Governments worldwide are challenged with the task of reducing greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency analyzes and makes recommendations for Dutch and international policy for environmental sustainability.
In February, researchers issued a proposal involving a dietary change that would also reduce the cost of mitigating global warming. Department Director Dr. Joop Oude Lohuis said in a phone interview that this study was one of a growing number being conducted in Europe.
Dr. Joop Oude Lohuis – Department Director, Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (M): We are now at the point that science has more and better numbers on the effect of changing our diet and eating less meat. So there is more consensus on that side if you look at the total picture of the chain. It did lead to several heavy discussions in Germany, in the Netherlands, some in Belgium and in the UK.
VOICE: The Netherlands study, entitled “Climate Benefits of Changing Diet,” analyzed the entire chain of animal-raising activities from field to fork. It calculated the monetary cost of halting climate change, which was defined as stabilizing atmospheric CO2 at the level of 450 parts per million.
The report concluded that US$20 trillion, or 50 percent of a total US$40 trillion estimated cost, could be saved from the global shift to a low-meat diet.
What would happen in the case of a vegetarian or vegan diet?
Dr. Joop Oude Lohuis (M): If you would go for a completely meatless diet in the next 10-15 years, then in the year 2050 you would have a 70% reduction of attaining the climate goals That is a substantial cost reduction in getting to the same climate targets.
VOICE: Going even further, the researchers found that a completely vegan diet with no animal products would save an enormous 80% by 2050. What’s more, another benefit was discovered. Because plant-based diets produce much more food for humans than meat and dairy-based diets, some of the land not used to grow livestock could be turned back into carbon-absorbing forests, which are known to help reduce CO2 emissions.
Dr. Joop Oude Lohuis (M): We assumed that the grasslands that were not used by cattle anymore would go back to their natural state. For that reason, several parts of the world will grow forests and retain carbon in terms of more woodland.
VOICE: Dr. Oude Lohuis said the trend toward plant-based alternatives to meat has already gained momentum as consumers learn about meat’s harm to health and the environment.
Dr. Joop Oude Lohuis (M): If you look around in shops, maybe two years ago there were four, five, or six alternatives in terms of soy products or alternatives for a piece of meat. And now it has quadrupled; maybe there are 20 or 25.It’s a very easy way to change your buying behavior and have a fantastic quality of your meal. It saves lives as well.
VOICE: We thank Dr. Joop Oude Lohuis and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency for demonstrating to us the tremendous power of a plant-based diet in reducing both financial costs and our carbon footprint. May we all quickly make this free and immediately beneficial choice to save lives and our planet.
In July 2008, during a videoconference with our Association members in the United States, Supreme Master Ching Hai once more encouraged the worldwide trend toward vegetarianism.
All those positive changes do indicate the higher level of consciousness as the world population become more aware of the ephemeral nature of life and how fragile the planet can be and realizing their lifestyle habits should be changed. So now they begin to treat the environment with respect.
They begin to have more vegetarian choice. It’s good to see.
All that change is good. And if we hasten this process, there will be Heaven on Earth. I hope we can make it. Just change to vegetarian diet. How easier can it be!