On May 11, social media lit up following a tweet posted by veteran Canadian rocker Bryan Adams.
Many felt it reeked of racism, since he was blaming the Chinese diet for the novel coronavirus, and the bat angle has never been proven.
Adams later apologized, but what was missed by many of his critics was the fact he’s a vegan. He doesn’t eat meat, poultry or fish, or any product derived from them.
And it’s true that deadly viruses, such as SARS-CoV-1 and HIV, often come from animal viruses that have jumped species.
The idea that meat consumption is a major source of the world’s woes has also taken on more life in recent years because it contributes to climate change.
Statistics about the environmental impact of animal-based food production are all over the place. You can find widely varied numbers, depending on which source you look at and what the agenda might be behind it.
Take, for example, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA.
“Globally, animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gases than all the world’s transportation systems combined,” it says on its website.
This may be true, but it needs context.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates greenhouse gas emissions from transportation account for 14 per cent of the total.
Emissions from agricultural, forestry and other land use is around 25 per cent.
But that includes a lot more than simply producing food.
All told, the IPCC puts the raising of livestock responsible for anywhere from 13 to 18 per cent.
Penn State climatologist and author Michael Mann agrees agriculture as a whole is on par with transportation.
“But the claim is often made that this is true for meat alone, and that simply isn’t true,” he told The Telegram. “There’s some creative accounting that’s often done to make it sound like it’s larger.”
Nonetheless, the IPCC does emphasize that rethinking the world’s food production is a major part of the war against global warming. On that front, the UN and PETA are fighting the same battle.
By far, the biggest culprit in climate change is the burning of fossil fuels for electricity and transportation generally, amounting to anywhere from 60 to 70 per cent of global emissions.
Mann and others say that message is getting lost in the trendier notion that personal lifestyle changes are enough to stop the crisis from deepening.
In a May 21 New York Times article titled “The end of meat is near,” author Jonathan Safran Foer blames meat-eaters for everything from climate change to racial injustice.
“We cannot protect our environment while continuing to eat meat regularly. This is not a refutable perspective, but a banal truism,” he wrote. “Whether they become Whoppers or boutique grass-fed steaks, cows produce an enormous amount of greenhouse gas. If cows were a country, they would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world.”
Mann counters that it’s dangerous to take the heat off the carbon industry.
“This new obsession with personal action, though promoted by many with the best of intentions, plays into the hands of polluting interests by distracting us from the systemic changes that are needed,” he and Penn State colleague Jonathan Brockopp wrote in USA Today last June.
“There is no way to avert the climate crisis without keeping most of our coal, oil and gas in the ground, plain and simple. Because much of the carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for centuries, our choices in the next few years are crucial, and they will determine the lives our grandchildren and their grandchildren. We need corporate action, not virtue signalling.”
Local vegan Chris Flynn says he’s partially motivated by the environmental arguments, but the main issue for him is the mistreatment of living beings.
“It’s like someone trying to say, ‘Well, you shouldn’t have all those slaves on the boat because of all the pollution that the boat produces.’ Well, no, the real problem is that those slaves are being subjected to this torture. It would be a kind of a slap in the face to those people that are being subjugated to that.”
By Peter Jackson
Original Source: https://www.thetelegram.com/