DawnWatch: Superb Audubon article on meat and global warming
The current issue of Audubon magazine includes a terrific
and accidentally animal friendly column about the impact
of diet on the environment. Why do I write accidentally
animal friendly? While there is a common assumption
that environmentalists are concerned with animal suffering,
the assumption is too often false. The Audubon Society
is the perfect case in point. In Thanking the Monkey I refer
to the group as the "Audubowhunt Society" as my tribute
to the method that was chosen to remove 60 deer who
were damaging Audubon's 285 acre reserve. While the
decision to remove the deer may be a more complex
ethical issue, there is no ethical grey area around bow
hunting. The percentage of clean kills is low, with at least
one study documenting that only 50% of deer shot in
bow hunts are recovered by the hunter. Bow hunting is
not a practice that shows concern for animal suffering.
The Audubon society, however, like many environmental
groups, helps save countless millions of animals as it
protects their habitat. So like the article featured in this
DawnWatch alert, the group is accidentally animal friendly --
just as one might say that many people who chose a
plant-based diet strictly for ethical reasons find
themselves accidentally fantastically healthy!
The article, in the Viewpoint section, is headed "The Low-
Carbon Diet" and sub-headed, "Change your lightbulbs?
Or your car? If you want to fight global warming, it's time
to consider a different diet." The writer, Mike Tidwell,
discusses in length how much he loves the taste of meat.
And he writes:
"My carnivore's lust goes beyond the DNA level. It's in
my soul. Even the cruelty of factory farming doesn't
temper my desire, I'll admit. Like most Americans, I
can somehow keep at bay all thoughts of what happened
to the meat prior to the plate."
Then he proposes a change in diet that mercifully
could spare billions of animals the horrors of factory
farming and the slaughterhouse, even though that is
not the concern that drives him.
"So why in the world am I a dedicated vegetarian? Why
is meat, including sumptuous pork, a complete stranger
to my fork at home and away? The answer is simple: I
have an 11-year-old son whose future—like yours and
mine—is rapidly unraveling due to global warming.
And what we put on our plates can directly accelerate
or decelerate the heating trend."
In the discussion that follows we read about the melting
of the Antarctic sheet. We are told that warming
greenhouse gasses from livestock constitute "more
than the emissions of all the world's cars, buses, planes,
and trains combined." We learn that "half of all the
grains grown in America actually go to feed animals,
not people" and "that means a huge fraction of the
petroleum-based herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers
applied to grains, plus staggering percentages of all
agricultural land and water use, are put in the service
Tidwell writes, "Here's the inconvenient truth about
meat and dairy products: If you eat them, regardless
of their origin and how they were produced, you
significantly contribute to climate change. Period. If
your beef is from New Zealand or your own backyard,
if your lamb is organic free-range or factory farmed,
it still has a negative impact on global warming....
Even poultry, while less harmful, also contributes."
Tidwell tells us that many Americans seem to think
that giving up meat is not an achievable aim, yet
"But as a meat lover at heart, I've been a vegetarian
(no fish, minimal eggs and cheese) for seven years,
and trust me: It's easy, satisfying, and of course super
healthy. With the advent of savory tofu, faux meats,
and the explosion of local farmers' markets, a life
without meat is many times easier today than when
Ovid and Thoreau and Gandhi and Einstein did it."
The article is one of the most succinct and compelling
I have read about the impact of animal product
consumption on the environment. Please check it
out and spread the word. You'll find it on line at:
Then please thank the Audubon society for turning its
attention to this vital issue of environmental protection.
While Tidwell has written that the cruelty of factory
farming never tempered his desire for meat, other
Audubon members who read the magazine may feel
differently, so please do include a reference to the
moral issue of animal cruelty if you are so moved. If
you are new to animal advocacy and know little about
factory farming, please go to Farm Sanctuary's site
www.FactoryFarming.com to learn more and to see the
photos, which will tell you more than I ever could on
the written page.
The Audubon Magazine takes letters at
firstname.lastname@example.org and asks that you include your
name, city and state.
Yours and the animals',
(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch
that looks at animal issues in the media and
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Please go to http://tinyurl.com/9mve9r if you would
like to see an NBC news piece on Karen Dawn's new
book, "Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way
we Treat Animals" or go to
www.ThankingtheMonkey.com for reviews and a
fun celeb-studded promo video.