How Hongkongers can help save the world: go vegetarian for a day
Most Hongkongers eat meat every day, but we may be unaware that producing that meat is having a destructive impact on the Earth’s environment (“Why Hong Kong’s love affair with meat is leaving planet paying price through carbon emissions”, June 9).
Raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, feed, energy and water, not to speak of the cruelty of killing them for meat. But we are also hurting ourselves.
A by-product of food production is greenhouse gases, and the National Academy of Sciences says that about 50 per cent of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in the US are caused by animal farming. Livestock like cattle emit global-warming gases such as methane, as a by-product of digestion, while producing meat for food involves large amounts of water and significant deforestation. The Washington-based Worldwatch Institute says deciding whether humans get most of their protein from animals or plants will have a direct effect on the world’s forests, and that an easy way to reduce the demand for water is to reduce meat consumption.
It takes an enormous amount of water to grow animal feed and to provide drinking water to farm animals. Whereas a vegan diet equates to only 300 gallons a day, a standard US diet may use up at least 14 times as much. PETA says that it takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef, while a pound of tofu only requires 244 gallons. So going vegan could see an individual save nearly 219,000 gallons of water a year.
Watch: How to go vegan, Chinese style
So what can we do? We can eat green. Even the United Nations has called for a global shift towards a vegan diet to combat the worst effects of climate change.
We don’t need to become vegetarians. We could just eat green for one day each week. On that day, we could eat tofu, beans, vegetables, nuts, and so on. I suggest schools in Hong Kong hold a weekly “green day” to encourage students to eat vegetables. Going vegetarian is healthy, and it will help to save the Earth.
Lee Ki Yung, Tseung Kwan O