Shift to vegan diet would benefit planet

To the editor:

With the 47th annual observance of Earth Day today, this is a great time to explore more effective ways of slowing climate change and conserving Earth's natural resources for future generations.

A 2010 UN report charged animal agriculture with 19 percent of man-made greenhouse gases, more than all transportation, and recommended a global shift to a vegan diet. A subsequent World Watch study placed that contribution closer to 50 percent. Meat and dairy production also dumps more water pollutants than all other human activities combined. It is the driving force in global deforestation and wildlife habitat destruction.

Last fall, England's prestigious Chatham House declared that reducing meat consumption is critical to achieving global climate goals. A report from Oxford University found that global adoption of a vegan diet would reduce greenhouse emissions by two-thirds. The 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has recommended reduced meat consumption and an environmentally sustainable diet.

Just as we replace fossil fuels by wind, solar, and other sustainable energy sources, we must replace animal foods with the more sustainable vegetables, fruits, and grains. Being mindful of this can help us make better choices at the supermarket.

Bernie Emmett, Pittsfield