Tuesday, August 17, 2010


For me (and my family), going to the grocery store is not an errand; it is an exciting excursion that I anticipate and for which I prepare recipes, shopping lists, and weekly schedules.  Food is an important part of my life.  I am not obsessed with food in an unhealthy manner, rather I enjoy food and feel fulfilled by making healthy choices and by preparing nourishing meals.  It is like going on vacation to walk into Whole Foods or Raley’s or New Seasons (depending on my current location).  There are some grocery stores that just seem to understand and share my joy about food.

Food itself is a bonding agent.  People sit together during meals and, often, end up sharing food.  Along with sharing the food is the sharing of concepts, ideas, and beliefs.  It is a feature of human nature that we tend to share facts (issues, blessings, and progress) of our personal lives best when we share a meal with people we like.  And I, like everyone else, I’m sure, have had my share of meals with people whom I don’t feel comfortable about sharing my personal details. Do you know what I least want to do around them?  Eat.

Yes, food is the most essential aspect of stewarding our bodies.  The important thing to remember about the grocery store is that it doesn’t tell you how to prepare a healthy diet for yourself.  You need to study these things and learn what you need ahead of time.  The most confounding thing about vegetarianism can be that it is an umbrella term for many types of diets. 
For ease of transition, you can learn their definitions here:

Pollo-vegetarian:  includes poultry and plants.

Pesco-vegetarian (pescatarian):  Includes fish and plants.

Lacto-ovo-vegetarian:  includes eggs, dairy products and plants.

Lacto-vegetarian:  includes only dairy products and plants.

Ovo-vegetarian: includes eggs and plants.

Vegetable vegetarian (Popularly known as Vegan): omits all animal products from the diet, including honey and gelatin.  Also omits all animal products from every area of life, choosing to use nothing that comes from animals including leather, silk, and wool.

Raw Vegan (Raw Food Diet):  same as Vegan, except foods are not cooked above 115 degrees Fahrenheit/46 degrees Celsius because of the belief that foods lose their nutritional value above this temperature.

Natural Hygeine Diet:  includes minimal meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products.  Also minimizes the use of added oil, salt, and sugar.  Processed foods are discouraged.  Emphasizes the uncooked, unseasoned, natural state of food products.  Honors the natural balance of vitamins and nutrients found in plants.

Macrobiotic Diet:  includes the vegan diet plus fish.  Excludes sugar and refined oils.  Highly emphasizes the value of vegetables harvested from the sea.

Fruitarian: includes only raw fruit and possibly nuts and grains.  Fruit may be eaten naturally, juiced, or dehydrated.

Juicearian:  includes only raw fruit and vegetable juice.

Sproutarian:  includes only plant sprouts.

The best things about vegetarianism is that there is much personal choice involved in deciding which version of vegetarianism is best for each person, and vegetarianism does not have to be committed to one-hundred percent of the time.  I myself am closest to the natural hygiene diet, but I still eat chicken regularly and indulge in hamburgers and hot dogs a couple of times per summer at the traditional extended family barbecues.

It is important to remember that any amount of change toward sustainability is a positive change for both personal health and the environment.

By Emily Spesert

1.  “The Healthy Vegetarian.” https://www.msu.edu/user/daenzerr/rd491/types.htm
2. Hackett, Jolinda.  “Top 7 Types of Vegetarians.”  http://vegetarian.about.com/od/vegetarianvegan101/tp/TypesofVeg.htm
3. “Natural Hygiene Diet.”  National Health Association and the American Natural Hygiene Society. http://www.healthscience.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=21&Itemid=86
4. “Fruitarian.” http://www.fruitarian.com/
5. “Fruitarian, Juicearian, and Sproutarian.” http://www.naturalhealthbuzz.com/fruitarian-juicearian-sproutarian.html

Monday, August 16, 2010

We are not alone.

I have discovered some interesting resources that have recorded some of the research that other people have done on our topic of vegetarianism versus hybrid technology.

Before I address these though, I would like to describe an article by David Pye.  Although he does not write in length about hybrids, he does address the issue of environmentalists he knows choosing to not also be vegetarians.  It seems that in his experience, the choices vegetarian or hybrid technology are mutually exclusive.  His article is titled: “Why environmentalists are not vegetarians.”  Pye has included some information that is very relevant to our project:

The European parliament has stated that ‘Europe can feed its people but not its animals’. Europe imports 70% of its protein for animal feed this is on top of using large proportions of its own arable land. Much of these imported feedstuffs come from countries suffering from poverty or environmental degradation. 95% of world soyabean production is used for animal feed. In the UK, 39% of our wheat, 51% of our barley and 75% of our total agricultural land is used to feed animals. Worldwide one third of grain production is used for animal feed.
Additionally, I found an article abstract that states “The average animal-based diet in the United States generates about 1.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide more per person per year than a plant-based diet yielding the same amount of calories.”  

These percentages and comparisons are astounding.  This translates into the fact that most of what farmers grow is fed to animals.  Essentially, we are using up most of our resources as humans (land, air, water, labor) on animals.  In the realm of this project, it would seem that vegetarian choices are more sustainable than carnivorous choices simply because there is no “middle man” involved.

Other articles I have found include statements in their abstracts such as “going vegan is 50 percent more effective in decreasing greenhouse gas emissions than using a hybrid car,” and “becoming a vegetarian would save more greenhouse gas emissions a year than switching to a hybrid car.”  Certainly our cohort is not the first to think about this topic, and surely our cohort is validated by these scientific studies in our majority opinion that vegetarianism, in the year 2010, is more environmentally sustainable than hybrid technology.

By Emily Spesert

1. Pye, David.  “Why environmentalists are not vegetarians.”  http://www.ivu.org/congress/2002/texts/david2.html
2. Nierenberg, Danielle.  “Eat Vegetables, Save Energy.” http://web.ebscohost.com.proxy.lib.pdx.edu/ehost/detail?vid=1&hid=105&sid=34948c0f-ba77-4fdb-aa9d-10550be199b7%40sessionmgr112&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=f5h&AN=21169125
3. Redwood, Jill.  “Vegetarians help avert climate change.” http://web.ebscohost.com.proxy.lib.pdx.edu/ehost/detail?vid=1&hid=105&sid=3f45cf7b-7ffd-4977-a6f6-637f171e75e8%40sessionmgr104&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=f5h&AN =36811302
4. McKIBBEN, BILLI.  “The only way to have a cow.” http://web.ebscohost.com.proxy.lib.pdx.edu/ehost/detail?vid=1&hid=105&sid=28835a51-fa7b-4358-96de-54a3bd198909%40sessionmgr110&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=hgh&AN=48873156

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Why Hybrids over just straight Bio-Fuels?

I have watched a few shows discussing the future of cars and most experts on these shows state that Hybrid cars are not perfected yet and by the time they are other more efficient methods will be used in our automobiles. For example Methane or Hydrogen powered cars will probably be the most cost effective solutions in the future. 

I have always been interested in a Bio-fuel car more than a hybrid mainly based on how much money could be saved with a bio-fuel car, Honda has made a Bio-fuel car that runs on Methane that would cost only 1.25 for each gallon of fuel. Methane is also very friendly to the environment by releasing very little Co2 and can be made from from any organic substance, so the supply would be pretty much limitless.

 It is interesting that all this time and money has been put into hybrid cars, when other methods for fueling cars that are way greener and cost effective have actually been successfully implemented. I guess the reason those have not caught on are probably a mixture of Big oil companies using their influence to downplay the effectiveness of this type of fuel, and also the fact that if you bought one you would probably have to produce the fuel yourself with an at home kit and therefore your range would be limited, that is kind of the reason I stopped researching possibly buying one a few years ago, but I def would look into it again once I owned my own home.

 So I guess the point of this train of though is that if I were to choose to invest in a green car, I wouldnt want to choose to invest in a hybrid which has A not been perfected and B not even up to par with biofuel technologies that have been implemented in cars but not caught on for whatever reason. So while the concept of driving a hybrid is good, and if they were to improve them even more so they eventually could be as beneficial for the environment as going vegetarian, the fact that it is a "hybrid" makes me adverse to investing in it as there is still some portion of the automobile that depends on a finite resource that is not only bad for the environment, but costs a grip.

What do you guys think, why have cars that operate on Methane or other Bio-fuels not been as heavily pushed and marketed as Hybrids?

David Doyle

Portland, Plug-In

By Peter Choi

I was jogging in downtown one afternoon when I came upon the picture above. First I almost ran passed it but when I saw a orange cord like rope coming out of a car my gauge of curiosity spiked. I stood there for about a minute trying to figure out what I was looking at. Then I remembered reading a article on the news about cars being charged and running only on electricity. When I was reading that article I laughed to myself thinking that the day that happens will probably after we've consumed all the fossil fuel on this planet. But it was already happening and of all the cities Portland. So I did a little research to see what was really going on.

According to Kimberly Melton from the Oregonian, Portland contributed to the green movement by opening Portland General Electric's first charging stations for electric vehicles. These charging stations are located in the parking garage of the two World Trade Center in downtown Portland. It is also the first of 2000 planned to be developed and distributed all across Oregon homes and public places.

These charging stations fully charge the car in about 20-30 minutes, which is the projected amount of time where an individual goes to get coffee or lunch. Nissan leaf was the car demonstrated on the charging machines, which is the new plug in hybrid that already has 17,000 reservations of the car. This is a $33,000 car but with a little tax break, it drops the car to $23,000. The Nissan leaf also gets 100 miles to a charge which is more than enough to drive around the city and perhaps longer road trips.

On top of this Portland State University was among one of the 5 cities that received the first plug in hybrid from Toyota in June. Toyota have decided that Portland is a city that has a wide range of weather conditions and the sensitivity to mixed mobility, which Toyota hopes to be in their future.

No longer are the maybes and what ifs the questions we need to dwell upon. The future is here and we have proven that we have the technology to make an impact on our environment. No longer do we need to depend on fossil fuel and gas for transportation but charging stations that free our air of pollutants and low emissions created from these plug-in hybrid cars. Unlike hybrid cars, plug-ins are all electric and do not have a gas powered motor. It is solely powered by electricity and the miles per charge that it receives from a 20-30 minute wait is extraordinary. We change our minds and our perspectives to understand and absorb this new technology. The technology will continue to advance and with the people supporting the change to sustainability, it will only be a matter of time when our reliance on fossil fuel for transportation will be nonexistent.


Save a cow, eat a vegetarian

By Peter Choi,

Save a cow, eat a vegetarian. This was a bumper sticker that I saw driving one day that had me laughing for a couple of minutes. But it also made me think. I've been a carnivore all my life and usually don't eat when there is not meat in my dish. To think of breaking this ritual habit and only eating plants all my life was a very difficult decision. Through much contemplation and nights without sleep, I decided to go a week without eating meat. Now this decision was not from a guilt trip of killing cows and all the animals that I have digested, but from what I learned from my class regarding vegetarianism and the benefits to our environment. Here are some as follows

1. It takes a lot more energy to produce meat than to produce plant crops.
2. Producing meat takes a lot more water than producing plant crops.
3. It takes many more units of plant crops to produce one unit of meat.
4. Grazing cattle is a big contributor to loss of topsoil.
5. Tropical rain forest is cut down for meat production.
6. A balanced vegetarian diet is healthier.
7. A vegetarian diet costs less money. (yes when grocery shopping but about the same when eating out.)
8. It can be delicious.(Please note can)

To keep my story short and not to bore the readers of my days in agony, it is possible for an individual to change their diet but requires great patience. It was difficult for me after the first two days. The first day was cake until I reached the third day. I began by researching what my options were on what I can eat and how I can go about substituting my meat heavy diet. Although I like meat I also can't eat a meal without vegetables, so my strategy was to simply substitute the meat with meat like produce (mushrooms, tofu, potato, etc.). 
Tofu and mushrooms were a great substitute because it had the meat like texture and kept met full after a meal. I also begin trying veggie burgers and other products. Boca Burgers offers a full range of vegetarian meals that simple substitute the meat. For example, there are Boca burgers, Boca chik'n burgers, breakfast and entrees all made from soy based products. This gave me hope thinking I would be able to survive my goal. They test great and actually taste like meat. But as time passed by I could not kill my resistance in wanting meat. To simply summarize, I was not able to finish my full 7 days and broke down on the 5th day, on a family dinner when my father just so happened to choose a steak house for dinner. What I believe the important moral behind is this. We don't have to be vegetarian 24/7 to make a impact in our environment. Eating vegetarian meals twice or three times a week will still help our environment with out feeling guilty every time we eat a hamburger. In order to change we need to move. In order to move we need to know. I believe that we know by now that the more we move the more we are able to change. I recommend all to try a vegetarian meal because not everyone can afford a $25,000 hybrid to help the future of our environment. 

The Vegetarian Myth

By, Peter Choi 

Written by Lierre Keith, the Vegetarian Myth is one of the most controversial books regarding vegetarianism written by a ex-vegetarian. A radical environmentalist, Keith takes on vegetarianism with a different perspective that seems to lead her mailbox filled with hate mails. On the other hand it is very refreshing and interesting to here the story of these myths giving the credibility of Keith's past. Keith has been a vegetarian for 20 years before her realization and is given great trust with her background. With all the veggies vs. meat aside, the book goes in depth to reveal more than the issue of vegetarianism but how our food is processed. 

In a nut shell argues 3 basic principles throughout the book: 

1) Vegetarianism will damage your body. It damaged mine. 
2) Our bodies are made to eat meat.
3) Converting to a vegetarian or vegan diet isn’t healing the planet if all you’re doing is eating veggies, fruit, and annual grains grown by large and distant megafarms, as most food is—even the stuff at the “natural” food store.

She also emphasizes how there needs to be balance in our ecosystem. For example, cows were not meant to eat grain but grass while on the other hand our bodies are able to digest grain but not eat grass or other cellulose based materials. There is a balance in natural in where one has to die in order for others to survive. Vegetarians may believe that they are vegetarian but in fact we may all be connected by nature's system and how meat is actually involved in many of plantations and their processes. For example, plants need certain nutrients in order to survive and ironically can only come sustainably from the manure and decomposition of animals at some point. Once again emphasizing the meat presence in our ecosystem. Finally there is another example with the apple and the see. When we eat a apple we consume it and throw away the seed to be decomposed or destroyed. What we do with the apple eaten is, in most cases, digest it naturally decompose the apple and release it. The point here is that there is a purpose behind the apple and why it was eaten. We need to know all the different perspectives before making a decision and this book definitely widens our peripherals for the decisions we need to make to sustain our environment. 

Quick Hybrid Cars history

1839: Robert Anderson of Aberdeen, Scotland built the first electric vehicle.

1886: historical records indicate that an electric powered taxicab using a battery with 28 cells and a small motor. It was introduced in England.

1897: The London Electric Cab Company began regular service using cars which has a 40 cell battery with 3 horsepower electric motor. This was designed by Walter Bersey.

1899: The Pope Manufacturing company merged with two smaller electric car companies to from the Electric Vehicle Company. They were the first American automobile industry with $200 million assets.

1900: American car companies made about 1600 steam, 1500 electric and 900 gasoline cars.

1904: The Electric vehicle Company built 2000 taxicabs, trucks, and buses and set up subsidiary cab and car rental companies from New York to Chicago. In the same year, Henry Ford overcome the challenges posed by gasoline powered cars and began assembly line production of low prices, lightweight, gas powered vehicles. In few years, the Electric Vehicle Company failed.

1913: Steam and electric cars were almost completely wiped out. Both of their sales dropped dramaticly while Ford was gaining market share with the gasoline cars.

1920 – 1965: Electric and hybrid cars were used as alternative cars to become the province of backyard tinkerers and small time industrialists.

1966: US Congress introduced first bills recommending the use of electric vehicles as a means of reducing air pollution.

1969: A very light weighted experimental hybrid car called the GM 512 ran entirely on electric power up to 10 miles per hour.

1974: Engineer Victor Wouk and Charlie Rosen created a prototype hybrid gas electric vehicle using a Buick Skylark body as a part of the Federal Clean Car Incentive Program.

1977 – 1979: General Motors spent over $20 million in electric car development and research reporting that electric vehicles could be in production by the mid of 1980s.

1989: Audi unveiled the first generation of the Audi Duo experimental vehicle. The car had 12.6 horsepower electric engine. A nickel cadmium battery supplied the energy.

1991: The United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC), a department of energy program, launched a major program to produce a “super battery to get viable electric vehicle on the road as soon as possible.

1992: Toyota motor Corporation announced the ‘earth Charter”, A document outlining goals to develop and market vehicles with the lowest emissions possible.

1997: Toyota Prius was introduced to the Japanese market. The first year sales were nearly 18,000 units.

1997: Audi became the first manufacturer in Europe to take a hybrid vehicle into volume production.

1999: Honda released the two door Insight which is the first hybrid car to hit the mass market in the US.

2000: Toyota released the Toyota Prius which is the first hybrid four door sedan cars available in the United States.

2002: Honda introduced the Honda Civic Hybrid, its second commercially available hybrid gasoline electric car.

2004: Toyota Prius II launched and won 2004 car of the year awards from Motor Trend Magazine and the North American Auto Show.

2004: In September, Ford released the Escape Hybrid, the first American Hybrid and the first SUV hybrid.


Abdulrahman Al-Homaid

US Hybrid Cars Sales

The hybrid cars sale has been increasing during the last five years. In year 2007, the US hybrid cars sales continue upward with a total of 352,184 units (according to carmakers report figures). The favorite carmaker is Toyota which sold 257,760 units which is about 73 percent of the overall Hybrid car sales in US. The second on leading is Honda with 35,880 units sold.

US 2008 hybrid cars sale figure was 313,486 units down 11 percent from year 2007 sales. This wasn’t surprise for everyone. The main blame was the economy crisis and it also been reported that the hybrid cars were subject to very low inventories. The favorite carmaker is Toyota which sold 224,597 units which is about 71 percent down about 2 percent from year 2007 in overall Hybrid car sales in US. The second on leading is Honda with 31,521 units sold.

In 2009, the US hybrid car sales totaled 292,528 units downed about 6 percent from year 2008. Toyota was the favorite carmaker in this year which sold 174046 units which is about 59 percent of the overall Hybrid car sales in US. The second in leading is Honda with 35,651 units sold. Ford continues to gain market share this year with sales of 33,927 units up from 19,712 units which is about 72 percent increase in sales.

In year 2010, the economy started to recover itself and the oil prices begin to increase again. Many analysts expect growth in the Hybrid car market in this year.


Abdulrahman Al-Homaid

Detriment and Danger of Meat Production on Natural Resources

The meat production industry is responsible for a vast amount of environmental damage, and if the reckless and blatant disregard for the environment that is supported by their business practices is not curbed or abolished entirely, devastation to the environment will only continue in exponential strides, leaving our country, as well as other nations, harmed by an industry of corrupt politics and greed. The meat industry cannot only be attacked on grounds of being unethical for killing billions of animals a year, there are more prominent and environmentally relevant reasons for converting to a vegetarian lifestyle or significantly reducing the amount of meat that is incorporated into a diet; especially with the increased growth of the meat industry in developing nations, and the increase in demand for meat in countries already flourishing with meat production. Animals are an inefficient method for producing food; they consume more resources than they produce, and require more resources to produce than producing vegetation. In 2009, it was estimated by the International Food Policy Research Institute, and supported by reports from the United Nations, that meat consumption is due to double by 2020. However, while this alone is a shocking statistic, to get to the point where meat is being consumed in double the quantity, an overhaul of our current system is in need, and to accomplish this, our environment will pay the price. In addition to our environment paying for our desire to consume meat, we will as well, through corrupt business practices already supporting the framework of the meat industry, specifically in regards to the feed lot system and the usage of hormones to maximize and accelerate growth.
To accommodate for the escalating demand for meat, and in order to capitalize on the booming industry, production farms have begun switching their methods of raising livestock from a pasture system, where animals are relatively free to roam, are fed by natural grazing, and grow for a longer period before slaughter; to a more condensed feed lot system, where animals are in stringent confines, constantly surrounded by wastes, subjected to chemicals as well as hormones and steroids in order to maximize and accelerate their growth, and typically exist in a monoculture, posing a threat to biodiversity and further damaging ecosystems and the environment at large.
In addition to these issues, regardless of what farming method is adopted to raise live stock, a vast amount of land will need to be cleared in order to accommodate for the demand for meat. Grazing lands already take up roughly 24% of the ice free land on our planet, and if our meat production is projected to double by 2020, that would be pressing no less than 35-30% of our ice free land being obligated to the delegation of grazing lands. This is an unreasonable expectation for our planet and our resources, and to supplement the meat production industry in this exponential escalation of growth would bankrupt our natural resources once population growth and needs were taken into consideration.
As just mentioned, supplementing the demands of raising livestock requires a vast amount of natural resources. Water, feed, fossil fuels, and land come to mind, but having touched on land, it is important to recognize that currently we are facing a shortage of water, food and fossil fuels to entertain the existing population, animals and people included. It is difficult, if not nearly impossible to fathom doubling the meat industry with in the next ten years and having to allocate the resources necessary to validate that projection. Nor does it seem reasonable or intelligent to allocate so many resources for a system that yields fewer resources than it consumes and is not vital to the existence or productivity of human life.
Despite the fact that it is a well known phenomenon that the chemicals and hormones used to produce the feed for livestock, and the livestock its self, are highly dangerous to human and animal health, business owners choose to use them in order to maximize profits by reducing cost and time to produce product. Is it fair that meat and dairy come standard tainted with hormones that subject their consumers to health issues? I would argue not. However, the ideals of capitalism lend favor to business owners who see opportunities for profit with a growing industry; and ultimately act as permission for businesses to pollute consumer’s bodies and the environment with out penalty.
Lastly, and arguably one of the larger issues facing the escalation of the meat industry, would be green house gas emissions. Livestock currently are responsible for about 15-24% of all green house emissions in the United States, and going back to the projected statistic, if the meat industry doubles by 2020, that would raise green house gas emissions in the United States alone up to nothing less than a conservative 35-40%. Livestock produce ample amounts of methane and carbon dioxide; and in addition to the gases produced by livestock, machinery and vehicles must be run on farms as well, further consuming resources and expelling harmful gases and pollutants into the atmosphere.
It is with blatant disregard that these business practices and ideals remain supported and perpetuated. There have been no reforms to make progress in regards to reducing environmental impact with in the meat industry, and that is arguably due to the fact that it is a highly profitable industry that “scratches the back” of many other successful industries; the oil and agricultural and construction industries. While we must be concerned for the impact the meat industry is currently posing to the environment and human health, we must also look to the future, and recognize it is a system we cannot support in the long run. Ultimately if we keep accommodating for the meat industry by allocating vital natural resources in ample abundance to their production process, we will run our selves dry. In addition to the fact that we cannot support the meat industry, we could reverse the meat industry on its self, begin using the existing land for producing vegetation as means of food, and arguably this alternative would aide in reducing the global hunger crisis, green house gas emissions, depletion of natural resources; and would foster the repair of monocultures and cleared land.



By Belal Albar

"Eating Our Planet To Death"

I have read more great info on the subject of Hybrid vs Vegetarian, and have found some great content on just how far reaching and heavy the toll that producing meat has on our planet.
In an interesting blog Kathy Freston breaks down the effects like this....

"Producing a calorie of meat protein means burning more than ten times as much fossil fuels--and spewing more than ten times as much heat-trapping carbon dioxide--as does a calorie of plant protein." This info is pretty much common knowledge after doing a bit of research on the matter, this alone in my mind makes going vegetarian one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

But then she takes it further and compounds the negative effects of meat production....

"Animal agriculture takes up an incredible 70% of all agricultural land, and 30% of the total land surface of the planet. As a result, farmed animals are probably the biggest cause of slashing and burning the world's forests. Today, 70% of former Amazon rainforest is used for pastureland, and feed crops cover much of the remainder. These forests serve as "sinks," absorbing carbon dioxide from the air, and burning these forests releases all the stored carbon dioxide, quantities that exceed by far the fossil fuel emission of animal agriculture."

Ok so forget going to the Amazon and other forests to stop loggers from cutting down trees, I should see Activists and protesters outside my house whenever I fire up the BBQ for some Burgers and Kabobs, eco-terrorism groups should start holding little kids with happy meals ransom until their parents sign a contract to never serve meat again, and people who eat off the value menu at fast food chains should be forced to plant a tree for every $1 food item they consume.

Then she discusses the different kinds of gas other than carbon dioxide, further compounding the negative effects meet production has on our earth.
As if that wasn't bad enough, the real kicker comes when looking at gases besides carbon dioxide--gases like methane and nitrous oxide, enormously effective greenhouse gases with 23 and 296 times the warming power of carbon dioxide, respectively.hese super-strong gases come primarily from farmed animals' digestive processes, and from their manure. In fact, while animal agriculture accounts for 9% of our carbon dioxide emissions, it emits 37% of our methane, and a whopping 65% of our nitrous oxide.

All of these gasses lead to global warming, true a Hybrid can cut down on carbon dioxide, but cutting meat production not only cuts down on that, but also on the above mentioned methane and nitrous oxide, two other gasses that are compounding the problem that has reinvented Al Gore.

This info has opened my eyes even more to the problems caused by meat production, I was really surprised to read how much of the Amazon has been destroyed in order to aid meat production. After doing a small amount of research there are so many compelling reasons to reduce your meat intake, or even cut it out all together. For anybody looking to improve themselves as a human, becoming a vegetarian should be given a hard look, do you want to improve your health? check. Do you want to slow down or even help stop global warming? Check. Do you want to save a rainforest? Check. Do you want to stop animal cruelty? Check. Do you want to save money? Check. There are so many other reasons to go vegetarian but the 3 areas that were mentioned in Kathy Freston's article should give any socially conscious person, or any person for that matter, food for though.

David Doyle

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Week of Veganism

The third annual Try Vegan Week starts today in Portland. This year, from August 14 – 21, events will be held at a number of locations to provide information for people contemplating a vegan lifestyle, making the switch and long time vegans looking for more information. The events are advertised for vegans and “vegan curious” and range from a bike rally to a prom held on the 21st. Try Vegan PDX also offers a mentoring program to people considering veganism or who are new to veganism.
If you’re a vegan in Portland you can visit stumptownvegans.com to read reviews of local vegan restaurants and add your voice. Portland is also home to an all vegan grocery store, Food Fight! Portland is even has a vegan strip club.
Events for this years Try Vegan Week begin at 11 am today with a bike rally in Southeast Portland and move on to mentoring sessions, panel discussions, a fitness and nutrition lecture and conclude with a vegan Bar-B-Q. Many of Sunday’s events take place at Whole Foods in Northeast Portland. At 2 pm on Sunday there will be a lecture on the environmental impact of veganism. Heading this discussion will be Peter Spendelow, the current president of Northwest VEG. This organization promotes vegetarian and vegan diets to reduce the impact of our diets on the environment. They accomplish this through a number of social events including potlucks, classes and an annual VegFest. You can read more about Spendelow and this organization at www.nwveg.org. The sixth annual VegFest in Portland will happen on September 18-19 at the Oregon Convention Center.
So if you’re curious about veganism and you live in the Portland area, you should stop by one or more of the events this week. You can find the times and locations for events at http://www.tryveganpdx.com/events/try-vegan-week-schedule/ If you can’t make it to any of these events, the try vegan website is a great resource on its own.

Trading in: Inefficiency for inefficiency

Hybrid vehicles, once on the road, clearly pose a more eco-friendly alternative to the standard automobile; however, if hybrid cars and their environmental impact are analyzed in a full scope that takes into consideration their environmental impact from production to sale, they are not living up to the eco-friendly pitch they are so well known to throw. Hybrid vehicles clearly emit less pollutants than a standard automobile, up to 90% less carbon dioxide than a standard vehicle, as do they offer consumers a more efficient vehicle in terms of miles per gallon; their problems lie in the nickel metal hydride battery that is required to power the vehicle, the novel/complicated technology and production needed to construct the vehicle, and the usage and acquisition of resources needed to fuel the entire manufacturing system of hybrid vehicles.
When analyzing the hybrid vehicle, before laying claims of it to be a godsend, one must analyze the entire package of the hybrid; and recognize that before the car is being driven by it’s owner, the production process is equally, if not more harmful than the production process of conventional automobiles.
Hybrid vehicles implement novel technology that is quite complicated to argue at least. They require a complex battery, an ample amount of copper for wiring the electrical system, a electric as well as petrol engine, and are typically 10% heavier than conventional cars of comparable size. To produce hybrid vehicles in the quantity necessary to make a large impact, new factories would need to be created, or old facilities converted; but either way, the amount of resources needed to complete this step alone pose a large detriment to the environment. Not to say some revolution in our production of vehicles is not paramountly needed, no; but it is arguable that if we converted current factories to produce hybrid vehicles, and made way for new factories, we would be trading in a flawed system for another flawed system.
Currently manufactures of hybrid vehicles and some environmentalists argue that hybrid vehicles are the way to go; and for car companies, creating a desire for consumers to purchase these new “eco-friendly” vehicles has become a new way to increase sales; primarily by tapping into capitalistic ideals and marketing practices. It is arguable to say that most of these people have not considered the entire environmental impact of hybrid vehicles from the beginning of their production to their sale; if they did, they might be stopped in their tracks when the subject of the hybrid battery came up.
Hybrid vehicles require a nickel metal hydride battery to operate, and while this novel technology does not operate off of fossil fuels, to produce it requires a vast and new wave of nickel mining that is indisputably devastating to ecosystems and the planet at large; and let none of us forget, mining requires vast amount of fossil fuels to make the process even possible. Mining for nickel has been at an all time high to produce nickel metal hydride batteries for hybrid vehicles; and aside from the initial environmental impact these batteries pose with mining, programs to properly recycle the batteries are feeble if non existent; and they are ultimately ending up in junk yards once the car is no longer of value. New concerns surrounding nickel metal hydride batteries also stem from the fact that they may possibly leak into water supply’s if not properly disposed of, putting whole communities at risk for water and land contamination that currently nobody is prepared to contain or neutralize.
Aside from the battery that is necessary to run hybrid vehicles, gasoline is still a necessary component to allow the vehicle equal capabilities and performance of a conventional combustion engine. Having stated that, the pollutants emitted when hybrid vehicles run off of gasoline is congruent with that of standard automobiles, thus not yielding much of an improvement in that department. Additionally, when the vehicle is on highways or straining, gasoline will be used as well. As mentioned earlier, hybrid cars are typically about 10% heavier than a conventional car of comparable size, coupled with the fact that the engine must come to a complete stop when the vehicle does, has lead manufactures of hybrids to incorporate petrol engines into them that supplement the engine with gasoline for initial acceleration, highway driving, and in order to give the vehicle performance and power comparable to conventional vehicles.
Even if a large percentage of the population converted to hybrid vehicles, they would still ultimately be producing pollutants and green house gasses quite regularly, because people would have to use the vehicles on highways and in circumstances where the vehicle would be using gasoline. As long as vehicles are using gasoline to fuel their systems, they are still colluding with, and supporting, the fossil fuel industry and all the environmental devastation they are responsible for. It is difficult to justify allotting the funds and environmental damage necessary to produce hybrid cars in abundance, or to make their technology a priority when we have the ability to put the same funds that could be used to develop/produce/ market hybrid cars into developing technology that actually lives up to its face value of truly being eco-friendly.
Overall, the hybrid vehicle, once it is driving around, is an improvement from conventional vehicles; however, there is an intricate and complex production process that must be considered to take an intelligent position on the phenomena of hybrid vehicles, and as far as I have researched, the technology simply has the potential to be better than what hybrids currently offer. Hybrids pose an improvement, but it is trading in a flawed system for another flawed system; vast oil drilling for reduced oil drilling and nickel mining; thus leading me to conclude by stringing in our class’s topic, to say that if the conversion to a vegetarian lifestyle took place, every step of the transformation would be beneficial to the environment. There would be the upfront costs of converting farms to a vegetarian system, but beyond that, there would be no need for an increase in clearing land to make way for farms, nor would there be an increase in the demand for natural resources. There would be a decrease in the demand for all resources-fossil fuels and water are of highest concern, and the land already exists delegated for agriculture, to be transformed from producing meat to producing vegetation. Additionally I will argue, that while not everybody drives or relies on a vehicle, almost every person consumes meat. If meat consumption was reduced or eliminated from diets, it would have an ample impact on the environment for the positive, and can be read about in my previous blogs.

By Belal Albar

• http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~coreyp/hybridenvimp.html
• http://www.newcarpark.com/blog/?p=68
• http://www.hybridcars.com/battery-toxicity.html

Friday, August 13, 2010

Public Transit Not For Everyone

For those of us who live in Portland, buying a car isn’t necessarily a concern. Between the public transportation, zipcars and our own two legs, we can get pretty much anywhere we want to go without the added hassle of taking care of a car. But what if your lifestyle necessitates buying a car? Some people have to be at work before or after public transportation stops running, some people live outside of the convenient range of public transportation, and some people are just in the habit of driving. These people can’t very well go out and buy a Hummer and drive it around the streets of Portland without getting egged. So what kind of car should they buy?
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) releases an annual list of the most environmentally friendly cars on the market. The ACEEE has been around for thirty years and is put in place for “Advancing and deploying energy efficiency technologies, policies, programs, and behavior as a means of promoting economic prosperity, energy security, and environmental protection.” (http://www.aceee.org/). Their list of green cars is based on each car’s exhaust emissions and fuel economy. By visiting their website you can search through what makes a hybrid car more efficient and more eco-friendly than other vehicles.
To search for a car that has a smaller environmental impact, you can visit the ACEEE website, http://greenercars.org/ also known as the ACEEE Green Book. This website provides market trends and some ratings for different vehicles. It also has a section on green driving tips. This segment emphasizes the importance not only of buying and eco-friendly car, but maintaining your vehicle. Their list of driving tips even includes some guidelines for parking. For example, you should park in the shade in the summertime because parking in the heat can cause some of your fuel to evaporate. The final section on this page encourages people to pursue alternative transportation methods. They remind people that many companies will provide incentives for you not to drive to work. Some places will buy your walking shoes while some will give you permission to dress casually at work or enter your name in a drawing for prizes! So here we have come full circle. Don’t drive if you can and drive green if you must.

Being Green and Eating Meat

While eating meat definitely contributes significantly to air and water pollution, a large amount of Americans find it difficult to cut this source of protein and essential vitamins out of their diets.  This can be attributed to a lack of education about the ways in which to stay healthy as a vegetarian or vegan, but it goes further than that. Eating meat has been a part of human culture for as long as we have been around.  But as we begin to achieve levels of pollution in the environment that require us to take a stand and do something before things get even more out of hand, something needs to be done about this meat eating habit.  So while we all make an effort to cut down on our meat consumption, what can we do to make sure that the meat we are eating is environmentally friendly as possible (and not to mention humane)?
            In Portland we have the convenient and reliable option of buying meat at our local farmers’ markets.  Buying local meat is a great way of reducing the pollution associated with eating meat.  First of all, it cuts down on the amount of fuel required to transport the meat.  The farmers that attend these markets are located locally and don’t need to drive as far as corporate meat farms.  This isn’t to say that all locally grown meat is going to be significantly more environmentally friendly than the meat you buy at the grocery store.  Another good step to take would be to talk to these farmers about what efforts they make to minimize their environmental impact.  You can do this by going to the farm itself or visiting the farmer’s website (websites for farms are becoming increasingly popular with the trend to eat in an eco-friendly way).  They will be more than happy to tell you about their process and you may get them to realize that their consumers want to shop for the most environmentally friendly meat option. 
            If you don’t live near a farmers’ market, you can visit this website to find out where your food is coming from: www.foodroutes.org.  While simply buying local meat is a somewhat more eco-friendly option, further steps are required to really cut down on your impact.  Eating vegetarian when possible is always a good option, but always remember to find out where your food is really coming from.  It has to get here somehow and the longer the distance, the more pollution is being created.

You can also check out this website for some discussion about eating meat and being eco-friendly: http://www.grist.org/article/umbra-meat/

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Marketing genius or the future of cars?

By Peter Choi

Hybrid cars and the idea of the battery powered car is no longer a mystery. It was less than 20 years ago that we were making jokes about electric cars and never complaining about $.99 cent per gallon gas. The days where $10 dollars would fill the gas half tank and everyone not knowing what MPG stands for was only 20 years ago. We are living in a different age in time where MPG does matter and we have the technology to produce battery powered cars. The question is why reliable and environmentally friendly are these cars?

First off let's understand why we are trying to switch from our comfortable gas powered cars to hybrids that barely make any noise when driven. Here is what an average gas powered car produces:

* Carbon dioxide is the dominant greenhouse gas that causes global warming.
* Carbon monoxide, when inhaled, impairs the flow of oxygen to your brain.
* Sulphur oxides contribute to respiratory illness, and aggravate existing heart and lung    diseases.
* Oxides of nitrogen (NOx) react with compounds in the air to cause acid rain and ozone (the main reason for smog).
* Particulate matter are an established cause of lung problems, including cancer.
* Hydrocarbons, in their many forms, irritate the lung and other tissues, contribute to birth defects and cause other illnesses including cancer.
* Lead damages organs, affects the brains, nerves, heart, and blood.

These are just some of the things that our gas powered cars are contributing to our environment. Now knowing this it is only obvious for one to think hybrid cars are the only alternative to gas powered cars. We tend to fear and hate things that harm our bodies and threaten our safety, and the points above do a great job in creating this fear and hate towards gas powered cars. But like the unbiased skeptical consumer that we all are, we must also view a different perspective on this issue. 

Hybrid cars are very complex and involve the use of 2 engines, a gas powered engine and a battery powered engine. The theory behind the hybrid is use battery power at low speed (like in traffic) and gas powered engine in high speeds. It is safe to say, under the basic principle law of consumer products, that the more complex something is, the easier it will break. Hence leaving the hybrid cars vulnerable in maintenance costs and break downs. The advanced technology will also require higher repair costs as well. 

Hybrids tend to get around 48 to 60 mpg which is about 20%-35% better when compared to the Honda Civic which gets 36 mpg. But when we compare the price of the two cars we are looking at anywhere between $20,000-$30,000 for hybrids and $14,000-$19,000 for a Honda Civic. It becomes much more clear when we compare the price the cars. Also when comparing the annual fuel bills between the Honda Insight and the Honda Civic, we do not see a great difference. Theoretically, you will only save around $2500 in fuel costs from owning a hybrid for 10 years. From this information we can only wonder whether the hybrid is a product marketing to reap profit for automobile companies. Hybrids have become a fad and trend like thanks to Hollywood stars arriving to events in their Toyota Hybrid. Who doesn't want to help the environment? At the same time we all know by now that being green and eco-friendly means the big bucks for companies all around the world.  

But there are also advantages of driving a hybrid and the low emissions they create. They may be just what we need in our polluted cities and the future of transportation. But I believe it is safe to think that hybrid vehicles are still not stable and need further development to prove its reliability and justification to change. Because as we all know, driving a $25,000 hybrid car is not the only way to sustain our environment. 

The Adventures of EnviroMan and the VegeMights

Not so long ago, there was a land not so far away, lavishly covered in green gardens and blue skies, called Portlandia. Animals roamed free, the air was clean, and people walked everywhere they needed to go. But the people started to learn how to do more things faster than before and make their lives easier. Society grew more and more civilized each passing year. Rudimentary shelters became tall buildings and streets became lined with thousands of automobiles. What was once a beautiful, clean city became grayer and dirtier. The skies no longer appeared so blue as smog and exhaust from daily activities accumulated higher and higher. Beautiful green gardens were dug up to make room for more parking lots. Animals that used to roam free were now confined to small areas or forced to live in crowded pens and were only bred for food!

Most people went about their daily lives not giving much thought to what was happening around them. They focused on their jobs and how to make more money to make their lives better and didn’t feel much concern for what their car, or what they were eating, was doing to the earth. They were having an oblivious good time and didn’t even care about the environment. Little did they know … an evil was lurking.

There were a few people who saw things differently. Though small in number, they called themselves the VegaMights, and they decided it was better to not eat meat and to eat more vegetables. They had superpowers that enabled them to pass up hamburgers and chicken club sandwiches, and they had phenomenal strength to stand up to others who called them names or said they were silly for not eating meat.

Out of the fiery bowels of burning fossil fuels laden with rotted meat, in a chemical mix of toxic discharge, acid rain and over-tolerated pollution, rose EnviroMan. The reaction of poisonous pollution, combining with enthusiastic minority objection, somehow gave EnviroMan super-human powers and transformed him into a warrior against waste … a gladiator of green … a hero of the earth … a man on a mission for less emission. With his super-human strength, EnviroMan could effortlessly save the life of a cow, pig or chicken with nothing more than fruits and vegetables! He could influence thousands to be less wasteful, drive hybrids and become vegetarians with just one blast of his super-sonic-social-change fountain-pen ray-blaster! EnviroMan and the VegaMights would often write powerful blogs letting everyone know how much healthier they and their environment would be by giving up meat and driving hybrid cars.

One day, as the people of Portlandia were going about their normal, daily lives, a humungous, thick, dark cloud began to condense over the city. But it didn’t rain, and the cloud just got thicker and thicker until it made the sun go dim. People started coughing a lot and having trouble breathing, and plants even started dying, and nobody knew what to do. Back at Public-Safety Headquarters, the Mayor of Portlandia saw the cloud getting thicker and thicker from his office window, and he knew something had to be done. After all, it was an election year. Reaching into a compartment hidden under his desk, the Mayor found the key he was looking for. He walked across the oval room to a door labeled “Emergency Only,” unlocked it with the secret key, and opened the door. Inside the door was nothing more than a wall with a big, green button in the middle with the letters “EM” written on it. Looking once more out the window, and thinking how he could budget environmental improvement costs after the coming election, the Mayor took a deep breath, rolled his eyes, and pushed the button.

Out past the edge of town, in Beavertoniaville, Jack Johnsontonstone had just finished riding his bike home from work and was getting ready to stir-fry up some tofu for dinner when his beeper started vibrating. Peering out the window, Jack’s eyes opened wide with alarm to see the green-lighted letters “EM” shining brightly against a dark cloud hovering over the city in the distance – the Mayor had activated the EnviroAlert! Without a moment to spare, Jack Johnsontonstone quickly snatched a cucumber out of the fridge in one hand while holding his other hand to the output receptacle for the solar-panels on his roof, and with a green POOF of emission-free water vapor, he was instantly re-dressed in a hemp uniform embroidered with the letters “EM” known as no other than EnviroMan!

EnviroMan dashed into the garage, unplugged his trusty electro-veggie hybrid Enviromobile, and raced out the garage door with a high-pitched whine! Speeding along down the driveway, onto the street, around the corner, past the old oak tree and (wait! … EnviroMan stopped … got out of the car … and gave that tree a hug!) onto the freeway onramp, EnviroMan rushed toward Public-Safety Headquarters at speeds up to 55 miles per hour!

As EnviroMan sped down the highway, he noticed a strange signal of waves flying through the air with his super-human open-minded eyesight. As he reached the outskirts of the city, EnviroMan noticed these signals were going straight into peoples’ minds without them even knowing it. With his ultra-logic herculean telepathy, EnviroMan knew an evil power was creating these signals, causing all the people to act like blind sheep and be oblivious to the world around them and the consequences of their wasteful lifestyles! Low and behold, it was this evil mind-numbing signal that was causing the smog cloud to block out the sun over the city!

Quickly changing course, EnviroMan set out to find the source of that signal! But every time he’d follow a signal that was numbing someone’s mind, he’d find it was coming from another person! In fact, everyone receiving the mind-numbing waves that made them oblivious to the environment was sending out the same signal to someone else! EnviroMan’s super-sonic-social-change fountain-pen ray-blaster was a powerful weapon, but he couldn’t blast everyone with it! Whatever would EnviroMan do?

Pondering the dilemma over some celery sticks and peanut butter, EnviroMan had an idea. Quickly crossing his super-sonic-social-change fountain-pen ray-blaster with his persuasion-replication phaser, EnviroMan got back in the Enviromobile and headed toward The Oregonian. When he got there, EnviroMan pointed his super-sonic-social-change persuasion-replication fountain-pen ray-blaster-phaser directly at their editorial page and fired! Then he fired again and again and again! When he was done there, he pointed his blaster at the Willamette Week, local newspapers, the internet, and even at his friends and family! EnviroMan just kept blasting and blasting and blasting until the mind-numbed people started receiving residual blasts from reading the articles and blogs and stories. Once the people had read and learned enough, the persuasion replication phaser residuals built up enough in their systems that the mind-numbing signals they had been sending out reversed, and they started sending out their own positive energy! Before long, the dark cloud dissipated, allowing the sun to shine though once again. Folks stopped coughing so much, the plants thrived, and the people rejoiced. Their city was saved.

Later that week, at the unveiling of a new solar-powered electric vehicle charging station, the Mayor presented EnviroMan with a medal for outstanding environmental service. As the VegeMights passed out delicious apples and carrots to all the boys and girls, EnviroMan stood tall and broad, with his hands on his hips, and in a deep, heroic voice, he said: “That’s not necessary Mr. Mayor. Technology owes ecology an apology, and this new charging station is thanks enough for me.” Looking out over the crowd, EnviroMan continued, “But if I am ever needed again, just look toward the forest, or the ocean, into the face of a child, or into yourselves … and I’ll be there.” Without another word, EnviroMan jumped back into the Enviromobile and whined off into the sunset.

As the people walked back to their homes, finished their vegetarian dinners, and climbed into bed, they all slept safe and sound knowing they’d be helping to sustain the environment for generations to come … thanks to the good work of EnviroMan and the VegeMights!

-- David Campbell, ecopol project

Compost Trend in Portland Business

Did you know that around 75 percent of the waste that goes into landfills comes from businesses? A hefty percentage of that waste is made up of food and food contaminated paper or cardboard. Food waste is particularly damaging to the environment because the byproduct of decomposing organic matter creates a large amount of the greenhouse gas methane. Most people don’t realize how damaging their food waste can be on the environment. And when there is over 54,000 tons of food and food contaminated paper entering landfills every year, this is a big issue.

So if we can’t throw our food or food containers in the trash, what are we supposed to do with them? Ceasing to eat food obviously isn’t an option, so what about composting? Composting can be a good alternative for grocery stores, universities, hospitals, hotels, and a number of other facilities that generate a large amount of food related waste.

One local Portland business has adopted composting in recent years in an effort to reduce their negative environmental impact. Hot Lips Pizza has placed bins for composting alongside their garbage bins. These receptacles are complete with a list of foods and objects that can and should be placed in the compost bin so that their customers aren’t required to have an understanding of composting. For the curious customer, Hot Lips has included a segment on their website about the benefits of composting.

The Portland Farmer’s Market has also begun to provide receptacles for not only waste but composting and recycling. These bins come with a three dimensional set of examples over each in order to ensure that there is no misunderstanding. With the amount of disposable food containers sold at the numerous food and coffee booths at the farmer’s market, it’s no surprise that these notoriously eco friendly people have come up with a method for disposing of these items in a more environmentally friendly way.

These are only a couple of examples about the trend towards composting in businesses in Portland. Hopefully this trend will continue to pick up speed not only in Portland but in other cities as well. And maybe if people begin to be exposed to composting while they are out to eat or shopping for their vegetables for the week at the farmer’s market they will begin to consider composting in their own homes!





Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Meat vs. Veggies production and benefit facts

1. Amount of potatoes that can be grown on 1 acre (over 4,000 square meters): 20,000 lbs. (over 9,000 kg)

2. Amount of beef that can be grown on one acre: 165 lbs. (75 kg)

3. The same land to feed 1 “meat-eater” could feed from 20 to up to 150 vegetarians!

4. Amount of protein fed to chicken to produce 1 lbs of chicken: 5 lbs. (1 to 5 ratio!)

5. Amount of protein fed to hogs to produce 1 lbs of hog flesh: 7,5 lbs!

6. Number of people who starve to death yearly: 60 million!

7. Number of people who could be saved if Americans reduced their meat intake by just 10% percent: 60 million! World hunger could be solved by just introducing a meat-free day.


1. Water needed to make 1 lbs of wheat: 25 gallons (95 liters)

2. Water needed for 1 lbs of meat: 2,500 gallons (9465 liters)

3. Cost of 1 lbs of wheat: $1.50

4. Cost of 1 lbs of beefsteak: $15.40

5. Cost of 1 lbs of beefsteak if the water that is needed for its production wasn’t subsidized: $89

Energy and materials:

1. Time that petroleum reserves would last if everyone ate meat only: 13 years.

2. If everyone was vegetarian: 260 years.

3. Percentage of energy return (1 unit of food energy compared to 1 unit of energy used to produce it) from meat: 34.5% (over 65% of energy loss).

4. Percentage of energy return from plant food: 328%!

5. Raw materials consumed for all purposes for a meat-centered diet: 33%.

6. Raw materials consumed for all purposes for a pure vegetarian diet: 2%.


1. Frequency of heart attack in US: every 25 seconds.

2. Frequency of death from heart attack in us: every 45 seconds.

3. Heart attack death risk by average American man: 50%

4. Same risk for a pure vegetarian: 4%

5. Same risk for a raw-foodist: 0%

6. By reducing your meat intake by 10% you wouldn’t only help fighting world hunger, but reduce the risk of heart attack by: 9%.

7. By consuming 1 egg a day your blood cholesterol rises by: 12%

8. Increased cholesterol by 12% rises the heart attack risk by: 24%

9. Risk of dying from a disease caused by clogged arteries if you don’t consume saturated fat: only 5%

10. Breast cancer risk of a woman who eats meat daily compared to a woman who eats meat less than once a week: 4 times higher.

11. Ovarian cancer risk of a woman who eats eggs over 3 times a week compared to a woman who eats eggs less than once a week: 3 times higher.

12. Pesticides of total pesticides in our diet supplies by meat: 55%

13. By dairy products: 23%

14. By fruits: 4%

15. By grains: 1%

16. Pesticide contamination in breast milk of meat-eating mother compared to a vegetarian mother: 35 times higher.

17. The Meat Board says you don’t have to be concerned about dioxin pesticide in your diet. What they don’t tell is that dioxin is a incredibly potent pesticide: an ounce (28 grams) could kill 10,000,000 people!


By Dhiya Alsuliman

Vegetarianism versus Fuel Efficiency

Despite the overwhelming discourse and evidence pertaining to finite resources and the necessity of sustainability etc, society and huge corporations generally consider environmental conscientiousness as the mutterings of liberal pundits. With respect to corporations this is fundamentally because the sustainability theory is generally in opposition with the corporate goals, i.e. profit. In order to foster and entrench viable change, the discourse must be altered so that it makes economic sense to corporations. Thus far, corporations point out that in general, a significant portion of the dialogue pertains to restrictive regulations which inadvertently restrict their range of activities and as such active participation is nonexistent or at best paltry. Based on this, advocates could solicit greater participation/involvement by detailing how corporations can make money via environmental conscientiousness. When such methods have been utilized, we discover that the assignment of economic value to the conservation movement remains the greatest incentive for participation.

 Our discussion this term has pertained to which movement (vegetarianism versus fuel conservation) would result in greater sustainability. The evidence indicates astonishing statistics in regards to our consumption of resources. Whilst both endeavors are admirable in nature, when viewed in a socioeconomic perspective manner, I personally believe that vegetarianism is the more realistic pursuit to subscribe to. What is the basis of this decision? According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport. It is also a major source of land and water degradation and “livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. I found it particularly interesting that the food industry generates more greenhouse emissions than 600 million cars. Couple that with the subsequent water pollution, deforestation, livestock epidemics, unsavory conditions that livestock are reared, contaminated produce etc it becomes obvious that vegetarianism is the most viable movement to follow.

The fundamental basis of my argument stems from the fact that I believe that it is infinitely easier for a larger number of people to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle than to persuade a similar group to switch to fuel efficient/hybrid vehicles. Since people are largely motivated by economic incentives and by applying the concept of assigning economic value to these movements, we can determine the probability of adherence. The global economy could benefit significantly by considering the environmental advantages of vegetarianism. From a surface view, it would appear that the American or the economy of any other developed country does not necessarily need to implement any change to their current practices. The problem rests in a reliance of a flawed system: i.e the economy. Most developed countries flourished because of natural resources, which are finite and will run out eventually. Its interesting to note that most of the discourse out there focuses on our oil dependence and fails to mention that it would be easier, and cheaper to implement vegetarianism as it is simply more realistic. Consider for example that it is much less expensive, for instance, to buy a car that is fueled by gasoline than to buy a car that runs on hydrogen, even though hydrogen is a renewable resource that produces an almost insignificant amount of waste. Furthermore, more than three quarters of the world cannot afford to buy these fuel efficient vehicles, maintain them etc. In the end, each movement is an honorable one with numerous benefits that have the potential of generating income and benefits for future generations.

By Khalaf Al Khalaf

- http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000448/index.html
- http://www.detroitproject.com/readmore/nrdc_facts.htm

Obsoletely, Plug Me In

I don’t own a hybrid. I own a Jeep. It’s got a four-banger engine in it, but it still guzzles its share of gas – that’s for sure. When I bought my Jeep six years ago, I didn’t even consider a hybrid because they were brand new to the market and expensive. If I were today to buy a new car, would I buy a hybrid? Good question. I hear words like “carbon emissions” and “greenhouse gasses” and the main refrain in my brain are colors of smoggy gray for our future generations. From previous study, I know a hybrid would emit fewer emissions than an all-gas-powered vehicle, and my tender wallet takes a painful beating whenever I hit the pump, so why wouldn’t I buy a hybrid? Why doesn’t everyone?

For most folks, it’s a matter of trust and knowledge. It is hard for a consumer to have faith in a new product that has not yet attained enough popularity to reach a critical mass of production or even tip the scales of the auto network. The thought of getting stuck as a sucker with an obsolete product, like some poor BETA VCR buyer, is a total drag. And since so few other people are doing it, folks rationalize to not take time out of their selective daily grind to even bother learning about hybrids or consider buying one. They take what feels like a safe, familiar path towards a gray, smoggy, gas-burning future. So, what would turn things around? How many more hybrid buyers would it take to tip the network scales toward hybrid domination? Could one more car-buyer, empowered through education to overcome fears of obsolescence and have trust in the benefits of buying a hybrid, make the difference?

Though gaining in popularity, hybrids are a far cry from a dominant market fixture today. Only a small proportion, about 3.55%, of new car purchases last month were hybrids.1 So why are there so few hybrid sales? Studies show that people who own hybrid cars are genuinely happy with them and will purchase another hybrid car at their next buying opportunity, so it’s not consumer dissatisfaction.2 As time passes and hybrids are not quite so new and rare anymore, their prices are stabilizing and becoming more reasonable. Considering the recent and dramatic skyrocket in gasoline prices our economy has experienced as of late, it goes to follow that a consumer would be attracted to buying a hybrid for economic reasons, too. So why, then, don’t more people buy hybrids rather than all-gas cars?

Confusion and unfamiliarity are huge barriers for potential car buyers, who have never purchased a hybrid vehicle, to overcome. When a consumer goes into a dealership to purchase a new car, chances are they have owned gasoline-only cars in the past. They know that they need only pull into any gas station when the gas gauge gets low, fill up their tank, and be on their way. If something breaks, they know they can buy parts and find someone to fix it, and they feel confident that the use of gasoline-only cars will continue, thus perpetuating the value in their vehicle. When folks first start hearing about using electricity or a new kind of battery or how to find a solar-powered electric vehicle charging station in the city – they can become easily overwhelmed. The idea of getting stuck with today’s equivalent of BETA VCRs or 8-track cassette tapes that so quickly found themselves obsolete in decades past creates a worry most risk-averse buyers tend to avoid – and who’s not risk-averse in our post-recession economy? I think the best way for a person to become open-minded to purchasing an alternative vehicle is to study and learn all he can about what has worked and what has not, and where the future of cars is headed. Indeed, over the last few months I have learned quite a bit about how hybrids work, how they are cheaper than I initially thought, how reliable they are, and how truly good for the environment they can be. Hybrids aren’t so scary to me anymore, and my mind is much more open to the idea of owning a hybrid car. However, all this knowledge has also led me to think beyond the fear of buying a hybrid and more about the reasons why people buy them.

Many people purchase hybrids to help protect the environment, as we know that hybrids produce significantly less emissions than gas-only cars … but electric cars go even one step further. According to the Argonne National Laboratory, “EVs [electric vehicles] substantially reduce all of the emissions that cause adverse health conditions in urban settings, where those emissions are often concentrated and do the most harm to human health.”3 A new electric car made by Nissan, the Leaf, doesn’t produce any bad emissions for our environment, at all.4 Even charging stations are getting better for the environment. One company, Sunlight Solar Energy, has several solar-powered charging stations around Oregon.5 Perhaps education for the public about the benefits of alternative vehicles, such as we are doing in our blogs, will help people to change their minds about alternative vehicles.

With so many advancements being made at such a very rapid pace, it’s hard to feel confident buying anything nowadays – especially anything with a new technology. Just a few days ago, here in Portland, Oregon, our governor unveiled, “what is being heralded as the nation’s first public quick-charge station for electric vehicles.”4 It will take about a half an hour to charge an electric car to go about 100 miles and plans are being created to have over 1,000 more of these stations along Oregon Interstate Five.4 For those consumers who like simplicity – being able to just pull up to the pump and fill up – Portland is even going so far as to use hose-devices to make charging the batteries of electric cars similar to filling up at the gas station.6 This creation is so advanced that cars that will use this device, like the Nissan Leaf, will not even be released until the end of this year.4 Just like BETA to VHS, cassette to CD, and DVD to blu-ray, technology is always improving. The wait for technology to free our society from dangerous, damaging emissions and dependence on foreign oil is over – that technology is here, now. It is an easy stretch to predict that, at some point in the future, gasoline prices will grow out of reasonable range and gasoline-only cars will become highly regulated by an environmentally-conscious government. When comparing this reality with an alternative fuel source as abundant as the sun, whether sooner or later, it is easy to see where the future of our vehicular travel is headed in the long run. As hybrid and electric vehicle popularity continues to grow exponentially, the point of critical mass – where the dominant fuel swings from gas to hybrid/electric – gas-only cars will become a thing of the past faster than you can say “fill ‘er up, Johnny.”

We live in an amazing time where we all have the opportunity to minimize our impacts on the world around us and sustain the beautiful world we know for our future. The missing ingredient is motivation . . . Yours, and mine. Jumping on the technology train now, regardless of which car you land on, is the safest bet; however, since my budget won’t allow it for a couple more years anyway, perhaps I will wait and purchase the new hydro-car that runs on water. It could happen!

1 “July 2010 Dashboard: Sales of Popular Hybrids Hold Firm.” Hybrid Cars. August 10 2010. August 10 2010. http://www.hybridcars.com/hybrid-clean-diesel-sales-dashboard/july-2010.html
2 “Profile of Hybrid Drivers.” Hybrid Cars. March 31 2006. August 7 2010. http://www.hybridcars.com/hybrid-drivers/profile-of-hybrid-drivers.html
3 “Electric Vehicles: The Portland Way.” August 07 2010. http://media.oregonlive.com/commuting/other/1046.pdf
4 Rose, Joseph. “Downtown Portland electric-car charging station is 'quick,' even if it's not very 'public'.” The Oregonian. August 05 2010. August 07 2010. http://blog.oregonlive.com/commuting/2010/08/downtown_portland_electric-car.html
5 Associated Press. “Bend powers up first e-car charging station.” Katu. June 14 2010. August 7 2010. http://www.katu.com/news/business/96300494.html
6 Associated Press. “Governor looks to power up plans for electric cars in Oregon.” Katu. August 05 2010. August 07 2010. http://www.katu.com/news/business/100069289.html


Becoming a vegetarian is a challenge.  I am not a vegetarian myself because I do eat chicken maybe once per week, but I understand the difficulties of following a "special" diet.  Six months ago, I discovered that I am gluten-intolerant.  This means that I need to avoid foods that contain wheat, barley, spelt, and rye or I will become ill (the effects of which I will not share here).  I also need to avoid foods that have a high chance of being cross-contaminated with gluten such as oats, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, and teff that are not certified gluten-free.  Although I have naturally avoided certain foods like pasta and sandwiches for many years already, it has been the greatest challenge to also stop purchasing certain candy bars, granola bars, prepackaged rice, snack mixes, non-dairy products, condiments, juices, cosmetics, medicines, spice mixes, and animal products that contain gluten.

The key, I have found, is that word "prepackaged."  You never know what you are going to get boxed up and ready-to-eat on the store shelf.  The identity of food gets hidden beneath words like "natural flavors" and "natural enzymes."  In the food industry, derivatives of wheat are often used as a binder.  Having a father that worked in the food industry for over 40 years has allowed me to tour food plants personally and witness that wheat flour is used to keep spices on oats, nuts, and cereal.  Wheat grains are mixed into other grains to provide extra protein, such as coucous and granola.  

This is also the case with animal products; they are mixed into food that shouldn't intuitively contain it such as tortillas, salad dressing, chewing gum and marshmallows.  Words that animal products can hide behind include (but are not limited to): albumin, anchovies, animal shortening, carmine, calcium stearate, capric acid, casein, clarifying agent, gelatin, glucose, glycerides, isinglass, lactic acid, lactose, lactylic stearate, lanolin, lard, lecithin, lutein, myristic acid, natural flavorings, oleic acid, palmatic acid, pancreatin, pepsin, propolis, rennin, royal jelly, sodium stearoyl lactylate, suet, tallow, vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and whey.  

If you make meals from scratch, you are more confident that you know what you are getting.  This is the biggest resistance for Americans today in managing their diet: they either do not want to make meals from scratch or they do not know how. 

For me, cooking is a great joy.  I love to combine ingredients to make something healthy that smells and tastes wonderful so that I can serve it to other people.  But, I seem to inspire a lot of strange responses in other people, especially other women, when they find out that I am now eating this way.  Many people congratulate me for taking care of myself.  However, there is a large proportion that just cannot figure out what is possibly left for me to eat.  They warn me about the imaginably heightened possibility of either gaining weight or becoming malnourished (which is actually not any greater than their own).  I also get many shocking judgments about my seemingly now-official migration of beliefs and lifestyle into Hippie Culture - just because I am choosing not to eat food that makes me ill.  It has been an interesting experience to learn just what my fellow Americans believe about being healthy. 

I have many friends who are vegetarians - both the kind that still eat eggs and dairy products, and those who do not.  They have chosen not to eat meat (usually in their teen years), and slowly migrate closer and closer to excluding all animal products from their diet.  For many vegetarians, the motivation to exclude meat is the same as my choice to not eat gluten: it makes us ill.  This is understandable when the treatment of animals and the health effects that consuming large amounts of meat have on air quality, land usage, water pollution, and the health of the human body.

The first step toward changing your dietary choices is to read as much as you can on the topic.  Learn what healthy food choices really are: how much protein, carbohydrates, and fiber do you need?  Which foods are the best sources for these things?  How can you get the vitamins and nutrients your body needs?  Go to the library, your favorite bookstore and the internet.  Learn how to take care of yourself.  Think about your reasons for being interested in this topic.  What is your motivation?  Is it peer pressure from friends and family?  Do you truly care about your own stewardship of your body?

Once you figure these things out, then you can begin to find recipes.  You can go through recipe books at libraries and bookstores and friends' houses (if they let you) or you can search the internet for something that appeals to you.  It is acceptable to take a pen and some paper to the store and copy a recipe by hand for your own personal use at home.  Another possibility is to go through the recipes that you already own and substitute foods that you are willing to eat for those that you are trying to exclude from your diet.

If you are one of the millions of people who have no idea how to cook because you either eat at restaurants every meal, or you make meals from a box or bag, then try something simple that does not require cooking.  One example is to make a meat-free Mediterranean Salad for lunch using wild rice, red onion, olives, artichoke hearts, red bell pepper, cucumber, sunflower seeds, red wine vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, and black pepper.  Depending on whether you want to be the type of vegetarian that stops consuming all animal products, or the type of vegetarian that just stops eating meat, you could add feta cheese, if you wish.  Once you can do this, you could move on to something a bit more advanced, like making yourself a burrito bowl at home by layering rice, beans, lettuce, corn, salsa, black pepper, and smashed avocado.  If you need to start with instant rice and baked beans, that's fine.  Eventually, you work toward using rice that needs to cook and black beans, allowing the salsa, pepper, and avocado to spice things up.

The secret to maintaining a change in your diet is to start with small changes so that you barely notice a difference, but you still feel good about your choices.  Marian Wright Edelman, the key note speaker at my commencement ceremony for college, once said: "If you don't like the way the world is, you change it.  You have an obligation to change it.  You just do it one step at a time."  We change the world one step at a time; we change our lives one choice at a time. 

By Emily Spesert

[1]  http://www.cyberparent.com/eat/hiddenanimalsinfood.htm
[2]  http://kidshealth.org/teen/food_fitness/nutrition/vegetarian.html
[3]  http://zenhabits.net/how-to-become-a-vegetarian-the-easy-way/
[4]  http://www.soyouwanna.com/site/syws/vegan/vegan5.html
[5]  Morrow, Susan. "Becoming Vegetarian." Alive: Canadian Journal of Health & Nutrition; Mar1996, Issue 161, p29, 2p.