The Forum recently announced that an Italian steakhouse would be opening soon in Fargo. About the same time, a study of the environmental impact of global food production appeared in the technical journal Nature Food. It found that global food production accounts for 35% of all global greenhouse emissions, and that over half of that (57%) came from animal food production. The study has not yet been reported in The Forum. An expert who was not one of the co-authors described the study as “the gold standard” for such analysis. Global plant food production also emits lots of greenhouse gases, but far less.

For those who believe we should assume personal responsibility for behaviors that contribute to climate warming, there is an option. Becoming a vegetarian or a “flexitarian” (occasional small amounts of meat, dairy, and eggs), would be a significant help.

Being a vegetarian is not a heroic act of self-deprivation. It is the door to culinary creativity by discovering delicious ways of eating vegetables, grains, legumes, fruits, and nuts, and exploring the many global cuisines that rely mostly on plant-based foods. It’s also healthier.

Many people justify their meat-based diets on claims that they need the protein, but our protein needs are not large and can easily be met with a plant-based diet. I’m an average-size person, and I need only a little over 2 ounces of protein from all sources per day. I’ve been a flexitarian for 35 years, and I’m still around. Think a Mediterranean diet, sans goat or lamb. And remember: wine and beer are vegetarian.

Arland Jacobson lives in Moorhead.

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This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.