The Feds have finally admitted that veg diets are better for the environment. The USDA Advisory Committee tried to slip it into their 571 page recommendation: “The major findings regarding sustainable diets were that a diet higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts,and seeds, and lower in calories and animal-based foods is more health-promoting and is associated with less environmental impact than is the current U.S. diet.”
This sounds like real progress to us, but don’t look for this statement to make it into the final recommendations. Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack won’t allow it and the meat industry, described as livid, vowed to block it in Congress. Still, just the fact that it was recommended in the first place is real progress.
While it’s a start, the world needs much more progress on this issue. Consider that raising the 60 billion livestock we now have on the planet earth uses, directly for themselves and indirectly to grow their feed, one third of all the arable land on the planet. It is also one of the leading causes of water pollution, the number one cause of tropical rainforest destruction, soil erosion, and, according to researchers from the World Bank, the number one cause of global warming.
Since we last reported on the drought in California and how a vegetarian diet could help, the drought has only gotten worse. As Californians cut residential water use by 25 percent under Governor Jerry Brown’s unprecedented mandatory restrictions, pressure on the drought-stricken state’s water resources continues to come from its robust agriculture industry, which accounts for about 80 percent of the state’s total water consumption, with livestock claiming the lion’s share.
Some of the vegetarian naysayers complain that since so much of California’s meat is eaten around the country, it would take a national effort to save California’s water. To this we reply, good idea! Let’s all do our part and go vegetarian to save California from an all-too-thirsty fate. Others point to global warming as the main culprit. Maybe so, but we have a diet for that as well.
While we are happy to get the word out about the environmental benefits of going vegetarian, we really wish the environmental organizations would join us. So far only a very few do. However, since even the government is starting to talk about the environmental impact of animal foods, we have high hopes that this omission will change in the not too distant future.
Vegetarians may be cooler than ever, in light of another record-breaking year for global warming. With 2014 now on the books, it’s officially taken the title of hottest year on record. That ranking comes courtesy of data released Monday by the Japan Meteorological Agency, the first of four major global temperature record-keepers to release their data for last year.
The world is heating up, and meat is a prime driver, and maybe even the largest driver, behind the crisis. We have written in the past of the connection between livestock agriculture and global warming, and we have been encouraged by Vice President Al Gore becoming a vegan in recognition of that connection.
Closer to home, greenhouse gas emissions in Washington state dropped by about 4.6 percent between 2010 and 2011, led by reductions in emissions from the electricity sector, a new state report shows. However, as good as this is, it’s clear that this is still only nibbling around the edges of the problem, when we stop to consider that the World Watch Institute has determined that livestock agriculture causes 51% of greenhouse gas emissions.
A state law requires Washington to reduce overall emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, make a 25 percent cut in 1990 levels by 2035, and make even greater reductions by 2050. According to Hedia Adelsman, special assistant to the state Ecology Director, “We still need to take action. We are making a lot of progress but there’s still work to do. We need comprehensive policies to make sure we not only get to 2020 but 2035.” We agree. Comprehensive policies are needed. But that means, now more than ever, we can’t “forget about food” when it comes to global warming and other environmental problems. Offering and promoting vegetarian options in the state cafeterias, and in state-run and supported institutions, would be a great way to start.
The message is clear, the best way to keep cool in the long run is to eat and drink cool vegetarian food, for both you and the world we live in.
The world is eating too much meat, and that’s bad news for the earth’s forests, arable land, and scarce water. That’s the conclusion of a report released this week by the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute.
Global production of meat hit a new high of 308.5 million tons last year, up 1.4 percent, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the report says. “In response to growing purchasing power, urbanization, and changing diets, meat production has expanded more than fourfold over just the last fifty years says the new report, entitled “Peak Meat Production Strains Land and Water Resources.” Read more
There is a quiet environmental crisis brewing and it’s very serious. It’s so widespread that it affects the entire world. It’s so dangerous that the great humanitarian, the Dalai Lama, considers it a greater threat than nuclear weapons. It’s sneaking up on us, it could easily hurt more people and cause more disruption than global warming, and for some parts of the world it’s already too late.
The problem is soil erosion. Unfortunately, most environmental organizations aren’t paying too much attention to it and the media almost completely ignores it. After all, it’s hard to get excited about dirt!
Soil is where food begins. Therefore humanity depends upon the soil for its food, and if enough of the soil goes, humanity will go with it. Without soil, not only will the crops we plant not grow, but other vegetation will die as well. Perhaps President Franklin Roosevelt put the threat best when he said, “The history of every nation is eventually written in the way it cares for its soil. The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself.” Read more
“We never know the worth of water till the well is dry” – English Proverb
Severe droughts have recently made water scarce in several regions of the country. Parts of California, the Southwest, and the Great Plains have suffered from three consecutive years of drought, according to Brad Rippey, meteorologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). More than two-thirds of California is currently covered by extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Of course, drought directly impacts crops. Agriculture uses about 80% of California’s water and because of shortages, a lot of fields may have to lay fallow this year. It’s not just California that’s experiencing a drought. Kansas, the biggest U.S. wheat producer, and elsewhere in the Great Plains are also experiencing a severe drought.
What can we do about it? After all we can’t change the weather. True, but we can change what we eat and it turns out that may be more effective than anything else. Eating vegetarian foods saves a huge amount of water because producing meat is so water-intensive compared to plant foods. Read more
The latest global warming research makes clearer than ever that there’s no fixing a climate change catastrophe without a worldwide switch to a vegetarian diet. Don’t look for alternatives to save us, such as grass-fed beef which is actually worse. Nothing else can be substituted for going veg, and even the most optimistic forecast of technological improvements both on the farm and in industry won’t be enough. What’s more, it really needs to happen now!
Scientists from the Department of Energy and Environment at Chalmers University of Technology, in Gothenburg, Sweden, publishing their analysis in the journal Climate Change, show how going veg on a global scale is “crucial” even for a more modest goal of just limiting the global temperature rise to 2C.
This latest research really shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, it turns out that, according to a UN report, livestock and meat production cause the emission of more greenhouse gasses than all the cars, trucks, trains, boats, ships and air planes in the whole world put together. In fact a study by scientists from the World Bank and the World Watch Institute show that livestock causes more global warming than all other causes in the world put together!
While most in the environmental community have chosen to remain comfortably unaware of meat’s overwhelming impact on climate, we are happy to report that this has now begun to change. In fact the world‘s foremost leader in both the national and international movement to prevent the impending climate crisis, Vice President Al Gore, has now gone vegan in recognition of meat’s role in causing the many environmental threats now facing humanity.
The good news is that if you want to have a major impact on climate change, you don’t have to wait for international treaties, congressional legislation or industrial reforms. The biggest part of the answer resides squarely on your dinner plate when you have a veg meal. Not yet veg? No problem, we’re here to help with our free classes and our books and other publications.