Monday, May 25, 2020

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I enjoyed your article on “fake meat” (“Beyond the Impossible Burger,” by Rabbi Jonathan Gewirtz, September 12, 2019), but you say nothing about the well-documented negative health consequences of excessive red meat consumption. In addition, you fail to mention a very important reason why these products have become so popular. People are concerned about the increasingly terrifying and obvious consequences of climate change. The following comments are distilled from several web sites:

“Going vegetarian is the easiest and quickest way to lower your carbon footprint, reduce pollution, and save energy and water. That’s because meat production requires staggering amounts of land, water and energy, compared to plant foods.”

Wasting energy isn’t problematic just because there’s less and less of it to go around. (We’ve already used more than half the oil that exists on the planet.) It’s also a problem because burning fossil fuel contributes to global warming. And raising animals for food is the driving force. As the U.K.’s Independent put it:

“Livestock are responsible for 18 percent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together.” That figure comes from no less an authority than the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Time Magazine agrees, saying, “It’s true that giving up that average 176 lb. of meat a year is one of the greenest lifestyle changes you can make as an individual.”

I would love to hear from you regarding the multitude of references in the Torah to our obligation as stewards of the land. If we support the status quo and continue to consume vast quantities of red meat, we are turning a blind eye to those sacred duties.

If eating “fake meat” helps us in rescuing the planet, I’m all for it. Oh yeah, and it’s better for our cholesterol-saturated bodies as well.

Barbara Blumenthal