Friday, January 2, 2009

Food Choices and Global Warming

So, here's a cool to fight global warming at dinner!? A study was released in early 2008 that suggested that substituting chicken, fish or vegetables for red meat can actually help combat climate change...something that most vegetarians are already aware of. Although the study didn't extend the conclusion to vegetarianism, the same can generally be said for substituting a vegetable-based diet for meat, chicken and fish.

Glad to see the studies are finally catching up to what we herbivores have been aware of since Frances Moore Lappe published her groundbreaking book Diet for a Small Planet in 1971. Although this work is best known for it's (since recanted and de-emphasized) theory of protein combining, it also brought to light the many environmental issues and inefficiencies associated with using animals to obtain calories.

The study, reported in the May 15 issue of the journal Environmental Science & Technology, claims that putting these foods on the dinner table does more to reduce carbon emissions than eating locally grown food. While locally grown food in general does require less fuel for shipping to the store, the study actually compared greenhouse gas emissions from food production to those of transportation. The study found that food production accounts for 83 percent of the average US household's greenhouse-gas burden while transportation accounts for only 11 percent. Shifting to a less greenhouse-gas intensive diet, for example, by eating more vegetables and less meat, chicken or fish, can be an effective way to lower your food-related climate footprint. The researchers wrote that "shifting less than one day per week's worth of calories from red meat and dairy products to chicken, fish, eggs, or a vegetable-based diet achieves more greenhouse-gas reduction than buying all locally sourced food."

We can all do our bit to help reduce global warming, just by making positive and compassionate changes to our diet--reducing our intake of meat, chicken, and fish even just one day a week, one meal at a time.

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