The Moral Arguments For Embracing a Vegetarian/Vegan Diet

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The Moral Arguments For Embracing a Vegetarian/Vegan Diet

From Christian Vegetarian Association UK
2009 Winter Newsletter

Anyone who needs scriptural guidance to decide that destroying the ecosystem is wrong is a moral idiot.
- Walter Wink

As environmental science has advanced, it has become apparent that the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future (World Watch Institute 2004).

Climate Change

A UN report states: The world’s fragile and dynamic equilibrium’ is being altered and we can only guess at the outcome but it will not be beneficial. Livestock and industrial fishing carry a large share of the blame and constitute the second largest source of greenhouse gases. (UN Food and Agriculture Organisation Report “Livestocks Long Shadow 2006)

In a paper published in 2009 by a respected US think tank, the Worldwatch Institute, two World Bank environmental advisers claim that instead of 18 per cent of global emissions being caused by meat, the true figure is 51 per cent.

Their call to move to meat substitutes accords with the views of the chairman of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, who has described eating less meat as "the most attractive opportunity" for making immediate changes to climate change.

Lord Stern of Brentford, author of the 2006 review into the economic consequences of global warming, added his name to the call last week, telling a newspaper interviewer: "Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world's resources."

CO2 produced annually by a meat eater is 1,588kg and by a Vegan322kg

Deforestation & Biodiversity

The loss of forests and the loss of bio diversity are almost one and the same thing as forests contain 60 per cent of the world’s extraordinarily rich selection of flora and fauna. They also play a vital role in climate regulation and are an important sink for carbon. Livestock is the major cause of deforestation, the Land is required to grow feed for livestock and grazing cattle.

Land required by a meat eater is 0.195ha and by a Vegan 0.065ha

Fresh Water Stress

Fresh water is in short supply! Only 2.5 per cent of all water on the planet is fresh and 70 per cent of this is locked up in glaciers and permanent snow. What was once a slow process, summer melt and winter renewal fed rivers and aquifers the world over. But now with global warming, glaciers are disappearing at an unprecedented and accelerating rate and valuable fresh water is simply running into the sea.

Water required by a meat eater is 535,000 litres and by a Vegan 140,000 litres

Destruction of the Oceans

The addiction to animal protein that is wreaking havoc on earth is matched by the devastation being caused to the oceans by over fishing, yet another source of animal protein. As on land, the situation is exacerbated by large-scale pollution.

Fishing is one of the most monitored, researched and studied of activities carried out by humans and yet this ‘management’ has been futile and ineffective in safeguarding the oceans and its creatures. Humankind’s mismanagement of the seven seas is a lesson in stupidity, greed and disregard for the natural world.

Meat Eaters (Sea Food) are totally responsible

Fish Farming

One of the supposed solutions to overfishing is aquaculture, the farming of fish, but sadly it is part of the problem and not part of the cure. For every tonne of farmed salmon produced, three to four tonnes of ‘industrial’ fish are caught. In just 15 years, stocks of South American pilchard crashed by 99 per cent, in order to feed farmed fish (Ryan, 2003).

Meat Eaters (Sea Food) are totally responsible

Desertification - Soil Degradation

The world’s topsoil is its lifeblood and without it almost nothing will grow. It is essential for life and yet it is under such constant attack. It is retreating, disappear- ing or degrading almost everywhere animals are farmed. The onslaught comes from two sources – direct grazing by animals and denaturing due to the excessive use of pesticides and fertilisers used in an attempt to artificially boost productivity of fodder crops.

Livestock raising takes up more than 67% of all agricultural land

Pollution - Antibiotics

There is a growing awareness of antibiotic resistant bacteria and superbugs in the public at large but if media reports are anything to go by, most believe the problem stems from the overprescribing of antibiotics by doctors. In simple terms, antibiotics have been massively overused by farmers in intensive farms to make the animals grow quickly and ‘efficiently’ and to attempt to stop the rapid spread of disease in conditions that bacteria are able to spread like wildfire. This overuse has led to bacteria becoming resistant to the drugs so that when the same drugs are used to treat humans, they no longer work. The issuing of reports has continued and so has the ignoring of them, such is the power of the livestock lobby. The production of meat is endangering the lives of us all.

Pollution - Chemicals

There are a huge number of pollutants resulting not just from rearing and feeding animals but from processing them, too. Livestock excreta contains a considerable amount of nitrogen , phosphorous, potassium, drug residues, heavy metals and pathogens (disease causing bacteria) and these pose serious threats to the environ- ment. Manure poses other threats and is present in great quantity. Partly enclosed seas such as the Baltic Sea, Black Sea and Mediterranean have been hit hard by eutrophication and a dead zone has developed in the Gulf of Mexico off the mouth of the Mississippi River (Roach, 2005). In fact, 150 of these dead zones have been identified – and there may well be more - some the size of small countries. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) believes they will soon damage fishstocks even more than overfishing (UNEP, 2006).

Meat Eaters (Sea Food) are totally responsible

Pollution - Pesticides

Without intensive agriculture and the lavish application of both fertilisers and pesticides, including fungicides and herbicides, crop yields would be insufficient to provide the volume of fodder required. Ironically, this very process of dousing the land with chemicals is destroying its fertility and contributing to land degeneration, effectively reducing the amount of land available. It is a self-defeating policy that appears to concern few in government or agriculture.

Pesticides can impact on the health of all animals and plants and can cause cancers, tumours and lesions, disrupt the immune and endocrine systems, affect reproduc- tion and result in birth defects.

It is the enormous demand for fodder which spurs most pesticide use

Every corner of animal agriculture is cut to supply cheap meat and it is all so unnecessary. We do not need meat to sustain us, millions of vegetarians/vegans throughout the world can testify to that fact. So why do we insist on eating meat when we know how much damage it is doing to our health and to the health of our planet. Like smokers, are meat eaters also unable to conceive the consequences of their actions. As a so called intelligent species we have the knowledge but appear to completely lack the wisdom to apply it, and that could be our Achilles heel.

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