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Should Hindus Be Vegan?
Case Study: The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)

Part 8
Easier Journey: A Vegan Economy is Easier to Implement Than Space Colonization

In his novelization of the screenplay to the 1968 movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke depicted space colonization, beginning with a lunar colony, not as the next war zone, but rather as the path to peace:

“Here on the moon were the same arts and hardware of underground living, and of protection against a hostile environment; but here they had been turned to the purposes of peace. After ten thousand years, man had found something as exciting as war.

“Unfortunately, not all nations had yet realized that fact...

“…there would still be scope for those who loved freedom, for the tough pioneers, the restless adventurers. But their tools would not be ax and gun and canoe and wagon; they would be nuclear power plant and plasma drive and hydroponic farm.

“The time was fast approaching when earth, like ...all mothers, must say farewell to her children…”.

****

Leonardo Da Vinci was a vegan five centuries before People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Leonardo Da Vinci was designing flying machines in the fifteenth century.

Given the rapid rate of progression in flight and aerospace technology, beginning with the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk in 1903, through jet travel and the start of the space race in the middle of the 20th century, observers say we should have established colonies on the moon and Mars by now.

Why hasn't it happened?

Maybe there's some truth behind Srila Prabhupada's skepticism about the lunar landings.

In 1976, devotees in Washington, DC similarly showed Srila Prabhupada news photos of the surface of the planet Mars taken by the unmanned Viking space probe. The news article described how the Martian landscape was similar to the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

Srila Prabhupada laughed, and told a Bengali story:

A man was in his room sleeping, when he suddenly heard a noise. Starting up in bed, he called out, "Who is there?"

"Oh!" came a voice in reply. "I am not stealing!"

Srila Prabhupada said, "This is the psychology. No one asked if he was stealing, but because that was his business, he revealed himself without being asked. Similarly, no one has asked the scientists to compare Mars with Arizona, but they have done so because actually that is where their business is. They have never been near Mars with their spaceship; their real business is in Arizona.

With a world population now at seven billion, colonizing space is not a realistic solution to the pressures of overpopulation and armed conflict over dwindling resources on earth. Nor will it directly address the threat of global warming; global hunger; nor the energy, environmental, population and water crises.

A vegan economy would be easier to implement.

Newt Gingrich could learn a thing or two from Dennis Kucinich!

The threat of “overpopulation” is frequently used to justify abortion as birth control, but on a vegan diet, the world could easily support a population several times its present size. The world’s cattle alone consume enough to feed over 8.7 billion humans.

The following points and facts are excerpted from Please Don’t Eat the Animals (2007) by the mother-daughter writing team of Jennifer Horsman and Jaime Flowers:

One study puts animal waste in the United States to between 2.4 trillion to 3.9 trillion pounds per year. The United states produces 15,000 pounds of manure per person. This is 130 times the amount of waste produced by the entire human population of the United States.

Factory farm pollution is the primary source of damage to coastal waters in North and South America, Europe, and Asia. Scientists report that over sixty percent of the coastal waters in the United States are moderately to severely degraded from factory farm nutrient pollution. This pollution creates oxygen-depleted dead zones, which are huge areas of ocean devoid of aquatic life.

Meat production causes deforestation, which then contributes to global warming. Trees convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, and the destruction of forests around the globe to make room for grazing cattle furthers the greenhouse effect.

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations reports that the annual rate of tropical deforestation has increased from nine million hectares in 1980 to 16.8 million hectares in 1990, and unfortunately, this destruction has accelerated since then. By 1994, a staggering 200 million hectares of rainforest had been destroyed in South America just for cattle.

Agricultural meat production generates air pollution. As manure decomposes, it releases over four hundred volatile organic compounds, many of which are extremely harmful to human health. Nitrogen, a major by-product of animal wastes, changes to ammonia as it escapes into the air, and this is a major source of acid rain. Worldwide, livestock produce over thirty million tons of ammonia. Hydrogen sulfide, another chemical released from animal waste, can cause irreversible neurological damage, even at low levels.

Livestock production affects a startling 70 to 85 percent of the land area of the United States, United Kingdom, and the European Union. That figure includes the public and private rangeland used for grazing, as well as the land used to produce the crops that feed the animals.

By comparison, urbanization only affects three percent of the United States land area, slightly larger for the European Union and the United Kingdom. Meat production consumes the world’s land resources.

Half of all fresh water worldwide is used for thirsty livestock. Producing eight ounces of beef requires an unimaginable 25,000 liters of water, or the water necessary for one pound of steak equals the water consumption of the average household for a year.

The Worldwatch Institute estimates one pound of steak from a steer raised in a feedlot costs: five pounds of grain, a whopping 2,500 gallons of water, the energy equivalent of a gallon of gasoline, andaabout 34 pounds of topsoil.

Thirty-three percent of our nation’s raw materials and fossil fuels go into livestock destined for slaughter. In a vegan economy, only two percent of our resources will go to the production of food.

“It seems disingenuous for the intellectual elite of the first world to dwell on the subject of too many babies being born in the second-and third-world nations while virtually ignoring the overpopulation of cattle and the realities of a food chain that robs the poor of sustenance to feed the rich a steady diet of grain-fed meat.”.

–Jeremy Rifkin, pro-life AND pro-animal author, Beyond Beef: The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture, and president of the Greenhouse Crisis Foundation.

“Carl Pope could probably affect the world more by being a vegetarian than through his job as president of the Sierra Club,” quipped Jennifer Horsman in Please Don't Eat the Animals, the 2007 book she co-authored with her daughter Jaime Flowers.

The number of animals killed for food in the United States is nearly 75 times larger than the number of animals killed in laboratories, 30 times larger than the number killed by hunters and trappers, and 500 times larger than the number of animals killed in animal pounds.

“If anyone wants to save the planet,” says Paul McCartney in an interview with PETA’s Animal Times magazine (ironically from 2001), “all they have to do is stop eating meat. That’s the single most important thing you could do. It’s staggering when you think about it.

“Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty. Let’s do it! Linda was right. Going veggie is the single best idea for the new century.”

Go on to: Part 9, There Must Be a Moral or an Ethical Basis for One’s Vegetarianism, Otherwise One is Likely to Backslide, and Return to Flesh-Eating

Return to Part 1

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