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Vegetarianism Effective For The Environment

Thursday September 28 2006

Vegetarianism Effective For Environmental Protection

The New Zealand Vegetarian Society is supporting pro-environmental concerns this World Vegetarian Day (October 1st) by promoting plant-based diets as the most environmentally friendly means of food production.

“World Vegetarian Day could easily be entitled World Environment Day,” says Vegetarian Society spokesperson Dr John Livesey. “With one third of the earths’ surface dedicated to the production of livestock for human consumption, going vegetarian is the most effective step anyone can take to relieve environmental pressure on the planet.”

In New Zealand –
Key issues include * land and water wastage * ozone damaging methane and nitrous oxide gases * pollutant run off from dairy farms * factory farming and forest clearing to graze cattle beef.
New Zealand has already lost most vast areas of its lowland Kahikatea forest to cattle production, and is increasingly spoiling its riparian habitats through run-off from dairy and other intensive farms.

Worldwide - ** methane and nitrous oxide produced as a bi-product from animal farming, is adversely affecting the ozone layer…research suggests a reduction of 2 cow-based meals a month can reduce a family’s annual greenhouse gas emissions by a third of a tonne!

* China has been increasing its meat consumption by 10 percent per year for the last fifteen years necessitating continual increases in the land area devoted to producing food for livestock, thereby reducing biodiversity and increasing environmental pollution through waste products

* India is getting one-third of the fodder for its 400 million dairy animals by stripping leaves and branches from its forests

* Indonesia and Brazil have been clearing tropical forest lands to grow soybeans for livestock feed.

Dr Livesey cites popular ‘ecological footprint’ calculators as powerful motivators for vegetarianism.

“Consumers are making ethical choices and considering vegetarianism which has 90% less impact on land use than a meat diet.
When individuals calculate their personal environmental impact, it is consumption of animal products that increases the score,” says Dr Livesey. “We cannot sustain this kind of environmental damage long term.”

The Vegetarian Society has noticed an increase in interest in vegetarianism due to environmental concerns.

The Vegetarian Society provides practical support for New Zealanders considering an environmentally sound diet.

The Society has a National Resource Centre in Auckland, plus Branches/Centres in Wellington and Christchurch and offers services such as book sales, vegetarian-related merchandise, a postal library, a national magazine “Vegetarian Living New Zealand,” websites (, families email group, and regional meetings.


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