A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral.” - Leo Tolstoy

We just finished watching the documentary ‘What the Health‘ and were quite impressed by its conclusions. We thus believe that the transition to a vegetarian diet is now warranted by the recognition that meat consumption is both dangerous at the individual health, is critical in antibiotic resistance, but also has dramatic impact on global warming and the environment in general.

From an individual perspective, meat consumption increases the risk of cancer. In late 2015, the World Health Organization published a report pointing out that processed meat consumption were strongly linked to increases in colorectal cancer, with 50 grams daily portion of processed meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18% (roughly 1 in 5, worse odds than Russian roulette).

For those worried about protein intakes or nutritional deficiencies, there is nothing to worry about: various studies show that these deficiencies are minimal or are resulting from the comparison to biased standards (ie: US food pyramid). In fact, our inquiries have shown much concerns about deficiencies but little supporting facts. Basic food awareness and a balanced diet will provide enough (if not more) of your daily requirements. Humans have evolved as primarily herbivores and our physiology reflects that: our teeth are not sharp and our intestines are as long as herbivores: eating meat was probably never more than a diet supplement until the last century.

For countries with high red meat consumption, a more plant based diet would also dramatically reduce health care costs, since red meat is linked to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Another overlooked aspect is the fact that most antibiotics production is currently consumed by animals, which raises antibiotic resistance and creates bridges between human and animal diseases.

Finally, from an environmental standpoint, agriculture is among the largest contributors to GreenHouse Gases emissions, accounting for about 18% of human GHG emissions. Animal production and especially cattle is one of the largest component, since it is behind a large part of direct emissions. Its impact also includes the destruction of carbon sink due to land clearing for crops (an overwhelming proportion of crops are fed to animals).

Given that emerging countries are now adopting Western style diet, with a higher proportion of animal proteins, the impact from their consumption will put additional pressure on the world. As of now, most of the global warming efforts are focused on the energy and transportation sectors. However, agriculture is one of largest emitter but also the largest consumer of water. If modern agriculture is the conversion of oil into food, modern animal production is the conversion of plant proteins and water into animal proteins. The process is environmentally costly and inefficient.

To conclude, adopting a plant based diet makes sense not only at the personal level, by reducing the risks of chronic diseases, but also at a higher level, including the fight against global warming, as well the reduction in antibiotic resistant and other animal born diseases.

Science, General Knowledge & Environment

This new animation shows how close Antarctica is to losing an iceberg the size of Delaware – “Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf — one of the largest such shelves in the southern continent — began developing the crack in 2010. That rift lengthened and widened over the years, but has grown most rapidly since 2016.

Why China Is No Climate Leader – “Moreover, the Climate Action Tracker, produced by three international research institutions, indicates that China’s current emission reduction targets are not consistent with ensuring that the earth’s warming remains below 2 degrees C.

Solar And Wind Revolution Happening Much Faster Than Expected – “The greening of the grid means that global greenhouse gas emissions from electricity reach a peak in 2026 and then start to decline. Still, that falls short of the 2-degree warming threshold laid out by the Paris Climate accord. In order to reach that target, investment in clean energy would have to increase by an additional $5.3 trillion.

Resistance to last-ditch antibiotic has spread farther than anticipated – “It’s a crappy drug and I think this is a sign of our desperation that we are so concerned about the loss of a toxic antibiotic. […] Some evidence suggests that plasmids carrying mcr-1 have existed on farms for decades, and that researchers are seeing the plasmid and the gene now only because they’re looking for them. But their occurence does seem to be increasing.

The Internet Of Things Is Becoming More Difficult To Escape – “Technology can be like junk food. We’ll consume it, even when we know it’s bad for us. There is no silver bullet. The only way to effectively prevent against malware and data breaches is to stay continually vigilant.

History & Geopolitics

The Nazis Used It, We Use It – “Drawing on a long Anglo-American tradition of economic warfare and blockade, the counter-humanitarian trend in London and Washington is both morally distasteful and practically stupid.

Finance & Economics

On the rise of unproductive entrepreneurs like Travis Kalanick – “What this implies is that innovation and output doesn’t necessarily languish because of a lack of entrepreneurs willing to take risk. It languishes because entrepreneurs are incentivised to direct their efforts to parasitical ventures based on rent-seeking, monopoly formation or unproductive vanities — that potentially includes everything from fintech and the digital app industry to the re-emergence of luxury artisanal or service-oriented craft ventures.

Japan Inc’s silence over Toshiba sends chill across Tokyo – “Cash-rich Japanese corporations are also increasingly hunting abroad for growth. Finding new partners beyond their keiretsu suppliers is seen by executives as critical to surviving the technological disruptions caused by the rise of artificial intelligence and the “internet of things”.

The Hidden Cost of Privatization – “While the business of business is business, the business of government is not. This piece points out that while there may be a role for public-private partnerships, not only are the cost savings doubtful, but their effect on the ends of government are extremely worrisome. Public-private partnerships conflate public and private interests, and in conflicts between them, the private interests win out.

China’s New Bridges: Rising High, but Buried in Debt – “But as the bridges and the expressways they span keep rising, critics say construction has become an end unto itself. Fueled by government-backed loans and urged on by the big construction companies and officials who profit from them, many of the projects are piling up debt and breeding corruption while producing questionable transportation benefits.

Number of the week: China’s New Bridges: Rising High, but Buried in Debt – ““The amount of high bridge construction in China is just insane,” said Eric Sakowski, an American bridge enthusiast who runs a website on the world’s highest bridges. “China’s opening, say, 50 high bridges a year, and the whole of the rest of the world combined might be opening 10.” Of the world’s 100 highest bridges, 81 are in China, including some unfinished ones, according to Mr. Sakowski’s data.

Picture of the week: Sail Boston 2017

About Carlito Riego

"Great perfection may appear imperfect, but its usefulness is inexhaustible. Great abundance may appear empty, but its usefulness cannot be exhausted. Great correctness may appear twisted, great skills appear crude, great eloquence appear awkward. Activity conquers cold; inactivity conquers heat. Clear serenity governs the world." - Lao Zi