Editor's note: This piece was originally published by our sister paper The Stranger in Seattle.
Maybe living in and visiting so-called enlightened, liberal oases like Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles distorts one's perception, but a recent Washington Post article presented depressing statistics about the number of vegetarians and vegans in America. WaPo author Maura Judkis reports the findings of a new Gallup poll revealing that only 5 percent of the population considers themselves vegetarian and 3 percent vegan. (Yes, liberals are much more likely to practice vegetarianism and veganism than conservatives, according to Gallup.) These numbers have remained fairly static since 1999. This is bad news, if you care at all about the environment—and maybe even your own body.
As I noted in The Stranger here, here, and here, going meatless (and dairyless, if you're hardcore) benefits not only physical health, but that of this pale blue dot that Carl Sagan accurately described as "the only home we've ever known," this third stone from the sun (per Jimi Hendrix) whose demise we're diligently hastening. Read George C. Wang's "Go vegan, save the planet" and study the infographic in the post "Animal Agriculture Is the Most Destructive Industry Facing the Planet Today" for further information.
But just as smokers presented with stern package warnings and mountains of stats delineating the health risks of cigarettes continue to puff in defiance of logic, consumers of meat and dairy continue to ignore the abundant articles outlining the numerous advantages of eliminating—or at least de-emphasizing—those things from their diets. Because our taste buds trump the fate of the planet.