The cryosphere is under attack! Most of us rarely come into contact with the cryosphere, but it is a critical part of our climate system. The term refers to the frozen parts of our planet – the great ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, the icebergs that break off and drift in the oceans, the glaciers on our high mountain ranges, our winter snow, the ice on lakes and the polar oceans, and the frozen ground in much of the Arctic landscape called permafrost. Read more
Earth Day is coming up on April 22 so this is a good time to remind ourselves of how a plant-based diet can help heal the earth, since raising meat is such a big driver of the environmental crisis. The major concerns are as follows:
1. Climate Change
First and foremost, global warming! According to a UN report, raising meat causes more greenhouse emissions than all the cars, trains, trucks, boats and ships in the world put together. Livestock and their byproducts actually account for 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG [green house gas] emissions.” So by reducing demand for animal products, we can do a lot to reduce the rate of global warming. Read more
Professor Chris Dickman, of the University of Sydney, estimates the number of animals killed in the bushfires in the New South Wales region of Australia to be more than 800 million animals, with more than one billion animals impacted nationally. Many of the affected animals are likely to have been killed directly by the fires, with others succumbing later due to the depletion of food, shelter and habitat. Fire is a painful way for an animal to die. These poor animals are victims of global warming, and a prime driver of global warming is eating animal derived foods. Read more
The 77th annual Golden Globe Awards Sunday made history by becoming the first major awards show to go vegan. Every year, the chefs at the Beverly Hilton are tasked with feeding Hollywood’s finest at the Golden Globes: this year, the guest list includes Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lopez, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Eddie Murphy, to name a few. So what do you serve a ballroom with so much star-power? Matthew Morgan, Executive Chef has an answer: vegan cuisine.
The menu was inspired: an appetizer of chilled golden beet soup—a perfect accompaniment to those gleaming statuettes. This was followed by a main course of King Oyster Mushroom scallops that, at least visually, are dead ringers for their pescatarian counterparts. The entrée was accompanied with wild mushroom risotto, Brussels sprouts, globe carrots, and pea tendrils. Dessert was a vegan opera dome with praline Gunaja crumble and caramelized hazelnuts. Read more
The latest report has just been released, in what seems like a steady stream of scientific reports saying that cutting out meat is a powerful way to fight global warming.
The report from the Imperial College London says, “In countries with high per-capita meat consumption, like the UK, a shift towards plant-based diets would deliver up to around a 73 percent reduction in diet-related emissions compared to current levels and would require 70-80 percent less farmland.”
The report goes on to say, “Shifting to more sustainable diets, with reduced meat and dairy and more plant-based proteins and foods, offers a huge opportunity for consumers to reduce their personal carbon footprints with no additional cost and would also deliver large health benefits and … cost savings to society.”
The report gives, as an example, that a veggie burger produces only one tenth of the greenhouse gas emissions compared to a beef burger. With so many choices of veggie burgers to choose from these days, from traditional favorites like the Boca Burger or the Gardenburger, to the latest meaty alternatives, such as the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger, consumers have fewer and fewer excuses for choosing beef for dinner.
For years, the dairy and meat industries have been producing staple foods that they thought every person needed to eat in order to be healthy. In many countries, especially in the United States, these industries are subsidized by the government to encourage production, support the farmers and keep the costs for consumers down. But gradually the winds of change are sweeping through the food industry. People are recognizing that these products are costly and inefficient, damaging to the environment and very hard on the animals. In addition they’re not good for our health as people liked to think. More and more people want to buy alternatives.Read more
Beans alone can make the big difference in the global warming crisis. Recently, a team of scientists from Oregon State University, Bard College, and Loma Linda University calculated just what would happen if every American made one dietary change: substituting beans for beef. They found that if everyone were willing and able to do that America could still come close to meeting its 2020 greenhouse-gas emission goals. Read more
Raising beef is killing the Amazon. The Amazon is the largest rainforest on the planet but it’s being attacked by fire. One of Brazil’s scientific agencies, recorded 72,843 fires in the Amazon this year alone, marking an 83 percent surge compared to the same period in 2018. The rainforest is considered vital in slowing global warming. It’s also home to uncountable species of fauna and flora and, just as important, clearing and burning it creates massive soil erosion and without soil the plants can’t grow.
The ecological devastation is done in the service of the surging demand for beef, says Nathalie Walker, the director of the tropical forest and agriculture program at the National Wildlife Federation.
Cattle ranching is the largest driver of deforestation in every Amazon country, accounting for 80 percent of current deforestation rates. Amazon Brazil is home to approximately 200 million head of cattle, and while Brazil’s own consumption of beef is high, it’s the largest exporter in the world, supplying about one-quarter of the global market. Hong Kong is the biggest global importer of Brazilian beef products, bringing in about $1.5 billion worth in 2017, according to the Brazilian Beef Exporters Association. China is second, at nearly $1 billion, followed by Iran.
While the Amazon may seem far away, its destruction is affecting the whole planet. As long as there’s a high demand for beef, Brazil will continue to profit from it by cutting down the rainforest to clear space for raising beef cattle and the crops to feed them. We can all play a part in showing that we care about the health of the Amazon, by adopting a healthy, compassionate, delicious, and environmentally conscious plant-based diet.
A major UN report, Creating a Sustainable Food Future, addressing land use and climate change, states that the high consumption of meat and dairy produce is fueling global warming. It’s also making it hard to grow enough food for an expanding population. Read more
Rising methane levels may be thwarting climate change efforts. A 2017 study attributes about half of the increase to cows and other ruminant livestock which produce methane as they digest food.
These animals host microbes in their stomachs, gut filling hitchhikers that help them break down and absorb the nutrients from tough-to-digest grasses. Those microbes produce methane as their waste, which wafts out of both ends of cows. The manure that cattle and other grazers produce is also a site for microbes to do their business, producing even more methane. Now consider that there are 1.4 billion cattle in the world. You can see why so much of the methane being produced is from livestock.
“Methane emissions are a big deal. About a sixth of the warming that we’ve had since the start of the Industrial Revolution has been caused by methane,” said Stanford University professor Rob Jackson, who chairs the international emission tracking organization known as the Global Carbon Project.
Methane is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a molecule of methane will cause 28-36 times more warming than a molecule of carbon dioxide over a 100-year period. Recent data shows that methane concentrations in the atmosphere have risen from about 1,775 parts per billion in 2006 to 1,850 parts per billion in 2017.
So, one way to reduce that is to just stop eating beef, right? That’s what researchers near and far believe, including Paul West at the University of Minnesota.
“As an individual, one of the biggest effects that we can have [to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture] is changing what we’re eating to eating a smaller amount of beef,” said West.
Why stop there? we ask. To have the greatest impact, we all need to cut out animal products from our diets as quickly as possible. We can’t afford to only take small steps anymore.