Environmental vegetarianism

Environmental vegetarianism

Environmental vegetarianism is the practice of vegetarianism or Veganism based on the fact that the animal production by intensive agriculture is environmentally unsustainable [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/27/weekinreview/27bittman.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=Rethinking+the+Meat-Guzzler&st=nyt&oref=slogin New York Time's Article: Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler] ] . The primary environmental concerns with animal products are pollution and the use of resources such as fossil fuels, water, and land.

Environmental effects of meat production

The use of large industrial monoculture that is common in industrialised agriculture, typically for feed crops such as corn and soy is more damaging to ecosystems than more sustainable farming practices such as organic farming, permaculture, arable, pastoral, and rain-fed agriculture.

According to a 2006 United Nations initiative, the livestock industry is one of the largest contributors to environmental degradation worldwide, and modern practices of raising animals for food contributes on a "massive scale" to deforestation [Eco-Eating: Eating as if the Earth Matters http://www.brook.com/veg] , air and water pollution, land degradation, loss of topsoil, climate change [Meat Eating and Global Warming http://www.ivu.org/members/globalwarming.html] , the overuse of resources including oil and water, and loss of biodiversity. The initiative concluded that "the livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global." [ [http://www.virtualcentre.org/en/library/key_pub/longshad/A0701E00.htm LEAD digital library: Livestock’s long shadow - Environmental issues and options ] ]

Animals fed on grain need more water than grain crops. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3559542.stm BBC News - Hungry world 'must eat less meat' by Alex Kirby] In tracking food animal production from the feed through to the dinner table, the inefficiencies of meat, milk and egg production range from a 4:1 energy input to protein output ratio up to 54:1. [ [http://www.news.cornell.edu/releases/Aug97/livestock.hrs.html U.S. could feed 800 million people with grain that livestock eat] ] The result is that producing animal-based food is typically much less efficient than the harvesting of grains, vegetables, legumes, seeds and fruits.

The environmental impacts of animal production vary with the method of production. A Grazing-based production can limit soil erosion and also allow farmers to control pest problems with less pesticides through rotating crops with grass. In arid areas, however, it may as well catalize a desertification process.

Related economic and social considerations

Bquote|The world must create five billions vegans in the next several decades, or triple its total farm output without using more land."

Dennis Avery, Director of the Centre for Global Food Issues

Environmental vegetarianism can be compared with economic vegetarianism. An economic vegetarian is someone who practices vegetarianism either out of necessity or because of a conscious simple living strategy. Such a person may base this belief on a philosophical viewpoint, such as the belief that the consumption of meat is economically unsound or that vegetarianism will help improve public health and curb starvation. According to the Worldwatch Institute, "massive reductions in meat consumption in industrial nations will ease the health care burden while improving public health; declining livestock herds will take pressure off of rangelands and grainlands, allowing the agricultural resource base to rejuvenate. As populations grow, lowering meat consumption worldwide will allow more efficient use of declining per capita land and water resources, while at the same time making grain more affordable to the world's chronically hungry." [ [https://www.worldwatch.org/press/news/1998/07/02 United States Leads World Meat Stampede | Worldwatch Institute ] ]

Environmental vegetarians call for a reduction of first world consumption of meat, especially in the US. According to the United Nations Population Fund "Each U.S. citizen consumes an average of 260 lbs. of meat per year, the world's highest rate. That is about 1.5 times the industrial world average, three times the East Asian average, and 40 times the average in Bangladesh." [ [http://www.unfpa.org/6billion/ccmc/u.s.scorecard.html Day of 6 Billion: October 12 U.S. Scorecard ] ] In addition, "the ecological footprint of an average person in a high-income country is about six times bigger than that of someone in a low-income country, and many more times bigger than in the least-developed countries." [ [http://www.unfpa.org/swp/2004/english/ch3/ UNFPA State of World Population 2004 ] ]

The World Health Organization calls malnutrition "the silent emergency", and says it is a factor in at least half of the 10.4 million child deaths which occur every year. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3559542.stm BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Hungry world 'must eat less meat' ] ] http://www.tradeobservatory.org/library.cfm?refID=48538] Cornell scientists have advised that the U.S. could feed 800 million people with grain that livestock eat, although they distinguish "grain-fed meat production from pasture-raised livestock, calling cattle-grazing a more reasonable use of marginal land." [ [http://www.news.cornell.edu/releases/Aug97/livestock.hrs.html Cornell Science News: Livestock Production ] ]

Critics note, starvation in the modern world is largely a political problem and may not be solved through flooding world markets with more grain. Indeed, critics of environmental vegetarianism point out that should the U.S. give this "freed" grain to the developing world, it would amount to dumping, undermining local markets and worsening the situation. Among other results, this could lead also to a decrease in biodiversity. [ [http://www.globalissues.org/TradeRelated/Poverty/FoodDumping/Intro.asp Food Aid as Dumping - Global Issues ] ] Some environmentalists go even as far as to characterise food aid, in particular grain, as a commercial enterprise interested more in supporting farmers in the developed world than alleviating famine in the developing world. [ [http://www.greenleft.org.au/back/1993/108/108p12.htm Green Left - Issues: Food aid: feeding the poor or the rich? ] ]


A widely adopted vegetarian diet, in and of itself, may not be enough to make the US food system sustainable unless renewable energy is also implemented. The support of alternative farming practices (e.g. well husbanded organic farming, permaculture, and rotational grazing) and certain plant commodity avoidance such as rice, also have a beneficial impact on environmental health and sustainable agriculture, though this would have little affect on animal welfare and rights. According to Cornell scientists, "the heavy dependence on fossil energy suggests that the US food system, whether meat-based or plant-based, is not sustainable." [ [http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/78/3/660S Sustainability of meat-based and plant-based diets and the environment - Pimentel and Pimentel 78 (3): 660S - American Journal of Clinical Nutrition ] ]

Some environmental activists point out, adopting a vegetarian diet may be a way of focusing on personal actions and righteous gestures rather than systemic change. Dave Riley, an Australian environmentalist, echoes the views of some non-vegetarian environmentalists when he states that "being meatless and guiltless seems seductively simple while environmental destruction rages around us," noting that animals can contribute to the food chain. "For instance, yams, which keep poorly, are stored inside pigs, and today's rotting apples attracting fruit fly are tomorrow's bacon,". [ [http://www.greenleft.org.au/back/1993/110/110p13.htm Green Left - Issues: Does meat make the meal? ] ] However, people who are meatless often do not ignore the environmental destruction that rages around them; environmental vegetarianism is how some people incorporate green living into their daily and dietary lives, which does not exclude them or anyone else from engaging in a range of other activities to protect, repair, sustain, and enhance the environment.POV-statement|date=October 2008

The adoption of a lacto-ovo vegetarian or entirely plant-based vegan diet is best, but may not be totally necessary, because even modest reductions in meat consumption in industrialised societies would substantially reduce the burden on our natural resources. "One personal act that can have a profound impact on these issues is reducing meat consumption. To produce 1 pound of feedlot beef requires about 2,400 gallons of water and 7 pounds of grain (42). Considering that the average American consumes 97 pounds of beef (and 273 pounds of meat in all) each year, even modest reductions in meat consumption in such a culture would substantially reduce the burden on our natural resources." [ [http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/members/2002/110p445-456horrigan/horrigan-full.html#sust How Sustainable Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of Industrial Agriculture ] ]


ee also

*Economic vegetarianism
*Entomophagy (another environmental approach for obtaining food)
*Ethics of vegetarianism
*In vitro meat (an environmental way of making meat)
*Sustainable agriculture
*Sustainable food system

External links

* [http://www.brook.com/veg/ Eco-Eating: Eating as if the Earth Matters (it does!)] Comprehensive source with "many" categories and links.
* [http://www.bestfootforward.com/footprintlife.htm Ecological footprint calculator] Two fields are dietary considerations.
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,2094651,00.html Dr. Ruth Fairchild of the UWIC's report on veganism and co2-emissions]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем решить контрольную работу

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Vegetarianism and religion — are strongly linked in a number of religions that originated in ancient India (Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism). In Jainism vegetarianism is mandatory for everyone, in Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism it is advocated by some influential scriptures… …   Wikipedia

  • Vegetarianism — This article is about the deliberate diet for human beings. For types of vegetarian foods, see vegetarian cuisine. For plant based diets in non human animals, see herbivore. Vegetarianism Description A vegetarian diet is derived from plants, with …   Wikipedia

  • Environmental effects of meat production — This article discusses the environmental effects of livestock and poultry farming. For the environmental effects of fishing, see Environmental effects of fishing. Environmental effects of meat production include pollution and the use of resources …   Wikipedia

  • Environmental journalism — is the collection, verification, production, distribution and exhibition of information regarding current events, trends, issues and people that are associated with the non human world with which humans necessarily interact. To be an… …   Wikipedia

  • vegetarianism — /vej i tair ee euh niz euhm/, n. the beliefs or practices of a vegetarian. [1850 55; VEGETARIAN + ISM] * * * Theory or practice of eating only plants. The vegetarian diet includes grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts; it excludes meat, poultry,… …   Universalium

  • Christian vegetarianism — is a minority Christian belief based on effecting the compassionate teachings of Jesus, the twelve apostles and the early church to all living beings through vegetarianism or, ideally, veganism. Alternatively, Christians may be vegetarian for… …   Wikipedia

  • List of environmental topics (E) — This is a list of environmental topics. They relate to the effect of human activity on the environment.*(E grass: see) Miscanthus (see biofuel under Uses) *E waste (electronic waste) *(E10: see) common alcohol fuel mixtures *(E15: see) common… …   Wikipedia

  • Ovo vegetarianism — is a type of vegetarianism which allows for the consumption of eggs; unlike lacto ovo vegetarianism, no dairy products are permitted. Those who practice ovo vegetarianism are called ovo vegetarians or eggetarians. Ovo (pronounced /ˈoʊvoʊ/) comes… …   Wikipedia

  • Ovo-lacto vegetarianism — A Lacto ovo vegetarian (or Ovo lacto vegetarian) is a vegetarian who does not eat animal flesh of any kind, but is willing to consume dairy and egg products. In contrast, a vegetarian who consumes no animal products at all is called a vegan.… …   Wikipedia

  • Economic vegetarianism — An economic vegetarian is a person who practices vegetarianism from either the philosophical viewpoint that the consumption of meat is expensive, part of a conscious simple living strategy or just because of necessity. In the developing world,… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”