In his debut, Oppenlander derides our animal-based diets and encourages awareness of food choices as they affect our lives and the planet.
Eating meat, fish or dairy products, writes the author, depletes the planet’s resources and is the single most devastating factor that affects global warming and our environment. Oppenlander explores how our appetite for meat and fish affects our land, water, air, pollution, biodiversity, sustainability and personal health, noting that we “collectively raise, feed, water, kill, and eat over 70 billion animals each year for food.” The author uses the concept of global depletion to describe the degradation of our resources on earth, in detriment to our general health. Through well-researched statistics, Oppenlander claims that it is “what we eat and the choices we make in our diet, not the car we drive, that affects our supply of water, land, and air and will affect our success or failure on our planet.” For example, one person can save more water by not eating a pound of beef than by not showering for a full year. Oppenlander discusses the effect of raising livestock on the rain forests, biodiversity, water usage and water pollution, and he examines the issue of overfishing on the world’s oceans, outlining how government subsidies and inaccurate information perpetuate these problems. The author ridicules the locavore movement for its pieties about grass-fed beef, noting that there isn’t enough land on the planet for this practice to be sustainable. To reduce global depletion, Oppenlander suggests education, legislation banning meat consumption and ecotaxes reflecting the true cost of the food we eat. The book is filled with hefty statistics but has little narrative thread to carry readers through.
Not a feel-good book, but a stat-packed call to salads.