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Archive for April, 2009

Tips for Going Vegetarian or Vegan

Tips for Going Vegetarian or Vegan

This article was written by Lauren Oujiri and is about: Animals, Food, Health, Life, Vegan

I was a vegetarian for about thirteen years, then went vegan for a year or so, then decided to see if a return to animal products would make me die on the spot or not. (I didn’t.) Once I ate meat, fish and dairy products again, I did so in moderation, still ate a lot of vegetarian and vegan meals, and could not make myself eat some animal products again. They shall go unmentioned, except for head cheese. Okay, I actually never ate it, but remember seeing it in the fridge as a kid and being really scared. Could there be a grosser name or look to this stuff, and how can anyone eat it with their eyes open or without laughing or puking? I’m sure I’ve offended someone with that judgment – sorry, Dad -but that’s how I feel about it.


This head cheese image originally appeared here. Is the pig laughing or crying? Funny/gross story, too..

Okay, haggis is no doubt worse, sorry my Celtic relatives and friends, but I digress.

The tip about meat comes up in a moment. And, for the record, I returned to a vegan lifestyle about a year ago. (Read my other articles on things vegan on randomn3ss for more information.)

Tip number one is first to view adding more Veg meals into your life as a process. It will take time, some education, some experimenting, some frustration, and some contemplation about how you live your life, quite frankly. (I do know of people who just quit all animal products overnight, but it’s hard, it’s expensive, and wastes a lot of food. Your body may be a bit confused, too, and will tell you about it in a few ways that might not be pleasant.) If you come to the conclusion that you want at least to add more Veg meals into your life, and possibly to become either vegetarian or vegan, read on to get started.

If you aren’t familiar with the difference between vegetarianism and veganism, true vegans do not consume (eat, wear, buy, use) any animal products whatsoever – no meat/fish/poultry, dairy, honey, leather, wool, silk, anything of or from any non-plant-based organism. Most vegetarians eat animal milk and/or eggs, honey, and do wear leather and use other animal byproducts.

One reminder before embarking on change in your life: It takes at least twenty-one days to make or break a habit, and then six months to a year of consistently doing the new habits before it truly becomes a part of your lifestyle, second-nature. Be realistic, be patient, keep track of what you’re doing to help the process be successful.

Tip number two: Back to the meat, and for efficiency’s sake I’ll include fish in this, too. If you’re eating meat three times a day or more, start by cutting back to two times a day. If it’s a fairly easy transition for you, then go to meat one time per day, then eliminate it permanently, if that is your goal. If it’s tough for you – you eat out a lot, you work out a lot, your family owns a meat-packing plant – then go slower, shooting for three weeks as mentioned above, or longer until the adjustment is made. Some find it easier first to eliminate meats (two-or four-legged animals), and just eat fish, and then reduce their fish consumption using the same technique.

This is where some education comes in: We need protein, just like we need carbs and fat. Read up and replace meat with other healthy sources of protein. If you don’t get enough good protein, you will lose energy and your health can suffer.

Tip number three: If you’re eating cheese, dairy products and eggs daily, I would recommend first cutting back on cheese. This can be done by reducing the number of times you eat it per day or per week if it’s a lot, and/or by reducing the amount you are eating in a serving. Even if you decide not to be vegan, having less cheese is better for your health, and your budget. Good cheese is not cheap. Bad cheese, it’s barely cheese, really, and disgusting, at least to me.

A long time ago, pre-Veg for me, a housemate of mine left a box of Velveeta on a kitchen counter one night accidentally. Unfortunately, the counter was right above an old wrought-iron radiator that kicked out a lot of heat. I was the first one up the next morning to see that the cheese had melted out of the box and into a large orange semi-solid puddle around the box. When my housemate saw it, he just pushed it all back in the box, shrugged, and did proceed to eat it eventually, with no repercussions. You can’t do that with brie, to my knowledge.

Then do the same with eggs, and other dairy products, reducing the frequency and quantity you eat gradually. There is no real substitute for scrambled eggs or omelets, which is tough if you like diner food, and good news, it is not really necessary in baking – plenty of other substitutes will hold your vegan cookies and cakes together. There are plenty of other milk choices that taste great: Soy, oat, almond, rice (though it’s typically watery, so not a great choice for cereal), hazelnut, and even hemp. (Hemp is a magical plant, used in food, clothing and other products. I know there is great debate about growing it in the U.S. I hope it will happen. If you didn’t know, the most that would happen to you if you smoked it would be a headache and sore throat.) And there’s plenty of non-dairy ice cream, sour cream, butter, and yogurt products out there. You will need to try a few before you land on what tastes best to you; some aren’t so great but it’s all vastly better than it was even ten years ago.

“But what do you eat?” It’s a common question vegetarians and vegans get constantly: You will find a whole new world out there now that you’re choosing to eat different and new things. The number of grains, beans, legumes, vegetables and fruits out there are countless and the combinations in the bazillions, I’m sure. And it’s no harder to cook Veg than it is to cook animal products, just slightly different – and not as gross. (I still skeeve out thinking of handling raw poultry and other slimy bone-filled greasy stuff.) It can take more time sometimes, but not always. And, you can still eat your cereal with another kind of milk, you can still have favorite foods with just a few substitutions.

“But what about eating out?” Choose the vegetarian options at restaurants to start training your palate and learning what foods taste best to you. It’s super easy if you like ethnic restaurants, and not too hard if you prefer standard U.S. fare. You can ask them to take the meat or cheese out of nearly any item, and most ethnic cuisines celebrate vegetables and grains like the U.S. never has until recently. Experiment with tofu at Asian restaurants – and, I’m the first to say some of it is baaaad, so while it goes against nutritional recommendations, go with the fried or stir-fried tofu if you’re trying it for the first time. A big blob of white, fairly tasteless rubbery stuff in a soup is not very palatable, even for die-hards. (If you didn’t know, tofu is made from soybeans, and has a very mild flavor until you are accustomed to it and add spices to it. It’s an excellent source of protein and a major staple in most Vegs’ diets. Comes in a variety of forms to make it easy to cook and bake with.)

Tip number four: Go to a book store and get a couple vegetarian and/or vegan cookbooks, and subscribe to one of the many great Veg magazines out there. You can search online for recipes, but I find books and magazines are better as they nearly always have cooking tips, nutrition information, and you can compare recipes more easily. And again, as mentioned briefly, you have a learning curve going on with the whole nutritional side of shifting to a Veg diet, and books tend to be the most comprehensive source. (It’s also better to spill stuff on a book than it is a laptop when you’re making a new recipe in the kitchen.) You will learn how to cook a little differently, but all the basics are the same. Be prepared for flops. And that you just won’t like some things. That’s normal, and it just gets you closer to what you do like.
Tip number five: Pretty simple, eat more vegetables. Yes, eat more fruits, too, but vegetables, beans and grains are the core of the Veg diet. Fruit is full of sugar, so read up and stick to only a couple servings a day. Of course, starting out in the process, a lot of people do eat fruit more as snacks to replace the cheese and various meat snacks, which is okay, but shouldn’t be a permanent solution. The more vegetables you eat, the healthier you will be.


Tip number six: Read ingredient labels on “Healthy!” “Vegetarian!” “Low Fat!” foods carefully, especially if you are vegan. Lots of funny-named stuff in some products masquerade as health food and vegetarian. For example, there’s a frozen soy mac and cheese option out there but there is a not-obvious dairy product in the list of ingredients (caseinate, a milk product). Also read the nutrition information on the packaging. (If you don’t know what it all means, learn, as it’s pretty critical – it’s easy to have high cholesterol and high sugars on a Veg diet if you’re not careful, so just spend a little time until it’s second nature, too.) Some have a lot of salt, a lot of fat and/or a lot of sugars and carbs. A lot of newbie Vegs just get all that microwave stuff to make it easy, but it will take a toll on your health and budget. It has a place in the Veg diet, you need quick meals at times, and it’s a great way to try new things, but don’t let it be the only way you eat. Same with junk food. There’s plenty of cookies, chips, snacks, desserts out there that are Veg, so eat in small quantities. Choose organically and sustainably produced foods as well.

Last tip: Enjoy the process, and only do what feels right and works right in your life, although I do advocate strongly for being vegetarian at the least – for your health, for the animals, for the environment. If you choose to eat meat, fish and dairy, choose the best organic and humane sources you can find (do the research, as there’s many confusing and false claims out there), and eat less than you used to. Educate the people around you so they know what you’re doing, and so that you’re not surprising someone who’s invited you to dinner at their house, only to find you can’t eat anything. That’s not fair to them, they’ll feel bad, and you won’t have a good time. (I always eat at home before going to parties, knowing that meat and cheese tend to predominate. But, there’s always a veggie tray, and chips and salsa, it seems, so you can munch along without drawing attention to yourself.) Don’t be defensive if someone puts down what you’re doing, just shrug and say “you eat what you want to eat, and I’ll eat what I want to eat, and we’ll leave it at that.” Several of my close friends are animal-eaters, and this agreement works fine.

My process was fairly easy, I admit. There is a strong history of cancer and heart disease in my family, so that has always been a motivator. I also met the coolest vegetarians in Minneapolis, MN who showed me the way, both in introducing me to a variety of great ethnic restaurants and in how to cook Veg. I also seek out what is not mainstream, so this was a natural; it is surprising, though, how uncomfortable some people get about it, and I’m not (usually) trying to make people squirm (did you like that “animal-eater” comment above?) but I count it as a success for me and for them if they then think about it and ask me to discuss it later (and it’s victory for the animals and the environment if they go on to choose a Veg life). I can say I miss Parmesan cheese. There is no substitute (there are some products on the market, but it really has no resemblance to the true taste of Parm). I used to miss eggs, but that has long gone away. I sometimes think about wild salmon, as that was the last animal flesh I gave up. It’s very good for you, and was my favorite meat item. At times it is frustrating in restaurants, but overall I don’t feel compromised in any way by the choice to be vegan, in food or in other parts of the lifestyle. I don’t get preachy about it (because I would hate it if someone did that to me), but will explain if people ask. I have to check my shock when people say they rarely or never eat vegetables; I don’t want to be judged, so I must not judge them, but it’s still pretty unfathomable to me. (Like how do your bowels even work? I’ll stop there and please don’t tell me.) I also don’t get all weird if I realize I’ve eaten something animal accidentally (and I don’t go purge or anything), and I refuse to be completely rigid about it: On occasion I will eat a homemade chocolate chip cookie even if it’s not vegan. Comfort food and happy childhood memories are a welcome and necessary thing.

Write back and let me know how it goes, and if you’d like to know more.

Credit for this article goes to none other than Adrienne Saia, here at randomn3ss. Number one, she asked for it at the end of one of my articles on going greener and veganism being one way (remember?) and because of her post on her food pyramid. How you ate this, I have no idea… :D

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5 Misconceptions About Veganism

5 Misconceptions About Veganism

This article was written by Sarah Sweets and is about: Animals, Life, Vegan

I have been Vegan for over ten years but some stereotypes/misconceptions still get under my skin.  For me, choosing not to consume animals or animal products (such as meat, dairy, eggs, leather, etc.) was an easy choice.  Once I became aware of the cruelty inflicted upon animals in factory farms, the devastating environmental impact of eating meat, and the health concerns over meat consumption, the choice was obvious.

I love being Vegan.  I feel healthier, I feel like I am very aware of the food that I eat and how it affects my body, I have a greater sense of where my food comes from and how it got to my plate, I have no fear of things like Mad Cow Disease, Salmonella, or high cholesterol/heart disease, and I have a clear conscious about the ethical consequences of my food choices.

However, whenever I tell someone new that I am Vegan, I am often hit with a number of misconceptions and stereotypes.  I would like to take this opportunity to address some of the most popular misconceptions.

  • Vegans are crunchy-granola-loving hippies. I cannot tell you how many times someone has said to me, “You don’t look like you’re vegan.”  I assume that is because I do not look like a hippie.  There are a number of stylish, hip, trendy vegans as evidenced by some of the more popular vegan websites such as
  • Vegans eat ‘twigs and branches.’ Okay, this stereotype tends to get under my skin.  I pride myself on being a bit of a foodie so for someone to assume I eat bland, tasteless leaf vegetables for sustenance irks me.  I eat interesting, delicious food.  I eat out at fancy restaurants such as the Candle Cafe in New York City and I can assure you, they do not serve twigs or branches.
  • Vegans cannot eat chocolate or dessert. Again, I LOVE food.  I love dessert even more.  There are a ton of vegan chocolates including just about any brand of dark chocolate and a number of specialty chocolate brands such as Terra Nostra chocolates, Sjaaks chocolates, and Rose City Chocolatiers.  True, Vegans do not eat “milk chocolate” but many chocolates (especially high end/gourmet chocolates) do not contain milk.  As for desserts, I can assure you, I eat delicious desserts, either that I make at home or that I purchase from upscale vegan bakeries such as Vegan Treats.  My sweet tooth is always satisfied!
  • Vegans are terrorists. Lately there has been a lot of press about so-called animal rights activists partaking in “ecological terrorism,” “domestic terrorism,” etc.  This has gone as far as FBI agents ‘infiltrating’ vegan potlucks to do reconnaissance.  Puh-lease.  I just don’t see Gweneth Paltrow, Jason Schwatzman, or Ed Begley, Jr. as terrorists.  This particular misconception reeks of right-wing fear-mongering.
  • Vegans cannot get enough protein/B12/D/etc. It is very easy to eat a well-balanced, healthy vegan diet.  In fact, studies show that eating a vegan diet can lower cholesterol and reduce the risk for heart disease.  The American Dietetic Association has officially stated that a vegan diet is healthy.  Still not convinced? Check out the Vegan Food Pyramid.

These misconceptions have been the most common reactions that I have gotten from people in my own experiences.  While of course there is always a small grain of truth hidden somewhere behind some of these stereotypes, overwhelmingly, they do not describe the vast majoity of vegans and certainly do not describe me!

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Obama Letter Slams ‘inhumane’ Seal Hunt

Obama letter slams ‘inhumane’ seal hunt
Today at 6:37pm

Mitch Potter

WASHINGTON – U.S. President Barack Obama sees the Canadian seal hunt as “inhumane” and vowed to express his “outrage” during his days as a senator, it was revealed today.

Obama, who has not spoken publicly about the seal hunt since becoming President, vowed in a 2006 letter to animal-rights activists to work with colleagues “to ensure that we take all the necessary steps to express our outrage” with the Canadian government.

“I share your concerns about the Canadian seal hunt,” Obama wrote to a member of People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, in the letter, dated April 13, 2006.

“As you know, Canada annually opens its eastern waters to commercial seal hunting. The United States and European Union have been unified in their opposition to the slaughter of seals by passing legislation decades ago to restrict the sale of seal-based products within their borders,” Obama wrote.

“I certainly believe in the spirit of these acts; the U.S. should not condone this recent Canadian action.”

A PETA official said Obama’s 2006 letter was “recently rediscovered in the files of a member who keeps very good records of our correspondence with the U.S. government.”

The letter was released publicly today as part of a renewed PETA campaign that requests Obama renew his commitment to ending the Canadian seal hunt.

“The rediscovery of this letter came as a surprise. But we are not totally shocked by what Obama said because so far he has been very responsive on animal rights,” said Dan Mathews, senior vice-president of PETA.

“But there is obviously an opportunity now for Obama to use his good office to renew and fulfill this pledge. We are anxious to hear a response from the White House.”

Officials in Washington and Ottawa have yet to comment on the letter.

Milk the Deadly Poison

MILK THE DEADLY POISON! What the GOVERNMENT doesn’t want you to know

The Deadly Poison by Jane Heimlich, author of

“What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You” (Jane Heimlich is the wife of Henry Heimlich, MD, the “Heimlich Maneuver” doctor.)

One of my earliest memories is my father coaxing me to drink milk. “Calling all cars, calling all cars–Jane hasn’t finished her milk.” You may be applying the same pressure to your children. After all, isn’t milk “the most perfect food on earth?” Nutritionists reiterate that we need the calcium in milk to keep our bones strong. At present, celebrities pose with milk mustaches. You may not want to hear this but what you’ve been told all your life about milk is an outright lie. Your glass of milk, even low fat, is awash in fat (the equivalent of three slices of bacon), cholesterol, antibiotics, bacteria, and–the most distasteful ingredient–pus.

I suspected that milk was a health disaster back in the Spring of ’94. At that time, while researching an article for Health & Healing, a newsletter with a half million subscribers, I learned that the Food & Drug Administration had approved the use of a genetically engineered hormone called “recombinant bovine growth hormone” (rBGH). The alleged purpose of the hormone, a $500 million investment on the part of the Monsanto Company, is to increase a cow’s milk output.

Considering the glut of milk for the past decade, economic justification for using rBGH remains a mystery. Injecting hapless cows with a growth hormone raised a red flag for me. In my 20 plus years of health reporting, I’ve found that when a company interferes with Mother Nature, this cold-blooded exploitation, invariably for economic gain, brings suffering and disease. This was clearly the case with the bovine growth hormone. I knew that, over the years, pasteurization and homogenization had destroyed most of the natural goodness of milk. The growth hormone was the supreme insult. As dairymen reported, this hormone made our cows sick, namely developing mastitis, thus requiring enormous doses of antibiotics.

For this reason, 95 percent of dairy farmers initially refused to inject their cows with rBGH; later, many caved in under pressure. A more disturbing consequence of the bovine growth hormone is that it increases levels of a powerful growth hormone, IGF-I. IGF-I is a key factor in the growth and proliferation of cancer. Despite the health threats posed by the bovine growth hormone, I was one of the few health writers taking a critical view of the situation. Starting in 1994, the media assured us that milk from treated and untreated cows is virtually the same. Here they were dutifully quoting the FDA, the American Medical Association, and the World Health Organization.

Few bothered to investigate why a growing number of dairy farmers and environmental watchdogs were bitterly opposed to its use. I wasn’t impressed by these scientific assurances from on high. From reporting on alternative medicine, I knew too well how the medical establishment can lie through its teeth. Mainstream doctors continue to label chelation therapy, a life-saving treatment for heart disease, as “quackery,” despite its over 30 year track record as a safe and effective treatment. What was needed to bring the deleterious effects of rBGH to the fore was an intrepid scientist who could confront scientists from these prestigious organizations, speak their language, interpret scientific data, and reveal the facts about the true nature of the bovine growth hormone.

Enter Robert Cohen, with rich experience in biological research and a risk taker–one of his pursuits is mountain climbing. A call came from Mr. Cohen shortly after my July ’94 article appeared. A boyish voice crackling with energy. Cohen divulged his suspicions that the FDA’s approval of the bovine growth hormone represented not only collusion between Monsanto and the FDA, but a cover-up of epic proportions by the scientific establishment. His three-year fact- finding journey proved him chillingly right. Reading this book, you will learn that milk contributes to heart disease and increases your risk of breast cancer.

You will learn that milk is a poor source of calcium and why, and that milk is a prime cause of allergies and much more. You will learn that milk can even kill your infant. Cohen doesn’t expect you to accept these shocking findings on faith. He takes you by the hand as he uncovers layers of scientific fraud perpetuated by the FDA, with assistance from JAMA, Science News, and even the Cadillac of scientific publications, Science.

In digging for scientific facts, Cohen found that the web of deception concerning the bovine growth hormone involved not only key players–FDA and Monsanto–but reached members of Congress as well as a respected medical authority turned Monsanto lobbyist. At times this book reads like a detective story. Eventually our indefatigable scientific sleuth uncovered the smoking gun–incontrovertible evidence showing that laboratory animals treated with rBGH developed cancer, but he could not induce the FDA to reconsider their approval of the hormone.

My husband, Dr. Henry Heimlich, devisor of the Heimlich maneuver, had a similar experience dealing with the American Red Cross (ARC). Following his discovery that the Maneuver, applying upward pressure to the diaphragm caused the choking object to pop out, he implored the ARC to stop teaching the public to administer back blows to a choking victim, which only drives the object deeper into the airway. Stymied by scientific fraud and bureaucratic blindness, he took his life and death issue to the public. Robert Cohen has taken the same tack. Reading this meticulously documented book, written in a lively informal style and punctuated with irreverent humor, I feel sure you will be convinced, as I am, that milk is hazardous to your health. Don’t worry about what you’re going to put on your cereal. Cohen offers plenty of nondairy milk suggestions. Share the author’s findings with your family members and friends.

Buy a copy for anyone you care about. Take its message to heart.

Jane Heimlich Contact Info

Website: Office: CANADIAN ACTION PARTY (please support C.A.P)♥

Price of Meat

It’s upsetting and a bit disturbing that a NY Times “Green blogger” has perpetuated a claim from the Center for Consumer Freedom that there is no strong connection between meat and global warming.

The recent NY Times article titled “Meat & Climate: The Debate Continues” (which I refuse to link to) cites a press release from the CCF (a.k.a a front group for the restaurant, alcohol and tobacco industries) which used an EPA figure estimating that only 6% of US greenhouse gases are caused by agriculture production, including meat. They used this figure to argue that there is no significant connection between meat and global warming. The EPA figure stands in stark contrast to the 2006 UN FAO report (Livestock’s Longshadow) which attributes 18% of global greenhouse gases to livestock production.

However, the EPA figure omits the emissions from CO2 and land-use changes.  In contrast, the 2006 UN FAO study includes CO2, as well as methane and other greenhouse gases as a result of the entire livestock production process. EPA on Agriculture Emissions in 2006:

“Agricultural activities contribute directly to emissions of greenhouse gases through a variety of processes. This chapter provides an assessment of non-carbon-dioxide emissions from the following source categories: enteric fermentation in domestic livestock, livestock manure management, rice cultivation, agricultural soil management, and field burning of agricultural residues (see Figure 6-1). Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and removals from agriculture-related land-use activities, such as conversion of grassland to cultivated land, are presented in the Land Use, Land-Use Change, and Forestry chapter. CO2 emissions from on-farm energy use are accounted for in the Energy chapter.”

Why the EPA chose to ignore the impact of CO2 and land-use changes, such as the deforestation of the Amazon (80% of which is attributed to livestock) is another puzzle to address.

Another commenter of the Times article adds “CCF had to go as far as misrepresenting a Bush era EPA report, that were often lower bounds or distortions of staff reports.”

In this post I wanted to give some love to Food for Change, PB&J Campaign and Veg Climate Alliance.  Each focuses their blog on the connection between meat and global warming.  I recommend them all!

Food for Change

Food for Change promotes food choices that are sustainable, ethical and environmentally responsible.

This blog from the UK has a unique focus on animal agriculture on the environment and was founded a year ago by Sophie Pritchard.  Learn about her motivations, ideas and more about the impact of livestock on global warming, the environment and health in her recent interview on Green Girls Global.  Then check out her other posts!

I became frustrated that environmental organisations continued to turn a blind eye to the environmental impact of livestock, particularly when both environmental and humanitarian organisations strongly and publicly oppose biofuels because of their environmental and social impacts when I knew that they caused only a fraction of the problems that the livestock industry does. I asked all these organisations about why they focused on biofuels, considering their impacts are the same as meat, but lower in scale. They all told me that the issue with biofuels was that they were making matters worse, whereas the devastation caused by livestock is long-standing. That didn’t seem like a good enough reason to ignore the issue to me.

PB&J Campaign

The PB&J Campaign is working to combat environmental destruction by reducing the amount of animal products people eat.

I really like how they emphasize that even a small reduction in the consumption of animal products generates significant results.

Check out the PB&J Pledge that will calculate the impact of your meals on greenhouse gas emissions, water and land based on whether or not you consume animal products.   The methodology is derived from sound scientific studies.

PB&J has a long-running blog (since April 2008) with MANY interesting posts on the impact of meat on global warming.

Graph on climate impact of meat consumption


Veg Climate Alliance

Veg Climate Alliance, a new international alliance of vegetarian, environmental and animal rights activists and organizations, stresses that the best thing a person can do to stop global warming and its catastrophic consequences is to switch to a plant-based diet.

Mission Statement

Veg Climate Alliance exists to slow global warming by helping people access the most needed information:

a global shift to vegetarianism is necessary to avoid rapidly approaching catastrophic climatic conditions and other environmental threats.

To accomplish this awareness, we will:

  • Seek the support, advice and partnership of key groups and individuals;
  • Jointly release media statements and resolutions;
  • Jointly lobby governments and international groups, including the UN, to specifically promote the veg diet as a means to combat climate change.

In the same aim we will also provide a central information and communication hub connecting all concerned groups/organizations/communities/individuals.

It’s awesome to see an organization setup to help bring together all of the advocates and supporters of this subject to share ideas and to lobby governmental groups to promote a veg diet.  I hope to be a part of it.  See their blog, veg events listings and their forum!

updatePlease join the campaign!

Bill S. 527 gives a free pass for factory farms to pollute the air with CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide without regulation!

Farm Sanctuary has setup a form to write to your representative in Congress to vote NO on S. 527.  Please take a few minutes to voice your opposition to S. 527 to your network and Congressional representatives!

Bill S. 527 specifically includes the following text:

CERTAIN EMISSIONS FROM AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION- No permit shall be issued under a permit program under this title for any carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, water vapor, or methane emissions resulting from biological processes associated with livestock production.

Keep on the lookout for a petition soon.  Here is my personal response:

Please oppose Bill S. 527, which exempts livestock production from the Clean Air Act!

According to a 2006 UN FAO report – 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are due to livestock.  This is more than the emissions from all the cars and planes in the world combined!

As global meat consumption is predicted to double by 2050, we must take significant measures to minimize livestock production, and its impact.

In addition – the UN FAO report states animal agriculture is responsible for 37% of anthropogenic methane emissions (20 times more powerful than CO2) and 65% of all nitrous oxide (296 times).

In light of the rising dangers of global climate change, the expansion of factory farming must not be left unregulated.

These farms should be expected to INVEST in better farming practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, like every other industrial sector.

Thank you.


NY Times:  Senators Have Beef with ‘Cow Tax’

Grist: The ‘cow tax’: not now, maybe not ever


WSJ Video:  Watch how methane is measured : Gassy Sheep Add to Global Warming

Did you hear that cow farts are causing global warming?

Contrary to popular belief, most of the methane emissions from cows and other livestock aren’t from flatulence or farts.  They’re from burping.  About 98 per cent of the methane from a cow is emitted through its mouth. (source:  Kebreab, Journal of Animal Science)

Due to their unique enteric fermentation digestive process, the average grain-fed dairy cow belches out about 500 litres of methane each day,  compared to about 600-700 litres a day per grass-fed cow, according to Ermias Kebreab of the National Centre for Livestock and the Environment near Winnipeg, Canada.  In total, livestock’s total gas emissions include 37% of all methane (20 times more powerful than CO2) and 65% of all nitrous oxide (296 times).

Yes it’s much funnier to talk about farting than burping/belching.  It certainly raises more eyebrows, which explains why many of the headlines on cattle methane go for the “farting to blame for global warming” angle instead, despite its inaccuracy.

But whether it’s farting or burping, it’s given plenty of ammunition for global warming skeptics to make light of global warming, and the research & policies that are proposed to address animal agriculture’s impact.

The statistics below will help dispel the inevitable joke/comment on our “fart footprint”, as they demonstrate why livestock produce such high levels of gas.

  • Each cow eats about 20 pounds of grain, 40 – 60 pounds of ensilage, 30 pounds of hay and drinks about 15 – 25 gallons of water a day.
  • In 2007, at any given time, there were approximately 1.3 billion cattle, 1 billion sheep, 1 billion pigs, 800 million goats and 17 billion chicken (UN FAO).  This means – one cattle for every five people, one sheep for every six, one goat for every eight, and 2.5 chickens for every person.
  • In the United States, 10 billion animals are raised and slaughtered each year (30 animals for each American).  In addition, animals raised for food produce 1.4 billion metric tons of manure, which is 130 times more excrement than the entire human population put together, for a total of 87,000 pounds per second.

When one looks at the number of animals which are eaten, and the amount of crops and energy that are required to feed them, it becomes increasingly clear that we must define the problem as rising meat consumption, not the cows themselves.  According to the UN FAO, annual global meat production is projected to more than double from 229 million tons in 2000 to 465 million tons in 2050.

Whenever one discusses cow farts or burps (which I suppose is an interesting conversation starter), it’s also important to understand that methane emissions from livestock are only one part of the “meat footprint”.  The emissions from the meat production process includes many other steps which generates high levels CO2.

Some of the ways which animal agriculture industry generates its CO2 emissions include:  the clearing forests for cattle grazing or planting feed (Brazilian Amazon especially), slaughtering livestock in factories, and transporting, storing and packaging the meat.  More on these other greenhouse gas producing processes another time.

For now, please don’t let the global warming skeptics keep you from holding in farts (it’s bad for you) or keep you from enjoying beans.

picture source

correction:  A previous version cited that the average dairy cow belches out about 100 to 200 liters of methane each day, according to Michael Abberton, a scientist at the UK-based Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research.  But who do you believe?

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