Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Thoughts: Safe-sex vegans will save the planet by By Ingrid Newkirk, ABC Environment.
There are too many humans eating too many steaks in this world. What we need are safe-sex practising vegans, says Ingrid Newkirk.
In 2008, PETA launched an "animal birth control" campaign to promote spaying and neutering and to encourage people to buy animals from the pound, not breeders or pet shops. Millions of animals are euthanised in shelters every year, and steps must be taken to curb dog and cat overpopulation.
Ultimately, though, it is our own species that we really need to keep from expanding, certainly at its current rate. The human population has spiralled beyond a sustainable level, and our practices are wreaking havoc on the environment and other living beings. For ourselves, our planet and animals, we must take seriously the need to keep our own population in check.
There are currently 6.8 billion people in the world, and experts predict that there will be at least nine billion humans by 2050.
Nearly every environmental problem, from climate change to deforestation to pollution, can be traced to meat production. Here's a frightening thought: global meat consumption is projected to double by 2050.
Humans have a knack for procreating and destroying. If we are ever to create a cleaner - and kinder - world, we can't carry on at the rate we are going. We can't expect to have a liveable planet if the population of human beings literally eats its way out of house and home, destroying its own health, polluting waterways (there are already dead zones in our oceans from factory farming) and killing off wildlife and wildlife habitat in the process.
The Worldwatch Institute estimates that the global livestock population has increased 60 per cent since 1961. As the world's appetite for meat increases and people grow fat with cheese toppings, countries across the globe are bulldozing huge swaths of land to make more room for all the chickens, cows and other farmed animals and the crops needed to feed them.
But much more food can be grown on a given parcel of land when we aren't funnelling crops through animals. It takes three and a quarter acres of land to produce food for a person who eats meat and dairy products, while food for a vegan - someone who doesn't eat meat, eggs or dairy products - can be produced on just sixth of an acre of land.
Vegfam, a UK-based charity that funds sustainable plant-food projects, estimates that a 10-acre farm can support 60 people by growing soya beans, 24 people by growing wheat or 10 people by growing corn - but only two people by raising cattle.
And then there's water. Between watering the crops grown to feed farmed animals, providing drinking water for the animals and cleaning away the filth in the factory farms, transport trucks and slaughterhouses, meat production also places a serious strain on our water supply. With fewer humans and certainly fewer meat-eaters, water scarcity would be less of a concern too.
A vegan diet requires only 1,140 litres of water per day, whereas an animal-based diet requires more than 16,000 litres of water a day. As leading climate-change economist Sir Nicholas Stern has said, "Meat is a wasteful use of water .... It puts enormous pressure on the world's resources."
Stern and other climate-change experts have generated overwhelming evidence that meat production causes climate change. A 2006 United Nations report concluded that the livestock sector produces more greenhouse gases than all of the cars, trucks, trains, planes and ships in the world combined. Worldwatch Institute researchers estimate that raising animals for food causes 51 per cent of global greenhouse-gas emissions each year.
With meat and dairy-product consumption putting such an enormous carbon footprint on the Earth already, I shudder to think what things will be like if global meat (and cheese) consumption doubles within 40 years.
I have hope, though. More and more people, especially the young, are switching to a vegan diet as they learn how animal-based agriculture harms the environment, the animals kept in concentration camp-like conditions of intensive rearing and their own health. A collective change in diet will benefit the Earth and all its inhabitants enormously. The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency even believes that climate-change mitigation costs could be reduced by 80 per cent if everyone around the globe went vegan.
This will be easier to achieve when we at least stabilise our population and stop passing along our meat- and dairy-guzzling ways. The Center for Biological Diversity has come up with a good way to remind humans that we aren't the only species around - although we may be if we don't change our over-consuming habits. The group is distributing 100,000 free endangered species condoms in the US. The condom packaging features pictures of endangered animals and messages encouraging safe sex and contraception.
By reducing the human birth rate and choosing vegan foods we can tread more lightly on the Earth. We may not be able to solve all the problems in the world, but we can at least do our part not to leave the world significantly worse off than when we entered it.
Ingrid Newkirk is the founder and President of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Challenges: Things are not what they appear to be: nor are they otherwise. Surangama Sutra
Triumphs: Just as the highest and the lowest notes are equally inaudible, so perhaps, is the greatest sense and the greatest nonsense equally unintelligible. Allan Watts
What I Ate Today:
Food fest 1: Water with lemon juice. A beetroot (beet), carrot, celery and ginger juice.
Food fest 2: A avocado.
Food fest 3: 2 white flesh nectarines.
Food fest 4: Brazilian Rice and Beans and coriander mmm!
Food fest 5: 2 white flesh nectarines and 3 Peanut Butter Chocolate Balls!
Food fest 6: Lime Salad with Sesame Chicken! Delicious! Fresh and sweet :) Ingredients: Salad; baby spinach, lime juice, Chicken; free range organic chicken, garlic, honey, fresh rosemary, sesame seeds
Recipe: Recipe for Brazilian Rice and Beans, Peanut Butter Chocolate Balls and Lime Salad with Sesame Chicken can be found on www.theearthdiet.org and The Earth Diet book released later this year.
Exercise: A ride around town doing bits and pieces with Andrew :) Listening to the birds and soaking the sun!
125 days to go!!!