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Animal House: A diet for the climate

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. - Lynn Curwin
TRURO, N.S. —

One of the most effective things people can do if they’re really concerned about the climate is to adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet. 
Plant-based proteins require less land, water, and energy; and result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions than meat.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report stated the high consumption of meat and dairy produce is fuelling global warming.
It takes up to seven kilograms of grain, and thousands of litres of water, to produce one kilogram of meat, so feeding plant-based products to people is more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Factory farms, with animals relying on high-energy feed and often on medication to combat the diseases spread in overcrowded situations, cause the most damage.
In some places, wild areas are being destroyed to create land for grazing livestock. This results in loss of habitat for wildlife.
Joseph Poore, an environmental researcher at the University of Oxford, said adopting a vegan diet is, “the most powerful change that most people can make in their lives to reduce their environmental impact.”
He stated about 25,000 species are threatened with extinction, a large number of them because of agriculture.
“We’re going to keep seeing a rapid loss of tropical forests. We’ve lost an area in the last 15 years the size of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain and Portugal combined.
We’re going to keep seeing that loss if we don’t address our diets.”
He said a diet change has a much bigger impact than cutting down on flights or buying an electric car.
Green and Social Democrat politicians in Germany have been pushing for an increase in the sales tax on meat to help fight global warming and fund animal welfare improvements.
A study in Germany found people who were vegetarians and preferred organic food produced carbon dioxide equivalent to a 281 km car trip during one year, while those who ate meat, based on factory farming, produced carbon dioxide equivalent to driving 4,758 km.
Factory farms are not only detrimental when it comes to the environment, but also when looking at animal welfare. Animals in factory farms exist in crowded conditions that result in stress and the spread of disease. 
For those who choose not to give up meat, eating less of it and ensuring what they do eat doesn’t come from factory farms is a positive step for the environment and animals.
 

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