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Let's Be Honest, Episode 47: Cowspiracy, the documentary

Let’s be honest is a Food Circle project to open up the conversation about the challenges when being or becoming a member of the SC (Sustainability Club). This series will shine a light on the different approaches to making life more sustainable and the step-backs and difficulties that arise. Being more kind and understanding, instead of critical, will hopefully help to encourage us to try instead of giving up when facing a step-back or failure. This is made possible thanks to Sapient, the mother company of Food Circle, which every year offers internships to students from all around the world, creating a uniquely multicultural environment!

Let’s celebrate the achievements and give room for honesty and struggles!

Cowspiracy, documentary discussion

In this pretty controversial documentary, that is produced and directed by the talented Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, the animal kingdom is being studied. I hope I could say for a pleasant reason but unfortunately the main focus is unsettling. As everyone believes that the leading reason of climate change and many natural phenomenons is people and their behaviour, the research of this documentary presents that animal agriculture or cattling, is the main problem that everyone is afraid to speak of.

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

- Martin Luther King Jr

With this hurtful sentence, the documentary begins.

Since dinosaurs era, it is observed a major extinction of species due to climate change, a problem that the whole planet is dealing with right now and is getting worse each day. In not many years from now, the expected results are known to all. Famine, drought, whole cities going underwater, ice melting, climate wars etc. will be a reflection of our planet. The human generation is doomed to oblivion.

However, if everyone in this planet changed their mindset and adopted sustainable habits and led a healthier lifestyle, will this be enough?

Maybe not.

It is a fact that livestock industries produce more greenhouse gases than the exhaust of all transports combined. Methane gas from animals is 86 times more destructive than carbon dioxide from vehicles. Livestock makes things worse for global warming. Animal agriculture produces 65% of the world's nitrous oxide gas and leads to global warming being 296 times greater than CO2 per pound. Emissions from agriculture are expected to increase 80% by 2050! Cattling is responsible for Brazilian Amazon destruction, ocean dead zones, habitat destruction and species extinction.

According to the documentary, not every environmental organisation accepted to give an interview about climate change and the contribution that animal agriculture has. After 3 or 4 times of requests, Greenpeace still declared that they cannot help with the research. However, other environmental organisations that were interviewed, such as Oceana and Amazon Watch, were perfectly capable to explain how to minimise our water consumption and give tips on how to save the natural habitat and the environment but hid their faces when they were asked about the connection of animal agriculture and if it is the leading factor that causes climate change and environmental distruction. Why this very specific and crucial informartion wasn't included in not single one green site? Why don't they guide people towards a meatless world?

A very obvious answer would be that if environmental organisations were labeled as anti-meat, this would hurt their fundraise. They are businesses that need funding to continue functioning so if they take away something so loved by people, they would piss them and lose their audience.

Funfact (that is not fun at all): Human beings and animals owned as property consist the 98% of the world's biomass when free wild-life consists only the other 2%.

By the year 2048, predictions show that the oceans would go fishless by overfishing and water pollution. Many sea fish like sharks and dolphins are killed each year as by-kill. Regarding to these numbers, if we were sincerely interested about sharks and other fish, we would ban fishing.

It is estimated that every day near 100 plant, animal and insect species are lost due to rainforest destruction. When Rainforest Action Network was asked which they believe is the leading cause of rainforest destruction, instead of highlight the animal agriculture, they mentioned fossil fuels. However, it quickly came to light by Leila Salazar Lopez, program director of Amazon Watch, that when people speak out, they get murdered. A characteristical example is Sister Dorothy Stang's case, whom she lived in the heart of Amazon and her life-goal was to protect the forest. Despite her efforts, she was killed for speaking out against cattle ranching. Over 1.100 activists have been killed in Brazil the last 20 years.

According to Will Anderson, former board of directors in Greenpeace USA: 'Environmental organisations are not telling the truth about what the world needs from us as species. They are refusing to take action and see the problem. They dissapoint us every day. Agriculture is the problem.'

Cows need approximately 60 pounds of food per day and drink almost 150 gallons of water. Cows need grass to feed, grow and produce milk and eventually become meat. However, there is no sustainable way to raise a cow since they need land and water to feed and that way they produce their own carbon footprint because afterwards we kill them so as to eat them. Even the dairy cows that are used to only produce milk, eventually they end up in the beef industry. Unfortunately, population is growing, so there is more demand in food and of course meat. There is not enough grass land to cover all this demand and surely not sustainably.

The ecosystem is falling apart. In comparison, large producers of meat and food are thriving since they benefit from this agricultural system. If you cause disruption in the profits of the animal industry, you are guilty despite how right you are. They have power over you and everyone else. Environmental organisations and activists consist a threat to corporate profits. According to the documentary, even the FBI is monitoring their movements. This justifies why people are afraid to speak their truth even though the researches and results are out there for everyone to see. Their lives are being in stake.

The vegan or plant-based diet is the most sustainable way for people and earth to survive and thrive. We can grow food directly for humans in every type of land, instead of slaughtering animals to eat them. You can't be an ecologist and eat meat products. You can be vegan and healthy, all the nutritients that the human body needs, exist in the plant kingdom.

Time for some statistics. 216.000 births are happening per day which means that 34.000 new acres of farmland are needed to feed these people. It is impossible to balance meat production with all the world's hungry population.

Feeding a vegan for a year demands 1,6 acre of land. Feeding a vegeterian for a year demands 3 times this land and for a meat consumer we would need 18 times this land!

If we stopped right now and started leading a healthier lifestyle, everything would improve automatically. Forests, animals, oceans, air, our health, everything would come back. Stop eating animals would make a great change in a heartbeat. If we quit animal agriculture, we will succeed. Now, we need to go beyond organic agriculture, we need to go to sustainability. We would take out of the equasion animals, greenhouse emissions, food safety isssues and we would put are values back in, such as kindness, generosity and love.

As the documentary concludes, it is time to give back to nature, it is time to thrive. If you do what can you can do as well as you can do it every day of your life, you will die as one of the happiest individuals. Selfnessness is a nice way to be, acting gently and kindly benefits both you and the planet. A beautiful way to live.

The documentary ends with two very powerful phrases that speak only the truth: 'We can do it, but we have to choose to do it. You can change the world. You must change the world!'

Author: Alexandra Bakalianou


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