Moderation can save the environment
April 30, 2005
by Simon Mahan

As a Christian and an environmentalist, I became interested in the op-ed titled “Bible does not endorse diet” (Springfield News-Leader, April 28th). Mr. Hardecke does have very compelling arguments: Jesus ate animals; God put animals on Earth to be eaten and enjoyed by us. Also, that eating meat can be good for you. However, I believe the real issue at hand is an issue of moderation. While a 3-ounce serving of lean beef may provide benefits to the eater, very rarely do people stop at eating 3-ounce servings. Likewise, the average American consumes 24 animals a year. This equates into about 260 pounds of meat annually (accounting for beef, poultry and fish). More meat is consumed in America than anywhere in the world. While Mr. Hardecke does have a very valid religious and scientific point, the article titled “Diet of the Faithful” did not give much in terms of evidence for vegetarianism other than a few Biblical references.

In many financially poor countries in the world, the main diet in their food is not meat, but vegetables. If meat is eaten, beef is unlikely to be what’s for dinner. Beef simply costs more and with good reason. A typical meat-eating diet requires about 4,000 gallons of water daily to produce - compared to a vegetarian diet requiring 1,200 gallons, and a vegan diet requiring 400. Also, meat – particularly bigger animals, like cows – require more food to grow to a profitable size. Some estimates claim that it takes approximately five pounds of grain per pound of beef produced. With all these animals eating, drinking and roaming around, it is also estimated that 250,000 pounds of waste from these animals are produced per second. All this waste makes its way to our Nation’s beloved fishing holes and swimming ponds. Too much animal waste has been contributed to deterioration of our water quality. And an interesting fact is that if the entire Nation were to go vegetarian, we would cut our oil imports by 60%.

While I am not calling for a revolution against meat eaters, I just want to let people know that what they eat does have an effect on people and their surroundings. Even cutting back a person’s meat consumption by 1% would save 400 gallons of water daily – water that could be given to the thirsty. Over a ton of animal waste would not find its way into our rivers – and prevent us from harming the Ozarks. Eating only 3 ounces of beef would save over 4 pounds of grains daily – grain that could be sent to the hungry. We could cut almost a full percentage point off our oil imports – and preserve the Artic National Wildlife and reduce our costs at the gas pumps. So while Jesus did eat meat, I believe the message He wanted to send is that we should live simply – and not over-consume at the expense of others. Cutting a little can do a lot.

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