Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pollan Tells Students to Go Vegan to Reduce Climate Change

Author Michael Pollan to speak on the 'drama on your plate'
Kelly Folkers
Issue date: 4/6/10

Humans need over 100 food compounds to be healthy, yet three crops dominate the American diet. Corn, wheat and soy comprise approximately 80 percent of Americans' diet, and author Michael Pollan has some problems with that.

"Humans are omnivores and need to eat a variety of different things," said Pollan, a food expert and the author of the bestselling books In Defense of Food and The Omnivore's Dilemma. Pollan, who considers himself a nature writer, will speak in Swasey Chapel on April 14 at 8 p.m. as the closing speaker for this year's campus theme of consumption.

Pollan's interest in studying food and where it comes from originated during childhood. He cultivated a vegetable garden at a young age, and his professional interest in food seemed to naturally follow his personal love for growing food.

"I focus on the messy places where the human and the natural intersect," Pollan said. "It was almost a matter of time when I would write about food. Our eating is how we change the world the most, everything from the landscape to how we grow food."

"Meat is the biggest food issue in terms of climate change," Pollan said. "If you are a meat eater, removing meat from your diet you would cut your carbon footprint by 25 percent."

Pollan also described the various ways that college students can make a difference in being greener with food consumption. Read More

Here is Pollan on his vegan push again. Remember that this is the same guy that made up the statistic that going vegan would do more to reduce climate change than dumping your SUV. He got called out on that make-believe statistic yet he continues to spew more misinformation. The livestock industry is only responsible for less than 3% of greenhouse gas emissions in this country. So how could going vegan cut your carbon footprint by 25%.

Here’s the issue. Pollan has built his empire on scaring people about their food. He did this by ignoring science and ignoring most people’s desire to grow enough food to feed everyone. Unfortunately for him, you can’t fool everyone all of the time. With his plan, more than half the planet would go hungry. Do you think hungry people really care about their carbon footprint at that point? The good news is that we can accomplish both goals. We can feed everyone AND continue to be more efficient. It just means that we need to listen to the experts in food production rather than journalism teachers.


SlowMoneyFarm said...

It seems to ignore the obvious. We need 100 different things (his own statement) - many of those found in MEATS! There are many elements present in meats and dairy that aren't in vegetables. The 'grow what your grandmother knew' - she knew real dairy, meat, butter, produce local. Not eggplant. Probably not a whole lot of soy and certainly not tofu, tofurkey, vegan meals etc. They ate what they had in the Depression and much of that grown on the farm. I can't help but think too many are against processed food - yet endorse things that are processed if it suits their choices. hmmm

Anastasia Bodnar said...

I have to wonder if Pollan's statements were taken out of context, or misinterpreted, or something like that. Unless something's changed that I'm not aware of, Pollan is not a vegetarian or vegan. As far as I know, he believes that animals need to be part of the biodiversity on the farm. He does advocate for a mostly plant based diet, with reasonable amounts of meat, eggs, and dairy. This type of diet is recommended by nutritionists and environmentalists alike, and has a firm base in science. Pollan's ideas about agriculture have grown as he's learned more, so that his stance on many issues is different than it was back when he wrote Omnivore's Dilemma. For example, in a NY Times editorial, he said that we need all types of farms, big and small, to feed the world - which is quite a switch from advocating a 100% small farm system. He's also stepped back from the 0 corn syrup rule to simple advocate cutting back on total sugars.

Side note: There is nothing wrong with making a choice to not eat animal products. We all have a right to eat what we want, and the freedom of speech to talk about it. Just as here on this blog, you discuss people's right to eat animal products. To each his own. On both sides, there's no need to insult anyone for their personal choices. I wish there was more civil discussion on the topic.

Barry R McCain said...

I'd like to imprint by large carbon foot print on this dweeb's rear...

Anonymous said...

If you read more by Pollan you will learn he does not promote things like Tofurky and highly processed soy products. You are missing his main point, it is not just that "meat is bad," he very much believes in eating locally grown food in a sustainable fashion, and if that happens to be heavily meat-based (which he sites as being the case in some areas) he agrees with it.
And this whole 'we need meat to live' - how is it then that we were not natural born predators? We evolved by using tools to kill and eat animals. While everyone does have the right to choose, there is nothing morally right about choosing animals that have been tortured and inhumanely slaughtered. I'm sure this was not the case with your grandmother's farm - so that does not apply there.
Going vegan or vegetarian is not for everyone, but eating sustainable should be - and for most of the world (especially the developed world) that means cutting down the amount of meat that they eat.