Video: Eating for a low-carbon world

18:08, May 24, 2010      

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Going vegetarian can be part of a low-carbon life. Giving up meat in China has only become a trendy way of life in the past decade. But it's now catching on for a bigger reason. Today, in our 'My Low Carbon Life' series, Wang Mangmang finds out why people believe they can make a difference.

Look, smell, and taste. A vegetarian diet does not mean deprivation. But still, there needs to be a reason. Religious beliefs, health, animal protection, and saving the planet. This is why Lu Shi has been a strict vegetarian for thirteen years.

Lu Shi, a vegetarian, said, "The ancient Chinese believed when heaven is about to place a great responsibility on a great man, it always first frustrates his spirit and will, and exposes him to starvation. This is exactly how I felt when I started. But now I'm good. My vegetarian friends are happy to know what they eat can affect the climate. There are not many, but we stick to it and try to tell others that this is for a good cause."

But this lifestyle does not appeal to all. Meat lovers simply can't give up their favorites. Some wonder how a bite of meat relates to global warming. Another reason is expense.

This vegetarian restaurant is a favorite among the city's elite, but not so well known to the public. The manager says all the food here is organic. Average consumption per customer is around two hundred yuan.

Dong Ziyang, Manager of Jintai Catering Club, said, "The average age of our customers is under thirty-three years old. They're particularly interested in the concept of eating for a low carbon life. Young people are more environmentally aware and more open to new ideas. They love to be in the trend or lead the trend. So we're quite confident about the prospects."

Statistics from the United Nations show that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined. Being a vegetarian can help reduce emissions of one and a half tons of carbon dioxide a year.

Figures on desertification and deforestation from stock-breeding are also alarming.

With China's huge consumer base, that could be more problematic.

The Chinese have a long tradition of keeping a balanced proportion of grain, vegetables, and meat in a meal. Going vegetarian can be tough, perhaps much harder than switching to energy-saving light bulbs or buying a hybrid car. But as more and more people strive for a low-carbon lifestyle, the climate-diet equation is becoming more prominent

Liao Sha owns four restaurants. The boss always keeps track of what to eat and how to eat. She's an advocate of a vegetarian diet and calls for people to give up meat once a week. And now, she is planning to transform her business into a vegetarian one.

Liao said, "We've done a lot of research. There used to be some eighty vegetarian restaurants in Beijing. Then the number went down to around fifty, and now even less. Among those surviving, only ten percent are making profit, and forty to fifty percent can only make ends meet. The rest are just losing money. But I believe that there must be a way to run a successful business. It's my responsibility to allow my customers to eat for their health and the environment."

Quite a risk to take. But Liao says the vegetarian diet is in line with the Chinese philosophy of harmony--within the body and between man and nature.

As awareness grows, vegetarians in China hope they can find greater convenience and more understanding.

In tomorrow's episode of "My Low-Carbon Life" series, our reporter will examine how organizers of Shanghai World Expo are showcasing green solutions.

Source: CCTV. com


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