The Downside of Dairy and Meat Lover’s Paradise

I love Netflix with every fibre of my being. It’s the ducks nuts. I love nothing more than having a nana night at home binge-watching my favourite shows in bed. Bliss. I have just finished watching a very intriguing documentary called Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (hereafter, Cowspiracy). Man what a frickin’ eye-opener! Ever since I finished watching it, I HATE myself for being human. Like REALLY HATE myself, for the environmental degradation, I am collectively perpetuating in this world.

Photo by Stijn te Strake on Unsplash

Primarily, I hate myself for being blissfully ignorant of the extent of cruelty bestowed on animals bred purely for human consumption. Not to mention, the horrific environmental implications of animal agriculture. Cowspiracy, alarmingly details the unethical processes involved in rearing animals for human consumption in the American context. This documentary, also highlights how the United States of America is experiencing a ‘land crisis’ in that it is running out of land to feed livestock, slaughtered on a monumental scale to quell humans insatiable desire to consume massive quantities of animal-based products.

I am having a bit of an existential crisis about it all, to be honest. Are we justified in allowing animals to suffer unspoken cruelty, because of a global obsession for meat and dairy? Why should humans have complete dominion over the animal world and the environment? We are not above animals, nor are we above the environment. Humans, animals and the environment are part of a dynamically intersecting structure. As soon as you start subverting this fundamental fact, the world starts becoming more unbalanced, more unsustainable and more unethical. Alas, here we are.

Here’s some stuff to think about; what about the notion that these poor old animals bred for human consumption are being tortured prior to painful slaughtering? What about the idea these animals are being digestively reconfigured, through ingesting way too many hormones? Nobody ever talks about this, do they? What about an animal’s unspoken discomfort and unspoken agonising pain? Thinking about this makes me want to vomit. When did humans become so vile? Do we honestly, not get that what we are doing is wrong!? I think we do that’s the scary thing. We get what we are doing is wrong to animals and the environment but we don’t care. We care more about money and power. That’s the reality.

Such global hypocrites we are. We kick up a stink if we hear humans are abusing animals or deliberately killing endangered species. We are hypocrites because we delude ourselves into thinking we are animal lovers. But there is a fine line. We choose to turn a blind eye to barbaric standards animals endure. We choose to turn a blind eye to barbaric practices that are decimating our environment. We are indifferent because we don’t think it’s our problem. It is our problem since we are the cause of these problems. Us and our appetities.

What I also found extremely disconcerting about Cowspiracy is the idea that global consumption of meat is the leading cause of climate change. Bizarrely, environmentalists aren’t even talking about this, which I find weird. Environmental groups are busy banging on about pollution and mining as the leading causes of environmental degradation. Nobody is talking about the effects of animal agriculture on the environment. It doesn’t get a look in. Is it because it’s such a huge money-making industry? I don’t know. Hotshots in the global meat and dairy industries seemingly have the power money and political clout to permanently silence their critics. Absolute BS.

The global population of cows is something like 1.5 billion. Each of these cows emits something like 65 gallons of methane per day, through feed digestion. This is insane! Methane gas is shocking for the environment. It doesn’t take a brain scientist to know that. Methane traps 25 times more heat in our atmosphere than C02 emissions. Holy Moley!

What about the ‘poo-situation?’ It is vital we understand as a human collective, copious amounts of animal waste from cattle and other livestock animals, is clogging up our precious oceans and waterways. We have that many dead-zones, thanks to the toxins in animal waste it just isn’t funny. Deforestation is another massive issue. Human consumption needs have gotten #riddicks. There is a dire and desperate need to find more land for cattle feeding alone. Chopping down trees and forests has become inevitable, to keep up with global demand.

After doing a bit of digging, I have found that livestock agriculture covers 26% of the planets ice-free lands. Notwithstanding, according to Cowspiracy, animal agriculture involves using outrageous amounts of water. Anywhere between 34–76 gallons. This is epic. Global fish farming is also a huge problem. Some 90 million tons of fish are taken from the world’s oceans every year. And, for every one pound of fish caught, at least five pounds of ‘unintended marine life’ are scooped up and recklessly discarded. Part-and-parcel of the so-called ‘by-kill’ process. Unbelievable.

To me, it is about being more globally conscious of what each of us can do to try and right-the-wrong of such unsustainable processes. I care about animals and the environment but, it is clear I am not doing enough. Not nearly enough. If choosing to consume fewer animal products, (not necessarily becoming a full-blown vegan just yet), means the environment will benefit as a result of my actions in the long run, then maybe we should all consider turning over a new leaf as challenging as it may be. Doing ‘the vegan thang’ needs to be an incremental process. Slowly eliminate animal products over time. Otherwise, these dietary and lifestyle changes cannot be sustained.

“Bulldozer does construction taking down trees in the forest” by Marek Novotný on Unsplash

Animal agriculture arguably appears to have many sustainability concerns. Namely, requiring exorbitant land use contributing to deforestation; increasing water pollution (via toxic animal waste); biodiversity implications and decimation of global marine life.

Never mind that the grain-based feed these animals are given causes all kind of health problems because it isn’t actually good for them. As long as it’s good for humans who cares right? Wrong. What about the chemical additives that are in these animal’s food? Permanently embedded in animal fats? It all paints such a massively grizzly picture. I am outraged, perplexed, confused and genuinely frightened by it all. Do I eventually ditch animal products all together or do I make a conscious effort to start consuming fewer animal products? Go vegan or don’t go vegan? That is the question..

Cowspiracy has opened up my naive little eyes. It has also depressed me no end, might I also add. It is clear humans are screwing up the environment in a monumentally bad way. To channel, the refreshingly honest Mark Manson, these are the kinds of f**** we desperately need to start f***ing caring about.

Photo by Clay Knight on Unsplash

A Mover And A Shaker, Not A Faker. Enamoured by all things literarily different. A lover of boundary-pushing. A despiser of sugar-coating. Seeker of the truth.