How To Help the World Go Vegan
A Review of Glen Merzer’s Latest Book “America Goes Vegan!”
I reviewed Glen Merzer’s previous book, “Food Is Climate,” and it changed my outlook toward veganism. While I had previously been a vegetarian. and later a vegan for over 40 years, before reading that book, I did not realize the extent of animal agriculture’s leading role in causing climate change. It convinced me that animal-based agriculture is by far the leading cause of climate change for two very important reasons.
First, cows and other ruminants emit methane, a greenhouse gas over 120 times as potent per unit weight as CO2 in heating up the atmosphere during the 10 – 15 years it is in the atmosphere. Second, even more importantly, over 40% of the world’s ice-free land is used for grazing and growing feed crops for animals. Because of the decrease in carbon-sequestering trees – from six trillion to three trillion – atmospheric CO2 has risen to very dangerous levels, causing many severe climate effects. Reforesting the vast areas used for animal agriculture could reduce atmospheric CO2 to a safe level. Based on a published peer-reviewed analysis by systems engineer Dr. Sailesh Rao, Merzer reports that animal agriculture is responsible for at least 87% of annual greenhouse emissions, largely due to the missed climate opportunity cost of not reforesting.
I found “Food Is Climate” so valuable and potentially transformative in showing an approach that could avert the looming climate catastrophe that I compared it to such groundbreaking books as “Silent Spring,” by Rachel Carson, “Diet For a New America“ by John Robbins, and “Diet For a Small Planet“ by Francis Moore Lappe,
Because I found “Food Is Climate” so insightful, I looked forward to reading and reviewing Merzer’s recently published “America Goes Vegan!” I was not at all disappointed in this continuation and expansion of his cogent analysis in his previous book.
While, as the title implies, “Food Is Climate” focuses on how shifts toward meat-free dies could greatly reduce climate threats, “America Goes Vegan!” also discusses other reasons that people should become vegans, including reducing diet-related diseases and the massive mistreatment of animals.
Both books have been published at a very important time, as climate threats are becoming more and more apparent. Climate experts are issuing increasingly dire warnings, indicating that the world may soon reach a tipping point when climate spins out of control, and there has been a significant increase in the frequency and severity of heat waves, droughts, wildfires, storms, and floods, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called the climate situation a “Code Red for humanity” and stated that”delay means death.” While the intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an organization composed of leading climate experts from many nations, warned in 2018 that the world may have only until 2030 to make “unprecedented changes” in order to have a chance to avert a climate catastrophe, CO2 levels have continued to rise annually since then.
As in his previous book, Merzer is sharply critical of environmental organizations including the IPCC and leaders like Al Gore who correctly assess some climate threats and urge major steps to take care of them, but focus on reducing emissions from cars and factories, while ignoring “the cow in the room,” that our only chance to avert a climate catastrophe depends on sharply reducing animal-based diets so that the vast areas now used to produce meat and other animal products can be reforested.
The book is very readable because of Merzer’s humorous style and his willingness to strongly criticize realities of animal-based diets. For example, he points out that hamburger “is nothing but a greasy, unhealthy, artery-destroying sandwich with the decaying muscle tissue of a dead cow at its center” and is unpatriotic, because it “makes so many millions of Americans fat and diabetic and gives them heart attacks and strokes.”
To help people shift to healthier, delicious plant-based diets Merzer provides many practical suggestions and culinary expert Tracy Childs provides many food preparation tips and recipes for healthy, delicious whole-foods, plant-based vegan versions of all the classic American dishes, providing for a potentially joyous transformation for all Americans.
To help leave a habitable, healthy, environmentally sustainable world for future generations, I urge you to read the book and to share its message widely. That could help make the vision of America going vegan into a reality for the whole world. This is essential because there is no Planet B nor effective Plan B.