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TED2010

Graham Hill: Why I'm a weekday vegetarian

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Views 2,152,820

We all know the arguments that being vegetarian is better for the environment and for the animals -- but in a carnivorous culture, it can be hard to make the change. Graham Hill has a powerful, pragmatic suggestion: Be a weekday veg.

- Journalist
Graham Hill is the founder of TreeHugger.com and LifeEdited; he travels the world to tell stories of sustainability and minimalism. He tweets at @GHill. Full bio

About a year ago,
00:17
I asked myself a question:
00:19
"Knowing what I know,
00:21
why am I not a vegetarian?"
00:23
After all, I'm one of the green guys:
00:25
I grew up with hippie parents in a log cabin.
00:28
I started a site called TreeHugger --
00:31
I care about this stuff.
00:36
I knew that eating a mere hamburger a day
00:39
can increase my risk of dying by a third.
00:41
Cruelty: I knew that the 10 billion
00:45
animals we raise each year for meat
00:48
are raised in factory farm conditions
00:51
that we, hypocritically, wouldn't even consider
00:54
for our own cats, dogs and other pets.
00:57
Environmentally, meat, amazingly,
01:01
causes more emissions
01:04
than all of transportation combined:
01:06
cars, trains, planes, buses, boats, all of it.
01:08
And beef production uses 100 times the water
01:12
that most vegetables do.
01:15
I also knew that I'm not alone.
01:20
We as a society
01:23
are eating twice as much meat
01:25
as we did in the 50s.
01:27
So what was once the special little side treat
01:30
now is the main, much more regular.
01:33
So really, any of these angles
01:35
should have been enough to convince me to go vegetarian.
01:37
Yet, there I was -- chk, chk, chk --
01:40
tucking into a big old steak.
01:42
So why was I stalling?
01:45
I realized that what I was being pitched
01:48
was a binary solution.
01:50
It was either
01:52
you're a meat eater or you're a vegetarian,
01:54
and I guess I just wasn't quite ready.
01:57
Imagine your last hamburger.
02:00
(Laughter)
02:03
So my common sense,
02:07
my good intentions,
02:10
were in conflict with my taste buds.
02:13
And I'd commit to doing it later,
02:15
and not surprisingly, later never came.
02:18
Sound familiar?
02:21
So I wondered,
02:24
might there be a third solution?
02:26
And I thought about it, and I came up with one.
02:29
I've been doing it for the last year, and it's great.
02:31
It's called weekday veg.
02:34
The name says it all:
02:37
Nothing with a face Monday through Friday.
02:39
On the weekend, your choice.
02:41
Simple.
02:45
If you want to take it to the next level,
02:47
remember, the major culprits
02:49
in terms of environmental damage and health
02:51
are red and processed meats.
02:54
So you want to swap those out
02:56
with some good, sustainably harvested fish.
02:58
It's structured,
03:01
so it ends up being simple to remember,
03:03
and it's okay to break it here and there.
03:05
After all, cutting five days a week
03:08
is cutting 70 percent of your meat intake.
03:10
The program has been great, weekday veg.
03:13
My footprint's smaller,
03:16
I'm lessening pollution,
03:18
I feel better about the animals,
03:20
I'm even saving money.
03:22
Best of all, I'm healthier,
03:24
I know that I'm going to live longer,
03:26
and I've even lost a little weight.
03:29
So, please ask yourselves,
03:32
for your health,
03:35
for your pocketbook,
03:37
for the environment, for the animals:
03:39
What's stopping you from giving weekday veg a shot?
03:42
After all, if all of us
03:45
ate half as much meat,
03:48
it would be like half of us
03:50
were vegetarians.
03:52
Thank you.
03:54
(Applause)
03:56

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About the speaker:

Graham Hill - Journalist
Graham Hill is the founder of TreeHugger.com and LifeEdited; he travels the world to tell stories of sustainability and minimalism. He tweets at @GHill.

Why you should listen
Graham Hill is the founder of LifeEdited, dedicated to helping people design their lives for more happiness with less stuff. When he started the company in 2010, it brought the ideas of his previous project, the eco-blog and vlog TreeHugger.com, into design and architecture. (The TreeHugger team joined the Discovery Communications network as a part of their Planet Green initiative, and Hill now makes appearances on the green-oriented cable channel.)

Before Treehugger, Hill studied architecture and design (his side business is making those cool ceramic Greek coffee cups). His other company, ExceptionLab, is devoted to creating sustainable prototypes -- think lamps made from recycled blinds and ultra-mod planters that are also air filters.

Hill is the author of Weekday Vegetarian, available as a TED Book on Amazon and Apple's iBooks.

 

More profile about the speaker
Graham Hill | Speaker | TED.com