Liberalism and its Indian version will go down as one of the biggest examples of human hypocrisy in the history. Hypocrisy runs deep inside the veins of Indian Liberals, Feminists, Environmentalists, Human Rights activists and even the animal rights activists. A few familiar faces appear time and again across the spectrum treading shamelessly across two poles always. They are worried about the freedom of people to eat food of their liking on one hand and at the same time worried about the degeneration of our environment and how we have become a water starved nation.
They lament that minorities don’t have the freedom to eat beef in the country while lamenting at the cruelty towards animals at the same time on other opportunities or how the human footprints over our environment is ever-increasing.
This is when it is almost an established fact that vegetarian diet leaves lesser impact on environment as compared to a non vegetarian diet. Beef in particular, has the most disastrous impact on the environment when compared with pork, chicken, mutton or fish meat. Its impact as per a study published in the Journal Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences in 2014, beef consumption leads to 5 times more carbon consumption than consumption of chicken or mutton meat.
Infact, Beef has been the second largest source of Carbon Dioxide emissions among the non vegetarian food items after lamb. The carbon footprint of a vegetarian diet is half of that of a non vegetarian diet.
As per the study conducted by Oxford University over British people’s diet in 2014, it was found that a diet of 100 grams of beef causes 7.2 Kg of carbon dioxide emissions while a 100 gram vegetarian diet caused just 2.9 Kg of Carbon Dioxide emissions in a day.
FAO had announced that livestock agriculture cause 18% of global emissions and approximately a quarter of all human emissions.
Beef is the prime mover as ruminants like cows make methane in the process of digestion while pigs and chickens don’t. Methane is not only a potent Green House Gas but it also has 25 times more global warming potential than carbon dioxide. So, the more ruminant animals like cows and buffaloes are raised for beef, more is the emission of green house gases. The problem gets compounded in India where in animal farms, ruminant animals are fed upon grass and not corn as they are in the United States. So, the livestock agriculture is more deleterious in impact here in India than it is there in US.
Apart from that forests are cleared to make way for raising up of beef cattle. In the Amazon, rain-forests, cattle production accounts for 50% to 80% of all deforestation.(As per the Boucher from the Union of Concerned Scientists).
Cutting up of forests means we are cutting down trees and half of the tree is carbon. Either we burn it or we let it rot, carbon dioxide is produced in both cases. A 1.27 pound of beef produces the same carbon dioxide equivalent as driving a SUV car for 90 miles. So each time we consume a beef rich diet we are causing mindless and needless degradation of our environment. It is mindless and needless because there is no shortage of the options that are available to the beef eaters. Lentils, pulses, soya, tofu etc. are available as potential substitutes for beef as a source of protein.
Going in for a ‘flexitarian diet’ is now must for our beef loving friends which means that we can reduce upon the carbon dioxide emissions by replacing beef in our meals by lentils and pulses. It is imperative as “beef is the new SUV” and we cannot let another diesel guzzler let havoc in our environment mindlessly.