“Meat Is the No. 1 Cause of Global Warming”

My wife and I have been a little baffled by the newfound attention paid to global warming and reduced footprints following An Inconvenient Truth. As consumers, we have been encouraged to take a wide variety of steps that have relatively small beneficial net effects–changing lightbulbs, buying carbon offsets, etc. Meanwhile, there is an obvious option that no one seemed to want to talk about–if we really want to reduce our footprint on the Earth and help reduce global warming, one of the single most effective steps people can take is to reduce their consumption of meat. Yet, this option–which requires no large outlays of cash like buying a hybrid car–is virtually ignored in the discussion, even though the science suggests that it would be more effective than changing cars. As a PETA rep says, “Environmentalists are still pointing their fingers at Hummers and S.U.V.’s when they should be pointing at the dinner plate.” So why isn’t vegetarianism/veganism getting the attention it deserves?

A recent NYT article discusses this phenomenon. According to the article, in response to a UN report concluding that the livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas than all types of transportation, animal rights groups are (IMO, belatedly) embracing global warming as a reason to go vegetarian/vegan. In contrast, many environmental groups continue to sidestep the issue. As the Sierra Club rep says, “we do not find lecturing people about personal consumption choices to be effective.” I agree that lecturing isn’t good, but consciousness-raising could work spectacularly, especially given how much attention and money is being allocated to the global warming issue right now.

Meanwhile, if you’re buying carbon offset credits, you might consider saving your money and instead offsetting your impact by adding some extra vegetarian meals to your diet.