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COA professor Doreen Stabinsky explains how diet impacts our climate [Vermont Public]

Beyond salad and fries: There are more ways to eat your vegetables now —and help the planet too

By Susan Sharon • Vermont Public 

Eat more vegetables. You probably got that a lot as a kid. Well, now climate scientists say there’s more reason than ever to follow that advice. Meat and dairy account for more than 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

So if the world is going to limit warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, there will have to be a seismic shift in what people eat and how it’s produced. That’s giving rise to plant-based diets that are part of a social change movement

Doreen Stabinsky, a professor of global environmental politics at the College of the Atlantic, says there’s something to consider:

“Large scale, industrial animal agriculture is seriously under threat from climate change. I don’t actually see how we continue large scale industrial agriculture with rising temperatures, in particular, but rising temperatures and increasing drought and so impacts on water supply,” Stabinsky says.

Stabinsky says extreme heat events could kill large numbers of cows at a time since it’s unlikely they’re going to be housed in air-conditioned barns. And droughts are happening in places where animals are produced, which is why she thinks the transformation to plant-based alternatives may be helped along.

“I’m talking about large scale feedlots in the Midwest, but also you know, corn and soy…the crops primarily grown to feed animals,” Stabinsky says.

A vegetarian for several decades, Stabinsky says she’s now almost completely vegan for climate reasons. In 2018 she co-authored a report that suggests a 50% reduction in consumption of animal-based foods will be necessary to avoid the worst effects of climate change. That’s roughly two five-ounce servings of meat per week, two glasses of milk and two four-ounce servings of cheese.

Read more…