By: Dave Swartz
A good friend of mine sent the following article to me the other day and asked for my opinion. The article mentions that vegetarian diets could be worse for the planet than a meat centered diet. My response is below.
I’m not sure where to start as the premise of animal derived food being more environmentally friendly than plant derived food is absurd. Yes, a pig can feed more people than many heads of lettuce, however lettuce itself has so few calories that not only could one not survive on lettuce, it is a completely unfair comparison. If the author compared pork to rice, sweet potatoes, corn, soy, wheat, etc, the comparison would not even be close. I think most reasonable people would agree that if you fed a pig a pound of food that does not mean the pig would gain a pound of flesh. The same holds true if humans ate a pound of food, we would not gain a pound of flesh. We would be in big trouble if that was the case.
I do agree with the article that some vegetables are not as calorie efficient as some meat products, however these plants are not staple foods such as the ones I mentioned. This article does not even mention the deforestation, water pollution from factory farms that create ocean dead zones, water usage (as much as 85% of all the water in Utah is used for a crop we don’t even eat, alfalfa). Since it takes roughly 10 to 15lbs of grain to produce 1 lb of meat, basic math tells me that it takes many more resources to produce the lb of beef. I find the article intellectually lazy for not pointing this out. Yes, animal derived food could become more efficient by restricting access and movement of farm animals even more so they burn fewer calories. We could also pump them full of more steroids and antibiotics to make them grow even faster, but not only do I find that inhuman, it find it dangerous as well.
In regards to more restriction on animal movement, I find that what we have done with factory farms has so much similarity to what Nazi Germany did with the Jews in the Holocaust, it’s scary. Yes, we could make animal agriculture more efficient by restricting farm animal movements even more, but to do so would be a tragedy for life on earth. These animals have just as much a right to live as we do.
Another issue is our nations/worlds health care crisis. Americans are not getting heart disease and cancer from eating rice/beans/kale/potatoes, etc. It is an absolute health care disaster to adhere to an animal based diet. If you look at all the Blue Zones in world (where the longest living people live) the number one commonality between them is that the inhabitants eat predominately plant based diets. The only Blue Zone in the U.S. is Loma Linda, CA. Look into why they live so long.
Years ago many thought that if you were from a different race then you didn’t have the same rights and freedoms as others. We are now going through this same discrimination simply because of one’s sexual orientation. I will tell you without a doubt that switching to a plant based diet is the absolute best thing I have ever done in my life and the sooner humanity can also make this switch, the sooner this planet can start to really heal and evolve. One of these days we will look back on speciesm in the same manner we look at racism today. I will leave you with a quote from the greatest mind probably to ever live. He is an absolute inspiration to me in my feeble attempt to understand the world of astrophysics.
“Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances of survival on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” Albert Einstein.