中国与世界,环境危机大家谈

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The environmental benefits of vegetarianism

Jiang Jingsong

Readinch

Meat production is not only cruel, but it also brings with it a host of threats to China’s – and the world’s – fragile ecology. If you want to go green, go veggie, writes Jiang Jingsong.

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There is no need to recount the litany of China’s environmental disasters; catastrophes such as the blue-green algae that choked Taihu Lake appear daily on our TV screens and in our newspapers. Protecting our environment may today be the biggest challenge that faces humanity.

Many will turn to science for a solution. But reality demonstrates that relying on science alone will not lead to success. Unless we change our lifestyles, scientific advances will only accelerate damage to the environment.

It would take a day to fell a large tree in the past, and it would be months or even years before that tree was turned into processed wood and used to construct buildings in a far-off city. But now the lumber industry can flatten entire forests in very little time, and have the wood converted into floors and furniture in a matter of days. We do not have the respect and awe for nature that, in other times, held what little industrial capacity there was in check. The loss of this “superstition”, combined with the driving force of capitalism, has meant nothing now restrains us from using our technology to squeeze every last drop of profit from nature.

 

In certain respects, vegetarianism is a higher moral choice. It avoids the killing and enslavement of animals, and it helps protect the environment. The converting of fodder to meat involves massive waste – any given area of land can support 20 times as many vegetarians as meat-eaters. South America’s tropical rainforests are being felled to provide pasture for livestock – and even these pastures are not used in a sustainable manner and are quickly abandoned. Every hamburger results in the loss of around 6.25 cubic metres of forest.

 

But industrialised farming doesn’t only cause suffering to animals – it also creates massive amounts of pollution. Figures show that every kilogram of beef requires 10,000 litres of water and produces 40 kilograms of excrement. More dung is produced than the environment can cope with, and since it cannot all be used as fertiliser it ends up in the natural world.

 

Industrial farming is a burden for an already fragile ecology; it has increased the numbers of cattle and the methane they produce, which is a significant contributor to global warming. It has led to the accumulation of harmful chemicals in ever-longer food chains; the appearance of pharmaceutical additives in animal fodder; and the loss of topsoil due to over-grazing.

 

History shows that our current lifestyles and values are not conducive to solving these environmental issues. Yet if we adjusted our ways, this could be done. Vegetarians, simply by resisting the temptations of meat, can avoid contributing to these problems.

 

Giving up meat may seem like a grim prospect to many, but really it is not so bad. Vegetarians are more healthy and vigorous than their meat-eating counterparts. Ten-time Olympic medal winner Carl Lewis is a vegetarian, along with many successful athletes in fields where endurance is key, such as cycling, long-distance running and swimming. In many western countries, vegetarianism is common among those who take care of their health, and it is a fashionable choice for the young.

 

Many people in China today misunderstand vegetarianism; they confuse the conscious decision to refuse meat – for the sake of the environment and animal welfare – with the enforced vegetarianism of poverty. The latter diet is, of course, unhealthy. However, this is due the inadequate, monotonous and unbalanced diet that poverty brings, rather than the lack of meat in itself. Vegetarianism as a choice, with an adequate and balanced nutritional intake, is a perfectly healthy option.

 

However, many people still find it an unpalatable option, and feel the diet cannot satisfy their taste for meat. Generations of Chinese cuisine have made meat-eating a strong part of our culture, and a vegetarian diet seems like an inferior choice. But pay a bit more attention to the culinary arts, and the flavour of vegetarian cooking is in no way second-rate. First-time diners at vegetarian restaurants are often surprised at how good a meat-free meal can taste. Vegetarian restaurants in China have a long history of producing meals designed to mimic the taste and texture of meat – a godsend for those recent converts who still lust for that meaty taste. And there is no need to be strictly vegetarian all the time; you can choose the degree and duration of your commitment as it suits your lifestyle.

 

China’s tradition of Buddhism means vegetarianism once had a strong following. But today we have a lower percentage of vegetarians than western countries. There are many reasons for this, one being the low-level of education about the environmental benefits of meat-free living, another being the general lack of ecological awareness. However, Peking University founded its Vegetarian Society in 2000, and a number of leading universities now have groups advocating the rejection of meat. Vegetarianism is an up-and-coming youth movement in China, promoted by those with a sense of social and environmental responsibility. It has a bright future, and people who care about the environment should pay attention – and maybe even join us.

Homepage photo by mac_vegetarian

 
 

Jiang Jingsong, Doctor of Philosophy, Tsinghua University Institute of Science, Technology and Society.

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素食者的缺失

在中国佛教传统文化的背景下如此之少的素食者人口是件悲伤和令人吃惊的事。我建议在中国寺庙周围推出一些斋菜,这样会使素菜自然的被人们所接受。作为一名生活在中国的素食主义者来说,它们真是太棒了。

China's lack of vegetarians

It's a sad - and surprising - thing that there is so little vegetarianism in China, given there is a well-established tradition of Buddhist cuisine. I would recommend the meat-free (yet surprisingly convincing) dishes available near Buddhist temples around China, as a vegetarian living in China they are fantastic. -VC


能量消耗

生产肉类对生态的影响还反映在能量消耗方面,尤其是非再生能源.具 (New Scientist), 每生产一公斤牛肉消耗1.69亿焦耳能量.相当于一个100瓦的灯泡持续亮20年消耗的能量.这还不包括维护农机和运输消耗的能量. ZJ
http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/
earth/mg19526134.500-meat-is-murder-on-the-environment.html

Energy Consumption

Meat production is responsible for deteriorating biological system in terms of energy consumption, particularly unrenewable energy consumption. According to New Scientist,producing a kilogram’s beef consumes 169 megajoules of energy which is enough to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 DAYS. The calculations did not include the impact of maintaining farm infrastructure and transporting the meat.


能量消耗

更正:应该是100瓦灯泡连续工作20天.

Energy Consumption

Correction: it should be "to illuminate a 100w light bulb continuously for 20 days".


素食主义

北大的这一活动很有意义。我也提倡素食主义。但并不是不吃肉,而是少吃。 这不是一个简单的饮食习惯,更是一个道德的问题。推荐大家到网上看看素食的做法。其实素食也是很有讲究的。不是只有大鱼大肉才好吃哦!

Vegetarianism

The activities in Peking University are meaningful. I’m personally for Vegetarianism which I don’t think means diet without meat at all but as little as possible. Vegetarianism is more than an eating habit. It’s a moral choice. I recommend people to search online for recipes of vegetables which are probably more delicious than fish and meat.


不是除了素食者就是肉食者这么简单

如果对比东西方的食谱,你会发现以米饭为主食的东方人摄取肉类要比西方人少得多;同样,以烹调方法来说,大部分的东方的主食烹调时消耗的能量也比西方动辄使用200摄氏度以上的大烘箱要少。中国素食者少并不代表中国的饮食习惯消耗更多的能量和资源。在中国和其他很多国家提供肉类需要的畜牧业对自然资源的破坏是无可置疑,但是这也和肉类需求量以及畜牧方式有关,而不应该对肉食全盘否定。我同意上面的说法,人的饮食习惯不能按照简单的按照肉食或素食来区分,而是应该根据摄取量的多少,鼓励人们少食肉。这就像开车和坐飞机旅行,这两者同样消耗能源并对气候变化有不好的影响,但我们只能说鼓励人们少开车和少坐飞机旅行,而不是完全放弃。素食者这个概念之所以遇到的阻力较大,也是部分因为这成了一个标签,一旦叫做素食者你就不能再吃肉,这是一个很大的承诺。由于没有十足把握能做到,人们就会倾向于拒绝。而如果是提倡少吃肉多吃蔬菜,我想阻力会小得多,效果也会好很多。

王韬
Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research & Sussex Energy Group
廷道尔气候变化研究中心和苏塞克斯能源研究小组

It’s not as simple as vegetarianism or meat eating

Comparing western recipes and eastern ones, you’ll find Asians whose staple food is rice eat much less meat than western people. It's also likely that in most cases eastern ways of cooking consume less energy than western methods. In China there are fewer vegetarians, but it doesn’t mean Chinese eating habits consume more energy and resource. Animal farming does have a detrimental impact on natural resources. But meat production are also responsible for the consequences; people should not deny meat completely. I agree with the idea that eating habits should not be simply divided into vegetarianism and meat eating. In my opinion, we should advocate people to eat less meat. It’s like driving and travelling by air. Both burn energy and accelerate climate change. But what we can do is to persuade people to drive less and fly less rather than deny both. Obstacles to the acceptance and spread of the concept of vegetarianism partially lie in the term, which is like a label of ‘no meat at all’. People are apt to reject the concept because they think it’s too challenging to carry out. However, if we advocate people to eat more vegetables and less meat, the concept of vegetarianism will become more acceptable.

Wang Tao, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research & Sussex Energy Group


大家对于素食了解得还是太少

生态保护当然不只是素食,但是不可否认素食的正面作用。提倡素食,并非要求所有人都一定要完全戒绝肉食,素食可以长期素食,可以间断素食。中国古代就有吃花斋的传统,即每月中固定几日吃素,就是为了解决许多人认同素食的价值,但由于种种原因而不能彻底实践素食的问题。而且,在戒绝肉食的种类上也有不同的等级。最关键的是,素食是个人资源的行为,不必向任何人负责,所以当然可以虽然停止素食。
蒋劲松

Little do People Know about Vegetarianism

Environmental protection is not merely vegetarianism while we cannot deny the positive effect vegetarianism has exerted on it. Advocacy of vegetarianism doesn’t require everyone to give up meat diet completely. Instead, vegetarians can keep eating vegetarian diet either consecutively or discontinuously. In ancient China, people have the habit of eating vegetarian diet at fixed dates during a month so as to solve the problem facing by many people that they agree with vegetarianism but cannot stick to vegetarian diets because of various reasons. In addition, in terms of which type of meat people should give up, there are varied scales. The key issue here is that vegetarianism is purely voluntary behaviour, without claiming responsibility to anybody. Therefore, people can cease vegetarian diet at will. Jiang Jinsong


更正

当然可以随时停止素食。

Correction:

People can certainly cease vegetarian diet at any time.


提倡素食舍本逐末

文章分析的充分,可惜没抓住中国在“食”问题上的根本:不是我们肉吃多了(比肉食为主的欧美人还是少多了),而是大吃大喝特别是公款吃喝。不仅浪费资源和产生环境影响,而且消耗国家财富。

政府每年公款吃喝、铺张浪费的钱约为3000亿人民币,正好是2006年我国国家财政对社会保障投入的数字。另据国家环保局,十一五(2006-10年)我国环境保护投入将达14000亿元,平均2800亿元!还不如当官的一年吃喝掉的钱多.

政府不先带头减少杜绝公款吃喝,却让百姓吃素,行得通吗?建议教授们大学生们把智慧和能量用在对中国更切实的地方。

Vegetarianism is impractical and unreasonable

The article presents substantial analysis on the eating problem in China but fails to catch the foundation of it which is eating and drinking using public funds. Apart from wasting resource and affecting environment, it consumes national wealth. Chinese government spends 300 billion yuan on unnecessary creational activities annually which is equal to the amount of national investment in social security in 2006. Besides, according to State Environmental Protection Administration of China during the Period of the Eleventh Five Year Plan' the investment on environmental protection will reach 1,400 billion yuan which is less than the money wasted by officials. Any effort won’t work if government doesn’t set a good model by stopping burning pubic funds. Here I suggest that professors and college students devote their wisdom and passion to more practical things.


基本不赞成

现在的寺庙都成了旅游区,和尚都承包了,上班穿制服(假纱)下班开车下山,老婆孩子席梦思,酒肉不断,俨然中产阶级派头!

Basically, I disagree

Nowadays, the temples have turned into tourist spots and the monks have won the contract to run them. They wear uniform (Buddhist robe) at work and drive down the hill after work. With wives, children, simmous bed, meat and wine, they lead a comfortable life as the middle classes.


保护环境是大家的事

素食也不是政府提倡的。素食至少没有坏处,即使对于素食者自己而言也是更有利于健康的。我的文章没有说这是中国环境的“根本”。不能因为存在公款吃喝浪费的事就放弃其他一切有利环境的事不做。建议大家还是多从积极的角度下功夫,一味抱怨是无济于事的。
蒋劲松

Protecting environment is everyone’s responsibility

It is not the government that promotes vegetarianism. Vegetarianism is harmless and even a healthy way of life for vegetarians themselves. In my article, I didn’t mean it is the ‘root’ of environmental problem in China. We should not only focus on the problem of eating and drinking using public funds while totally ignore other environmentally friendly efforts. Therefore, I suggest everyone think about the issue from a positive perspective rather than endless complaining, which doesn’t help at all. Jiang Jingsong


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