Fresh, Not Flesh
From The Sunday Times, 12 August 2007
Fresh, Not Flesh
Meet private tutor Loh Yeow Nguan, for whom flesh is foul. For the last 20 years, he has been a vegetarian. And for the past seven of those years, he has been eating his greens raw. What has raw food got to do with saving the environment? Well, take a humble plate of char kway teow, he says. The kway teow is made of rice which is polished, ground into powder and mixed into a dough before it can be pulled into its long, stringy form. It is then fried in a roaring fire. All of these processes consume energy and deplete the earth's resources - energy that can be conserved if you eat your food raw, notes Mr Loh, 45, who is the education officer for the Vegetarian Society here.
So a typical meal for the bachelor consists of two to four bananas - which are his staple - a slice of papaya or watermelon and maybe half a mango. These are topped with half a cup of nuts, such as almond or cashew. For variety, he sometimes blends them into juices or mixes them into salads. Raw food, he adds, is healthier, as the nutrients in the greens don't get destroyed by cooking.
Mr Loh first swore off meat when he graduated from university. It was more for ethical reasons then, as he could not reconcile the fact that humans were killing other living beings for food when there were other choices available. He also heard about how so many resources were being put into rearing animals for food and decided that the environmental reason was just as important.
He points to a book called The Food Revolution (2001) by John Robbins, which states that the amount of grain fed to cattle in the United States each year is enough to feed 1.4 billion people, or a quarter of the world's population, and that one has to feed a cow more than 10 portions of plant food to get one portion of beef. Furthermore, one-third of all arable land on the planet is used to grow crops to feed animals.
The case to go vegetarian has been further strengthened by a United Nations report last year which found that cattle-rearing generates more greenhouse gases, as measured in carbon dioxide equivalents, than transportation. The report also states that the livestock sector generates 65 per cent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Most of this comes from the manure of animals. Mr Loh estimates that less than 1 per cent of Singaporeans are vegetarians, though he says there are probably about 10 per cent who are 'near-vegetarians'.
It takes only 116.6 litres of water to produce 1kg of wheat,
but 3,763 litres to produce 1kg of meat.
Nearly 15.4kg of corn and soy are needed to produce 1kg of pork.
Carbon Dioxide Emission:
The livestock industry accounts for 9% of carbon dioxide
deriving from human-related activities.
Nitrous Oxide Emission:
The livestock industry generates 65% of man-made nitrous oxide,
which has 296 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.
Most of this comes from manure.
(Sources: ChooseVeg.com , UN Food and Agriculture Organisation Livestocks Long Shadow Environmental Issues and Options 2006 report)