A Boost for Bush’s Energy Plan

By Carla Bennett

As a California resident, I can quote you chapter and verse on energy woes.

As I was juggling my books to pay my bills, like everyone I know, my heart

lifted at the news that President Bush would be arriving in my state to talk

energy to Governor Gray Davis.

But as their chat yielded little more than hot air and hard feelings, may I

offer a simple, effective solution?

Vegetarianism.

If plant-based diets were to be aggressively promoted and

adopted by the American public, the need for potentially hazardous,

expensive energy sources would be greatly reduced. With gas prices

climbing steadily, now is the ideal time to recognize the enormous energy

savings of a plant-based diet over a meat-based diet.

According to a study sponsored by the Departments of

Interior and Commerce, the value of raw materials consumed to produce food

from livestock is greater than the value of all oil, gas and coal

consumed in this country. The meat industry uses half of all the water

consumed in the U.S. and tremendous amounts of energy. Not only does it

use huge amounts of water to irrigate land to grow feed for livestock,

but also the monstrous livestock factories that have replaced traditional

farms

use great quantities of water to wash away the animals’ excrement.

As Newsweek put it: “The water that goes into a 1,000 pound

steer would float a destroyer.”

Animal factories also use enormous amounts of energy for

climate control and to bring feed to the animals. Agricultural engineers

at Ohio State University found that the energy costs of producing plant

foods are nearly ten times as efficient as raising animal flesh.

Cornell economists David Fields and Robin Hur have

calculated that a nationwide switch to a primarily vegetarian diet, plus

limits on export of nonessential fatty foods “would save enough money to

cut our imported oil requirements by over 60 percent. And the supply of

renewable energy, such as wood and hydroelectric, would increase 120 to

150 percent.”

In his Pulitzer prize-nominated book Diet for a New America,

John Robbins explains that the world’s petroleum reserves would last just

13 years if all humans ate a meat-centered diet, compared to 260 years if

they all ate a vegetarian diet.

Robbins goes on to say: “If we kicked the meat habit, there

would be no need for nuclear power plants. Our electric bills would be far

lower…Our dependence on foreign oil would be greatly reduced….Our

children might yet live in a world abundant with energy sources.”

Mr. Bush could lead Americans through this energy crisis

and into a wonderful future by incorporating vegetarianism into your

energy plan. Informing U.S. citizens about the cost-effectiveness of

environmentally-friendly vegetarian diets would bring about a new era in

energy savings.

Carla Bennet is senior writer for People for the Ethical Treatment of

Animals, www.PETA-online.org, and the author of the book “Living in Harmony

with Animals.”

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