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Help Save the World by Eating Less Meat (or none)

By Martha Volz, Arizona, USA

Do you know that the United Nations calculated the combined climate change emissions of animals bred for their meat and it is more than cars, planes, and all other types of transport assembled?

In a recent article published in July 2010 from the Guardian.co.uk, leading journalist John Vidal reported how vegetarianism may help save the world by eating less meat. Behind most of the joints of beef or chicken on our plates is a phenomenally wasteful, land and electricity-hungry process of farming that devastates nature, and pollutes oceans, rivers, seas, and atmosphere.

We mostly breed four species (chickens, cows, sheep, and pigs), all of which need vast amounts of food and water, emit methane as well as other greenhouse gases, and produce mountains of physical waste products. In 2009, the United Nations calculated how the combined climate change emissions of animals bred for their meat were about 18% of the global total—a lot more than cars, planes, and all other types of transport put together.

A Bangladeshi family living off rice, beans, vegetables, and fruit may live on an acre of land or less, while the average American, who consumes around 270 pounds of meat yearly, needs 20 times that. Academics have calculated that if the grain fed to animals in western countries were consumed directly by people instead of animals, we could feed twice as many people as we do now, and perhaps a lot more. Eating a steak or a chicken will point to an excessive water consumption that the animal has needed to live and grow. Vegetarian author John Robbins calculates one pound of beef needs around 20,000 lbs of water. Farming, which uses 70% of water available to humans, is already in direct competition for water with cities.

Industrial scale agriculture now dominates the western livestock and poultry industries, and a single farm can now generate as much waste as a city. Farming animals generate manure and urine which is funnelled into massive waste lagoons. These cesspools often break, leak, or overflow, polluting underground water supplies and rivers with nitrogen, phosphorus, and nitrates.

A meat diet is usually considered twice as expensive as a vegetarian one. According to the Vegetarian Society, meat-eaters get increased probabilities of obesity, cancer, heart diseases, and other illnesses, as well as a hole in the pocket.

Here is a simple and quick recipe for a good meat substitute:

Tofu and Green Onion Veggie Burger

This healthy tofu-based veggie burger receives an additional nutritional boost from wheat germ. This recipe is both vegetarian and vegan.


1/2 container firm or extra firm tofu, mashed

1 onion, diced

3 green onions, diced

2 tbsp wheat germ

2 tbsp flour

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp soy sauce

dash pepper

oil for frying

Preparation: Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Form into patties. Fry patties in oil in a large skillet until brown and crisp, about 10 minutes.

Martha Volz writes for www.vegetariansupplements.org. She started vegetariansupplements.org in 2009 to help other people understand how to eat vegetarian and get credible information on vegetarianism. Contact her at [email protected].