Recently, my little sister, who is a food lover as I am, who would never say no to a big yummy burger or an outdoor BBQ with lots of delicious meat, announced to the family that she had become a vegetarian, after watching the documentary Earthlings.
It is a documentary by Shaun Monson from 2005, about society's treatment of animals (as pets, food, clothing, entertainment, and scientific research). EARTHLINGS uses hidden cameras and never before seen footage to chronicle the day-to-day practices of some of the largest industries in the world, all of which rely entirely on animals for profit. It is narrated by our beloved actor Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator, We own the night...) with soundtrack by the platinum singer song-writer Moby. It is so powerful and thought-provoking that it is nicknamed "the Vegan maker"..
Living in Ubud, Bali, probably the world capital of vegans, yogis and " health freaks", this is a topic that has been in my mind for a while.
Well, there are many well-known reasons for us to become, if not vegans, at least vegetarians.
- Animal Welfare
We all know what goes on in factory farms (Close confinement systems..)... And if not yet, there are some great documentaries like Food Inc. or Earthlings, mentioned above, to open our eyes on the subject.
- Human Health Impact
Meat is full of pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, growth hormones, fat and cholesterol.
- World Hunger
Because the tonnes of grain used to feed animals could be used to solve world hunger. Indeed something like 80% of cereals is used to feed animals, so if we used that food to feed humans instead, mathematically speaking it would be the end of world hunger.
- Environmental Impact
Eating meat contributes to carbon emissions (51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture), deforestation, unsustainable use of water for feed-crops, land degradation, untreated waste etc. . .
I also have the feeling that for every fact and theory, there are equally convincing ones that say the exact opposite.. Eating animal is cruel ? Some will answer it is a natural part of the circle of life, as is eating plants, and modern slaughter techniques minimize the suffering of animals. Humans are not meant to be carnivores ? Some will answer eating meat has been part of the human diets for 2.3 million years. Vegetarianism brings you the best nutrients ? Some will answer, meat is a better source of iron, vitamin B12 and protein than a vegetarian diet. Vegetarians are healthier ? Some will answer that research shows there is no difference in the overall mortality between vegetarians and meat eaters. Animal farming contributes to deforestation ? Some will answer the percentage of forested US land has remained steady since 1907.. Vegetarianism could solve world hunger ? Some will answer the world currently produces enough food for everybody, but because of economical and political reasons, some just don't have access to it.
(Here you can find an interesting article well sourced on the pros and cons of vegetarianism )
So I guess it is important to think seriously about what we are eating, to take in all the information we find and once we are aware of what's going on, make a conscious choice of lifestyle.
Here is a list of 5 of supposedly the most powerful and truthful documentaries on the matter, that I will watch myself starting today to be able to make a choice:
- Fat, Sick and nearly dead
- Food Matters
- Forks over Knives
This is a first post on the topic. Needless to say I don't know all that much yet, but it is a matter of interest to me at the moment, and I'll get back to it in a future post.
So what do you all think ? Any of you ever saw a mind expanding documentary on foods ? Why did or did you not go vegetarian ?