Meatless Monday – Vegetarianism as a Climate Change Control Agent?

Meatless Monday could become an effective method to reduce Greenhouse Gases!

A recent article in the in their Health and Science page is about Vegetarianism and it’s potential impact on climate change.  We have known for years that it takes 10 times the amount of land to produce red meat for people than growing high quality vegetable protein.  I learned that in my Environmental classes of the 1970’s.

Vegetables for Everyone!

Vegetables for Everyone!

The Slate goes on to say that 14.5 percent of greenhouse gases both directly and indirectly are attributable to the production of meat products.

Their article titled “What if Everyone in the World Became a Vegetarian?”  does raise some interesting questions.  My initial thought was, if everyone had a Meatless Monday would we lower emissions by 2 percent?

I think that, as L.V. Anderson wrote, there are many poor people who are wanting to buy more meat as their economic position improves.  This could raise the production and release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at even a higher rate than it is today!

L.V. continues to quote from a 2009 study by the NEAA that universal veganism would reduce agricultural related greenhouse gas emissions considerably!

“In 2009 researchers from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency published their projections of the greenhouse gas consequences if humanity came to eat less meat, no meat, or no animal products at all. The researchers predicted that universal veganism would reduce agriculture-related carbon emissions by 17 percent, methane emissions by 24 percent, and nitrous oxide emissions by 21 percent by 2050.”

Read the link below for the full story.

Other Environmental Issues of Meat Eating

The World Watch Institute has a very concise 2004 article in their July/August magazine issue on the impacts of meat eating on the global health and economy. Whether we like it or not meat eating is not sustainable and will be an issue that the world will need to deal with.  It does not go into the religious or health reasons for vegetarianism, but it does discuss the following environmental issues; Deforestation, Grassland Destruction, Fresh Water, Waste Disposal, Energy Consumption, Global Warming (aka Climate Change),  Food Productivity, Lifestyle Diseases, as well as Biodiversity.

“Not only is mortality from coronary heart disease lower in vegetarians than in nonvegetarians, but vegetarian diets have also been successful in arresting coronary heart disease. Scientific data suggest positive relationships between a vegetarian diet and reduced risk for…obesity, coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and some types of cancer.”
—American Dietetic Association

The By-Pass  Burger

The By-Pass Burger

How Many Vegetarians are there in the world anyway?

This article made me think, “How many souls would we have to convert to veganism anyway?”.  So I did a little research on how many are already vegetarians and how many would need to change.

The country with the largest population of vegetarians is without a doubt INDIA!  It is estimated that there are 31% True Vegetarians and 9% who eat eggs.  That is 40% of a population of 1.2 Billion people.  According to my calculator that would mean 480 million people!  Each nation in the world has a certain percentage of vegetarians but India wins by far.

In the United States, it has been estimated that there are approximately (according to polls) 8-10% of the population saying they are vegetarians.  That would bring us in at around 10 million people who eat no meat!!

As far as the world goes, it’s really hard to determine how many people consider themselves vegetarians. I checked on several sites and they really were not able to give any definite numbers.  So perhaps a rough figure might be 10% of 7 Billion or in the 700 million range?!.  So back to my question, how many people need to convert in order to reduce greenhouse gases…6.3 Billion!

OK, so how can this be accomplished?  Who knows?  Perhaps the continued increase in population will out of necessity take grazing lands out of production so that crops can be raised to feed people.  Perhaps algae will become the food of the future.


Algae Products are in our Future

Algae Products are in our Future

Or, Perhaps we need to focus on carbon sequestration, reduction in the use of fossil fuels, or hope that new and innovative methods will be invented that will scrub our atmosphere!

Until then!

 Bon appetit







About rsingram

Environmental Specialist, Disaster Reservist, Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control, Para-Archeologist
This entry was posted in Climate Change, Economics, Education, Healthy foods, India, population doubling, Vegetarians and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Meatless Monday – Vegetarianism as a Climate Change Control Agent?

  1. LC says:

    Been a vegetarian for more than 40 years and do not miss eating meat. Thanks for posting this article.

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