Presentation by Philip Wollen at St. James Ethics Centre, Sydney, Australia, May 2012: "Should Animals Be Off the Menu? A Full Debate on the Ethics of Eating Meat"
Six-person debate available online at Free From Harm:
Visit Philip Wollen's website, Kindness Trust.
Below is the text of Philip Wollen's Blazing Animal Rights Speech:
King Lear, late at night on the cliffs asks the blind Earl of Gloucester, “How do you see the world?”
And the blind man Gloucester replies “I see it feelingly”.
And shouldn’t we all?
Animals must be off the menu because tonight they are screaming in terror in the slaughterhouses, in crates, and in cages. Vile ignoble gulags of despair.
You see, I heard the screams of my dying father as his body was ravaged by the cancer that killed him. And I realised I'd heard those screams before.
In slaughterhouse, their eyes stabbed out and their tendons slashed, on the cattle ships to the Middle East and the dying mother whale as a harpoon explodes in her brain as she calls out to her calf.
Their cries were the cries of my father.
I discovered that when we suffer, we suffer as equals.
And in their capacity to suffer, a dog is a pig is a bear is a boy.
Meat today is the new asbestos – more murderous than tobacco.
CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide from the livestock industry are killing our oceans with acidic, hypoxic dead zones.
90% of small fish are ground up into pellets to feed to livestock.
Vegetarian cows today are now the world’s largest ocean predators.
The oceans are dying in our time. By 2048 all our fisheries will be dead. The lungs and the arteries of the earth.
Billions of bouncy little chicks are ground up alive simply because they are male.
Only 100 billion people have ever lived. Seven billion people live today. And yet we torture and kill two billion sentient living beings every week.
10,000 entire species are wiped out every year because of the actions of one.
And we are now facing the 6th mass extinction in cosmological history.
If any other organism did this, a biologist would call him a virus.
It is a crime against humanity of unimaginable proportions.
But happily the world is changing.
Ten years ago twitter was a bird sound. www was a stuck keyboard, cloud was in the sky, 4G was a parking place, google was a baby's burp, skype was a typo and Al Kida was my plumber.
Victor Hugo said “there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come”.
Well, animal rights today is now THE greatest social justice issue since the abolition of slavery.
Do you know there are over 600 million vegetarians in this world?
And that is bigger than the United States, England, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Canada, Australia, New Zealand all put together! If we were one nation we would be bigger than the 27 nations in the European Union! Can you believe that?
And despite this massive demographic footprint, we are still drowned out by the raucous huntin’, shootin’, killin’ cartels who believe that violence is the answer - when it should not even be a question.
Meat kills animals, kill us and is killing our economies.
Medicare has already bankrupted the United States. They will need $8 trillion invested in treasury bills just to pay the interest. And they have precisely zero!
They could shut down every school, army, navy, air force, homeland security, marine, CIA and FBI and they still will not have the money to pay their doctor pills.
And our Cornell and Harvard say that the optimum amount of meat in a healthy human diet is precisely ZERO.
Water as you know is the new oil. Nations will soon be going to war for it.
Underground aquifers that took millions of years to fill are now running dry.
It takes 50,000 litres of precious drinking water to make one kilo of beef.
Today one billion people are hungry. 20 million people will die from malnutrition. Cutting meat by only 10% will feed 100 million people. And eliminating meat will end starvation forever.
If everyone ate a western diet, we would need two planet earths to feed us. We've only got one and she is dying.
Greenhouse gas emissions from livestock is 50% greater than transport as Peter said, cars, trains, busses, ships, lorries, the whole lot.
As I travel around the world, I see poor countries who sell their grain to the west while their own children starve in their arms. And the west feeds it to livestock so we can eat a steak? Am I the only one who sees this as a crime? Believe me, every morsel of meat we eat is slapping the tear-stained face of a hungry child. When I look into her eyes, do I remain silent?
The earth can produce enough food for everyone’s need but not enough for everyone’s greed.
We are facing the perfect storm.
If any nation had developed weapons that could wreak such havoc on the planet, we would launch a pre-emptive military strike and bomb it back into the Bronze Age.
But it's not a rogue state. It's an industry.
The good news is we don’t have to bomb it. We can just stop buying it.
So George Bush was wrong. The Axis of Evil does not run through Iraq, or Iran or North Korea. It runs through our dining tables. Weapons of mass destruction are our knives and forks.
Our proposition is the Swiss army knife of the future – it solves our environmental, water, human health problems and ends cruelty forever.
The Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones. This cruel disgusting industry will end because we run out of excuses.
Meat is like the one- and two-cent coins. It costs more to make than it's worth.
And I come from the bush. Farmers are the ones with the most to gain. Farming won’t end. It would boom. Only the product line will change. Farmers would make so much money they won't even bother counting it and I'd be the first to applaud them.
Governments will love us. New industries would emerge and flourish. Health insurance premiums would plummet. Hospital waiting lists would disappear.
Hell, we’d be so healthy, we’d have to shoot someone just to start a cemetery!
So tonight I have two challenges for the opposition...two challenges:
1. Meat causes a wide range of cancers and heart disease. Would they name one disease caused by a vegetarian diet?
2. I am funding the Earthlings trilogy. If the opposition is so sure of their ground, I challenge them to send a copy of the Earthlings DVD to all their colleagues and all their customers. Go on I DARE YOU.
Animals are not just other species. They are other nations. And we murder them at our peril.
The peace map is drawn on a menu. Peace is not just the absence of war. It is the presence of justice.
Justice must be blind to race, colour, religion or species. If she's not blind, she will be a weapon of terror. And tonight there is unimaginable terror in those ghastly Guantanamos we call factory farms or slaughterhouses.
Believe me, if slaughterhouses had glass walls, we wouldn't be having this debate tonight.
You see, I believe another world is possible.
And on a quiet night, I can hear her breathing.
Let’s get animals off the menu and out of these torture chambers.
Please vote tonight for those who have no voice.