The argument for vegetarianism might have just become irrefutable; it’s killing our planet

I have always been ambivalent about vegetarianism; on one hand if it is a moral, ethical decision by someone who just cannot face the thought of eating another living beings body I have been supportive.

On the other hand, I have always been profoundly suspicious of it’s supposed inherent health benefits: I mean – we are omnivores! – our bodies and teeth and lifestyle predicasted us to eat everything; roots, berries, cereal, nuts, eggs, meat, fish, fruit, veg – the lot.

And yet – and yet… I have been increasingly worried about the impact that eating meat has on the environment – and that we do not eat meat in the fashion that we evolved to. If you look at our evolutionary lifespan we have spent something like 99.98% of our time as modern humans eating meat only when we could track down the damn animal and club the beggar to death – so about once or twice a week. That’s what we have evolved to do and our bodies are not good at handling meat 10 or 12 times a week; we get heart disease and obesity; we are simply not designed to handle that much rich protein.

Then you look at the environmental costs of eating meat:
– it takes 10 times as much energy to grow meat as it does to grow vegetables; in other words, 10 people could live off the protein that it takes to grow one cow or pig to feed one person. On a small and increasingly over-crowded planet that is just getting unsustainable.
– the carbon costs of eating meat are rising all the time; we have to spend carbon to grow the food to feed the cow or pig, to transport the animal to slaughter, to refrigerate its dead body until we can eat it and then to dispose of it’s bones afterwards.
– the waste products are increasingly overwhelming; cows and pigs produce methane and nitrous oxide which are 23 and 296 times worse for the environment than carbon dioxide is; and then there is the 5 million tons of manure produced every day by American farms.

In short it is just time to quit eating meat; or at the very least to revert to the pattern of meat consumption we were designed for; once or twice a week at most. It’s not just better for you – it’s what we need to do to save the planet.

See the excellent article on Alternet for more.

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