Continuing with my “sound bite” series; this is the second in the series.
Bite #1 — Wasteful. On a per calorie basis, our typical Western diet requires twenty times more land, twenty times more energy and more than twenty times more water than does a whole foods, plant based diet.
As Mark Bittman has reported in the New York Times, it would be difficult to design a more wasteful, harmful and unsustainable diet than the one that we are consuming in the Western world. There is simply not nearly enough land, water or energy for this diet-style to continue for much longer. And the simple answer is right under our noses; it’s what we put in our mouths at every meal.
Bite #2 — Harmful to our health. Dr. Colin Campbell of Cornell estimates that up to 80% of our health care dollars are driven by our toxic Western diet. Want to save a quick $2 trillion?
There is now overwhelming scientific and clinical evidence that animal protein is associated with heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke and osteoporosis — just to name a few. We also know that heart disease and type 3 diabetes are easily reversible in 95% of the cases.
Bite #3 — Harmful to our planet. The 2006 U.N. Report, Livestock’s Long Shadow, implicated the raising of livestock as one of the primary drivers of land degradation & deforestation, water shortage & pollution, global warming and the staggering loss of biodiversity.
We are running roughshod over our precious planet in search of animal protein that we don’t “need” in the first place. Just in the USA, the solid waste from factory farms is 87,000 pounds per second (1.37 billion tons per year) and most of it eventually ends up in our water supply. As the world population grows and more people adopt this incredibly harmful diet-style, there is simply no sustainable model that can keep up with demand.
Bite #4 — Cruel. Sixty billion farm animals are raised in horrid conditions for their entire lives so that less than one third of the world’s population can enjoy eating their flesh.
As Jonathan Foer reported in Eating Animals, if the whole world ate as much chicken per capita as does the United States, we would need to raise 165 billion chickens. The numbers are mind-boggling and completely unsustainable. Then, there are the sea creatures. He also reported that for every pound of shrimp that we eat, that there are twenty-six pounds of by-catch that die a miserable death in the process — creatures like dolphin, swordfish, and starfish.
It’s really mind-boggling to think about these numbers, especially when you realize that all of this madness is driven by our perceived “need” for animal protein in our diet. Not only do we not “need” that animal protein, it is literally killing us — driving our cost of health care to unprecedented levels — 17% of GDP in 2010 and projected to hit 31% by 2035. Harmful, wasteful, cruel and grossly unsustainable — what is the answer to this madness? When does it end?
It ends when this type of information is understood by enough caring and thinking people around the world. Up until now, all of these numbing statistics have been out of sight and out of mind for most. That will only change when we share this kind of information with another few hundred million people. Want more info?
Sound bite series…
- Big Picture — First edition (7-21-11)
- Wasteful, Harmful and Cruel (7-26-11)
- Environment — Land & trees (7-27-11)
- Environment — Water (7-28-11)
- Environment — Climate change (7-29-11)
- Environment — Biodiversity (7-30-11)
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—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at HealthyEatingHealthyWorld.com
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