Viewpoint - April 23, 2008

Letter: Help save the planet by dropping meat from diet

It's not about changing light bulbs anymore.

When Al Gore's and Leonardo DiCaprio's dramatic documentaries alerted us to the devastating impacts of global warming, many people went through the ritual of switching from incandescent light bulbs to the compact fluorescent variety. Unfortunately, in the case of global warming, good intentions and switching light bulbs are not good enough.

The most powerful individual lifestyle solution was suggested in a 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. The report found that meat production accounts for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. That's more than automobiles.

Carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, is emitted by burning forests to create animal pastures and by combustion of fossil fuels to operate farm machinery, trucks, refrigeration equipment, factory farms, and slaughterhouses. The much more damaging methane and nitrous oxide are released from digestive tracts of cattle and from animal waste cesspools.

Moreover, animal agriculture contributes more pollutants to our waterways than all other human activities combined. Principal sources are animal wastes, soil particles, minerals, crop debris, fertilizers, and pesticides from feed croplands. It is also the driving force in world-wide deforestation and wildlife habitat destruction.

The annual observance of Earth Day this Tuesday provides an excellent opportunity for every one of us to help save our planet by dropping animal products from our diet. More details are available at

Miles Barne

Sharon Park Drive, Menlo Park


Posted by Pragmatist, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 23, 2008 at 7:59 am

A more realistic goal, it seems to me, is to cut down on consumption of meat. What a difference it would make if everyone reduced the amount of meat he or she eats by half. I'd guess that some people would even realize that they feel better, and might cut back even more, or give it up completely. Change typically happens in small steps, not leaps.

Posted by Diane, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 23, 2008 at 10:46 am

It's also important to buy meat from sources that raise their animals humanely and sustainably (if you have to eat meat at all). Niman Ranch is a great source, and you can get some of their meats locally. Does anyone else know of good sources?

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