It was a Saturday night as I sat on my comfy sofa, channel changer in hand, looking through Netflix at my choice of entertainment. I passed Cowspiracy as I had a number of times before and wondered if I was in the mood this time. I had heard some buzz about the film, and as a sucker for a good documentary, I decided to press “play.”
Holy freaking cow.
Here are a few things I learned about our world:
- The cattle industry produces more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector combined. It seems to me that while we are being told to change our driving habits, the agriculture business has free reign to keep doing whatever they want.
- 2,500 gallons of water is used to produce one pound of beef. Wait – isn’t there a huge shortage of water at the moment? That’s a lot of water.
- Raising animals for food uses 45% of the earth’s land, is responsible for 30% of the world’s water consumption, 90% of the Brazilian Amazon rain forest destruction, and is a leading cause of ocean dead zones, habitat destruction and species extinction. Whoa!
- 82% of the world’s starving children are living in countries where food is grown and fed to livestock that are then killed and eaten by people in more developed countries. In fact, we could feed every human today an adequate diet if we took the feed we are feeding to animals and turned it into food for humans. Okay, so this is really getting ridiculous now. We know the answer to solving world hunger and yet we continue to put big business interest first.
- This issue is being ignored by the very people who should be championing it. “Environmental organizations are not telling you the truth… (they) are failing us and they’re failing the ecosystems.” -former Greenpeace U.S. board member. Most government and environment groups are not addressing this due to fear of offending the agriculture industry, and possible cuts to funding.
I thought back to that one night in my 20’s, leaving a club very late and heading over to Mr. Pong’s for some chicken noodle soup. Later that morning I remember waking up and throwing up repeatedly for the next three days. I knew it had been the chicken because whenever I thought about that chicken noodle soup I vomited again. And so I had decided then and there that I would be a vegetarian… or rather a “pescatarian” as I decided I would still eat fish. The semi-vegetarian lifestyle lasted about a year, until one day I had a craving for Swiss Chalet chicken and there I was, back eating meat.
Fast-forward twenty years and here I am again, watching this documentary. Over the past little while my daughter and I have had a few conversations about “living our values” through food, and she even gave up meat for a period of time. We’ve talked about it, agreed that a plant-based food diet would be the most honest and best way of eating overall, but our behaviour has remained the same.
This time was going to be different. Cowspiracy has stuck with me.
I logged on to the Cowspiracy website and am now in the midst of the free 30-day Vegan Challenge. I’m using the 30 days to educate myself about veganism through the daily emails that arrive in my inbox. It’s been a week now and really the only animal product I am still consuming is cream in my coffee in the morning. But once the cream runs out… I won’t be replacing it. And I’m wondering about honey – is it considered an animal product? I have much to learn, but I am welcoming the challenge of eating vegan with excitement and the satisfaction that I am doing my part. I will do what I can do.
“Do what you can do, as well as you can do it, every day of your life and you will end up dying one of the happiest people.”
“It’s acting on what we know. We can do it. We must do it.”
-Howard Lyman, former cattle rancher