Thursday, March 6, 2014

Book review and musing on Food Revolution and vegetarianism

I recently finished reading “Voices of the Food Revolution” (link to my Amazon review). The book has some very interesting perspectives on Food. The editors, Johan and Ocean Robbins, interview several authors and “food revolutionaries,” primarily proponents of vegetarianism who oppose “industrial agriculture.”

I am a vegetarian by choice. Having grown up in a vegetarian family in India this theme  of vegetarianism certainly resonates with me. What I find intriguing about the book, however, is that many of the authors interviewed in the book have also sold millions of copies of their books on new age diets and vegetarianism. If millions of Americans have indeed read up on vegetarianism, one would expect some change in behavior and consumption, but the needle has hardly moved in 2014. Last I checked, majority of fellow Americans continue to be carnivores and omnivores. So what gives?
Interestingly, in other parts of the world, including China and India, the newly affluent middle-class is taking to eating meat and poultry like there was no tomorrow.  Googling on this topic, I was surprised to read an article in Economic Times that “Indians eat more beef than any other meat. Beef consumption in India is double the combined consumption of meat and chicken, India is also the third largest exporter of beef….” Holy cow indeed!

In the book, many “food revolutionaries” make persuasive arguments on reducing or avoiding intake of meat and how this can lead to health benefits for individuals, while also contributing to greater environmental good. General argument: reduced meat intake will require fewer industrial cattle farms and lesser grains to feed cattle and poultry.  Wonder if such argument is being made in China and India that will need their share of industrial Animal Farms to feed the growing demand for meat?
Other links:
  • The New Indian Pariahs: Vegetarians - NPR 
  • China now eats twice as much meat as the United States - The telegraph
  • India's growing appetite for meat challenges traditional values - Daily news