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.