The other day hearing an energetic and surprisingly healthy looking ex-president Bill Clinton; talking in an interview on TV, I was surprised to hear that he had turned vegan, or a vegetarian who does not eat any meats or dairy products. Then I saw another interview of ex-heavyweight champion Mike Tyson explain how his love for his new wife; took him from a 360 pound overweight coke addicted low life, to rebuild his life and go vegan and drop 150 pounds and become surprisingly healthy again and drug free. These two were the poster children of the meat producing industry in their heyday; sneaking off to enjoy juicy steaks and live a life of meat eating high protein diet, and become superb specimens of manhood in their prime. Later the same life styles seemed to have led to obesity and health problems; that they had to battle, with a new paradigm. With the bloat gone now they were looking surprisingly trim and healthy; and seemed to be living a charmed life for their age, that we should all aspire to.
This caused me to do some research and I came across the following: “According to the editors of World Watch, July/August 2004: “The human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future — deforestation, topsoil erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities and the spread of disease.” Another research pointed out “Thirty-three percent of our nation’s raw materials and fossil fuels go into livestock destined for slaughter. In a vegan economy, only two percent of our resources will go to the production of food.” It also looks like tax payer’s subsidies are coming out of our pockets for McDonald and other burger chains to provide their low cost meals to us, “Half the water consumed in the U.S. irrigates land growing feed and fodder for livestock. It takes 25 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat, but 2,500 gallons to produce a pound of meat. If these costs weren’t subsidized by the American taxpayers, the cheapest hamburger meat would be $35 per pound!”
Having always admired Bill for his intelligence; and not necessarily his lifestyle, I now feel that he is on to a good thing. As the increasing pressure of populations strain our earth for more resources; we will have to rethink our consumption patterns of food and calories, to sustain life. With the diversion of water hungry crops like sugar cane in Brazil; and corn in the US, to making ethanol and providing for energy, there will be even more pressure on food production. We can already see the rising prices of grains and scarcities for the poorest of the poor; as they struggle unaided in a situation, that can be easily avoided. Millions already go hungry in the under developed and developing nations, due to political\economic considerations today. Large corporations own huge tracts of land and divert the resources for maximum economic gain, and not for the largest good. While giant hoards of food grains remain undistributed; there is a great price we pay, in malnourished women and children across the globe. Reduction of the costs of war for just one week for example, can feed the whole planet’s poor for a year as per one UN study.
We finally have the means of production; where we can provide a healthy and nutritious diet, to every single person on this planet. The savings in health care costs and increased productivity alone, would more than offset anything we spend on these efforts. The political\economy needs to change; and each of us has our own moral responsibility, to ensure we support these efforts. Making our own lifestyle changes can go a long way in making this possible. I am not suggesting that the meats and potatoes crowd give up their diet but just saying that even a slight change could lead to far healthier outcomes. Carrying extra weight and having high cholesterol and clogged arteries is a choice we can make to live with or move away from. A sensible diet and a slightly more active life style can do wonders for our health. So next time you enjoy that juicy steak or bite into that yummy hamburger be aware of what the true costs to our environments are from this diet. We do not have to give up something we love, but as always anything in moderation is good.
Sustainability should be our prime objective if we want to leave a green and healthy eco system for our next generations. Organic farming and better use of water and other resources; could eliminate a lot of the cancer causing and sickening chemicals, our children consume every day. Also we need to conserve the bio diversity of our planet and return the earth back to its natural state, for nature to do its course. Evolution and natural selection have been perfected over eons; and man must get out of the way, else we risk being eliminated by nature’s wrath with our waste and excessive consumption. We are only a blip in the time space continuum; and some of us have an overly grandiose sense, of our own importance. If we want to leave a mark on history and the progress of man; it is extremely important that we relook at our choices, and take corrective action. After all we are what we eat; and our bodies should be treated with respect. I advise us to treat it as a temple; and offer up to it the best and cleanest choices, that we can find. A little care will make us healthier and happier and more content; and able to be more compassionate, to all our fellow creatures on this journey with us. A return to a more natural lifestyle will only be to our own benefit; and provide us energy and resources to do greater good, for all who are on this journey with us.