I realized yesterday, when I published my 100th post, that I’ve been writing this blog for 13 months now. When you’re a semi-recent college grad, a year is a long time to do anything on a regular basis, besides those quotidian necessities: eat, sleep, run, work, and follow your sports team. If you’re like me, you’ve had a couple of jobs, none for more than a year and a half, you’ve bounced around from apartment to apartment, or city to city. So a year long commitment to something you weren’t even sure was going to take hold seems pretty permanent in this somewhat transitory post-grad experience.
What also occurred to me was that I hadn’t fully explained my reasons for Vegaquarianism. I revealed the etymology of the word in my first post, Welcome to the Vegaquarian Times (https://thevegaquariantimes.wordpress.com/about/), but never quite rounded out the concept. So here it goes. In phases, because it’s a long story.
Eating is non-negotiable. Everyone, every living thing must acquire energy in some way in order to survive. But how one eat, what one eats, is a choice for many of us. And it’s a choice that when possible, should be made with the consideration of a host of factors. The first on my list is:
1. Agriculture and the Environment
Until I wrote this article as a college sophomore, http://www.jhunewsletter.com/2008/10/01/food-and-climate-change-an-invisible-problem-52330/, I was unaware of the magnitude of the impact of agriculture on climate change. Yes, I knew that eating grass-fed beef was environmentally preferable to corn-fed, and I had been to a Nebraska cattle farm and bore witness to the environmental catastrophe that is a feedlot (and then had a hamburger for dinner) but nothing had propelled me to make a change in my own eating habits. Then I went to college and after the freshman experience of the dining hall, had to mostly fend for myself as a sophomore. That’s when I started connecting the dots. If I care about the environment, biodiversity, clean air and water, but I continue to eat factory-farmed, processed foods, then I am complicit in destroying the environment I want to protect.
Think about it. The entire midsection of our country, from which I proudly hail, is covered in corn and soybean fields. For our eating pleasure? No. To fatten the cows and pigs and other livestock that populate the CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) that not only cause great misery on the part of the animals they confine, but also create enormously threatening and terrifically disgusting problems of waste. (an example of what I’m talking about: http://www.livablefutureblog.com/2013/05/monsanto-poop-foam-itinerant-fish).
And waste is just one of the major issues here: we’re also talking about water. Water is a precious resource, already very scarce in parts of the southwest and in many regions across the globe. Irrigating these corn and soybean fields requires an incredible amount of water. The issue is, when we feed the crops into which we’ve poured our precious water to livestock, that water doesn’t go nearly as far as it would if the crops were fed to people. In terms of energy, it’s the same story: on average, it takes 7 lbs of corn to produce 1 lb of beef. That is, when you feed corn to cows and then eat the cows, your investment of 7 lbs of corn yields 1 lb of food. That’s less efficient than just eating the corn. I’m not suggesting that we should all subsist on corn and never eat meat–that would not be a solution to the problem. The point is, when a person chooses beef (pork and chicken are more efficient converters, btw) he or she is choosing to support an inefficient process that causes greater harm to the environment than an alternative choice might.
That’s a condensed version of my environmental reasons for a Vegaquarian diet. There’s a lot more to be said. If you want to delve deeper, The blog fromThe Center for a Livable Future at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is a phenomenal resource. http://www.livablefutureblog.com/
My list continues with:
2. Human Health
which I will expound on in the coming days.