While it is admirable that people like Kathy Freston are promoting a vegetarian diet as a viable solution to climate change, what about those of us who just really love the salty meats?
A simpler answer is to simply not use meat as the default answer whenever you're putting a meal together. Cutting your meat diet by 60% would allow you to contribute to a significant reduction in the climate changing emissions while making that rare melon ball wrapped in pancetta (mmmn, pancetta) just that much more delicious.
Don't get me wrong, I think our diets are ridiculous. And as we all know, it's all about the sauce anyway, so smother that tofu in teriyaki sauce or make that rice and bean burrito a little spicier, but just don't think that if you're not ready to go vegi 100% then you are going to hell on a roast spit.
We can and should and must react to the realities of climate change. Last year James Hansen, the NASA climate scientist, was saying we have about ten years. Which means-- doing the sort of math I can handle -- we're now down to nine years, and we still haven't seen the sort of radical policy change that will make a difference. We need clean coal, we need more people behind the wheel of hybrids (though the sooner people stop worshipping the great god Toyota the better, since they are infinitely more interested in selling massive tundra-melting Tundra trucks than Prius cars) and we need lots and lots of solar panels.
But extremism in any stripe gets me nervous, and becoming a social pariah just because I want a side of link sausage with my oatmeal doesn't seem to be the right answer.
Finally, if we're talking about changing our diets for a better planet, then a dramatic reduction in the consumption of fish is an important part of the story. According to the New York Times, we have about fifty years before we have fished the oceans to extinction. So, order 60% less salmon, 60% less steak, and help achieve a greater balance (not to mention you'll have a lot less mercury and fat circulating around in your system.)
Plus, you can still enjoy any backyard barbecue you hit without coming off like one of those whack jobs who make everyone feel guilty for every bite they take.