If you read the comments from articles about the impact of meat on global warming, it’s likely you’ll encounter arguments against vegetarianism, especially if the word “vegetarian” or “vegan” is in the title.
These arguments tend to be not only misguided but irrelevant as they shift the focus of the debate from “Should I reduce my meat intake to help stop global warming?” (the question we should all be asking ourselves) to “Should I be a vegetarian?” (the question you ask yourself after you try it out for a bit)
Take this example of a popular “Have your say” discussion from the BBC which asks the question, “Should we eat less meat to help the environment? (with a staggering 2281 comments)”
People who are Vegetarians do so voluntarily. No one forces them to eat meat, or give up their chosen diets no matter how unnatural they are. Why, then, must they try to force the rest of us to live their chosen lifestyle? Surely, they must realize that they are in the vast minority and eventually there will be a backlash against them & their totalitarian methods by the silent majority? They & the weak-willed politicians that give in to them, had better be careful of just how far they push us.
David Zimlin, Dunedin, Florida, United States
But you’ll also encounter gems like this one..
I was at the lecture. Dr Pachauri spoke in a personal capacity only and as a previous (omnivore). His figures come from transparent, international organisations and they are clear. If we took 1 meat free day each per week it would reduce CO2 emissions = 5 MILLION cars being taken off the road. The panel ALSO referred to subsidies of grain and welfare. If you want to carry on, selfishly and as usual feel free, but please go and discover another planet to ruin. I want to look after this one.
[inmyshoes], United Kingdom
As the last commenter shows, you don’t have to be a vegetarian or vegan to talk about it – or to blog or twitter excessively about it. I’ll admit it. I’m not 100% vegetarian. I’m currently maybe 90% vegetarian (I eat a little seafood, and eat a little dairy).
Some might suggest this makes me a hypocrite, and might argue that advocating for a more meat-less diet must mean that I must also have a 100% meat-less diet.
But the numbers speak for themselves:
- If the average American were to reduce meat consumption by just 20 percent, that would be the equivalent of switching from driving a Camry to a Prius. (source: Eshel, University of Chicago)
- Beef production generates more than 13 times the total greenhouse gases from producing chicken. (source: Fiala, Ecological Economics, picture)
- $20 trillion would be saved from the cost of fighting climate change if the global population shifted to a low-meat diet – defined as 70 grams of beef and 325 grams of chicken and eggs per week. (source: Stehfest, Climatic Change)
In my opinion, a small reduction in meat consumption (especially beef) from a lot of people is a relatively affordable and easy thing to do. Compare it to the efficiency and ease of green options such as biking to work or school, buying a Prius or installing solar panels (which are all great ideas). Eating lower on the food chain is the simplest and most “bang for your buck” green thing to do.
But the question of whether one should be 100% vegetarian or vegan is something to be answered with time… as it requires more effort, discipline, and practice.
If you don’t think you can be vegetarian for one day, why not try out the model of NY Times Food Writer, Mark Bittman, who is vegan until 6pm.
Perhaps we all just need more frequent reminders that global warming is an imminent danger and very real. Afterall, it is why I blog about it and how I contribute to fighting it.
MSNBC’s “Countdown to Doomsday” explains the risk of thawing frozen methane:
More on methane deposits in the future…