China’s Vegetarians Outnumber America’s

As China’s appetite for meat grows, so does awareness of its environmental cost, and the number of those giving it up. From Mary Kay Magistad at PRI’s The World:

[…] Many Chinese just don’t want to give up . But the organizer of the farmer’s market, Tian Le Chan, says you don’t have to give up entirely to be environmentally responsible.

“You don’t have to be vegetarian,” she said. “But it is important to know where your meat is from, how it is produced. I believe if are farmed in a more sustainable way, it actually benefits the environment. The animal manure and waste can actually be used to fertilize the soil.”

That change alone would be an improvement over the chemical fertilizers and pesticides that now pollute China’s groundwater and run off into rivers from the climate-damaging industrial farms that produce a rapidly growing share of China’s meat.

[…] For now, just 4 or 5 percent of Chinese are thought to be vegetarian. But — that’s still more than 50 million people — a whole lot more vegetarians than there are in the United States, where perhaps as many as 30 or 40 million are vegetarians to some degree or another. […] [Source]

Magistad praises the inventiveness of China’s vegetarian cooks in making tofu taste like meat, but similar ingenuity also goes into passing off one meat as another. The Ministry of Public Security announced in May that over 900 people had been arrested in a crackdown on “meat-related crimes” such as disguising rat as mutton or selling meat from diseased animals.

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