The Breathtaking Effects Of Cutting Back On Meat | Kathy Freston | 03/02/10

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Read More: global warming, kathy freston, meat, resources, statistics, vegetarian

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I've written extensively on the consequences of eating meat - on our health, our sense of "right living", and on the environment. It is one of those daily practices that has such a broad and deep effect that I think it merits looking at over and over again, from all the different perspectives. Sometimes, solutions to the world's biggest problems are right in front of us. The following statistics are eye-opening, to say the least.

If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would save:

● 100 billion gallons of water, enough to supply all the homes in New England for almost 4 months;

● 1.5 billion pounds of crops otherwise fed to livestock, enough to feed the state of New Mexico for more than a year;

● 70 million gallons of gas--enough to fuel all the cars of Canada and Mexico combined with plenty to spare;

● 3 million acres of land, an area more than twice the size of Delaware;

● 33 tons of antibiotics.

If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would prevent:

● Greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1.2 million tons of CO2, as much as produced by all of France;

● 3 million tons of soil erosion and $70 million in resulting economic damages;

● 4.5 million tons of animal excrement;

● Almost 7 tons of ammonia emissions, a major air pollutant.

My favorite statistic is this: According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads. See how easy it is to make an impact?

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Diet for a Small Planet was a book that pointed this out and made us vegetarian over night. To remember it we have the stats posted on our fridge. I read the book almost 20 years ago and it changed my diet somewhat but I'd forgotten the message. Then along came marriage, my SO discovered the book and we've gone veg.
Along came Diet For a New America and The China Study and I'm vegan and the rest of the family is slightly reducing their diary (cheese) intake. We dropped down to weights we've not seen in decades (our highschool weights) and total blood cholesterol levels drop below 150.
The snag is that so many people are afraid of being short protein (esp. their kids) that they always make sure that at least two meals a day contain meat - then add the eggs and dairy products....
At work I have a hard time getting people to turn off some or all lights in unused rooms - each room is the power draw (lighting alone) of 2 to 5 houses!! But that's not enough to make more than one other person here turn off lights (and he's been an energy wacko like myself for a long time).

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