Even though I don't eat much meat, I've never seriously considered being a vegetarian. I think it's mainly that I don't want to restrict my diet very far in any direction. I like variety and convenience.
That said, some people in that small group I've been attending were talking about global warming and the surprisingly large contribution cows are making to our "carbon footprint." Not only do they produce that infamous methane gas, but the land cleared and water used for their pastures means less land and water for other food production, and the amount of land, water, hay etc. to support cattle is much greater than to support chickens, people, etc.
According to my vegetarian friends, the single act of abstaining from beef would have much greater positive environmental impact than almost anything else we (as individuals) can do -- including buying a hybrid car. Interesting.
So, if it would stop global warming, would I give up eating beef? Sure. I enjoy a good steak now and then, but I hardly eat beef anyway. For me it would be an easy sacrifice. But then I got to thinking - what if I had to give up dairy? Does dairy production require a similar number of cows and have the same impact on environment? Heaven forbid I should have to permanently forego ice cream!
If anyone knows about the relative impact of dairy consumption on the environment vs. beef consumption, feel free to respond.