Meat, To Eat or Not to Eat

Meat, To Eat Or Not To Eat

Patrick Hogan, NASA Earth Scientist Emeritus
and Greta Thunberg supporter

To eat or not to eat, that is the question, whether ‘tis nobler, in the mind, to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune [Shakespeare’s Hamlet ‘To be or not to be‘ ]. . .or to consume animal flesh willy-nilly without considering the repercussions for sustainable life on Earth.

We could be as smart as Albert Einstein, who said in a personal letter of December 1930 “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”  That’s Einstein for you, doing some very quantum thinking deep into time.   Even Leonardo da Vinci, the ultimate Renaissance man, is considered to have been a vegetarian. And the good news is this choice can be quite healthy as well as tasty, while also diminishing some very cruel conditions for a peaceful creature. Not to mention sparing life on Earth for half its debt in greenhouse gas emissions.

Livestock raising activity alone is responsible for 18% of the world’s greenhouse gases!  This is more than all transportation combined, and only second to energy production. Add another 13% for livestock transportation, and on sum, including the 20% carbon-cost for their feed, livestock and related activities account for 51% of all  greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide, that’s around 32 billion tons (scientists refer to as gigatons [gt]) of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year.

USA citizens actually pay dearly to encourage this enormously destructive behavior! USA federal tax dollars subsidize the US meat-and-dairy industries to the tune of $38 billion dollars every single year! That’s not for small farmers, that’s thirty-eight billion for big agri-business and their shareholders. And where does most of that meat go? Burgers! Our penchant for burgers is getting us deeper into unsustainable carbon debt.

Americans alone eat well over 10 billion burgers annually. Reducing that by even just 1/3rd is equivalent to taking a few million cars off the road (World Resources Institute).

In contrast our flowering fruits and venerable vegetables get a paltry $17 million in subsidies, an anemic 0.04% of the meat-subsidy number.

Adding insult to injury, Earth’s major oxygen supply and carbon sequestration resource, rain forests, are being clear-cut, essentially for burgers, with 1-2 acres cleared every second. And if destroying our oxygen supply were not enough of a concern, please consider the horrific treatment of these gentle creatures, especially in the ‘fattening’ months prior to their violent slaughter, a horror far too disturbing to discuss here. And deforestation’s un-sequestration of that carbon further burdens our world’s greenhouse gas emissions by another 15%.

Rain Forest Deforestation Mostly for Burgers

Click on the Graphic Below to go to the website

Some approximate food value numbers:
1 kg


The hard truth, from

  • 5% of water consumed in the US is by private homes. 55% of water consumed in the US is for animal agriculture.
  • Animal Agriculture is responsible for 20%-33% of all fresh water consumption in the world today.
  • Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, due to nitrogen-flooded ocean dead zones, water pollution and habitat destruction. Combined with the use of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers used in the production of feed crops. [Our oceans are suffocating.]
  • Nearly half of the contiguous US is devoted to animal agriculture.
  • Every minute, 7 million pounds of excrement are produced by animals raised for food in the US (leading to nitrogen-instigated ocean dead zones).
  • More than 6 million animals are killed for food every hour.
  • 82% of starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals, that are then eaten by western countries. [World Hunger Food-Choice Connection]


The positive health benefits to a meat-minimized diet are astounding!
Plenty of research confirming the wonders thereof,
including by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Minimize meat to:

  • Prevent Cancer!
  • Prevent Heart Disease!
  • Lower Blood Pressure!
  • Prevent and Reverse Diabetes!
  • Reduce Gallstones, Kidney Stones, and Osteoporosis!
  • Lower Asthma Severity and Frequency!
  • Improve mood and lower stress! [Romaine calm. . .eat veggies to your heart’s content!]


Eating meatless is delicious!


Other resources:

Rapidly approaching. . .
Arctic Runaway Event

5 Replies to “Meat, To Eat or Not to Eat”

  1. Hi,
    Just reading this article for the second time today…got to say this was well done…I like the reference to Albert Einstein and learning that most of the meat goes towards making burgers made me cry out “Burgers, for burgers?, Wow, what a waste!,” since it’s pretty easy to get the same enjoyment from a veggie burger imho.

  2. Increasing awareness is the first (and essential) step to start addressing the global environmental challenge. Climate change is an extremely complex and multi-faceted issue. We desperately need articles like this, that make people think, realise and act….fast, as we have run out of time.
    Thanks Patrick for such an informative article.


  3. Hi!

    I agree regarding OVER consumption of meat & was horrified to learn on BBC World Service that a “Meat Lobby” in Argentina thinks people in many other countries eat too little meat & that Argentina should produce & export more beef.

    I enjoy vegan & vegetarian food, & eggs, small portions of meat, fish. i.e. variety, balance. My view almost mirrors that in HARMONY: HRH Pr.of Wales et al ISBN978000734803.

    Two interesting (and frightening) reads:
    Eric Schlosser: FAST FOOD NATION ISBN 0-395-97789-4 .
    Véronique Richez-Lerouge: LA VACHE QUI PLEURE ISBN978-2-36942-356-0.

    Regarding vegetables, cereals and soils, listen to BBC World Service program about moving from toxic chemicals to ORGANIC wheat of farmers (men) & varied ORGANIC vegetables (women). They plant trees to bring in the birds (natural pest control).

    We are eating too much meat, over-fishing, our plastic is going into seafood, we are over-consuming poor quality food…

    We can learn a lot from First Peoples and availability of different food stuffs for varied geography…running out of time…tbc in Jan 2019

    In haste… but Thank You Patrick

  4. Hi! Hope all “foodies” can see this. April mentioned food question. My computer skills are limited. You know my views from my previous comment & I’m not sure whether or not this is the best place to update. FARMING TODAY on BBC Radio 4 is broadcast daily at 5.45 a.m. GMT. and they have spoken of COP24! This week farmers, NFU etc. address practical aspects of food chain, environment etc.Topics include growing food without people, shellfish, sheep, trees, methane, soil, gene editing, Not sure how easy it is for you people in Canada, USA et al to download BBC. Most actions have unintended consequences & I can update on food. More interesting programs on BBC World Service..harnessing the sun, nuclear fusion, solar energy, fertilising…Meanwhile, veg. dishes & garden fruit & naturally reared meat from archeological/educational farm I help support & baking with eggs of hens free to roam under the trees & eating pests in a veg.patch (not mine) in program for Xmas meal.

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