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Meat consumption and climate change

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Mojtaba Yegani

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Mojtaba Yegani received his DVM degree from faculty of Veterinary Medicine of University of Tehran, Iran.

Dr Rajendra Pachauri, an economist and a vegetarian, is chair of a scientific committee of United Nations on climate change and he has discussed relationship of meat consumption with climate change. He says "Give up meat for one day [per week] at least initially, and decrease it from there".

I was surfing the internet to find a good topic to write a blog for WP. I found a series of press releases about meat consumption and climate change over the past few weeks/months. Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, an economist and a vegetarian, is chair of a scientific committee of United Nations on climate change and he has discussed relationship of meat consumption with climate change. He says "Give up meat for one day [per week] at least initially, and decrease it from there"
I'd like to make it clear here that I have no intention to get into issues of climate change in this blog but, is it realistic to expect that a reduction in meat consumption influence factors associated with climate change? Additionally, will a vegetarian dietary style solve these problems? Developing or developed countries? Which ones are more likely to change their dietary habits in this regard?

by Mojtaba Yegani

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7 comments

  • # 1

    MaryF

    In addition to helping to alleviate environmental problems, a vegetarian diet will also help remedy (other) human health problems and prevent unnecessary animal suffering. A vegan diet, one devoid of all animal products, is even better.
  • # 2

    Jake P.

    Humans are essentially omnivores with an herbivore bias (judging by our teeth and digestive tracts). Although there is no need for the Vegan extreme, we can help our earth by reducing consumption of animal protein. It is worthwhile to remember that we eat to live - and not the other way around.
  • # 3

    JJJohnson

    I have heard so many vegans say that an all vegetable diet is the most environmentally friendly, but I don't know how all those vegetables can be grown without chemical fertilizers or (my preference, composted manure). I prefer to use animals and birds to fertilize my crops because this method keeps the nutrients on the farm and recycles them. Composting ties up the nutrients and prevents volatilization of greenhouse gasses. Farming this way can be more labour intensive, but sustainable and eco friendly.

    Humankind has evolved with animals. In the natural world, even without us, animals and plants sustain each other.

    I don't think most vegans have thought this through.
  • # 4

    Carolin Gschwilm

    A vegetarian or, better still, a vegan diet will help enormously to alleviate environmental problems. It is actually the most effective way to stop climate change. If many people change to a vegetarian diet, there will be many other profitable ways for the people presently working in the meat industry to make good money, like growing organic vegetables.
  • # 5

    MaryF

    Veganic agriculture is not only possible, it is already happening and definitely the way to go. See, for example:
    http://www.goveganic.net
  • # 6

    JJJohnson

    In response to MaryF I would say that animals are always involved in cycling nutrients. These micro, meso and macro fauna are even mentioned on the veganic site that you cite. This is perhaps facetious, but are we exploiting these creatures too?

    I think it is a matter of appropriate scale. I do not believe in industrial agriculture, either to raise plants or animals.

    I use green manures and chipped wood in my practice, as well composted manure from ethically raised animals and birds. I try to maintain biodiversity and raise and eat a variety of things. And provide habitat for wild animals and birds.

    On a scale just slightly larger than a garden, incorporating green manure and wood into fields involves the use of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels??? A compromise would be to have horses or oxen pull the implement. Don't know whether this is allowed in veganics.

    Regarding the actual diet-- urban vegans eat a lot of soy products and organic soy is fast disappearing, as is canola, because of contamination by GM pollen from those crops. GM soy is designed to be grown with the use of herbicide which is hard on the soil micro,meso and macro fauna.

    Finally,I think if we stop raising both recently developed and heritage breeds of animals all of those breeds will disappear entirely and we may paint ourselves into a corner, depending entirely on plants for complete nutrition.

    As I said,I think it is all about appropriate scale (and management.)
  • # 7

    FionaB

    Personal experience has proved to me that when controlling carbohydrate intake we consume less volume of food and healthier. Meat, animal fats and vegetables providing the nutrients we require.

    Our meat industry today produces meat protein efficiently - can we say the same for the foods from carbohydrate sources, with many highly processed providing empty calories devoid of nutrients by the time they reach the average consumer?

    Are there any comparative studies with humans eating a vegetarian diet vs diets based on animal fat and protein to assess their efficiency in alleviating environmental challenges and impact on human health?

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