by Michael dEstries
Categories: Eats
Tags: .


Ever since Al Gore introduced his famous slideshow to the world and stood up as a leader in the fight against climate change, advocates of the vegetarian scene have urged the former Vice President to acknowledge the link between eating less meat and helping the environment. Yesterday, Gore finally jumped on board saying that reducing meat in one’s diet is “the responsible thing to do” when it comes to the fight on climate change.

Talking to ABC, Gore agreed with the UK’s Nicholas Stern that meat eaters have contributed greatly to increased global carbon emissions.”I’m not a vegetarian, but I have cut back sharply on the meat that I eat,” he said. “It’s absolutely correct that the growing meat intensity of diets around the world is one of the issues connected to this global crisis – not only because of the CO2 involved, but also because of the water consumed in the process.”

“You could add in the health consequences as well.”

Gore also added that substituting more fruit and vegetables in an everyday diet was the responsible thing to do. “I’ve made those changes, and while I don’t go quite as far as Nick saying everybody should become a vegetarian – partly because it’s difficult enough to get the agreement without adding that on top of it – it is a legitimate point of view.”

Some on this site have criticized Gore for not mentioning factory farming in his new book “Our Choice”. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but Think Progress says that Gore does indeed address the issue. From the site,

“Chapter Ten of Our Choice, ‘Soil,’ discusses the complex range of challenges and opportunities related to food production and consumption, noting in particular the costs of industrial agriculture. The chapter concludes with a series of recommendations, including practical ones for American consumers, like supporting farmers’ markets and eating less meat. And Gore follows his own advice:

There is a serious issue about the connection between the growing meat intensity of diets around the world and damage to the environment. And like a lot of people, I eat less meat now than I used to. I’m not a vegetarian, don’t plan to become one, but it’s a healthy choice to eat more vegetables and fruits. So it’s not a laughable issue.”

So, what do you think? Gore has reduced his consumption of meat — but is not planning on becoming a vegetarian. He also now publicly links factory farming as a contributor to climate change — and encourages people to reduce the meat in their diets. A good start? Or still falling far short of what you expect?

Sources: The Age and ThinkProgress

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

View all posts by Michael dEstries →
  • Christine

    “I’m not a vegetarian, don’t plan to become one” — This Gore’s response to the 2006 UN report + 2009 Worldwatch report which unequivocally conclude that animal agriculture is the NUMBER ONE cause of global warming (and surely among the greatest, if not also the greatest, causes of other environmental destruction [air & water pollution, deforestation])?????????

    Let me reiterate: WHAT A PHONEY! This is the man that holds himself out as the environmental champion of our day??? pathetic

  • jamie lynn

    i think gore is doing fine. he knows that calling for everyone to adopt a vegetarian diet is going to marginalize his efforts, as giving up meat is not an easy thing for Americans to even CONSIDER. as for gore himself, he says he is not a vegetarian, but we are not privy to his diet habits. he could only eat meat once a year on thanksgiving, putting him out of the veg category. i myself eat fish occasionally, which means that i am NOT a vegetarian. people who reduce meat consumption are still taking positive steps for themselves and the environment. let’s not get hung up on labeling.

  • ASB

    I agree with Christine; he is a complete phoney. He’s still afraid to offend the big bucks at the helm of the meat and dairy industries.

    So tired of people complaining that it’s not reasonable to expect people to reduce their consumption of animal products. Wah.

    • herwin

      here is a nice interview with Dr Rajendra Pachauri of the UN who actually states that he thinks its easier to change somebodies diet habits then to change their transport methods. (the contrary what Gore says, eh)
      “It was relatively easy to change eating habits compared to changing means of transport”
      anyway, we need plain honest outspoken fact-based opinions of the evils of the meat industry like these honchos of the UN do, not some clever political replies designed to satisfie “everybody”.
      Anyway, Gore states very clearly that he doesnt want to become vegetarian, while there is really no need to be so outspoken about that, i think.

      • hil

        Why do you feel there is no need to be outspoken about that (not wanting to become vegetarian). He’s trying to reach the masses…the American masses no less…and I’ll be the first to admit that we are a stubborn bunch!Preaching reduction over abstinence gives his target audience more options, and an option that they are less likely to rebel against.

      • herwin

        if you read the post (a little bit down here) of Michael and his two inteligent friends that wouldnt want to turn veggie for even a stunning 100 K, its clear many non-veggies have a negative idea about vegetarianism. Its okay when high profile people like Gore say to cut back on meat, that would stimulate other people to cut back or consider going veggie,but if he ends with “but i would never become vegetarian” he only makes non veggies feeling of not becoming veggie (based on what facts ?? only because they are unfamiliar with it) only more stronger”i am not going to be vegetarian” simply is a negative remark that doesnt stimualte people to do anything, he should leave it with the “i cut back on my meat” remark, that is a positive remark that inspires people to reduce meat consumption.

      • hil

        Thanks for your clarification. I guess I feel that since there are people like Micheal’s friends, that there needs to be an example of an option between vegetarian and eating meat with every meal. I feel that if Al Gore stating I don’t want to be a vegetarian but I do think it is important to eat LESS meat will encourage more people who have the same feelings to also reduce their meat consumption. Which is a good thing. I think this movement needs solid and diverse examples of how to reduce your greenhouse gases, Al Gore is just casting a wider net.

  • Erik

    I think its great that he is finally acknowledging this.. But at the same time, it really isn’t enough. People listen to him, and downplaying the issue because it is “hard” for American people to accept is a bad excuse and insults the intelligence of thousands of people. Nonetheless, it is about time he said something about it.

  • VeggieTart

    I think Gore recognizes the difficulty of getting people to change their carnistic (a nod to Melanie Joy there) mindset. People have been conditiond to think of eating meat as normal, natural, and necessary, and although veg*anism is making inroads to the mainstream, the idea still scares people.

    It’s not ideal, but I’m glad he is addressing the connection–finally–and has reduced his consumption of meat, although he doesn’t say by how much. And while I’d love it if everyone went veg, I also recognize that if two people cut their meat consumption in half, that’s like one person going veg, and it’s still a positive step.

    • Michael d'Estries

      I completely agree. The idea of being a vegetarian, for some ridiculous reason, still scares a whole lot of people.

      I had some friends over for the weekend and we were playing a game of “What Would You Do For ‘X’ Amount of Money”. When I asked both if they would go vegetarian for a year for $100K they quickly said no. Can you believe that?!! $100K in cash to go veg for 365 days and two intelligent people immediately refused.

      We’re such a meat-heavy society that it’s going to take more time to raise the national consciousness of more fruits and veggies, less meat.

      Should Gore be held to a higher standard? Absolutely. Personally, he should have talked about eating less meat and the detriments of factory farming back in 2005, not 2009. I don’t dismiss the value of his contributions to the environmental scene just because he isn’t a vegetarian, but diet should be a cornerstone of his speeches — not something that comes up b/c some ass-clown like Glenn Beck is causing a scene.

  • Livin Veg

    I think Al Gore has done so much for the environment. And I’m glad he finally spoke out about the benefits of being veg. But I am frustrated it has taken him this long and that he’s not pushing for it more aggressively.

  • Porolita

    Every wondered why he failed to mention the greatest greenhouse producer from his “inconvenient truth” film? Because it is INCONVENIENT to him. Hypocrite. But of course, that would jeopardize his business of beef cattle.

    It is not difficult to stop eating meat. It is a matter of choice. I ate meat most of my life and one day decided to stop. It’s about what’s more important to you. The animals, in my case, and “the environment” in his case. If Al Gore really cared as much as he whores himself out to, then he’d go vegan.

    • Erica

      I would like to take this moment to say that factory farms are a serious threat to the environment, the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases is……
      Industrial pollution. From factories. So, Portolita, if you’re planning to buy your kids plastic toys stamped with the trademark “Made in China”, I’m afraid you’re a hypocrite as well.

      • C

        Actually the “livestock” industry is by FAR the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
        The UN estimated that 18% percent of greenhouse gas emissions is attributable to “livestock” and then the World Watch Institute reevaluated their findings and discovered that the percentage is actually closer to 51%!
        Erica, please do some research.

  • Caitlin

    Meat reduction is a much better goal than vegetarianism. Another good goal, is getting people to avoid factory-farmed meat and buy meat that is raised more sustainably and humanely.

    You’re more likely to get more people on board with the idea that they should cut down the amount of meat in their diets, than you are by demanding that everyone eliminate it. And the net impact of getting 60% of the population to reduce the amount of meat they eat by even just 10-20% would be far greater than doubling the number of vegetarians from 5% of the population to 10%.

    • hil

      I couldn’t agree with you more Caitlin. I also would like to add that as more people reduce their consumption of meat, the demand for factory farming will also decrease. We saw this within the dairy industry, as more large consumers of milk (ie. Starbucks)refused to use milk from cows being treated with rBGH, the demand for that hormone decreased.

      • jamie lynn

        thank you caitlin! that was exactly the point i was trying to make :)

    • Emily

      This. Exactly.

      Also if he encouraged everyone to find food as locally as possible. If you get to know your farmer/rancher then you have more compassion for what you eat. And more input on how the farm/ranch is run.

      Also the food just tastes better.

      I also agree with whoever said that we don’t know his habits and that “not veg” could mean “I eat fish occasionally and Turkey at Thanksgiving and I really like eggs and cheese.” He’s got a voice, he’s got respect, and he knows that guilting people into changing their diets (a la PETA and half of the commenters on this site) is only going to cause resentment and a spike in bacon-cheeseburger sales.

    • Caitlin

      Just to clarify… I don’t mean that meat reduction is better than vegetarianism on an individual level, just that it’s a better goal to try to get the whole of society to adopt.

    • VeggieTart

      You make a good point, except for two things. One, veganism should be an ideal goal. Not everyone will be able to make it, but if they can reduce their meat consumption, or eat it as a condiment, as an occasional meal, whatever, that will be a good compromise. Two, there is no way meat can be produced “humanely”. I wish people would start saying “less cruelly raised meat” than “humane meat”.

      And sharply reducing consumption is the only possible way to produce meat sustainably.

      • Caitlin

        I don’t think it’s quite that black and white. Here, for example, is a reasonable argument for eating buffalo:

        Some people choose to become vegan because they don’t want to kill animals. I respect that as an entirely valid and rational choice. But I don’t think there is one right choice and one wrong choice. Everyone in the world consumes life in order to stay alive – that’s what food is, whether the life started off as a chicken or a blade of wheat. I think the decision on whether you are going to eat meat is one that everyone should consider but there are many ways to answer it. I don’t believe in moral absolutism and one size fits all. (In the same way, I would never judge someone’s decision to have an abortion, as I think that is a personal choice based on how individuals see the world).

        As an environmentalist, I am NOT concerned with the above question of whether or not it’s ethical to kill an individual animal. That’s a valid debate but an entirely separate one. What I’m concerned with is the overall environmental impacts of food production. I think the goal of every environmentally conscious individual should be to reduce the overall carbon impact of their diet. Cutting out meat is one way. Looking at food miles is another. Choosing organically grown food that does not rely on petrochemicals is another. There are MANY ways to answer the question – just like if you want to lose weight you aim to reduce calories but one person might do that by cutting out cake and another person might give up alcohol.

        We have to accept that food doesn’t come from a void and all food has some carbon impact. What we can do select the best option we can from what’s available, in balance with nutrition goals and personal taste. To me that means saying yes to my aunt’s home-reared chicken and no to the Mars Bar made with palm oil. It’s actually a far harder line to walk – it’s easier to just shut off one category of food and fool yourself that the job is done. The fact is that it’s not – whether you’re a vegan or an omnivore, even meal is a choice and every choice is a compromise.

    • Jeff

      If people actually care about the environment or their health and are aware of the evidence concerning how animal product consumption affects these things, they’re not going to refuse to reduce their animal product consumption just because people advocate that they become vegetarian or vegan. Similarly, if they actually care about animals’ well-being and understand that consuming animal products hurts animals (and treats them as if they’re humans’ property), they’re not going to refuse to reduce their animal product consumption just because people advocate that they become vegan. On the other hand, if they don’t give a shit, they’re not going to change their ways regardless of whether someone is honest and tells them that any animal product consumption is harmful or sugar-coats reality and pretends that just eating a little less meat does all that much for animals or the environment.

  • Kirsten@Nexyoo

    Gore could definitely go farther, but I think it’s good that’s he’s acknowledged the importance of at least reducing meat consumption. If all Americans could reduce meat consumption partially, even if they don’t become vegetarian, that would have enormous impact.

  • jen

    PETA says it Best… check out their brillant new ad:

  • Angela

    I think it’s a good start to get the message out, but still I find it a bit weak, he could have given out an idea of what is “eating less meat”! There are people I know who eat meat or fish 3 times a day and snack on non veg stuff as well…
    Al Gore is still not brave at all, but I want to look at this in a positive way, especially the “it’s not a laughable issue” bit.

  • Andree

    He’s a hypocrite and has absolutely no credibility to me.

  • Bridget

    It seems to me as if he’s making that admission to get the vegetarians off his back but is not stressing the true importance of the matter so as to not completely piss off the meat and dairy industries. He’s riding the fence, trying to keep both groups happy. He’s usually so strident about the subject and the causes for global warming. Intensive animal farming is a HUGE cause of climate change but it takes him years to come up with a weak barely-made reference to it. Not good enough. It’s a good start but he needs to say more about it.

    • Caitlin

      Is there any evidence that Gore cares about the beef and dairy industries? Does he have financial investments or something? Not that I’ve heard.

      Maybe he just doesn’t agree with you.

  • JC

    Check out this uplifting and inspiring video on why people choose vegan:

  • herwin

    seems like “a good start” but it also seems very reluctant with his “i reduce meat but i will never become vegetarian”. The Thaught !! The Horror !! Becoming a Vegetarian !!
    i totally agree with Bridget , intensive animal farming is a HUGE contributor of greenhouse gasses (not one but many reports made by respectable non vegetarian organisations tell you so) so he should do better then currently about this issue.

  • Melanie

    Who cares, he’s the most irrelevant person in the entire world. “You are hearing me speak”- al gore doll on The Simpsons. How could anyone care if he’s a vegetarian or not, he’s not the president, he’s not David Suzuki and he’s not a real celebrity.

  • Michael

    I think Mr. Gore needs to provide a little more detail as to how much meat he eats. He waited an awfully long time to make this announcement.

  • Chris

    I would like everyone to take a step back for a moment. I feel like the wheels are flying off this cart and that’s not going to do anyone any good. The debate should be over helping the environment, not is Al Gore personally doing enough or whether or not he’s a jerk.

    Let’s face the facts: the man won the Nobel Peace Prize because he brought awareness of environmental issues to the public. Before you say he should do this or shouldn’t do that, ask yourself how many Nobel Peace Prizes you’ve won for helping out the environment. My guess is it’s less than one.

    I’m sorry to be negative, but there seems to be this undercurrent that he’s a bad person because he refused to sit on high on pass judgement on all meat eaters condemning their practices to Hell. I challenge EVERYONE on this list to go back and watch or read An Inconvenient Truth and see how many times he orders people to do things or condemns large groups of people for their actions (other than maybe Congress.) I am willing to bet that he was insulted on this group of comments more times than he openly condemned groups in his work.

    So, instead of fighting over Gore and saying what else HE needs to be doing, what do WE need to be doing? Can we cut meat out of our diets at least a few meals a week? Yes. Can we buy more local produce? Yes.

    I think Caitlin had the right idea…stop supporting factory farms. Sadly, as things stand now, VeggieTart may be right…it may be hard to live without factory farms. But that’s only right now. Support non-factory farmed meat with your dollar and you’ll find there are a whole bunch more. Use the system against itself. Factory farms are popular because they make money. If suddenly they don’t make money, they go away.

    Vegetarians and vegans on this list, I admire your passion. Perhaps everyone on this list can commit to inviting over carnivore friends and feeding them a vegetarian meal. I do that all the time and now I find people ask me to not cook them meat. Just a thought.

    • Sabrina


      I feel you completely. You put my thoughts to words exactly, I couldn’t think of a better way to say it myself. I mean he has done so much and does A LOT more than many Americans. Some media may say he is a hypocrite like in USA Today when in fact the reporter was funded by Exxon Mobil. People need to actually try to move past this. It’s so sad.

      I myself have been a vegetarian since the new year, am having cravings but know if I want a lower carbon foot print I need to try harder. Although I will continue to do the many other things to help the environment that I have been.

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  • roulette

    Let’s call a spade a spade and stop with the euphemisms. “Meat” is piece of a murdered, butchered animal. We’re so conditioned and mind-numbed to forget that it was an Animal. The words murder and slaughter are used interchangeably with reference to humans. If we are to be consistent we should also recognize animal slaughter as murder. If we give lip-service to the social unacceptability of murder of humans, and lip-service to the notions of love and peace, then it should be applied to animals as well.

    For those of you looking at this problem more through the lens of environmental pragmatism over ethics, I say, the two are inextricably connected. In a word, kharma. What we do to the animals, we do to ourselves. If it is fundamentally wrong to murder, whether human to human to human to animal, then nothing that follows can ever be right.

    • EC

      Excellent comment Roulette……….there is a serious crime going on in the world and it is covered up with neutral words that attempt to hide the evil acts. People are eating murdered animals, which include babies! Humans eat murdered babies and murdered females. They may even eat the milk/eggs at the same meal, from these murdered animals while dining on their muscles! It is barbaric, evil and once a person sees the crime, it is not possible to participate ever again. Discussions about whether or not killing animals is harming the environment is yet another attempt at continuing evil deeds. A person who eats a murdered animal accepts the act of murder. It is impossible to escape the crime of murder when a person eats a piece of a murdered animal. The crime has only been extended from the person who killed the animal to the person who will eat it. It is incredibly ridiculous when a person gets defensive about his or her “right” to eat murdered animals. It is the same thing as getting defensive about murdering a living being.

      • roulette

        thanks EC … appreciate the acknowledgment. :)

  • Mad Mark

    RIGHT ON Roulette and EC!!! You have to kill an animal before you can eat it. This is called murder. When did this get so complicated? Moral behavior is NOT subject to individual interpretation. Killing is killing. We all seem to understand this concept when it comes to not killing humans for food or profit. Why not animals too? Are they not alive? And please don’t give me that crap about “blades of wheat are alive too”. Are you seriously going to tell me that bashing in a cow’s brain and then eating it is morally equivalent to picking a leaf or bean? Besides what do you think your murdered cow ate her whole life?

  • Michelle

    Al Gore bothers me. He doesn’t seem the practice what he preaches. And while I do believe in global climate change, and that is caused by man, it makes me question Al Gore’s morality, when he can’t give up a fricken hamburger for “the most important issue the world is facing”.

  • roulette

    thanks MM. Oh, also, everyone … omnivore, vegans, aspiring vegans, and history buffs — a must read: Eternal Treblinka — Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust, by Charles Patterson. It will blow your mind and hopefully give you a deep appreciation for veganism beyond what you may already know about it. It’s a REALLY important book. Also, you can peruse Thanks :)

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  • Johan

    Al Gore is a fake. What happened to lead by example? If he believes Global Warming is such a serious issue then he should become a vegan, if that’s whats best for the environment. He should not be regarded as an environmentalist if he can’t do something simple like becoming a vegetarian which benefits the environment.

  • I love Miss Piggy

    I just came across this post and even though I know it to be more than 2 years old, I would still like to have a say.

    Al Gore is doing great work – he acknowledges that this industry is a problem. This is a start. We all have to start somewhere. We can’t change the world overnight. But we can change what we do, and be open to explaining our choices to those who ask us.

    It isn’t fair to push our beliefs down someone elses throat. Even if we did, we probably will be ignored. But we can start with ourselves.

    Don’t come down on this man for not ticking every box. He is taking a positive stand, and he is listening and exploring ideas. He is only human. And he is doing a fine job at it. Maybe we should take a step back from pointing the finger and look at our own mirror reflection and understand the contribution that we make to our planet and our fellow human beings. Thats a good start. At least then we can say that we took action based on our own ethics and that’s better than never having any to start with.

  • Will Anderson

    AL Gore was born into an Angus cattle ranch family that included growing tobacco. When Al Gore’s sister died of cancer after a heavy smoking habit, Gore’s father stopped growing tobacco. Al Gore got the smoking-cancer connection but seems innately unable to bring himself to provide anything except pale platitudes about a vegan dietary choice as being at the top of human behavioral changes required to slow climate change.

    Though there is much to do, it all has to be done simultaneously. That requires we examine the entirety of our human ecology—all of the behaviors that create the relationships between us and our external environment. Many high-profile people have proclaimed their veganism without making excuses. Given what’s at stake and his mission, Al Gore is inexcusably omitting veganism. You don’t have to attack him personally or ignore the good that he has done, but as he ignores the vegan response, he proactively leads people to ignore it as well. That is inexcusable and is having consequences for all life on Earth.

    Failure to achieve a vegan human ecology will not only continue the loss of biodiversity and destruction of ecosystems, it, by itself as a single agent, is undoing all the work on other approaches. We have to do it all. The sooner his “students” get a mind of their own and professionally challenge Mr. Gore on the issue, the extent of the terrible consequences now underway will lessen and we’ll be a species worthy of Earth’s miracle.