Animal Products: Burdening Our Earth, Endangering Our Lives      
We are actually seeing the entire planet move towards what we call “tipping points,” the point where we lose control and no one can really tell us exactly what’s going to happen, except that it’s going to be big, it’s going be ugly, it’s going to lead to even more emissions and we are not going to be able to reverse it.

Welcome to Planet Earth: Our Loving Home. Scientific studies from around the world conclude that the cycle of producing and consuming animal products is directly responsible for the heating of our planet, and the consequences of climate change are frightening for humans, animals and the environment.

The polar ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising, droughts, floods and extreme weather events are occurring with increasing frequency and drinking water is rapidly becoming scarce. If we do not stop this cycle, runaway climate change will become a reality, with humankind being unable to save our planet.

On today’s program, we’ll examine several critical signs that show we’re on the verge of disaster and need to take immediate, rapid action to correct our current course.

One of the real problems that we are facing now is the amount of people with respect to the amount of land for producing food to enable those people to live. So, the stress that we’re putting on land and water more than anything is extremely high, because growing plants and growing food for animals is what weighs more on agriculture. And animals are basically being fed in order to feed humans.

The 2010 book, “Livestock In a Changing Landscape,” by Henning Steinfeld, Chief of the Livestock Information, Sector Analysis and Policy Branch of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and other experts present the following sobering facts about how animal agriculture has overtaken our planet:

• Livestock production occupies more than one-fourth of Earth's land mass
• Production of animal feed consumes about one-third of Earth's total arable land
• Only one-third of the nutrients fed to livestock are absorbed; the resulting animal waste seriously pollutes land and water

There’s a tremendous amount of resources that are needed to maintain a meat diet; for cattle and other animals, it requires a lot of grain, it requires a lot of chemicals, it requires often conversion of land. So it’s a very inefficient way to feed ourselves, to rely on animals.

The amount of grain used to feed livestock around the globe could easily sustain nearly two-billion people and end world food shortages. The large-scale destruction of forests to create pastureland for livestock grazing and growing animal feed is alarming, and once the land is cleared it can no longer function as a carbon sink.

In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, the clearing of land required to have grazing for cattle and other ruminants, the livestock produce a tremendous amount of methane and nitrous oxide that gives soil degradation, the pollution of waterways, and there’s a number of deleterious effects of livestock management and use.

So, I think overall, the meat-based consumption, just the ecological footprint in terms of use of water, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, degradation of soil and so on, these environmental problems are greatly exacerbated by the meat industry.

In the 2009 paper “Livestock and Climate Change” published in World Watch Magazine, it is estimated that more than 51% of human-caused, global greenhouse gas emissions arise from the continual production and consumption of animal products.

In the past, efforts to mitigate global warming have focused almost exclusively on lowering carbon dioxide emissions. But we now know that although reducing CO2 is critical, even if the entire world switched to a zero-carbon economy and lifestyle today, it would take thousands of years for this gas to dissipate.

For the moment, it hasn’t been highlighted enough. Mostly we care about emissions by cars or, by industry, but also there is an issue with cattle contributing to the emissions.

The focus is mainly on CO2, but we need an effort on all gases. So it is important to focus on other gases than CO2.

Confined animal feeding operations or CAFOs produce 400 different gases, including the short atmospheric lifetime greenhouse gases hydrogen sulfide, nitrous oxide and methane, all of which have a powerful impact on global warming. Over a 20-year period, methane alone has 72 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. By far the largest source of anthropogenic methane emissions is the livestock industry and we may not even be correctly accounting for the amounts this industry releases.

In June 2010 scientists at the University of Missouri, USA concluded that the method used by the US Environmental Protection Agency to measure methane emissions from manure lagoons, pits which sometimes hold millions of liters of animal waste from factory farms, underestimates the true amount released by as much as 65%.

A global shift from a meat-based to a plant-based diet will reduce the effects of global warming much more dramatically than will a reduction in the use of fossil fuels. Thus driving less and using energy-saving light bulbs, though wise choices, cannot quickly cool our planet like halting the madness that is animal agriculture, a completely unnecessary activity that’s putting all life on Earth at risk.

When we return, we’ll examine the role of subsidies for livestock farming and their relation to environmental damage. Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television.

So, these are the years where we have a choice, we can either move past the tipping points or we cannot. But if we start seeing things like the crash of the Amazon ecosystem or the Greenland ice sheets melt, then our children will not have the choices we have today.

Welcome back to today’s Planet Earth: Our Loving Home on Supreme Master Television, focusing on animal products, including meat, fish, eggs and dairy as the primary drivers of climate change and the need to quickly end their consumption. The ecological costs of meat eating are tremendous, from accelerating deforestation and desertification to causing the loss of arable land, warming our planet and making the polar ice caps disappear.

In light of these facts, how can hamburgers, for example, be sold at such affordable prices? The chief reason is government subsidies cover the real costs of meat production and make consumers unaware that they are literally eating up Earth’s precious resources with every bite they take.

Regarding this issue, fourth-generation US cattle rancher-turned- vegan Howard Lyman states, "In the US we can buy a hamburger for 79 cents. If the American taxpayer was not involved in subsidizing the beef industry, the same hamburger meat would cost over US$12. Meat in America today would cost US$48 a pound if it were not for the American taxpayers subsidizing the grain, the irrigation water, the electricity [and] the grazing on public lands.”

Supreme Master Ching Hai, who is deeply concerned about our planet’s future, has also addressed the critical question of subsidies for animal products.

We are the ones who are paying the industry to continue producing this problem, producing meat, fish and the like, with our hard earned tax money that’s used to subsidize them. Ironic? And all the while, we are suffering from illness, losing lives, grieving over lost loved ones, family members; losing happiness; losing money due to the animal diet.

The government could, of course, redirect the billions of dollars now spent on livestock subsidies to help farmers switch to organic vegetable and fruit agriculture. The government could use these powerful tools to spread campaigns about veg alternatives, bans on meat, and laws to help people switch to organic, vegan farming and consumption.

A global switch to a veg diet could even save the world governments a lot of money, as much as 80% of all the climate mitigation costs of US$40 trillion by the year 2050. That is, we save US$32 trillion in climate mitigation costs, and having a healthy vegan population is a good deal, good business deal in all positive aspects.

Senior policy advisor to the United Nations Development Programme and vegan Dr. Charles Ian McNeill agrees that it’s an utter waste to provide money to an industry that is destroying our one and only home.

It would be important to remove subsidies; there are government subsidies and investments in encouraging a meat diet, and I think those subsidies should disappear. What would be important for people to make their choice is to have access to good, accurate, up-to- date information about the impact of a meat-based diet on the planet and on their health. I think many of us have grown up with a particular way of life that we’ve inherited from some generations, unexamined, and the world is now different.

To meet the greatest challenge that humanity has ever faced, please act as an ambassador for our planet and spread the urgent message that if we all lead the organic, vegan lifestyle, this will ensure that we never reach the tipping points that lead to runaway climate change.

We can all play the role of planetary hero and inform our friends and families that the plant-based diet is the most Earth-protective step we can take. The good news of the vegan solution can be distributed via the Internet, e-mail, magazines and school programs. Letting companies know we only want animal-free products is important as well.

I am a vegan, mostly raw vegan and I’ve been very impressed by the impact on my personal health, but also equally importantly, and perhaps even more importantly, is the impact of a vegan diet on the planet. And one of the most encouraging things that I’ve discovered is that the same behavior that is producing great benefits for my personal health is also providing value for the planet in terms of reducing my carbon footprint.

We all have individual choices; actually, our individual and collective choices have everything to do with the options that are offered. That if we ask for vegetarian and vegan options in restaurants and in grocery stores, we can shift what’s made available. We can also shift the marketplace by providing markets for organic, locally produced products so we as individuals, individually and collectively can influence how markets go.

It’s a responsibility for each of us as individuals; we need to make choices in our lifestyle. Many of us think, “Well, I’m just one person, it doesn’t make a difference.” Mahatma Gandhi and other great leaders have shown that the individual does make a difference, that each one of us and the commitments we make and the way we live our lives provides an example for others.

For more details on the individuals featured in today’s program, please visit the following respective websites:
Charles Hleronymi
Dr. Charles Ian McNeill
Tove Maria Ryding
Daniela Tarizzo

Thank you for your kind company on today’s edition of Planet Earth: Our Loving Home. Coming up next is Enlightening Entertainment after Noteworthy News. May our planet soon reach stability through our loving care for all beings and preservation of life.

  The Oceans’ Vital Role in Global Climate 
 Livestock Raising: Devastating Forests and Driving Climate Change in Australia and Beyond 

Climate Change Conference with Supreme Master Ching Hai
Supreme Master Ching Hai on the Environment
Videoconference with Supreme Master Ching Hai and TV staff
Lectures from International Gatherings in 2008 and 2009
Simple & Nutritious Cooking with Supreme Master Ching Hai
The King & Co.
Aphorisms scrolls
Award of the Month Scrolls
Constructive Scrolls
Peace & Freedom Scrolls
Supreme Master Ching Hai's Aphorisms
Shining World Leadership Award