the slippery slope
- The number of animals killed for food in the United States is nearly 75 times larger than the number of animals killed in laboratories, 30 times larger than the number killed by hunters and trappers, and 500 times larger than the number of animals killed in animal pounds.Killing animals for food, clothing, "sport," etc. IS unnecessary.Cruelty to animals will lead inevitably to cruelty to human beings."Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds them," is a quote attributed to Leonardo da Vinci. "We live by the death of others. We are burial places! I have since an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men will look upon the murder of animals as they look upon the murder of man."Linnaeus, who introduced binomial nomenclature (naming plants and animals according to their physical structure) wrote:"Man's structure, external and internal, compared with that of other animals shows that fruit and succulent vegetables constitute his natural food."Predators exist in the wild, but that does not imply man must automatically imitate them. Cannibalism and rape also occur in nature. Robert Louis Stevenson, in his book In the South Seas, noted there was no difference between the "civilized" Europeans and the "savages" of the Cannibal Islands."We consume the carcasses of creatures with like appetites, passions, and organs as our own. We feed on babes, though not our own, and fill the slaughterhouses daily with screams of pain and fear."Studies indicate flesh-eaters have less endurance than do vegetarians, while vegetarians have two to three times greater stamina and recover five times more quickly from exhaustion. Most kinds of cancer, as well as heart disease, osteoporosis, kidney disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, hemorrhoids, diverticulosis, arthritis, gallstones and gallbladder disease are all preventable and treatable on a vegetarian diet.A pamphlet put out by Compassion Over Killing says raising animals for food is one of the leading causes of both pollution and resource depletion today. According to a recent United Nations report, Livestock's Long Shadow, raising chickens, turkeys, pigs, and other animals for food causes more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars, trucks and other forms of transportation combined.
Researchers from the University of Chicago similarly concluded that a vegetarian diet is the most energy efficient, and the average American does more to reduce global warming emissions by not eating animal products than by switching to a hybrid car.
"Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today's most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation."
--Union Nations' Food and Agriculture Association
Nearly 75% of the grain grown and 50% of the water consumed in the U.S. are used by the meat industry. (Audubon Society)
Over 260 million acres of U.S. forest have been cleared to grow grain for livestock. (Greenpeace)
It takes nearly one gallon of fossil fuel and 5,200 gallons of water to produce just one pound of conventionally fed beef. (Mother Jones)
Farmed animals produce an estimated 1.4 billion tons of fecal waste each year in the U.S. Much of this untreated waste pollutes the land and water.
"The impact of countless hooves and mouths over the years has done more to alter the type of vegetation and land forms of the West than all the water projects, strip mines, power plants, freeways, and sub-division developments combined."
--Philip Fradkin, in Audubon, National Audubon Society, New York
Agricultural meat production generates air pollution. As manure decomposes, it releases over 400 volatile organic compounds, many of which are extremely harmful to human health. Nitrogen, a major by-product of animal wastes, changes to ammonia as it escapes into the air, and this is a major source of acid rain. Worldwide, livestock produce over 30 million tons of ammonia. Hydrogen sulfide, another chemical released from animal waste, can cause irreversible neurological damage, even at low levels.
The World Conservation Union lists over 1,000 different fish species that are threatened or endangered. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimate, over 60 percent of the world's fish species are either fully exploited or depleted. Commercial fish populations of cod, hake, haddock, and flounder have fallen by as much as 95 percent in the north Atlantic.
Livestock production affects a startling 70 to 85 percent of the land area of the United States, United Kingdom, and the European Union. That includes the public and private rangeland used for grazing, as well as the land used to produce the crops that feed the animals. By comparison, urbanization only affects three percent of the United States land area, slightly larger for the European Union and the United Kingdom. Meat production consumes the world's land resources.
Half of all fresh water worldwide is used for thirsty livestock. Producing eight ounces of beef requires an unimaginable 25,000 liters of water, or the water necessary for one pound of steak equals the water consumption of the average household for a year.
The Worldwatch Institute estimates one pound of steak from a steer raised in a feedlot costs: five pounds of grain, a whopping 2,500 gallons of water, the energy equivalent of a gallon of gasoline, and about 34 pounds of topsoil.
Thirty-three percent of our nation's raw materials and fossil fuels go into livestock destined for slaughter. In a vegan economy, only two percent of our resources will go to the production of food.
According to the editors of World Watch, July/August 2004:"The human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future--deforestization, topsoil erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities and the spread of disease."
Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk, similarly says in the February 1995 issue of Harmony: Voices for a Just Future (a peace and justice periodical on the relgious Left):"...the survival of our planet depends on our sense of belonging--to all other humans, to dolphins caught in dragnets to pigs and chickens and calves raised in animal concentration camps, to redwoods and rainforests, to kelp beds in our oceans, and to the ozone layer."
****In a letter to a friend on the subject of vegetarianism, Albert Einstein wrote, "besides agreeing with your aims for aesthetic and moral reasons, it is my view that a vegetarian manner of living by its purely physical effect on the human temperament would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind."U Nu, the former Prime Minister of Burma, made a similar observation: "World peace, or any other kind of peace, depends greatly on the attitude of the mind. Vegetarianism can bring about the right mental attitude for peace...it holds forth a better way of life, which, if practiced universally, can lead to a better, more just, and more peaceful community of nations."According to Count Leo Tolstoy, "A vegetarian diet is the acid test of humanitarianism.""Who loves this terrible thing called war?" asked Isadora Duncan. "Probably the meat-eaters, having killed, feel the need to kill...The butcher with his bloody apron incites bloodshed, murder. Why not? From cutting the throat of a young calf to cutting the throats of our brothers and sisters is but a step. While we ourselves are living graves of murdered animals, how can we expect any ideal conditions on the earth?""I personally believe," wrote Isaac Bashevis Singer, "that as long as human beings will go on shedding the blood of animals, there will never be any peace. There is only one little step from killing animals to creating gas chambers a' la Hitler and concentration camps a' la Stalin--all such deeds are done in the name of 'social justice.' There will be no justice as long as man will stand with a knife or with a gun and destroy those who are weaker than he is."Pro-lifers who eat meat are sabotaging their own cause!In a 1979 essay entitled "Abortion and the Language of the Unconscious," contemporary Hindu spiritual master Ravindra-svarupa dasa (Dr. William Deadwyler) wrote:"A (spiritually) conscious person will not kill even animals (much less very young humans) for his pleasure or convenience. Certainly the unconsciousness and brutality that allows us to erect factories of death for animals lay the groundwork for our treating humans in the same way."Vegan author John Robbins similarly writes in his Pulitzer Prize nominated Diet for a New America (1987):"The way we treat animals is indicative of the way we treat our fellow humans. One Soviet study, published in Ogonyok, found that over 87% of a group of violent criminals has, as children, burned, hanged, or stabbed domestic animals. In our own country, a major study by Dr. Stephen Kellert of Yale University found that children who abuse animals have a much higher likelihood of becoming violent criminals."A 1997 study by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) reported that children convicted of animal abuse are five times more likely to commit violence against other humans than are their peers, and four times more likely to be involved in acts against property.Russell Weston Jr., tortured and killed twelve cats: burned and cut off their tails, paws, ears; poured toxic chemicals in their eyes to blind them; forced them to ingest poison, hung them from trees (the noose loose enough to create a slow and painful death.) Later killed two officers at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC.Jeffery Dahmer staked cats to trees and decapitated dogs. Later he dissected boys, and kept their body parts in the refrigerator. Murdered seventeen men.Kip Kinkle shot 25 classmates and killed several in Springfield, Oregon. He killed his father and mother. Said he blew up a cow once. Set a live cat on fire and dragged the innocent creature through the main street of town. Classmates rated him as "Most Likely to Start World War Three."As a boy, Albert De Salvo, the "Boston Strangler," placed a dog and cat in a crate with a partition between them. After starving the animals for days, he removed the partition to watch them kill each other. He raped and killed thirteen women by strangulation. He often posed bodies in a shocking manner after their murders.Richard Allen Davis set numerous cats on fire. He killed all of Polly Klaas' animals before abducting and murdering Polly Klaas, aged twelve, from her bedroom.After sixteen-year-old Luke Woodham mortally stabbed his mother, killed two classmates and shot seven others, he confessed to bludgeoning his dog Sparkle with baseball bats and pouring liquid fuel down her throat and to set fire to her neck. "I made my first kill today," he wrote in his court-subpoenaed journal. "It was a loved one...I'll never forget the howl she made. It sounded almost human."In June 1998, Woodham was found guilty of three murders and seven counts of aggravated assault. He was sentenced to three life sentences and an additional 20 years for each assault.Theodore Robert Bundy, executed in 1989 for at least fifty murders, was forced to witness a grandfather who tortured animals. Bundy later heaped graves with animal bones.David Berkowitz, "Son of Sam," poisoned his mother's parakeet out of jealousy. He later shot thirteen young men and women. Six people died and at least two suffered permanent disabilities.Keith Hunter Jesperson, "Happy Face Killer," bashed gopher heads and beat, strangled and shot stray cats and dogs. He is known to have strangled eight women.He said: "You're actually squeezing the life out of these animals...Choking a human being or a cat--it's the same feeling...I'm the very end result of what happens when somebody kills an animal at an early age."Carroll Edward Cole, executed in 1985 for an alleged 35 murders and reputed to be one of the most prolific serial killers in U.S. history, confessed that his first act of violence was to strangle a puppy under the porch of his house.Robert Alton Harris murdered two 16-year-old boys, doused a neighbor with lighter fluid and tossed matches at him. His initial run-in with police was for killing neighborhood cats.Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, which launched the modern day environmental movement, wrote:"Until we have the courage to recognize cruelty for what it is whether its victim is human or animal we cannot expect things to be much better in this world. We cannot have peace among men whose hearts delight in killing any living creature. By every act that glorifies or even tolerates such moronic delight in killing we set back the progress of humanity."In a December 1990 letter to Eric Mills of Action For Animals, vegan labor leader Cesar Chavez similarly observed:"Kindness and compassion towards all living things is a mark of a civilized society. Conversely, cruelty, whether it is directed against human beings or against animals, is not the exclusive province of any one culture or community of people. Racism, economic deprival, dog fighting and cockfighting, bullfighting and rodeos are cut from the same fabric: violence. Only when we have become nonviolent towards all life will we have learned to live well ourselves."Mother Teresa, honored for her work among the poor with the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize, wrote in 1992 to Marlene Ryan, a former member of the National Alliance for Animals. Her letter reads:"I am praying for you that God’s blessing may be with you in all that you are doing to create concern for the animals which are often subjected to much cruelty. They, too, are created by the same loving Hand of God which created us. As we humans are gifted with intelligence which the animals lack, it is our duty to protect them and to promote their well being."We also owe it to them as they serve us with such wonderful docility and loyalty. A person who shows cruelty to these creatures cannot be kind to other humans also. Let us do all we can to become instruments of peace—where we are—the true peace that comes from loving and caring and respecting each person as a child of God—my brother—my sister."--Vasu