Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Climate Change and Diet

Here is a short chapter that I've written for my book on raw food.

Climate Change and Diet

“Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.”

Henning Steinfeld, senior UN FAO official

Did you know that according to a United Nations report issued in 2006 that cattle produce more global warming greenhouse gases than all the cars, trucks, airplanes, buses, and trains combined? Did you know that livestock now use up more than 30 percent of the planet’s entire land surface? And I bet you didn’t know that producing animal products is damaging the environment through land erosion by overgrazing, depletion of scarce fresh water sources, water pollution, and deforestation (South American rainforest to make American hamburgers)?

Methane is 50 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide. Cows, 1.3 billion of them on the planet, produce more than 100 million tons of the stuff every year. This is the equivalent to 5 billion tons of CO2. Cows, being the ruminants that they are, break down their food by fermenting it. Every time a cow burps and farts, there you go, methane.

Eating animals contributes significantly to global warming. Eating animals contributes to the deforestation of our planet. Eating animals contributes to the destruction of farmland that could be used for feeding human beings. And eating animals contributes to the pollution of our waters. Is this a good reason to at least consider changing your diet?

The average person who consumes meats and dairy products requires 20 times the acreage of that of a vegan. The average non-vegan requires 100 times the amount of fresh water to raise the livestock that they will eat. Eating animals has become more than an ethical choice regarding cruelty to other sentient beings, it’s about destroying the planet that we live on.

If all of this were not enough, consider that two-thirds of all antibiotics in the United States are given to animals. This is necessary just to keep them alive long enough to get to the slaughterhouse after we have confined them for so long in our factory farms. The overuse of antibiotics is generating a new class of superbugs that are becoming resistant to antibiotics. What happens when antibiotics are no longer of any use?

If we in America stopped eating meat we would save enough food to feed the 60 million people who starve to death each year on this planet—ten times over! Granted, there are political problems to be overcome, but this gives you an idea of the food we are wasting.

No comments: