For some reason, members of PETA are under the impression that “meat is the #1 cause of global warming.” They’ve got banners that chide Al Gore for ingesting animal products, but according to Salon, they haven’t done their homework:
As Phil Gutis, the Natural Resources Defense Council’s communications director and an erstwhile PETA member, says, ‘I wouldn’t look to PETA for science.’ The No. 1 cause of global warming is burning fossil fuels for electric power.
That said, raising livestock does create global warming emissions—cattle burp up a whole lot of methane, which is bad news for the environment. The good news is that, according to a study in the science journal Earth Interactions, chickens are a lot more energy efficient. They don’t emit staggering amounts of methane, and they only require “2 pounds of grain to produce a pound of meat, compared with about 6 pounds of grain for a feedlot cow and 3 pounds for a pig,” writes Salon.
And believe it or not, American vegetarians who consume dairy and eggs are emitting more greenhouse gases than nonvegetarians who consume poultry, dairy, and eggs but not red meat:
‘Astonishingly enough,’ says study coauthor Gidon Eshel, a Bard College geophysicist, ‘the poultry diet is actually better than lacto-ovo vegetarian.’ In other words, a roast chicken dinner is better for the planet than a cheese pizza. ‘If you need to eat dead animals, poultry is the way to go,’ says Eshel, a vegan.
If your love for cheese outweighs your concerns about global warming, this article won’t place too high on your reading list—but at the very least, it’s worth checking out for the bizarre photo of a (rubber?) chicken looking quizzically at a slab of raw meat that’s being grilled over a flaming planet Earth.