Save the Earth — go vegetarian
Al Gore’s riveting documentary An Inconvenient Truth (Film, June 14-21) has focused public attention on the looming disaster of global warming and the associated flooding of coastal communities, extreme weather conditions and destruction of wildlife habitats. Global warming is brought on by emission of “greenhouse gases,” primarily carbon dioxide and the much more potent methane and nitrous oxide. These gases trap the sun’s heat in our atmosphere, creating a greenhouse effect.
Most of us blame automotive and industrial emissions. But animal agriculture is a major culprit as well. It emits carbon dioxide from the burning of forests to create animal pastures and from combustion of fossil fuels to operate farm machinery, trucks, refrigeration equipment, factory farms and slaughterhouses. It emits methane from the digestive tracts of cattle and nitrous oxide from animal waste cesspools. According to a recent University of Chicago study, a meat-free diet reduces greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide per year — as much as switching from an SUV to a hybrid car.
Folks who care about the future of life on Earth would be well-advised to consider switching to a meat-free diet even before they switch to a hybrid car.