Monday, December 22, 2008

swimming in your ocean

There's no end to the sheer idiocy of the factory farm system.
After an article back in April about how C02 intensive the meat rich diet is, Discovery News now has one about the nitrogen runoff from Factory Farms destroying oxygen levels in the Gulf of Mexico.


Now new research shows how the leftover fertilizer is contributing to an oxygen-starved dead zone where the Mississippi River drains into the Gulf of Mexico. Last summer, the zone was nearly the size of Massachusetts.

Gidon Eshel of Bard College at Simon's Rock in Massachusetts and Pamela Martin of the University of Chicago calculate that if Americans kicked their meat habit, it would prevent seven million tons of nitrogen from spilling into the gulf -- a reduction of nearly 90 percent.

"When we did the calculations, it was astonishing," Eshel said. "The main reason is we're feeding so much corn to livestock. It takes 4.5 times more cropland to do that than if you feed people a plant diet, and corn is so nitrogen-intensive."

Cutting down on nitrogen run-off is a big deal, because if it continues unchecked it could threaten shrimp and fishing industries in the gulf, said William Battaglin of the United States Geological Survey.

"Conditions have not been catastrophic to fisheries yet," he said. "The concern is that if this keeps up, you could turn the whole place into the Black Sea, with everything dead."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Fight the power (with lentils!)

Anybody watched all of Earthlings?

EARTHLINGS is a feature length documentary about humanity's absolute dependence on animals (for pets, food, clothing, entertainment, and scientific research) but also illustrates our complete disrespect for these so-called "non-human providers." The film is narrated by Academy Award nominee Joaquin Phoenix (GLADIATOR) and features music by the critically acclaimed platinum artist Moby .

I watched the trailer and the 7 minute opening sequence, and I apologize to Joaquin, but it seems misguided to me. With the disturbing "disaster is looming" music in the background, the broad jump all the way into Peter Singer derived "speciesism" (which is a lot to confront someone with right off the bat), the references to rapists and child molesters and images of Hitler and the KKK, the focus seems to be on the perverted nature of humanity, rather than the life-affirming qualities of vegetarianism, which I think is a much more compelling way to reach people. However, everyone who commented on this You Tube video would say I'm wrong.

I prefer more playful stuff Vegetarian diet could help bail out the Big Three.

Detroit automakers - and all American manufacturers - are spending a fortune on health care because the workforce is so out of shape. Two-thirds of American adults are now overweight or obese. And as the Big Three employees get bigger, so do their health-care bills. Unfortunately, if current trends continue unchecked, almost 90 percent of American adults will be overweight or obese by 2030, according to a recent study in the journal Obesity. As a nurse practitioner specializing in the care of people with diabetes, I know that Americans' expanding waistlines bring unprecedented epidemics of diabetes and other chronic diseases.

The point being that the veggie diet, with all its various health benefits (among these, consistently well-proven diabetes prevention) would make workers much healther and cut down on all these health-care costs that employers have to pay.

Can you imagine walking up to a picket line and telling UAW workers "you can save your jobs if you go vegetarian?"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Veggie-ism taking some potshots

It's been a bit of a bad week in the veggie world. Despite what I - and lots of people - thought, Clint Eastwood is not actually a vegan or vegetarian. A NY Times reporter was interviewing him, and brought up the supposedly well-known "Clint as Vegan" topic - In 1986 he bought [the restaurant, which has] a piano bar, heart-stopping views of the ocean spray on Point Lobos and plenty of meat on the menu. Despite what you might have read on Wikipedia, Mr. Eastwood is not a vegan, and he looked slightly aghast when told exactly what a vegan is. “I never look at the Internet for just that reason,” he said.

And today there's a brief story about Paul McCartney and the Dalai Lama on the news websites. Turns out the Dalai Lama is NOT a vegetarian (who'd a thunk it!) and McCartney once tried, unsuccessfully, to convert him.

AND THEN, an actress named Bijou Phillips is interviewed in the LA Times and quite happily talks about veganism being crap and returning to "real" food again:
So you feel all right?
I feel good! I'm sick and I've been sick four times since I've been vegan and I hadn't been sick for five years before that. I need to eat food because this isn't working. Every vegan I know gets sick all the time.

AND FINALLY Canada's national newsmagazine, Macleans, has a lengthy story titled Will Soy Make My Son Gay. I looked into soy a while back and as far as I could see, it was fine for you. This article doesn't come down on either side of the argument, but OF COURSE they had to title it as provocatively as they do. Reminds me of this story from a while back... Rise of the Vegan Fairyboys. This writer got really hammered in the Global Vegan group on Facebook.

The only beneficial story I've seen the last few days comes (surprisingly!) from The Economist magazine's The World in 2009 special issue. In a piece called A Water Warning the President of Nestle mentions how resource intensive the meat-rich diet is compared to a veggie diet:
Diets are another variable. Europeans and Americans have for years had high proportions of meat in their diets, but now this trend is catching on in emerging markets as incomes rise. Meat requires ten times the water withdrawn per calorie by plants. So the average daily diet in California requires some 6,000 litres of water in agriculture, compared with 3,000 litres in countries such as Tunisia and Egypt.
If you've never read about the water issue before, try these:

As a Canadian, a shortage of water is the furthest thing from your mind, but this is really a massive problem.