After making his fortune on computer software, Bill Gates has shifted his focus to social and environmental problems (of course, environmental problems are also social problems). While I don’t agree with everything he promotes or thinks, he definitely seems genuine and is putting a lot into these matter. One of his recent topics of focus is reducing meat consumption.
For a Future of Food interactive feature on thegatesnotes.com, a statement from Michael Pollan to Gates sums up critical reasons to cut meat out of one’s diet:
“Three principal motivators: health, because we know high consumption of red meat correlates with higher chances of certain cancers; and the environment, because we know that conventional meat production is one of the biggest drivers of climate change, as well as water and pollution; and ethics, since the animal factories that produce most of our meat and milk are brutal places where animals suffer needlessly.”
I think the environmental reason is Gates’ main concern, and I think he has even cited the study that found that approximately 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the livestock sector. However, Gates has a strong focus on health issues, so that may also be a big part of the impetus for his involvement in this arena. (Of course, it’s hard to imagine anyone not caring about the factory farming and animal suffering component… much of which is simply for nothing.)
Here are three of Gates’ images trying to illuminate the environmental impact of meat: