Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day Post

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

Today is Blog Action Day and the topic is the environment. I'd been thinking about what to post for the past two weeks or so and time just flew by.

Hunger has been at the top my activist concerns lately, so I thought I might write a little about that. Many of my blog readers are already vegetarian or vegan, so I feel like I am really preaching to the choir.

Over 800 million people suffer from hunger. Yet 43% of the grain we grow, goes to feeding livestock. It takes approximately 7 pounds of corn to grow 1 pound of beef. Other animals including fish require 2-3 pounds of corn per each pound of bodyweight. This is an incredibly inefficient way to feed people. Let's link the hunger issue to the environment.

US farmed animals create 1.3 billion tons of waste per year. This roughly equal 5 tons of waste per every American. None of this goes through a water treatment like human waste. Does anyone wonder why our food and water has contamination problems? Let's also think about erosion, green house gases released by livestock, and the inefficiencies of land/water use. (It takes 100x more water to grow a pound of beef versus growing 1 pound of vegetable protein.)

Here's another factoid for you. According to National Geographic, it takes 3/4 of a gallon of oil to produce 1 pound of beef. 283 gallons of oil are used to raise one cow.

One more tidbit that I ripped off from GoVeg, "According to the USDA and the United Nations, using an acre of land to raise cattle for slaughter yields 20 pounds of usable protein. That same acre would yield 356 pounds of protein if soybeans were grown instead—more than 17 times as much!"

Can you really be an omnivore and an environmentalist? For that matter, how can you not feel selfish eating a quarter pound hamburger that cost 1.75 pounds of grain to grow when people are starving? If you didn't do the math, the burger also required almost a 1/5 of a gallon of oil to produce. Next time you complain about gas prices, think about your food choices. In general grains and veggies require 1/18 the amount of fuel that livestock requires.

Other topics I considered writing about...

What exactly do carbon credits get you? If you drive an SUV and buy carbon credits, are you really helping? One of the sustainability leaders at my company says they do enough for the environment in other parts of their life and that they are buying carbon credits to offset the effects of their SUV. What if everyone just bought carbon credits, but didn't make changes?

Biofuels like ethanol actually aren't carbon neutral.

For an interesting read re: carbon credits and biofuels check out:

http://www.i-sis.org.uk/BiofuelsBiodevastationHunger.php

or check out this cool article on salon.com about carbon credits.

http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2007/07/02/carbon_credits/index2.html


Also, some of the facts or ideas above were taken from an awesome pamphlet called 101 Reasons Why I'm Vegetarian. You can learn much more about environmental, ethical, health, and socio-economic reasons why veg is really the way to go. The extensive footnotes list gives you tons of reading and learning opportunities.

If you wrote a Blog Action Day post today, drop me a line so I can read what you had to say!

6 comments:

bazu said...

So much to think about in this post. I think a lot of mainstream people who think about food and justice and the environment kind of stop at the "humanely raised meat" argument. Leaving aside the fact that I don't know what "humane" meat is, and suspect it doesn't exist, the most important thing is what you mentioned- how much usable food do you get from a set amount of farm space? A lot of times, the figures for raising animals are artificially high because they count the whole weight of the animal- even the bones, skin, sinew, innards, etc. that we don't eat. That's why your quote is so informative- how much *food* comes to us from farming animals vs. plants? Thanks for putting all this info. together!

VeggieGirl said...

I can't say it any better than Bazu, above - your post is very insightful, and brings up a lot of questions and "harsh realities" that STILL need to be addressed by the general public, in order to make positive changes for the environment. Wonderful post, Jody!

And thank you for your comment on my blog - I highly recommend making the hemp squares!!

Vegan_Noodle said...

Liked your post a lot Jody. I was unaware of the amount of hydrocarbon neccesary to produce beef, figured it was high, but it's always interesting to see an actual number. These are the kinds of numbers that get people thinking. I always want to ask all of the prius drivers I see at whole foods (nothing against priuses, I like them) if they are vegan. Of course I would want to yell at them if they weren't so I don't do that...
Good point about biofuels, I think many people think they are the solution to everything when that's hardly the case (at least from the point of view of someone in the energy industry...)

Veg*Triathlete said...

Great post, Jodi! Well researched. I just read this on the Huffington post & thought it would fit in with your discussion here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frances-moore-lappe-and-anna-lappe/the-right-to-food-means-f_b_68564.html

Johanna3 said...

i blog too!! great post friend!

Kalesy said...

Ack! I'm late in commenting. But yesterday there was a really thoughtprovoking OnPoint (www.onpointradio.org 10/22) regarding biofuels and alternative energy. Also some great commenters mentioning that if we really want to reduce fuel consumption, we need to reduce meat consumption.

Great post Jody!