The Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh very eloquently expressed what the situation with food is in a talk entitled, “Eating for Peace – the Art and Science of Mindful Consumption.” Following is an excerpt from that talk.
If we look deeply, we will see that eating can be extremely violent. UNESCO tells us that every day, 40,000 children in the world die because of a lack of nutrition, of food. Every day, 40,000 children.
And the amount of grain that we grow in the West is mostly used to feed our cattle. According to a recent report, of all the agricultural land in the U.S., 87% is used to raise animals for food. That is 45% of the total land mass in the U.S.
More than half of all the water consumed in the U.S. is to raise animals for food. It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce a pound of meat, but only 25 gallons to produce a pound of wheat. A totally vegetarian diet requires 300 gallons of water per day, while a meat-eating diet requires more than 4,000 gallons of water per day.
Raising animals for food causes more water pollution than any other industry in the U.S. because animals raised for food produce 130 times the excrement of the entire human population. It means 87,000 pounds per second. Much of the waste from factory farms and slaughterhouses flows into streams and rivers, contaminating water sources.
Each vegetarian can save one acre of trees per year. More than 260 million acres of U.S. forests have been cleared to grow crops to feed animals raised for meat. And another acre of trees disappears every eight seconds. The tropical rain forests are also being destroyed to create grazing land for cattle.
In the US., animals raised for food are fed more than 80% of the corn we grow and more than 95% of the oats.
We are eating our country, we are eating our earth, we are eating our children. And I have learned that more than half the people in this country overeat.
(Published on Fragrant Palm Sangha web site: http://mysangha.blogspot.com/2008/08/eating-for-peace.html.)