Environmental benefits of vegetarianism

Cattle

Cattle

In a new series of posts, readers of thegreenveggie from around the world discuss their reasons for choosing a meat-free lifestyle. In this post Molly Mizusawa, a 17-year-old student from the USA, talks about the environmental benefits of a vegetarian diet.

Molly stopped eating meat at the age of 12. “I had always been a lover of animals and thought the idea of slaughter to be barbaric,” she said, “but I had not seriously contemplated the benefits of vegetarianism.

“I was very young and only thought that if I chose not to eat meat, I would be sparing at least one chicken, cow or pig. But then I realised the advantages of vegetarianism stretch much further than the suffering of a single chick,” she added.

Rainforest

Molly discovered land used for rearing livestock currently takes up 30 per cent of the planet’s surface. This land, which is cleared at a rate of 2,100 feet per minute, often comes from the rainforest and is a primary threat of extinction for many species.

Molly also found that the meat industry contributes significantly towards the problem of  global warming, as breeding livestock produces three major greenhouse gases: methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide.

Global warming

She said: “If each American family could substitute one meal of chicken a week for a vegetarian option, the amount of carbon dioxide saved would be the same as taking 500,000 cars off the roads. A small effort can have a large impact.”

Molly also considered the efficiency of a meat-free diet. “The practice of raising animals for slaughter is not only inhumane, but is also wasteful,” she said. “To produce a single pound of beef, a cow needs 16 pounds of grain, which could feed 10 people for a day.”

Animal welfare

Molly said it was environmental factors which finally persuaded her to give up meat. “The animal welfare arguments were enough to sway me towards vegetarianism, but the environmental factors enhance my dedication,” she added.

“When I told my parents I didn’t want to eat meat anymore, I had no idea how much of an impact I would have on the world. Vegetarianism requires dedication, but if each person plays their part, then we can help save the world and the people in it.”

Photo: Brendan Murphy

News in brief

Veggie burger

Veggie burger

Keeping you up-to-date with this week’s most important vegetarian news stories…

The world’s first test-tube burger

The world could get its first lab-grown burger this year, with scientists using stem cells to create strips of beef. But could vegetarians eat it? Many of us become vegetarian for animal rights reasons, but if the meat did not come from dead animals, would there be an ethical problem with eating it? Read full story. 

Many common drugs are unsuitable for vegetarians

A study has suggested many common tablet and liquid medicines are non-vegetarian. The drugs contain gelatin, which is derived from animal bones or skin. A survey in the Postgraduate Medical Journal showed a quarter of patients are unknowingly prescribed drugs containing gelatin, contrary to their beliefs. Read full story.

Wild animals to be banned in circus performances

Ministers have unveiled plans to outlaw the outdated practice of using animals such as lions, tigers, monkeys and elephants, to perform in circus acts.  Animal welfare minister Lord Taylor said a tougher licensing regime will be brought in to improve conditions for performing animals until the laws are in force. Read full story.

Photo: Danielle

Welcome to thegreenveggie

So, this is the first post on thegreenveggie. (Not theveggieblog, veggiegirl, vegout, or even veggiepanda – yes, apparently all those were already taken.) I feel I should say something profound. Inspiring. Insightful. But that would be asking an awful lot after a long, hard day, so instead I thought I’d start with a bit about the blog, where the idea came from and what I’ll be talking about.

Firstly, a bit about me. I turned veggie at the tender age of 13 after a traumatic incident at a French market finally persuaded me I wasn’t really a fan of killing and eating animals! I’d always questioned where meat came from, and was uneasy about the idea of rearing animals for food. Today, I’m veggie, not only due to animal rights issues, but also on environmental grounds.

I decided to start this blog because I love veggie cooking and am really interested in the environment, sustainable living and animal welfare. I know there are plenty of veggie blogs out there, but although I’ve been spoilt for choice when looking for recipe blogs, not many seem to address topical news and debate.

So if you’re looking for current veggie news and comment, as well as interviews, restaurant and product reviews and the odd recipe, you’re in the right place!

Veg out! Liz x