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([personal profile] thista Apr. 22nd, 2009 01:30 pm)
I've been on this mailing list for a Shinto temple in Washington, and I'm probably about to get kicked off. I've never seen anyone disagree with what gets posted there, and I just did. The thing is, the head priest of the temple posted an article which pushed some MAJOR buttons for me. I probably shouldn't have responded at all, but I've been holding my tongue a lot lately, and this time it just had to come out. Even so, I only gave a short response and I tried to be respectful. The full response is coming out here.

The article is about the supposed benefits of vegetarianism. Now, many of my friends are vegetarian. I respect that. Really I do. I was even vegetarian myself for a while. What I do not respect is misinformation, propaganda, and general bullshit.

Here's the article in question:
-------------------------
The Startling Effects of Going Vegetarian for Just One Day

By Kathy Freston, Huffington Post. Posted April 2, 2009.


I've written extensively on the consequences of eating meat -- on our health, our sense of "right living", and on the environment. It is one of those daily practices that has such a broad and deep effect that I think it merits looking at over and over again, from all the different perspectives. Sometimes, solutions to the world's biggest problems are right in front of us. The following statistics are eye-opening, to say the least.

If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would save:

● 100 billion gallons of water, enough to supply all the homes in New England for almost 4 months;

● 1.5 billion pounds of crops otherwise fed to livestock, enough to feed the state of New Mexico for more than a year;

● 70 million gallons of gas -- enough to fuel all the cars of Canada and Mexico combined with plenty to spare;

● 3 million acres of land, an area more than twice the size of Delaware;

● 33 tons of antibiotics.

If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would prevent:

● Greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1.2 million tons of CO2, as much as produced by all of France;

● 3 million tons of soil erosion and $70 million in resulting economic damages;

● 4.5 million tons of animal excrement;

● Almost 7 tons of ammonia emissions, a major air pollutant.

My favorite statistic is this: According to Environmental Defense, if every 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 half a million cars off of U.S. roads. See how easy it is to make an impact?

Other points:

Globally, we feed 756 million tons of grain to farmed animals. As Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer notes in his new book, if we fed that grain to the 1.4 billion people who are living in abject poverty, each of them would be provided more than half a ton of grain, or about 3 pounds of grain/day -- that's twice the grain they would need to survive. And that doesn't even include the 225 million tons of soy that are produced every year, almost all of which is fed to farmed animals. He writes, "The world is not running out of food. The problem is that we -- the relatively affluent -- have found a way to consume four or five times as much food as would be possible, if we were to eat the crops we grow directly."

A recent United Nations report titled Livestock's Long Shadow concluded that the meat industry causes almost 40% more greenhouse gas emissions than all the world's transportation systems -- that's all the cars, trucks, SUVs, planes and ships in the world combined. The report also concluded that factory farming is one of the biggest contributors to the most serious environmental problems at every level -- local and global.

Researchers at the University of Chicago concluded that switching from standard American diet to a vegan diet is more effective in the fight against global warming than switching from a standard American car to a hybrid.

In its report, the U.N. found that the meat industry causes local and global environmental problems even beyond global warming. It said that the meat industry should be a main focus in every discussion of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortages and pollution, and loss of biodiversity.

Unattributed statistics were calculated from scientific reports by Noam Mohr, a physicist with the New York University Polytechnic Institute.
-------------------------------------

And my response:

First of all, every statement in that fancy little bullshit list depends on all cows/pigs/chickens/etc VANISHING FROM THE EARTH for one day. If we simply stop eating cows (for example), then there will be MORE of them to eat, drink, fart, and poop (which is *GOOD* for the soil) all over our planet, not less. Seriously, people, let's think before we write.

So what this article should really be called is "The Startling Effects of Killing Off All Livestock for Just One Day", but then the author would have to discuss the impact of removing a few species from an ecosystem, and that's just messy. What I want to know is what exactly this author wants us to do with the animals once we stop eating them. If we still get to use their milk/skin/etc, well then all the above listed points are moot. They still need their grain to eat, their water to drink, their land to live on, and their medicine to stay healthy. If we're supposed to stop using and keeping these animals entirely, then where do they go? They don't magically disappear off the planet, so they still need to eat and drink, and they will still poo and fart. Do we turn them out into the wild? Anyone want to speculate on how long a herd of domestic cows will survive in the wild? I'll give you a clue: it's not very long. Ultimately we're probably still looking at the extinction of a species, and Gods only know how that will impact our ecosystem.

Things like this make me so incredibly angry. There *are* ways that we can use our natural resources better and more ethically, but this is NOT it. This is not even CLOSE to it. You're concerned about land erosion? Well why don't we try rotating areas that are used for keeping livestock, growing crops and lying fallow? I'm not exactly an expert on farming, but as far as I know it's excessive overuse of an area that causes it to have problems. The real problem is convincing the corn company and the cow company to switch plots of land every few years. Imagine what a legal nightmare that would be! I mean, maybe it would work and maybe not, but it makes a hell of a lot more sense than "make livestock disappear."

And, really, there's nothing wrong with eating meat that comes from an animal that has been well treated and humanely killed. What *is* wrong is eating large portions of meat with every meal, disguising meat so that the animal it once was is unrecognizable, and not caring about where our meat came from or how it lived and died. So the problem is not eating meat, the problem is our overall resistance to moderation, adaptability, and intelligence!

Bullshit articles like this make me angry because they take us farther away from a solution instead of closer to it. Newsflash people: THE WORLD WILL NEVER BECOME VEGAN. If we want to find a way of eating that can sustain everyone and that will satisfy everyone, then we need to think about things like organic farming, buying local, caring for the land itself and the animals that live on it, and generally moderating our eating habits.

And please note that nowhere in any of this did I say that everyone *should* eat meat. No one should be forced to eat or not eat anything. All I'm saying is that vegetarianism and veganism are not magical solutions to the worlds environmental problems.

I mean... do they really think we will decrease the impact of cows on the environment by *not* eating them? Or do they really want all cows to disappear?

Why do they hate cows so much?

The guys who made the bullshit video about PETA need to do another one about this.
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