‚ÄúNothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.‚Äù –Albert Einstein
Did you know that animal agriculture is the number 1 polluter of our planet and that it wastes much of our natural resources?
Unfortunately, no one wants to talk about this…why?
Because the fact of the matter is that we love our meat, especially here in the U.S. In fact, it is simply un-American not to love meat, hamburgers, hot dogs, and Thanksgiving Turkey. I’m sure there are many cities in the U.S. where being a vegetarian is grounds for being shot. Bush country anyone?
But the facts are the facts.
I too, used to love eating meat. At breakfast with my eggs. At lunch in my sandwiches. And at night, a dinner without meat just wasn‚Äôt a meal! Then I heard that each time I ate meat, it lowered my vibration to the vibration of death. With each satisfying chew, the energy that the animal died with was going straight into my system. Whether I was aware of it or not, the suffering the animal I was eating felt when they died now became my suffering. In fact, I was ingesting death every single time I ate meat. Finally, had to confront my own hypocrisy as a carnivore‚ÄîI was living my life to raise the consciousness of the planet, to encourage life in all of its forms, but enthusiastically ingesting death on a regular basis?
So I stopped cold turkey. I became a vegetarian and eliminated meat from my diet two years ago and have never felt better. I know what you‚Äôre thinking: where do I get my protein? From a variety of sources. I still eat plenty of organic eggs and cheese (so I‚Äôm far from vegan), unprocessed soy, peanut butter, beans and even greens, all of which are highly nutritional live sources of protein that don‚Äôt require the needless slaughter of a helpless animal.
In case you need more incentive, here are some facts that may be worth considering the next time you saddle up to a burger*:
Water Pollution: According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the runoff from factory farms pollutes our rivers and lakes more than all other industries combined. Animals raised for food produce 130 times more excrement than the entire human population ‚Äî 86,000 pounds per second. A typical pig factory farm generates as much raw waste as a city of 50,000 people. Chicken, hog, and cattle excrement have polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states.
Land: Of all agricultural land in the U. S., nearly 80 percent is used to raise animals for food. More than 260 million acres of U.S. forest have been cleared to create cropland to grow grain to feed farmed animals. Twenty times more land is required to feed a meat-eater than a vegetarian. (A meat-eater requires 3 and ¬º acres of land to feed him/herself per year, whereas vegetarians require only 1/6 of an acre.)
Rainforest: 214,000 acres, an area greater than that of New York City, is destroyed every day by the meat industry. Some of this is so ‚Äúbeef‚Äù cattle can graze, while some of it is to grow crops to feed factory farmed animals. More than 2.9 million acres of rainforest were destroyed in the 2004-2005 crop season in order to grow crops that feed chickens and other animals in factory farms.
Water: Raising animals for food consumes nearly half the water used in the United States. It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef, but only 25 gallons to produce a pound of wheat. A single individual‚Äôs carnivorous diet requires a whopping 4,200 gallons of water per day. A vegetarian diet requires just 300 gallons of water per day.
Global Warming: Meat production exacerbates global warming by emitting both carbon dioxide and methane: In ‚ÄúDiet, Energy and Global Warming‚Äù (http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~gidon/papers/nutri/nutriEI.pdf ), scientists at the University of Chicago calculate that switching from the average carnivorous American diet to a vegetarian one will cause a 50% greater reduction in climate warming than switching from the average gas-guzzling car to a Prius, thus suggesting that a shift toward a plant-based diet should be at least as high a priority as advocating improved fuel economy.
Animal burps, flatulence, and feces are the largest sources of airborne methane. According to the EPA, methane is 21 times more effective than carbon dioxide in trapping heat in the atmosphere. In ‚ÄúA New Global Warming Strategy‚Äù (http://www.earthsave.org/globalwarming.htm), Noam Mohr, a physicist graduated from Yale and Penn (and a former lobbyist on global warming with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group), demonstrates that methane from the billions of animals raised on factory farms will be the most significant source of climate change over the next half-century, not cars and power plants.
Energy: Raising animals for food requires more than one-third of all the raw materials and fossil fuels used in the United States. The processes that bring meat to the table (tilling grains, corn, and soy, transporting these to feed factories, transporting the feed to factory farms, operating the factory farms, transporting the animals to slaughter, operating the slaughterhouses, transporting the sliced up animals to processing factories and then onto grocery stores, restaurants, etc.) are wasteful and pollute our environment more than anything else human beings do, including driving automobiles.
Frightening as the thought of global warming can be, the good news is, there‚Äôs plenty you and I can do about it. Question is, are you ready to give up some of the things you think you can‚Äôt live without to ensure our survival as a species? That‚Äôs the same question I ask myself each day. And though some days are better than others, I‚Äôm trying my best to do my part.
‚ÄúIf anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is stop eating meat. That‚Äôs the single most important thing you can do.‚Äù ‚ÄîSir Paul McCartney
*For more sources on the facts contained in this article, as well as a plethora of info on how to go veg, visit www.goveg.com (click on ‚ÄúThe Issues‚Äù and then on ‚ÄúThe Environment‚Äù).
*Special Thanks to Benay Vynerib and Bart Potenza of the amazingly delicious Candle 79 & Candle Cafe in NYC (http://www.candlecafe.com/) for putting these facts together!