Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I'll Have The Steak, But Hold The Beef

I'm sure that one of the reasons that it is so challenging for me to grow my blogging audience is that I write on a variety of topics with a perspective that is one that I have developed wholly independently. I am not swayed by the lies of political parties, "conventional wisdom" (which is neither) or what my friends and peers think. Therefore, I simply am not "marketable" to any one specific audience. You have to just like ME and what I have to say. I suppose you also have to like sarcasm and continuous bad news :-) and pictures of really cute cows.

There is one thing about me that has driven me to develop my own world view and even start this blog... and that is that I am not able to un-learn anything... that I can remember (I think). Therefore, I don't posses the ability to forget about things I read, hear or experience (that have an impact on me) because it does not fit with my view of the world or upset the conveniences I've become accustomed to. This is why I am a VEGAN.

I am not from the planet Vega and I don't speak Veganese. Vegan simply means NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS OR BYPRODUCTS GO IN THIS BODY OF MINE. So its been said.... its not terribly hard to do... and is incredibly rewarding because all change starts right here... with me.

I am not here to tell anyone what to do, but simply use myself as an example of a person who lives a life I believe is worth living that is ethical and based on what I have learned. (I also do make suggestions on occasion.) The truth is that we posses an animal holocaust system in the USA referred to as FACTORY FARMING. The term itself suggests the immense horrors that any animal unlucky enough to be born here must experience because we Americans believe that a meal is not a meal unless it has dead animal (or its byproducts) on the plate.

Recently, a talk given by Mark Bittman, Food Writer for the NY TIMES at the TED Conference, highlighted what are some of the critical issues associated with our insatiable appetite for meat and meat byproducts. I'm sorry to suggest you may have forgotten this, or simply don't actually know, but MILK COMES FROM A COW, AND WAS DESIGNED BY NATURE TO BE CONSUMED BY BABY COWS. (Trust me, you wouldn't believe how many people think its like Coca Cola and simply appears out of nowhere.)

Put simply... our meat (and fish) eating habit is not only killing us, its killing the planet. And I believe very strongly that it destroys our humanity, and our belief that we are an ever evolving species that acts out of our own good, and the greater good. Why?

- Agra-business is the 1st or 2nd largest cause of global warming
according to an array of studies but the most important is a report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, that states the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent and methane – 18 percent – than transport. It is also a major source of land and water degradation.

- We have over-fished the oceans to the point that we have completely destroyed the bio-diversity and vitality of sea life.... therefore being forced to produce fish in bacteria filled pools known as Fish Farms or as they're branded "Farm Raised Fish". Look and see where that Salmon you had for dinner comes from. By destroying the bio-diversity of the oceans, we seal our own fate... because everything is connected.

- The immense horror known as Factory Farming where most of our meat comes from, and is nothing short of torture and cruelty to all beings that enter the system. I need not go into the details here as you can get much more accurate and important information from the practices of livestock and fowl farming from the Humane Society or PETA.

- 10 Billion. That is the number of animals killed every year in the United States (9 billion chickens, turkeys and other birds and one billion cows) to satisfy the growing appetite of obese and ill-informed Americans who know nothing about the food they eat. (or what that food is doing to them.) This is a widely known number... but I originally learned it from the Humans Society, www. hsus.org. Consider that number for a moment. Does this seem as excessive and inhumane to you as it does to me and so many others?

As Mark Bittman says in his talk, we all have to change the way we behave when it comes to food. Its not just as an issue of social justice, but also one of global survival. He states unequivocally, "there is no good reason for eating as much meat as we do."

I need not torture you with more facts and figures (such as 85% of the food grown in the United States is fed to cows, and that same amount of food could feed 13 Billion humans, twice the population of PLANET EARTH) in order to make my point.

This system has to end for our very own survival. As Mark Bittman discusses, by changing our relationship with food, and better understanding and respecting what we are eating and how it made it to our dinner plates, we could change our behavior to help ensure our survival. But just as an ethical and historical issue for your amusement... we are only the 2nd generation in history that has had no direct relationship to the food we eat... and we don't even realize that.

What is it that I want you to do with this information? 3 EASY things that can change the world:

1/ Thank the animal every time you eat meat for giving up its life so you could enjoy it. Show some respect for the animals and act with decency and kindness to them.

2/ Cut meat out of one meal everyday. Unless you are a vegan or a vegetarian, you are probably eating way too much meat. You don't need nearly as much as you've been taught.

3/ Watch Mark Bittman's talk below and learn, understand, empathize and then act against what may be one of the single greatest horrors of our time, factory farming and its effects on our planet and our humanity.

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