A key sector in that must-change economy is agriculture, which contributes 15 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, with meat and dairy production responsible for 60 percent of that output: methane from animal flatulence, nitrous oxide from manure, and carbon dioxide from working the land used to raise livestock. The largest-ever study of farming’s costs, published in the journal Science months before the U.N. report, found that the most sustainable beef production still spews six times more greenhouse gases than growing peas, and a similar factor more than tofu, nuts and beans.
Lead researcher Joseph Poore told The Guardian that “a vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use. It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car.”
But even universal vegetarianism, short of veganism, would slash emissions, and like veganism could yield other environmental benefits. (Eating mussels and oysters — so-called ostraveganism -- generally avoids despoiling our waters.)
Poore is hardly alone in advocating plant-eating. Environmental entrepreneur Paul Hawken surveyed researchers to make a list of the 100 most important things we can do to fight climate change. Eating plants clocked in at No. 4.
Still, utopianism, like diet, is another area in which I part ways with some progressive. I no more expect my former, liberal landlord to give up his taste for foie gras than I expect Trump to give up Twitter. But it shouldn’t be too much to ask carnivores who claim concern for the Earth to at least limit their meat-eating, as thoughtful ones have.
Even if we don’t abolish beef and dairy production completely, Poore said that replacing just the most environmentally damaging production with plant-based food would convey two-thirds of the environmental benefits of outright abolition.
More people eating less meat might goose our politics into changing as well. Increased demand for produce might encourage the zeroing out of federal farm subsidies — corporate welfare that goes to a few favored commodity crops — and diverting some of the savings to fruit and vegetable farms, which now get few subsidies. That would make the planet, and our bodies, healthier.
I’m all for other collective efforts, from taxing carbon (which progressives support) to improving and keeping online existing nuclear plants (which many myopically oppose). Other worthy steps include amending government diet guidelines and applauding efforts by food service companies and others to cut back on meat.
Republican climate change deniers, in headlong flight from reality and responsibility, are bad enough. Given the undeniable benefits of curbing meat consumption, progressives should remember that any excuse for ignoring our warming planet, be it outright denial or “pass the lamb chops,” should be unacceptable.
Source : http://www.wbur.org/cognoscenti/2018/10/19/vegetarian-ipcc-report-rich-barlow584