Why Vegetarian Is The New Prius

First, allow me to re-iterate some of the facts from my last year’s Earth Day post:

Some of meat’s contribution to environmental degradation is intuitive.

It’s more resource and energy efficient to grow grain and feed it directly to people than it is to grow grain and turn it into feed that we give to calves until they become full-grown, that we then slaughter to feed to people.

Some of meat’s contribution to environmental degradation is gross.

“Manure lagoons” are the acres of animal excrement that sit in the sun steaming toxic gasses like nitrous oxide, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and methane into the atmosphere. These cesspools often break, leak or overflow, sending dangerous microbes, nitrate pollution, and drug-resistant bacteria into our water supplies.

Giant Manure Lagoon

And some of meat’s contribution to environmental degradation might make us chuckle.

Cow gas is a real contributor to global warming. (It’s mainly burps, not farts.) Ruminates (like cows, sheep, and goats) give off methane when they chew their cud and belch.

But here’s the Meat of It…

If ditching the meat is the best way to save our planet, why aren’t environmental groups telling people to do it? Because it doesn’t poll well! I know better than anyone that people don’t like being told that they should eat less meat. I don’t know why there is such a strong visceral reaction to this one particular issue (as compared to being told you should drive a Hybrid instead of an SUV), but it’s there and it’s severely hindering the cause.

And the real pity of it is that compared with buying a Hybrid vehicle, or buying Energy Star appliances, or installing insulation in your house to reduce heating leakage, or making a tedious commute on the bus every day, or riding your bike to the grocery store, or basically any other green thing you could possibly do, eating pasta on a night when you’d otherwise have made fajitas is pretty much the easiest, and it could have the largest impact if you did it just once a week! Given that eggplant parmesan, bean burritos, and vegetable stir-fry are all delicious, this is not the world’s most onerous commitment.

For the sake of the planet, don’t ignore the impact of what’s on your plate.

For lots of delicious vegetarian recipes check out my recipes page, and this list of really quick and easy vegan and vegetarian meals.

Happy Earth Day!


8 thoughts on “Why Vegetarian Is The New Prius

  1. Teri

    Excellent post, glad my niece shared the link! Lots of great info. I may not be able to afford a Prius, but I sure can afford to eat less meat! <3

  2. Powered By Produce Post author

    Yes, I made sure he read it :)

    They haven’t selected a winner yet. They said, “With so many entries it is taking a bit longer to read all. We should have a winner announced soon.” I realized that it’s a NATION-WIDE contest amongst ALL Gables properties. And I guess only 1 person wins? I obviously think Meatless Mondays is the best green idea! Did I show you my entry? Here it is (there was a word count limit, so it had to be concise):

    Meatless Mondays. One day a week, cut out meat.
    Many studies have shown that the livestock industry is one of the largest contributors to environmental degradation worldwide and contributes massively to air and water pollution, land degradation, climate change, and loss of biodiversity.
    A report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations found that livestock are responsible for 18% of all greenhouse-gas emissions. That’s more than the entire transportation industry combined!
    Another study by the Livestock, Environment And Development Initiative concluded that “the livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.”
    The official Live Earth handbook (the anti-global-warming initiative organized by Al Gore) says that “refusing meat” is the “single most effective thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint.”
    According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than a half-million cars off US roads!
    The University of Chicago reports that going vegan is 50% more effective than switching to a hybrid car in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
    It’s not realistic to expect everyone to go vegan, but cutting out meat for just one day a week is extremely do-able!

  3. Jeff

    Why is the title “Why VEGETARIAN Is The New Prius”? The link to which the title refers says that “going VEGAN is more effective in countering climate change than switching from a standard American car to a Toyota Prius.” Simply cutting out animal flesh from one’s diet while still consuming large amounts of other animal products wouldn’t do much of anything for the environment (nor would it contribute to the well-being of animals, given the massive cruelty in the dairy and egg industries). While environmentally speaking every little bit of reduced animal product consumption helps some…the point is, why use a title that doesn’t accurately reflect the researchers’ statement that the title is referring to?

  4. Pingback: Why am I vegan? Well, here’s your (long) answer. | Andrew Günsberg's blog

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