Is Vegetarian the New Prius?

Happy Earth Day, although, I have to admit I’m with Grist on this one, one day is for amateurs, and a lifetime of excess can’t be made up for in a day any more than we can save the planet by turning the lights off for an hour.

That being said, we can’t have an Earth Day without stopping to consider how significantly industrialized farming and our diets are affecting the planet and animal welfare, in addition to the simple things we can do to change the direction things are going. 

The article Vegetarian is the New Prius appeared some time ago in the Huffington Post, and begs the question, could it be so? Considering what we know about the effects of industrialized farming on the environment it may just be, and while the article is fairly old, the material is no less relevant today.

Taking into account that agriculture is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gasses, along with being a major cause of habitat loss, water usage and pollution, and of course an insane amount of antibiotic use, which could be making us sick, it seems that drastic and immediate change is called for. Not to mention, it’s the cause of suffering of millions of animals who are slaughtered each year.

From the article, “…feeding animals for meat, dairy, and egg production requires growing some ten times as much crops as we’d need if we just ate pasta primavera, faux chicken nuggets, and other plant foods. On top of that, we have to transport the animals to slaughterhouses, slaughter them, refrigerate their carcasses, and distribute their flesh all across the country. Producing a calorie of meat protein means burning more than ten times as much fossil fuels–and spewing more than ten times as much heat-trapping carbon dioxide–as does a calorie of plant protein. …researchers found that, when it’s all added up, the average American does more to reduce global warming emissions by going vegetarian than by switching to a Prius.”

And if vegetarian is good, vegan is obviously an even better solution, and both are much simpler, and more cost effective, than buying a prius, solar panels and a composting toilet, with of course the ever so important benefit of alleviating the pain and anguish of farm animals.

If you need some inspiration, check out Farm Sanctuary’s new virtual tour that depicts the lives of farm animals and their Veg for Life campaign that includes lots of helpful tips for a veg lifestyle. 

I’d also like to recommend Robin Robertson’s Vegan Planet, along with her blog. Both are full of great and easy recipes and have yet to let me down. 

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Irene Mills
Irene Mills8 years ago

I've been vegan for about 15 years. It's often inconvenient when eating out, and I will often eat at home before joining friends in a restaurant if I know the place is vegan-indifferent. But I am the healthiest person in my circle of friends. I'm happy to know that my shopping and eating habits do not contribute to industrialized cruelty and industrialized pollution.

Cris S.
Evlin L8 years ago

Meat is like heroin...

Those that choose the fix are weak and selfish. Those strong enough to quit will be healthy and pure.

Meat is not food. It's WAS a beautiful and intelligent animal that lived a horrible and painful life, later skinned and cut up into little pieces to mask it as your dinner... Propaganda from church and state to take your money! You fell for it!

I went cold turkey off the meat about a year ago when I learned the truth. I loved the taste and smell and ate it often just as you. I am not angry with those who do not know but for those of you that do and still choose to let our precious animals suffer I give you this...

You have the power to make an unselfish decision that will save nearly a hundred animals a year and help create peace on earth.

Pande Sri S
Pande Sri S8 years ago

I have been a vegetarian since I was baby, my parents and my younger sister are also a vegetarian.

Shaju Cheeran
Shaju Cheeran8 years ago

I don't know 'why the little being[man] do these cruelties? Respect innocent animals.

Shaju Cheeran
Shaju Cheeran8 years ago

I don't know 'why the little being[man] do these cruelties? Respect innocent animals.

Alejandra V.
Alejandra Vega8 years ago

I love animals. I could not stand looking at the eyes of an animal and killing it. Eating meat should imply leaving the dirty job to another one, so I decided to stop eating every kind of meat and I don't care whether it is organic or not. I will never pay for an act of violence such as killing an animal.
There are many cultures in the world that promote a vegetarian diet as an ideal of living and anthropologists know it. They also know that every human being develop his/her beliefs' system and are able to make decisions that affect their way of life, including what they eat. It's ridiculous to compare today's choices to the remainders of our ancestors and jump to the conclusion that we should continue doing the same thing. Those that justify the privileges of the rich often say: "rich people and poor people have always existed".

Cobalt Carnation
Cobalt Carnation8 years ago

I have yet to ever hear one vegetarian say that they will force their animal companions (read dogs/cats/meat eating pets) to conform to a non-natural diet for them. Did you know that you can seriously damage the health of your animal companion by denying them their animal meats? The first ingredient in any pet food should be a meat product (beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, fish, what have you) - not a by-product or substitute but the actual meat. So, knowing this, and knowing how many animal companions there are in the world, there will always be mass-produced meat products.

Kimberly, you say all kinds of animals hunt. Humans are animals - we've just learned how to communicate, harness fire and use tools better than others for the most part. That does not mean that because some of us choose to humanely raise our meat products that we are less compassionate and less "connected to the greater good of the planet". And yes, it is possible to humanely raise animals for food, even the slaughter process can be compassionate - however it is not the usual case in big industry. That is why small farm organic is the best choice for meat - or if you can do it, do the processing yourself.

And here is a historical thing for you - every anthropologist that I have ever talked with has always said that humans have been hunters/gathers since their evolution, I don't know of any historical dig that shows a predominant vegetarian life, if someone does, I'd like to know about it.

Kimberley M.
Kimberley M8 years ago

I've heard all sides of this debate and I am opting for vegetarianism. Those of you who raise animals for food and claim they have a luxurious life -- hmmm. How is that even possible? Consider this. You are a chicken, you have a choice between being free to be your chicken self and sometimes have to avoid predators etc.OR come live in a confined space (even if it is not the huge horrible mega business - not have total freedom is still confinement) that is relatively comfortable and there is lots of good things to eat BUT in return you have to let someone cut your throat when they get hungry. Would you like to live in a luxurious condo with all the amenities and a few other humans to eat with and pass the time with - but can't go outside and then when the keepers get hungry someones comes to slit your throat so the keepers can have their craving for human meat satisfied.

And we can debate about the sacred hunt too. Here's my take. Tigers hunt, they are carnivores. All kinds of animals hunt. But have you ever seen a tiger sit down with a philosophy book, an ecology book and ponder. yet, as humans we do have that ability and we can make different choices that are healthier, more compassionate and are connected to the greater good of the planet. No meat.

Susan B.
Susan d8 years ago

Thomas - what do you think will happen to all the calves that are born so that the cows will continue to make milk?

Thomas Kirk
Past Member 8 years ago

Going vegan to save animals? Go vegan if you hate them, eventually everyone goes vegan and then we can rid of all chickens and cows because the world has no use for them anymore. Just buy free range eggs and milk, THATS ALL YOU NEED TO DO!!