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Animal Planet

I was scanning through an article in Reader's Digest called "The Simple-Till-Six Diet," by Mark Bittman, and I thought I would share a few of the finer points with you. Bittman is a columnist for the New York Times, and his column is titled, "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian." The Reader's Digest article discusses Bittman's weight gain and loss, and he blames his weight problems on animal products. In the article Bittman writes: "A shift of 50 percent--replacing half your animal calories with plant calories--would be signficant and need a conscious effort; however, this shift is one that means better eating for both your body and the planet."

This vegetarian trend is growing. This past weekend, the Nolz family celebrated Christmas, and my cousin announced that she was dating a pescatarian, a vegetarian that allows fish in the diet. Apparently, it's the "cool" thing to do in college, and this fast-paced eating style is certainly making waves from coast-to-coast. And, you know what that means--less beef consumers buying YOUR products.

In addition, the article was supplemented with a sidebar titled, "Animal Planet." It's chuck full of fun facts to make vegetarianism seem like a no brainer. Anyone have any elevator speeches for some of these? And, just where are they getting their facts and doing their calculations?

The following comments were mentioned in the article. What do you think?

-We raise 60 billion animals for food each year--10 animals for every human on earth.

-Just to sustain current consumption levels (and consumption is increasing, so this is conservative), we'll raise 120 billion animals a year by 2050.

-If you grow corn and eat it, you expend 2.2 calories of energy to yield 1 calorie of protein. But if you process that corn, feed it to a steer, and take into account the other needs that steer has in its lifetime--land use, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, machinery, transport, antibiotics, and water--you're responsible for 40 calories of energy to get that same 1 calorie of protein.

-A steak dinner for a familiy of four is the rough energy equivalent of driving around in an SUV for three hours while leaving all the lights on at home.

-The average American meat eater is responsible for one and a half tons more CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas--enough to fill a large house annually--than someone who eats no meat.