Opinion: Go vegan — it’s the best way to help our environment | SierraSun.com

Opinion: Go vegan — it’s the best way to help our environment

John Merryfield
Opinion

I’m writing in response to the Sierra Sun’s April 18th article, “Tahoe Truckee Earth Day Festival promotes environment.”

While it was commendable that the Sierra Sun covered the Earth Day event on April 16 at Squaw Valley, including helpful suggestions such as conserving water by repairing leaks, recycling and walking instead of driving, glaringly unmentioned are the meat industry’s adverse effects on the environment.

Fifty-one percent of all CO2 emissions are a result of animal agriculture, and it takes 10 times the amount of land and water to produce a meal with meat, dairy and eggs than it does to produce an equivalent sized plant-based meal.

The Sierra Sun’s lack of reporting on what is the greatest single threat to the environment is merely a reflection of our society’s unwillingness to look at our own eating habits.

For one example, according to a 2014 Oceana report, “Wasted Catch,” for every pound of wild shrimp caught, trawlers kill as much as 40 pounds of by-catch. Shrimp trawlers use nets weighted with chains dredging the seabed of all life in its path. It is the maritime version of clear cutting.

Shrimp trawling is comparable to bulldozing an entire section of rainforest to catch a single species of bird. As a result of this form of fishing, the wild shrimp population in the northern Sea of Cortez has virtually collapsed.

On my own SUP ocean expeditions, I’ve seen the damage from industrial fishing up close and personal. I can only describe the surroundings of industrial fishing operations as floating Superfund sites — with the smell of diesel, floating cigarette butts, dead puffer fish, dead shark, starfish and eels — in the otherwise pristine, turquoise waters of the Sea of Cortez.

Adopting a vegan diet is a healthy alternative to this kind of devastation. According to the U.N. report, “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” if everyone on the planet adopted a vegan diet for just one day out of the year, we would save 2 billion animals from being killed, 3 million acres of land, 1.2 million tons of CO2, and 100 billion gallons of water, which is a lot of leaky spigots.

In other words, do yourself and the earth a favor, adopt a vegan diet, significantly reduce your meat consumption, or in the very least, go meatless on Mondays.

I’ve had a plant-based diet for over 30 years and feel great! You can too, and you can make a huge difference in the world around you by doing so.

John Merryfield is co-author of the up-coming book, Vegan 1 Day, Stories of Living the Good Life, and lives in Kings Beach.