The government is faced with an unusual request from its own member of Parliament — Shashi Tharoor. He wants the government to declare January 12 as National No Meat Day. It has created a debate within the government on whether it should make such a pronouncement or not.
Tharoor’s claim that being vegetarian can help fight against climate change has arguments both in favour and against it.
Those in favour say that every year animal agriculture produces more than 100 million tonnes of methane, which has 21 times more potential of causing global warming than carbon dioxide. Meat consumption has increased by over 50% in the last few decades, making it the highest human related cause for climate change.
But, the argument against turning vegetarian is that it would create an imbalance between human and animal presence leading to more methane emission than before. A World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) report in 2010 said that meat substitutes are highly processed, often requiring large amounts of energy to produce, leading to higher emission of global warming causes gases.
Tharoor, who was former minister of state for external affairs, believes that turning vegetarian like him is good for environment and has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to declare January 12 as No Meat Day to promote vegetarianism.
Environment ministry is not adverse to declaring no meat day for two reasons. Firstly, it can showcase India’s positive approach towards climate change and secondly, it promotes ministry’s objective of promoting animal welfare.
But, the bigger question will have to be answered by agriculture ministry, which promotes poultry in a big way.