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?
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
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
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
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
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