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Putting Meat in Your Engine?

by Kate Trainor on October 21, 2007

meatpower Putting Meat in Your Engine?

WannaVeg has taken a novel approach to the hot topic of food and environment. Their Meat Powered Bicycle article demonstrates how, by fueling the “engine” of a bicycle (i.e. the rider) with a meat-based diet, even the super-efficient bicycle starts to look a lot less green. In fact, according to Bicycling Wastes Gas by Michael Bluejay, meat eaters use twice as much fossil fuel to nourish themselves as vegetarians.

From Bicycling Wastes Gas:

It is actually quite astounding how much energy is wasted by the standard American diet-style. Even driving many gas-guzzling luxury cars can conserve energy over walking — that is, when the calories you burn walking come from the standard American diet! This is because the energy needed to produce the food you would burn in walking a given distance is greater than the energy needed to fuel your car to travel the same distance, assuming that the car gets 24 miles per gallon or better.

The environmental impact of people’s diets has been getting a ton of attention lately. “Food miles” is becoming a common term. Popular books like Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and The Omnivore’s Dilemma take focused looks at this topic.

There’s even an upcoming cookbook with the environmental impact of food as its theme: Global Warming Diet book offers “cool recipes for a hot planet.” The book’s website makes the link between the Standard American Diet (SAD) and the environmental devastation that it causes.

The real fireworks on this front started with a recent report issued by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. The report states that the livestock industry creates more greenhouse gases than all forms of transportation combined. PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, and other vegetarian, environmental, and animal rights groups have been quick to push the study’s findings to further their missions. Even Al Gore, champion of the environment thanks to his Inconvenient Truth, is not immune – he’s depicted on billboards in a less than flattering light, holding a drumstick beside the message “Too Chicken to go Vegetarian? Meat is the No.1 Cause of Global Warming.”

As WannaVeg says: “It’s actually better to be a vegetarian that drives a Chevy Tahoe, than to be a meat eater that bikes or walks everywhere.” Of course, the best solution is to reduce both meat consumption and car-usage.

Here at Carectomy, reducing global warming is one of several reasons we’re promoting a less car-heavy populace (better health, happier lives, etc.) But it’s important to look at the entire picture. If we strive to reduce global warming, adjusting our diets to be less meat centered will be a crucial component. Simply decreasing the animal content of your diet will have a significant impact, and will keep your “engine” green and well-tuned.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 MarkR April 3, 2008 at 7:20 pm

You’ve got to love bike friendly Austin ;D

I think now your starting to understand one of the many reasons I hate bike lanes so much. When you have to swerve into the main traffic lane every 200 yards or so, you may as well get rid of bike lanes all together and trust me its not just Shoal Creek. Most bike lanes on residential streets are fair game to cars.


2 ChipSeal April 4, 2008 at 12:34 am

MarkR, come to Dallas, we have 10 to 15 foot wide bike lanes all over the city! (We call them arterials!)
I am actually serious about this. Dallas is mostly a “Super Block” style layout. Residential streets wind about with no good through streets. It forces traffic onto the surrounding arterials to make the neighborhoods quieter.
Our arterials are two to three narrow lanes each way with no curbside parking. The right lane IS the bike lane! Speed limits are posted at 35-45 MPH, but I have no problems with overtaking traffic. I just take the lane and they manage to get around me without any fuss.
I can also boast that in the last 7,000 miles I have never been right-hooked!
I am convinced that cyclist safety is maximized on multi-lane roads that have a NARROW right lane.
(Sorta like it is down Austin way now, eh?)


3 MarkR April 4, 2008 at 2:05 pm

I’m with ya chip. we have quite a few roads your describing, and I have no problem riding the right lane of a 45 mph arterial if there is no other less traveled alternative. in fact on my 9 mile commute to work, I have to for the same reasons you describe. I have 1- 4 lane non divided 1- 6 lane divided that I ride on that is great for bikes, and 1-4 lane divide with a bike lane. all three are 45 mph or grater. The 6 lane is wide enough that most cars stay out of the right lane unless they are tuning, and it gives me plenty of room, It also helps I’m going the opposite direction of all the traffic. The 4 lane divided with a bike lane is where I have to be most cautious because of the debris that builds up in the bike lane that isn’t swept off, also there are 3 - 4 way stops and about 3 right turns into subdivisions, I do find my self needing to be more cautious in the bike lane to ensure I don’t get right hooked. As you say the roads where you take the right lane you don’t have as many right hook problems as you do with roads that have dedicated bike lanes.
But I’ll admit as a person that lives and works in the burbs, I usually avoid the city riding with the exception of commuting, because 1.5 miles from my house is wide open with hundreds of miles of 2 lane country farm roads that have minimal to no traffic. for rec. riding I can go west and get in the thick of it and have cars pass ever 10-20 seconds. or I can go east and have 1 car pass me every hour or so. That makes east a real easy choice for me for just packing on miles.


4 Lloyd Alter April 4, 2008 at 4:28 pm

Is the original story really two years old or is that a typo?


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