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The Vegan Campus

Thinking about turning over a new leaf? Or maybe eating one? Here are some things you may not know:

Research has shown that you smell better when you don't eat red meat; that a love of veggies contributes to sharp memory and great intelligence; and that Chinese people (eating mostly a vegetarian diet) consume 20 percent more calories than Americans, but Americans are 20 percent fatter. Also, vegetables are sexy! Though the science is not definitive, aphrodisiacs from the vegetable kingdom include chilies, asparagus, celery, fennel, garlic and Andean mustard.

Recent headlines on the unhealthy impact of red meat and that President Bill Clinton has gone from omnivore to vegan has a lot of individuals thinking about whether this might be the time to make some serious changes to their diet. At UCLA, meanwhile, adopting healthful habits is becoming de rigueur.

The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center has adopted "Meatless Mondays," a national campaign to encourage people to forgo meat for one day each week. The campus dining halls for students promote Beefless Thursday. And in 2010, PETA named UCLA the most vegan-friendly large campus in America.

We talked to UCLA experts to learn more about the science behind the lifestyle and how choosing a meat-free diet can be a good thing in many ways—for the environment, for animal welfare, for physical health and even for spiritual balance.

Daniel Blumstein, professor and chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a professor in the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability writes a well-read blog called Eating Our Way to Civility that is focused on the environment and sustainability. "Livestock production produces a healthy percentage of methane, a potent greenhouse gas," he says. "If you are concerned about climate change—you should eat less meat." According to sources such as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the websites greenlivingideas.com and switch2veggies.com, the cattle industry produces methane that contributes to the global warming effect about 23 times faster than CO2 from cars. Although trading in your gas guzzler for a Toyota Prius is great for reducing our carbon footprint, switching to a vegetarian diet actually has an even greater impact. It takes 11 times more fuel to produce a calorie of food from cattle for a meat-based diet than it does to produce a calorie of food for a vegetarian diet.

To read the full article by Laura Perry click here.