It’s good to see letter-writers countering the spurious claim that man-made climate change is a myth. But what is even more perplexing to me than the deniers are those who understand the necessity of reversing climate change, yet refuse to embrace simple lifestyle changes that scientists conclude are crucial. The Official Handbook for Live Earth, the concerts that Al Gore co-organized, noted that “refusing meat” is the “single most effective thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint” (emphasis in original). A recent study in the journal Nature Climate Change found that, “On the basis of pounds of food produced, cattle and sheep generate between 19 and 48 times more greenhouse gasses than protein-rich plant foods such as beans, grains, or soy products.” It takes up to 20 calories of food put into an animal to return a single calorie. Is there a less efficient and more environmentally destructive model of food production?
Some well-intentioned people are turning to pasture-raised animal foods in the belief they are an eco-friendly choice when compared to those raised at the concentration camps known as concentrated animal feeding operations. While factory farms do have unique problems, like mounds of toxic waste that contaminate the water and air — old-style small farms fail to live up to their claims of sustainability. For example, grass-fed animals require tremendous amounts of land. Where will these millions of acres come from? Overgrazing in previously cleared areas has already caused massive land degradation. The human population explosion (7 billion and growing exponentially) has rendered animal agriculture an obsolete, grossly inefficient model of food production. Solutions to climate change and world hunger require that we look forward, not backward.
Environmental scientists have concluded that raising animals for food is simply not sustainable, and medical professionals have shown that plant-based diets are the healthiest. To learn more, please visit www.tryveg.com.
— Stewart David