Meatless Mondays for Community Health & Climate Justice!

I challenge all of us meat eaters to have a meatless Monday every Monday!  I have done it before, mostly in community potlucks where friends and colleagues got together at a local veteran artist’s home here in Fresno.  It was delicious because the vegetarian food was coming from different cultures and flavors.  I grew up with my mom engineering some of the best Mexican medicine which, on the most part, is vegetarian.  I love going back home!  Of course I speak of beans, rice, nopales or as we like to affectionately call ’em, nopalitos (cactus), calabacitas, garbanzos, lentejas, verdulagas, chile molcajete, pico de gallo, tortillas and much, much more!

Did you know that tomatoe, chile, potatos, nopales, squash, maiz are all indigenous to the Americas! We have been dining on these vitals for many millenia!  Also, meat was never an everyday meal, on the most part, for indigenous nations.  As with the Purepecha in Michoacan, we never ate pork until after spanish colonization.  Now, Michoacan is famous for its Carnitas (Pork meat cooked in its own lard).  My mom taught me early on to not dig swine, an experience with carnitas fortified my boycott.  The more popular meat that was eaten by my Purepecha folks was fish at a time when the land had more lakes/water.  Hence, the Mexicas or Aztecs called the Purepecha’s land Michoacan, land of the fishermen.  The name stuck and we are very proud of it!  That is to say that many of the people’s that identify with indigenous roots in this continent or another have a cultural claim to healthy vegetarian food and not over consume and exploit meat.  I like to call it the de-colonization of my person.  It is not easy but it is possible.  Let’s start with one day a week, together as a community.

Just recently, Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), shared with media sources that people should start by having one meat-free day per week then cut back further. I think one Meatless Monday Community Potluck would be ideal for numerous reasons.  First, it will initiate healthy habits that will reflect on self and on mother earth in a positive manner.  Second, it can become a celebration of community, health and our environment while strengthening ties between families in our communities which have to some extent become strangers to each other and therefore have allowed the slipping of a community culture to succesfully raise a child.  Third, it will be delicious and who knows what can grow out of a healthy gathering of good intentioned folks and creative minds.  Be a rebel, give it a try!


Rey Leon, el LEAPer


Eat less meat to fight climate change

8 Sep 2008, 0051 hrs IST,AFP
LONDON: People should cut their consumption of meat to help combat climate change, a top UN expert said.

Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told the Observer that people should start by having one meat-free day per week then cut back further. The 68-year-old Indian economist, who is a vegetarian, said diet change was important in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and environmental problems associated with rearing cattle. “Give up meat for one day (per week) initially, and decrease it from there,”he said. “In terms of immediacy of action and the feasibility of bringing about reductions in a short period of time, it clearly is the most attractive opportunity.”

Other small-scale lifestyle changes would also help to combat climate change, he said. “That’s what I want to emphasise: we really have to bring about reductions in every sector of the economy.”

Pachauri is due to give a speech in London on Monday under the title: “Global Warning: the impact of meat production and consumption on climate change”.

Pachauri, who was re-elected for a second six-year term as IPCC chairman last week, has headed the organisation since 2002 and oversaw its seminal assessment report in 2007 which gave graphic forecasts of the risks posed by global warming.

The IPCC warned then that without action the planet’s rising temperatures could unleash catastrophic change to earth’s climate system, leading to massive species loss.

Less Meat = Less Heat

by Warren McLaren, Sydney on 09.24.07

Food & Health (food)

Wanna do something about global warming, but can’t pony up for a Prius or solar panels? There is another option. Reduce your consumption of red meat. Worldwide agriculture, especially livestock production, accounts for about a fifth of greenhouse gas emissions (see chart after the fold). A report published in the renown medical journal The Lancet proposes that developed countries cut their meat munching to 90g per day, with only 50g of that coming from ruminants such as cattle or sheep. Currently folk in ‘the West’ eat, on average, their own body weight in meat a year. Per day that’s 224g, or the equal of two quarter pounder burgers. In developing countries the daily average is 47g. (100g = 3.5 oz).

Proportion of greenhouse-gas emissions from different parts of livestock production. Adapted from FAO. (from full Lancet report)

The report suggests that maintaining current high red meat consumption contributes to the threats posed by climate change, such as reduced food yields, due to increased weather anomalies like drought, flood, etc. Limiting meat eating will reduce these risks as well as helping to tackle related obesity and cancer issues.

This ain’t the first time this information has come across our pixels. We’ve looked at similar studies before. See here and here, for example.

::The Lancet (free subscription required), the article is entitled Food, livestock production, energy, climate change, and health, via The Age

Groups Vow to Fight Carbon Emissions Cap-and-Trade Plan

By Margot Roosevelt – The Los Angeles Times, February 20, 2008

Low-income community groups in five California cities launched a statewide campaign Tuesday to “fight at every turn” any global-warming regulation that allows industries to trade carbon emissions, saying it would amount to “gambling on public health.”

The 21-point “Environmental Justice Movement Declaration” challenges the stance of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a national advocate of a cap-and-trade program that would allow heavy polluters, often located in poor neighborhoods, to partly buy their way out of lowering their emissions.

“Under a trading scheme, 11 power plants to be built around Los Angeles could offset emissions by extracting methane from coal seams in Utah or planting trees in Manitoba,” said Jane Williams of the California Communities Against Toxics, which fights pollution in low-income areas.

The defiant tone of news conferences in Los Angeles, Fresno, Oakland, Sacramento and San Diego indicated that political turbulence might be ahead as the state Air Resources Board hammers out a strategy to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as required under a 2006 law.

Until now, the debates over how to implement the law have been conducted in polite workshops with industry and environmental groups offering technical testimony to state air board officials. The agency must design a plan, due at the end of this year, to ratchet down emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, an effort that is likely to affect virtually every industry in the state.

“Cap and trade is a charade to continue business as usual,” said Angela Johnson Meszaros, director of the California Environmental Rights Alliance.

Environmental justice groups instead favor carbon fees on polluting industries, a strategy endorsed by many economists as simpler and more transparent, although politically tough to enact.

Williams and Meszaros are co-chairs of the Air Board’s Environmental Justice Advisory Committee, set up under the 2006 global warming law to counsel the state on how to avoid disproportionate effects on low-income communities.

The global warming legislation requires the board to consider cap and trade, and the governor’s strong advocacy of the system makes its adoption likely. The debate is likely to center on how to design such a regulatory regime. One issue is whether to auction off carbon emissions permits or simply give them to polluting industries.

A group of Western states and Canadian provinces is designing a regional trading program. And the climate bill with the most support in Congress, sponsored by Sens. John W. Warner (R-Va) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), includes a cap-and-trade system.

The 18 groups that signed the declaration included the San Joaquin Valley Latino Environmental Advancement & Policy Institute, Oakland’s West County Toxics Coalition, the L.A.chapter of the Physicians for Social Responsibility and Delano’s Assn. of Irritated Residents.

Notably absent were any of the big mainstream environmental groups, such as the Natural Resources Defense Council or the Sierra Club, both of which declined to comment publicly on the environmental justice declaration.

For the most part, national environmental groups are backing cap-and-trade plans, even though many of them would prefer the politically unpalatable carbon fee or tax. The proceeds of auctioning off credits, some groups argue, could be distributed to low-income communities.

Meszaros said she didn’t trust an auction system. “We’re concerned that proceeds from an auction won’t be applied to transitioning us to a zero-carbon future. State law requires that fees be used for the issue for which the fee is assessed. But with budget shortfalls in California, proceeds from an auction are going to be sucked into filling the holes.”

Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the air board, said the global warming law requires “the most cost-effective solution to reducing emissions,” and that her agency would “run the numbers” on various systems, including cap and trade and fees. “This problem is too big and complicated to rule any technique off the table.”