October 1 marks the 41st annual World Vegetarian Day and the start of Vegetarian Awareness month.
The annual occasion was founded in 1977 by the North American Vegetarian Society and was endorsed by the International Vegetarian Union in 1978 to entice omnivores "to give meatless fare a try (even for a day)" and to commend those with "healthy, compassionate food choices."
People avoid—or eat less—meat and animal products for many reasons, including health, ethical and/or environmental reasons. As the organizers of World Vegetarian Day tout on their website: "You will be helping to create a better world because vegetarian diet[s] have proven health benefits, save animals' lives and help to preserve the Earth."
Jasmijn de Boo, the director of ProVeg International, the world's largest vegetarian organization, recently spoke with BBC World Service about the conscious eating movement and how the livestock industry contributes to numerous forms of environmental degradation.
"We see two trends happening globally," de Boo said. "One is that people are more interested in healthy eating and have more of a conscious awareness of animal suffering and the environmental impact of livestock farming, so people are making different choices for what they eat."
"At the same time," she continued, "we do see that there is population growth and that some of the developing countries are consuming more animal products, but it is unsustainable and an increasing number of studies show that it's very, very damaging for the environment and that global climate change is massively impacted by livestock farming."
The climate impact of eating meat includes deforestation from soybean production to feed pork, poultry and dairy cows, as well as the methane emissions from manure and livestock rumination, de Boo explained.
#WorldVegetarianDay I just got interviewed by BBC World Service ;) Governments, companies and private and public se… https://t.co/40zyjulVp0— Jasmijn de Boo (@Jasmijn de Boo)1538388335.0
The percentage of Americans who have 100 percent meat-free diets has not changed much in the last 20 years, according to a Gallup poll last month, in which 5 percent of respondents said they are vegetarian, and 3 percent said they are vegan.
However, "flexitarian," "climatarian" and "reducetarian" diets—in which people occasionally or rarely eat meat or animal products—have become movements where people are working towards goals of improving the health of their bodies and the planet, as wrote Brian Kateman for The Atlantic.
For instance, the global Meatless Monday movement, which was founded back in 2003, is now practiced by millions in more than 40 countries. Additionally, the U.S. plant-based "fake meat" sector has boomed into a $5 billion industry due to the public's increasing appetite for healthier, more humane and environmentally sustainable food products.
The organizers of World Vegetarian Day are challenging non-vegetarians to abstain from meat for the day, and even throughout the month. Those who make the pledge to go meat-free during the month of October, even if it's just for a day, can enter to win a drawing for $1,000.
For more information, check out these articles about the environmental impact of the livestock industry and why a plant-based diet can be good for people, animals and the planet:
Comprehensive Animal Protein Study Compares Environmental Impacts: "A study said that avoiding meat and dairy is probably the single best consumer choice you can make for the environment."
New Drone Footage Exposes the Horrors of Factory Farming: "Nearly all animals raised and slaughtered for food in the U.S. live in factory farms—facilities that treat animals as mere production units and show little regard for the natural environment or public health."
15 Best Protein Alternatives to Meat Besides Tofu: "Do you hate tofu? Or are you just plain sick of it? Check out these 15 tasty alternatives to both meat and tofu that will make you smack your lips in delight."
Which Is Worse for the Planet: Beef or Cars? "Livestock emissions make up anywhere between 14.5 and 18 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Comparably, the transportation sector is responsible for around 14 percent of emissions. By those numbers alone, our current system of meat production is extremely damaging."
Mounting Evidence Shows Eating Less Meat = Healthy People, Healthy Planet: "A new systematic review of dietary patterns and sustainability published in the latest edition of Advances in Nutrition provides additional evidence that diets lower in animal-based foods and higher in plant-based foods are better for the health of people and the planet."
9 Health Benefits of Going Vegan: "There are science-backed benefits of opting for a vegan lifestyle. Researchers have found that a healthy vegan diet is something worth considering."
Celebrate World Meat-Free Week for a Healthy Planet and a Healthy You https://t.co/mHM5NaUzQz @OrganicConsumer… https://t.co/ZGhj5V4ium— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1528818576.0
By Simon Montlake
For more than a decade, Susan Jane Brown has been battling to stop a natural gas pipeline and export terminal from being built in the backcountry of Oregon. As an attorney at the nonprofit Western Environmental Law Center, she has repeatedly argued that the project's environmental, social, and health costs are too high.
All that was before this month's deadly wildfires in Oregon shrouded the skies above her home office in Portland. "It puts a fine point on it. These fossil fuel projects are contributing to global climate change," she says.
Moderates Feeling the Heat<p>If elected, Mr. Biden has vowed to stop new drilling for oil and gas on federal land and in federal waters and to rejoin the 2015 Paris climate accord that President Donald Trump gave notice of quitting. He would reinstate Obama-era regulations of greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, the largest component of natural gas.</p><p>The Biden climate platform also states that all federal infrastructure investments and federal permits would need to be assessed for their climate impacts. Analysts say such a test could impede future LNG plants and pipelines, though not those that already have federal approval. </p><p>Climate change activists who pushed for that language say much depends on who would have oversight of federal agencies that regulate the industry. Some are wary of Biden's reliance on advice from Obama-era officials, including former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who is now on the board of Southern Company, a utility, and a former Obama environmental aide, Heather Zichal, who has served on the board of Cheniere Energy, an LNG exporter. </p>
The Push for U.S. Fuel Exports<p>As vice president, Biden was part of an administration that pushed hard for global climate action while also promoting U.S. oil and gas exports to its allies and trading partners. As fracking boomed, Obama ended a 40-year ban on crude oil exports. In Europe, LNG was touted both as an alternative to coal and as strategic competition with Russian pipelines.</p><p>That much, at least, continued with President Trump. Under Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the agency referred to liquified U.S. hydrocarbons as "<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/29/us/freedom-gas-energy-department.html" target="_blank">freedom gas</a>."</p><p>Mr. Trump has also championed the interests of coal, oil, and gas while denigrating the findings of government climate scientists. He rejected the Paris accord as unfair to the U.S. and detrimental to its economy, but has offered no alternative path to emissions cuts. </p><p>Still, Trump's foreign policy has not always served the LNG industry: Tariffs on foreign steel drove up pipeline costs, and a trade war with China stayed the hand of Chinese LNG importers wary of reliance on U.S. suppliers. </p><p>Even his regulatory rollbacks could be a double-edged sword. By relaxing curbs last month on methane leaks, the U.S. has ceded ground to European regulators who are drafting emissions standards that LNG producers are watching closely. "That's a precursor of fights that will be fought in all the rest of the developed world," says Mr. Hutchison. </p><p>Indeed, some oil-and-gas exporters had urged the Trump administration not to abandon the tougher rules, since they undercut their claim to offer a cleaner-burning way of producing heat and electricity. "U.S. LNG is not going to be able to compete in a world that's focused on methane emissions and intensity," says Erin Blanton, a senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. </p>
Stepping on the Gas<p>In July, the Department of Energy issued an export license to Jordan Cove's developer, Canada's Pembina Pipeline Corp. In a statement, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said the project would provide "reliable, affordable, and cleaner-burning natural gas to our allies around the world."</p><p>As a West Coast terminal, Jordan Cove offers a faster route to Asia where its capacity of 7.8 million tons of LNG a year could serve to heat more than 15 million homes. At its peak, its construction would also create 6,000 jobs, the company says, in a stagnant corner of Oregon.</p><p>But the project still lacks multiple local and state permits, and its biggest asset – a Pacific port – has become its biggest handicap, says Ms. Blanton. "They are putting infrastructure in a state where there's no political support for the pipeline or the terminal, unlike in Louisiana or Texas," she says. </p><p>Ms. Brown, the environmental lawyer, says she wants to see Jordan Cove buried, not just mothballed until natural gas prices recover. But she knows that it's only one among many LNG projects and that others will likely get built, even if Biden is elected in November, despite growing evidence of the harm caused by methane emissions. </p>
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