veg Climate Alliance exists to slow global warming by helping people access the most needed information:

a global shift to vegetarianism is necessary to avoid rapidly approaching catastrophic climatic conditions and other environmental threats.

To accomplish this awareness, we will:

  • Seek the support, advice and partnership of key groups and individuals;
  • Jointly release media statements and resolutions;
  • Jointly lobby governments and international groups, including the UN, to specifically promote the veg diet as a means to combat climate change.

In the same aim we will also provide a central information and communication hub connecting all concerned groups/organizations/communities/individuals.

It’s awesome to see an organization setup to help bring together all of the advocates and supporters of this subject to share ideas and to lobby governmental groups to promote a veg diet.  I hope to be a part of it.  See their blog, veg events listings and their forum!

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meat-the-truth1

For your information and amusement, I provided a Guilt Trip Rating for each video (GTR, 10 is high, 1 is low).   In my opinion, videos with a low GTR are great for introducing this subject to someone.  Videos with a higher GTR should be viewed with caution.  Enjoy.


  1. ABC News:  2 Simple Steps for Climate Change
  2. Meat the Truth Trailer
  3. Compassion in World Farming:  Livestock Production & the Environment
  4. Holistic Secrets with Rachel Avalon:  On Less Meat and Dairy
  5. Glen Beck:  Al Gore Ignores Eating Meat
  6. Mark Bittman: What’s Wrong With What We Eat (20 min.)
  7. Meat the Facts on Global Warming
  8. Supreme Master TV:  United Nations: Less Meat, Less Heat
  9. Barack Obama responds to Question from Vegan on Meat
  10. CNN:  Going Vegan:  The Impact on your Health and the Environment

1.  ABC News:  2 Simple Steps for Climate Change (5/13/08)

For those in a rush.  Guilt Trip Rating: 2

ABC’s Dan Harris narrates this well-made video made for a mainstream audience that helps us to visualize how the beef production process releases greenhouse gases.  The second part (Step 2) of the video encourages viewers to also get an energy audit.  Point made:  there’s more than one way to stop global warming, eating less beef is a lot easier.  Bravo.

2.  Meat the Truth Trailer

For media types, documentary lovers.  Guilt Trip Rating:  5

This is the trailer to a DOCUMENTARY on meat and global warming made in the Netherlands! I’m surprised I didn’t hear about this earlier.  Takes an incrementalist approach towards meat-eating, mimicing Al Gore’s Powerpoint-style presentation in An Inconvenient Truth.   Shows how one meatless day of the week helps.

3.  Compassion in World Farming:  Livestock Production & the Environment

For those who prefer British accents?  Guilt Trip Rating:  5

4.  Holistic Secrets with Rachel Avalon:  On Less Meat and Dairy

For those who just pay more attention to a lady, or who need their hand to be held.  Guilt Trip Rating:  3

A holistic, innocent, earthy, video blogger who gently lays out the stats and gives some nice homemade graphics :).  Her summary:  “Surprising solution beyond CFL lightbulbs, planting trees, & hybrids”.

Check out Rachel’s website at www.rachelavalon.com.  She is trained in holistic nutrition, reflexology and massage therapy!


5. Glen Beck:  Al Gore Ignores Eating Meat

For those who wishes they could see something good in Glen Beck?  Guilt Trip Rating: 9

As Google reveals, this is one of the most viral videos on meat and global warming out there.  But be careful with this one.  For those who don’t know, Glen Beck is a prominent right-wing talk show host, who thinks the global warming crowd is alarmist and being misled.  It seems that his goal is to manipulate the subject of meat and global warming, as an “all or nothing” sort of issue – in order to further antagonize the skeptics, or to  even divide global warming activists.  This is my hunch at least.  Beck never mentions the fact that one could simply eat LESS meat, though the PETA organizer does mention it at the end.  Beck even prepared a video catching well-known celebrities and of course, Al Gore, eating meat.

Eat ANY meat? Guilt! Guilt! Shame! Shame!

However, it is nonetheless an informative video that brought attention to this issue, and includes some points I can agree with.  Gore should bring up the impact of livestock on global warming.  I just hope people aren’t introduced to this subject through Beck.

Round 2 – Beck and PETA spokesperson Matt Prescott met again earlier this month

6Mark Bittman: What’s Wrong With What We Eat (20 min.)

For science, whole-system types.  Guilt Trip Rating: 4

This guy is great.  Non-vegetarian and author who blogs at the NY Times about cooking, with occasional blog posts on the impact of meat on global warming.  The video explains how industrial agricultural is to blame for our diets and for harming the Earth.

Summary from TED itself:  “In this fiery and funny talk, New York Times food writer Mark Bittman weighs in on what’s wrong with the way we eat now (too much meat, too few plants; too much fast food, too little home cooking), and why it’s putting the entire planet at risk.”

7.  Meat the Facts on Global Warming

For those who can take the heat.  Guilt Trip Rating: 9

From MeatTheFACTS.org,  A serious guilt-trip.  Hits all the angles:  global warming, deforestation, poverty, water, world hunger and starving children.  No narration.  Just the facts & ominous techno music mixed with a heart monitor, suggesting that the end is near.  Which is probably true…


8.  Supreme Master TV:  United Nations: Less Meat, Less Heat

For everyone, literally.  There are subtitles for 14 other languages.  Guilt Trip Rating:  6

“Dr Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace, has said that people should give up eating meat at least once a week in order to help prevent global warming.”

One of many videos from Supreme Master Ching Hai, on meat and global warming. You may not agree with all of her spiritual views, but you can agree that she is channeling her energy for the planet. “Supreme Master TV” is a multilingual video channel which regularly emphasizes why and how to go vegetarian and vegan.

9.  Barack Obama responds to Question from Vegan on Meat

For everyone, Obama fans.  Guilt Trip Rating: 2

It’s very interesting to watch Obama’s respond to this question on the environmental impact of our diet.  He explains that as a result of climate change and livestock production, the global food system is under immense stress – and says rising global meat consumption is a threat. He gives some tangible examples.  He also ties the question to health, noting that the US healthcare system could save a trillion dollars if obesity levels were lowered to 1980 levels.   YESiree.  Of course, he says all this in a much more articulate and non-threatening sort of way.  Yay, this is the president of the USA speaking!

The question – Nikki Benoit: Thank you, Senator, very much for your strong environmental position.

The United Nations actually has reiterated that factory farming is contributing more to global greenhouse gas emissions than all of transportation. I think that as a global community we really need to be the leader and moving more towards non-factory farming animal agriculture. It’s very egregious. There’s 10 billion land animals that we are funneling our precious water and grain through when 70 per cent of all of our grain could help feed the world’s hungry. So, as the next leader of the most amazing nation in the world, how can we set the example on the more nutritional, plant-based diet that’s more eco-friendly and sustainable, that can maintain our water resources and all of our grain. Thank you very much.

10.  CNN:  Going Vegan:  The Impact on your Health and the Environment (6/11/08)

For everyone, particularly those who just need to hear it from CNN.  Guilt Trip Rating: 3

The reporter, Alina Cho, talks about the facts while showing off some vegan food in action.  She concludes by telling viewers  that she is not saying one has to cut meat entirely out of his/her diet to make a significant impact (despite the story on veganism).  Unfortunately, the video quality is not great.

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cows

This is a useful post for illustrating meat’s carbon footprint to different people.  Do you like exotic food?  Know a Prius or SUV owner?  Don’t plan on going veg anytime soon?  There’s something for everyone. Hopefully, at least one of these ten studies will help you or someone you know to consider eating less meat.

1.  Livestock’s Longshadow

This is probably the most cited and comprehensive study on the impact of meat on global warming and the environment.  Estimated that livestock produces 18% of all greenhouse gases, more than all forms of transportation combined.  Summary:  Spotlight: Livestock impacts on the environment

Steinfeld et all., United Nations, Food and Agricultural Organization, 2006.

For those who just want to hear it from a “legitimate source”.

2.  Diet, Energy and Global Warming (pdf)(view as html)

One of the first major studies on this subject, which concluded choosing a vegan diet reduced more greenhouse gases than switching from a SUV to a prius.  Summary:  Vegan Diets Healthier for Planet, People than Meat Diets

Gidon Eshel and Martin, University of Chicago,  December 2005.

For the veg-curious and hybrid or SUV owners.

3.   Kangaroos and Greenhouse Gases

Concluded switching from beef to kangaroo meat would significantly help fight global warming.

Articles about this subject are surprisingly popular.  Though I don’t think I would touch kangaroo meat, many people seem curious about this new alternative.  To me, this is fine.  It brings a lot of awareness to the impact of livestock on global warming, which is the most important thing.  Apparently, about 58% of Australians eat kangaroo meat.  Summary:  Kangaroo Farming would Cut Greenhouse Gases

To start conversations with exotic food lovers, cute Australians, global warming skeptics, and maybe animal rights activists.

George Wilson, University of New South Wales (May 2008)

4.  Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States

Concluded that reducing meat consumption will more effectively lower one’s carbon footprint than “buying local”.  Summary:  It’s the Meat Not the Miles

Christopher L. Weber and H. Scott Matthews, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Department of Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon Universit(April 2008).

For locavores and the “just buy local or organic” discussions.

5.  Climate Friendly Dining Meats

A look at the individual carbon footprints of beef, pork, chicken and fish.  Beef accounts for only 30% of all meat consumption, but contributes 78% of meat’s greenhouse gas emissions.  AFP summary:  Hamburgers are the Hummers of Food in Global Warming.

American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, Chicago (Feb. 15).

For the everyday meat eater.

6.  The Cheeseburger Footprint

Concludes: “The greenhouse gas emissions arising every year from the production and consumption of cheeseburgers is roughly the amount emitted by 6.5 million to 19.6 million SUVs.  There are now approximately 16 million SUVs currently on the road in the US. ”  Total Cheeseburgers = Total SUVs?

Jamais Cascio, ref: Energy Use in the Food Sector (PDF), a 2000 report from Stockholm University and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, (Dec. 2006).

To help cheeseburger-eating, frequent SUV drivers feel even more guilty.

7.  Climate Benefits of Changing Diet

Concluded that if the world shifted to a low-meat diet, the world could cut $20 trillion off the cost of fighting global warming (that’s $20,000,000,000,000).  Summary:  Eating less meat could cut climate costs

Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, Earth System Science and Climate Change Group, Wageningen University Research Centre, February 2009.

For any discussion about the dismal state of the world economy or stimulus packages.

8.  Global Environmental Costs of Beef Production

A well-cited article by scholars, ahead of its time.  Showed “cows emit between 2.5 and 4.7 ounces of methane for each pound of beef they produce.  Because methane has roughly 23 times the global-warming potential of CO2, those emissions are the equivalent of releasing between 3.6 and 6.8 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere for each pound of beef produced.”  (Nathan Fiala – interesting researcher on this subject, Scientific American)

For those who give you links to carbon footprint calculators.

Susan Subak, University College London (July 1999).

9.  Amazon Cattle Footprint (pdf)

This is an impressive study with maps and graphs on how cattle ranching is responsible for 80% of the continuous deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.  According to Dr. Norman Myers, 5% of the world’s deforestation is currently due to cattle ranching.  Overall deforestation is estimated to be responsible for 20% of all greenhouse gases, more than transportation.  Summary:  How Cattle Ranches are Chewing Up the Amazon Rainforest.

For the everyday treehugger (a good thing) who isn’t cutting back on meat.

Greenpeace (January 2009)

10. Evaluating environmental impacts of the Japanese beef cow–calf system by the life cycle assessment method

Concluded that producing 1kg of beef results in more CO2 emissions than going for a three-hour drive while leaving all the lights on at home.  Summary:  Meat is Murder on the Environment

For the next time your wife/husband/roommate/etc. complains about you leaving the lights on or wasting gas.

Akifumi Ogino, National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science, Tsukuba, and Graduate School of Agriculture, Kyoto University, Sakyo, Kyoto, Japan (July 2007)

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With the intense focus on man-made emissions triggering global climate chaos, surely the leaders of the world would prioritize developing policies that limit livestock production (beef, pork, chicken), the #2 cause of global warming? (2006 FAO, Energy Production is #1)

It turns out, politicians don’t like to touch this subject, especially in the United States.  A 2007 Farm Bill amendment that would have cut subsidies for meat and dairy industries was rejected by House Democrats, because House Leader Nancy Pelosi feared Democratic representatives would risk losing their seats in the 2008 elections.

As for the European Union, which many say is “leading the way” for climate change reform,  politicians are almost just as hesitant.  The EU recently issued a warning about the impact of livestock on the environment while omitting text calling for a worldwide reduction in meat consumption.  However, no direct action was taken that might help to reduce meat consumption or the number of livestock.

Governments are taking no steps to influence the individual’s decision to eat less meat.  Wait.  Let me take that back.  The government IS influencing you.  It is subsidizing meat to allow it to be very cheap and very affordable, at the cost of our environment and health, with our taxpayer money.

But who’s complaining?  How much of the public cares?

Where is the rallying cry from progressives, global warming activists or environmentalists? Where…is Al Gore?  Hollywood?

Many leaders have helped to put global warming in the spotlight and to “go green”.  And for that we owe our gratitude.  But many of these same “leaders” have failed to act and speak on the environmental impact of livestock.  It is no wonder politicians don’t care to make this an issue.

We have exempted agriculture from the climate protection strategy in order to limit the number of potential sources of conflict,” says a senior member of the staff of Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, a member of the Social Democrat Party (SPD).

So why aren’t politicians including livestock in climate policy?  Why does a salad cost more than a Big Mac?

Because there is a need for new leaders and catalysts for change. People need to see and hear, how and why, hundreds millions have already made the choice to adopt a low-meat or no-meat diet.

Over the next five years, US farms will receive 288 billion in federal subsidies.  The graph below displays the percentage of subsidies addressed to the different groups of the food pyramid.

pyramid1source: PCRM

Ending or at least significantly reducing subsidies for meat and dairy industries, will force them to bear their own resource and environmental costs, and to cope with less funds to market their goods to the public, or to lobby politicians.

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According to a 2006 United Nations FAO Report, the world’s cattle herds give off more greenhouse gasses than all forms of transportation (including planes) put together.

“It’s an area that’s been largely overlooked,” said Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Nobel Prize-winning United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He says people should eat less meat to control their carbon footprints. “We haven’t come to grips with agricultural emissions.”

–  “As More Eat Meat, a Bid to Cut Emissions” (NY Times, 12/4/08 )

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