Another Earth Day has come… and gone.
Yet, the central question remains — What is Earth day?
Earth day is an international celebration and opportunity to educate others about saving and preserving our environment, namely the earth.
Where did all this begin?
The origins of Earth Day
Earth Day was created by Gaylord Nelson in 1970, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin at the time, who was inspired by the activism of the 1960s and the grave consequences of a huge oil spill in California.
A question often brought up by the celebration of Earth Day, and one which can only be answered by each individual, is:
“Can I (really) be a meat eating environmentalist?”
Using the earth’s resources to raise animals for food affects us and the environment around us in a multitude of ways. We are taking foods we can already eat, e.g., vegetables and grains, and very inefficiently turning them into animal foods by feeding them to farm animals, using extra resources in the process.
Farms and slaughterhouses are usually tucked far away from every day society, further compounding the problem by adding transportation costs into this resource dependent scenario.
And sometimes they are located much too close to home (for example, the environmental problems caused by CAFO farming).
Most earth day articles discuss the impact we have on the environment but what about the negative emotional, mental and spiritual impact we put upon ourselves by abusing the earth’s resources and the human and non-human creatures living on it?
Don’t we need to have empathy and compassion for the slaughterhouse workers and their terrible working conditions, the cruelty the animals endure, and the small farmers themselves who are being bought out and forced into bankruptcy by big corporations like Perdue and Monsanto?
The world peace diet
Dr. Will Tuttle, Ph.D., author, speaker, and activist, addresses this idea in his book, The World Peace Diet, Eating for Spiritual Health and Social Harmony.
“Our deepest and most blessed connection with the earth and with the mystery of infinite spiritual consciousness-our-daily meals-have become rituals of distraction and repressed sensitivity and guilt rather than rituals of heart-opening gratitude, connectedness, blessedness, and love. The price we pay for this is incalculable and includes, among other things, the dulling of our innate intelligence and compassion and a consequent loss of peace, freedom, and joy.”
This passage from Dr. Tuttle’s book also refers to the denial we have about eating animals and the dire consequences we endure by embracing this denial. Dr. Tuttle goes on to enlighten us that what we inflict upon animals we inflict upon ourselves and our society.
“As We Sow, So Shall We Reap:”
- Animals raised for food are fat / so are we
- An animal’s family ties are broken,(e.g., removing their babies) / we have a breakdown of the family
- Unnatural early and frequent pregnancies in animals due to hormone use / these same hormones consumed in animal products push young girls into early puberty and unwanted pregnancies
- Drugs are given to animals on a mass scale / we live in a drug addicted society
- Animals are terrorized / we live in fear of terrorists
- Animals are confined / we live in fear behind locked doors and gated communities
- Animals undergo the knife at slaughter / to save our lives from illness inflicted by the animals we eat, we face the knife during surgery
This doesn’t even touch on the pollution created in the air, on the land, and in the water by raising animals for food — not to mention the 5 million acres of rainforest that are destroyed every year for the sole purpose of raising cows for food.
Did you know that 80% of all antibiotics in the United States are used for livestock due to unhealthy living conditions? That’s right, without high doses of these antibiotics the meat you buy at the grocery store would be too toxic to eat.
Finally, about 10 billion people, more than the current world population, could be fed from the available food supply if we all consumed a 100% plant-based diet.
So, what’s your answer — can you really be a meat-eating environmentalist?