Helen of Marlowe's Blog

Planet Care

Posted in Ecology, global warming, Planet Care by helenofmarlowe on January 24, 2009

Mike Tidwells’s article in the January-February edition of Audubon magazine brings to our attention a serious problem that gets far too little media coverage: the environmental damage caused by a meat-centered diet. For the sake of our children, our grandchildren, of children the world over and of all the world’s living species, moderation of American meat-eating extravagance is needed.

The scientists have told us, but few of us have heard: If you are a beef-eater, switching to a vegetarian diet will do more good for the environment than changing your SUV to a hybrid car.  And raising pigs for human consumption causes water pollution, soil erosion, and wasterful water and land use.

In addition to compassion for animals and concern for human health, the preservation of our natural environment requires serious modification of our eating habits. We are destroying trees that remove air pollution and lower air temperature, and turning our rainforests into grazing pasture for cattle.

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  1. alvason said, on January 25, 2009 at 11:12 am

    Good point, which I had not heard expressed before. How would you persuade a dyed-in-the wool meat eater like me to change? Could I eat fish?


  2. helenofmarlowe said, on January 29, 2009 at 3:08 am

    Adam, there are (at least) two considerations: animal cruelty and planet destruction.

    I know you would never, deliberately and thoughtfully, take part in inflicting needless pain and terror upon an animal simply for pleasure.
    And yet that’s what it is, to support the meat industry. Since a vegetarian diet is actually healthier for humans, for the planet, and needless to say for the would-be victim, meat-eating is done only for pleasure — not for necessity.

    And there is the next generation to consider, not just the next generation of humans, but of all life on the planet. Our grandchildren will be coming of age in a different world, a world much damaged, and we have to choose whether to care for their future as we cared for them when they were children, or whether we will participate in destroying the ecosystem of our planet.

    Will we stand up and refuse to take part in the senseless, needless destruction of animal habitat, destruction of rain forest, water and air pollution? Species are being exterminated. There are only 700 mountain gorillas left in the world.There are fewer than 2000 giant pandas left in the wild. Because of habitat destruction. It may be too late to save the Galapagos penguins from extinction.

    Can we eat fish? That one is tricky. That depends on your feelings about several things.
    In my own personal value system, eating fish is much less of an ethical problem.   My own reasons include
    1)  Factory-farmed animals are treated with unspeakable cruelty, never having an opportunity to live any sort of natural life, often confined from birth until death in an area so small they cannot move around at all, cannot get outside to experience the natural world, cannot even
    ever see daylight.  Fish, at least, are not tortured in this way.  Fish are allowed to live the life of a fish until they are captured, caught, killed. So there is less pain, less cruelty, involved. Not zero, but less.
    2) Habitat/ecological destruction is less. Not zero, but less. We are over-fishing some species, and harming some endangered species as a by-product of fishing. We’re damaging coral reefs and catching dolphins in tuna nets. There is much more to the subject than I can write here.
    My son, for example, questions our occasional eating of fish.  His conscience is made of stronger stuff than mine.
    So I will say that the purist conscience eats a plant-based diet. A conscience that is not the purest purist can still take honor in learning, caring, trying.

  3. alvason said, on January 29, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Well put Helen, all good points with which I cannot argue.

    I once caught a salmon with my hands, ’twas trying to get upstream in a Scottish river that was lower than usual, jumped in and chased it until I caught it, flipped it on to the bank. Then I looked at it and could not bring myself to do anything but put it back where it came from.

    But will I continue to eat meat? I may see if I can wean myself off it. Then blame you if it all goes wrong ha ha.

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