A more sustainable diet

We can have more control over our diets than almost anything else we do. It's hard for a non-expert to control the fuel efficiency of our cars and trucks or the distances we are compelled to travel for our jobs. Face it, most of us feel pretty powerless when it comes to whether or not our power comes from coal, natural gas, or wind energy. But we have lots of control over what we eat.

One of the biggest impacts Americans can have on their diets is to reduce or stop their consumption of animal products. Suffice it to say that the total energy inputs that go into livestock like pigs, cows, and chickens are astronomical in comparison to grains, fruits, and vegetables. Additionally, the pollution side effects of intensive livestock operations can be remarkable, including watershed crippling fecal runoff from dairy farms to the infamously toxic feces lagoons at hog farms. Chicken farms where chickens are raised to get maximum breast size and weight receive enormous amounts of antibiotics, thereby driving antibiotic resistance (picture courtesy of Johns Hopkins Magazine). Simply put, the factory farm industry jeopardizes ecosystems' health across the country.

And this says nothing about the ethical implications of what the philosopher Peter Singer might call unimaginable animal suffering (see this blog about Singer's visit to Penn State last year). Animals in "factory farms" are sometimes beaten, are kept in filthy conditions that are highly toxic, and kept from having any pleasant contact with their own species.

Finally, the health effects of a meat-intensive diet are by now well-documented. Heart disease. High cholesterol. Increased exposure to lethal E. coli.

Today's guest, Mick Kunz, president of the Penn State Vegetarian Club, will talk to us about why people choose to forgo animal-intensive diets. We will talk about the difference between vegetarianism and veganism and the range of differences in there including so-called "freegans." Whatever the range, the average vegetarian's diet has a smaller environmental impact than the average American meat eaters. Kunz will walk us through the moral, environmental, and personal health reasons people hold for going vegetarian and vegan and provide us with some tips on what we can do to reduce or eliminate our animal product intake.

Listen in today from 5-6 pm on The Lion 90.7 fm. Have questions or a comment, give a buzz at 865-9577 or send an email to sustainabilitynowradio@gmail.com.

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