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Articles by Marty Bender

Marty Bender is a scientist at the Land Institute in Salina, Kan., and a member of the Institute's Prairie Writers Circle.

Featured Article

Lose That Extra Weight … While Eating the Foods You Love!”

Pleased to meat you.

For decades, such headlines were fixtures of supermarket checkout lanes, to be taken no more seriously than claims of alien abduction. But times have changed. High-protein, low-carbohydrate diets have become wildly popular because they help adherents lose dozens of pounds without having to gnaw on rice cakes.

It seems too good to be true, and some critics say it is. The debate over the long-term health effects of Atkins and similar weight-loss plans might grind on for years with no satisfactory conclusion. But whenever we’re faced with a fast-growing trend on this shrinking planet, scientists should look beyond human health to weigh ecological consequences as well. That’s what we decided to do for Atkins-style diets.

We started with the Worldwatch Institute’s estimate that 1 billion of Earth’s inhabitants are overweight and assumed that on average they eat 56 grams of animal protein a day. That is the average in Western countries, and most overweight people eat Western diets.

If all of those people went ... Read more