Today’s Christian Science Monitor has an article entitled Humans’ beef with livestock: a warmer planet which argues that the easiest way to improve the environment is to cut back on eating meat. According to the article:
Researchers at the University of Chicago compared the global warming impact of meat eaters with that of vegetarians and found that the average American diet – including all food processing steps – results in the annual production of an extra 1.5 tons of CO2-equivalent (in the form of all greenhouse gases) compared to a no-meat diet. Researchers Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin concluded that dietary changes could make more difference than trading in a standard sedan for a more efficient hybrid car, which reduces annual CO2 emissions by roughly one ton a year.
Of course, becoming vegetarian is not the answer to addressing all our planetary issues, but this article gives credence to the importance of being aware of all our choices. Even small changes in how we use our ‘body politic’ can ultimately have a profound impact. I know a number of vegetarians don’t consider the impact of their choices. And then there are many people, vegetarian or not, who are far more aware of where their food comes from than I am.
I do believe it is important to eat locally grown food whenever possible – as the saying goes, local is the new organic. While the industrial food industry has plenty of critics, including Michael Pollan, climate change is deeply rooted in all of our actions. Whatever steps we can take as individuals to lessen our impact on the world will ultimately be greatly appreciated by those who come after us.