March 31st, 2014

Health & Ed | October 31st, 2011
Embracing an eco-friendly diet
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A couple days ago my close friends told me that I couldn’t be trusted if I didn’t admit to liking the taste of cheeseburgers.

As a vegetarian, it was not an unfamiliar proposition, nor was it an unfair one. Bonding over food is something that most cultures have in common, and dates back for as long as humans have existed. However, in today’s climate, it would appear that the state of the planet has become an equally important topic of communal interest. With that in mind, I would like to thank green-washing marketing trends. You have made my food choices, as a vegetarian, so much easier to explain.

Environmental vegetarianism is based on the premise that animal production is environmentally unsustainable, consuming an undeniably concerning amount of fossil fuels, water, and agricultural land. Environmentalists have been telling us for years: a little bit of action goes a long way.
It’s become widely acknowledged that a vegetarian or vegan diet is better for the planet. Producing one pound of beef requires approximately 2500 gallons of water – 10 times more the amount needed to produce a pound of soy.

In other words, with the water used to produce a single hamburger, you could take a shower every day for two and a half weeks. Conservationists have even begun referring to beef cows as “hoofed locusts,” suggesting their significant role in deforestation, water scarcity, and loss of biodiversity. With facts like these, it’s hard to justify that late night burger – unless you’re willing to skip a few weeks of showering to make up for it.

Now, the surprising part: according to a new analysis by public health expert Dr. Mike Rayner in a Friends of the Earth report, we can save more than 45,000 human lives a year if everyone began eating meat no more than two or three times a week.

Navin Ramankutty, associate professor in the Department of Geography at McGill, addresses meat as a main concern in a newly published blueprint for doubling the global food supply. By using prime cropland to grow food for humans, as opposed to biofuels or animal feed, we could increase food production by nearly 50 per cent.

Eating less meat requires little or no work at all, and is remarkably cost-efficient. Without even going vegetarian or vegan, you can choose to eat meat less frequently and still be making a significant reduction on the environmental impact of your food choices, while increasing the total amount of food produced for humans. Talk about a win-win situation.

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