If you haven’t had the pleasure of getting your mind ripped wide open by the movie Cowspiracy, I will tell you it is a highly intelligent and insightful documentary that, in my opinion, deserves all the attention it is getting. Whether you are a vegan, environmentalist, humanist, or omnivore, this film will expand your perception of what is really going on behind the scenes of the modern meat industry in its many facets. At least it did for me.
One of my favorite lines from Cowspiracy (and I am paraphrasing) is, “you cannot call yourself an environmentalist and eat meat”. Now, I don’t say this to bully anyone into turning vegan or vegetarian. I mention this because every single person on this planet deserves to be educated about what is on their plate. Not only the torture, chemicals, and hormone injections that go into that meal, but the environmental impact that meat farming is having on the earth.
The meat industry wants to create more meat eaters
As I have heard many omnivorous friends, family members, and even strangers say, “It is so much harder to eat something that you know has a face and feelings.” I’ll be bold enough to say that the meat industry has, for the most part, created a “pseudo meat” that tastes delicious, but almost doesn’t resemble meat anymore. The product has been shaped, colored, and flavored in a way that wipes our minds of exactly where it came from – which is just completely unfair to meat eating consumers. This is a distraction tactic and often just a straight up lie that ends up on millions of Americans plates.
These products have been labeled in a way to distract from the fact that so many ingredients that go into the making of animal products do not have to be printed on the packaging. Of course these products are delicious, they are meant to be this way to create addicts and keep them buying. In my mind, I think meat consumers should be outraged at the fact that the meat industry has tied a blindfold around their eyes for so long.
Know what eating meat is doing to the planet
In addition, we all have the right to know the destructive impact meat farming is having on the world, which truly embodies the heart of this movie. The amount of undeniable evidence proving that the meat industry is killing the earth and the feeling that we seemingly can’t do anything about it is appalling. The meat industry uses ⅓ of the earth’s freshwater supply. Think about that for a second. Let’s recall all the places that go through droughts every single year right here in the US and all the countries that don’t even have access to fresh water, ever.
These problems could be 100% resolved by dismantling the meat farming industry. If we take that statistic a little deeper we can point out another fact that shocked me even more. 1 hamburger, just one 1 pound of meat, uses 660 gallons of water – the equivalent of showering for 2 months straight. By not eating that one hamburger think of the impact one person has on the entire world.
Gas and methane emissions are also undoubtedly causing damage to the atmosphere and the world’s air quality. Idling in a car for just 1 minute uses just as much gas as driving a half mile. Because of this fact many fleet run businesses are rethinking their fuel economy strategies. It has been widely known for some time that many means of transportation are destroying the ozone. However, livestock are actually responsible for 51% of all global greenhouse gas emissions as opposed to just 13% coming from cars, trucks, boats, airplanes, and railroads combined.
Overcoming the “I’m just one person” stigma
I know I am personally guilty of getting into a habit of thinking, “There’s not much I can do to better the world”. When each one of us seems so small in a sea of billions of people on the earth, how can we possibly make a difference? We are actually so lucky to live in a time that actively encourages environmentalism in all age groups. Classes are even offered at colleges around the US in order to enlighten students about the serious need for environmentalism. Of course, things like showering for less time, using appropriate heating and cooling, and recycling does save energy, water, and valuable resources which is fantastic. It is also incredibly inspiring to think that such a tiny task, such as making a small change in diet, can literally change the world.
If the farming industry considered a switch to a meatless growing operation we would see a drastic improvement in the sheer amount of food being produced. In terms of acres of land, 1.5 acres only produces about 375 pounds of beef as opposed to 37,000 pounds of vegetables. Needless to say, these types of statistics are staggering. However, at the same time wonderfully encouraging. Think of it this way: if the world was given the opportunity to do so much with such a small amount of land could we not possibly begin to end world hunger as well?
Meat eaters are not the problem
I’ve heard it said that this documentary is a wonderful calling to revitalize vegans who may have lost their way, which is true. I believe it is also correct to say that this movie is not shaming meat eaters at all, but doing its best to uncover those who have forced a product onto our plates that is unnecessary. Meat eaters are not the problem. The companies that skew media in their favor to promote false data stating that we need meat or animal products in our diets to survive is deplorable. An overwhelming amount of medical data says otherwise. And to go a step further we can say that we certainly don’t need overly salty, sugary, and fattening foods loaded with animal products to be shoved down our throats in advertisements everywhere, that have been proven to be extremely addictive.
I believe that change starts with education. I recently came across an article containing 8 beautifully inspirational TED Talks. One of which is titled How to Start a Movement. This video perfectly describes how important it is to spread knowledge to one another. Keeping our mouths shut is not always easy, but we will never incite change if we don’t speak up. If we can begin to change the types of foods we are asking for, then positive change and encouragement will follow. Imagine a world where delicious, fresh, and healthy foods were plugged on the radio and TV. Think about knowing whether or not pesticides, chemicals, genetically modified materials, or hormones were used in the production of our food. I am a strong advocate of knowledge and I feel that shaming those who are following the information that is massively provided is not the problem. It is imperative that films, such as Cowspiracy, be widely shared. Once we begin to positively enforce dietary change through tutelage and guidance, misconceptions about meat eating and the meat farming industry will surely be erased.
[About the author: Trisha is a freelance writer from Boise, ID. She is a dedicated vegan and promotes an all around healthy lifestyle. You can check out her block thatdangvegan.com and find her on Twitter @thatdangvegan.]