Reducing meat consumption (especially American consumption) could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing gasoline consumption, too, could significantly reduce emissions. Given the ever-increasing link between food and fuel, I think we should start applying some of the suggestions for better eating to improve (read: reduce) our gasoline consumption.
For instance, many have suggested that meat consumption should be reduced by using meat the way it is in a Mediterranean diet (and in other cultures) who eat very little red meat, significant amounts of fruits and vegetables, and healthier oils (olive and canola). The idea is to get the meat “out of the center of the plate” and eat it more like a side dish. This is kind of how hybrid vehicles use gasoline -– gasoline is still used to power the engine, but it is combined with electricity to yield a healthier “diet.” Even better would be the plug-in hybrid, which would be able to run on just battery power for a certain number of miles before resorting to gasoline-generated power.
For those seeking a more “vegetarian diet,” the hope of an electric car or hydrogen-powered vehicle will be an option, hopefully on a broader scale in the relatively near future. This could approach “vegan status” (see below) if the power used for the car directly or used to generate the hydrogen were derived only from clean sources like wind and solar. For now, though, with much of our electricity coming from fossil fuels, I think vegetarian is the more appropriate analogy.
And, while options for “vehicle vegans” are currently even less accessible for significant commutes (or winter driving), I think solar-powered and wind-powered vehicles (or some combination) might appeal to the most dedicated. There is, of course, always the bicycle, too.
For food, the options are currently available; we can eat low-fat, high-fiber diets, and relatively easily choose to be vegetarians or vegans if we wish. But most people (including me) don’t make that choice. As more options for alternative fuels materialize, I am hoping more people are willing and able to go “meatless.”