My forthcoming book, Animal Dharma, explores what it means to care deeply about animals and discovers how we can live peacefully with ourselves and others by proposing four key values: truth, compassion, nonviolence and interbeing–the interrelatedness of all.
This is the second in a series of podcasts in which I read out brief extracts from Animal Dharma. It is called “Chicken Slaughterhouse.” I recall from my time as a student in England in the 1970s when I worked one summer in a chicken slaughterhouse. Who knew what impact this experience would have?
Please click here if you would like to listen to the first podcast from Animal Dharma.
This is a collection of investigative reports I published in The Animals' Agenda.
My Animals and Society Institute colleague Bee Friedlander remembers The Animals’ Agenda magazine and gives an update on its future. “The magazines take up quite a bit of room on a bookshelf in my office,” Bee writes, “but I keep them there as a constant reminder that a valuable resource to the animal advocacy community needs to be inventoried, digitalized, and indexed.”
So it’s for good reason that expanding the availability of the magazine has been on my agenda of things to do. Enter Carolyn Smith, a long-time animal advocate who has fond memories of Agenda, and who has been looking for a volunteer opportunity with an animal organization near her home in Ann Arbor. She’s a former librarian and has both edited and indexed books. When I showed her the magazines, she immediately agreed to take on the project.
As the magazine’s last editor I’m thrilled to learn that it will become available at ASI’s Web site. Meanwhile, the two anthologies of articles I published from The Animals’ Agenda are still available from Lantern.
Given it requires the suffering and slaughter of billions of animals worldwide, it’s difficult to understand how any animal food can be called any kind of extravagance let alone a benign one. Anyway, in today’s Guardian columnist George Monbiot discusses a new book, Meat: A Benign Extravagance, by Simon Fairlie.
I admit to not being previously aware of this book and will look for it. Monbiot says with what must be the most tiresome of cliches that Fairlie “butchers a herd of sacred cows.” Apparently, this includes the amount of water required to produce a kilo of beef and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s claim that livestock are responsible for 18 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Monbiot declares early on in his article that “I no longer believe that the only ethical response is to stop eating meat.”
For one of the country’s leading investigative reporters who specialises in covering the environment, this is an astonishing comment to make. However much anyone tries to manufacture the information and massage the facts at the end of the day raising animals to produce food is inefficient, uneconomic and unhealthy for the animals, the people who eat them and the environment. And then there’s the ethical argument……..
The abstract (in full below) of the paper, Diet and the environment: does what you eat matter? published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concludes that it does matter what you eat.
Food demand influences agricultural production. Modern agricultural practices have resulted in polluted soil, air, and water; eroded soil; dependence on imported oil; and loss of biodiversity. The goal of this research was to compare the environmental effect of a vegetarian and nonvegetarian diet in California in terms of agricultural production inputs, including pesticides and fertilizers, water, and energy used to produce commodities. The working assumption was that a greater number and amount of inputs were associated with a greater environmental effect. The literature supported this notion. To accomplish this goal, dietary preferences were quantified with the Adventist Health Study, and California state agricultural data were collected and applied to state commodity production statistics. These data were used to calculate different dietary consumption patterns and indexes to compare the environmental effect associated with dietary preference. Results show that, for the combined differential production of 11 food items for which consumption differs among vegetarians and nonvegetarians, the nonvegetarian diet required 2.9 times more water, 2.5 times more primary energy, 13 times more fertilizer, and 1.4 times more pesticides than did the nonvegetarian diet. The greatest contribution to the differences came from the consumption of beef in the diet. We found that a nonvegetarian diet exacts a higher cost on the environment relative to a vegetarian diet. From an environmental perspective, what a person chooses to eat makes a difference. (emphasis added)
Will Self nails it perfectly.
Supermarkets are the abattoirs of capitalism and we are but so many cattle, driven along brightly lit aisle after aisle until our credit is electrocuted.