Obama on Veganism.

Via Waylon Lewis
on May 9, 2011
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Obama responds to Vegan re: Factory Farming & Sustainable Food Systems.

Eating Meat contributes more to Climate Change than all Transportation.

Great to see the man’s thoughts of sustainability and food:

Senator Barack Obama responds to a question from vegan, Nikki Benoit, during a public meeting at Gibbs High School, Saint Petersburg, Florida (August 1st, 2008)

The transcript of the conversation between Nikki and now president-elect Obama appears below…

Senator Barack Obama: The young lady in the t-shirt, right there.

Nikki Benoit: Thank you, Senator, very much for your strong environmental position.

The United Nations actually has reiterated that factory farming is contributing more to global greenhouse gas emissions than all of transportation. I think that as a global community we really need to be the leader and moving more towards non-factory farming animal agriculture. It’s very egregious. There’s 10 billion land animals that we are funnelling our precious water and grain through when 70 per cent of all of our grain could help feed the world’s hungry. So, as the next leader of the most amazing nation in the world, how can we set the example on the more nutritional, plant-based diet that’s more eco-friendly and sustainable, that can maintain our water resources and all of our grain. Thank you very much.

Senator Barack Obama: Okay. Well, it’s a great question.

Now, I have to say in the interests of full disclosure, that I do like a steak once in a while. I’m just being honest. I like barbecue. I’m not going to lie. But the young lady makes a very important point and that is this: right now, our food system world-wide is under enormous pressure. It’s under enormous pressure because as a consequence of climate change, you’ve had severe changes in weather patterns. We don’t fully understand what these effects are. But, for example, Australia’s had huge drought which has taken a lot of crops. Grain production has been much lower. And supplies are tight. You’re starting to see riots around food in places like Haiti and other poor countries around the world. And what is also true is that as countries like China and India become wealthier, they start changing their food habits; they start eating more meat, more animals. And what happens then is because it takes more grain to produce a pound of beef than if they were just eating the grain, what ends up happening is that it puts huge pressure on food supplies.

Americans would actually benefit from a change in diet. I don’t think that that’s something that we should legislate but I think that it is something that, as part of our overall health care system, we should encourage because, for example if we reduced obesity down to the rates that existed in 1980, we would save the medicare system a trillion dollars. We would reduce diabetes rates. We would reduce heart disease. So, the fact that we subsidise some of these big agribusiness operations that are not necessarily producing healthy food and we discourage, or we don’t subsidise, farmers who are producing fruits and vegetables and small scale farming that gets produce immediately to consumers as opposed to having it processed. The fact that we are not doing more to make sure that healthy food is in the schools. All those things don’t make sense. It is important for us to re-examine our overall food policy so that we’re encouraging good habits and not bad habits. For example, just making sure there are more fruits and vegetables in school lunch programs. That would make an enormous difference in how our children’s diets develop. That would make us healthier over the long term. It would cut our health care costs and maybe it would help people elsewhere in the world, who are in less wealthy countries, feed themselves as well. So, it’s a great question. It’s important.

Barack Obama – www.barackobama.com
Nikki Benoit – www.myspace.com/nikki1sky
Vegan Future – www.myspace.com/veganfuture

Bonus: Russell Simmons on veganism, yoga & President Obama:


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


9 Responses to “Obama on Veganism.”

  1. amyerandall says:

    Excellent article… thank you!

  2. […] If you were to look at a good economic textbook and search for the definition of “money” it would read something like this: a symbol of production used for exchange. What it would not say is: green paper with presidents’ faces. […]

  3. Jen says:

    This video is like 4 years old, but awesome none the less!

  4. Jennifer says:

    Samgeppi, I agree with you 100%. Just talking heads.

  5. Jewl says:

    yeah this is when obama himself actually thought change was possible

  6. […] regional outreach coordinator Nikki Benoit, who famously asked Obama that vegan question while he was on the campaign trail, was recently arrested at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, […]

  7. anonymous says:

    The Vegetarian Myth – Lierre Keith

    Veganism as response to factory farming – OK.. but there is a better way.

  8. […] Bush and Greenspan (as well as Obama and Bernake) have done virtually everything Rand specifically warned […]