A modest proposal about our planet

Life here on Earth is fragile. Very fragile, actually. Earth is very small. It’s the third planet in our solar system, the fourth smallest planet of the nine planets. Its 12,756 km in diameter, which is really tiny when you compare it to Jupiter the largest planet, which is just shy of 142,984 km in diameter, and a mere mote in the eye of our comparatively small sun which is 1.4 million km in diameter. Earth, revolving round the sun at 107,000 km/hr, is so small you could fit a million Earths inside the sun. Our Sun is but one star of 400 billion stars in our galaxy. Our Galaxy is about one of about 100 billion galaxies that are known of. So we are tiny. So we come to one of the great pollutants and destroyers of species.

jupiter-earth-comparison
Jupiter compared to Earth in size

In a Time Magazine article dealing with livestock production Brian Walsh, drawing material from a paper brought out by the Academy of Sciences of the USA says the following:
“40% of global agricultural gross domestic product, provides income for more than 1.3 billion people and uses one-third of the world’s fresh water. There may be no other single human activity that has a bigger impact on the planet than the raising of livestock.”
Combine Animal Feeding operations produce enormous amount of methane, and aside from the horrific cruel and unconscionable conditions which the animals are subjected to, the stress of confinement, the sicknesses, the feeding with antibiotics, the soya beans and GMO corn they are fed, animal agriculture is responsible for 18 % of all greenhouse gas emissions, including 37 % of methane emissions and 65 % of NO2 emissions. The methane releases from billions of imprisoned animals on factory farms are 70 times more damaging per ton to the earth’s atmosphere than CO2. Don’t forget that much of this livestock production is heavily subsidized by governments, so that the real costs of production are not passed onto the consumer.
As livestock farming is such a huge source of income for billions of people (global value in 2013 $883 billion ), as the production of meat and poultry and fish for supermarkets great and small all over the planet is such a lucrative undertaking, as so much research is produced each year about economizing and increasing productivity and efficiency in the livestock industry, as so many with the exception of the vegetarian and animal rights community point out the cruelty inherent in the beef and livestock industry, there is a strong and unfounded impetus to keep underlining the health benefits of eating meat, and to divorce the eating of meat from the enormous suffering and horrific cruelty endured by billions of animals world-wide every day, and every moment of every day. All animals have consciousness, language and a type of culture, by this I mean a socially approved and communally understood sense of expression. One other thing worth considering is this.

What kind of body do humans have? Are we built for eating animals? Are we omnivores? Well, not really. Dr. Williams C. Roberts from the USA National Institutes of Health and Baylor University — who is the editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Cardiology and one of the most prominent cardiologists in the world with over 1,500 publications in peer reviewed medical journals — summarized our answer very nicely. He wrote:

“Although most of us (humans) conduct our lives as omnivores, in that we eat flesh as well as vegetables and fruits, human beings have characteristics of herbivores, not carnivores. The appendages of carnivores are claws; those of herbivores are hands or hooves. The teeth of carnivores are sharp; those of herbivores are mainly flat (for grinding). The intestinal tract of carnivores is short (3 times body length); that of herbivores, long (12 times body length). Body cooling of carnivores is done by panting; herbivores, by sweating. Carnivores drink fluids by lapping; herbivores, by sipping. Carnivores produce their own vitamin C, whereas herbivores obtain it from their diet. Thus, humans have characteristics of herbivores, not carnivores.”[1]

So it seems that not only is the human race investing vast resources in livestock farming, and though we have spent thousands of years eating meat, our bodies aren’t even designed to eat meat in the first place. It’s also interesting to note that our bodies synthesize all the cholesterol we need, but that when we take in animal products, we begin to build up cholesterol, and run intro real dangers of developing atherosclerosis, and heart disease. Food for thought, eh?

[1] WC Roberts. Twenty Questions on Atherosclerosis. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2000 Apr.; 13(2): 139–143.

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Meat is Murder

Its a strange thought that by the time you read say about here, on this blog-post, about 3000 animals had already been slaughtered in abattoirs round the world. That’s about 3000 in 1 second. The ways in which it, the slaughter, was done is exceptionally clinical and lurid and horrifying and you really don’t want to think about it. I have seen videos of mechanized killing of animals and the images stay with you. So don’t think about it.  Especially if you eat meat.vegan dietWorlds Strongest Primate

To be honest I didn’t stop eating meat because of the cruelty issue. It wasn’t because billions of animals are being farmed in horrific conditions. I didn’t care at the time. Not a jot. Nor did I care about the near unbelievable levels of environmental damage the dairy and cattle industry do, not to mention poultry or pig farming. Still didn’t bother me. (It bothers me now)

I became a vegetarian because I felt better. I became healthier. Slept better. Loved the food. It was actually all good. It felt right. I liked cooking. Loved cookery books. You get the picture. I was peripherally aware of the meat is murder stuff. I loved animals. Rescued them. But then I didn’t think of myself as a vegetarian.I just loved veggies and grains. Other people thought of me as a vegetarian. I didn’t peddle any vegetarian no meat ideology round the dinner table.  I stated my opinion, would discuss animal consciousness, animal rights, recount stories. But I never pushed my beliefs. I guess it seemed counterproductive. There was also the issue that what was being consumed on the dinner table as food was one of countless species of animals that were being either exploited or rendered extinct by other types of human activity. If wolves in Yellowstone Park can change things as they have, just imagine the negative impact we are having.

So there’s something of a vast context around what meat goes on the dinner table. A huge industrial scale of sale, consumption, and marketing that goes into not only what you are eating, but mine and your whole life. Governments and Industry and media got together and made sure we got the message. If what we consumed and produced did not have a monetary value we were worthless.

It was this very holy trinity of Government, Industry, Media that made us consume all this food, this meat, all this superfluous stuff we didn’t really need. And despite the outrageous superfluity, millions were starving. I dimly began to see the link between meat eating and the fact were eating the Earth. It made sense. Meat eating was part of the whole dynamic of world consumption. The trinity of pork, beef and poultry were only three of millions of species whose lives were threatened, not to mention the environment.

But that was long after I became a veggie. That was thinking after the fact.  I was enjoying a veggie lifestyle. I began mixing with other veggies. These were not your usual vegetarian types. These were activists. Hardcore members of groups, usually well educated, probably professional, involved in the sciences or academics. And frankly my dismay at these people spread all over me like one of those embarrassing rashes one gets and hides under long sleeves and a little make up. These are grim people. They humorlessly gaze down upon those less ideologically pure with a very special look of cold bored disdain. They judge those meat eating multitudes rather like the way suspected witches were gazed upon: with a divine fury that would be vindicated with burning, coupled with the Vegetarian Inquisition’s own vegan thumbscrews.

You might imagine I’m exaggerating. Using literary license. Sadly, I’m not.

But the thing is their anger is misplaced. Most people haven’t a clue about whats going on down in the farm. They just want dinner and a movie and a soft bed and a quiet life.

These people, the aforementioned meat is murder t shirt wearing angry ideological Vegetarian types, are just not good for the image of vegetarianism. They come off as reactionary and cultish and holier than thou. They are also highly factional. They are constantly fighting and loudly disagreeing with each other. They can’t seem to get on a unified message to further their cause. This of course makes the meat industry delighted as they look upon their foes as already divided and therefore weakened. I seriously doubt if these types of vegetarians will ever change many meat eaters to their cause. Why? However noble and well-intentioned, nobody follows a puritan for long. Maybe for a while. But in the end they will tire of being guilted and told what to do and will go back to beef and pork and other cholesterol sandwiches.

What will make people change is not angry activists, but something really pedestrian: good food well cooked. It sounds trite when one has so many horrific and telling videos of headless pigs, lame overweight chickens, and mutilated calves dying alone to underline the industrial scale slaughter of animals to show the carnivore world. But it is, as I said, counterproductive.  Its disturbing torture porn that people suppress as quickly as possible and go back to their lives as before. Also this is nothing new – people are inured to bloodshed. For myself? I have seen enough. Its horrifying. And, just like the pictures of tumors on cigarette packets, it doesn’t work.

I think the best selling point for a vegetarian lifestyle is this: It’s better. Greener. Healthier. Tastier. Economic. Kinder. Its has near infinite variety of flavour and health giving options. And by the way it doesn’t hurt animals. That’s a positive life affirming message. If this gets communicated, really communicated, then the abattoirs will start to close. By the way, some of the brightest and best were veggie. Meet some famous old friends of yours- and mine.great-vegetarians