Today is the 30th anniversary celebration of World Vegetarian Day a day to recognize and promote the ethical, environmental, health and humanitarian benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle.
A surprisingly high percentage of our daily impact on the environment comes from our food choices, and one obvious benefit of vegetarianism is its relatively low impact. Just think about it: Eating grain instead of feeding that grain to a cow for months or years is a more efficient, less wasteful way of getting the nutrition and energy needed to live happily. Simply, it just takes less grain, which takes less land, which requires less fertilization and water, and which reduces erosion of top soil.
A United Nations report last year called animal farming a "major threat to the environment" and a "major player" in causing global warming, with agriculture contributing 22% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. The world's livestock which graze fully 30% of the land not held up in ice, according to the U.N. contribute not only by consuming grains, but by belching nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas more potent, though shorter lived, than carbon dioxide. A lot of fuel is also burned up transporting meat across the world, adding yet another contribution to climate change.
Organizers of World Vegetarian Day welcome nonvegetarians too, of course. Vegetarianism is only one tool for eating with a high consciousness about the environment. Eating local and eating organic can go hand-in-hand with both vegetarian and omnivorous diets.
Here are some suggestions for celebrating World Vegetarian Day from the North American Vegetarian Society, with some of our own suggestions tacked on:
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