Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Vegetarianism: automatically ethical?

The Freakonomics blog is perhaps the most popular blog in the world. This entry discusses vegetarianism as, automatically, an ethical decision, from an environmental standpoint, that we should strive for. The author actually discusses ways for people to commit to being a partial vegetarian, it is apparently that important.

Perhaps vegetarianism is good for the environment. I recognize studies have shown that meat production results in large amounts of greenhouse gases, but that alone tells me nothing. The production of almost anything in large quantities produces greenhouse gases. I have not seen a study that shows greenhouse gases emitted from meat on a per dollar basis is larger than that from other goods. Neither have I seen a study that shows the "other stuff" vegetarians purchase from their smaller food bill and the greenhouse gases it creates does not offset the reduction in emissions from reduced meat consumption.

Until those studies arrive (which they probably won't), it seems to be the maintained assumption that meat is bad for the environment.