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Would You Feel Guilty?

October 23, 2009

Today’s front page of the New York Times (after my test I finally had some down time) included a very interesting piece: Sweden Looks to Diet to Cut Global Warming.  I highly recommend that you check it out, if only to get your brain thinking about some of the impacts that diet has on the world.

The main point of the article is about how Sweden is trying to educate people about the amount of carbon dioxide that goes into food, putting labels with the weight of CO2 right there on the package.

However, people aren’t dealing with this new information very well.  They are being encouraged to not eat fish since Europe’s fish population is depleted and to eat more chicken and beans instead of beef since cattle emit massive amounts of greenhouse gasses.  This makes sense, right?  But people aren’t comfortable with the level of guilt that is associated with this new level of knowledge.  Ordering a big greasy hamburger suddenly has a climate price tag on it that they had no idea about before.

People are finally becoming aware of the true environmental cost of what they eat and they are feeling guilty.  I say good.  I became a vegan for this very reason.  Animal rights and health issues aside, I am passionate about the environment, and eating in accordance with my opinions is a very easy way to put my thoughts into action.  I know that I’m more educated about this topic than the majority, having devoted a lot of time and energy into learning about the impacts of animal products and the best ways to replace them with vegan products, but I don’t think ignorance is an excuse.

As consumers, we vote with our wallets, and we spend more time and money on food than any other commodity.  Is there a better way to have a positive impact on the planet than with food?  I encourage you to think a little bit more about what you’re craving for your next meal – that hunk of ground meat may be tasty going down, but think about the pounds of CO2 that are now floating around in the atmosphere because of your purchase the next time you complain because it is just too darn hot or your asthma kicks in.  It all really does mean something.

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