Lifestyle Works

Vegetarian Diet Helps Fight Climate Warming

An interesting article has hit the news recently, recorded in a number of news outlets. Lord Stern, a former chief economist of the World Bank, and author of the 2006 Stern Review on the cost of tackling global warming, predicts that eating meat could in the future become as socially unacceptable as drink driving.

Wow! why would a man in such high position make such a statement? He gives evidence for his reason. “Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world's resources. A vegetarian diet is better.” Simply put, Lord Stern is saying that people will need to turn vegetarian if the world is to conquer climate change.

The article goes on to mention that we do have a significant problem and the whole world needs to readjust its thinking on this to at least reduce a major problem we face as a race. Obviously the meat industry sector reacted to this announcement by Lord Stern. A spokesman for National Farmers Union didn't feel that the world going vegetarian would be a solution; he also commented that the world doesn't have a methane-free cow or pig available!!!

A spokeswoman for the Vegetarian Society welcomed Lord Stern's remarks. She said, “What we choose to eat is one of the biggest factors in our personal impact on the environment. Meat uses up a lot of resources and a vegetarian diet consumes a lot less land and water. One of the best things you can do about climate change is reduce the amount of meat in your diet.”

We wonder how effective this report will be in the future, as the UN predicts that meat consumption is on course to double by the middle of the century. We are already ten years into the century. Perhaps we all need to take stock of how we can contribute to helping our planet in our daily living habits and diets, easing the demands on our resources.


So What's The Beef About Producing Beef?

So with our limited resources being valuable, is it a wise use of water to keep producing meat for the table? Well according to what is probably the most reliable and widely-accepted estimate, it takes about 20,800 litres of water to produce one kilogram of beef (2,500 gallons/pound). Newsweek once put it another way: "the water that goes into a 1,000 pound (460kg) steer would float a destroyer.”

David Pimentel, a professor of ecology and agricultural science, has just edited a new book, Ecological Integrity: Integrating Environment, Conservation and Health. He comments on the figures to the litres of water required to produce one kilogram of food as follows.

Potatoes 60 gals per lb (500 litres per kg)
Wheat 108 gals per lb (900 litres per kg)
Corn 168 gals per lb (1400 litres per kg)
Rice 229 gals per lb (1830 litres per kg)
Soybeans 2400 gals per lb (20,000 litres per kg)
Beef 12,009 gals per lb (100,000 litres per kg)

The figures for producing a pound of beef represent water which is used over 2-plus year period, since food cattle are generally slaughtered prior to 2 years old, dairy cattle may live 4 years before being turned into burgers, and free range cattle 5 or 6 years.

Professor Pimental gives indication that it takes roughly 200 times more water to produce half a kilo of beef than to produce a kilo of potatoes.

With the stack up of figures, at least on these two articles, it looks like a vegetarian diet and lifestyle will certainly ease the demand on our resources. Perhaps putting it simply, we presently water the harvest, then water the beast, and water ourselves. Why don't we just water the harvest and water ourselves. I guess we call it cutting out the middle man — ah well, the beast! It saves water — oh yes — and methane!

Based on:

Recipe of the Month

Mocha Mousse

3 c soy milk
½ c honey
2 t vanilla
4 T heaped cornflour (not wheatflour)

1 can coconut cream
4 T carob powder

2 t Caro

Blend all with 1 c of the soy milk. Once thoroughly mixed, add remaining milk. Heat to thicken but do not boil. Cool in fridge to set.

• Replace cornflour with 3 T Psyllium powder to thicken. You will not need to cook it, just blend a little longer and pour into dish and it will thicken as it sits.
• Also try placing chopped banana or pear in bottom of dish before
pouring in the mousse.