Sadly, the world already has 1.5 billion vegetarians but only 75 million by choice. The rest can not afford the health giving protein and fat in meat. As they move out of poverty they will likely happily bring meat into their diets.
Bjorn Lomborg who has written a number of sensible books about climate and environment, continues to resist recognizing that mankind’s impact on the Earths temperature can not be calculated, making zero a very good default number. Perhaps he does not want to lose a significant number of his admirers. In his newest book, however, False Alarm, he does squarely take on the idea of thinking that becoming Vegan in ones eating habits could possible play any role in climate change. This is in spite of the fact that he has been a life long vegetarian, making him a particularly credible expert on the subject.
In this book he puts the lie to “the idea that if you care about the environment you should eat less meat” even though it has been commonplace in the West.
The most disgusting comment on this subject was made by Christiana Figueres former head of the UN’s climate committee who said “how about restaurants in 10-15 years start treating carnivores in the same way that smokers are treated ? If they want to eat meat, they can do it outside the restaurant.”
It is actually very difficult to be a vegetarian or a vegan who eats no products stemming from a meat animal. One major US survey showed that 85 per cent of people who decide to become vegetarians do not succeed, most in less than a year.
It is likely that a true vegan would significantly reduce their so called carbon footprint. It would mean, get this, giving up milk, eggs, honey, poultry, seafood, fur, leather, wool and gelatin among other items originating from animals. Yet the media promotes stories about reducing carbon dioxide emissions by promoting vegetarianism using data that in no way reflects reality.
An article published by the World Resource Institute in 2019 calculated that eliminating meat from your diet would reduce the personnel emissions of an individual in the industrialized world by 1,191 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. That works out to 4.2% of average emissions produced by an individual. But it really is not even that good. Vegetarian diets are usually somewhat cheaper than diets containing meat so one could expect that the money saved might well be spent on other items that produce CO2 emissions. In economics this is called the rebound effect.
But as P.T. Barnum the famous Circus impresario once said, there is a sucker born every minute and Germany proves the point.
They have 1.3 million Vegans in Germany, a country of 83 million residents. It is a small number but buying Vegan occasionally to virtue signal increases the number significantly. A recent survey at YouGov said that 63 percent of Germans do wish to reduce their meat consumption.
The Vegan label was once a symbol of eco-extremists, but now has become a symbol for “healthy” and climate friendly, whether it is or not. When one reads all the ingredients in these products, they are more likely not. Though this does not reduce their popularity.
Sales of vegan products in Germany have been increasing 30% a year for a decade. Conventional meat product producers are strengthening their bottom lines with alternatives to real meat. At the same time they happily admit that sales of real meat continue to rise. Quite surprisingly the National Association of the German Meat Industry says this is particularly true among young consumers. It would appear that in the super market the mind and stomach go in different directions. It is also clear that polls as to diets are not matched by buying habits.
While it is probably clear to most people that their eating habits could have little impact on the Earth’s thermostat, they remain concerned that man does play an important role in controlling that same thermostat. Thus, perhaps every little bit helps, sad as that might seem.
I strongly recommend the topic for dinner time conversation. It is not likely to result in a political argument while it may sharpen ones common sense.