I've been meaning to write about this article for some time now, but I've been too busy to do it properly. Even now, it'll be brief.
The idea is that we, as Americans, eat too much meat. I would have to agree. You could say we're biased, the author and I: he wrote a vegetarian cookbook, I was a vegetarian for a few years. Still, my experience is that little or no meat in my diet makes me healthier. His research shows that Americans are eating twice as much protein (mostly animal-based) as the (high-end) recommendation. I think we have an argument.
The environmental issue is a touchy one, but he makes his point well -- we produce far too much manure in concentrated areas to spread on fields (some dairy farms are now leasing fields just to spread their manure). We use a lot of water and energy growing and transporting grain to feed livestock. It's not true that all meat production should be banned; there are places in this world, as mentioned in the article, where grass-fed livestock is the only agricultural option. I've been to a couple of those places and believe me, you wouldn't want to be a vegetarian there! We shouldn't deny people a chance to raise their own food, no matter what the moral guilt of a rich society tells us we should do.
And that's really the point -- we, as citizens of a rich country with a wide range of food options, shouldn't be eating so much meat. What should we be eating? To quote another NYT columnist, "eat food, not too much, mostly plants."