What do Tony Robbins, Albert Einstein, George Bernard Shaw, Pamela Lee Anderson, Socrates, Pythagoras, Dr. Albert Schweitzer, Gandhi, Tomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Henry David Thoreau, Voltaire, Isaac Newton, Leonardo Da Vinci, Plato, Carl Lewis, Martina Navratilová, Aristotle and Brenda Vongova all have in common? They are all earth-friendly vegetarians.
Adopting the vegetarian diet brings you one step closer to saving the environment. Although the health and moral arguments for the vegetarian diet are oftentimes controversial, the environmental arguments are more persuasive. The following are only a couple facts about the environmental prices of consuming a Big Mac. However, they will forever change the way you look at a slab of dead meat on your plate.
-Meat consumption in this world contributes to global warming: Two hundred gallons of fossil fuels are burned to produce the beef currently consumed by the average family in America. Meanwhile, for every quarter pound of rainforest beef, five hundred pounds of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere.1
-Intensive agriculture requires large amounts of fossil fuel and water resources, which leads to harmful emissions of gases and chemicals into the environment. These emissions include methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide. Meat production is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases; it is responsible for nearly twenty percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions as measured in carbon dioxide equivalents.2
-According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), meat production accounts for thirty percent of the earth’s surface, contributing more to global warming than all existing vehicles in this world combined.3
-For every US citizen, livestock produces approximately ten thousand pounds of solid manure. This is a problem that pollutes our waterways.4
-Above all, there exists the humanitarian argument. The vegetarian is not only one step closer to saving the environment, but also one step closer to ending world hunger. The amount of land, food, water, and energy used to raise ten billion animals a year for consumption could be used to grow food for all the starving people in this world. In a world where a child dies of starvation every two seconds, fourteen times as many people could be fed by using the same land currently reserved for feed.5 It is shocking to realize that if Americans simply reduced their meat consumption by ten percent, enough grain would be saved to feed sixty million of these starving people.6
According to John Robbins, founder of EarthSave, only an ignorant society can continue to view the carnivorous cuisine as a status symbol.7 Now that I may have convinced you that the vegetarian diet will bring you one-step closer to saving the earth, my next challenge is to convince you that the vegetarian cuisine can be mouth-watering and exciting. The vegetarian menu is not simply composed of boring tofu and salads. In fact, it can even be decadent. Someday, I will open a restaurant in Hollywood, called Le Vegetarien Decadent, where vegetarians will never feel deprived! It is with pleasure that I share with the HBS community a preview of my menu…
The etymological study of the word “vegetarian” reveals its Latin root, vegetus, or “full of life”. Ludwig Wittgenstein once said, “The human body is the best picture of the human soul.” I suggest giving your kitchen an earth-friendly make-over session, so that it reflects your care for the environment and humanity, and becomes a picture of life.
1Susan Campbell and Todd Winant. “Food choices and the environment,” Earthsave Long Island Newsletter, Winter 1996.
2Marlow Vesterby and Kenneth S. Krupa, “Major uses of land in the United States,” Resource Economics Division, Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Statistical Bulletin No. 973.
3“Livestock’s long shadow,” UN Food and Agricultural Organization, 11 December 2006.
4US Senate Report, 1997.
6B. Resenburger, “Curb on US waste urged to help world’s hungry,” New York Times, 25 October 1974.
7John Robbins. May all be fed-Diet for a new world. Avon Books, 1992.
Le Vegetarien Decadent
Delicate organic baby lettuce with locally grown, handpicked heirloom tomatoes and walnut oil
Exotic mushrooms cooked with fresh herbs and drizzled with truffle oil
Fresh figs poached in port, cinnamon, and vanilla beans
Grapefruit, avocado, tangerine and baby spinach salad
Aragula and goat cheese with slices of exotic pears
Ripe Californian avocado slices, laced with Scotch Bonnet Hot Sauce on moist, sprouted, nutty, seedy, meal-worthy German bread
Buckwheat crepes filled with wild mushrooms, leeks, and fresh thyme
Brown rice pasta with cucumber and cashew truffle cream
Dolce banana sushi with brown rice and peanut butter
Soft tofu with fresh peanut-ginger sauce
Brazil nut eggplant balls
Plump blackberries and antioxidant-rich blueberries in organic French vanilla soy yogurt
Organic black mission figs covered with natural, Greek-rich soy yogurt
Crisp wedges of Fiji apples dipped in raw, organic almond butter
Warm Belgian dark-chocolate-covered almonds