“You can’t be an environmentalist and eat animal products. Period!” – Howard Lyman
Why Go Vegan? – Environmental
Last week I started this series with my personal reasons for wanting to try a vegan diet. Through the next weeks I really wanted to explore the different reasons that others have decided to start and live by a plant based diet. I decided to start with a documentary film. While documentaries can be extremely one sided, they’re a good place to get a lot of information about a topic fast and research farther from there. I watched Cowspiracy: The Sustainable Secret which is all about animal agriculture and the effects that the meat industry have on our planet.
Cowspiracy: The Sustainable Secret –
I was shocked to hear that 51% of the global greenhouse gas emissions come from methane release in animal agriculture. The media and climate change advocates always push for more regulation on vehicles and the gas and oil industry, so why is no one talking about this??
Kip had the same questions and sought out officials for some of the worlds leading organizations for environmental issues. Most of the organizations admitted that they did not have any information on the subject. As was the case for the Sierra Club, Surf Rider Foundation, Oceana, and NRCD. While others, like Green Peace, chose to completely ignored the question all together by refusing to meet with Kip and his crew.
Another huge topic was the destruction of land in the Amazon to create land to graze animals. It is stated that an acre of land in the Amazon jungle is destroyed every second of everyday. With the destruction on the land, nearly 100 species of insect and animal species are lost each day. Yet, when you visit the website for Rainforest Action Network, one of the leading Rainforest protection groups, you only see information on palm oil, tar sand, gas and oil – no mention of animal agriculture at all.
An interview with a member of AmazonWatch was the only interview in which the organization mentioned that animal grazing was the leading factor in deforestation. She mentions that the Brazilian government has a huge stack in the industries and speaking against against it could lead to your death. Such was the case with Dorothy Stang. Dorothy Stang was an American born environmental activist who lived in the middle of the Amazon and fought to protect it. She would speak out against the meat industry and caddle ranchers who were destroying the land to keep more cattle. In 2005, as she walked home, she was gunned down by members of the cattle industry.
In one scene, he visits a sustainable farm and speaks with the owners about the amount of resources it takes to raise livestock. Every cow to cow and a half will require 4,500 acres of land for grazing. Pigs will require 20 acres and will need to be moved around another 10 acres. The land will also need to be rotated as the heard will deplete the resources of the land. When peaking to Clover Dairy farm, they said they go through 140 to 150 pounds of grain and 30-40 gallons of water a day to keep 250 cows.
In comparison, when he visits an urban garden he finds that they’re able to create 14 pounds of food on the 2 acre plot of land that they inhabit. The owners of this garden talk about how easy it is to replenish the land that just gave them so much in return. Plant based agriculture is able to create a higher yield of food and makes better and uses fewer resources then the land used to raise livestock.
I think that this documentary had a lot of great information on a subject that I never would have thought of to be such a huge problem. I found it extremely shocking that so many environmental organizations would not be talking about such a huge problem. But that is how the world is there days. If there is money to be made, no matter how much of a problem it creates, we make that money.
One area that I thought was pretty biased was when he was talking about the Amazon rainforest and how the forest is being bulldozed for animal agriculture. That land is also being destroyed to create soy bean and palm oil, which are two things that are prevalent in a vegan diet. This seems like kind of a weak argument for a documentary trying to convince people to switch to veganism. The rainforests would still be destroyed in order to create the demand for more soy products. While it takes less land to grow soy beans then to raise cattle, the growing demand would cause more Amazon to be destroyed still.
Overall I really enjoyed the documentary and feel like I got so much information to process. They really do a great job at making you question giving up meat for good. Specifically in one scene when they kill a duck on camera. To be honest, I did not watch this scene. I am an animal lover and have a weak heart when it comes to watching things of that nature. But the point of the scene, and the realization Kip comes to when hes crying after watching the slaughter, is that we have a huge disconnect between the animal that was killed and the meat that we eat.
Have you seen this documentary film? If so, what did you think about it?