Starting something is always the hardest part, so what better place to start than the issues our world currently faces? Hodai.org lists everything from Nuclear Warfare to Unreliable Software. Some of these issues mean more to me than others and likewise, I feel that a portion need more attention directed to their cause. The reason I have chosen to look into the current state of the world is because currency is very important, reaching out to the modern individual for help also needs to have an air or relevancy that will alert people to the topic I am going to choose. Charity is one way of solving these issues, though what seems to be the case with these issues is that if people don’t get something beneficial in return, they are reluctant to spend their time helping.
And thus, my research begins, starting with the website named dmoz.org.
List of possible Issues I would like to focus on:
- Unsustainable development
- Overconsumption of food
- Intensive farming
- Unsustainable agriculture
- Natural resource depletion
- Habitat destruction
- Species extinction
- Lack of access to clean water
- Plastic waste
- Organised crime and corruption
- Lack of access to justice
- Inappropriate household waste disposal
- Child mistreatment
- Gender inequality
- Child labor
- Child marriage
- Human trafficking
- Animal mistreatment
As you can see above, there is a lot I would like to act on, now you may see how choosing one subject over the 19 others may make me look bias. Worries aside, I have marked some of these subjects red – the reason I have discounted these from the list is because I feel these subjects are already in plain sight, they are ‘overexposed’ in the world of global issues, and I am not by any means indicating that these subjects are lesser in any way. This leaves the less advertised topics.
To help myself along the way a little I have listed some of the effects each of these topics have on the environment and on ourselves:
After some deliberation, I have chosen to merge the following topics as my subject matter (because of their similarities):
- Overconsumption of food
- Unsustainable agriculture
- Animal Mistreatment
(there are also things like obesity and health costs to consider)
You may be thinking that there are a lot of issues to cover here, and your right, though it’s the solution not the problem I am going to be looking at:
These are the topics that not many of the population think about when they sit down to their evening meal, if at all. In fact the only people I feel are aware of these issues is those who don’t have enough food to put on their plates, many of these cases are due to overpopulation and the overconsumption of produce in wealthier parts of the world where obesity rampages the population. Aside from human impact, there is also a very large portion of global warming that can be attributed to animal agriculture and over farming – but not only are we hurting others of the human race and our home, planet earth, but we are taking and destroying the lives of other sentient beings to sate out desire for meat, fish, eggs, dairy, honey and other animal products.
(More research here presentation <- So click the link to view) Constantly a hot topic for debate, Veganism is, believe it or not, a step in the right direction to curing many of our worlds ailments. I have compiled my reasoning for choosing this topic below, alongside facts and statistics to back up the claims:
- Morning Sickness
Not what you were expecting to hear right? 70-80% of pregnant women experience nausea and 60% actually vomit during their pregnancy. We have always taken it as a given that sickness comes hand in hand with pregnancy, but a new study shows that maybe this doesn’t have to happen at all. It doesn’t make sense that a woman’s body would discard all of the nutrients it needs to form another human being at this vital stage of life when nutrients are needed the most. The study explains how this is an act of self defence against certain bacteria found in most meats, cheese and other animal products, also it’s linked to the consumption of saturated fats, primarily in animal products. If no other animals get morning sickness to avoid certain bacteria, then this indicates us humans are eating a wrong or dangerous diet, so much so that our bodies actually discard valuable calories simply to protect the growing foetus from bacteria.
- Grass Fed Cattle & Environmental Damage
We know that feeding our crops to animals is a huge issue, but I have noticed the recent rise in ‘solutions to our global warming issues’ in the form of grass rearing our cattle:
My response? No. This doesn’t solve anything, and here is why:
No matter what you feed these cows, they are going to produce a hell of a lot of Methane gas. And yes, grass feeding them may be a slightly better alternative than feeding them grain and crops that could be fed to humans, though this doesn’t erase the issue that pasture and valuable land that would be used for growing crops, is being consumed and exploited by this animal so we can eat it.
As time goes on the number of globing warming potential goes up, the highest I’ve seen been at 29 times.
Over a span of 100 years Methane is much more of an effective greenhouse gas than C02, and the study above shows that grass feeding is doing nothing but cause deforestation (to make room for these farms) and produce more CH4 than the grain fed cattle. This also doesn’t include the fact that grass fed cattle grow 75% slower than grain fed cattle, therefore emitting this gas over a longer period of time.
It is sheer fact that a Vegan diet uses 1/8 as much land as an omnivorous diet, not only that, we could use the 1/3 of ice free land that’s been used to raise cattle, and dedicate it to wildlife who’s habitats we have destroyed, and also to growing crops to feed our fellow humans.
Not to mention that a farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people.
- Health issues
Little does our nation know, a lot of our health ailments such as obesity, heart disease and many more can actually be related to, or even caused by the consumption/overconsumption of animal products. It has been shown in in many studies how a plant based, vegan diet can benefit the body:
Eating eggs has been proven to clog arteries and raise cholesterol – in a study of 300,000 people, eggs and cardiovascular disease were proven to be linked.
It is proven that animal protein is not as easily digestable as plant protein and contains carcinogenic bacteria, which means it can cause cancer.Not only that, but our oestrogen levels raise and testosterone levels lower after drinking milk, leading to all kinds of mood related and digestive issues.
- Animal Cruelty
When people picture dairy farms, they think of happy cows getting hand milked by farmers. Wrong. Cows born here suffer unimaginable stress and pain, enduring child abduction and slaughter, rape and much, much more, and no matter how people think they live a long and happy life, dairy cows are usually slaughtered at 4 years old or earlier, and if they weren’t, the farmer would have no space to keep them.
No matter how harmless the dairy industry may seem, a lot of vegetarians don’t realise that for a cow to produce milk, it has to be artificially inseminated… ‘raped’ to you and I. This produces 50% male and female calfs and the farmers don’t have the pasture to fit all of these animals, so the half of the cows (mostly male) are slaughtered after a few days of being alive, and the other half after about a year or so for beef. Not only this, but in order for us humans to drink the milk of this mother, farmers have to make sure the baby isn’t drinking it, therefore ripping them away from their mothers to be raised in often confined environments, on grain or grass. From the diagram below, mother cows’ milk production gets lower and lower, thus making her less valuable so she is often sent to the slaughter after being exhausted to a point of collapse, her daughter (the baby cow that was taken away from her) taking her place as an artificially inseminated dairy cow to suffer the same fate.
Disgusting, no? Well that is the truth.
Enough of Dairy, let’s look past the often considered ‘humane’ life these animals have lead, and look at their deaths.
Us humans believe that, because we are at ‘the top of the food chain’ and we have the ability to mass murder and incarcerate animals at will, that we are meant to.
There is extortionate evidence out there that animals suffer when slaughtered and no matter how you look at it, no matter how much you skirt around the issue – death is death. Murder is murder, and it is not our place to decide how an animal should life, and ultimately, how they should die.
Eggs are hen periods, the unborn baby of a small species of bird often kept in unclean conditions. There is no room for males in the egg laying industry, therefore it is supporting the meat industry.
Dairy is drinking the breast milk of another species – like a dog’s or a cat’s for example. It contains puss, hormones and antibiotics.
Honey is bee vomit – and keeping them to farm honey is inhibiting their reproduction, therefore dwindling the already dying population. Oh and if bees die out, humans will too.
Meat is a dismembered carcass, maybe even processed and filled with filling agents to keep it from rotting before you buy and filled with the fear of death and the antibiotics force fed to the animal during it’s life. It’s the product of pain, suffering and abuse in a pretty package.
My point is, we are doing both ourselves, animals and our planet harm.
It is simply an excuse that going vegan or even vegetarian to help our world is ‘impossible’, ‘unnatural’, and gives you ‘malnutrition’. There are a lot of resources out there giving our population the information they need to take this step.
The issue of confronting individuals about something they don’t want to change as it doesn’t affect them is hard – in other words, we need a common ‘enemy’ to not only solve an issue that the consumer has, but at the same time making them aware of these issues that need facing. This selling point will need to make it sound completely in the consumer’s favour.
If the entourage of fatty animal products and processed, refined sugars is what’s making the nation obese, then why not fabricate a diet/lifestyle that not only helps the planet and to combat our 4 issues, but helps the waistlines and therefore the overall health of our population.
I have decided that the consumers themselves who choose to turn a blind eye towards a lot of these problems are the issue.
I have done a search on the different types of books, e-books, guides and online channels that tackle the weight loss issue and as you might expect a lot of these are fads or are so called ‘yo-yo’ diets that only leave you shifting between weight gain and weight loss.
I’ve listed some of the diet trends that were most popular in 2016 below to get a bit of knowledge on what diets are out there and how they effect our environmental issues:
The aim of a Ketogenic diet is to stray the body away from anything carb related, replacing this with high ‘good fat’ foods such as fish, avocados and olive oil.
The Paleo Diet
Or the ‘Caveman’ diet – consuming what our 2.6 million year old ancestors ate, they were named the Paleolithic Humans.
Let’s juice our… everything! Replacing food with juiced versions of itself is popular.
I can’t help but notice that most of these diets function by cutting something out of what you eat, for example fats, sugars or the most popularly hated carbohydrate. This, to me seems to simply be starving your body of a certain type of nutrient and seems though our bodies function best with a variety of different supplements – this can only mean bad news. For example, those on a low sugar diet are starving themselves of glucose – a nutrient that is essential for our brains to function properly. While yes, they will most likely loose weight initially, the reason most of the diets above fail in the end is because of this constriction – your body is screaming at you to go grab some sugar so it can function properly, and thus, the binge was born. Once starved, your body will conflict your mind when it comes to food, while your willpower and results thus far will be telling you to keep going because you’ll lose more weight, your brain is urging you to grab those biscuits and crisps in the cupboard. This is why diets are known as hard endeavours, horrible things to keep up with… because they aren’t what our body needs. At all. Just a way for some company or fitness expert to make money by coming up with these temporary solutions.
For those who actually have the strength to keep up with these things, well done! But you may actually be doing yourself more harm than good. Don’t believe me? It’s story time.
Meet my Dad.
Struggling at 23 stones (322 lbs), he was desperate to find a ‘diet’ that would melt away the pounds he’s slowly gained over the years. Then, he found the Atkins diet – a diet containing mainly meat aka protein rich fatty foods, whilst starving yourself of anything carb and sugar related. As you can see in the image below, the Atkins diet recommends 20g of carbs a day when the recommended guideline is (differing on the individual): “The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that carbohydrates make up 45 to 65 percent of your total daily calories. So, if you get 2,000 calories a day, between 900 and 1,300 calories should be from carbohydrates. That translates to between 225 and 325 grams of carbohydrates a day.” (www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/)
As you can see, this is unacceptable for healthy functioning of the body, and once you have lost all of the weight from virtually starving yourself, your body begins to cry out and that’s when the binging starts and the weight gain creeps back on. Your body is in shock. It doesn’t know why your aren’t getting enough of this certain nutrient, so it’s response is the same as hundreds of years ago when famine and starvation were common: It stores more fat. Then more. And more. Resulting in you just gaining the weight back. This same thing happened with my Dad, he put all of his hard lost weight back on. After, he decided to go back on the Atkins diet, expecting the same results as the first time, but what he found was that he only lost 2 stones, then he put more weight on. The third time, he lost 1.5 stones, and so on.
Things began to change… let’s just say that nothing improved. One thing that kept occurring is that his breath began to smell and he went to the toilet less frequently (tmi, I know) – a couple of reasons being:
1. “A condition called “hypochlorhydria” or low stomach acid. Foods such as red meat require a relatively large amount of stomach acid and enzymes in order to be digested. When acid levels are low in the stomach, it can prevent proper digestion.”
2. “It’s definitely another possibility that the meat is getting stuck in the teeth and gums and causing odors”
3. There are sources pointing out our ‘omnivorous’ digestive tracts, stating that we have a longer digestive system, wherein meat remains for longer as opposed to our carnivorous counterparts. (see below)
All of the above got me thinking – maybe we aren’t supposed to be eating things such as meat and dairy in large quantities?
Below are two screenshots of the official Atkins website showing their (rather limited and unhealthy) guidelines for weight loss.
This is a very current topic in society, as the problems are getting worse and the solutions are nonexistent. We are destroying ourselves and the environment. After seeing the array of fad diets doing more harm then good (much like the Atkins diet), I am convinced that people need to be healthy for themselves and the planet. Veganism is the solution, but getting this across in a way that doesn’t sound like I’m preaching will be a task. It sounds terrifying, I know. But this is what worked for me, and this is also the solution to all the problems I proposed, from overfishing to obesity, animal mistreatment and overconsumption of food.
For years I tried so many diets and failed so many times, so I am very passionate about showing others that it is possible to become the best version of yourself in a safe and healthy way that doesn’t involve starving your body of nutrients. It’s a given that young children learn off parents, and this can be a huge reason why ditching animal products is so hard – we are used to it and it’s what we have grown up as thinking is right.
For these personal reasons, I now know this is what I need to do – to educate and to help. A how-to guide, ‘starter pack’ if you like is going to be my response.
It is going to educate while helping the issues it causes. An eye opened – something that people can relate to without feeling pressured or preached to.
Maybe you’ll agree.