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Coffee Time: Flesh

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Although I strive to be environmental friendly, I am honestly far from it. I buy tons of electronics and I drive pretty much everywhere (though this is driven by the urban design of Los Angeles). I’ve also gone through two cars in recent history and plan on getting another later this year. I am often ashamed of my materialism but this love for products is honestly what makes me jump out of bed in the morning and get excited about being a designer. I always try to minimize material use and go against using harmful manufacturing processes like co-molding. Regardless of this, I have always felt that I my lifestyle could use some change.

 
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For these reasons, I recently became pescetarian, a diet that allows consumption of seafood but not the flesh of other animals. I started in January and planned to do it in a strict fashion for 4 months. After that, I plan on allowing infrequent consumption of meat as a treat - (I love the culinary art too much to simply quit forever). Although I have a big issue with the poor treatment of animals, I don’t have a moral problem with people eating meat. Animals eat animals, it’s a fact of life. 

These are the rules I have been using:

  • Only eat what you can kill. I could kill a fish or crab but I couldn’t get myself to kill a chicken, pig, or cow.
  • Eggs and dairy is allowed.
  • Micro traces of meat is acceptable. I'm not doing this for religious reasons.

 
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The issues we will face with food production is rather frightening. For instance, the world must be able to double food production in 40 years to keep up with the rising population. This goal seems even more daunting when you realize that 38% of the earth’s land surface is already used for farming. What’s interesting here is that 35% of this 38% is actually used for growing animal feed, not crops of people. You can see why a heavily carnivorous diet isn’t sustainable.

 
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30 kilograms of grain is required to make one kilogram of beef, with chicken and pork being more efficient. Makes you wonder why meat is so cheap, particularly here in America. One of the key resource strains of growing that grain is water. It’s one of our most valuable assets so it's worth questioning if it’s really worth spending so much the manufacture of meat.

 
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I’ve had many people tell me that if I’m serious about my new diet, I should become a full on vegan. Overfishing is an alarming issue and farmed fish often produce a lot of water pollution. Consuming large quantities of fish can also put you in risk of ingesting too many toxins. These are all true but if you aim to buy sustainably fished/farmed fish, these issues can be minimized. And of course, a meat-free life isn't going to solve everything; there are clearly bigger issues we need to deal with. I personally believe that the first change that needs to occur is increasing efficiency in agriculture. Like the way the Nest Thermostat can save you money, a more efficient farm with higher yields can be our saving grace.

 
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A senior scientist from NASA JPL told me that my new diet is about equal to taking an average car off the road. Is this going to make any big changes? Not really. But if we begin to have a culture of thinking of meat as a premium and rare good, I believe that we can have a significant impact on our environment. 

Still not convinced? Well, we also have this.

Source: Scientific American