Good News for Mother Earth,
The Animals, and All of Us
By Judy Carman
Speech given at the Twelve Hour Marathon Quaker ReadOut for the Earth: April 5, 2008
If you’re looking for an easy way to have a huge impact on saving the earth, I have good news. The single most important and far reaching thing anyone can do is to eat a plant based diet. Stop eating meat, dairy, and eggs, and we stop our part of the environmental devastation caused by those industries. Going veg is more effective in healing the earth than driving a hybrid car.
100 billion animals are killed for food in the world every year. 100 billion. About 50 billion of those individuals live in water; most of the other 50 billion individuals suffer in confined animal feeding operations. It doesn’t take much imagination to understand the environmental destruction caused by the confining, feeding, transporting, and killing of 100 billion individual beings each year. The UN 2006 report states “The livestock sector emerges as one of the two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems of every scale from local to global…dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution and loss of biodiversity.”
One third of the aquatic animals caught are thrown away as trash. Most are used in animal feed, including feed for animals who are vegetarian. For every pound of shrimp, 19 pounds of sea animals are discarded after suffocating in nets. Coastal fish farms release massive amounts of feces, antibiotics, parasites, and non-native fish into sensitive marine ecosystems.
In the US alone, animal farms generate 2.7 trillion pounds of manure each year.and have polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and have contaminated ground water in at least 17 states. This contamination is compounded by deadly chemicals and antibiotics contained in this runoff. This runoff is the number one pollutant of U.S. rivers. One large pig factory alone can produce more sewage than NY city, and the sewage is untreated and toxic.
A meat based diet requires 10 to 20 times as much land as a plant based diet.
One pound of meat requires 2,500 gallons of water to produce compared to a pound of wheat which only requires 25 gallons. Raising animals to kill for food uses half of all the water used in the U.S. A vegetarian diet requires only 300 gallons of water per day while a meat eater’s diet uses more than 4,000.
Every day 24,000 people die from hunger. U.S. consumers alone could free up enough grain and legumes to save these lives if we stopped using animals for food. One acre of land can produce either 165 pounds of cow meat or 20,000 pounds of potatoes.
125,000 square miles of rainforest are destroyed every year just to raise cattle. This is devastating to indigenous people, wildlife and the climate of the planet.
Obviously, this endless war against animals on land and sea is hurting more than the animals. All of the greed, neglect, cruelty, and disrespect perpetrated against them is reflected back to all of us. Not only is the earth physically polluted by animal agriculture; the energy field or spiritual atmosphere of our earth is heavily polluted by the suffering of billions of individuals who simply want to live and be free.
We all love the earth, we care about animals, we don’t want people to starve so we can eat meat,. The good news is that by switching to a plant based diet, one vegan potentially saves the lives of 20 people per year from starvation; saves the lives of approximately 100 animals per year; uses much less land and water in order to be fed; and reduces pollution, environmental devastation, habitat loss, and misery by that one simple, radical act of kindness.
Judy Carman, M.A. is an activist for animal rights, peace and justice, and environmental protection. She is the author of Born to Be Blessed: Seven Keys to Joyful Living, and her new book Peace to All Beings won the Spirituality and Health award as one of the best spiritual books of 2003. She is co-founder of Animal Outreach of Kansas and of the Universal Prayer Circle for Animals.
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