While some academic researchers go on sabbatical to write books, travel, or teach abroad, Stanford biochemist Pat Brown, PhD, is using his year away for something entirely different: to figure out how to stop people from eating meat. As reported by Inside Stanford Medicine today:
[Brown] has been a vegetarian for decades and a vegan for five years. He doesn’t want to outlaw eating animal products, but he does want us to begin paying for their true [environmental] cost. Cows, for example, excrete methane and nitrous oxide, which contribute to global warming, and gobble down tons of water-sucking grains and plants, exacerbating water shortages worldwide.
“Thirty percent of the world’s land is devoted to animal farming,” said Brown. “People need to begin taking responsibility for their food choices. If they can’t do it voluntarily, then we can use economic incentives.” Incentives that include increasing the price of meat at the supermarket counter so it costs two to three times what you’re paying now.
Explaining that eating a 4-ounce hamburger is equivalent to, from an environmental perspective, leaving your bathroom faucet running 24 hours a day for a week (!), Brown tells my colleague Krista Conger that "people are sort of in denial about whether this is even an issue." But he doesn't sound fazed at how challenging it may be to raise awareness of the problem and change people's eating habits:
“Scientists are more inclined to do this sort of thing than most people, because we tend to be almost absurdly optimistic. We believe that things kind of outside the box may still work.”
Photo by foxypar4