The Final Thoughts

Posted: August 18, 2012 by Minh in Week 4: Final Reflections

Economic Impact

Feed me!

On a personal level, i did spend more on food on this project (~170$) than the last two month combines but it was totally worth it. This PSP changes my habit of buying prepackaged foods which is relatively cheap compared to fresh fruits and vegetables. Being a vegetarian also encourages me to cook more often. I used to eat a lot of junk foods such as Top Ramen or canned soups which makes my monthly spending on food very low (~70-80$ a month), cooking inclines me to eat better quality, and hence more costly food. Nevertheless, having a healthy diet could potentially limit numerous health problems and lead a good, happy, and long life which is priceless.

On a global scale, meat production requires staggering amounts of land, water, and energy, compared to plant foods. For example, in Population Resources, and Environment, Paul Ehrlich show that to grow one pound of wheat requires only sixty pounds of water, whereas production of one pound of meat requires anywhere from 2,500 to 6,000 pounds of water.Or according to Cornell ecologist David Pimentel, animal protein demands tremendous expenditures of fossil-fuel energy—about eight times as much for a comparable amount of plant protein. A plant based agriculture is much more efficient in utilizing resources such as land, water, energy compared to raising living stock. Even though reducing meat consumption may hurt the meat industry as well as thousand of workers and farmers, i believe that that’s the most economically beneficial way in the long run.

What It Takes To Make A Quarter-Pound Hamburger

Social Impact

The main argument about the impact of vegetarianism on solving the food crisis is if the land/resources that was used to raise livestock was instead used for vegetables/crops, there would be enough of those resources to abolish world hunger. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation, the food production would have to increase globally by 70% by 2050 as the global population surges towards a predicted 9.1 billion people. Shifting to vegetarianism or partial-vegetarianism from a meat oriented diet can have a tremendous effect in fighting the world hunger problem as the report from United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) states:

Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth increasing consumption of animal products. Unlike fossil fuels, it is difficult to look for alternatives: people have to eat. A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.


There have been numerous evidences showing that meat production creates great stress on the natural resources and heavily contributes to global warming. Here is an article i found on Time which includes an interesting fact that even animal wastes can be a major factor in global warming

In a 2006 report, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) concluded that worldwide livestock farming generates 18% of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions — by comparison, all the world’s cars, trains, planes and boats account for a combined 13% of greenhouse gas emissions. Much of livestock’s contribution to global warming come from deforestation, as the growing demand for meat results in trees being cut down to make space for pasture or farmland to grow animal feed. Livestock takes up a lot of space — nearly one-third of the earth’s entire landmass. In Latin America, the FAO estimates that some 70% of former forest cover has been converted for grazing. Lost forest cover heats the planet, because trees absorb CO2 while they’re alive — and when they’re burned or cut down, the greenhouse gas is released back into the atmosphere.

Then there’s manure — all that animal waste generates nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that has 296 times the warming effect of CO2. And of course, there is cow flatulence: as cattle digest grass or grain, they produce methane gas, of which they expel up to 200 L a day. Given that there are 100 million cattle in the U.S. alone, and that methane has 23 times the warming impact of CO2, the gas adds up.


My PSP has been a great success and a personal achievement, being a vegetarian was both a challenging and meaningful experience. Becoming a vegetarian can be a long and gradual process and i am proud that i didn’t break my promise even though week 1 for me was miserable when i basically ate three things: rice, tofu, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I realize that the hardest part of being a vegetarian for me is not about giving up meat ( In fact, i have absolutely no desire to eat any) but to find the real motivation to keep me going. After taking this class and doing some research, i finally understand the immense impact of vegetarianism on our society, economy and environment. I will continue doing this project and I am strongly confident that my action will make our planet become a better place.


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