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Diet and the Environment

Story ID:3103
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Lakewood Ohio USA
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Our community newspaper often gives us an opportunity to express ourselves
on various topics in their MY SAY format. This allows the writer to expand on his
or her thoughts in greater detail than through a Letter to the Editor. So, I wrote
these reflections with that in mind. However, there is no guarantee that they
will accept my offering. But how wonderful - I can still post them on Our Echo
and hope that those who are interested in the environment will read them.

My Say:

I often find interesting and provocotive the topics carried on the MSN internet
homepage. One recently was entitled "Is it cheaper to eat at a restaurant
rather than at home?"

An interesting question, but for me, there is a more important one to be asked
--where is it healthier? Also, how do our food choices impact on the environment?
As to the first, I believe that most restaurants use a lot of cream and butter to
make things tasty. That can't be good --can it? At home we have control over all the
ingredients we use and even the amount of salt we would like to expend on the dishes
we prepare.

And as more evidence is accumulating re our diet and its impact on the environment,
hopefully we will try to incorporate more meatless dishes in our meal planning. I was
encouraged and surprised and even delighted to find one morning an MSN link which
read-- VEGGIE COMFORT FOODS. I did a double take because veggies in the past have
not been considered comfort foods. But in reality, if people would give them a chance,
I think they will be glad to include them among new favorite comfort foods. And they not
only taste delicious but probably contain a lot of healthy nutrients providing, of course,
that we don't smother them in the rich fats: butter, cream, and cheese. I read
somewhere that anything "alfredo" contains enough fat to equal more than the daily
allowance of healthy eating.

I was also grateful to find another surprising and informative article on the MSN
home page. You would be hard pressed to find articles like these earlier. The writer "bravely"
points out that we can impact on our environment in a good way by eating less meat
because as he says - calorie per calorie of grain production is kinder to the environment
than calorie per calorie of meat production. He also mentions that the two University of
Chicago Environmental researchers Eshel and Martin say that meat eaters account
for more than 1.5 tons more greenhouse gases per person per year than their
vegetarian/vegan counterparts.

The writer also notes that cattle are a huge source of methane, a noxious greenhouse
gas. It is estimated that cattle are responsible for roughly triplet the methane
emissions of the American coal industry.

I don't think Gore mentioned this - did he?-- and yet he won the Nobel Peace prize for
Global Warming concerns. In my opinion, this is a serious omission because if the findings
of scientists are true- meat production then impacts greatly on global warming. This is not
good news for big cattle interests at what ever spectrum of production they are involved in.
Less production will mean less profits.

I always think of Howard Lymon in this connection. You may remember that he
appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show years ago and warned us about the e-coli factor
associated with hamburger. When Oprah said she wouldn't eat hamburger again - she
was sued by the Texas Cattle Association.

Makes you wonder how "free" is Freedom of Speech. She had to enlist costly lawyers
and the help of Dr. Phil to get through it all but thankfully won the case. As for Howard
Lymon who recently came to Cleveland to speak about the cruelty and suffering associated
with cattle ranching, he still accepts speaking engagements re this. And to think that
he comes from a family background of cattle ranchers.

While I know that most people will never be able to relinquish their taste for meat,
hopefully concern for the environment as well as the animals will lead these people
to conspicuously cut down on it as much as possible in their diet.

And its for these reasons I cannot back Heifer International who think that introducing
animal husbandry to the third world is a good way to address hunger. In my opinion,
the only thing it accomplishes is profit for them. I would not begrudge meat as
an option to address their hunger even though I am an ethical vegan, but the earth
cannot sustain all this world-wide meat production. Gandhi and others long ago warned
us about this. Hopefully, many of us can get off the "must have my 3 times-a- day meat
kick" and will try to drastically cut it to much, much less.

The early immigrants sustained themselves on perhaps as little meat as once a week.
So, it is not a matter of health concerns because as we probably all know by now - that while
protein is a necessary component for good health, it can be derived from plant sources
as well.

I am surprised and disappointed that Christians aren't leading the way in this type of
thinking. As believers that we are stewards of this earth, should we not be concerned about
our eating habits as they impact on it? I have always been impressed by that part of
Genesis where it seems obvious at least to many of us that God intended Adam and Eve
to be vegetarians. I found this quote in Genesis 1:29:
"See, I give you all the seed-bearing plants that are upon the whole earth, and
all the trees with seed-bearing fruit; this shall be your food. To all wild beasts, all
birds of heaven and all living reptiles on the earth I give all the foliage of plants for
food." (The Old Testament of the Jerusalem Bible)