A great article in the NY Times, Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler, not only has a great title but also highlights the consequences of our meat-addicted diets.
When people ask why I am a vegetarian, I usually say it is because I’ve lost the taste for meat. This is entirely true, but it is not the entire reason I eat veg. I began eating as a vegetarian because the impact of meat production on the environment is so grave.
A study last year by the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Japan estimated that 2.2 pounds of beef is responsible for the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the average European car every 155 miles, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days.
Eating meat is also really inefficient.
Though some 800 million people on the planet now suffer from hunger or malnutrition, the majority of corn and soy grown in the world feeds cattle, pigs and chickens. This despite the inherent inefficiencies: about two to five times more grain is required to produce the same amount of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption, according to Rosamond Naylor, an associate professor of economics at Stanford University. It is as much as 10 times more in the case of grain-fed beef in the United States.
Plus, personally, I find eating meat unnatural and nasty.
Because the stomachs of cattle are meant to digest grass, not grain, cattle raised industrially thrive only in the sense that they gain weight quickly. This diet made it possible to remove cattle from their natural environment and encourage the efficiency of mass confinement and slaughter. But it causes enough health problems that administration of antibiotics is routine, so much so that it can result in antibiotic-resistant bacteria that threaten the usefulness of medicines that treat people.
I am not a vegetarian who is set on converting meat mouths to the right side, but I think we can all do ourselves a favor by looking at where the food we consume comes from. In the case of beef, it comes from somewhere that looks like this:
I am grateful for an abundance of vegetarian food that sustains me.