Having the luxury of choice

This weekend I spent a couple of days in London. It really is one of my favorite cities and also one that I by now know my way around pretty well. That means a visit is pretty relaxed. One of the nights we went to see the movie Religulous by Bill Maher. It is an entertaining movie, that doesn’t quite however make it’s message of religion being ridiculous fully believable. However, whatever you think about religin Bill Maher in the mvie had one comment that really stuck with me – that we (ad in most people living in america and europe) have the luxury of having choice. We don’t have to stick to our beliefs. We don’t have to stick with one job all our lives. And the list goes on …


One choice that we also have is to eat meat or not. I usually don’t go around preaching vegetarianism (even though I will happily spread the idea if people ask) however an article I read in Economist today got me in the mood to share. According to the article we are now potentially quite close to the limits of what our ecosystems can handle in the terms of our water usage. Agriculture is one of the main users of water, using 70-80%. These needs are set to increase, due to in part to population growth but also to a large extent change in diet.

As more and more people get increasingly prosperous they also have the possibility to eat more meat. This has a huge impact on water consumption – producing a kg of wheat takes about 1000 liters of water, whereas a kg of meat requires a whopping 15 000 liters (and wheat has a higher energy contents!). For us who belong to the “top end” of the increasingly prosperous (in global comparison – so that means mostly everyone in western europe) we have a choice, and all too often we use that choice to consume much more of the latter than what is either healthy or reasonable. Even though you don’t have to go completely veggie – why not cut down meat to one or a couple of days a week? Beyond saving water, you’re also impacting your co2 emissions and improving your health.

This is just one of the many areas where I (and many who will read this) have the luxury of the choice. We can live perfectly healthy lives (even more so in fact) with vegetarian diets and lower our environmental impact drastically. So, why not use that luxury?

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