I thought I'd share with my readers a few fascinating numbers that demonstrate the enormous environmental value of a low-meat diet.
1) Replacing your red meat intake with chicken, fish or eggs for just one day per week has a carbon equivalent impact of driving 760 miles less per year.
2) Switching to a vegetarian diet for just one day per week has a carbon equivalent impact of driving 1,160 miles less per year.
3) Switching from a standard American diet to a vegetarian diet has a carbon equivalent impact of driving 8,000 miles less per year.
4) Switching to 100% local diet has a carbon equivalent impact of driving 1,000 miles less per year.
Here's the thing. Lots of people are talking these days about their efforts to eat local. Some people go so far as to wear their locavorism on their sleeve like it's some kind of honor badge. And, yes, admittedly, even here at Casual Kitchen we advocate being mindful about any transport costs implicit in the food you buy.
But if you think through the numbers above, you can see that going local isn't the best thing you can do for the environment. Not by a long shot. You can go meatless for just one day a week and have a more meaningful impact. Best of all, it's also a great way to save money and add to the overall healthfulness of your diet. What's not to like?
Okay, let me share one more statistic, perhaps the most sobering of all:
5) According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the world's livestock sector generates more CO2 equivalent emissions than the entire transportation sector (see specifically page xxi in the Executive Summary).
Yes, you can certainly help the environment by buying your food locally, and I encourage you to continue doing so. But keep in mind that the transport industry is less wasteful and less awful for the environment than you might think.
What's truly wasteful is the enormous amount of meat in the standard Western diet.
Readers, what are your thoughts and reactions?
* Points 1-4 come from Kate Heyhoe's exceptional book Cooking Green (by the way, I reviewed Cooking Green last year and strongly recommend it to readers).
* Point 5 comes from "Livestock's Long Shadow" a 2006 report from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization.
Six Good Things About the Awful Economy
Almost Meatless: Cookbook Review
Review: Cooking Green by Kate Heyhoe
Spreading the New Frugality: A Manifesto
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