Nature is Promoting Vegetarianism
We are all well aware of the dangers of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). From 1995 through August 2004, 147 cases of the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare and fatal human neurodegenerative condition strongly linked with exposure to the BSE agent, probably through food, and affecting mainly young people, were reported from UK alone.
Almost 200,000 cattle fell sick and nearly four and a half million were culled. Even though the pyres of burning animal corpses are now extinct; the problem of mad cows is by no means resolved. From a variety of countries, new cases are reported all the time, leading to import barriers yo-yo-ing up and down.
Just now, a somewhat sinister campaign in UK will certainly bring sleepless nights to those affected: On 27 February, the "Guardian" informed that "Five thousand people who have been told they may be infected with the human form of BSE may be asked to agree to post-mortem tests and to donate their bodies in the interests of the living." Quite a hefty bill for beef consumption...
With BSE being by no means out of the picture any time soon, it is the deadly avian influenza virus H5N1 now showing a stunned world public what it is made of.
New infections are exploding in the faces of those who thought they could outwit the disease by closing borders, by culling huge numbers of birds, or by vaccinating and/or momentarily locking up those animals destined for massacre at a later date.
Confronted with huge crashes in poultry sales, farmers panic about bleak trade prospects and tout the safety of their products. Perplexed politicians grab every media opportunity to be seen with drumsticks between their teeth. FAO noisily reassures that controls are "extremely effective" and bitterly complains that as "unfounded fears of disease transmission reduce consumption and imports, lower domestic prices are forecast to limit production growth."
Unfounded fears? Not too long ago, UN's David Nabarro, who is charged with co-ordinating responses to bird flu, has stated that a flu pandemic could happen at any time and kill between 5-150 million people. WHO spokesman on influenza, Dick Thompson, immediately jumped into reassurance-mode explaining that only between two million and 7.4 million (equalling in numbers the complete population of Bulgaria!) people could lose their lives because of bird flu. Oh well, that's alright then?
No, it isn't! We are all witnessing UN officials contradicting one another, a chorus of soothing voices imploring us to eat poultry (disregarding dangers and in the interest of national production growth?) and the grim fact that so far nothing has been able to stop the spread of bird flu. On the contrary, it has become abundantly clear that the situation has completely spun out of control and is exploding all around us, like intimidating fireworks exposing the fact that something about the production of meat has gone terribly wrong: Factory farming is just not affordable any more.
The situation has now become too dangerous for "business as usual". With H5N1 popping up in all corners of the world and consequently the threat of death dangling over the head of each inhabitant of the global village, dogged reassurances and standard meat-pushing strategies won't do any longer. It is time to admit that there is no such thing as a safe and free meat-lunch!
A good, honest and courageous look at meat and all the destruction it creates is overdue:
- Even the toned-down predictions of the UN admit that the very survival of millions is threatened because of bird flu.1
- Just to mention some of the many other health hazards:
- Some research shows that processed and red meats can increase the risk of bowel and some other cancers.
- There is widespread routine use of antimicrobials as growth promoters or preventive agents in food-producing animals and poultry flocks, contributing to the rise in resistant microbes, which can be transmitted from animals to man.2
- Each and every day, slaughter soaks our beautiful Blue Planet with the blood of many millions of animals.3
- Food is exported from poor countries and given to slaughter animals, leading to misery and hunger.4
- Factory farming creates ecological havoc by destroying forests for grazing animals that are polluting soils, rivers and oceans by never ending floods of manure.5
During the last years, WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction) have been omnipresent in the international media. But even these alleged stockpiles were not supposed to create the horror which is now, according to the most respected international organizations, raising its ugly skull: between "two million and 7.4 million" dead people.
After centuries of ruthless and brutal exploitation of animals and the environment, nature is now fighting back and forces us to look for sustainable and durable alternatives.
Would it, in these dangerous times, not be worthwhile to listen to Albert Einstein who proclaimed that evolution to a vegetarian diet would benefit human health and increase chances for survival?
This precious moment of truth, when looming disasters can still be stopped, is the perfect opportunity to adopt an age-old and healthy lifestyle full of compassion: Vegetarianism.
- - New Scientist: China is the home of bird flu
- GRAIN: The deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu is essentially a problem of industrial poultry practices. Its epicentre is the factory farms of China and Southeast Asia and - while wild birds can carry the disease, at least for short distances - its main vector is the highly self-regulated transnational poultry industry, which sends the products and waste of its farms around the world through a multitude of channels. www.grain.org/front/
- - Some research shows that processed and red meats can increase the risk of bowel and some other cancers. www.cancernz.org.nz
- Antimicrobial resistance
- FAO: Globally, slaughter of farmed animals for food increased to more than 50 BILLION individuals in 2003, not including any types of aquatic animals. The estimates, which are compiled and provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, are based on reports from more than 210 countries and territories. It is important to note that, while fairly comprehensive, these estimates may be significantly understated due to some countries or territories not reporting statistics and exclusions of some types of slaughter. www.upc-online.org/slaughter/92704stats.htm
- - FAO: Hunger and malnutrition are killing nearly six million children each year
A growing share of wheat is used for animal feed in the industrial countries-45 percent of total use in the EU
More than 99 percent of Argentina's soy is exported… to feed cattle….
- The majority of farm animals globally are fed on imported soya and cereals – globally between a third and a half of the world’s harvest is fed to animals. Yet much of the nutritional value of the feed is lost in its "conversion" to meat. It takes 10 kilos of feed to produce 1 kilo of beef, 5 kilos for a kilo of pork.In a world of increasing water scarcity, we know that it takes 100,000 litres of water to produce a kilo of beef, yet only 900 litres to produce a kilo of wheat.
Eat less meat – It's costing the earth/Feeding the world
- - FAO: Industrial livestock production near cities often damages the environment
- Farm animals produce 13 billion tonnes of waste every year. Liquid effluent from factory farms often pollutes soils and rivers, gaseous wastes like methane and carbon dioxide contribute to global warming
- Bavarian village is recovering after being flooded with liquid pig manure
by Herma Caelen