Jan 25

“Eat Your Veggies!”

In Brief— The human appetite for meat is destroying Earth even as it results in the suffering and deaths of the millions of animals we slaughter every year. The solution is for humans to cut back or eliminate meat from their diets and eat healthful vegetables instead.

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Bovine Farts and Deforestation—

Looking at a slice of ham on his plate, our four-year-old son asks suspiciously, “What’s this?” Knowing what’s coming, I say hesitantly, “Uh-h, it’s pork.” Exasperated at my evasiveness, he forcefully says, “No!! What ANIMAL is it?” I say with resignation, ”A pig.” Without a word, he refuses to eat the ham. He’s now 33, still a vegetarian, and healthy.

We were not surprised at his refusal to eat the ham because beef is a dead cow, and that chicken that graces your table on Sunday was once an intelligent live bird confined in a crowded cage with thousands of his fellow creatures. Though our son had never seen a live cow, chicken or pig, Richard Scarry’s books told him all he needed to know: a once-live animal was now meat on his plate.

Ruminants such as milk cows, beef cattle, sheep, goats and buffalos are animals that produce methane in the course of eating. Methane, a global warming gas, is over twenty times as potent as carbon dioxide in warming the Earth. These animals are being raised to feed most of the planet’s growing population of soon eight billion humans. Overpopulation, by the way, is the subject of a future piece.

Raising cattle requires lots of range land to produce the grasses that feed the cattle that feed us. McDonald’s sells billions of hamburgers to hurried eaters who then throw their wrappings on the ground adding to the pollution that plagues the world. And McDonald’s is just one of dozens of profitable fast-food corporations that depend on those methane-producing cattle that fart and belch Earth to ever-increasing global warming. Meanwhile, the Amazon rain forest is being burned and destroyed in favor of grassland designed to feed the cattle. And indigenous people are being exterminated to make way for that hamburger you just ate.

Would you believe that as of 2009 there are nearly one and a half BILLION cattle being raised on this planet, and Brazil is the leading producer? This explains why the Amazon rain forest—the world’s lungs—is being decimated at an alarming rate (along with those half-naked indigenous people just mentioned who, after all, don’t count). Feeding gazillions of humans lots of beef and keeping the McDonald’s clones profitable is threatening Earth through deforestation. But, hey, we’ve got to eat.

New Zealand, with a population of 4.5 million, holds the record for sheep at 7.5 sheep for every New Zealander. Whip out your calculator and figure that one out. China has nearly half a billion pigs with America in second place at about seventy million pigs, and good old Brazil boasts third place with about forty million of the oinkers. By the way, your average pig is about as smart as a three-year-old human yet it is too often held in torturous little crates that don’t let it even turn around. Does that bother you when you eat a pork chop?

Chickens? Hold onto your hat…as of 2009 there were nearly twenty billion—that’s 20 BILLION chickens—in the world, many of them in inhumanely crowded cages in huge sheds waiting to die to become those McNuggets McDonald’s serves. And intelligent…but that will never occur to you as you munch away.

And then there are those helpless tortured little calves that are torn from their mothers at an early age to become that veal on display in the butcher shop. Odds are that you won’t bother to read about them as you contemplate how to prepare those veal cutlets you plan to serve your guests tonight.

By now, you have figured out that we are almost totally blind to the monumental suffering we cause. We just don’t want to know some very uncomfortable facts, but we might just want to save the planet and its inhabitants by becoming vegetarians like our son, his sister and both of their cousins. If millions of Hindus can be vegetarians, then we can, too.

“But wait,” you say. “Can I get the protein I need to be healthy?” The simple answer is, “Yes.” If you can’t stand tofu, then whole grains, nuts, beans of all types, dark greens, peas, avocado, broccoli, eggs, yogurt and cheeses of all sorts will provide you with more than enough protein to keep you healthy. The added bonus is that you will be able to shed unwanted extra weight while eating all you want.

I encourage you to find out for yourself how you can help save the planet and eat tasty vegetarian food at the same time. There are several different types of vegetarianism, and one of them will surely fill your needs. Will you miss meat? Probably so at first, but eventually that omnivorous craving will pass. If you don’t believe that, then at least think about those poor animals, shown to experience fear as they are herded to their end, that are being slaughtered to fill your stomach. And think about our suffering planet, the only home we have.

Now, eat your veggies!

6 comments

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  1. I’m not a vegetarian. But I haven’t eaten red meat in 35+ years. I will admit that it was not out of concern for animals, rather as a defense against my family’s scourge…The Heart Attack. While I haven’t had a heart attack, I did have a bypass operation…so go figure!
    I don’t miss beef at all…never did really. Fish and chicken will do, but I will admit to be conflicted about that. So…become a vegetarian? Maybe.
    Here’s question on that thought…vegetables from the grocery store? Hmm, pesticides, herbicides, growth enhancers, GMOs, questionable packaging and processing techniques. It’s unclear what you’re really eating and it’s certainly not disclosed by the Monsantos and General Foods of the world. Go organic? I’ll bet you Dollars to Donuts that what the grocer calls organic does not fit your supposed definition.
    While Marilyn and I are not vegetarians we have given a lot of thought to what we eat lately. We have cut back on the meat that we do eat and are currently growing some of our own vegetables in a hydroponics system that we build by following some YouTube DIY videos. Our first harvest is soon coming (we hope). This venture is taking place in an unfinished basement room, counter top, and vacant pantry area, and will, we admit, produce expensive produce. But we long for the taste of the fruits and vegetables that we remember from our youth.

    Your blog post subject is serious stuff, Don. The Eco-balance is shifting, no matter what anyone says. It’s a daunting issue. But, my opinion is that it will not be reversed. Mankind does not have the will. A world-wide consensus is not likely. Very little is being changed in the face of what we already know and money trumps common since every time. I’m being a buzz-kill here, I know, but I don’t see it happening. The world’s populations will NOT significantly change their ways. Even in the wake of disasters, this has proven to be true.

    But speaking of buzz…..the state of Colorado now permits us to grow a certain herb in our hydroponics experiment, and we hear it will add an extra level of enjoyment to that Duncan Hines brownie mix in the back of the cupboard that we‘ve been saving for just the right occasion. So while the world is circling the drain, we’ll kick back and chill. What, me worry?

      • Don Bay on January 27, 2015 at 17:05
        Author

      You make several interesting points, Dave. For example, there’s no denying that America is in the grip of Big Ag(riculture) in that you have no idea if the foods you can buy in the market have been grown in a responsible way (i.e., free of pesticides, growth hormones, etc.). What’s more, they sure aren’t going to tell their customers. As you say, the almighty dollar is paramount. Even here in Sweden where they ban numerous chemicals that are standard fare in the USA, many of the foods are nonetheless questionable. Jeez, we sure are trusting, are we not?

      Relative to those Colorado herbs you might grow in your hydroponic garden, keep in mind that the beneficial herb you mention is nonetheless still on the list of Schedule I drugs even though that herb is medically beneficial and never killed anyone. In addition, I learned the hard way that until you know how potent that herb is, you must never eat more of those brownies than common sense recommends. Beginners sometimes goof. Guess what…edibles take longer to get into the system.

      By the way, home grown veggies taste a lot better than the Big Ag stuff you can get in the market. We learned that in CA, and the folks who bought our house have converted the entire yard into a productive veggie garden. Go for it!

  2. Like Dave we aren’t vegetarians, but we eat meat at most at three meals a week. None at breakfast, none at lunch, occasionally in the evening. And Chris grows all our veggies, and as Dave says, they taste better and they are totally organic. No pesticides, no chemical fertilizers, mostly compost.

    And Don, you allude to starvation. The earth simply doesn’t have the carrying capacity to feed 7+ billion people, with 8 billion around the corner, but it does have the carrying capacity to feed many more than this on a veggie diet. We know that many people are starving as we write, but that’s nothing to the starvation that’s coming if we don’t change our eating habits.

    And I wonder if the developed world really cares about the coming starvation. As far as I know, almost all vegetarians do this for their own health, my family included. What would it take to make this issue one of being aware of and changing for the benefit of simply feeding all the people of the earth?

      • Don Bay on January 26, 2015 at 17:12
        Author

      You are right in pointing out that Earth simply cannot feed its many people, particularly as long as they demand the same diets currently fattening the industrialized world. Not only is a vegetarian diet tasty and more than adequate, it’s cheaper, spares millions of animals and is substantially less likely to destroy the planet.

      Some say that we now have enough food to feed Earth’s expanding billions, but experts tell us that food is becoming ever more scarce. In the face of such diverging views, dare we opine that there is enough for everybody? Even with solving the pervasive problem of distribution—which is deplorable—there is the problem of simple waste of food. Every day, the industrialized world throws onto its trash piles tons of otherwise edible food. So Earth faces inadequate food, enormous problems of distribution to those in need, and needless waste. Will these problems be fixed? I doubt it. Why? Human nature…and, of course, climate change.

      If you think this piece is depressing, wait until you see what I have written to be posted in early February.

  3. Food waste is HUGE in the U.S.
    On a recent late night visit to my local grocery store, I observed a clerk emptying the bread isle. There was some produce in the large bin he was pushing as well.
    “Where does it go”, I asked.
    “Trash”, replied the clerk. “Meat and dairy too”, he added.
    “Why?….can’t you donated it”.
    “We used to until we got sued”
    And there you have it. Money trumps common sense.

    I’ll stock up on some Prozac and wait for your February blog, Don…. 😉

      • Don Bay on January 27, 2015 at 17:30
        Author

      Waste is a BIG problem that gets overlooked most of the time. Unquestionably, America is a litigious society, but that aside, lawsuits have resulted in benefitting all of us on occasion. Too often, however, lawsuits are used by the rich, powerful members and corporations in America as a way to attack tort lawyers or discourage individuals or communities from protecting themselves from being steamrolled by powerful interests. But that’s a subject for another piece. I just needed to vent.

      Returning to the important issue of waste, your example illustrates that the hordes of hungry people in America who have been struck from the food stamp rolls by the Republicans are being denied food that could easily and quickly go to those who must do without. As a lawyer, I certainly recognize that perishable items that are thrown away can cause illness to hungry individuals who eat it. But bread and most fruits and veggies that are thrown away by markets and restaurants can quickly and easily be donated to organizations that feed those without. Until we solve that rationally, waste will continue to be a big problem.

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