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10 Signs Vegetarianism Is Catching On

Martha Stewart promotes a vegetarian Thanksgiving? Recently, much attention has been lavished on the horrors of factory farming and the advantages of a meatless diet.

On Thanksgiving, I spent some time taking stock of my life and the world around me and, as we’re supposed to do over the holiday, giving thanks for all the joys -- little and big -- in my life. One of the larger joys for which I am giving thanks is all of the recent attention that has been lavished on a topic that is near and dear to my heart -- the cruelty and environmental harm involved in raising animals for food.  

I struggled to cohesively construct an article about some of the many recent and important developments on this topic, but there is just too much. Instead, I decided on a top ten list (a tip of the hat to David Letterman) -- the 10 most interesting articles on the farmed animal welfare front.  

So without further ado:

1. World Bank scientists conclude that eating meat causes more than half of global warming (conservatively).

World Bank agricultural scientists Robert Goodland, who spent 23 years as the Bank’s lead environmental advisor, and Jeff Anhang, a research officer and environmental specialist for the Bank,  argue convincingly that more than half of all greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to our desire to eat chicken, pigs, and other farmed animals. That’s right: Add up all the causes of climate change, and you find that eating meat causes more than everything else combined. 

Honestly, this was the biggest point for me: How can I possibly take the environment seriously if I’m still participating in what is -- by far -- the biggest contributor to warming? 

Which might explain: 

2. Prominent Stanford biochemist pledges to focus ALL his energy on promoting veganism.

Most of us have heard of Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. RK Pachauri from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and  his lectures all over the world promoting vegetarianism. Now along comes Dr. Patrick O. Brown who,  as reported in (of all places)  Forbeswill spend the next 18 months focused on “put[ting] an end to animal farming.” Explains Dr. Brown, “‘There's absolutely no possibility that 50 years from now this system will be operating as it does now… I want to approach this as a solvable problem.’ Solution: ‘Eliminate animal farming on planet Earth.’” 

3. Al Gore is taking notice.

Although Gore’s  Global Warming Survival Handbook  noted that  “refusing meat” is the “single most effective thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint” (emphasis in original), Gore had not spoken publically about the issue. Now he has -- repeatedly. For example, on Larry King recently, Gore explained that “the impact of meat-intensive diet is a significant factor” in warming the planet, that “the growing meat intensity of diets around the world is bad for the planet,” and that “the more meals I've substituted with more fruits and vegetables, the better I feel about it…” The truth is becoming less inconvenient, thankfully. 

4. Celebrated author of  Everything is Illuminated  and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close  publishes riveting book based on three-year investigation of factory farming.

Jonathan Safran Foer has been widely hailed as one of the greatest novelists of his generation, was one of Rolling Stone's “People of the Year,” and Esquire's “Best and Brightest” -- and after just two extraordinary works. As Nobel Prize for literature novelist J.M. Coetzee puts it about  Foer’s latest work, “The everyday horrors of factory farming are evoked so vividly, and the case against the people who run the system presented so convincingly, that anyone who, after reading Foer's book, continues to consume the industry's products must be without a heart, or impervious to reason, or both.”