Sunday, March 29

I know the explanations that compelled me to embrace an extreme diet, and that they are honorable

Even noble. Reasons like justice, compassion, and a desperate, all-encompassing longing to line the planet right. to save lots of the earth — the last trees attesting to ages and therefore the scraps of wilderness still nurturing fading species, silent in their fur and feathers. to guard the vulnerable, the voiceless. To feed the hungry. At the very least, to refrain from participating within the horror of factory farming.

These political passions are born of a hunger so deep it touches on the spiritual. They were on behalf of me , and that they still are. i would like my life — my body — to be an area where the world is cherished, not devoured; where the sadist is granted no quarter; where the violence stops. and that i want eating — the primary nurturance — to be an act that sustains instead of kills. this is often an attempt to honor our deepest longings for a just world. and that i now believe those longings — for compassion, for sustainability, for an equitable distribution of resources — aren’t served by the practice of vegetarianism. Believing during this vegetarian myth has led us astray.

Factory Farming isn’t the sole Way
The vegetarian Pied Pipers have the simplest of intentions. I’ll state immediately that everything they assert about factory farming is true: it’s cruel, wasteful, and destructive. But their first mistake is in assuming factory farming — a practice that’s barely 50 years old — is that the only thanks to raise animals. In my experience, their calculations on energy used, calories consumed, and humans unfed are all supported the notion that animals eat grain. you’ll feed to animals, but it’s not the diet that they were designed. for many of human history, browsers and grazers haven’t been in competition with humans. They ate what we couldn’t eat (cellulose) and turned it into what we could (protein and fat). But our industrial culture stuffs grain into as many animals because it can. Grain will dramatically increase the expansion rate of beef and therefore the milk production of dairy cows. it’ll also kill them. the fragile bacterial balance of a cow’s rumen may become acidic and switch septic. Chickens get liver disease disease if fed corn exclusively. Sheep and goats, which also are ruminants like cattle, shouldn’t touch the things either.

Not only that, but large portions of the planet are utterly unsuited for growing large grain crops. And not just mountaintops in far distant Nepal, but accessible in, say, New England . Cows are what grow here. So are deer, in their forest-destroying abundance. The logic of the land tells us to eat the animals which will eat the tough cellulose that survives here.

I think that this misunderstanding about animals and grain is born of an ignorance that runs the length and breadth of the vegetarian myth, through the character of agriculture and ending within the nature of life. Most folks are now urban industrialists, and lots of folks don’t know the origins of our food. This includes many vegetarians, despite their claims to the reality . It included me, too, for 20 years. Anyone who ate meat was in denial; only I had faced the facts. most of the people who consume factory-farmed meat haven’t asked what died and the way . But frankly, neither have most vegetarians.

Considering Entire Ecosystems
Life isn’t possible without death, and regardless of what you eat, something has got to die to feed you. the reality is that agriculture is that the most destructive thing humans have done to the earth , and more of an equivalent won’t save us. Today’s industrial agriculture requires the wholesale destruction of entire ecosystems.

I want a full accounting, an accounting that goes way beyond what’s dead on your plate. I’m asking about everything that died within the process, everything that was killed to urge that food onto your plate. That’s the more radical question, and it’s the sole question which will produce the reality . what percentage rivers were dammed and drained? what percentage prairies plowed and forests pulled down? what proportion topsoil turned to dust? i would like to understand about all the species. Not just the individuals, but the whole species — the chinook, the bison, the grasshopper sparrows, and therefore the gray wolves. and that i want quite just the amount of dead and gone. i would like them back.

Despite what we’ve been told, and despite the earnestness of the tellers, eating soybeans isn’t getting to bring these plants and animals back. Ninety-eight percent of the American prairie is gone, became a monocrop of annual grains. Plow cropping in Canada has destroyed 99 percent of the land’s original humus. When the rain forest falls to beef, progressives are outraged and prepared to boycott. But our attachment to the vegetarian myth leaves us uneasy, silent, and ultimately immobilized when the culprit is wheat and therefore the victim is that the prairie.

The overwhelming majority of individuals within the us don’t grow food, including hunt and gather it. we’ve no thanks to judge what proportion death is embodied during a serving of salad, a bowl of fruit, or a plate of beef. We sleep in urban environments — within the last whisper of forests — thousands of miles faraway from the devastated rivers, prairies, wetlands, and therefore the many creatures who died for our dinners. Many inhabitants of urban industrial cultures haven’t any point of contact with grain, chickens, cows, or — for that matter — with topsoil. we’ve no idea what nourishes plants, animals, or soil, which suggests we’ve no idea what we ourselves are eating.

Hard questions on Agriculture
What’s looming within the shadows of our ignorance and denial may be a critique of civilization itself. The start line could also be what we eat, but the top is a whole way of life, a worldwide arrangement of power, and with no small measure of private attachment thereto . I remember the day in fourth grade when Miss Fox wrote two words on the blackboard: civilization and agriculture. I remember due to the hush in her voice, the gravitas of her words, the reason that was almost oratory. and that i understood. Everything that was good in human culture flowed from now — all ease, grace, and justice. Religion, science, medicine, and art were born, and therefore the endless struggle against starvation, disease and violence might be won, all because humans had found out the way to grow their own food.

I believe that agriculture has created a net loss for human rights and culture: slavery, imperialism, militarism, class divisions, chronic hunger, and disease. “The real problem, then, isn’t to elucidate why some people were slow to adopt agriculture, but why anybody took it up in the least , when it’s so obviously beastly,” writes biologist and author Colin Tudge. Agriculture has also been devastating to the opposite creatures with whom we share the world , and, ultimately, to the life support systems of the earth itself. what’s at stake is everything. If we would like a sustainable world, we’ve to be willing to look at the facility relations behind the foundational myth of our culture. Anything less and that we will fail.

Questioning at that level is difficult for many people. during this case, the emotional struggle inherent in resisting any hegemony is compounded by our dependence on civilization, and by our individual helplessness to prevent it. Most folks would haven’t any chance of survival if the economic infrastructure collapsed tomorrow. And our consciousness is equally impeded by our powerlessness.

I don’t have a “10 Simple Things …” list for you because, frankly, there aren’t 10 simple things which will save the world . there’s no personal solution. there’s an interlocking web of hierarchical arrangements — vast systems of power that need to be confronted and dismantled. we will disagree about how best to try to to that, but roll in the hay we must if life on Earth is to possess any chance of surviving.