Go Veg…and Green

July 14, 2009

In light of repulsive truths revealed by Food, Inc. and other agriculture reform publications one may consider more and more the prospect of vegetarianism.  Indeed, going veg is a strong political statement.  By not eating meat (specifically cows) you can say no to concentrated animal feeding operations, the mistreatment and mismanagement of animals, the environmental repercussions of industrial agriculture (chemicals required to grow the corn to feed the animals, the runoff of animal waste) and even reduce your carbon footprint.
The reason for this is primarily farts.  Cows release methane gas which has 20 times the heat trapping power of carbon dioxide and essentially makes a cow worse than a car (“Producing the annual beef diet of the average American emits as much greenhouse gas as a car driven more than 1,800 miles” 1).  Add to the farts the fossil fuels required to produce the corn to feed the animals, and to slaughter, process, and ship the meat and you’ve got yourself a burger of greenhouse gases (“19 kilograms of carbon dioxide for every kg of beef served” 2).  Only energy production has a bigger carbon foot print than livestock production (1).
If it is too hard to go cold turkey try cutting back and looking for more sustainable ways to get your meat.  Check out the Chestnut Farms Meat CSA (the only one in Massachusetts), or look for farmers that are dedicated to circular farming and agroecology and use animal wastes for fertilizer and rotational grazing techniques.
Oh,and buy your yogurt from Stonyfield Farms.  They have launched research projects with their dairy farmers in Vermont to determine how varying diet can reduce the amount of methane released by cows.
Some quick facts I got from PETA’s website:

  • According to a 2006 United Nations report, raising animals for food emits 40 percent more global warming gases than all the cars, trucks, SUVs, Hummers, planes, and ships in the world combined.
  • A recent study by the University of Chicago found that going vegan is 50 percent more effective at fighting global warming than switching from a standard car to a hybrid.
  • Animal agriculture is a leading source of carbon dioxide emissions and the biggest source of methane and nitrous oxide emissions. 3

1 http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-greenhouse-hamburger
2 http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/40934/title/AAAS_Climate-friendly_dining_%E2%80%A6_meats
3 PETA: Why Tax Meat


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