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Ed Begley on the Environment and Why He's a Vegetarian

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For environmentalist Ed Begley, the reasons for being a vegetarian are simple and clear. In an Earth Day interview with Living Green Magazine, the actor and devoted eco-advocate talked about a whole variety of things, from his thoughts on vegetarianism to species preservation to his hope that it’s not too late to reverse climate change.

When it comes to why Begley ditched meat, he said, “It simply takes more land, more water and more energy to grow a pound of beef than it does a pound of broccoli or grain.” That certainly is true. Raising animals, feeding them the plants that we could consume, and cutting down forests in order to graze cattle makes animal agriculture an unsustainable way to feed an ever growing planet.

But it’s not just the environmental impact that inspires him to stay meat-free. He goes on to say, “Nowadays cattle and hogs and chickens are kept in very confined conditions too, so it’s not something I want for the animals or for myself.”

Begley sure knows a thing or two about standing up for what he believes in. He’s been living a green lifestyle since the 70’s.

One of our favorite answers from his interview, although the whole thing is worth reading, is which endangered species he would be if he could choose. He says, “I would be the snow leopard, and I’d find a very safe place and hide…(laughter)..so that I could hopefully propagate well enough to have some substantial numbers again.”


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  • “A 1% reduction in world-wide meat intake has the same benefit as a three trillion-dollar investment in solar energy.” ~ Chris Mentzel, CEO of Clean Energy

    “As environmental science has advanced, it has become apparent that the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future: deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease.” ~ Worldwatch Institute, “Is Meat Sustainable?”

    “If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetables and grains… the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. Roads.” ~ Environmental Defense Fund

    “The livestock sector emerges as one of the top contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. The findings of this report suggest that it should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity… The impact is so significant that it needs to be addressed with urgency.” ~ United Nation Food and Agricultural Organization’s report “Livestock’s Long Shadow”

    “It’s not a requirement to eat animals, we just choose to do it, so it becomes a moral choice and one that is having a huge impact on the planet, using up resources and destroying the biosphere.” ~ James Cameron, movie director, environmentalist, new vegan

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