A born-again vegan speaks: Don’t Eat Meat!

Time really does fly, doesn’t it? The last couple of years have been busy and fruitful though with my conviction growing continuously to find ways to make this world a more just place to live, and make me less of a hypocrite.

One step I took this week (and the reason I felt compelled to get back on the blog-writing saddle) in becoming less of a hypocrite was to drop meat and animal products altogether from my life. I have loved animals for as long as I remember yet for some reason I was eating meat. Granted, for health and finance reasons I’ve been eating less meat the last couple of years plus donate monthly to the Humane Society, but I still saw livestock as some lesser creatures not deserving of much consideration as to their welfare. In my mind (and the minds of many millions of people in this world) their purpose in this world is to be our food.

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When the lightbulb finally came on this week, I truly couldn’t believe how truly STUPID and SELFISH and CRUEL I have been for most of my life, directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of beings on this planet through my life. Creatures who have done no crime other than being born the wrong species around humans. I have been so distraught at this thought the past couple of days that it literally makes me weep at every thought of these poor animals being sent to a premature death for my culinary pleasure.

That’s nowhere near the worst of it though. If an early death was the worst these animals had to endure one could say they got off easy compared to the reality. The ABUSE, TORTURE, VIOLENCE, DISRESPECT and complete lack of humane treatment is troubling to say the least. This level of cruel behaviour concerns me to such a degree as to wonder if any humans can be trusted. We have become such a violent species, that one has to wonder how far off the fabled End Of The World really is. That we are capable to perform these cruel acts (farmers), knowingly push products that not only harm animals but cause great distress to this planet (food manufacturers), purchase these products despite the avalanche of research and information telling us what really goes on behind the scenes with both the animals and the damage to the planet (everyone) is shocking and abhorrent. Meanwhile, we are happy to claim humans to be the most intelligent species on the planet supposedly capable of the greatest empathy, love and caring which is, frankly, the biggest load of flaming hypocrisy ever perpetrated in history I believe.

If for some reason you feel strongly against what I am saying then you are the growing minority. Thankfully (and I’m trying not to be judgmental here being that I am a recently born-again vegan) people are coming around and starting to recognise the err of our ways. There are countless websites, blogs, government stats, scientific journals and media reports telling us that meat is bad and that our world and its citizens are suffering for it. Here is an excellent overview of the problem for example. In this blog, Sara Deegan has done research from various sources and provided us with testimonials and general info about the problem. Quoting a few bits of info from her page (she is American so some info reflects that perspective):

  • Agricultural runoff is the number one source of water pollution, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • The methane resulting from the burps and farts of 10 billion domestic cows a year is a direct cause of global warming (methane is at least 40 times more potent as CO2 gases, eg. from your car)
  • If everyone in America were to adopt a plant-based diet we would reduce global greenhouse gases by six percent—a significant proportion considering that we contribute to 25 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases.
  • According to a statistic by PETA, “If every meat-eating American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than a half-million cars off the U.S. roads.”
  • Factory farms create more greenhouse gases in our environment than all of the cars, motorbikes, airplanes, boats, and trains on earth combined.
  • More than 50 percent of the corn grown in the U.S. is used for animal livestock. Nearly 80 percent of U.S. land is used for factory farms. Fifty percent of our food supply goes to feeding domestic animals. So while people across the globe starve to death, our cattle remain well fed.
  • Cattle grazing is the number one cause of destruction of the rainforest and we are destroying the rainforest at an alarming rate of 75 million acres a year. That is 144 acres per minute. And 2.4 acres a second. Every burger we consume destroys a small plot of land in the rainforest.
  • It’s estimated that 2,500 gallons (or 16,000 litres) of water is used per every one pound (or kilo) of meat. Comparitively, it takes 33 gallons of water to grow a pound of carrots. To grow one pound of wheat requires 25 gallons of water. One sixteen ounce steak uses the same amount of water you need for six months of showers.
  • The average American eats 97 pounds of beef a year. You’d save more water by not eating a pound of meat than you would by not showering for an entire year.

I watched an excellently produced and powerful documentary recently – Peaceable Kingdom – that zeroes-in on animal welfare and cruelty in farms as told by farmers themselves, all of which in this particular film are reformed killers of creatures who are speaking from a very familiar place that other farmers should be able to relate. Of course, groups like PETA do amazing work and find ways to educate people without attacking them, which is really the only way we’re going to make people come around to their senses. Here’s PETA’s Casey Affleck talking about the agonising de-horning process that cows go through clearly showing animals struggling in immense pain by sadistic “farmers”. There are countless others I’ll link to over time, but those are a few I’ve recently discovered.

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The main problem now with meat-eating is that people who wish to continue with this lifestyle are actually imposing their interests on the rest of the world as there are countless stats to show that the vast quantities of animals bred for consumption are the NUMBER ONE CONTRIBUTOR TO GLOBAL WARMING including depletion of fresh water reserves as well as fish stocks in our oceans (experts have noted that we are now within 40 years of completely fishing the seas empty of sea-life. That is – pardon my french – fucked).

I feel ashamed to have been a part of these destructive meat needs for so long, even going so far as defending my practices and quantifying it because of our (supposed) intelligence or placement in the food chain. But there is no part of me, in good conscience as a citizen of this planet, that can continue to eat meat knowing now what I know. So my hope is that if you have read this far and checked out some of the links here plus researched it yourself, you cannot continue eating meat either. To eat meat is to directly contribute to a barbaric practice, to destroy our planet and to reduce us to crude life forms who condone violence and abuse to satisfy our culinary desires. Believe it or not, that is not overstating it at all; we will perish in our souls, as a species and a planet if we don’t reverse this trend now.

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Lost in Asia

Just a short message to say that I haven’t been deliberately slack at keeping the ol’ blog up to date, but I’ve been writing in my other blog during the past month and a bit as I’ve been prepping for and traveling in SE Asia for the documentary I’ve been filming. The film is called Street Dreams and deals with the problems of human trafficking and the child sex trade due to poverty. We’ve just got back and there are many things I can write in here which directly correspond to my interests in the environment, climate and sustainability so I’ll be sure to get to that soon when I’ve had a chance to proces what I’ve seen and experienced on the trip! So, Stay Tuned! 🙂

Letters of concern

I recently had an email conversation with someone about corruptible actions and thinking in our society and why making positive change in the world is critical, albeit challenging. To me, this type of conversation illustrates the type of thinking that is common these days when trying to get people to consider change. People think that one person’s voice isn’t strong enough to be heard so what’s the point in trying, whereas I believe that change can happen but each individual has to have the strength and courage to move against the trends and face possible backlash for supposed unpopular thinking. Here’s how the conversation went; it all stemmed from my opinion that the whole Royal Wedding is a blown-out spectacle which celebrates the vast gap between the monarchy and celebrity with everyone else, lavishly spending money on a diversion from the UK (and the world’s) much bigger problems (I was probably feeling a bit grumpy to equate these things so adamantly, but I don’t think it’s untrue):

~ Correspondent:

…it’s nice to see some happy news from Britain as they have had lots of negative news in the last few years. Who cares anyway if this is what makes people happy! ….your opinions…makes you sound very preachy/lost your sense of humour…

~ Me:

Just because I don’t agree with the “distraction” of spending huge amounts of time, money and effort on some out-dated show of wealth and pomp doesn’t mean I’ve lost my sense of humour.

This wedding is just another example of how people get sucked in to spending tons of time and money because of “celebrity” and “glamour” which is a HUGE part of why everyone in the Western world is quite complacent that this has become “normal” activity and someone like me is a freak if you think otherwise. I find it frustrating. Had the monarchy said publicly that they were deliberately scaling back this multi-million dollar wedding production so that they could support a good cause with the money that they would’ve wasted on nothing but a showy display of excess, then I would have been right there to support them. But they didn’t and this is just more rich people throwing their money around and giving everyone else an excuse to do the same.

Do you ever just sit and wonder why you live where you do or have what you have while many people – most people – in the world don’t have the same? Should we in the Western world feel that it is our right to be able to live the comfortable life of excess? Why are we so privileged? And yet, that’s exactly what people think; they don’t give a second thought to buying a new giant tv or expensive car because what’s important is themselves. If everyone just shared this wealth around a bit, the world wouldn’t exist with such extremes and so many people wouldn’t be living so miserably.

This wedding itself isn’t just the problem I have with all this but rather the cynical corporate marketing, television and broadcasting, celebrity-idolising, glamourising and bandwagon-jumping that goes along with it. Meanwhile, there’s a lot of problems being ignored because everyone is having such a grand old time.

I guess I can call myself an activist these days as I don’t mind being a bit preachy as long as someone occasionally listens. I try not to be too judgemental, but as soon as you take off the blinkers and really look at the world, you can’t help but feel this way. I want to make a difference. I desire change. I want people to be able to have both personal enjoyment but also really, truly care about their fellow global neighbour and the planet we live on and actually take action against injustices. If everyone did their part, we’d all be a helluva lot better off.

~ Correspondent:

I fully sympathize with your activist stance. The problem lies with the human race itself. If you compare the earth to a healthy cell, then the human race can be compared to cancer, and the cancer is growing exponentially. We are an overwhelming force that is mowing down everything in it’s path and it’s virtually impossible to stop it. The fact is that once those loveable people in the Third World get their hands on the same goodies that we in the Western World have, the planet will start deconstructing even faster than it is now. For the last several hundred years every successive generation has been more spoiled (if you want to call it that) and destructive than the previous one. Concepts such as “religion” and “progress” have driven us down this path.

Anyway, all I’m saying is that I understand the problem but, while I admire the work of activists everywhere, I think that it’s going to take something cataclysmic to turn things around.

~ Me:

The feeling I get from you seems bleak: are you saying that humanity should throw in the towel as we can’t fix ourselves anyway? While it is a challenge to see positive potential from a world that cherishes materialism and rampant excess, I believe we need to use the idea that every lit bit counts and that some of the biggest revolutions the world has seen have come from as little as one person (eg. Gandhi). If we just give in, then we’re all doomed to living a very dark, joyless existence so why not just kill ourselves now to avoid having to live in such a world?

I’m sure you’d agree that there are many wonderful things in the world and life that are worth standing up for and preserving, and it’s that kind of motivated and positive thinking that needs to propagate broadly throughout all people. In order for that to happen, people need to be reminded of their obligations to their fellow humans and to the rest of this one planet we have at our disposal, and start showing respect to it at the expense of some short term pleasures. Sure, they may have to give up the odd possession to ensure that we’re not overburdening our resources, but that gaining back of one’s integrity through self-restraint will ultimately be more rewarding than the material possession. Of course, it’s hard to show someone that money isn’t everything and that they can gain a lot more out of life by looking into other areas.

You might think that the Third World is doomed to making the same mistakes as we have, but I think the opposite: we have a huge opportunity to show them the err of our ways, but it requires each person to make a small sacrifice in time, energy, money and willingness to confront those around them to make the change happen. I really like the saying “Be the change you want to see in the world” as it so aptly describes where those improvements have to stem from: you. And me.

Throwing in the towel in my book is unacceptable if for nothing else than to have respect for this planet. I’m the same as you when it comes to the human race: we are a cancer that has ravaged the planet and who treat each other terribly. I’m not always a huge fan of our species. I have a lot of respect for other species and their ability to not impose themselves beyond certain boundaries. The trouble is, we need to rely on our species to do the hard work to make the world a better place for them, and then, in turn, for us. But like the animals, I believe that there’s a lot of people not being given a fair go either and so I’m a big proponent for equality: for people’s working conditions, wealth distribution, basic needs and well-being plus their general right to have a life filled with security and love.

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What do you think? Am I out of line to press these issues or is it high-time people start opening their arms and embracing positive action and try to make the world a better place? If we stop fighting for something more, something better, then what’s the point to our very existence?