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Going vegan can save the environment

Monday, February 17, 2014

If there were one thing—just one thing—that you could do to make the biggest positive environmental change in your life, what would it be? Would you pledge to recycle? Maybe you’d drive a smaller car—or better yet, a hybrid or electric vehicle. 



How about replacing your incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient LED bulbs? You could conserve water by turning off the tap when brushing your teeth, and no longer ignore your toilet’s water tank’s slow leak. You might even decide to replace the old tank-style water heater, which could use as much as 30 per cent of your home’s energy needs, with a tankless heater. None of these things, even when you put them all together, will make as much of a dent in your global environmental footprint as giving up one thing: meat.


Meat production affects everything disproportionately. It takes ten to 14 pounds of grain-based feed for each pound of beef. The caloric value of a pound of beef is 800 calories. There are 606 calories in a pound of corn. The calculation is easy: it takes between 6,060 and 8,484 calories of (corn) grain to produce 800 calories of beef.  


A person on a 2,000-calorie per day diet can survive for three-four days on that grain. If we disregard the fact that most food shortages are a result of failed political regimes and ideologies, an end to world hunger seems within reach, doesn’t it? “Livestock’s long shadow” is the name of a United Nations Food And Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report. It states, “Livestock are responsible for 18 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), a bigger share than that of transport.”


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