Meat, Copenhagen and Climate Change

David Cassuto

Concerned citizens the world over have gathered in Copenhagen to hammer out a plan to arrest climate change and prevent a planetary apocalypse.  Many have written much about the talks (check out, for example, Andy Revkin’s blog) but at least as interesting is what’s being neither talked about in Copenhagen nor much covered elsewhere.  I refer, of course, to animal agriculture and the fact that no comprehensive emissions reduction plan can fail to address the reality that the world’s ever-growing demand for meat is barbecuing the planet.  

And yet… guess what’s on the menu at the talks and most popular among participants?  I’d also wager that many of the protesters are similarly inclined.  And here we have what in my view, amounts to the central dilemma of 21st century environmentalism: most self-described environmentalists are either uninterested in or unwilling to address the implications of their dietary choices.  As Jonathan Safron Foer says in his new and excellent book, Eating Animals, “[S]omeone who regularly eats factory-farmed animal products cannot call himself an environmentalist without divorcing that word from its meaning.”

In the face of all this, one would like to be hopeful but it’s awfully hard to do.

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