Omnivores: More Dangerous Than SUVs

As someone who tries earnestly to be a better citizen of the planet (car-sharing, cloth grocery bags, no printing stuff unless it’s required, turning off faucet when brushing teeth/sudsing hands, obsessive recycling, impressive amounts of reusing, not so good on the “reducing”…sorry), I tend to fume at SUV-drivers and not bat an eyelash at my carnivorous and omnivorous peers, even though I am well aware of all the statistics which Esprit, Sting and other organizations drilled in to me in the 90s regarding how many acres or gallons of water beef requires blah blah blah.

Well, apparently I can’t give H3s dirty looks any more.

Via The New York Times:

EVER since “An Inconvenient Truth,” Al Gore has been the darling of environmentalists, but that movie hardly endeared him to the animal rights folks. According to them, the most inconvenient truth of all is that raising animals for meat contributes more to global warming than all the sport utility vehicles combined.
The biggest animal rights groups do not always overlap in their missions, but now they have coalesced around a message that eating meat is worse for the environment than driving. They and smaller groups have started advertising campaigns that try to equate vegetarianism with curbing greenhouse gases.

Oy, I don’t see this going over well with the public at all. Amurricans love their flesh. They like to eat meat, too.

Some backlash against this position is inevitable, the groups acknowledge, but they do have scientific ammunition. In late November, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization issued a report stating that the livestock business generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined.

That sound you heard was my mind being blown. I knew raising animals was less than ideal, I never realized that it was worse than driving, let alone all types of transportation combined! SWEET. I can go back to having naughty dreams about the Veyron, sans shame or guilt. Anyone know how to type that sound Homer makes when he’s contemplating donuts or other yummy things? Because I’m totally doing that right now.

When that report came out, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and other groups expected their environmental counterparts to immediately hop on the “Go Veggie!” bandwagon, but that did not happen. “Environmentalists are still pointing their fingers at Hummers and S.U.V.’s when they should be pointing at the dinner plate,” said Matt A. Prescott, manager of vegan campaigns for PETA.

In a move which makes me feel confused and anxious, PETA has decided to drum up awareness by plastering a banner festooned with this new, urgent, “Meat is (Earth’s) Murder”-message on a Hummer, which will tool around my town, complete with a chicken in the cockpit. Well, it’s a driver in a chicken suit who will be in the cockpit, and not an actual specimen of poultry, but what I want to know is, why not a Rooster suit? Why don’t men get any respect?

“You just cannot be a meat-eating environmentalist,” said Mr. Prescott, whose group also plans to send billboard-toting trucks to the Colorado Convention Center in Denver when Mr. Gore lectures there on Oct. 2. The billboards will feature a cartoon image of Mr. Gore eating a drumstick next to the tagline: “Too Chicken to Go Vegetarian? Meat Is the No. 1 Cause of Global Warming.”

The Humane Society is also on board, since it worries about polar bears as well as puppies:

On its Web page and in its literature, the Humane Society has also been highlighting other scientific studies — notably, one that recently came out of the University of Chicago — that, in essence, show that “switching to a plant-based diet does more to curb global warming than switching from an S.U.V. to a Camry,” said Paul Shapiro, senior director of the factory farming campaign for the Humane Society…“Our mission is to protect animals, and global warming has become an animal welfare issue,” he said.

And switching from a Camry to a MINI will do more to curb boredom. Bow down before the mighty Cooper S, I say!

Let’s hear from a spokesperson for Gore:

Chris Song, his deputy press secretary, simply noted that a suggestion to “modify your diet to include less meat” appears on Page 317 of Mr. Gore’s book version of “An Inconvenient Truth.”
He did not address Mr. Gore’s personal food choices.

An activist quoted in the article rightly mentions that “it’s a lot easier to ask people to put in a fluorescent light bulb than to learn to cook with tofu”, and to that I say, uh…yeah. Tofu scares the Madagascar out of the picky and unadventurous (read: me). It IS easier to swap a bulb for a more energy-efficient one, take metro instead of a car or use one of the handy cloth bags which are now all over Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, for groceries.

Aside: those of you who scored this are on my “I’m so jealous”-list. I will console myself by marinating in haterade, since the bags aren’t made of anything organic, weren’t fair trade and obviously used icky, poo-ey airline miles to get to us from China. Ha! You may have the bag, but I have my obnoxious, envy-tinged righteousness. ;)

Off-aside: food is very personal, and I’m not sure how successful these efforts will be, but I don’t think there’s any harm in educating people about the impact our diets have on our bodies and on the world.

162 thoughts on “Omnivores: More Dangerous Than SUVs

  1. I am an Omnivore and I am more dangerous than any SUV. I hail from Spartamukku in South India. Right from childhood we are trained to hunt, kill, and maim with no remorse. All the grown men in our tribe sport phenomenal six-packs and wear black leather underpants and nothing else. We have no fear, in fact, when faced with death, we laugh at it. I still remember being asked to go into the mountains and kill a hungry Wolf much bigger than me, as part of my initiation when I was nine years old; a task I accomplished with distinction. Village-elders fondly recall the time when 300 men from our village defeated the North Indian Armada of millions. These days Spartamukku is a peaceful place; but, we are prepared and fearlessly dangerous as ever before. SPAARTTAMUKKAANNZZ… HOOO HOOO HOOO.

  2. HOld on a moment here…this article doesn’t make any sense at all. If everyone stopped eating meat there’s going to be more cows and lambs walking around and farting which isn’t going to help in reducing greenhouse gases. It makes more sense for everyone to start eating meating like there’s no tomorrow, that will do reduce the population of livestock and help the environment.

    So the message should be, if you want to be a good environmentalist, start doubling or tripling your meat intake. We need all the vegetarians and vegans on this environmental mission ;)

  3. I second Sudan’s suggestion. I have a similar innovative solution for the world poverty. Instead of distributing food in poor regions, lets distribute guns. Poor will kill each other and there will be less poverty.

    NRA is already out there helping in conserving the environment . Lets get their help in eliminating world poverty…

  4. Hmmm…I don’t second fittycents suggestion. That NRA suggestion makes more logical sense in PETA’s elimination of green house gases proposal.

  5. Some US beef information:

    • most commercial beef is corn fed (farm subsidies, etc)
    • cows cannot digest corn properly (probably leading to more gas)
    • 12% to 32% of cows develop liver abscesses
      (source: http://jas.fass.org/cgi/content/abstract/76/1/287)
    • since cows cannot eat so much corn and stay alive, they receive lots of antibiotics

    Michael Pollan’s 2002 New York Times magazine article titled Power Steer has details on much of this. A quick google search showed that someone copied the article:

    http://www.mindfully.org/Food/Power-Steer-Pollan31mar02.htm

  6. so he sent Clinton and Gore,
    and then he sent Anna,
    vegan and wise.

    Anna is not a vegan. There are six kinds of cheese and two types of milk in the bunker fridge.

  7. Several people mentioned that meat-eating would be more environmentally sound if people bought meat that was produced locally. I just noticed a great recent article in the Texas Observer related to this topic. Apparently “going local” may not be more energy efficient than sourcing food from places where it is more easily produced:

    http://www.texasobserver.org/article.php?aid=2564

    I had recently traveled in Guatemala where corn grows like weeds with little need for irrigation due to the regular tropical rain showers. It also has a much longer growing season than in the cold mid-west climates where American corn is grown. Yet American government policy has been to prop up and subsidize American corn growers (with corn being an important component of livestock feed and used in many different food products – e.g. soda), keeping foreign corn out. Is that a good idea – environmentally, politically, socially? I would have to do more research, but I can’t imagine that it is.

  8. Yet American government policy has been to prop up and subsidize American corn growers (with corn being an important component of livestock feed and used in many different food products – e.g. soda), keeping foreign corn out. Is that a good idea – environmentally, politically, socially? I would have to do more research, but I can’t imagine that it is.

    Yeah, we need to stop babying our farmers.

  9. What I’m saying is that converting from raising factory farm animals for slaughter is not intrisically less energy-intensive (or carbon-neutral) than forcing the growth of certain crops in the same area.

    I hear you Camille, but that just doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe I am just slow or not thinking in terms of directly replacing animal farms with soy farms in the same area.

    Anyway I need a nice juicy burger but alas I promised someone to go veggie!

  10. Ok…24/7… on post #40… that is one of the worst and very misinformed posts I have read for the simple fact that you obviously have not read any Bernard Hopkins interviews. B-Hop has for years eaten fish, chicken, eggs, and is also known to mix up his own protein shakes. It is PORK that he does not eat because of his muslim religious beliefs. He does consume a good amount of veggies, fruits, etc. However I have also read an interview where he was eating pancakes (albeit without almost any syrup) and orange juice… which though better than most choices are still processed foods. So, if he was eating those foods alone w/out any solid protein, sorry… that wouldn’t even be a good ‘vegan’ diet. And about the model comment, sorry. I know of a Guess model, Kristin Garcia who never had a problem eating steak. And what about the Men’s Health Models like Gregg Avedon who sport a much healthier physique than many of the string-bean models. Too many generalizations and not enough fact.