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Guest Post: Veg*nism: A Diet of Low Hanging Fruit

by Jeremy Nagel

Jeremy is a fourth year Bachelor of Environmental Science student at Monash University (Australia). He has been vegan for four and a half years and enjoys sport, particularly running and cycling.

With the Copenhagen climate change summit ending with a generally accepted (if unratified) consensus that emissions cuts of at least 20% will be required by 2020 in order to avoid dangerous climate change, governments around the world are looking for ways to transition to a low carbon economy. It is often said that the best way to cushion the initial blow will be to ‘pick the low hanging fruit’ – ending blatantly unsustainable practices, for which there are readily available substitutes. Adopting energy efficiency initiatives, for example, could allow for as much of 29% of the US’s carbon emissions to be mitigated while generating a profit in the process.[1]

It is interesting to note that a measure that could deliver emissions reductions of a similar magnitude and could arguably be simpler to implement has not even been mentioned at the large climate talks and has received scant attention in the literature. This measure is veg*nism.

According to the UNFAO report Livestock’s Long Shadow,[2] animal husbandry contributes 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions. While it would be overly simplistic to suggest that if the world’s population went vegan overnight, the spectre of global warming would creep back into its cupboard, it is nonetheless true that a plant based diet places considerably less stress on the environment. Continue reading

Veganism and the Environment

Cows Grazing by Mt. TaranakiThere are many reasons for choosing the vegan way of life: Ethical, spiritual, environmental, and physical. My own motivations are a combination of the above, but one aspect that I would like to focus on here is the environmental consequences of meat and dairy production.

Many commentators (indeed, many of my vegan friends!) consider this to be a secondary consideration. They believe that it is the suffering of the animals concerned that must take primacy. Perhaps this is the purists’ dislike of anthropocentric considerations slipping in to what ‘should’ be a movement for the rights of animals. Perhaps it is a form of ‘green fatigue’ brought on by the recent trend to frame any lecture or article – on any subject and however strained – in terms of ‘climate change’.

Continue reading