Brod: Why we need to stop eating meat
To anyone who eats food:
Exploitation of animals for monetary profit is our history, but is it our future?
Pitkin County hosts a great deal of animal agriculture and livestock grazing and subsidizes the activity with substantial tax incentives to land owners. And yet, we often think of ourselves as vanguards of environmental conservation. But is that a true representation of our collective actions?
An Oxford University study from 2018 published in the journal Science, one of the largest of its kind, examining nearly 40,000 farms and 119 countries and 40 food products, concludes that removing meat and dairy from one’s diet is the “single biggest way” to reduce your impact on Earth. The title of the study is “Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers.” Or see the summarizing article in the Guardian from May 31, 2018.
Are we walking the talk? Or are we yielding to the status quo for profit, pleasure, and social acceptance? Are we really conserving the environment by the installation of new barbwire in 2023? The study revealed that without animal product consumption, farmland globally could be reduced by 75%.
Did you know that we are currently experiencing a mass extinction event, the first since the extinction of the dinosaurs? Animal agriculture is the single leading cause of biodiversity loss in the entire world. Cattle grazing is absolutely a deterrent to the activity and security of wildlife in the competition for space and resources. To use the term “wildlife-friendly fencing” is like saying “humane slaughter.” It’s oxymoronic and antithetical to our stated values as a compassionate and caring community.
Our world famous local restaurant industry glorifies the presentation of dead animals to the point of perversion and fetish. Terms like “free range,” “regenerative,” and “local” imply our best intentions, but the facts don’t support this aspiration. Rather, they are propaganda and marketing terms to wash away the truth for economic gain: the truth of animal sentience and suffering, the truth of environmental devastation, and to perpetuate a falsehood about what is healthy for the human being.
There is a landslide of scientific evidence demonstrating the dangers of animal products on human health. We’ve all lost loved ones to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, etc. The science is strongly indicating a causal relationship between animal based foods and these leading killers.
From the China Study, to the Broad Study, to Nutritionfacts.org, to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and countless meta-analyses — many medical professionals are advocating for strictly plant-based diets. Pick just about any disease, and the science shows that plant-based eating produces the best statistical results.
Whether or not it is healthy to eat only plants you may believe is not yet decided. But the environmental costs are proven factually, and you can see it with your very eyes. The cows go right up into the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. And the ethical inquiry into animal suffering is devastating. Don’t look away. Try watching “Earthlings,” or “Dominion,” or “Eating Our Way To Extinction,” and stop buying into the propaganda that is “Yellowstone.”
Cattle farming is not saving the world. Nor is hunting, although it rakes in comparable monies for the state as the ski industry. And industrial fishing has killed off 50% of sea life as well as decimating the coral reefs.
Additionally, the human toll in the slaughter industry is a humanitarian crisis with exceedingly high rates of PTSD — because it’s a bloody hell. These workers are mostly migrants who are essentially indentured servants.(See Upton Sinclair’s 1905 “The Jungle” — which is still so relevant today.)
Human rights and animal rights are inexorably connected. The mechanisms of the Holocaust perpetrated by Nazi Germany are still being used today, and I am not talking about prejudices of our politicians or the lies willfully pushed by some media. Gas chambers are now a primary way to kill pigs around the world — who are proven to be highly intelligent and emotional. Just recently, 18,000 cows burned alive in a fire at a Texas dairy farm. Listen to their screams.
75% of global pandemics are zoonotic. If we have any hope of preventing future pandemics, moving away from animal agriculture is essential. (See Dr. Greger’s 2012 lecture: “Pandemics: History and Prevention” — it was prophetic). Can we really just ignore the knowledge that COVID-19 came from humans manipulating animals for one purpose or another?
How many of us believe ourselves to be animal lovers, Earth defenders or conservationists, and caring of human health? Let us finally begin to live in harmony with our values.
I would like to offer a thanks to the Spring Cafe. But seriously, Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley — where is the vegan food? I’m eating at home.
Christopher Brod is a Snowmass resident.