When the Hunt Becomes the Predator

So what do you do to prove yourself loyal to the environment you consume every second of your life on this planet, to show to people around you that how thoughtful a citizen you are…that how you do not litter rubbish around, and don’t leave the tap running. Well, add a few more to the list if you so wish to, but the judgment remains. If you are a meat eater, and the plate gorgeously laden with meat and beef make you go weak in your knees, then sorry people, but you are not as great an environmentalist you think yourself to be. Not many people know about the fact that consumption of meat is one among the greatest contributors to greenhouse gas emission. You must have definitely heard scientists and other researchers constantly worry over the overheating of the planet Earth. The buzz now is no longer confined to the biggie-wiggies but has well assumed a scenario that demands pressing attention of the common folk.  Of course the concern to circumvent the problem of global warming is now a thing of the past. With the prevailing state of affairs, we are almost waist-deep into the predicament that we believed would befall well in the future. And now the disquiet lies in how we could make better of the worst that has happened, to make right the wrong already done. With all the countries squabbling over by how many degrees they would be permitted to raise the already unhealthily over heated planet, the question trickles down to each one of us…how much each of us as dutiful citizens of our countries or rather inhabitants of this “green planet”, are willing to contribute to help sustain life.

Beyond doubt the set up today is far different than what it was a few decades ago. Countries like the USA and China have witnessed unparalleled dimensions, in technological and military fronts. But this development has heralded a host of other problems and complicacies. Consumption of non-vegetarian food has increased manifold. As the demand for chicken, meat and pork has increased, more and more cattle and poultry is reared. Scientists have found a considerable connection between human diet and the methane emitted by livestock. The excretory waste released by these animals emits methane and CO2 that constitute the two major contributors towards increasing global warming. Belching, flatulent livestock emit 16 percent of the world’s annual production of methane. As per the reports from the Worldwatch Institute, global livestock population has increased almost 60 percent in the last few decades, and the number of fowl being raised for human dinner tables has nearly quadrupled in the same time period, from 4.2 billion to 15.7 billion. U.S. beef and pork consumption has tripled since 1970, during which time it has more than doubled in Asia.         Meat production causes severe erosion of billions of acres of once-productive farmland and to the destruction of rainforests. Appalling!! Yes, the statistics must have hit you under the belt. But the physical impact of the afore-mentioned numbers are far more bone-chilling than the hollow chimes of concern it might arouse in you as a reader. Eating meat contributes to a multitude of other problems. Animal suffering, early human deaths, misuse of oil and water, mis-allocation of capital, land, labour and other assets, deforestation, just to name a few. Vegetarianism acts as a panacea to all such problems. Being a vegetarian might certainly make you feel that you would lose on your portion of protein in your diet. But eating the right combination of vegetarian food ensures an equivalent amount of protein and carbohydrates in your food.

In the words of some of the greatest leaders, change starts with the self. Of course there is a dire need to combat the problem of global warming. Of what we hear, we need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and concentrate on renewable sources of energy, stop destroying the forests and join hands in building a nation not inclined towards war and destruction but rather in diverting its resources in ensuring national and global security. But the problem has assumed such giant proportions that the time to play the game of accountability is well past. The responsibility rests on each individual and we can start this on a personal front. By simply controlling our diet, one week, one day of a week, we can contribute significantly towards a movement that is subtle in its thrust but compounded in its implications. So the next time you bite into that fleshy morsel, remember the lost chance of spearheading a collective move.

Dipti Jain

[Image courtesy: http://www.csrplus.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/is-your-cheeseburger-causing-global-warming.jpg]