You were probably thinking that this article questions whether Al Gore is too chicken to run for president of the United States again. I don't know about that, and I wish that he would finally decide to run - and win! But no, this is a different issue, equally or more important: Global Warming and how eating meat contributes greatly to it, much more than most people realize - or want to know. On the other hand, if Al is thinking of running for president it wouldn't help him at all to talk about this and less still to say he is a vegetarian. No, nowadays to win an American election you have to be a meat 'n potatoes regular hamburger chewin' guy. So my wish is that Al is a closet vegetarian and is silent about it for political correctness. What a dreamer! [SCR Editor]
The evidence is in, and though it may be a little inconvenient for Mr. Gore to hear, the facts don't lie. This U.N. report shows that animals raised for food generate more greenhouse gases than all cars and trucks combined, and goes on to say that meat is "one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global," including land degradation, air pollution, water shortage and pollution, loss of biodiversity, and of course climate change. And according to a recent University of Chicago study, switching to a vegan diet is more effective in countering global warming than switching from a standard American car to a Prius. We even went so far as to offer to cook him faux "fried chicken" as an intro to vegetarian meals, since, no matter how many of those cool little energy saving light bulbs you put in, the reality is that there just isn't such a thing as a meat-eating environmentalist. This story about the whole issue ran in The New York Times today, but Gore declined to comment. Mr. Gore, you've done so much good by putting yourself out there as the face of the anti-global warming movement, and you're so right on so much of it, but come on, it really is high time to put some substance behind it by leading by example and doing the single most effective thing you can do to address the issue: simply going vegetarian.
Would you ever open your refrigerator, pull out 16 plates of pasta and toss them in the trash, and then eat just one plate of food?1 How about leveling 55 square feet of rain forest for a single meal or dumping 2,500 gallons of water down the drain?2,3 Of course you wouldn't. But if you're eating chicken, fish, turkey, pork, or beef, that's what you're doing—wasting resources and destroying our environment.
Animals raised for food expend the vast majority of the calories that they are fed simply existing, just as we do. We feed more than 70 percent of the grains and cereals we grow to farmed animals, and almost all of those calories go into simply keeping the animals alive, not making them grow.4 Only a small fraction of the calories consumed by farmed animals are actually converted into the meat that people eat.
A major 2006 report by the United Nations summarized the devastation caused by the meat industry. Raising animals for food, the report said, is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. The findings of this report suggest that it should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution and loss of biodiversity. Livestock’s contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale ….”5
Growing all the crops to feed farmed animals requires massive amounts of water and land—in fact, nearly half of the water and 80 percent of the agricultural land in the United States are used to raise animals for food.6,7 Our taste for meat is also taking a toll on our supply of fuel and other nonrenewable resources—about one-third of the raw materials used in America each year is consumed by the farmed animal industry.8
Farmed animals produce about 130 times as much excrement as the entire human population of the United States, and since factory farms don't have sewage treatment systems as our cities and towns do, this concentrated slop ends up polluting our water, destroying our topsoil, and contaminating our air.9 And meat-eaters are responsible for the production of 100 percent of this waste—about 86,000 pounds per second!10 Give up animal products, and you'll be responsible for none of it.
Many leading environmental organizations, including the National Audubon Society, the WorldWatch Institute, the Sierra Club, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, have recognized that raising animals for food damages the environment more than just about anything else that we do. Whether it's the overuse of resources, unchecked water or air pollution, or soil erosion, raising animals for food is wreaking havoc on the Earth. The most important step you can take to save the planet is to go vegetarian.
1 Mark Gold and Jonathon Porritt, "The Global Benefits of Eating Less Meat," Compassion in World Farming Trust, 2004, p. 22.
2 John Robbins, The Food Revolution, Conari Press: Boston, 2001, p. 256.
3 Robbins, p. 236.
4 Ed Ayres, "Will We Still Eat Meat?" Time, 8 Nov. 1999.
5 H. Steinfeld, P. Gerber, T. Wassenaar, V. Castel, M. Rosales, and C. de Haan, “Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options,” Livestock, Environment and Development (2006).
6 Robbins, p. 238.
7 Marlow Vesterby and Kenneth Krupa, "Major Uses of Land in the United States, 1997," U.S. Department of Agriculture Statistical Bulletin.
8 Jim Motavalli, "The Case Against Meat," E Magazine, Jan./Feb. 2002.
From: PETA - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals