I was a vegetarian for many years in a previous life.
I began eating meat after attending a conference at which I was the only vegetarian. Faced with the decision to be a gracious guest or increase the workload (and wasteload) of my hosts, I began to eat meat. Two years have past since that time and I have enjoyed chicken, pork, and even a few good burgers.
Alas, I've decided to stop eating meat again.
A few months ago, I was listening to a segment on NPR about the rise of global meat consumption. I already knew that it takes an incredible amount of grain to keep up meat production (4.8 pounds of grain = 1 pound of beef), but the segment on NPR focused on the fact that most of that grain is grown some distance from the cattle farms. With rising fuel costs, the impact of shipping that grain is incredibly high.
To produce meat for a meat-centered diet (versus a vegetable-based diet) it requires using 50 times the amount of fossil fuels.
In the U.S., more than half of all water is used for livestock production. It takes 25 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat. On the other hand it takes 2,500 pounds of water to produce a pound of meat.
Eating a meat-centered diet also contributes to deforestation. In the United States we have cleared over 260 million acres of forest to produce meat.
In every quarter pounder we eat, an average of 55 square feet of tropical rainforest is consumed as well, which has obvious effects on animal life.
I'm trying to figure out ways to be greener in my personal life, and cutting out meat consumption is one step I can take.
I promise to be as charitable in this endeavor as possible, never judging those who choose to eat meat, and finding my own solutions to getting nutrition that do not inconvenience the people around me.
I'm sharing this because I know that it's not easy to shift from one lifestyle to another. Even though I have lived as a vegetarian before, it will probably take some time to adjust.
What one thing can you do to make your world (and diet) a little greener?
About the Author:
Betsy Neely is a graduate of Furman University and a current student at Vanderbilt Divinity School where she is working on her Master of Divinity. She works in development for the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation. Betsy loves to read, write, and has big dreams of working for good in the world.