Would You Turn Vegetarian to Slow Global Warming?

By Eliza Strickland | October 28, 2009 10:58 am

cowLord Nicholas Stern, the British economist who produced an influential report on the potential costs of global warming, is strongly urging the British public to go vegetarian in order to slow the accumulation of heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. Said Stern: “Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world’s resources. A vegetarian diet is better” [The Times]. Stern also suggested that climate change legislation that makes it more expensive to generate greenhouse gases could soon force meat producers to raise prices, which might lower consumption.

In a 2006 report, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) concluded that worldwide livestock farming generates 18% of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions. By comparison, it said, all the world’s cars, trains, planes and boats accounted for a combined 13% of greenhouse gas emissions [BBC News]. The gases are produced by each step of livestock production. Take cows, for example. First forested land is cleared for cattle grazing or for agricultural operations that generate livestock feed, then there’s the methane emitted by burping cows and the nitrous oxide in their manure, and finally there are the energy costs associated with slaughtering the cows and transporting the meat.

Not everyone is calling for the drastic measure of eliminating meat entirely from our diets. Many experts agree that we could make a good start merely by dropping meat one day a week. This is what the citizens of the Belgian city of Ghent have been doing, voluntarily, all this year, without noticeable ill effects [The Times].

Related Content:
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80beats: If We Can’t Stop Emitting CO2, What’s Our Plan B?
DISCOVER: 10 Ways Methane Could Brake Global Warming–or Break the Planet

Image: flickr / Cathy, Sam, Max and Mai

  • Buddesatva

    Entirely, every, always, never… Why does a point fail without extremes? The answer, unfortunately is the expectations in the language. Without hyperbole the discussion seems weak. Reducing the intake of meat makes more sense and has a chance for success. We are not all about to trade our cars for bicycles, eliminate meat from our diets and start treating other human beings with respect. I think we can do better and change for the better, but swinging a big bat trying to mow down the problem is not effective. It is actually quite childish.

  • Yasmin

    Hell, No.

  • Patty

    Yes! Meat consumption is wasteful of resources including water and land, not to mention secondary waste like the increased medical costs associated with a society eating a meat-based diet. We’d all be better off giving it up!

    And there are entire cultures representing millions of people who have lived and thrived for centuries without meat, which is enough evidence that humans do not “need” it to satisfy their taste buds or to survive and thrive.

    In fact, the evidence weighs heavily in the other direction: the hazards of a meat and dairy diet and the benefits of a vegan diet are well known in the medical and scientific community. Health, animal cruelty, and environmental issues could be alleviated if everyone ate a vegan diet.

    * U.N. scientists have determined that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse-gas emissions than all the cars, SUVs, trucks, and planes in the world combined.

    * Researchers at the University of Chicago determined that switching to a vegan diet is more effective in countering climate change than switching from a standard car to a Toyota Prius.

    * According to Environmental Defense, if every American substituted vegetarian foods for chicken at just one meal per week, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than a half-million cars off U.S. roads.

    And it’s just plain barbaric to breed, confine, and slaughter animals for food. Give up meat and dairy for your health, for the animals, and for the environment!

  • bluecollarbytes

    Why bother banning meat outright? Simply require that all cow methane emissions be captured and stored till new technologies can dispose of it safely.

  • http://www.nexyoo.com Kirsten@Nexyoo

    Most Americans get too much protein (not to mention fat) in their diets, so taking at least a day off from meat would be a healthy choice. @bluecollarbytes, it’s not just methane emissions– much of the impact comes from the all of the energy required to produce food for the animals, and deforestation.

  • addicted to bad

    Considering my co-workers point out I eat a salad for lunch, I can pretty confindently say none of them will give up their 10+ cheese burgers per week.

  • Em

    Maybe some americans get too much protein (but I will agree that most of us get too much fat, but that’s a different issue), but it many studies women rarely get enough protein. I don’t think you need to ban meat and get it out of your diet. People should probably start eating what they need to and not overeat. Think of how much that would cut down amounts of meat consumed. For how many thousands of years have humans raised livestock for food? It’s nothing new. What does seem to be the new trend (new being a relative term) is the ridiculous amounts of livestock being raised to satiate those people who overeat. But someone admitting they eat enough for three people and then them intending to change is something I don’t expect to see many people do anytime soon.

    Vegans and vegetarians I’ve met seem to always have the problem of getting enough protein in their diets, so I don’t think that’s really a viable solution. Additionally, even if everyone stopped eating meat, land would still be deforested for crop fields. That problem wouldn’t be solved.

    Maybe in areas of the world where the amount of food produced exceeds what can (and/or should) be consumed they should just stop deforesting land to breed ever more creatures for food and raise more crops.

    As far as the energy required to produce food for animals, supplement some of the food by letting the animals spend more time grazing.

  • Eugene

    Major consequences of not eating meat:

    1. Wild boar population of US and especially TX will exponentially grow making ruined farmlands. This is due to boars not having any natural predators except humans.

    2. All major sports and Olympics would be pitiful ghost of strong athletes. When is the last time you ever saw a vegetarian linebacker in the NFL. No more tailgates!

    3. Vegetarian children will be making civil rights claims due to being beat up all the time by the meat eating children.

    4. Jesus ate meat (fish) when he visited the disciples after he died. People won’t be like Jesus they will be like Judas.

    5. No more BBQs – this idea seems anti-American.

  • Ryan

    Bunch of greenies here!

    Stop eating meat to “save the planet”??? That’s about the most arrogant thing I’ve ever heard. Global warming is NOT happening now just like Global Cooling was NOT happening in the 70’s. It’s all a system of control. Nothing more.

    There is a much higher power that sustains this earth and am not so arrogant to adhere to the Humanistic approach that says we mere Humans can solve all the world’s problems. What will it take for people to start believing what God says?

  • hsr0601

    I think the most dangerous food is meat as it destroys humanity and leads to wars and destroys all ultimately.

    Obesity & Magic Pill :

    I personally recognize that wheat is a far better diet than meat on the ground it normally exits body with ease and rapidity, and we are well aware that our heath depends upon smooth metabolism and blood stream associated with the immune system and how important our daily workout is, as well.

    I still think the critical conditions mostly come from breach of our immune system, and the food that stays long in the body is more likely to become a source where germs, bacterias, viruses and the like multiply.
    Sounds outlandish, but wheat might be a principal “clean and healthy” food that has led western society to the most decent culture of all.

    Disadvantages of meat consumption :

    1. The food that stays long in the body looks more likely to become a source where germs, bacterias and the like multiply, which even gives birth to critical conditions involving prostate cancer.

    2. The consumption of meat proved lethal as earlier this year, the expansive, long-term release concluded about a third of more than 500,000 Americans aged 50-70 with this behavior tends to wind up with premature fatality caused by cancer, hypertension and more.

    3. The in-take of pork raises risks of catching swine flue and its mutation, costing around the initially estimated $2trillion dollars word-wide and endangering recovery,

    (( Genes included in the new swine flu have been circulating undetected in pigs for at least a decade, according to researchers who have sequenced the genomes of more than 50 samples of the virus. The findings suggest that in the future, pig populations will need to be monitored more closely for emerging influenza viruses, reported a team led by Rebecca Garten of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a report released by the journal Science.))

    Still, media downplay this fact out of small thinking to protect meat industry.

    4. All but media influenced by meat industry blame calorie for overweight or obesity rather than fat, I still think Fat equals Fat by definition and common sense.

    5. Hot dogs are often associated with food-borne illness. Though other food items carry listeria , FDA (Food and Drug Administration) studies have shown a high level of the harmful bacteria on hot dogs, processed meat and ready-to-eat meat products. And consuming hot dogs and other processed meats increases the risk of cancer

    The class-action consumer fraud lawsuit underway in New Jersey is based on a report from the American Institute for Cancer Research.

    Its findings included this fact: Consuming one 50-gram serving of processed meat (about the amount in one hot dog) every day increases the risk of colorectal cancer, on average, by 21 percent.

    Nitrites, used to keep hot dogs fresh, are the main culprit, according to the suit.

    While nitrites are commonly found in many green vegetables, especially spinach, celery and green lettuce, the consumption of vegetables appears to be effective in reducing the risk of cancer. Because these vegetables also contain Vitamin C and D, which serve to inhibit the formation of carcinogenic compounds, they actually reduce your cancer risk.

    6. Two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, which branch into so many different kinds of diseases, excess body fat increases risk for numerous cancers, costing up to $147 billion a year.

    7. America needs to put focus on a sustainable energy industry to become a lead exporter, in place of a fast food business where the overall loss outstrips gain more than known, from my stance.

    Provided the average temperature is getting higher, accordingly all forms of germs, bacterias, viruses, and influenza etc are more likely to multiply.

    Some skeptics say the warning against hazards of climate change is overstated, but judging from more frequent and widespread outbreaks of e. coli, salmonella, and bird, swine flu cases endangering human lives and economic recovery seriously, some prompt measures need to be taken, I guess.

    Also, Breathing toxic chemicals in the outdoor air exposes all Americans to a lifetime cancer risk at least 10 times greater than the level considered acceptable under federal law, shows new data released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

    Thank You !

  • davidk

    Here we go again. Some one writes an article as if Global warming is a fact and that man is at fault. If there is global warming and that is still a big if , man is not at fault.. there are so many things that cause the temperature to raise and fall that we have no control over like the activity of the sun, volcanoes and just so many other factors that we don’t under stand yet..but if enough of the news media and political left keep telling us it our fault,. people believe it Plus Al Gore says the debate is over so it’s over.. He is getting rich over this so call global warming by selling carbon credits , it’s in his interest to keep this junk science going.. People it’s not science it’s political !!!

  • hi

    Will cow tipping still be allowed?

  • David

    I have no statistics to back me up on this at all, but I am wondering.
    Any forests we clear for grazing cattle, how do the Co2 emissions of that compare to the CO2 emissions of machinery clearing a field of corn? I also see homes being build on perfectly good farmland in my community as opposed to the clay-like areas where hardly anything grows just because people with money prefer that location. Isn’t that a bigger problem? Also the emissions from shipping meat, are vegetables able to magically appear on your table without shipping them too? I think that is more a question of buying local than a regular vs vegetarian diet. If eating meat was such a huge contributer to climate change, I wonder how people dealt with it in medieval times without all the technology we have now? Or did we just not eat meat back then? This is just vegetarians using global warming as a way to force us into changing out diets into one meant for herbivores and is distracting us from the real causes. I’m not doubting that if every person became a vegetarian it would help stop global warming, but it’s the major causes we have to focus on.

  • MsLabMgr

    I already did! I started with http://www.meatlessmonday.com/ for a few months, but now am vegetarian 7 days/week. I feel better and have lost weight!

    Meat is the most resource-intensive food on the table and eating less of it can be the single most green move a person makes. Producing meat requires huge amounts of water, grain, land, and other inputs including hormones and antibiotics, and leads to pollution of soil, air, and water. A pound of beef requires around 12,000 gallons of water to produce, compared to 60 gallons for a pound of potatoes.

    I’m not a vegetarian for the sake of my health, I’m a vegetarian for the health of the planet.

  • http://clubneko.net Nick

    I think it’s funny that this is like the most commented article ever.

    Re: David – you are forgetting one thing: The years of raising food that go into every ounce of meat you consume.

    Also, lets not forget the horrific amounts of waste involved in factory farming. 80beats, you guys should do an article on the shit-lagoons of factory pig farms that are destroying lands in Tennessee and West Virginia and the like.

    That’s right, shit-lagoons. Gigantic, hot pink lakes of pig shit that they collect. They occasionally break, and flood, and go into rivers, etc. Rolling Stone magazine did a wonderful article on it a while back.

  • Melissa

    Some of these comments are beyond stupid. Em, you don’t know anybody who doesn’t get enough protein, so don’t say you do. Do you know how rare that is in developed countries? Also, the land used to graze cattle doesn’t need to be used for more agriculure- we will have plenty of high quality grain if we just stop feeding it animals in factory farms!
    David- in midieval times, there weren’t huge factory farms churning out meat, waste and CO2 and using antibiotics and hormones to get the maximum amount of meat in a short time.

  • Em

    You’re right Melissa, I didn’t conduct a study myself to see if women get enough protein.

    About vegans and vegetarians though- don’t presume that you know who I do or do not know. I have relatives who lead such lives and know of their problems with making sure they include enough proteins in their diet.

    I apologize for the way I worded my last paragraph in my other post. I didn’t mean that more crops should be grown instead, I meant that if those areas already produce more food (from both livestock and crops) people shouldn’t continue to deforest in order to have more livestock and/or crops.

    We don’t NEED more “high quality grain” (which, by the way, they don’t feed high quality grains to livestock and before anyone says I don’t know what I’m talking about- my father used to be a farmer), we have more than we can eat (in this country) already.

  • Eugene

    I think this is comment 18 so in celebration of meat I will eat 1 ounce for each comment to this article. You can have 18 carrots if you want – I will have an 18 ounce filet mignon.

  • Julie

    I find it amazing how people can say Global Warming is a hoax. So all the scientific PROOF isn’t enough for you? Keep doing what your doing and you’ll see.

  • Eugene

    Most vegetarians are a bunch of cry babies when it comes to animals they put animals on the same plane as humans so lets apply animal rules to them. We can spade or neuter animals so they don’t breed. Animals are kept in cages. Animals don’t vote. Animals don’t have government benefits such as medicare or social security.

    People are higher than animals thus we can eat them just as animals are higher than plants.

  • David

    Haha, Eugene your comment is as ignorant as any that I’ve read here. People are higher than animals, thus we can eat them? That is quite the anti-intellectual statement now isn’t it. Because we are higher, that automatically grants us the right to eat them? Absurd. One thing that all of the proud meat-eating morons are forgetting is that this report, and the reason people eat vegetarian and vegan for environmental reasons has more to do with factory farming and the meat INDUSTRY, and less to do with people actually eating the meat. In other words, it would be different if you got your manly hands dirty actually killing the poor beast yourself, but these animals are born and raised in unlivable conditions, and the consequences of the land use, the machinery used, the food and water used to feed them, and what could be done with that land were it not occupied by an overabundance of animals that the American public is NOT in need of, is meat consumption hugely contributing to global warming. That is not an opinion, it’s a fact, and the arrogance displayed by people who are so proud of something like EATING MEAT goes to show what the majority of the public is like, and that is to say that they are fucking stupid, show few signs of intelligence, and have very little to say about anything, other than making ignorant statements about how proud they are for eating meat, shouting stereotypes and refusing to open their minds to helping the environment. Even if global warming isn’t real, which of course it is, the positive affect that a vegetarian has on both your own body, as well as the environment, as well as poverty, and as well as starvation in countries that are suffering under the heel of our consumption and waste, are impossible to put into words.

    Why is a vegan diet such a good idea?

    The Hunger Argument

    Number of people worldwide who will die as a result of malnutrition this year: 20 million
    Number of people who could be adequately fed using land freed if Americans reduced their intake of meat by 10%: 100 million
    Percentage of corn grown in the U.S. eaten by people: 20
    Percentage of corn grown in the U.S. eaten by livestock: 80
    Percentage of oats grown in the U.S. eaten by livestock: 95
    Percentage of protein wasted by cycling grain through livestock: 90
    How frequently a child dies as a result of malnutrition: every 2.3 seconds
    Pounds of potatoes that can be grown on an acre: 40,000
    Pounds of beef produced on an acre: 250
    Percentage of U.S. farmland devoted to beef production: 56
    Pounds of grain and soybeans needed to produce a pound of edible flesh from feedlot beef: 16

    The Environmental Argument

    Cause of global warming: greenhouse effect
    Primary cause of greenhouse effect: carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels
    Fossil fuels needed to produce meat-centered diet vs. a meat-free diet: 3 times more
    Percentage of U.S. topsoil lost to date: 75
    Percentage of U.S. topsoil loss directly related to livestock raising: 85
    Number of acres of U.S. forest cleared for cropland to produce meat-centered diet: 260 million
    Amount of meat imported to U.S. annually from Central and South America: 300,000,000 pounds
    Percentage of Central American children under the age of five who are undernourished: 75
    Area of tropical rainforest consumed in every quarter-pound of rainforest beef: 55 square feet
    Current rate of species extinction due to destruction of tropical rainforests for meat grazing and other uses: 1,000 per year

    The Cancer Argument

    Increased risk of breast cancer for women who eat meat daily compared to less than once a week: 3.8 times
    For women who eat eggs daily compared to once a week: 2.8 times
    For women who eat butter and cheese 2-4 times a week: 3.25 times
    Increased risk of fatal ovarian cancer for women who eat eggs 3 or more times a week vs. less than once a week: 3 times
    Increased risk of fatal prostate cancer for men who consume meat, cheese, eggs and milk daily vs. sparingly or not at all: 3.6 times.

    The Cholesterol Argument

    Number of U.S. medical schools: 125
    Number requiring a course in nutrition: 30
    Nutrition training received by average U.S. physician during four years in medical school: 2.5 hours
    Most common cause of death in the U.S.: heart attack
    How frequently a heart attack kills in the U.S.: every 45 seconds
    Average U.S. man’s risk of death from heart attack: 50 percent
    Risk of average U.S. man who eats no meat: 15 percent
    Risk of average U.S. man who eats no meat, dairy or eggs: 4 percent
    Amount you reduce risk of heart attack if you reduce consumption of meat, dairy and eggs by 10 percent: 9 percent
    Amount you reduce risk of heart attack if you reduce consumption by 50 percent: 45 percent
    Amount you reduce risk if you eliminate meat, dairy and eggs from your diet: 90 percent
    Average cholesterol level of people eating meat-centered-diet: 210 mg/dl
    Chance of dying from heart disease if you are male and your blood cholesterol level is 210 mg/dl: greater than 50 percent

    The Natural Resources Argument

    User of more than half of all water used for all purposes in the U.S.: livestock production
    Amount of water used in production of the average cow: sufficient to float a destroyer
    Gallons of water needed to produce a pound of wheat: 25
    Gallons of water needed to produce a pound of California beef: 5,000
    Years the world’s known oil reserves would last if every human ate a meat-centered diet: 13
    Years they would last if human beings no longer ate meat: 260
    Calories of fossil fuel expended to get 1 calorie of protein from beef: 78
    To get 1 calorie of protein from soybeans: 2
    Percentage of all raw materials (base products of farming, forestry and mining, including fossil fuels) consumed by U.S. that is devoted to the production of livestock: 33
    Percentage of all raw materials consumed by the U.S. needed to produce a complete vegetarian diet: 2

    The Antibiotic Argument

    Percentage of U.S. antibiotics fed to livestock: 55
    Percentage of staphylococci infections resistant to penicillin in 1960: 13
    Percentage resistant in 1988: 91
    Response of European Economic Community to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock: ban
    Response of U.S. meat and pharmaceutical industries to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock: full and complete support

    The Pesticide Argument

    Common belief: U.S. Department of Agriculture protects our health through meat inspection
    Reality: fewer than 1 out of every 250,000 slaughtered animals is tested for toxic chemical residues
    Percentage of U.S. mother’s milk containing significant levels of DDT: 99
    Percentage of U.S. vegetarian mother’s milk containing significant levels of DDT: 8
    Contamination of breast milk, due to chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides in animal products, found in meat-eating mothers vs. non-meat eating mothers: 35 times higher
    Amount of Dieldrin ingested by the average breast-fed American infant: 9 times the permissible level

    The Ethical Argument

    Number of animals killed for meat per hour in the U.S.: 660,000
    Occupation with highest turnover rate in U.S.: slaughterhouse worker
    Occupation with highest rate of on-the-job-injury in U.S.: slaughterhouse worker

  • minnie

    Why does everyone think meat is the only source of protein? Beans and greens have plenty – they also have no saturated fat and a healthy dose of fiber. And if you or the family must have something that looks meaty, there are lots of soy-based meat-like foods in every supermarket. They taste really good, and they’re a good way to transition into vegetarianism. Heck, even BK does a vege burger.

  • http://www.vasumurti.org Vasu Murti

    An equally compelling question:

    “Would you turn vegetarian to stop abortion?”

    There ARE Christian vegetarians and vegans, of whom I have the deepest respect. I don’t take it seriously when meat-eaters say, “The Bible permits us to eat meat,” because the Bible was also used to uphold human slavery. The Bible can also be used to justify abortion.

    The Seamless Garment Network (SGN) is a coalition of peace and justice organizations on the religious Left which takes a stand against war, abortion, poverty, the arms race, capital punishment, racism, and euthanasia. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has signed the SGN Mission Statement.

    At a Seamless Garment conference at the University of San Francisco in September 1997, Reverend Heng Sure, an American Buddhist monk, told the mostly Catholic audience that as long as people are eating meat, there will be abortions.

    I believe abortion is the karmic reaction for killing animals. And therefore, pro-lifers should learn that it’s in their best interest to include the animals in their ethics.

    I’m not singling out pro-lifers for special criticism here, either. War, like abortion, is also the karmic reaction for killing animals. Many in the peace movement are unaware of this. In the April 1995 issue of Harmony: Voices for a Just Future, a “consistent-ethic” periodical on the religious Left, Catholic civil rights activist Bernard Broussard concludes:

    “…our definition of war is much too limited and narrow. Wars and conflicts in the human kingdom will never be abolished or diminished until, as a pure matter of logic, it includes the cessation of war between the human and animal kingdoms. For, if we be eaters of flesh, or wearers of fur, or participants in hunting animals, or in any way use our might against weakness, we are promoting, in no matter how seemingly insignificant a fashion, the spirit of war. All are manifestations of a ‘survival of the fittest philosophy.'”

    Pythagoras warned: “Those who kill animals for food will be more prone than vegetarians to torture and kill their fellow men.”

    Domestication of other animals is artificial. Our relationship with other animals on this planet, wild and domesticated, is, therefore, partly an environmental ethics issue.

    According to the editors of World Watch, July/August 2004: “The human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future–deforestization, topsoil erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities and the spread of disease.”

    Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk, similarly says: “…the survival of our planet depends on our sense of belonging–to all other humans, to dolphins caught in dragnets to pigs and chickens and calves raised in animal concentration camps, to redwoods and rainforests, to kelp beds in our oceans, and to the ozone layer.”

    The threat of “overpopulation” is frequently used to justify abortion as birth control. On a vegetarian diet, however, the world could easily support a population several times its present size. The world’s cattle alone consume enough to feed 8.7 billion humans.

    America’s largest animal rights organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), over 1.6 million strong, is challenging those who think they can still be “meat-eating environmentalists” to go veg, if they really care about the planet.

    My friend Dave Goggin from the San Francisco Vegetarian Society, who receives his news from conservative blogs, once commented that talk of global warming sounds like “a secular apocalypse.” Conservatives think the jury is still out on global warming, but if it could be shown that meat-eating leads to abortion and war, would this be enough to cause our friends in the pro-life and peace movements to go veg as well?

    Becoming a vegetarian or a vegan is not merely helping the pro-life and peace movements, it is literally pro-life!

  • http://www.eprocurementsoftware.org/ Eprocurement software comparison

    I used to eat red meat many times a week. Not only do I get tired easily and feel depressed, I also feel very heavy. And my skirt doesn’t fit me anymore. And I hate stairs, I don’t like long walk and most especially I don’t run. Somebody advised me to change my eating habit. It was not easy, but I did it anyways. I now eat white meat, more veggies and fruits and lots of drinking water. And then, there was a change, I’m happy, I’m smaller, I can go through the stairs, though I still prefer the elevator if there’s any, I can run and I can do long walk. Most of all, I’m healthier. And now I’m doing it for global warming. Not bad…

  • http://www.vasumurti.org Vasu Murti

    Back in the ’80s, I was a huge Smiths fan. I’ve got nearly all their cassettes, but missed the opportunity to see them in concert in 1986. Their 1985 album, Meat is Murder, was on college radio stations everywhere. In an era when rock and pop seemed swamped in causes, the Smiths added their weight to (lead singer) Morrissey’s support for animal rights.

    “I think as long as human beings are so violent towards animals, there will be war,” he argued. “It might sound absurd, but if you really think about the situation it all makes sense. When there’s this absolute lack of sensitivity where life is concerned, there will always be war.”

    Back in 1985, Morrissey struggled to articulate a dualistic persona with a classic example of verbal doublethink: “Personally, I’m an incurably peaceable character. But where does that get you? Nowhere. You have to be violent…It seems to me now that when you try to change things in a peaceable manner, you’re actually wasting your time and you’re laughed out of court,” he argued. “…the only way we can get rid of such things as the meat industry, and other things like nuclear weapons, is by giving people a taste of their own medicine.”

    Ask Morrissey about the terrorist bombing of butcher shops in England, and he still coldly replies: “One dead butcher isn’t such a great loss.”

    Peter Singer warned about this kind of thinking in Animal Liberation: “We may be convinced that a person who is abusing animals is entirely callous and insensitive; but we lower ourselves to that level if we physically harm or threaten physical harm to that person. Violence can only breed more violence…The strength of the case for Animal Liberation is its ethical commitment. We occupy the high moral ground and to abandon it is to play into the hands of those who would oppose us.”

  • Jacek

    There is no global warming of any sort so why would I or anyone else should become vegeterian.

  • http://www.legendsandsacredtales.com Brian

    Already have. I’ve been vegan/vegetarian for many years. Not easy where I live, few “health food” type resources, but it’s really not that difficult. And it saves me so much money! My monthly grocery bill is incredibly low, usually not more than $100-$120. Even if you refuse to accept simple facts, you might at least be interested in saving money for yourself, right?

  • jphysics

    You have to eat more fruits, vegetables and grains to make up for the calories and protien in meat. So, those fields that are feeding livestock will still be needed to feed humanity. Soybeans to feed cows or soybeans to feed humans, it’s still soybeans.

    Besides which, vegetarians still eat eggs and dairy, so you’ll still have livestock to provide those items.

  • hank

    you don’t need meat. in fact it is bad for you. women don’t generally get enough protein and calcium because they eat too much meat and or drink too much milk. the very raw acidic proteins in these foods causes calcium to wash out of your body. there is no such thing as an incomplete protein. eat a f***ing vegetable.

    [Moderator’s note: edited out the cuss word.]

  • Varlo

    Eugene (#20) may make a tasty morsel for the first alien who comes along who is higher than humans. Presumably he would recognize his place and accede to this. (He may also be surprised to learn that you can spade a garden, but not an animal.)

    As for the rest, the real problem is over-population; all else is the result, not the cause.

  • Eugene

    Moderator please censor #21 as the F word is used. I know am not a foul mouth – but I will eat fowl (ie ducks).

    People are overly emotional about other people eating meat. You all should just chill and let your blood pressure go down as you may have a heart attack thus contradicting your healthcare arguments. In fact be like me and relax with a nice tasty pork chop.

  • Julie

    To all you meat eating a-holes out there who have pets: what if someone came and chopped up your precious pet and ate them. How would you feel then?

  • Smell my finger

    “Neuter and spay, don’t let them stray” should apply to humans too. We should issue carbon credits to people. Have 4 kids, and don’t want to work? Enjoy your salad. Single recycler who contributes to society? Have a veal chop!

  • Eugene

    Vasu Murti – You can can over you are my brother I will give you some vegetables out of my garden – how many of you vegetarians have a garden. But, I will still go over the butcher though and get my pork chops. Cause abortions occur because guys don’t want to take responsibility for kids – simple as that- as I am sure there are vegetarians at Planned Parenthood.

    Varlo would you think they would go to Vegetarians first as they are more tasty. I know I prefer corn feed Omaha steaks -extremely tasty.

  • Eugene

    Foul mouths are due to frustration of people not eating meat look at posts 21 29 and 32. For those three posts calls for three bites of Pork Chop. Thanks for making my tummy happy. And if you want you can have okra from my garden as to show no had feelings.

  • Eugene

    I am a part of PETA=People eating tasty animals.

  • Eugene

    Those who put animals on the same plane as humans…can go copulate with a donkey as I have no problem with you doing that but that may be illegal as meat eaters may have laws in place to prevent that.

  • Eugene

    #32 – To answer I would feel bad, but I would feel even worse if they chopped you up-I love humans animals are secondary.

  • Eugene

    Acts Chapter 10

    Peter’s Vision

    9About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. 13Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

    14″Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

    15The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

    Genesis 9

    God’s Covenant With Noah

    1 Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. 2 The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. 3 Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

  • Melissa

    David- WIN

  • Mike

    The problem is not eating meat, the problem is hundreds of thousands of fast food restaurants serving too much low quality meat filled with junk.

    Beef should be an occasional, say, biweekly enjoyment for most. Organically grown, grass fed meats. $1 burgers eaten daily are the real problem.

    I say we should eat more rabbits – it’s a great meat, they breed fast, their waste can go directly as fertilizer and they would have a much less impact on the environment than hogs and cattle and even chickens. Because they are cute is the only reason they are not used more as a protein source.

    Put your energies towards not eating fast foods.

  • Michael L

    Most of you are being pretty ridiculous (really idiots actually). Yes, I am vegetarian, but even I don’t expect everyone to stop eating meat. But it would not hurt to stop eating meat everyday. Have a big BBQ on the weekend and eat a meat lasagna once a week. Just stop gorging and being a bunch of fat pigs!

  • Brooke

    I’ve been a vegetarian for 13 years now, I began since I was a teenager. I have never had any health issues arising from the lack of meat in my diet and I do not do anything special such as take supplements, I just try to have a generally balanced diet. In fact, my family has a history of high blood pressure and my diet has actually helped me avoid this condition all together. I’m not here to preach; I just mention that to alleviate fear from people who may be considering a diet change.
    I think it is important to pinpoint the issue: from my understanding, the harm referenced is arising primarily in the modern model of “factory farming” which is the type of farming that we tend to see images of in animal activist campaigns and the segment of the industry that has been responsible for most of the over-medicating, and some may argue mistreatment, of animals. Whether you choose to eat meat or not, I would hope we can all agree that is preferential to have a diet that makes as little of a carbon foot print as possible and hopefully results in the most humane way of treating other creatures. If you choose to eat meat, there’s a wonderful program called community supported agriculture where you can start to buy meat from local small farms. If you choose to be vegetarian great. If you choose to eat meat, try to avoid factory farm meat for your own health as well as the myriad of concerns already voiced.

  • http://www.supremastertv.com veg4life

    A 2006 United Nations report demonstrated that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars, trucks, SUVs, trains, planes and ships in the world combined. How much more? An impressive 40% more. A study done by two geophysicists at the University of Chicago said that just one person reducing his or her meat consumption by only 20% would be the equivalent of switching from a Camry to a Prius. Think about that! With simple changes to our everyday food choices, we can actually make as much a difference as the guy who just purchased a hybrid car – easily. The entire meat production cycle is very intensive in terms of carbon dioxide emissions, and the livestock industry is the number one producer of methane gas, the most potent of all the greenhouse gases. United together, we can a make a big difference in securing a safe and healthy future and eradicating world hunger. Lord Stern is just proposing the smartest thing to do to survive the coming century. Go vegetarian or vegan!

  • http://toasterheadsblogosphere.blogspot.com/ toasterhead

    9. Ryan Says:
    October 28th, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    What will it take for people to start believing what God says?

    I’ll start believing what God says when He stops talking through right-wing Christian whackos whose political agendas primarily benefit the coal and oil industries.

  • Eugene

    45: We are suppose to believe in self deterministic humans who set up left wing organizations who provide housing for pimps and prostitutes.

    I’d rather get a job in an oil company and have real health benefits anyday – at least its legal – go eat acorns – they are not meat – but they sure help traffic it.

  • Eff Gwazdor

    I have been limiting my intake of meat for years for humane and environmental reasons, but became a full vegetarian about 3 years ago – it makes me feel much more honest and at peace with myself morally, and has enabled me to think more clearly about other complicated ethical issues.

    @39 Eugine – I often think of God’s covenant with Noah – at the time he placed the care of the world’s animals into our hands he also said that they would be afraid of us. This is intriguing; why would God create a situation in which he blessed fear – surely fear is not part of God’s blessed kingdom. I interpret this passage as a test – God is saying we have the choice to kill and eat animals, but my faith tells me that God’s servant would make the choice to end the neverending cycle of suffering and death.

    Finally, at the great risk of ridicule from the non-self-critical carnivores, after some time being vegetarian the ferric smell of the meat aisle in the supermarket become truly stomach-turning; the revolting stench of putrefaction calls to mind not only the tortured lives and senseless deaths of the beings whose corpses lie under price per pound signs, but the rotten morals of those sentient beings who expend so much effort studiously ignoring the physical reality of the mortal pain of slaughter and bloody dismemberment of animals who were only recently shimmering with the precious spark of life.

    I know what it’s like to shelter these rotten lies, and I can tell you that the choice to give up meat is utterly liberating! Go for it!

  • Eugene

    47: I agree with that interpretation of Noah – My comment is that after the earth was flooded the only thing that may have been left to eat is animals. Yes we should take into consideration that they have an instinct of fear but with survival the choice is clear. If one tells a Eskimo to just eat carrots then he probably smack you. As their diet is exclusively meat due to no vegetation growing on snow – and meat being cheaper than flown in vegetables.

    Then the angry vegetarian may say we are in America we have no need to eat meat. True that, but I got community and a job. I am not going to look ridiculous when my audit group goes out to a steak house with clients or turn down an offering of turkey during family holidays. Vegetarians need to learn how to be social in such situations and not put down meat-eaters for their God given right. Maybe they will listen instead of looking at you as if you had swine-flu. Ooops did I mention that a lot of vaccines where developed on animals before humans? If you were a true vegetarian you would not take vaccines. From wikipedia: Vaccination (Latin: vacca—cow) is so named because the first vaccine was derived from a virus affecting cows—the relatively benign cowpox virus—which provides a degree of immunity to smallpox, a contagious and deadly disease

  • colum joyce

    eat a neighbour, cuts CO2 and you continue to have meat

  • Amtak

    Did God actually tell Ryan (#9) that global warming is not occurring? Are all the earth’s top scientists wrong about that? Maybe they should find out what God is really up to with all of the strange weather patterns including no rain for over a year in central Africa.
    Yasmin (#2) says, “hell no” she won’t cut down on eating dead bodies. I say, hell yes — I abandoned animal meat decades ago and feel fine at age 83. Part way into the first decade I — a former fan of tornedos and fille mignon — no longer even enjoyed the taste of meat. And it’s easy to find adequate protein, while simultaneously reducing fat intake. For example, I make a fantastic tasting no-fat no-meat pizza! Maybe someday I’ll get around to publishing the recipe. Don’t even need cows for milk anymore. Try goat-milk yogurt, it’s delicious.

  • krissy

    I already did… Bi#$*es

  • Chrysoprase

    Wow, talk about some rediculous, childish, trolling comments.

    This isn’t the black and white issue so many seem to make of it. I’m not a vegitarian yet I eat much less meat than your average american, and much of it is bought locally. My eggs and chicken are local, as is much of the beef I eat. Thanksgiving turkey is local. Having a large chest freezer makes it possible to buy half a cow at a time from a local farmer and get high quality meat for much less money than at the grocery store. Hunting and fishing provide the rest of the meat I consume. When some people might eat a huge steak, that same steak gets diced and put into an entire pot of soup or chilli or whatever. You don’t have to stop eating meat entirely to make a difference and be responsible.

    And seriously vegans, get off your mountain and quit insulting and talking down to those who havn’t given up meat. If you want to change our culture for the better quit being so divisive and childish about it. If you’re a vegan so you can look down on the omnivores then you’re doing it for the wrong reason. And before you condemn anybody for hunting consider the very real fact that there are animals (deer, boar) that no longer have predators and human hunting of these animals in fact very good for the eco system. It’d be great if we could bring the predators back, but unless most of us humans die that’s not going to happen.

    Every time I hear someone deny climate change, particularly if they deny it because God will save us, my hope for the future dies a little inside. Seriously, do some real homework and learn about the subject, and I don’t mean from christian websites, and please stop spewing your ignorant, politically motivated rhetoric. Partisan politics have lumped your stance on climate change in with your stance on abortion and countless other issues when in fact they are seperate. Just because you agree mostly with the political right doesn’t mean you need to be a sheep and accept anything they tell you. Think for yourself and learn something rather than getting your viewpoint handed down to you.

    And please, please stop posting ignorance as though it is fact. You CANNOT get swine flu from eating pork. If you think karma causes meat eating and abortion to somehow be connected that’s all well and good, but please don’t present it as fact and don’t be suprised if people look at you like your bat$%(# insane.

    Seeing yourself as being better than someone else because you don’t eat meat or do eat meat is rediculous, not to mention in violation of both Christian and Buddhist belief. This is troubling since most of the more divisive posts on this article are clearly from Christians and Buddhists. Humility, Right Speach, all dropped by the wayside in the face of your dietary superiority

  • Chrysoprase

    I think all of the (reasonable) people here should be able to agree on a few things. Firstly that it’s unreasonable to expect everybody to give up meat entirely. Secondly, if everybody simply reduced their meat consumption many problems, both envoronmental and health oriented, could be avoided. Thirdly, that eating or not eating meat is a personal choice, but everybody should have to eat responsibly.

    Just one simple example. #21 David posted some very helpful numbers. Note the levels of chemicals in breast milk. Consider how many toxins we are exposed to every day as americans, in our air, our water, and in our mass produced food. Consider how much of the ‘food’ one buys at the grocery store is full of chemicals. Now consider the increase in incidence of things like cancer and autism. Coincidence?

    Now you could blame it on vaccines or homosexuals or whatever else you want to demonize, but it seems entirely more realistic that it’s caused our constant exposure to unnatural chemicals that our bodies aren’t prepared to handle. From birth to death we exist in a chemical soup and most people don’t give it a second thought.

    But of course, it’s simpler to blame the problem on something inappropriate out of ignorance, or claim the problem doesn’t exist at all, than to do things like eat more responsibly, drive less, unplug electronics, and the countless other simple things one can do. After all, science is right about all the stuff that makes your modern world possible, but it’s wrong about climate change and evolution, right?

    If climate change isn’t real you can go on about your life no problem. But if it is real, and complete economic and ecological collapse comes about and most of humanity dies, is that a gamble your willing to take just so you can have your meat and dairy centered diet? Just so you can drive that gas guzzler and leave your TV on all night? If your answer is yes, make sure to tell that to your grandchildren when they try to address the famine, disease, war and death that are coming if science is right and you are wrong.

  • Beshemoth

    Chrysoprase for the win.

  • Hydrophilia

    As far as I know, God said to take care of the place. Perhaps it might be good to grow up and stop trashing it before dad notices…..

    Animals can be an integral and useful part of sustainable agriculture rather than part of an industrial process that takes input and produces waste. Pollan often mentions a couple cattle operations
    that work well to reduce weeds, chemicals, and disease. And if you like fish and veggies in a sustainable ecology check out aquaponics (as in backyardaquaponics.com). We just produce way, way too many critters for the planet or our health, even ignoring humane issues.

  • http://www.SAAWinternational.org Aseem

    In the run up to the Copenhagen climate change conference, it is vital the following information be disseminated to the public as well as to our political leaders.

    A widely cited 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Livestock’s Long Shadow, estimates that 18 percent of annual worldwide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are attributable to livestock….however recent analysis by Goodland and Anhang co-authors of “Livestock and Climate Change” in the latest issue of World Watch magazine found that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions!


    The main sources of GHGs from animal agriculture are: (1) Deforestation of the rainforests to grow feed for livestock. (2) Methane from manure waste. – Methane is 72 times more potent as a global warming gas than CO2 (3) Refrigeration and transport of meat around the world. (4) Raising, processing and slaughtering of the animal.

    Meat production also uses a massive amount of water and other resources which would be better used to feed the world’s hungry and provide water to those in need.

    Based on their research, Goodland and Anhang conclude that replacing livestock products with soy-based and other alternatives would be the best strategy for reversing climate change. They say “This approach would have far more rapid effects on GHG emissions and their atmospheric concentrations-and thus on the rate the climate is warming-than actions to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.”

  • Angie

    I´d just like to make people aware of the fact, that this is somebody British in Britain seeing it from his British point of view. If you had ever been to Britain, you would realise it´s a very polluted and overcrowded place, so I´m not surprised they are seeking for sollutions. Due to the reasons mentioned before, global warming is a very serious issue for them, much more than it would be for people in much bigger places (such as Australia, Canada… and the USA), which are far less crowded (and in many cases still far less polluted too). Apart from that, everybody should care about global warming. We should all refuse to drive jeeps (and other cars that use up huge amounts of fuel), esp. if we live in urban areas and we should consider taking less baths (I´m not speaking of showering, we still need to wash)… But should US citizens stop eating meat, just because one British guy wants you to? I don´t think so. If you want to quit eating meat, do it for yourselves – provided it makes you happy!

  • TheCritic

    To answer the question posed in the title of the article:

    No. No, I would not.

  • Brian Too

    Here comes the Tofurkey!
    And that still sounds bad. Blecch.

  • karen

    pleas people wake up! Global warming is one of the biggest hoax ever, created to destroy the economy of the big countries. Yes there are science experiements but nothing no matter how powerful our cars, machines, factories are we can affect the temperature and there are thousands of scientifics that will agree, in that science fiction movie of Al gore he mentions the name of the scientifics that agree with him but if you do your research you will see that 99% of them protested because they do not belive in this scam and Al Gore just put their names there.
    By the way did you know that making a Pruis harms the Planet more that all the contamination a Hummer can ever do.

  • http://TwoSistersArtandSoul Lisette Root

    Yes, I would.

  • http://www.sutmundo.com Sutmundo

    ‘Some academics have calculated that if the grain fed to animals in western countries were consumed directly by people instead of animals, we could feed at least twice as many people worldwide’

    I think there are a lot of reasons to turn vegetarian, but in my opinion, saving the planet should be the main reason. I recently wrote an article that shows 7 good reasons to turn vegetarian to help save the planet!

  • SMJ

    meat consumption leads to rude behaviour jealousy and hatred is generated into the hearts of the consumer . the seen of ruthless killing of the cows and other meat producing animals is very pathetic.according to the investigation of experienced sonologists accompained by sicatrists it is being revealed that the sound waves produced due to the screaming of the cows generates negative energy int its various parts of the body and when eaten by the consumer it generates the same negative energy into his body which makes the consumer angry more than for necessary purpose . short temper cholestrol and 10-15 types of cancers can be the result of meat consumption . the nutrientswhich we get from meat can also be received from various types of pulses and vegetables, so FOR THE GREED OF SOME BEASTLY CREATURES THE WHOLE PLANET IS GOING TO SUFFER.BESIDES BEING AN ENVIORNMENTAL HAZARD IN INDIA BEEF CONSUMPTION IS AGAINST

  • SMJ

    meat consumption leads to rude behaviour jealousy and hatred is generated into the hearts of the consumer . the seen of ruthless killing of the cows and other meat producing animals is very pathetic.according to the investigation of experienced sonologists accompained by sicatrists it is being revealed that the sound waves produced due to the screaming of the cows generates negative energy int its various parts of the body and when eaten by the consumer it generates the same negative energy into his body which makes the consumer angry more than for necessary purpose . short temper cholestrol and 10-15 types of cancers can be the result of meat consumption . the nutrientswhich we get from meat can also be received from various types of pulses and vegetables, so FOR THE GREED OF SOME BEASTLY CREATURES THE WHOLE PLANET IS GOING TO SUFFER.BESIDES BEING AN ENVIORNMENTAL HAZARD IN INDIA BEEF CONSUMPTION IS AGAINST

  • http://mountview.org Jeffrey Kendrix

    Fascinating! We started purchasing whole animals from the local farm last year, and it’s working out really well for us. We found a great website with lots of great dishes like this meat recipe to keep us going.

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