I’ve been moving toward vegetarianism and veganism this year. I recently saw an RSA interview with Jonathan Safran Foer about his book Eating Animals, and I’m looking forward to reading it. Then over the weekend saw the segment with Kathy Freston, author of Veganist. I’ve also read probably almost half of Becoming Vegan, but have put it down for now to return to later.
I’m impressed with Foer’s approach to the subject because overall I think the animal-rights angle on the topic is the weakest argument for reducing meat consumption, in terms of potential to actually make a significant impact. Regardless of the merit of the argument itself, there are certain people who will actually be swayed by it and for the most part they already have been.
Other facts are far more significant to the rest of us, some of which come from the video I posted a while back. The world is overpopulated, and the population is increasing. This is something we need to stop, but even if we are able to do that (a big if) there will still be problems because feeding even the current world population with the current levels of meat consumption is not sustainable.
The factory-farming meat industry is responsible for many environmental problems because it is producing at ecologically unsustainable levels. Think about it at the simplest scientific level: plants convert carbon dioxide to oxygen and animals do the reverse. We have long been eliminating plants to make space for more people and animals, shifting this balance so that the amount of oxygen in our atmosphere, which directly affects the amount of ozone in the upper atmosphere among other things, is reduced.
Consider also the amount of plant-based food it takes to produce meat (many times more energy than the amount produced) and we may begin to see why world hunger is contributed to significantly by the choices we make about what to eat. Then to even the layman, reducing meat consumption can be seen to be a pretty good idea. I think putting it in terms like this is the only way the idea will gain ground.