When I first decided to become a vegetarian (in 1989) and 10 years later, a vegan, it was mostly for ethical and compassionate reasons. I couldn’t kill an animal for food if I had to. I didn’t want anyone else to do it for me and as a result, I didn’t want my money to support this practice. Then I became aware that the exploitation wasn’t limited to animals. It also extended to people working in slaughterhouses and meat packing factories. You will be surprised (as I was) to know that most of these workers are essentially indentured servants, on temporary visas, that have to work long hours just to repay for the loan that got them in the US. They have no rights, no health insurance, no recourse, no protection. They came for a better life, for the American dream turned into a nightmare!
So it essentially started as a personal choice, a lifestyle choice. As the years went by and I began to learn more about our industrial food system, I discovered that what I thought was a lifestyle choice, in fact negatively impacted just about every issue I cared about! And no one was talking about it.
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Do you care about world hunger?
Do you care about deforestation in the Amazon?
Do you care about your children being poisoned by processed and fast food?
Do you care about air and water pollution?
Do you care about global pandemics?
Do you care that bad food is cheaper than wholesome food?
Do you care about the inhuman treatment of animals?
If you have answered yes to any of the above questions and are still consuming animal products, you are part of the problem and not of the solution!
That’s because, all of these important issues have one thing in common. As long as we continue to feed +60 billion farm animals around the world to feed 7 billion humans, we will continue to suffer and die from preventable diseases, billions of animals will be slaughtered needlessly, the earth’s non-renewable resources will be plundered, poisoned and destroyed. At the rate we are going, what will be left for our children and future generations? Life as we know it may not be possible! And maybe that’s why the Mayan calendar ends. But I do believe that life never ends and that it keeps evolving and transforming but this requires quantum leaps, and we are going through one at the moment.
The reality is that we are not feeding 7 billion humans! We are currently feeding 70 billion mouths and over 63 billions of them eat a lot more than we do! And with China and India wanting to follow America’s bad example (haven’t they heard of SAD, the standard american diet?), the demand for meat (red and white) is increasing and there isn’t enough land to grow food to feed billions of animals to feed humans! So the question we all need to ask ourselves is: do we feed animals or do we feed humans?
Add to this the wild card of climate change, bringing extended droughts, massive repeated floods and hurricanes, and you can see the disruption in crops, grain prices and availability around the world and in our supermarkets. We may not see it yet but if you find out where the food you buy comes from, you will be surprised. Start growing some of your food. Learn to sprout! Go vertical if you live in an apartment!
At the root of this flawed system are the current subsidies that date back from the last Great Depression. Although it may seem that we are in a full recession but we live in a very different world. These subsidies were necessary back then and worked quite well but not anymore. As a result, we grow pretty much only corn, soy and wheat today. There isn’t much else at that scale. America doesn’t grow food per say but just a handful of commodities which are mostly destined for factory farms! So we need to start subsidizing small organic farming and bio-diversity, not mono cultures that can fail at the slightest change in climate and require tons of oil based chemicals just to come out of the ground. It is totally unsustainable and only brings huge profits to seed and chemical multinational corporations while killing just about everything else in the process (the land, water, small farmers, consumer’s health, animals, you name it!)
So as long as we continue to subsidize cheap grain to feed farm animals in concentration camps around the world, deforestation will continue, chemical poisoning, untested GMO food will invade our grocery stores and food insecurity will prevail in the world.
It is simple really, eating lower on the food chain, as we were meant to be, will save the world. Look at the abundance found in the fruit and vegetable kingdoms. All the seeds one fruit or one vegetable produce! We must go back to working with nature and not against it. We will lose that battle if we continue to be arrogant and think we can do better than nature. All the clues are around us. Some of the advances in technology can be used, but it must be done with respect of the natural laws. That is where we went wrong and where we must correct our course.
The good news is that by just choosing to follow a plant-based diet, you are helping to solve all of these issues. You vote with every dollar you spend, so get busy! Supply always follow demand. You are in command, not the corporations but only if you choose to exercise it. And while we, as private citizens and governments, can’t do much about CO2 (it live hundreds of years in the atmosphere), oil consumption and coal plants, we can do something about what we eat, every day, three time a day.
Now take a look at the diagram below. All the solutions already exist and there is plenty to go around (resources, jobs, local economies…) if again, we respect and work with nature and not against it (and stop the inane killing around the planet!) The only reason why large scale industrial farming works against nature is because it was born out of World War II. Chemical plants where mustard gas was manufactured were converted into pesticides factories. Leftover chemical weapons was turned into pests and weed killers and nature became the enemy! Now, we do not need to go back to back breaking farming practices, simple technologies have been developed that will make our life easier, even allow food to be grown in cities where we need it! Small-scale is good. It is local, adapted to the soil, the micro-climate, doesn’t require transportation, creates food security…
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Can you see it?