Monday, July 09, 2007

Going Veg?

On the evening of July 7, I watched the Live Earth concert coverage with my family. I appreciated the concert, even given the self-contradictions it seemed to embody. (My brother offered some apt critiques here.) I think I appreciated the extent to which the concerts must have served to raise awareness, especially among young people. I think to whatever extent we can get the concepts of global warming and environmental responsibility to be familiar concepts, then change will happen more broadly and effectively. When Gore was interviewed on the night of the concert, he talked about Live Earth being only a beginning, a launch event for a global movement. The excitement generated by the concerts may raise hope and motivation for that movement. And if that's the case, then I'm grateful for it.

Near the end of the evening, I logged onto the Live Earth website and spent a good bit of time clicking through their lists of suggestions. (You can find them listed in the box titled "even more suggestions" on this page.) Their suggestion No. 31 is "Eat your Veggies" and includes this startling paragraph:

"The gases coming from cow's rears are even worse, greenhouse-warming-wise, than ol' CO2. Enteric fermentation--the ruminants' digestive process--produces flatulence, a.k.a. methane, while manure releases nitrous oxide. Even more emissions come from collateral effects: deforestation for pasture, fertilizers for feed crops, and energy to run meatpacking plants."

This made me more curious, so I visited the PETA-sponsored website (linked from the Live Earth site). I eventually viewed this video. WARNING: This video contains graphic images of animals being abused and slaughtered. Not suitable for children. And may be more than you can stomach.

Watch more videos at

I've flirted with vegetarianism a few times in my life. The only time I made a strong commitment to it was the semester I lived in Oregon, almost twenty years ago now. (My gosh, is that true?!) At the time, I had a problem keeping weight on. And there were fewer alternatives available for vegetarians. So once I returned to the East Coast, my commitment eventually waned.

I think I've always thought of vegetarianism as a matter of personal preference. But I'm beginning to think of it differently now: as a matter of justice, a way of right-living, a commitment to walking lightly on the earth. It seems, in fact, that becoming vegetarian can be one of the single-most effective ways to make a tangible, positive difference on this planet. Such opportunities are so rare that I feel as though I ought to pay attention to it.

The struggle, for me, would be how to live this out while being the food-preparer for my family. I don't feel right making this decision for my partner and my son: it seems like a choice they would have to come to for themselves. D is --as always-- very supportive of whatever decision I make with this. So I guess together we would need to figure it out.

I'll keep you posted.

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