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Meat and the Environment

Story ID:11068
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:various various usa
Person:Rachel Premack
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You are probably thinking after reading the title – I know what the writer will say and
that is the eating of meat not only causes much suffering to farm animals in cruel factory
farm settings- but that it is also harmful to the environment. And you would be right.
You might also be thinking that there is really nothing new here. However, I believe that
the article in the Washington Post written by Rachel Premack does make some new
points, but most importantly, reminds us that this is not a ho hum topic if we truly care
about the environment and our planet.

I think her title MEAT IS HORRIBLE is more than eye-catching. It is audacious and
brave, and I commend her for saying it. I probably wouldn’t have her courage and if
her article is read with an open mind –one will not be able to find fault with its main
tenant and premise. For those of us who are vegan –we are not surprised by her title
or her findings- though many of us have been drawn to our lifestyle for reasons of
compassion rather then for environmental concerns- though we certain welcome them.

In her beginning sentence, she pretty well sums up what she thinks of meat: “It may
be delicious, but the evidence is accumulating that meat, particularly red meat, is just
a disaster for the environment—and not so great for human beings, too.”

I smiled when I read that she wrote about meat being delicious. Well, since I haven’t
had any since 1976, that observation doesn’t hold true for me. I thank God every day
that because of Peaches my dog I became vegetarian in 1976 and vegan in 1983. But
the observation that meat is a disaster for the environment I totally agree with. Anyone
who says they are an environmentalist and eats meat should read her post.

Because one-third of harmful carbon dioxide comes from agriculture and one third of
that comes from livestock- members of a United Nations panel recently urged its
environmental assembly to consider recommending a tax on meat producers and sellers.

Maarten Hajer, professor at the Netherland’s Utrecht University noted that “All of the
harmful effects on the environment and on health needs to be priced into food products.
As a member of the U.N.’s International Resource Panel comprising 34 top scientists and
30 governments, he said “I think it is extremely urgent.”

But he also realizes that food is very political and in countries where meat is a cultural
mainstay it could be a difficult argument. But despite this, he says that governments must
soon move to to limit major carbon producers and food companies will have to be a part
of that.

The idea of a meat tax is not new and is an idea which developed over the past 25 years
as knowledge of the environmental toll of meat emerged.

And not only concern re harmful carbon emissions to the air, but the huge amount of
water needed for the animals is another reason for trying to reduce meat consumption.
Agriculture consumes 80 percent of water in the United States but plant products require
considerably less water than animals which produce red meat.

In her post- Premack has positioned numerous graphs to make her points. One graph
shows that phasing out meat by simply eating less would bring down agricultural carbon
dioxide emissions considerably –especially in the developed, meat-loving countries of
China, the United States, Britain, and Brazil.

She also noted that the Czech Republic and Poland have greatly reduced their agricultural
carbon output by as much as a half because of their environmental concerns. But sadly,
in countries of meat-lovers, the carbon emissions continue to increase in greater numbers.

Anyone interested in this topic will find much more information and many graphs which
solidify her findings on the harmful effects on the environment caused by the raising
of animals for their meat. Vegetarians and vegans take note – your carbon footprint is
much smaller that a meat eaters. I hope this fact makes you feel good. It does me.