If it was up to PETA, the whole world would go vegan. But what if that actually happened? LV Anderson tackles the question in Slate by looking at recent relevant research, and finds that planet-wide vegetarianism or veganism would have quite a few positive ramifications: reduced greenhouse gas emissions, millions of square miles of newly available land (which we'll need as the population continues to increase), and a decrease in the risk of antibiotic-resistant infections. But there would be real negatives as well—like widespread unemployment as the estimated 1.3 billion people whose livelihood is tied to the production and sale of animal products find themselves jobless.
Of course, this is all a moot point, as there's no way everyone on the planet will stop eating meat anytime soon. "But if the result of a worldwide shift to a plant-based diet sounds like a right-winger’s worst nightmare, it’s worth pointing out that continuing to eat as much meat as we currently do promises to result in a left-winger’s worst nightmare," Anderson writes. "In a world of untrammeled global warming, where disastrous weather events are routine, global conflicts will increase, only the wealthy will thrive, and the poor will suffer." So how about a "middle path," where we eat less meat and stop giving money to the worst offenders—factory farms? Click for Anderson's full column. (Read more vegetarianism stories.)