Guest Post: Year’s End Balance–Becoming a Vegetarian
BY SILVIA Di BLASIO
**This guest post is just one interpretation of permaculture principles and largely refers to factory farming where animals are not treated well and massive amounts of carbon are produced. Raising and eating meat can be an ethical and sustainable part of a permaculture plan. There are many ways to approach permaculture and sustainable living, all with merits and challenges–this is just one of them**
“By eating meat we share the responsibility of climate change, the destruction of our forests,
and the poisoning of our air and water. The simple act of becoming a vegetarian will make a
difference in the health of our planet.” ~ Thích Nhất Hạnh
Many things happened on 2013, and it is difficult to say which one was more important: this was a year of meeting extraordinary people and involving myself in extraordinary projects…a year of discovery and friendship, a year I won’t forget.
One of them was my (still in progress) switch to a vegetarian diet. When friends and family members ask, they think I’m doing for all the usual reasons out there: caring for my health, caring for animals, following a trend, etc.
I don’t do it for any individual above reasons…I do it because I have slowly learned how being so dependent on meat, mostly industrialized meat and dairy production, is one of the most unsustainable behaviours we have adopted as human beings.
Some months ago, I had to develop an online course on “Food Security” as part of an eLearning certificate assignment at VCC. I was studying about the impacts of Climate Change at the same time, so I decided to focus on the two-way street of how climate change-impacts agriculture-and how industrial-agriculture impacts climate change. Over the course of my research, I learned many things, things that impulse me to join the BC Food Systems Network, take a course in Organic Master Gardening and another in Permaculture. (These steps lead me to become an O.U.R. supporter and contributor blogger)
I learned, for example, how the application of fertilizers (being phosphorus a very important component of them) is what keeps the “green revolution” alive and supports the (otherwise unsustainable) mono-crop agriculture we have today….however, phosphorus is a finite element in Nature and cannot be “created”, no matter the technology we use…it can only be saved, mined or reused (side note: I find so many people confusing technology with resources that is appalling and I plan to write another blog on this topic).
A big lot of this industrialized agriculture goes to feed animals for human consumption. Countries entering the “growth” path are known to increase meat consumption and our culture keep throwing meat and dairy at us as if we “need” them to stay healthy and well fed (which is not true, many cultures’ diets are almost meatless and/or dairy-less and they are neither starving nor developing huge illnesses, some, like many Asian cultures, live longer and healthier lives…the reason they become ill or die are different altogether from their diets and it is more related to economic, political or social issues in those countries).
Eating meat from industrialized farms actually means accepting and supporting the destruction of forests (forests need to be cut to allow for pastures and farms to grow crops to feed animals and to support farmed animals as well), the depletion of soils (as soils get depleted of nutrients and need to be artificially fed when a mono-crop is continuously grown in them), the industrialization of the killing, the slavering of millions of animals, fed and kept in captivity in horrible conditions… Eating meat is also accepting myths that have been thrown at us, such as the myth that we “need” milk to be healthy.
Eating meat is also accepting our dependence on fossil fuels, as animals for meat (and dairy) need to be fed by fossil-fuel-dependent crops, their meat needs to be transported, processed, conserved, etc. all of which uses fossil fuels…
I do make a difference: there are places in the world where becoming a vegetarian is nearly to impossible a task (think on Greenland or the Northern Territories, where rarely have vegetables, or nomad peoples in Northern Europe, Asia and Africa). It is also different when people grow and kill animals in respectful, sometimes sacred ways.
So if I have to weigh all the things I’ve done this year 2013, my path to becoming vegetarian is probably the one that has more impact: I do believe that every drop counts and I do believe that I have to do things because I think they are right, even if they may not weigh much within the big picture.
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
~ Mother Teresa
Have all a great and increasingly sustainable 2014 year and may your decisions and acts reflect a greater good for all.
Silvia Di Blasio