It’s Blog Action Day 2009: Climate Change!
“You just cannot be a meat-eating environmentalist.”
According to Matt Prescott, manager of vegan campaigns for PETA, it is inherently contradictory to eat meat and care about the environment. Is this true? Well, according to the FAO, the livestock business makes more greenhouse gas emissions that any other type of transportation. Combined.
Source: New York Times, August 29, 2007
Uh-oh. I love meat. I really do. I tried to give it up several times. The first time, I was in college and for three days I ate pasta (I didn’t vegetables at the time). It didn’t work. I tried it again last year for an entire month. No meat, no dairies. I didn’t feel so good. Does that mean I don’t care about the environment or the polar bears?
To make this issue even more urgent, polar bears are not the only ones being affected by climate change. Our food, our crops, and our farmers are being impacted. (I’m going to assume here for the moment that you think climate change is valid and not just a “cyclical”-thing). According to Nicholas Kristof, American refusal to curb our greenhouse gas emissions is literally killing people:
- In Burundi, farmers are wary of the increasingly erratic weather patterns ruining crops, which can ultimately lead to famine.
- In Nepal, unpredictable rains and warmer temperatures have resulted in lower crop yields, gestation periods of animals, and floods. Hunger, infectious diseases like Malaria, and destruction of certain crops are on the rise, forcing villagers to adapt and relocate.
- In Australia, record droughts have impacted water supplies and wheat crops, prompting Prime Minister John Howard to advocate for a more aggressive global agreement to include the big polluters – India, China, and the U.S.
- Pastoralists in Kenya are in danger of becoming the “climate canaries” as droughts have led to lost of cattle, camels, and goats, threatening their nomadic lifestyles.
- Rice-growing areas in some of the key areas in Southeast Asia are being threatened with rising sea levels and higher temperatures could decrease rice yields, which could impact nearly half of the world’s population whose staple cereal is rice.
Maybe, yes. Marc R. at the Ethicurean wrote a thoughtful piece on how little steps can make a huge difference. Reducing red meat, for example, as well as cutting down (but not totally eliminating) meat consumption. Paying more attention to buying local (another reason to support local farmers – the less miles traveled, the less gas burned).
Bill Niman and Nicolette Hahn Niman (who is part of the Chef’s Collaborative in Boston recently led a panel discussion this very issue. The conclusion there echoed Marc. R’s sentiment, that meat can be part of a sustainable food system, provided that careful thought is given to the ecosystem, how animals are raised, and how meat is consumed. Nicolette emphases, “Eat less meat. Eat better meat.”
Meat aside, there are other ways to pay attention to your food, where it comes from, and whether or not it contributes to climate change. To see how your beer or Starbucks address climate change before you buy it, heck out the “Climate-Change Greenhouse Score” of companies. Consider spending a little bit more money for that chocolate bar from TerraPass that commits to offsetting carbon footprints. Consider reducing use of plastic forks and spoons when eating out, and carrying your own reusable utensils.
For more information, check out an interesting panel discussion by Slow Food Nation on climate change: Slow Food Nation: Climate Change and Food.
Little things do matter. After all, it was the “little” things that got us in trouble to begin with. The “little” things might help us to dig ourselves out.
Source: Display Fake Foods
After all, we can’t have our ice cream melt too quickly.
About the Author (Author Profile)With a flair for spontaneity, pizzazz, creative excellence and her own unique sense of aesthetic grace and perspective, we have our very dear friend, Belinda (or B, to some of us). Although an incredibly accomplished professional and career woman, B’s down-to-earth approach and demeanor transcends all scenarios, communities and people. She manifests, in her day-to-day, the essence of the word “Zomppa” as demonstrated by her extraordinary commitment to creating sustainable and positive change for us and future generations to come. She’s asked for a dog every year since she was five. Check out Belinda’s work on global education research and coaching: www.hummingbirdrcc.com or more about her portfolio www.belindachiu.com.
Sites That Link to this Post
- Carbon Foodprint: To Meat or Not to Meat | Zomppa - Food, Meet People | November 3, 2009
- Blog Action Day 2010: Water, a Plastic Privilege | Zomppa - Food, Meet People | October 15, 2010