Excellent piece by Mike Tidwell in Audubon Magazine: The Low Carbon Diet.
I was a bit concerned when Tidwell opened with the usual “confession” that so many apologias for meat eating use, a trope I’m tired of reading:
Full disclosure: I love to eat meat. I was born in Memphis, the barbecue capital of the Milky Way Galaxy. I worship slow-cooked, hickory-smoked pig meat served on a bun with extra sauce and coleslaw spooned on top.
It always feels to me like a defensive posture that ought to be unnecessary, and serves to distance the author rhetorically from the position he or she is about to take.
But the piece as a whole is actually a welcome contribution to the ongoing work of trying to get environmentally aware omnis to start thinking about the impact of their diet:
The facts speak for themselves. If we really want to fight climate change, we should change our lightbulbs and purchase hybrid cars and, above all, vote for politicians committed to a clean energy future. But we should also eat less meat, a lot less, or none at all.
Tidwell acknowledges the challenges of changing consumer behavior, and the irrational reactions people have when you break taboo and start talking to them about what they eat, but argues that the connections need to be made:
one’s ideas about food reside in the same part of the brain that houses our ideas and beliefs about religion. It’s not all rational, in other words. . . .
. . . for people to care, the climate–food discussion must be about more than just facts, more than pounds of greenhouse gases per units of food. It’s got to be about morality, about right versus wrong. And I don’t mean the usual morality of environmental “stewardship.” Or even the issue of cruelty to farm animals. I’m talking here about cruelty to people, about the explicit harm to humans that results from meat consumption and its role as a driving force in climate change. Knowingly eating food that makes you fat or harms your local fish and birds is one thing. Knowingly eating food that makes children across much of the world hungry is another.
Of course, as an ethical vegan, I think the “cruelty to farm animals” ought to have a significant impact on one’s choices too, but I’m happy to see a mainstream environmental publication take issues of food policy on directly.
I think it was a good piece, too.