The Third Reason to GoVeg

One of the single most convincing reasons to adopt a vegetarian diet has just recently popped up.  Now, obviously this reason has been around for awhile, but it is just now being publicized.  What I‘m talking about is the environmental impact of an animal-based diet.   The first time I heard the connection between animal agriculture and global warming was in the report issued by the UN called "Livestock’s Long Shadow."  This one report sent the blogosphere (myself included) and news agencies into a writing fury about the environmental benefits of going veg.  Its message is extremely simple.  Going veg can help save the planet. 

When I decided to become a vegetarian in 1995, there were really only two widely stated reasons people chose this diet.  There was the animal welfare reason and the health reason, and it pretty much stopped there.  I imagine that there were more, but when people would ask why I went veg, they would only cover those two, and I didn’t really stop to investigate or explain any further. 

Things have changed. Today, with the global warming frenzy in full swing (it’s for good reason, but still a frenzy) the animal-based diet has come under scrutiny by many, including a number of environmentalists.  Now, there is a widely recognized third reason to go vegbecause you care about the environment.  The first two reasons alone are a compelling enough to make the change, but in the "Global Warming Age," vegetarianism has become much more socially accepted and encouraged, and just as importantly, its benefits are measurable on the local and global scale.

Each time we choose to go veg, we consciously make the decision to eat lower on the food chain, and therefore, more environmentally friendly, so going veg, mostly veg, partly veg or even one day a week can help.  Preserving the environment and the world we live in is not about deprivation.  It is about moderation and cutting back where we can instead of consuming where we shouldn’t.  It is about raising awareness as to how our behaviors impact the world around us and how simple actions can and do have major results. So tell your friends, spread the word…host a vegetarian dinner at your home.  In most cases, no one will miss the meat, and the impact of your action will be part of the solution instead of a contribution to part of the problem.

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Comment by Jason Truesdell Subscribed to comments via email
2007-05-26 22:11:20

When I became vegetarian in 1993, environmental concerns were actually a factor, and I knew one woman for whom that was her primary consideration. At my university, it’s possible the culture was a little bit different, as we really didn’t have much presents of animal rights advocates and the like.

The possibility of a health benefit appealed to me but I think I actually gained weight on my first year of a vegetarian diet.

For me, minimizing unnecessary violence was a primary consideration, including environmental violence… I wasn’t very focused on animal rights or animal welfare, though I know that was a big deal for some vegetarians. I think nonviolence was a fairly major factor in the 70s-era vegetarian movement as well.

Since nonviolence was my primary motivation, and an eventual taste preference is my sustaining motivation, I’m probably less dogmatic than many vegetarians, but I think the environmental motivation is roughly on the same continuum as the urge to minimize violence.

Comment by Jason Truesdell Subscribed to comments via email
2007-05-27 16:16:02

I meant to say “much presence of…” Ah well… lesson learned… don’t write while sleepy.

I even recall a certain painkiller-dependent talk show host ridiculing a study on the impact of cattle production on greenhouse gases in 1991 or so, so research on the impact of factory farming on the environment has been around for a while.

Diet For a Small Planet, while mostly useless as a cookbook and somewhat flawed from a nutritional point of view, also covered the environmental impact of meat eating in 1972.

Comment by eric
2007-05-27 17:13:34

This is good information to know. As you know, it seems that vegetarians are always having to defend their diets and lifestyle choices. Facts add good ammunition to support this. Hopefully someday it will be the other way around.

Comment by eric
2007-05-27 15:39:07

It’s good to hear that the environmental factor has been around longer than I realized (I suspected it had been, but I was more clueless about it at the time). Of course the actual problem has been around a lot longer than the awareness to the problem. Today, the environmental reason has more “teeth” and people seem to be more aware. I am certainly glad people are waking up and taking this into consideration.

The nonviolence issue is one of the best reasons to adopt a veg diet…in my humble opinion. I actually started because of animal welfare issues, but it has evolved into nonviolence and health reasons. I too had gained weight the first couple of years. I was young and ate a lot of junk food.

However, I still believe that no being deserves to be treated the way animals in our food system are treated. The ignorance and uncaring that surrounds this issue is alarming to me. It is a sad thing.

I guess it doesn’t matter what anyone’s reason is for going veg, any reason is the right one.

Thanks for posting Jason.

Comment by eric
2007-05-27 15:55:44

Ironically, while researching for tomorrow’s article I came across this article smartly written about vegetarianism and nonviolence.

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