Like everything else in life, eating is a matter of consciously making wise choices. It is something everyone must do to keep the body healthy and alive, which is the practical purpose for eating.
Unfortunately for many, the purpose eating has become centered around satisfying the tastes the tongue has become addicted to. Allowing the tongue's addiction for the taste of flesh and blood, refined grains, sugar, salt, etc., to dictate what nourishment for body gets, has resulted in what a U.S. Senate report called ". . . a wave of malnutrition" sweeping the country. This is a fact most Americans are aware of. In 1978, a Harris survey showed that only 14% of those polled thought Americans ate a proper diet. That figure has not changed much since then.
A natural starting point is to choose not to continue as blind food faddists eating newly developed non-foods that are chemically flavored and preserved, or that contain empty calorie, refined flour and sugar products, or that are loaded with saturated fat, cholesterol, MSG and their euphemisms, and aspartame or Splenda.
Most of these foods have become popular in a relatively short period of time. Instead, choose the kinds of healthful, wholesome foods our ancestors thrived on, like whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and fresh produce, which a major portion of the planet still thrives on. Such apparently small, insignificant choices as these benefit not only each individual, but all of society as well.
Though the concern for making new food choices may begin as a limiting, self-centered interest for personal health and well-being, it easily leads to an expanding consciousness and regard for others and the world around us when we understand that thoughtfully choosing the foods we eat actually renders decisions filled with moral and political ramifications about our use of the Earth's precious resources.
For example, we know that the excessive meat consumption in the United States has been scientifically linked to the increase in heart disease and colon cancer. In addition to that, it has been scientifically and medically established that protein obtained from plant foods is not inferior to the protein obtained from flesh foods, but rather it is a superior choice of protein because it is cholesterol and saturated fat free.
While recognizing the fact that consumption of meat cannot be justified on a nutritional basis, we must not neglect the fact that in America, 14 to 20 pounds of nutritious legumes and whole grains are fed to livestock to obtain 1 pound of meat in return.
This process of turning plant protein, in whole grains and legumes, to animal protein results in a 90% protein loss. If all the grain currently fed to livestock in the United States were consumed directly by people, the number of people who could be fed would be nearly 800 million.
With this information available, the consumption of flesh products is proving to be unhealthy, unnecessary, and in a world where millions suffer from starvation or malnutrition every year, totally unjustifiable. In addition, most of the feed given to the animals is genetically modified, which passes to the consumer, and results in a myriad of diseases the cause of which people cannot understand.
Unfortunately, the revaluation of the purpose of food and its fair distribution probably will not come from the people who are presently making "unhealthy" profits on taste addictions. They justify their non-food scamming as simply supplying the demand, even though this demand was created by their multimillion-dollar advertising campaigns.
This sort of reasoning places the responsibility squarely on the people who have the most to gain from being supplied with more healthful products -- you and me!
The fact is, in the marketplace of supply and demand, as long as the product is bought, that guarantees it will continue to be manufactured and marketed. But this also means that we have a choice -- to say yes or no.
We can say no by refraining from buying non-nutritious, non-quality "plastic" fad foods, and say yes to buying wholesome, natural foods. In this sense, every time you buy or do not buy a product, you are registering to vote in the marketplace of supply and demand.
It may seem to you that this may have about as much effect on the world's hunger situation as your voting for the President has on the world situation; but the fact is, individuals making such apparently insignificant choices do make a difference when there are enough of them. Consider the health food aisles that have appeared in supermarkets all over the country within the last few years.
It would be totally naïve and misleading for me to say or even imply that your cutting out the meat and junk food consumption from your diet will solve the world's hunger problem and create a utopia on earth, because it won't. The philosophy, politics and economics that affect world's food distribution are far more complicated than that.
The medical evidence is clear, consistent and overwhelming. Vegetarians and vegans are far less likely to get cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or osteoporosis, and are far less likely to be overweight, have lots more stamina, consume far less pesticides in their food, and have superior immune systems.
The largest epidemiological study ever conducted - the China-Oxford-Cornell study found that those eating the amount of animal foods typical for Americans have 17 times the death rate from heart disease, and, for women, five times the rate of breast cancer, than those who get 5% or less of their protein from animal foods.
Meat contains 14 times the amount of pesticides as plant foods, since pesticides get concentrated as they move up to the food chain, and since they're more easily stored in fatty tissues. In 1980, six years after the pesticide dieldrin was banned, the USDA destroyed 2 million packages of frozen turkey products contaminated with dieldrin. What's worse is that such contamination can routinely occur without detection.
In 1974, the Fraud and Drug Administration found dieldrin in 85% of all dairy products and in 99.5% of the American people.
The Environmental Pollution Agency discovered that the breast milk of vegetarian women contained far fewer levels of pesticides than that of average Americans.
A study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine found that "The highest levels of contamination in the breast milk of vegetarian women were lower than the lowest level of contamination in non-vegetarian women. The mean vegetarian levels were only 1 to 2% as high as the average levels in the US".
Nobody wants animals to suffer, but it's easy to forget that when we eat them. And this is what we support. The easiest action a person can take to reduce animal suffering is to simply stop eating them.
Over 9 billion animals are killed for food every year in the US alone - a number greater than the entire human population of the planet.
What's worse, modern agricultural methods mean that animals are raised in cramped confinement operations instead of the pastures that we have seen in our childhood picture books. This is a practice known as factory farming.
Chickens killed for their flesh in the United States are bred and drugged to grow so quickly that their hearts, lungs, and limbs often cannot keep up.
Hen's used for eggs live 6 or 7 to a battery cage the size of a file drawer, thousands of chickens are stacked tier upon tier in huge, filthy warehouses.
Cattle are castrated, their horns are ripped out of their heads, and third degree burns from branding are inflicted upon them, all without pain relief.
Cows used for their milk or drugged and bred to produce unnatural amounts of milk, to have their babies stolen from them shortly after birth and sent to notoriously cruel veal farms so that humans can drink the calves' milk.
Mother pigs on factory farms are confined to crates so small that they are unable to turn around or even lie down comfortably.
Fish on aqua farms spend their entire lives in cramped, filthy enclosures, and many suffer from parasitic infections, diseases, and debilitating injuries. Conditions on some farms are so horrendous that's 40% of the fish may die before farmers can kill and package them for food.
Turkeys' beaks & toes are burned off with a hot blade. Many suffer heart failure or debilitating leg pain, often becoming crippled under the weight of their genetically manipulated and drugged bodies.
For some, vegetarianism and veganism are easy ways to refuse to participate in this cruelty!
Eating vegetarian saves more land, energy, and water then any other choice you can make. That's because livestock eat several times more grain then they produce as meat. So, raising livestock uses:
several times as much land to grow the grain to feed them
several times as much energy to harvest the grain and transport it
several times as much water to grow the grain and to water the animals
several times as much pesticides, etc.
Worldwide petroleum reserves would be exhausted in 11 years if the rest of the world ate like the US. The least energy-efficient plant food is 10 times as efficient as the most efficient meat food. A nationwide switch to a vegan diet would allow us to cut our oil imports by 60% or more.
Over half the water used in the US is used to grow feed for livestock. It takes 100 times as much water to produce meat than to produce wheat. The water required to produce a days diet for a typical American is 5000 gallons. It's 1200 gallons for vegetarians and 300 gallons for vegans. Compared to a vegan diet, three days of the typical American diet requires as much water as you use to shower all year assuming you shower everyday.
US livestock produces 250,000 pounds of waste per second - 20 times as much as humans. A large feedlot produces as much waste as a large city, but without a sewage system. Animal waste washes into rivers and lakes causes increased nitrates, phosphates, ammonia, and bacteria, and decreases the oxygen content. This kills plant and animal life. The meat industry accounts for three times as much harmful organic waste as the rest of the industries in the US combined.
It takes 10 times as much land to produce food for an average American compared to a vegan. An acre of land can produce 20,000 pounds of potatoes, but only 165 pounds of meat. In the US, 260 million acres of forest have been destroyed for use as agricultural land to support the meat diet. That's over 1 acre per person. Since 1967, the rate of deforestation has been one acre every 5 seconds. For every acre cleared for urban development, 7 acres are cleared to graze animals or grow the feed for them.
About 85% of topsoil loss is directly associated with raising livestock. The US Department of Assholes says that crop productivity is down 70% as a result up topsoil loss, and it takes nature 500 years to build an inch of topsoil. Vegan diets make less than 5% of the demands on the soil as meat-based diets.
Making the change in the way we live our personal lives can be the beginning of a real commitment to work on another level to help solve the world hunger problem, beyond just spouting slogans or intellectually nodding our approval while living as hypocrites whose real lives contradict real solutions.
Is change easy? For some yes, for some no. But we all have to look at the big picture to see what is of the utmost importance. If the dictates of your tongue and your senses are more important and the health of the planet, you will be content to stay the way you are. If your consciousness is such that you care about the world you live in but you might want to consider these things to help it stay the way it is until Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, and Syngenta start opening Soylent Green factories.
Besides making wise choices about the basic activity of eating, we can also make choices in so many other little ways in our daily lives: growing more of our own food simply by growing sprouts, hanging clothes on the line instead of using the dryer, walking places when driving isn't necessary, recycling what we can, refraining from buying things we don't need, etc. Such choices will not only make our lives happier and healthier, but will ensure the health and well being of future generations as well.
In this new year of 2017 where we have made endless resolutions like we do every year, but don’t follow, why not make one now that has far more reaching value, quality and meaning than any other? Eat wisely!