How we choose to eat doesn’t just affect our jean size or our personal health. It has a profound effect on the planet. It’s a living example of how interconnected each of us are with the whole- we cannot separate our individual decisions from what affects everyone else.
I recently saw a documentary called Cowspiracy that I HIGHLY recommend you to rent off Netflix and watch with your whole family. We all have to become conscious of what is really going on right here, right now… in frighteningly real-time.
The film is about how animal agriculture is the most destructive industry for the environment. By far. Among the shocking revelations you will discover, is that producing one hamburger takes 660 gallons of water*. I live in LA now, where with the drought we are urged to use less outdoor water and take shorter showers. But eating ONE hamburger uses the same amount of water (due to the crops to feed the animal, the whole process, etc.) as showering for TWO months. Whoa.
What else is crazy is that animal agriculture, in the way of clearing land for cattle grazing, is responsible for 91% of the destruction of the rainforest. A shocking one acre of rainforest is destroyed every second to clear the way for more grazing cattle.
Grass-fed beef is said to be better. But is it? It may be grown in non-factory conditions, but the fact is that it causes acres of land, habitats and hundreds of animal species to be destroyed every day by our growing population and the growing demands for animal protein for consumption, which as you know if you are a Beauty Detox reader, is in no way necessary for nutrition.
After I saw the film, I got my copy of The Beauty Detox Solution down from the shelf, because I remember writing the below passage back in 2011 (on page 92). I remember researching for the book, and being shocked at the enormous negative impact animal agriculture has on our planet, but more so by the fact that no one is talking about it (and sadly not the environmental organizations like Greenpeace or The Sierra Club!- at least when this film was being shot):
Meat—Not Beautiful for the Planet
A 2006 report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) cited livestock production as “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.”“[i]
Among many of its shocking findings and summaries, the FAO reports that livestock production accounts for 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than all the world’s cars & SUVs combined! 2.4 billion tons of livestock-induced CO2 emissions are a result of the deforestation of over 7.4 million acres of trees cut for pastures and feedcrop land each year.
The livestock sector is the leading contributor to water pollution by nitrogen and phosphorous in the United States, and also pollutes large amount of pesticides and antibiotics into the water. 1/3 of fossil fuel consumption in the United States goes to animal agriculture.
In reality the greenest choice we can make is to look at the environmental impact of what we are putting on our plate to eat, 3 times a day, every day.
This infographic (below) updates the statistic to be livestock and byproducts as 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions, as compared to 13% of all transport, including road, rail, air and marine. We hear about the scariness of global warming all the time. So if animal agriculture is the biggest problem contributing to this, then why aren’t we talking about it more?!
The appalling statistics go on and on (see infographic below). Every minute 7 pounds of animal excrement are created by animals used for food in the US, which causes serious toxicity problems and creates “dead zones” in the oceans and rivers. Millions of dolphins, sharks and turtles are killed in a blood bath of the fishing nets of the ¾ of fish that are already over-exploited across the world…making that sushi or “clean” fish you eat at dinner not so clean.
The stark fact here is that it doesn’t matter what we individually believe nutritionally. These are facts about how the food choices we make affect the environment, all the species including the birds, bears, dolphins, monkeys… the rainforest, the oceans, our forests….the very world we live in.
The ONLY real answer here is for all of us to eat less meat (or to give up meat altogether, as I personally have for over a decade). Everyone is of course entitled to their own nutritional opinion. But the fact from an environmental standpoint is that eating large amounts of meat is not sustainable for the planet. We are imploding.
Diets like Paleo, Atkins and other high protein/low carb types of diets which encourage large, daily animal protein consumption are not healthy or in any way sustainable for our planet. And as the Ayurvedic proverb, “as is the micro, so is the macro”, strongly promotes, what is good for you has to be good for the whole. Every serious, top Ayurvedic doctor I have personally ever met has not condemned meat for those who want to eat it…but they do not personally eat it themselves.
I believe that we are part of the greater whole. And for a diet to be truly healthy for you, it would also be good for the planet, just as Beauty Detox is, which encourages a mostly (or all) whole food, plant-based diet.
It’s not as hard as you might think to reduce meat. We have tons of recipes to support you! Check them out. Just try having 3 meat-free dinners a week (veggie burgers, lentils, nuts/seeds, soup, etc) and build from there.
The more you love yourself and eat in the healthiest, most loving way for your body, which is really what eating mostly or all plant-based is about, you will give love to the planet and we will live in a more loving, peaceful and better place.
In love and health,
PS: Check out this infographic, below. You might want to sit down first!
[i] H. Steinfeld et al., Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options, Livestock, Environment and Development (2006).