Washington, DC (PRWEB) May 14, 2007
The Vegetarian Union of North America (VUNA) challenges global warming activists and environmentalists to acknowledge the "Inconvenient Truth" that eating animals and their byproducts is the single greatest cause of global warming and that humankind can take an essential and enormous step in reducing global warming by eating lower on the food chain -- ideally, a plant-based diet.
"Al Gore and climate activists have consistently failed to recognize one of the most inconvenient truths of our time," says VUNA President Saurabh Dalal. "Animal agriculture and animal product consumption on a global scale is perhaps the greatest (anthropogenic) cause of global warming today," continued Dalal, "and given a personal choice between helping to save the planet and consuming animal products, too many people who should know better are ignoring that truth while they gorge on their chicken wings and hamburgers."
VUNA, an umbrella organization for independent vegetarian groups throughout the United States and Canada, cites a 2006 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report "Livestock's Long Shadow"
(http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000448) which concludes global animal agriculture contributes more greenhouse gas emissions (in CO2 equivalents), an astonishing 18 percent of the total, than ALL forms of transportation.
The production of meat and other animal products for food contributes significantly to the primary global warming gases carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, accounting for 9%, 37%, and 65% of world totals, respectively. Furthermore, the global warming potential and effect of these gases is more striking since methane and nitrous oxide are 23 and 296 times more harmful than carbon dioxide. A University of Chicago study found that the average American diet, including all food processing steps, annually produces 1.5 tons of CO2-equivalent more than a meat-free diet.
Yet the media, public officials and even most environmentalists are failing to make people aware of this inconvenient truth, claims Richard Schwartz, a VUNA councilor and president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America. "Animal-based diets are threatening our planet, said Schwartz. "Every meal, like every trip, is a climate-change decision. Those in a position to educate the public should help people understand that their choice of diet is in fact more significant than their choice of automobile."
For these reasons and more (see BACKGROUNDER, below), VUNA is initiating a major campaign to urge Al Gore and the environmental community to transfer the meat from their plates to the center of their climate change-fighting agendas. "We will also be urging governments, corporations, educational and religious institutions, and other already progressive groups to actively promote plant-based diets and their tremendous benefits, while encouraging local groups to empower individuals with information on environmentally affirming food choices, particularly the practical steps of how to do it," said Dalal.
The world is currently raising over 50 billion farmed animals for slaughter each year and, in addition to its major impact on global warming, this is contributing significantly to the destruction of tropical rainforests and other valuable habitats, rapid species extinction, soil erosion and depletion and other environmental threats. Because of its high degree of inefficiency compared to plant protein production, animal agriculture is disproportionately depleting the planet's dwindling reserves of fresh water, land, fuel, and other resources. To make matters worse, the FAO report is projecting a major increase in the demand for animal products that will double the number of farmed animals by 2050.
This is especially alarming since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group composed of hundreds of the world's leading climate scientists, is predicting catastrophic effects if changes are not made soon, and many noted climate scientists are warning that global warming may spiral out of control within a decade if current conditions continue.
In addition to the environmental benefits, decades of research suggest that a population-wide shift away from meat and other animal foods toward plant foods would drastically reduce heart disease, cancer, obesity and other chronic degenerative diseases which currently account for trillions of dollars in global health costs. Scaling back global animal agriculture would also allow the world's limited arable land, fresh water and other agricultural resources to feed hundreds of millions more people.
Today eating a vegetarian or vegan diet doesn't mean giving up the enjoyment of eating. In fact today's vegetarian dishes are every bit as flavorful as those you'd find on an animal-based diet, if not more so, and many top chefs now cook without using animal ingredients
Further information on all of the above and more, including links to other material on dietary connections to global warming, may be found at the VUNA web site (http://www.ivu.org/vuna/).
The Vegetarian Union of North America (VUNA) (http://www.ivu.org/vuna/) is a network of independent vegetarian groups throughout the U. S. and Canada that promotes a strong, effective, and cooperative vegetarian movement. As the North American regional arm of the International Vegetarian Union, it serves as a liaison with the worldwide vegetarian movement. Its goals are:
o To support the formation and development of organizations promoting vegetarianism
o To promote communication, cooperation, and mutual assistance
o To represent all segments of the vegetarian community and to manifest their diversity
o To promote effective and responsible presentation of issues
o To develop and support vegetarian lifestyles of communities, families, and individuals.