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Green veggies debunked 09/19/10

A new study shows vegetarianism is not as green as we think. But ethics are still important.


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In an article in the Guardian.co.uk, published today, Barbara Ellen introduces an interesting discussion, prompting discussion about food production ethics generally and throwing doubt on the theory that vegetarianism is much more environmentally friendly than eating meat.

She rightly says that while the whole green movement has definitely helped bring vegetarianism into a more mainstream arena, the motivation to be veggie is seldom  purely for green reasons… as most of us know. And even if vegetarianism may not be as green as we thought, the ethics of  food production still needs to be talked about.

Here’s a taste:

“Not a good week for vegetarians. First, you had Lady Gaga attending an awards do in her meat dress. Yawn. Old. Been done, love. What to say except poor Gaga looked (ahem) offally silly.

Much more seismic was Simon Fairlie’s book, Meat: A Benign Extravagance, which tore apart long-accepted data on environmentally unsound meat production, prompting environmentalist George Monbiot to retract his view that the ethical way forward was veganism.

According to Fairlie, it doesn’t take 100,000 litres of water to produce one kilogram of beef (more like a third). It doesn’t take 10 units of vegetation to produce one unit of meat (the ratio could be 2:1). And the oft-quoted 2006 UN report was flawed, he says: livestock are not responsible for more of the world’s greenhouse gases than transport (the figure is closer to 10%, against transport’s 18%).

And so Fairlie goes on, like an unjolly green giant, trampling much-cherished eco-veggie facts and figures underfoot. Except that, leafing through my copy of his book, it is clear that Fairlie is not some mischievous eco-iconoclast – his main thrust is for major downsizing in meat production.

Fair enough. It seems to me that vegetarians and vegans should be able to adjust to new information when it emerges, because it isn’t always going to go our way. If some feel upset, perhaps they should take it as a sign that they shouldn’t have jumped into bed with the environmental lobby so quickly and easily in the first place. The sluts…

Read the rest of the article here:

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Laura Cooke is the editor and creator of the Veggie Bunch website and community.


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One Responses to this article

 
kmoonitee.admin September 24, 2010 Reply

You can read Monbiot’s reasons for changing his mind as a result of reading this book:
http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2010/09/07/strong-meat/

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