Cow

Cow

Orlin Wagner, AP

News broke this week that Americans have reduced their consumption of beef by 19 percent — or nearly one-fifth — from 2005 to 2014.

The study by the Natural Resources Defense Council reported that consumption of chicken and pork is also down, but less dramatically.

The environmental group hailed the reduction in meat consumption as a plus in the fight against climate change, saying it equals the emissions from 39 million cars or one-sixth of the cars registered in the US. Greenhouse gases are produced in the raising and transportation of farm animals.

The study highlights the often-overlooked link between what is on our plate and the health of the planet — in this case, meat's contribution to climate change.

The 2014 documentary film "Cowspiracy" does a great job at showing that animal agriculture contributes more greenhouse gas emissions than the combined exhaust from all transportation. The film also sheds light on the insistence of major environmental groups to keep blaming vehicles rather than meat consumption for climate change.

The NRDC study reportedly did not ask why Americans are eating less meat. But two other news stories from last week would be cause enough.

The first involves word that a worsening bird flu outbreak that has already led to destruction of 200,000 animals in three Southern states is the nation's worst since 2015.

The outbreak has impacted large commercial poultry facilities and backyard operations, according an Associated Press story. The unfortunate at-risk birds are reportedly put to death by the thousands with foam that smothers them.

The current outbreak of flu is just the latest and not likely the last.

Also in the news is word that Brazil's meat exports have effectively collapsed in the wake of a meat inspection scandal. Investigators say that "health inspectors were bribed to overlook expired meats and chemicals and that other products were added to meat to improve its appearance and smell."

So whether motivated by ethics, personal health or concern about the planet, there has never been a better time to go vegan.

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Bob is a 22-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.