Sunday, February 11, 2007

Eat Beans, Not Beings.

Up until very recently I didn’t think that eating meat on a regular basis was such a bad thing. I always thought meat was something I needed in my diet in order to be healthy and energized. However as I strive to lead a simpler life, one with a smaller impact on the environment, I have made the change to actively reduce my meat consumption.

There are many reasons why people decided to remove meat from completely their diet and become a vegetarian or a vegan. For some it can be for religious or health purposes. I know people that just don’t like the taste of meat. For others, it’s the fact that animals are factory raised in inhumane conditions so farmers can meet the needs of our hungry meat eating appetites. I can personally vouch for the amazingly high level of disregard we have for animals under these conditions. I spent one summer working for Canada’s largest hatchery in New Hamburg, Ontario. In one week the hatchery would pump out one million steroid filled chicks, most of them only living for three or four weeks before they were slaughtered for your yummy enjoyment at KFC or Swiss Chalet. I did a quick Google search and found a video produced by Peta called Meet Your Meat. In the video they show chickens that are unable to stand as they grow four times faster than Mother Nature intended and their little legs can’t keep up with the rest of their monster bodies. I got about half way through before I decided not to vomit and shut it off due to the graphic nature of the cruel images on the film. I couldn’t stop picturing my dog Lilo in the place of all those pigs dangling from their hind legs with their throats sliced open. If you have the tummy strength and want to see it for yourself, head on over to

But for me, I decided to cut down on eating meat for the environmental reasons. Before I get into those, I would like to explain why I am not labelling myself as a vegetarian. After 22 years of eating meat, I am simply having a hard time not eating it. So, I am going with the dietary title of being a “passive meat eater”. I don’t know if it’s an official term, but to me it means I will eat meat that is given/fed to me. Or meat that would otherwise be thrown out, I consider that to be bad karma. I will also eat organic or free range meat, but not very often at all. But overall I strive to eat lower on the food chain and the majority of my meals throughout the week are indeed vegetarian.

So, why did I choose to become a passive meat eater? Firstly, after researching ways to reduce my water consumption, I realised that the most effective way is to stop eating meat. According to the folks at, “a totally vegetarian diet requires 300 gallons of water per day, while a meat-eating diet requires more than 4,000 gallons of water per day.” Secondly, the amount of pollution created from factory farming makes me just as angry as seeing Hummers in Waterloo. If you think one cow’s fart stinks, imagine how bad a whole industrial sized barn must smell. Besides the terrible odour, the methane released is a major contributing factor of global warming. The US Environmental Protection Agency states that animal agriculture is the single largest cause of methane emissions in the U.S. and that methane is more than 20 times as effective as carbon dioxide is at trapping heat in the atmosphere. While we’re on this shitty subject, the Natural Resource Defence Council put out a report in 2001 stating that the heavy metals added to animal feed leaches from manure lagoons and runs off the fields and contaminates the soil with arsenic, copper and zinc (just to name a few). This causes major damage to surrounding groundwater, lakes and rivers and poisons wildlife. Thirdly, according to SIWI, the Stockholm International Water Institute, there are about 840 million people in the world who are underfed. If it takes 16 pounds of grain to produce just one pound of beef, doesn’t it seem like we can reduce this massive global starvation problem if we stop eating meat? The answer is yes.

There is so much information on the internet relating meat consumption to global hunger, pollution, and wasted resources. If this short little article didn’t convince you to cut down or stop eating meat, I encourage you to do some research yourself. And just a final quick rant about the men who think they have to eat meat in order to be macho. Believe me, by going vegetarian you won’t get vaginitis and turn into one giant pussy. Instead, you will be taking one of the biggest steps possible towards reducing your personal contribution to global warming.

Monday, January 08, 2007

2007 New Year’s Resolutions Everyone Will Benefit From

The World Meteorological Organization announced initial assessments indicate 2006 was the sixth warmest year on record since the American Civil War. 2005 was the warmest. With no snow and spring-like temperatures this “winter”, there’s not much to stop 2007 from reigning warmest year ever. In fact, a couple of weeks ago scientists discovered that the Ayles Ice Shelf — 66 square kilometers of it — broke clear 16 months ago from the coast of Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic. A chunk of the Canadian landscape comparable to the size of Switzerland literally broke off and is now a floating mass of melting ice. The remaining ice shelves in Canada’s Arctic are 90 percent smaller than they were in 1906. There’s no more debate, human activities, activities supported and carried out by you and I are causing climate change.

Is it possible for 2007 to be any different? Of course it would be wonderful if big business and big government decided to actually tackle climate change. And it would be simply splendid if all the money and effort currently being pumped into the War on Terror were redirected into creating sustainability for generations to come. Unfortunately we cannot wait for the big boys to begin to change. To see a change we the people will have to first create a change within our communities and ourselves. I propose everyone adopt the following new year’s resolutions.

Reduce consumption. The US Department of Energy's Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center reports that on average a Canadian citizen produces 17.8 tons of carbon dioxide per year, whereas a person born in India produces around 0.3 tons per year. To reduce consumption and achieve ecological sustainability, we must achieve dematerialization and substitution. By dematerializing we reduce material flows. You can do this by purchasing less products that end up being thrown away - products such as petroleum based trinkets made in China. Substitution means changing the types of energy and resources used by society, such as replacing coal with wind energy. You can support substitution by switching to green energy providers such as Bull Frog Power.

Become a vegetarian. Meat eating is something none of us can afford. According to the Montreal based non-profit organization, the Global Action Network, livestock production requires up to a 1000 times more land, energy, and water than is necessary to produce an equivalent amount of plant food. Furthermore, fish harvesting causes about as much environmental havoc on the CO2 pollution scale as meat production. To understand this relationship, a vegetarian has the impact of driving a hybrid car for a year, while a meat eater is comparable to an oversized SUV.

Stop Flying and travel smaller distances sustainably. Getting on an airplane each year to travel south for the winter should be left to the birds. Flying is a crime against nature. Try the energy calculator at On one return flight from Toronto to Orlando you individually dump 1.094 tons of CO2 into the air. If you must travel take a train, better yet ride a bicycle. According to Environment Canada transportation accounts for 25 percent of Greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, followed by fossil fuel production and distribution.

Be part of the change. Talk some sense into your friends, neighbours and family members and political representatives. You wouldn’t keep you mouth shut if your friend was smoking and blowing all of the smoke right in your face, so don’t keep your mouth shut when your friend buys products are a result of fossil fuel production. You may find it easier to talk to your political representatives – write letters, stop in for visits, march in the streets and most importantly hold them accountable by voting for someone else – perhaps yourself - if and when they don’t listen to you.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Watch "An Inconvenient Truth" online tonight!

Hey, I found a site that is currently hosting the movie An Inconvienent Truth. If you haven't seen it yet, now's your chance.

Also, sorry about not being able to blog as much as I would have liked to over the holidays. It was a very busy time for me. Working to save money for travelling while going to school is tough. But I promise there is more posts coming very soon!