Saturday, May 27, 2006

Vegetarian Diet is Better for Environment

What's the difference between a vegetarian and a meat-based diet? How about 1.6 tons of carbon dioxide per year? That's the finding of a report from the University of Chicago reported by Discovery Channel News. One-and-a-half tons is about the difference between driving a Honda Accord and a Chevy Suburban every year.

Most Americans are clueless when it comes to the environmental impact of their diets. The reality is, about 17 percent of all the fossil fuel we burn through goes into food production, then up into the atmosphere. But not all food is created equal. It takes about 10,000 calories from grains to get 100 calories from meat-- say, from beef. So, according to the Discovery Channel News report, "if you choose to cut out the middleman (the cow) and get your 100 calories directly from the grain, you only have to grow one-tenth as much grain."

The impact of a meat-based diet isn't just coming from the tailpipes of trucks and other farming equipment; it's also coming from animal waste. This waste produces methane and nitrous oxide which contribute to global warming, according to a report by ScienceDaily on the University of Chicago study. "An example would be manure lagoons that are associated with large-scale pork production," Gidon Eshel, one of the study authors, told ScienceDaily.

Now, if you're one of those people that think you're doing something pious by eating fish, think again. In the ScienceDaily report, it was revealed that some commercial fishing, "required energy-intensive long-distance voyages." In the end, the studies authors found that, "the impact of producing fish came as the study's biggest surprise," reported ScienceDaily.

And the news gets worse. In the Discovery Channel News story, they briefly explained that developing nations like China were "shifting to an animal product diet." The implications of this could be dire. In one of the greatest articles that I ever read online -- "The Oil We Eat," by Richard Manning and published by Harpers in June, 2004 -- it was said that, " if all of the world ate the way the United States eats, humanity would exhaust all known global fossil-fuel reserves in just over seven years."

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.