Is being Vegan really better for the environment?

Jenni - posted on 08/12/2010 ( 18 moms have responded )

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One arguement is that cows produce greenhouse gases in the form of methane. But doesn't chopping down trees, using pesticides, destroying natural habitats for agriculture harm the environment just as much? I live in an area where the main agriculture is soybeans.

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Sharon - posted on 08/13/2010

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I live in grazing land. These cows are fed nothing unless something happens to the grazing land, like a massive fire, like a few years ago. These cows eat what nature produces. I see the ranch hands come out every month to check the feed lots for cows doing poorly and to make sure the water tanks are doing ok. They may come out more often but thats about how often I see them.

People want to blame COWS for methane? What about factories? If we forced those $$$ greedy bastard to muffle their exhausts - how much less of an impact would cow methane have?

You can't can or preserve what you can't grow. It also takes quite a bit of time and some knowledge if you don't exploding jars in your cabinets.

Jodi - posted on 08/12/2010

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One question one must ask is, are Vegans only eating seasonally? I doubt it in many cases. Eating something out of season will contribute greater impact on the environment in various ways too. It's all good to claim you are vegan, but unless you can also claim to only eat seasonal vegetables, then you really don't have a leg to stand on :)

Caitlin - posted on 08/12/2010

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it's not really comparable, it's hard to say. Also, your numbers Laci as for the states, and I live in Canada, things are a bit different up here (at least in our province). We don't use any eggs or egg product in our house due to allergies, milk is rarely used(in cooking, the hubby and I drink it) for the same reason. We don't eat beef - also allergies, but we do eat quite a bit of chicken and pork. I know where my meat comes from, I know when I have dairy products it is antibiotic and hormone free (all dairy is here). When I buy beef, it's from the local butcher shop, and I know where they get their meat, it's from local farms and the cows do graze in spring/summer/fall. I guess it depends on where you are from, but we are all destroying the world. I had someone get on my case for driving in the city.. Maybe that's cause I can't take my kids into town on public transport, it's just not acessible out here (takes over 2 hours to get into the city and it's a pain to get a double stroller on a mini bus (never tried it personally, but you can't fit a wheelchair in there either, so you can't fit my stroller.)

LaCi - posted on 08/12/2010

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Here's a nice breakdown of it.



"According to a 2005 University of Chicago study, a lacto-ovo vegetarian emits far less greenhouse gas than a counterpart adhering to the standard, meat-rich American diet—the difference is equivalent to around 1.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, assuming the same daily caloric intake. (The study's authors thus claim that going vegetarian has the same effect on carbon dioxide emissions as switching from a Chevrolet Suburban to a Toyota Camry.) The savings mostly come about because of the disparity between the fossil fuel required to produce a calorie's worth of grain vs. that needed to make a calorie's worth of beef; grain is nearly a dozen times more efficient in this regard. Cattle are also a huge source of methane, a particularly noxious greenhouse gas; it's estimated that bovines are responsible for roughly triple the methane emissions of the American coal industry.



Yet lacto-ovo vegetarians still derive about 14 percent of their calories from animal products. Bring that number down to zero, as strict vegans do, and you'll certainly ratchet down your carbon emissions by another several hundred pounds per year. "If we put [greenhouse gas] emissions above all else, then veganism beats lacto-ovo vegetarianism handily," says Gidon Eshel, a co-author of the University of Chicago study. "That much is clear and unequivocal."

But Eshel hastens to add—and The Lantern wholeheartedly agrees—that your vegan acquaintance isn't necessarily some environmental saint. That's because direct carbon dioxide emissions are only part of the story when it comes to food's eco-impact. You also have to look at the issue of land use—specifically how much and what sort of land is required to sustain an agricultural enterprise. In a region with poor-to-mediocre soil, for example, it may be more efficient to operate a well-managed egg farm than to try growing vegetables that can't flourish under such conditions. And animals are handy at consuming low-quality grain that isn't necessarily fit for human consumption. (Rather than going to waste, that grain can help create nutrient-rich dairy products.) In fact, a recent Cornell University study concluded that modest carnivorousness may actually be better for the environment than outright vegetarianism, since cattle can graze on inferior land not suitable for crops. Squeezing more calories out of the land means that less food needs be imported from elsewhere, thereby reducing the burning of fossil fuels."





I'm interested in veganism, currently a vegetarian. The part where it mentions cows grazing in poorly grown fields, is mostly hogwash. How many cows do we REALLY think graze? They feed them, mostly corn, which has to be grown and they aren't even supposed to be eating. I'd rather just eat the grains they grow for the cows. I also avoid pesticides, and buy local as often as possible. If I lived in africa or south america, or any other area that had a different ecosystem, I'd worry about deforestation. Here though, I live in flat fields. The alteration of our ecosystem from farming is essentially the replacement of some grass with soybeans, corn, etc. I think one needs to take their area into consideration before making the decision. But here, I feel meat-free is the way to go.

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Jenni - posted on 08/14/2010

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oh dear, i just realized i wrote "Vegan" instead of Vegetarian. My bad... still either way it's an interesting debate.

ME - posted on 08/14/2010

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I think it can be, if you buy what's local and in season...I don't think the industrial farming of corn and soybeans is good for the environment either...BUT most of the corn we grow, goes to feed the meat we eat...so, I guess that can be included in why eating meat is bad for the environment...

Caitlin - posted on 08/13/2010

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I always do my own jams, jellies, tomatoes, peaches, beets, relishes and pickles (the last 2 most of the time). It's still not possible for me to can 100% of the foods I eat over the winter...

[deleted account]

I can't comment at the moment because I'm headed out the door but I just finished reading and would love to come back to this later, therefore, I'm posting this so I can be informed....

To be continued...

LaCi - posted on 08/13/2010

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Why are we all forgetting about freezing/canning? I can eat my own tomatoes in the winter via canning... I mean, unless I was a raw foodie. Then that would pose problems and one would have to move to a different climate.

LaCi - posted on 08/12/2010

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Oh, well canada is a different story altogether.

I live in the plains, like I said before, There's not a whole lot of deforestation going on around here. No, I don't believe that fields of one plant rather than grass negatively impact my environment, and again, I said before, you have to take your own area into consideration. If I lived in hawaii I'd be eating pineapples and fish. Here, I'm eating veggies.

Jenni - posted on 08/12/2010

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Cathy S hahah! Laci... just wanted to point out that i don't think it's that people don't care and that's why they buy low priced factory meats/produce at walmart it's probably b/c they can't afford the organic foods. I do understand that cows do have a greater impact on greenhouse gases than a field. By a field of soybeans affects the environment in a different way. One that you can't really compare in numbers to how cows affect it. Apples and Oranges. One emitts GHG and other other destroys natural habitats, carbon/polutant cleansing trees and uses pesticides (expect in the case of organics which are seasonal/expensive/option isn't available to city dwellers.) Neways, i personally don't know too much on the subject just striked me as odd when i heard an animal planet commercial stating the less meat we eat the less GHG and impact we have on the planet. I thought that fields impact the environment almost or just as much (in other ways) as a cattle farm.

LaCi - posted on 08/12/2010

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Judging by vegetarianism I'd say less. Although I do belch a lot... does that produce methane?

LaCi - posted on 08/12/2010

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sure the cows you see are grazing, the cows that aren't grazing are locked in barns, that's factory farming. Same goes for all other factory farm animals. "as of 2002, there were 114,000,[19] with 80 million pigs (out of 95 million) killed each year on factory farms as of 2002, according to the U.S. National Pork Producers Council.[17] According to the Worldwatch Institute, 74 percent of the world's poultry, 43 percent of beef, and 68 percent of eggs are produced this way.[20]" Unless you know exactly where your meat/dairy is coming from, you can't say that cow grazed. I'm a fan of meat-eaters knowing that, and I respect people who do research on the farms they're supporting. But most people go to walmart, buy their low price factory farmed meats, eggs, and dairy, and don't care.



As for the locavore starving in the winter, we do tend to can and freeze goods.





I would love to have my own milk cow someday. That would be nice. And some chickens. Can't have those here though, unless I wanted chickens floating onto the highway.

Caitlin - posted on 08/12/2010

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I don't know where you are from Laci, but all the cattle farms in my area are ALWAYS grazing.. not to say they don't have other feed trays, especially in the winter, but then they feed on hay and cattle corn.

Caitlin - posted on 08/12/2010

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I read an article not too long ago which made quite a bit of sense, focusing on the agricultural effects of veganism/vegetarianism, that these huge fields are harmfult ot the environment.



My husband like saying that if we all went vegetarian and vegan, who would keep the cow population under control. We're actually doing the earth a favour by eating them (I know supply and demand things - it's mostly a joke) but seriously, if we all stopped eating them, what are you going to do to reduce the population? Cow genocide? Real "animal friendly" of them...



It's like the trend of being a locavore (only eats local produce..) it looks great on paper but when you think about it in the summer you'd be doing great, in the winter, you'd have to pop a ton of multi vitamins in this climate to get the nutrients you need..



I love it when the vegans are doing their meat is murder thing at the university, I sit down right in front of them and chow down on a huge burger..



I'd love to learn this on guitar and and a "sing in" right next to them whenever they do it.. I guess you'd call me a poop disturber..



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ov5Jgw_Nw...

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