According to the Guardian,
A global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change, a UN report said today.
Recognition of the contribution of livestock to anthropogenic global warming is growing. However, this is by no means low-hanging fruit. In fact, it’s likely that the livestock contribution will only get worse:`
Ernst von Weizsaecker, an environmental scientist who co-chaired the panel, said: “Rising affluence is triggering a shift in diets towards meat and dairy products – livestock now consumes much of the world’s crops and by inference a great deal of freshwater, fertilisers and pesticides.”
Both energy and agriculture need to be “decoupled” from economic growth because environmental impacts rise roughly 80% with a doubling of income, the report found.
Achim Steiner, the UN under-secretary general and executive director of the UNEP, said: “Decoupling growth from environmental degradation is the number one challenge facing governments in a world of rising numbers of people, rising incomes, rising consumption demands and the persistent challenge of poverty alleviation.”
This message needs to get out there more. I’m not a vegetarian, but I’m trying hard to reduce my meat consumption. This is a hard sell in the US, where most of us grew up on “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner.” Beef and dairy products should be taxed just the same so consumers internalize the social costs of what they are eating. If taxing other emissions requires delaying this action on livestock, that’s fine, as long as it’s on the agenda. Again, this one will take years of attitude changing, but we can’t afford to ignore environmental degradation just because it’s inconvenient.
Besides, there are a lot of great substitutes, like TVP, which goes great in a vegetarian chili. Unfortunately, these substitutes force us to eat healthily in other ways, as they require complementary fresh vegetables and herbs, rather than merely salt and butter.