Pollan Backs Away From Hummer Driver Versus Meat Eater Math


If you even rarely use Twitter, you know that at PopTech 2009 on Saturday, Michael Pollan said that “a vegan in a Hummer has a lighter carbon footprint than a beef eater in a Prius.” Highly tweetable, yes, but not true, says Adam Pasick of Reuters. Pasick cites a 2005 paper that “found that the difference between a heavy meat-eating diet and a vegan diet was about 2 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per person per year. The difference between a Prius and an SUV (they used a Suburban, which gets about the same mileage as a Hummer) was 4.76 tons per year.” However, Pasick admits that when you factor in improvements in gas mileage that have occurred since 2005, the difference between a Prius and Hummer driver is 2.6 to 3.3 tons per year — which isn’t that far from the two-ton difference between a heavy meat eater and a vegan. Pollan now says he doesn’t feel comfortable defending his statement, but that he stands by the gist of it.