I read this article today in NYTimes. This article talks about emission and the resultant global warming due to increased meat consumption. About a year or two ago I read another article (I have not been able to locate the link) that went into the details of meat production and the costs involved. Roughly it takes 15lbs of corn to make 1 lb of meat (give or take a few pounds). In other words, one could feed an order of magnitude (techie speak for 10 times) more people if we were all vegetarians. In yet other words, it means there is an order of magnitude more carbon emissions than in growing plant based food.
When I mention this as my reason for giving up meat, quite a few find it amusing and some even snigger at this. Of course if this were the only reason it may not sound compelling. I already knew that I could get my proteins from a vegetarian diet. I lived on such a diet for my first 21 years and still stand 6 feet and 185 lb. There is enough documentary evidence about some of the inhumane treatment of animals reared for meat. Most of you may have seen these videos. I have too. Further more the unsanitary conditions of many of the places and the frequent outbreak of E Coli, Mad Cow, Bird Flu, Swine Flu and other diseases should have convinced us to change our dietary life style. It did not convince me. Lots of vegetarians feel that it is just plain cruel in this day and age to kill an animal just for the benefit of our taste buds. I argued about man being a carnivore although it is no longer an issue of mere survival.
For me, for some reason, it was the ecological cost of eating meat that was the tipping point. I guess that makes me an environmental vegetarian.
Caveat: You will not see me hesitate if the only item available on the menu is chicken soup. I do not believe in starving myself to save a chicken.
PS: Jannavi found the link and this article has been updated.