Al Gore joins the vegan ranks

Al Gore

Photo by Flickr user Center for American Progress Action Fund, used under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Juliet Eilperin recently reported for The Washington Post that

former vice president Al Gore has gone vegan, just like the president with whom he once served….

It is unclear why Gore, one of the nation’s most visible climate activists, has given up dairy, poultry and meat products. People usually become vegan for environmental, health or ethical reasons, or a combination of these three factors.

As Ben Adler writes for Grist,

Forbes merely tossed in a throwaway line referring to Gore as “newly vegan,” in a story about investors looking at ways of replacing eggs with plant-based formulas. The Post was unable to get any further details beyond confirmation from an unnamed Gore associate.

Perhaps, as the Post’s Juliet Eilperin suggests, Gore was worried about his health….

But it seems likely that concerns about the environment, especially his top cause of climate change, played a role in Gore’s thinking. Industrial animal agriculture is bad for local water quality, as it spreads around manure and antibiotics. But it is also bad for greenhouse gas emissions. Animals, especially pigs and even more so cows, produce methane as a byproduct of digestion….

Raising livestock contributes to climate change and environmental degradation in other ways as well: it takes far more grain and land to produce a calorie of food for humans by feeding grains to animals than directly to people. That means more destruction of grasslands and forests for farming, more tractors burning fuel, and more pesticides seeping into the groundwater. Back in 2006, a United Nations report found that livestock accounts for 18 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions.

And now, a new report from the National Academy of Sciences suggests that we have been vastly underestimating livestock’s contribution to the U.S.’s greenhouse gas emissions.

For more check out the links above.

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