The king said to Daniel, ‘May your God, whom you faithfully serve, deliver you!’

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hungry for God's creation

Ashley and I wanted to do something for Lent this year to both test our resolve and help the environment. As former hippies in Berkeley, we've heard a lot about concerns for God's creation can be acted out in one's daily lives.

We compost our food scraps and we recycle; and we try to use products that don't create a lot of trash. We have become more aware of the gas we use and drive more sparingly. Once, after reading how much diapers go into landfills, Ashley researched cloth diapers and we've used them ever since. From reusable zip-lock bags, grocery bags, sandwich bags, produce bags, and even smoothie pouches, we've made a dent into our carbon footprint.

But like many Americans, we were less aware of how exactly our diet impacted the environment: specifically our meat consumption. Saying nothing of the treatment of the animals we consume, we negatively effect the environment every time we eat meat. In an excellent article in The Guardian, John Vidal writes that the "combined climate change emissions of animals bred for their meat were about 18% of the global total – more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together."

I read that "a Vegan driving a Hummer does more for the environment than a meat-eater driving a Prius."

I find that to be shockingly profound. I think it would shock a lot of people to realize that the meat they eat is as bad- or worse- than the gas the use.

Perhaps equally shocking is that the world consumes twice as much meat as it did 30 years ago. Twice!

Not only does this effect green house gas emissions, but it also takes more of the Earth's resources. Let me explain. Corn is good. It grows in lots of places and has nutritional value. It's also part of a balanced diet for cows, who eat 8-14 lbs of "cow food" each day. They are killed when they reach three years old, and for argument's sake weigh 1000lbs, 400lbs of which is turned into edible meat. 10lbs a day for three years  is 10,950lbs of food for 400lbs of meat in the grocery store.

 Vidal writes, "other academics have calculated that if the grain fed to animals in western countries were consumed directly by people instead of animals, we could feed at least twice as many people – and possibly far more – as we do now."

And that's just food consumption- not water or land.Land is perhaps the biggest problem that we face. Again, Vidal,

"A Bangladeshi family living off rice, beans, vegetables and fruit may live on an acre of land or less, while the average American, who consumes around 270 pounds of meat a year, needs 20 times that."

20 acres of land to support my eating habits. I feel ashamed. It was then I realized this simple logic: the bigger the animal, the more land they need, food they eat, water they drink, and methane gas the release.

That's why Ashley and I gave up beef and pork. I haven't lost any weight, gained more energy, or lowered my blood pressure. It wasn't about myself. It's about God and our charge to care for God's creation.

Too often we operate out of a "what's in it for me" mentality. Our hotels boast a greener initiative to save money on laundry. Cleaning products boast greener solutions in order to sell more soap. This half-hearted view of saving God's creation will get us no further than a marginally deserved pat on the back.

But if each of us does something as simple as reduce our intake of beef and pork with the conscious intention of helping to save the planet, then we can begin to call ourselves stewards of God's creation.

This is the first step toward a sustainable future. And it's as simple as making more side dishes or ordering a smaller sandwich. Only you can prevent Climate change.


  1. thanks for share...

  2. Eating lower on the trophic level is a great idea. Every time energy is moved from one trophic level to another, about 90% of that energy is wasted. You can't get it back, at least not through ingesting. So, if we eat directly at the source, say vegetables, we are not wasting the energy that would have been lost if we ate an animal that ate another animal, that ate another animal, that ate that same vegetable. I learned about this in my environmental science class. Apparently there is a big push in many parts of the world to eat lower on the trophic level. Pretty interesting, but I love that magical meat called pork. :)

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