Sunday, 3 January 2010

My New Year’s Resolution -- by Nadia Alexan

Nadia Alexan, a Montrealer long active in teaching, peace and social justice, public broadcasting and healthcare, founded the local Council of Canadians in 1996, Citizens in Action in 2008, and has been a federal NDP and provincial Québec Solidaire candidate. Born in Alexandria, Egypt, she is fluent in three languages: English, French & Arabic.

My New Year’s Resolution - January 1, 2010

I have decided to become a vegetarian for the following reasons:

1. Health: Meat consumption has been linked to various health hazards such as high cholesterol levels, obesity, and diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, arthritis and heart disease. Cattle are injected with growth hormones & antibiotics and are fed the meat of dead cows, a process called “rendering,” a euphemism for “cannibalism.” We eat the residues of all these chemicals when we eat the flesh of animals.

2. Ecology: If we really want to save the planet, we should begin by refusing to eat meat, which is responsible for 20 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, much more than transportation.

3) Waste of food: It takes 16 pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef. We use billions of acres of land to grow & feed these animals. We are destroying 7,700 sq. feet of rain forest in the process.

4) Water: It takes 2,400 gallons of water to make one pound of beef. Water, an essential ingredient for life, is becoming scarce. In future, water, or blue gold, will be the cause of world-wide wars.

5) Fossil fuel & energy waste: The livestock sector is one of the worst environmental hazards of our time. Emissions from animal agriculture contribute to more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks combined on the planet. Furthermore, conventional farming methods use petrochemical (oil based) fertilizers and pesticides for crops. Fuel is also used to transport and refrigerate meat.

6) Animal Waste and Pollution: The cattle industry is also the largest source of water pollution due to the emission of nitrogen & phosphorous. The meat industry produces high amounts of “ammonia.” Millions of tons of animal waste are produced by livestock each year. Pig farmers build “lagoons” to hold the poop. When the lagoons get too full, they break open, spilling their toxic waste into our rivers, streams and underground wells, thereby polluting our drinking water.

7) Animal Welfare: We slaughter about 10 billion animals every year in the U.S. alone. Animals live in factory-like, unsanitary conditions, in cramped quarters, where they can’t move and they never see the sun. They are fattened quickly & artificially for slaughter but in the meantime, they suffer unspeakable pain. When we eat their flesh, we take in their suffering and misery as well.

8) Hunger relief: There are at least one billion people in the world dying of hunger and thirst every day. The grain, crops and water we waste on animals, could easily feed these poor, hungry billions.

9) Topsoil Erosion: Food crops need topsoil to grow. When animals are densely packed in small spaces, they erode topsoil even more. Add to that the erosion caused by crops used to feed these animals, and we get thousands of square feet of topsoil erosion, which takes centuries to rebuild.

10) Mad Cow disease: We practice cannibalism on cows. We mix the flesh of dead cows with the food of living cows. The process is called “rendering” and has been the cause of mad-cow disease. It was banned in Europe but it is still being practiced in Canada and the United States. No wonder the European Union forbids the export of our cattle to Europe!!

11) Swine Flu: The cramped, unhealthy conditions of the U.S. Smithfield multinational hog-factory in Mexico, combined with factory chicken raising, produced the unsavory H1N1 virus, responsible for so many world-wide deaths. The powerful U.S. hog-lobby refuses to allow any inspectors to examine their premises and fight, tooth and nail, any regulation of this industry. What we have now, is a world-wide, savage, corporate capitalism gone mad! We have to fight them where it hurts, in their pocket books. “Buying is voting,” says prominent environmentalist, Laure Waridel.

Finally, I think we will all be in good company when we become vegetarians. Some of the most eminent scientists, thinkers & writers, such as Plato, Socrates, Mark Twain, Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, Henry Ford, George Bernard Shaw and Charles Darwin were vegetarians.
Ed. note to readers: Try making the change one step at a time. If every American had one meat-free meal per week, it would be equivalent to taking more than 5 million cars off the road, states the Environmental Defense Fund.
See also Organic Consumers Assoc "The SUV in the pantry"; Grist's debunking of the dogs vs SUV myth, which originated in the controversial book title Time to Eat the Dog. Chicken factory farms were linked to avian flu by William Engdahl in 2005, Rolling Stone 14 Dec 2006 exposed hog farms. The New Yorker 11 Aug 2008 connected cattle feedlots to "superbugs". High schoolers' DNA tests (Sciencestage Nov 2009) show food manufacturers' fake labelling.

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