(This post is part of Fight Back Fridays hosted by Food Renegade)
I eat meat. There, I said it. I love beef, chicken and pork, sooo tasty. Converting my diet to vegetarian or even vegan never really appealed to me from an ethical standpoint. Unfortunately (another overshare coming up here!) my stomach is extremely sensitive and I have to be very careful with my nutrition and health. On top of that I'm ridiculously picky so my diet has been (although gradually expanding) very narrow and limited. Cutting animal products completely out of my diet just isn't a safe or healthy option for myself.
However, that being said, our meat industry has completely deteriorated into an abomination of any process which is natural. As I'm sure many here have read, Michael Pollan's "Omnivore's Delimma" (if you haven't it's a must!) colourfully illustrates how "urban-like" our farming industry has become. In a short span of 60 years our agricultural practices have transformed into something more synthetic and contrived. We are being increasingly separated from our food, until the connection to the original product is completely lost as in an "Ahh Caramel" (mmmmm).
I truly realized just how disconnected I had become from the food I eat when I was washing some organic romaine lettuce in our apartment in BC. I was SO disgusted when I found earthworms hanging out in the bottom part- It's Organic!! Why the worms? It should be PURE!!! I had this weird idea that organic equaled pure and untouched... and had totally forgotten that my produce grows in dirt. Where worms live. In harmony with other insects and plants since they aren't sprayed with the chemical soup of pesticides. Worms are normal. I just have to pick them out and put them in the compost. Which is what I did. I didn't tell Andrew about the worms (he's a little squirmier than I am).
The synthesis of meat into something "other" is also our new reality. As we know the beef that we eat goes through an incredible transformation before reaching our plates and being ingested and processed by our bodies. The Genetically modified (GM) and pesticide coated corn and soy concoction to which growth hormones, cattle product (yep- they are fed portions of themselves!) and antiobiotics are added is our cattle's only food. These cattle are forced to eat this skunky mix that their stomach's were never designed to digest. As a result, many become ill forcing the industry to pump them full of more antibiotics. Which are transferred along to our human systems to be held into our lipid (fat) cells or to be forever stored by our liver; slowly accumulating with each meal.
If that wasn't enough to make me reduce the meat in my diet, the environmental detriments of eating meat certainly made me think twice.
1. Meat production requires 10 to 20 times more energy per edible ton than grain production... and the cattle EAT the grain. So we can consider them to go together.
2. 1/5th of the planet's land surface is used for grazing animals- double that which is used for growing crops.
3. An area of rainforest larger than New York state is estimated to be destroyed every year for grazing.
4. Average land area needed to feed an omnivorous North American: 1.4 hectares. Land needed to feed a vegetarian: 0.2 hectares.
5. Canadian cattle numbers have tripled, chickens have quadrupled and pigs have increased by 70% since the 1960's.
6. All these livestock create enough manure to fill Toronto's Roger's Centre TWICE a week which create toxic VOC's such as ammonia, hydrogen sulphide and the greenhouse gas: methane. Any leak or accident can (and did) cause water, soil and plant contamination.
7. Growth hormones given to cattle have been documented in Canadian rivers and lakes.
8. Huge amounts of water and energy is used to clean, slaughter, process and refrigerate chicken and cattle meat.
9. Gassy cattle account for 18% of the world's greenhouse gases. More than cars, trains and planes!
10. For every kilo of beef produced, 100 000 litres of water is used.
Wow... all of a sudden eating meat is no longer just about ethical or even health concerns. Eating meat also puts you into the category of contributing to our planet's environmental crisis. And that, (whatever this might say about myself!) was the biggest factor in our cutting down on meat and switching to organically grown beef and chicken.
Part of my intention for my yoga practice has been to cultivate a healthy body, mind and spirituality. Honouring my body's physical needs by providing it with healthy, safe foods that also benefit our planet just makes sense. The next step- figuring out my "eco" dosha diet...
Blessings and Happy Fight Back Friday!