Raw? Vegan? Vegetarian? Lacto-Ovo? Pescatarian? Mediterranean? There have been so many diets promoted in natural health circles in America over the last decades. It seems they all have various benefits. And the one thing most have in common is the avoidance of consuming of cows and pigs.
Red meat and pork have no known health benefits. The animals are treated brutally and killed in a gruesome bloodbath that is easy to ignore because so few have witnessed our fellow mammals’ slaughter. Those who are employed to do the dirty work get very low wages and often incur injuries because of the size and weight of the animals and the speed of the work. It is very difficult to watch. Even when Cargill, one of the largest meat processing companies in the nation, allowed Oprah Winfrey into a couple of sanitized areas of a processing plant, they did not allow her cameras to film a cow being killed. Out of sight means out of mind.
We are very fortunate that there are so many other things to eat! This meat can feel energizing because of all the adrenaline in the animal when it is killed, and there is iron in blood and flesh, but there is also iron in spinach, dried fruit, and lentils. There is a tradition of the hunt and the roast, and this holds a special allure and place in our hearts. However, when you realize that is far from how the animals get to our plates nowadays, the romanticized vision vanishes.
One hamburger can contain up to 100 different cows. The US kills 35 million cows a year, and 13,200 pigs an hour. That is a lot of bloodshed, death, and killing. What would our country be like if that stopped? Our cardiovascular health would improve, as would our regularity. Less suffering for the animals coincides with less suffering for humanity.
If you would like to see what really goes on behind the closed doors of the slaughterhouse, it is a great motivator for change, although very sad to watch:
These videos have a louder volume, so you may wish to mute (this also makes them more bearable to watch):
This was filmed at Agriprocessors which was the largest (Glatt) Kosher meat producer in the United States, and the only one authorized by Israel’s Orthodox Rabbinate to export beef to Israel, before it was shut down in 2008 by inspectors (best to mute):
Thank you for being willing to read this, and watching some of the videos. I know it is very difficult to consider this topic because for so long we have been removed from the reality of it and since we were children we were taught to eat a certain way. Make sure to be gentle with yourself and go slowly when making changes in eating habits. Perhaps begin with a “meatless Monday.”
This film describes the positive environmental impacts that forgoing meat just one day a week can make:
For a well done documentary about one man’s journey with this issue, watch this clip:
Another inspiring story with regards to getting back to a plant-based diet is that of Dave the trucker. He was dying when he decided he had to tackle this problem head on:
Even the Mayo Clinic recommends “meatless meals”:
Recent articles in the LA Times and the Huffington Post lend weight to this conclusion:
Because of all the droughts we have been having in the US, the cattle are starving, and the herds are shrinking:
Cows are very gentle creatures. There is no skill or chase in hunting them. They are docile pacifists who give their milk and eat grass. They hurt no one, and do not deserve this torture. Pigs frolic and forage, are as sociable and intelligent as dogs, and genetically are surprisingly similar to humans (more so than any other domesticated animal):
The slaughter house is like hell on earth. It is time for the madness to end. It does not have to be this way. Humans have freedom of choice, and when we know better, we do better. And when we learn, we care.
These items can function in place of meats in traditional American recipes when needed, they’re pretty tasty, and the most popular ones are available at supermarkets:
I had a great experience when I asked my supermarket to carry a natural product they did not already have, and they now stock it in the store – thank you Vons!
If you are taking medications or have had surgery, please consult your doctor before making any changes in your diet and only undertake such changes under her/his supervision and monitoring. This is because dietary changes can lessen the need for certain medications. Also, listen to your body – if you need red meat, eat it. If you can avoid it when possible, and still feel good, please do. This article is for informational purposes only, and is not to be construed as medical advice.
Are there any conservation efforts focused on animal species endemic to islands likely to be submerged by rising sea levels? — H. Wyeth, Anahola, HI
Islands are indeed likely to be the areas hardest hit by our warming climate. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of leading climate scientists from around the world convened by the United Nations to assess the ongoing risk of global warming, predicts a global average sea level rise of between 3.5 and 34.6 inches over the next century. And the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), a coalition of 42 small island and low-lying coastal countries that have banded together to lobby United Nations policymakers, reports that warming-induced sea level rises could threaten the very existence of some island nations including the Maldives, Kiribati and parts of the Bahamas.
Those low-lying nations that do manage to hang onto some land will contend with not only continuously rising seas and stronger more frequent storms, but also declines in the productivity of their agriculture and fisheries. Salt water intrusion will limit the amount of freshwater available for crops and in some cases undermine the integrity of the soil itself. And as coral reefs die off, the abundant marine life that once congregated around them will disappear.
As for wildlife, its unclear just how much certain endemic species will be affected by rising sea levels and other environmental hazards exacerbated by global warming. Clearly the biggest threat is habitat loss: Land forms that once sustained certain animals may no longer be above water or otherwise suitable for some species. Those fortunate enough to be on big continents may be able to move away from shore to neighboring areas that can provide the resources needed for survival. But animals on islands may be hard pressed to find places better to go to where they can keep on keeping on.
The IPCC lists a few examples among thousands of endemic island dwellers facing likely extinction unless we can get a handle on greenhouse gas emissions in short order: the Tuamotu sandpiper of Tuamotu Island, the Bristle-thighed Curlew of French Polynesia, the Manus fantail of Papua New Guinea, the lorikeet and rail of New Caledonia, the moorhen and Savaii of Samoa, the Santo Mountain starling on Espiritu Santo, penguins in the Galapagos, petrels in Bermuda and seabird colonies from the Kerguelen, Crozet and outer Hawaiian islands, among others. The IPCC adds that endemic flora may fare even worse, which will in turn drive more animal extinctions.
What can be done to stem this rising tide of endemic species loss? According to the IPCC, the establishment of terrestrial, marine or coastal reserves has been found to be a “useful management option.” Results from existing model reserves on islands across the Caribbean (including Dominica, Bonaire, the Grenadines and St. Lucia) have shown promise. Groups including Conservation International, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Nature Conservancy and others, are working to create more such reserves in other biodiversity hotspots, including many non-threatened islands around the globe.
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Tourism Western Australia and responsibletravel.com are creating an insider’s guide to Western Australia (WA), including the best sustainable tours and places to stay and travel secrets from locals. They are also searching for the best travel tips and photos from anyone who has traveled in Western Australia to be part of this online guide.
In an attempt to reduce the suffering endured by animals used for tourist entertainment, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) has launched a new website, CompassionateTravel.org, which educates travelers on ways to make their trips animal-friendly.
“Many people may be aware that thousands of bulls are killed and maimed each year during bullfights, but most do not realize that donkeys, horses and elephants are sometimes forced to carry tourists for hours without food or water or that performing animals are often trained using cruel techniques,” says Dena Jones, WSPA’s U.S. programs director.
Is it true that military sonar exercises actually kill marine wildlife? – John Slocum, Newport, RI
Unfortunately for many whales, dolphins and other marine life, the use of underwater sonar (short for sound navigation and ranging) can lead to injury and even death. Sonar systems-first developed by the U.S. Navy to detect enemy submarines-generate slow-rolling sound waves topping out at around 235 decibels; the worlds loudest rock bands top out at only 130. These sound waves can travel for hundreds of miles under water, and can retain an intensity of 140 decibels as far as 300 miles from their source.
These rolling walls of noise are no doubt too much for some marine wildlife. While little is known about any direct physiological effects of sonar waves on marine species, evidence shows that whales will swim hundreds of miles, rapidly change their depth (sometime leading to bleeding from the eyes and ears), and even beach themselves to get away from the sounds of sonar.
In January 2005, 34 whales of three different species became stranded and died along North Carolinas Outer Banks during nearby offshore Navy sonar training. Other sad examples around the coast of the U.S. and elsewhere abound, notably in recent years with more sonar testing going on than ever before. According to the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which has campaigned vigorously to ban use of the technology in waters rich in marine wildlife, recent cases of whale strandings likely represent a small fraction of sonars toll, given that severely injured animals rarely make it to shore.
In 2003, NRDC spearheaded a successful lawsuit against the Navy to restrict the use of low-frequency sonar off the coast of California. Two years later a coalition of green groups led by NRDC and including the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the League for Coastal Protection, Cetacean Society International, and Ocean Futures Society upped the ante, asking the federal courts to also restrict testing of more intense, harmful and far ranging mid-frequency types of sonar off Southern Californias coastline.
In filing their brief, the groups cited Navy documents which estimated that such testing would kill some 170,000 marine mammals and cause permanent injury to more than 500 whales, not to mention temporary deafness for at least 8,000 others. Coalition lawyers argued that the Navys testing was in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act.
Two lower courts upheld NRDCs claims, but the Supreme Court ruled that the Navy should be allowed to continue the use of some mid-frequency sonar testing for the sake of national security.
“The decision places marine mammals at greater risk of serious and needless harm,” says NRDCs Joel Reynolds.
Environmental groups are still fighting the battle against the sonar, lobbying the government to curtail testing, at least during peacetime, or to at least ramp up testing gradually to give marine wildlife a better chance to flee affected areas. “The U.S. Navy could use a number of proven methods to avoid harming whales when testing mid-frequency sonar,” reports IFAWs Fred O’Regan. “Protecting whales and preserving national security are not mutually exclusive.”
From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine
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Each week on The Green Dove, EarthTalk features questions submitted by readers on a wide range of environmental topics – from recycling to rainforests; and from the global village to your backyard.
The Audubon Society will honor six extraordinary women for their efforts in environmental conservation with the prestigious Rachel Carson Award at the sixth annual Women in Conservation Luncheon tomorrow (May 19).
They include: Dr. Sylvia Earle (National Geographic), Sally Jewell (CEO, Recreational Equipment), Elizabeth Putnam (President/Founder of Student Conservation Association) and Elizabeth Colleton, Jane Evans and Susan Haspel (all NBC Universals “Green is Universal” initiative).