“Any religion or philosophy which is not based on a respect for life is not a true religion or philosophy.” – Albert Schweitzer
[updated May 13th, 2014]
by Colin D. Donoghue
Caring about how we are effecting the Earth’s ecosystem should be a basic tenant of humanity, since the health and survival of our species depends on a healthy environment, but a lot of people don’t seem to care at all. The petroleum, nuclear, natural gas, coal, logging and livestock industries are destroying the environment at a scale never before seen in human history. The relationship between humans & the Earth has become an increasingly abusive one, to the point that it may result in ecological collapse. The glaciers keep melting, the temperature (and cancer rate) keeps rising, the weather becomes more destructive… and we are just letting these government-backed industries continue to lead us on a path of devastation and suffering. Earth Day passes once again while the obvious solutions to our own sickness and the sick ecosystem, most importantly veganic homesteading and industrial hemp production, still remain restricted by those who undemocratically control our lives, and of course, tax dollars. Most Americans would love to live more naturally and self-sufficiently, but cannot due to land costs and taxation. So, while we wait (or don’t wait) for the Right Revolution, there is something that effects the environment in a major way that most of us have choice over on a daily basis: the food we eat.
Here’s an amazing fact that is extremely under-reported: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that animal wastes pollute U.S. waterways more than all other industrial sources of water pollution, combined. And yet instead of calling for an end to factory farming, many environmental groups mostly ignore it (as explained in the documentary “Cowspiracy“) and instead suggest reforms that would have little positive impact. And its not just the water that the livestock industry is polluting. From ODE Magazine, December 2007:
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) published a report in 2006 called Livestock’s Long Shadow.
“The FAO concluded that the livestock industry accounts for 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. That’s more than is produced by every form of transportation combined.”
“Consumers are told to conserve by switching to energy-efficient light bulbs, to take public transportation more often, to turn off the TV when they’re not watching. Why aren’t environmental organizations telling them to eat less meat?”
Veganism is the “elephant in the room” that isn’t being discussed because of ingrained conditioning as to what a “normal” diet is.
Why do most people claim to be against violence, yet participate in it everyday? It is because of false beliefs, a false morality, that says sometimes mass-murder and slavery is actually good and natural for humans. “I’m no mass-murderer or slave-driver” you may be thinking, but if you eat animal products, then that’s really not true. Getting vegan foods is extremely easy. We can choose foods that involve suffering, violence and environmental destruction, or those that do not. We don’t need to eat animal products for optimum health, or hunt animals for survival; we only have to make nonviolent choices at the supermarket, farmers market, a community garden, or on your own homestead.
“Children can, generally, make the philosophical switch easier than adults because the plant-based diet and related issues of compassionate living resonate perfectly with the innocence of childhood. To treat one animal as family and another as food, to continually feel sick and tired, to consider preventable open-heart surgery as “routine” and part of the aging process, or to watch others suffering are ideas that are inherently not acceptable to children. It seems to me tolerance for such ideas can only be achieved by repetitive cultural teaching of numbness. Being numb to animals in pain, numb to our effect on the ecosystem, [numb to thousands of civilians being killed by the US military/CIA/Blackwater, etc. I would like to add], and even numb to our to our own body’s cries for proper care are hallmarks of adults and older children in mainstream society.” – Kerrie Saunders, PhD (www. drfood.org)
I have seen video of the hellish experiences cows, pigs, chickens, etc. go through during captivity, transport and slaughter; it is perhaps the greatest motivator to change to a vegan diet. Short documentaries like “Meet Your Meat” and “Farm to Fridge” show you truth behind the animal flesh you eat, often without any thought of where and how it made its way to your mouth. If ever there was a hell on earth, it is the experience many animals go through in becoming food and during animal experimentations. Isn’t there something ethically wrong with tormenting those who have never harmed us, and who cannot defend themselves against us? Rather than go into the gorish details of what I know occurs, I will leave it to you to take personal responsibility and investigate this for yourself.
I have heard some repeated counter-arguments to adopting a vegan diet, and all have been unjustified. To the belief that we were “meant to” eat meat, I ask “says who?” Did you have a conversation with God and she/he/it told you you’re meant to eat animals? I doubt it. And if you happen to be Christian, the Bible actually says the opposite, on the first page! To quote from the book of Genesis, page 1:
“Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.”
And also from the Old Testament we find:
“He who kills a bull, it is as if he slays a man.” (Isaiah 66:3)
Also from chapter 22 of the Dead Sea Scrolls it is written that Jesus said:
“For I tell you truly, man is more than beast. But he who kills a beast without cause, though the beast attack him not, through lust for slaughter, or for its flesh, or its hide, or yet for its tusks, evil is the deed which he does, for he is turned into a wild beast himself.”
To assume that animals were “made for humans to eat” lacks any plausible foundation. Seed bearing fruit however is obviously designed and intended to be eaten, so its seeds can return to the earth in fertilizer, so new fruit may grow. And many plants can be harvested over and over again without resulting in the death of the plant; another indication of its design to be used for food. We do not find such obvious design for food consumption in animals, who feel enormous amounts of physical and emotional pain like we humans do when are bodies are cut or our children are taken away from us and killed. A vegan diet is also better for own well-being; meat and dairy products are generally loaded with fat, hormones, antibiotics and pesticides. All of these can lead to disease and cancers. (Some also believe that eating animal flesh lowers our vibration due to the violence associated with it, and is therefore an obstacle to a spiritual path.)
Scientifically, we have the jaw structure, digestive system, etc. of an herbivore. The most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted, The China Study, concluded that human physiology reacts best to a vegan diet! The argument that you can’t be healthy and get the protein you need without meat and dairy is completely false. You can, and the protein from plants is more easily absorbed by the body. The human body does not require meat to reach optimum health, and in fact some of the most fit and healthy bodies ever to walk this Earth were formed with vegan diets (and of course a lot of training!). Many of the world’s top athletes have vegan diets, including vegan body-builder Kenneth G.Williams, pictured here:
Getting back to the environment, a major reason for continued deforestation (along with not using hemp) is the expansion of land used for livestock. Deforestation is causing major ecological imbalances, and a meat-eating diet is directly linked to it.
About ninety percent of all our agricultural resources are used for the feeding of livestock. The land could be used instead to grow plant-foods to directly feed the hungry and starving, plant-foods like environmentally beneficial and nutrient-dense hempseed.
From the book The World Peace Diet by Dr. Will Tuttle:
“Everyone on Earth could be fed easily because we currently grow more than enough grain to feed ten billion people; our current practice of feeding this grain to untold billions of animals and eating them forces over a billion of us to endure chronic malnutrition and starvation while another billion suffer from the obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer linked with eating diets high in animal foods. The drugs we take to combat these diseases are discharged through the urine, flow into the water and become yet another major stream that adds to the pollution of our Earth.” (p. 191)
From environmental destruction to inflicting torturous pain on other beings, the modern meat industry is a clear example of something “bad.” That’s right, I made a moral judgment! I must be an extremist! (Or so says modern Sophists in America society conditioned into suppressing the use of their own conscience). The experience of pain in other mammals, birds and fish is virtually the same as our own. For those that say that there is no difference between killing plants and animals, they are basically delusional, ignoring the fact that animals definitely feel pain, have emotions and want to live, while picking an apple off a tree remains incomparable. Animals have feelings, have consciousness on some level, and so therefore should be treated as such, not just as animated food. Would you like to be imprisoned, tortured and then brutally murdered so someone could eat your flesh for dinner? I didn’t think so. Non-aggression remember? The foundation of a moral society? Speaking of which here are some salient excerpts from the excellent book The Nonviolent Revolution by Nathaniel Altman:
“In addition to its impact on animal welfare, a vegetarian lifestyle offers additional ‘ahimsic benefits’ towards one’s body, the environment, and the right utilization of the earth’s resources….The practice of feeding plant protein to livestock instead of directly to people places a tremendous strain on the earth’s resources, and contributes to the shortage of food around the world… In addition, a vegetarian diet calls for far less water than a diet containing meat… [which] utilizes some 2,500 gallons of water per day (including irrigation ,animal drinking water, and the large amount of water needed for the actual processing of meat), while the pure vegetarian (vegan) diet uses only 300 gallons per day. [According to Dr. Aaron Altschul of Georgetown University]”
Some more poignant information from Alternatives magazine (Winter 2007-08) in an article by Bruce Friedrich:
“Even leaving aside all the animal welfare issues, a vegan diet is the only reasonable diet for people in the developed world who care about the environment or global poverty… Environmental Defense, on its website, notes: “If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetables and grains… the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. Roads.” Imagine if we stopped eating animal products altogether… Vegan foods cut out the factory farms, the slaughterhouses, and multiple stages of heavily polluting tractor-trailer trucks, as well as the resources (and pollution) involved in each of those stages… Choose vegan – and preferably organic [and local] – foods. It’s bad for the environment to eat animals. It’s time to stop looking for loopholes.”
And since I’m a fan of being blunt and cutting through the bullshit when appropriate, I’ll share such a statement from the book The Real Forbidden Fruit: How Meat Destroys Paradise And How Veganism Can Get It Back by Jeff Popick:
“There are many well-intentioned people who consider themselves to be environmentalists, and yet many of these people eat animal products, even though it is animal products that are primarily responsible for the demise of the environment. Eating meat kills animals, people and the planet. To be an environmentalist, one must be vegan.”
I know black & white statements are unpopular among many in this corrupted culture, but the truth must be told. Truth! Dare I say it in this world filled with post-modern nihilists? Total non-dualism/non-judgment is an idea that permeates all areas of modern culture, from those that are “cool” to those that are “square,” from the young to the old, from the academic to the spiritual, and it is corrupting the progress of mankind via its nonsensical rejection of conscientiousness. If you think there is no truth, no good or bad in the world, I’m sorry to say, you’ve become delusional. Instead of citing those that have backwards/insane ideas about morality and the environment (as supposed proof that all morality is bunk), why don’t you stand up for the sane perspective? I address this issue more in my essay “Eating the Apple.”
So, if we want a healthy, peaceful and sustainable world, that means: No war, No nukes, No coal or uranium mining, No clear-cutting, No petroleum or natural gas drilling, and No meat.