Sunday, April 26, 2009

Healthy Diet Healthy Planet

This is the title of my blog and the "raison d'etre" for writing it.  I want to show the connection of what we eat to what  affect it has on the planet.  More and more is being written about this every day, in light of the global warming crisis. The connection of animal based agriculture and environmental destruction is inextricably linked.

Back in 1987, John Robbins wrote his ground breaking and prophetic book "Diet for a New America"  At the time, he might have been the first to clearly show the connections between raising animals for food and the environmental toll it took.  The details and statistics showed back then were staggering, and they have only gotten worse.

Some examples from the late 80's when the book came out:

Natural Resources:

*It takes 15 pounds of grain (fed to a cow) to produce one pound of beef.

*It takes an average of 2500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef.

*Amount of corn grown in the US consumed by livestock...80%

*Amount of soy grown in the US consumed by livestock...90%

*Number of people who will die (that year) from malnutrition:20,000,000.

*Pounds of edible protein that can be grown on an acre of land:
Green Beans 10,000
Carrots 30,000
Potatoes 40,000
Celery 60,000
BEEF 250

*Amount of US cropland producing livestock feed: 64%
*Amount of US cropland producing fruits and vegetables:2%

*Amount of US topsoil lost from cropland, pasture, rangeland , and forest land directly associated with livestock raising: 85%

*Number of acres of US cropland which could be returned to forest land if the US adopted a meat free diet and ceased exporting livestock: 204,000,000 acres.

*User of more than half of all the water consumed of all purposes in the US: animal agriculture.

*Number of gallons (in California) to produce one pound of:

-tomatoes 23
-wheat 24
-apples 49
-milk 130
-chicken 815
-pork 1630
-beef 5214

*amount of excrement in US by livestock (way under today's figures):
230,000 pounds per second!

*Amount of total antibiotics used in US fed routinely to livestock: 55%

And on and on...

I was once at a lecture where I heard the following example:

2500-5000 gallons...amount of water used by a person on a meat
centered diet
1300 gallons ...amount of water used by a person on a vegetarian diet
300 gallons...amount of water used by a person on a VEGAN diet.

The differences are remarkable. Yet, all the average person can think about to be an "environmentalist"
is to use low flow shower heads and low flow toilets and fluorescent bulbs, drive a Prius, and a host of other energy saving ,
earth saving, tricks and gimmicks and feel good things. Few of us 
think about the incredible effects on the planet as a result of what 
we are eating.

It's been said that Animal Agriculture is the single most devastating 
environmental activity caused by humans.

As this blog progresses, I will be going back and forth from health and nutrition
to the environmental aspects of how our diet is destroying the planet.

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