Denis Hayes is a globally recognized environmentalist, the national coordinator of the first Earth Day, and CEO of the Bullitt Foundation. Gail Boyer Hayes is a writer, editor, and former environmental lawyer who has authored books on solar energy and health issues.
Their new book is Cowed: The Hidden Impact of 93 Million Cows on America's Health, Economy, Politics, Culture, and Environment.
From Denis Hayes's Q & A with Tracy Fernandez Rysavy at Green American:
GA/Tracy: Let’s talk impacts. Our diets have a big impact on the environment and the climate. But your recommendation, surprisingly, was not to go vegetarian or vegan.Visit the Cowed website.
Denis: My wife and I admire vegetarians and vegans. We’ve been mostly vegetarian for decades. The more meat a diet contains, the greater its environmental impact, definitely including climate impact. But, according to a poll done for the Vegetarian Times, just 3.2 percent of American adults are vegetarian. I wish that number was ten times larger, but wishing won’t make it so.
Cowed is aimed at the other 97 percent. Unless we can significantly shift that vast majority who are still eating meat—often a lot of meat— we are not going to achieve enough environmental change fast enough to matter.
America has the third-highest beef consumption in the world (behind Argentina, and, of all places, Luxembourg.) The average American male eats 85 pounds of beef a year! And that beef is mostly marbled (a Madison Avenue word for fat) and is typically produced under inhumane conditions in CAFOs.
Someone who eats 85 pounds of beef—and remember that is merely the average for men—is not a prime candidate to go vegan. But if we can persuade those people to reduce their consumption from 1.6 pounds of bad beef every week to, say, one-half pound of good, healthy beef from the right sources, the benefits for human health and the environment will be profound.
Our goal with Cowed is to significantly reduce the amount of beef consumed overall while shifting people to healthier, organic, grass-fed and -finished beef. Because of the way federal subsidies for agribusiness operate...[read on]
The Page 99 Test: Cowed.