Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Chicken Eaters Will Inherit the Earth...or will they?

Someone (OK, it was my dear hubby who would like have sound reasons to continue to eat meat) recently sent me the 2007 articleChicken Eaters Will Inherit the Earth.

The author writes:
raising livestock does create global warming emissions—cattle burp up a whole lot of methane, which is bad news for the environment. The good news is that, according to a study in the science journal Earth Interactions , chickens are a lot more energy efficient. They don’t emit staggering amounts of methane, and they only require “2 pounds of grain to produce a pound of meat, compared with about 6 pounds of grain for a feedlot cow and 3 pounds for a pig,” writes Salon.

And believe it or not, American vegetarians who consume dairy and eggs are emitting more greenhouse gases than nonvegetarians who consume poultry, dairy, and eggs but not red meat:

‘Astonishingly enough,’ says study coauthor Gidon Eshel, a Bard College geophysicist, ‘the poultry diet is actually better than lacto-ovo vegetarian.’ In other words, a roast chicken dinner is better for the planet than a cheese pizza. ‘If you need to eat dead animals, poultry is the way to go,’ says Eshel, a vegan.


Several people comment on the article with sound thoughts, including that a vegetarian does not necessarily increase cheese consumption when they stop eating meat, and most meat eaters DO eat cheese (the roast chicken dinner does not preclude a goat cheese salad on the side, etc.). Plus, unless the chicken is homegrown a la Barbara Kingsolver, you still have to account for the environmental costs of processing and transportation, not just the grain that the little feller eats. Environmentally it is best to eat a vegan diet, grown locally, as livestock is the 3rd largest cause of greenhouse gas emissions (behind electricity consumption and transportation). The rest of us will do our best to limit our intake of meat, dairy, AND processed foods, which also use up much more energy in processing than the nutritional energy they put into our bodies.

Personally, my bet is on the cockroaches for inheriting the earth, but who am I to say?

1 comment:

Trent said...

Also, animal agriculture consumes more water than plants, about 18 times as much in the case of beef (see http://www.vegansociety.com/html/environment/water/)

And, while this isn't quite on point, there is far more cruelty involved in dairy and eggs due to the length of time the animals are kept alive.

I think the solution is to go vegan, but that's to be expected from me :)