When U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration took office, I was pleased to see swift environmental actions take place, including the nation’s rejoining the Paris climate agreement and ending the Keystone XL Pipeline.
To see the environment come into focus again in the eyes of a U.S. president was a breath of fresh air, after the Trump administration went out of its way to dismantle environmentally friendly legislation and often refused to acknowledge climate change before, near the end of his term, saying, infamously, “It’ll start getting cooler.”
President Biden had a colorful and passionate quote of his own with regard to the environment and climate change.
The United States Must End Animal Agriculture Subsidies to Take on the Leading Cause of Climate Change
Although President Biden talks about managing a “maximum threat” weighing down on the planet with a “greater sense of urgency,” I know this administration is not doing all it can to act. In his White House remarks, President Biden stressed that the United States must serve as the leader in the global response.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, I call on you to stand up and get really serious and right now with regard to climate change by addressing the top cause of climate change: animal agriculture.
Studies have produced differing percentages of animal agriculture’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions, with one study citing a whopping 51 percent. This statistic was used in the original cut of the outstanding environmental documentary Cowspiracy but faced some criticism. In the film’s Netflix cut, produced with Leonardo DiCaprio, this figure was replaced with one from another climate change study, citing 18 percent.
Even at 18 percent, animal agriculture is the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions, with transportation accounting for 14 percent. As the population, now at 7.7 billion people globally, surges, animal agriculture emissions are estimated to increase 80 percent by 2050. Come 2050, 9 billion to 10 billion human beings will inhabit the Earth. Our soaring population is projected to make scarce our precious and finite land and water resources. Moreover, climate change, triggered by a number of factors such as automobile exhaust, is projected to lead to increased sea ice melting, flooding huge stretches of the planet, starting with low-lying coastal countries and regions.
Can you believe that livestock covers a mind-boggling 45 percent of the planet’s land and that animal agriculture accounts for 41 percent of water use globally? Moreover, animal agriculture is the top cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, habitat destruction and water pollution.
Many Studies Show That Consumption of Animal Products Contributes to Ill Health
Human beings’ dependency on animals along with their byproducts for food is jeopardizing the future of planet Earth as a home for not only us but all life forms. This dependency also runs counter to achieving robust health. Almost 75 percent of American adults are overweight or obese. About 40 percent of U.S. citizens receive cancer diagnoses in their lifetimes. Diabetes, including prediabetes and undiagnosed diabetes, affects 37 percent of American adults.
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015 declared red meat as “probably carcinogenic to humans” and processed meat such as sausage as “carcinogenic to humans.” Dozens of other studies link chicken, fish, pig, egg and dairy consumption and, seemingly, for every such study, animal agriculture industries representing these “foods” put out studies they funded with the goal of confusing the public and news media.
The American way of eating—heavy on animal products and high in fat—has infiltrated neighboring and faraway lands. The China Study puts a lens on this on its way to making the case for a low-fat plant-based diet.
It’s no secret among those truly educated on health that diets containing a significant amount of animal products tend to contain excess amounts of protein and fat for the human body, resulting in scores of health conditions, including heart disease, the No. 1 killer in the United States, responsible for one in four deaths.
Meatonomic$ breaks down the hidden costs behind meat and dairy consumption, arguing that society is out $7 in health-care costs, animal agriculture subsidies, environmental losses and cruelty costs for every Big Mac sold. Americans eat more meat than citizens of any other country because the retail cost is so cheap. But all these additional costs run up quite a bill, costing Americans $414 billion annually. The figures likely are higher today, as this book was published in 2013.
To say that animal agriculture is killing the planet—along with killing animals and human beings while causing needless and weighty societal burden—would be spot-on.
The United States and World Need Sound Dietary Education to Spur Increased Adoption of Plant-Based Diets
For decades, Americans have been spoon-fed governmental nutritional guidance that represents industry profits over health. A chorus against the dairy industry has grown particularly loud in recent years, with TV spots for plant-based replacements for dairy products even showing up during the Super Bowl.
People are waking up and learning that ingesting cows’ and goats’ milk isn’t healthful for human beings, leading to acne, asthma, cancer and osteoporosis, among a long list of other health conditions. A smaller but still growing number of people is also recognizing that stealing the milk of another species is wrong and that consuming milk after a certain age just doesn’t make sense.
The same can be said for other animal products, yet, in spite of this, the U.S. government’s MyPlate food groups contains large portions of protein and dairy products, with the former billing many kinds of meats and seafood as ideal protein sources. (The reality is, many of these foods are tremendously high in fat as well.) For this and other reasons, the masses are still under the spell of governmental and animal agriculture brainwashing, believing that they need to eat meat and drink milk to have strong, healthy bodies.
All this needs to change. Solid and honest data must rise to the forefront for the masses to understand that plant-based foods are not only healthful but beneficial to consume over animal products. It’s time for Washington to put the environment and Americans’ dietary needs over what animal agriculture lobbyists are pushing.
Support Plant-Based Restaurants and Other Businesses So They Can Flourish
Plant-based restaurant options abound in 2021, with HappyCow.net and other websites and apps helping millions locate vegan and raw vegan restaurants in their neck of the woods. I believe it is important to support these businesses—even if it means being a little less pure in diet—to help them flourish in our communities if we want to see plant-based options multiply and a vegan vibe shine. A few years ago, I made it a point to start supporting one business serving a mixture of cooked and raw vegan options, as it was the only such place near me where I could get a good raw vegan salad outside getting “freshly made” guac and pico at supermarkets and dumping them over a bed of lettuce.
In spite of the mushrooming number of plant-based restaurant options, I’m stunned there’s still not a bona-fide raw vegan restaurant in Old City and/or downtown Philadelphia, the sixth-largest city in the United States, located about 40 minutes from where I live. This shows that we have a ways to go if we want plant-based restaurants to truly break through! On the flip side of this downcast Philadelphia news, I stumbled on a recent Philadelphia Inquirer story that spotlighted vegan wings, with some restaurant owners saying that their vegan wings are drastically outselling actual chicken wings—long the nation’s top appetizer—even among meat eaters! Remarkable!
A dream for me is for the plant-based movement to get so big that two plant-based restaurants can thrive in a town or city even though they’re located right next door to each other. Imagine how strong and large the plant-based community would be in this municipality if it could support a pair of like-minded businesses not even a stone’s throw apart from each other!
The Clock Is Ticking, and It’s Our Move to Make
The planet has been beset by so much suffering in recent years—fires, floods, extreme weather, racial divides, insane violence, political drama, COVID, vaccine agendas and the relentless assault on our freedoms—that I shudder to think what all this looks like come 2030.
Will our planet and all its living beings be firmly on the path to healing or will people like me and perhaps you still be clamoring for needed change such as the elimination of animal agriculture subsidies?
We are in the throes of tyranny, and unless we can rise and unite as one, forming the most-in-the-pocket band of 8.5 billion people, come 2030, playing the same electrifying song of love and sur-thriv-al, then I don’t see how we’re going to turn around this ship from the forecasts of environmental doomsday as icebergs melt into the sea.
When I hear about violent acts, I wonder about how they could ever end when people eat, in the form of animal products, violence and many negative emotions harbored by animals that are part of the animal agriculture system every day. Albert Einstein said: “Energy is everything. … Energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only be changed from one form to another.” I also wonder about how violent acts could ever end when countries such as the United States spend up to $721.5 billion on defense. Is the goal to raise kids from sticks-and-stones fighters to fighter jet pilots or to love and cherish life? The existence of nuclear arms—and defense, in general—suggests that living in true peace is an idea that’s simply off the table.
And when I think about animal agriculture and the “foods” being served everywhere from schools, as part of lunch programs, and McDonald’s to five-star restaurants, I know the menus have to change very quickly to give us and all living beings a chance at a future that’s, hopefully, better than recent days we’ve endured.
We can’t wait another day—and we certainly can’t wait for despicable and greedy people to do the right thing on their own.
I say, raise your voice! Get loud! Make your vision for the planet known to those who see only power and money as the goals worth pursuing in life. It’s your planet, too, and it’s your move on the chessboard.
The clock is ticking.
Make it happen!