By Ali Krishna devi dasi
On Thursday, October 29th, I represented ISKCON and participated in a panel, organized by graduate students in the University of Florida (UF) Religion Department, discussing religious values and the environment. The other panelists included a representative of Islam, Professor Sarra Tlili from the UF Department of Asian & African Languages, a local Jewish rabbi, and another student from Campus Crusade for Christ.
Having an undergraduate degree in environmental science and as an environmental activist for the past 15 years, my personal conclusion is that Krishna consciousness is the climax and saving grace of any environmentalist’s career. I emphasized in my introductory statement why vegetarianism and simple living are two of ISKCON’s most relevant values when it comes to ecological awareness. As we strive to see all living entities with equal vision, embracing vegetarianism is an immediate symptom of higher consciousness. Naturally, vegetarianism is also a symptom of ecological awareness. As the industrialized agricultural industry and meat consumption continues to expand, the environmental impact has been detrimental. I explained that by the end of our discussion, over 1.5 million animals will have been slaughtered in the U.S. alone. What this translates into is over 55 billion animals slaughtered annually. Thus, an unprecedented demand for petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides is needed in order to grow enough feed crops, which means more land to grow these crops, which demands one-third of the world’s arable land and another 25% of the world’s ice-free land to “graze” them. I further explained that 5000 gallons of water are used to produce one pound of beef versus 25 gallons of water to produce one pound of wheat or lettuce, and that last year, the UN made a statement that 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions were attributed to the livestock industry, whereas all modes of transportation, including cars, trucks, trains, planes, and ships combined, account for a lesser 13%. I quoted manta one from the Sri Isopanisad, “isavasyam idam sarvam…” and concluded by saying that ISKCON sees the root of all sin as the deliberate disobedience of the laws of nature through disregarding the proprietorship of the Lord.
In summary, I felt the other panelists had much to say philosophically but few examples of “lived religion” or organized efforts of environmentalism in practice. An interesting point I observed was that every panelist commented on the environment as being under humanity’s stewardship yet also existing for our enjoyment. After all the panelists presented their opening statement, the forum was opened up to questions from the audience. Approximately 50 students and community members were in attendance. The lively discussion that followed centered on vegetarianism, global warming, death rites, and war.
This panel is the first of a series of three. My professor, Dr. Whitney Sanford, who has a Ph.D. in Religious Studies with a specialization in north Indian devotional traditions, is very favorable towards ISKCON and recently attended the Vaishnavi Retreat at New Vrindavan. The following day, Professor Tlili approached a devotee on campus and asked for a copy of the Bhagavad-gita. In my opinion, ISKCON has an invaluable voice that must be strengthened and refined in order to be heard and understood by modern society and academia in regards to environmentalism. Yet, embracing or even discussing vegetarianism as a solution seems to be a truth even too inconvenient for Al Gore.
LONDON: Going the vegetarian way can help to tackle the problem of global warming apart from its known health benefits to human, according to a climate expert.
“Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world’s resources. A vegetarian diet is better,” Lord Stern of Brentford said.
“Direct emissions of methane from cows and pigs is a significant source of greenhouse gases. Methane is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a global warming gas,” he said.
Lord Stern, author of the 2006 Stern Review on the cost of tackling global warming, said that a successful deal at the upcoming Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen would lead to soaring costs for meat and other foods that generate large quantities of greenhouse gases.
“I think it’s important that people think about what they are doing and that includes what they are eating,” he said.
A former chief economist at the World Bank, Stern warned that British taxpayers would need to contribute about £ 3 billion a year by 2015 to help poor countries to cope with the impact of climate change.
Speaking on the eve of an all-parliamentary debate on climate change, Lord Stern admitted that he himself is not a strict vegetarian.
Video found at CNN.com
According to the U.N., going vegetarian would have a positive impact on climate change. Watch the video here.
Article posted on the Food For Life Global website.
Director of Food for Life Global, Priyavrata das (Paul Turner), was interviewed on Healthy Life Radio, touted as the “all positive talk radio” by celebrity vegan Victoria Moran. The 60-minute interview covered such topics as global warming, the economic crisis and the negative karma of eating meat. Paul also talked about the charities solution to world hunger and his experience in war zones during food relief operations.
The full interview can be downloaded from Healthylife.net.
By Bryan Walsh, Time Magazine
Need another reason to feel guilty about feeding your children that Happy Meal — aside from the fat, the calories and that voice in your head asking why you can’t be bothered to actually cook a well-balanced meal now and then? Rajendra Pachauri would like to offer you one. The head of the U.N.’s Nobel Prize–winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Pachauri on Monday urged people around the world to cut back on meat in order to combat climate change. “Give up meat for one day [per week] at least initially, and decrease it from there,” Pachauri told Britain’s Observer newspaper. “In terms of immediacy of action and the feasibility of bringing about reductions in a short period of time, it clearly is the most attractive opportunity.” So, that addiction to pork and beef isn’t just clogging your arteries; it’s flame-broiling the earth, too.
Livestock production has a bigger climate impact than transport, the UN believes
People should consider eating less meat as a way of combating global warming, says the UN’s top climate scientist.
Rajendra Pachauri, who chairs the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), will make the call at a speech in London on Monday evening.
UN figures suggest that meat production puts more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than transport. But a spokeswoman for the UK’s National Farmers’ Union (NFU) said methane emissions from farms were declining.
Dr Pachauri has just been re-appointed for a second six-year term as chairman of the Nobel Prize-winning IPCC, the body that collates and evaluates climate data for the world’s governments.
“The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has estimated that direct emissions from meat production account for about 18% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions,” he told BBC News.
“So I want to highlight the fact that among options for mitigating climate change, changing diets is something one should consider.”
Climate of persuasion
The FAO figure of 18% includes greenhouse gases released in every part of the meat production cycle – clearing forested land, making and transporting fertiliser, burning fossil fuels in farm vehicles, and the front and rear end emissions of cattle and sheep.
The contributions of the three main greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – are roughly equivalent, the FAO calculates.
Transport, by contrast, accounts for just 13% of humankind’s greenhouse gas footprint, according to the IPCC.
Dr Pachauri will be speaking at a meeting organised by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), whose main reason for suggesting people lower their consumption of meat is to reduce the number of animals in factory farms.
CIWF’s ambassador Joyce D’Silva said that thinking about climate change could spur people to change their habits.
“The climate change angle could be quite persuasive,” she said.
“Surveys show people are anxious about their personal carbon footprints and cutting back on car journeys and so on; but they may not realise that changing what’s on their plate could have an even bigger effect.”
There are various possibilities for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with farming animals.
They range from scientific approaches, such as genetically engineering strains of cattle that produce less methane flatus, to reducing the amount of transport involved through eating locally reared animals.
“The NFU is committed to ensuring farming is part of the solution to climate change, rather than being part of the problem,” an NFU spokeswoman told BBC News.
“We strongly support research aimed at reducing methane emissions from livestock farming by, for example, changing diets and using anaerobic digestion.”
Methane emissions from UK farms have fallen by 13% since 1990.
But the biggest source globally of carbon dioxide from meat production is land clearance, particularly of tropical forest, which is set to continue as long as demand for meat rises.
Ms D’Silva believes that governments negotiating a successor to the Kyoto Protocol ought to take these factors into account.
“I would like governments to set targets for reduction in meat production and consumption,” she said.
“That’s something that should probably happen at a global level as part of a negotiated climate change treaty, and it would be done fairly, so that people with little meat at the moment such as in sub-Saharan Africa would be able to eat more, and we in the west would eat less.”
Dr Pachauri, however, sees it more as an issue of personal choice.
“I’m not in favour of mandating things like this, but if there were a (global) price on carbon perhaps the price of meat would go up and people would eat less,” he said.
“But if we’re honest, less meat is also good for the health, and would also at the same time reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.”
Filed under: Vegetarianism
We were in the country driving from Durban, South Africa, and there were some big, long, white buildings some distance from the highway. Srila Prabhupada asked, “What are those buildings?” I responded, “They are chicken coops that belong to a large chicken farm. They use them as slaughterhouses.” Srila Prabhupada said, “Why do they buy chicken? Let them make a chicken. Let them take some egg, put some liquid on it, incubate it, and hatch a chicken. But those rascals can’t because they don’t understand that life is not the egg but the spirit soul.” He carried on in an animated way talking about that.”
-Pusta Krishna das, Memories: Anecdotes of a Modern-Day Saint
Article found at Permaworld Foundation
The meat industry is one of the most destructive ecological industries on the planet. The raising and slaughtering of pigs, cows, sheep, turkeys and chickens not only utilizes vast areas of land and vast quantities of water, but it is a greater contributor to greenhouse gas emissions than the automobile industry. The seafood industry is literally plundering the ocean of life and some fifty percent of fish caught from the oceans is fed to cows, pigs, sheep, chickens etc in the form of fish meal. It also takes about fifty fish caught from the sea to raise one farm raised salmon.
We have turned the domestic cow into the largest marine predator on the planet. The hundreds of millions of cows grazing the land and farting methane consume more tonnage of fish than all the world’s sharks, dolphins and seals combined. Domestic housecats consume more fish, especially tuna, than all the world’s seals.
So why is it that all the world’s large environmental and conservation groups are not campaigning against the meat industry? Why did Al Gore’s film Inconvenient Truth not mention the inconvenient truth that the slaughter industry creates more greenhouse gases than the automobile industry? (more…)
By Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, Food For Thought
Humans are funny birds. We get so wrapped up in habits, comfort zones, and traditions that sometimes we forget who we are, what we care about, and why we even do what we do. Thanksgiving is one such instance, sadly exemplified by its alternative name: “Turkey Day.” Thanksgiving is meant to be a day when we celebrate the bounty of the harvest, pause in gratitude for the abundance most of us experience, and share what we have with others. Most people don’t stop to think about the nearly 300 million birds that are killed each year in the U.S., just to satisfy our taste buds. Of this number, 45 million are killed for Thanksgiving alone.
As someone who teaches vegetarian cooking classes, I’ve seen many people turn away from meat, dairy, and eggs and embrace the array of delicious, nutritious plant-based foods available to us. I’ve also seen them change the lens through which they view the world, which I think is critical for shedding the comfort zones of the past and creating new ones. Some people have a real fear that they will no longer have satisfying, filling meals – especially on Thanksgiving. I can say with confidence that they can put their fears to rest.
Our Thanksgiving feast every year is full of comfort foods galore, prepared with organic ingredients from local farms: mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, bread & nut stuffing, mashed rutabagas, cranberries with pecans and cranberries, stuffed acorn squash, corn bread, Brussels sprouts, corn, peas, pumpkin pie with cashew cream, and apple pie. This was our menu last year, and I’m sure I’ve left something out. Indeed, there is no dearth of food on our table on this special day, as we share it with our closest friends and family.
For those who have never met them, turkeys are magnificent animals, full of spunk and spark and affection, with individual personalities and charms. These animals, who have been abused and discarded by human beings, whose beaks and toes have been mutilated, and whose genetically overgrown bodies are susceptible to heart disease and leg deformities, still display immense affection towards humans. They are incredibly curious and follow you wherever you go, and their wonderful vocalizations include an array of clucks, purrs, coos, and cackles.
Turkeys love to be caressed, and people often remark that they respond just like their own dogs and cats. Turkeys even make a purring sound when they are content, and not until you’ve had a hen fall asleep under your arm have you lived. She will literally melt under your touch, relax her body, and begin to close her eyes, softly clucking all the while. It’s a sight to see, and I’m moved every time I have the privilege to witness it.
Some individuals are more affectionate than others, climbing into your lap and making themselves as comfortable as can be. At an animal sanctuary I frequent, a particularly friendly turkey became infamous for her propensity to hug. As soon as you crouched down, she would run over to you, press her body against yours, and crane her head over your shoulders, clucking all the while. It’s amazing how so generous a hug can be given by someone with no arms.
They’re not all saints, but some are heroes. One turkey became my personal protector when I was trying to clean a barn and was continually accosted by a particularly rude and aggressive bird. Each time the aggressor would begin to close in on me, my hero would waddle over and get between me and his barn-mate. It was remarkable, and it happened over and over (turkeys are very persistent). What made this scene even more touching was the fact that these toms suffered from bumble foot, an occurrence of abscesses on the footpads that resemble corns, a common occurrence in domesticated turkeys. Between their grotesquely large breasts and inflamed feet, turkeys walk very awkwardly and with a lot of effort. I was very touched that such an effort was made on my behalf.
I grew up eating turkeys’ breasts, turkeys’ legs, and turkeys’ wings, and I’m still making amends to these extraordinary animals. I believe we’re able to mutilate certain animals for our gustatory pleasure because we don’t have relationships with them. We never meet them face to face. Once I met a turkey, I was never the same again. Once I began to celebrate Thanksgiving as turkey-free holiday, I learned for the first time what “Happy Turkey Day” really means.
Bhagavad-gītā As It Is (14.1)
by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
The result of pious action is pure and is said to be in the mode of goodness. But action done in the mode of passion results in misery, and action performed in the mode of ignorance results in foolishness.
The result of pious activities in the mode of goodness is pure. Therefore the sages, who are free from all illusion, are situated in happiness. But activities in the mode of passion are simply miserable. Any activity for material happiness is bound to be defeated. If, for example, one wants to have a skyscraper, so much human misery has to be undergone before a big skyscraper can be built. The financier has to take much trouble to earn a mass of wealth, and those who are slaving to construct the building have to render physical toil. The miseries are there. Thus Bhagavad-gita says that in any activity performed under the spell of the mode of passion, there is definitely great misery. There may be a little so-called mental happiness — “I have this house or this money” — but this is not actual happiness.
As far as the mode of ignorance is concerned, the performer is without knowledge, and therefore all his activities result in present misery, and afterwards he will go on toward animal life. Animal life is always miserable, although, under the spell of the illusory energy,maya , the animals do not understand this. Slaughtering poor animals is also due to the mode of ignorance. The animal killers do not know that in the future the animal will have a body suitable to kill them. That is the law of nature. In human society, if one kills a man he has to be hanged. That is the law of the state. Because of ignorance, people do not perceive that there is a complete state controlled by the Supreme Lord. Every living creature is a son of the Supreme Lord, and He does not tolerate even an ant’s being killed. One has to pay for it. So indulgence in animal killing for the taste of the tongue is the grossest kind of ignorance. A human being has no need to kill animals, because God has supplied so many nice things. If one indulges in meat-eating anyway, it is to be understood that he is acting in ignorance and is making his future very dark. Of all kinds of animal killing, the killing of cows is most vicious because the cow gives us all kinds of pleasure by supplying milk. Cow slaughter is an act of the grossest type of ignorance. In the Vedic literature (Ṛg Veda 9.4.64) the words gobhih prīṇita-matsaram indicate that one who, being fully satisfied by milk, is desirous of killing the cow is in the grossest ignorance. There is also a prayer in the Vedic literature that states:
govindāya namo namaḥ
“My Lord, You are the well-wisher of the cows and the brāhmaṇas, and You are the well-wisher of the entire human society and world.” (Viṣṇu Purāṇa 1.19.65) The purport is that special mention is given in that prayer for the protection of the cows and the brāhmaṇas. Brāhmaṇas are the symbol of spiritual education, and cows are the symbol of the most valuable food; these two living creatures, the brāhmaṇas and the cows, must be given all protection — that is real advancement of civilization. In modern human society, spiritual knowledge is neglected, and cow killing is encouraged. It is to be understood, then, that human society is advancing in the wrong direction and is clearing the path to its own condemnation. A civilization which guides the citizens to become animals in their next lives is certainly not a human civilization. The present human civilization is, of course, grossly misled by the modes of passion and ignorance. It is a very dangerous age, and all nations should take care to provide the easiest process,Krishna consciousness, to save humanity from the greatest danger.