Forum: Is Vegetarianism Always Better for the Planet Than Eating Meat?

| Mon Jul. 19, 2010 1:17 PM EDT

We've got a good debate going over at our "vegetarianism vs. meat-eating" forum today. For starters, our panelists—Eating Animals author and novelist Jonathan Safran Foer, farmer and writer Joel Salatin, Diet for a Hot Planet author Anna Lappé, Bard College geophysicist Gidon Eshel, and food-waste expert Jonathan Bloom—have posted some provocative responses. Salatin, for example, makes an interesting point about ecological benefits of raising livestock:

Grasses are the lungs of the earth. They sequester more carbon than trees. In order to keep grass converting solar energy into decomposable biomass as efficiently as possible, it must be grazed routinely to restart the juvenile growth period. This pulsing is literally the heartbeat of the earth.

A reader named Felicia disagrees:

That's nice, but it sounds like an argument for restoring native prairies and native predators, not eating hamburgers—there's no implication here that we need to put non-native cows on non-native forage and then butcher them in brutal factories so we can have our steaks and feel good about our earth-lungs too.

Join the conversation! Our experts will be responding to reader comments regularly through this Wednesday, July 21. Check out the forum here