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Does Diet Impact the World?

Story ID:4099
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:various various various
Year:2008
Person:Gates Foundation
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I was profoundly disturbed when I read about the Gates Foundation giving large amounts
of their money to promote the Heifer International Foundation. Young farm animals will be sent
to the impoverished places of Africa. While it sounds like a wonderfully caring enterprise, I hope
that you will read some of the possible consequences in this poorly conceived "remedy"
to address their poverty.

Bill Gates who made a gigantic name for himself in the computer business may have
surrounded himself with people who don't seem to know how to use computers for
research. Addressing hunger by introducing meat to the diets of the poor people
of Africa just doesn't seem a wise move given findings of research scientists and
the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

I knew that I could easily find information re this subject by using the many available
search wagons. I often use the one benefiting my animal charity. So on the Welcome
Good Search line I typed - Can the earth sustain a meat-eating world? Simple as that.
Here are some of the quotes from the four links I printed out:

WHY ANIMAL AGRICULTURE DOESN'T ADD UP --"The more meat we eat, the fewer
people we can feed. If everyone on Earth received 25 percent of his or her calories from
animal products, only 3.2 billion people could be nourished. Dropping that figure to 15
per cent would mean that 4.2 billion people could be fed......Producing the grain that is
used to feed farmed animals requires vast amounts of water. It takes about 300 gallons
of water per day to produce food for a vegan, and more than 4,000 gallons of water per day
to produce food for a meat- eater." (Goveg.org/WorldHunger-animal Agriculture).

LEARNING FROM CHINA (Why the Western Economic Model Will not work for the World)
".........For this exercise we will assume an 8 percent annual economic growth rate
(for China). If the Chinese consume resources in 2031 as voraciusly as Americans do
now, grain consumption per person there would be a climb from 291 kilograms today to the
935 kilograms needed to sustain a U.S. -style diet rich in MEAT, MILK, AND EGGS......
To reach the U.S. 2004 meat intake of 125 kilograms per person, China's meat
consumption would rise from the current 64 million tons to 181 million tons in 2031,
or roughly four fifths of current world meat production of 239 million tons."

Do we really want to teach other nations to eat meat? I hope China doesn't follow our
bad example and that of the other rich nations because we are seriously depleting
the resources of the world. Of course, it seems that they are heading there.

And from OUT OF THE EARTH-GO VEGETARIAN! I found 11 pages of worthwhile considerations--
hoping I have picked the most "neutral." "Planet earth is suffering. In large measure, the excalating
loss of species, destruction of ancient rainforests to create pasture lands for livestock, loss of
topsoils and the consequent increase of water impurities and air pollution have all been traced
to the single fact of MEAT in the human diet."

The ENVIRONMENTAL ARGUMENT AGAINST MEAT-EATING --" The temperature of the
earth is rising. This global warming, known as 'the greenhouse effect'results primarily
from carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas.
Three times more fossil fuels must be burned to produce a meat-centered diet than for
a meat-free diet. If people stopped eating meat, the threat of higher world temperatures
would be vastly diminshed." (If you believe this - than should we be introducing the
raising of meat animals in Africa?)

I found this quote from OUT OF THE EARTH: Meat-eating is devouring oil reserves at an
alarming rate. It takes 78 calories of fossil fuel (oil, natural gas, etc.) energy to produce
one calorie of beef protein and only 2 calories of fossil fuel energy to produce one calorie
of soybean. If every human ate a meat-centered diet, the world's known oil reserves
would last a mere 13 years. They would last 260 years if humans stopped eating meat
altogether. That is 20 times longer, giving humanity ample time to develop alternative
energy sources."

Of course, I don't envision people being so concerned about the global issues as to stop
eating meat completely, but can't we try to eat less meat for the good of the world?

My last quote comes from www.huffingtonpost.com/kathy-freston: "Last year researchers
at the University of Chicago took the Prius down a peg when they turned their attention
to another gas-guzzling consumer purchase. They noted that feeding animals for meat,
dairy, and egg production requres growing some ten times as much crops as we'd need if
we just ate pasta primavera, faux chicken nuggests, and other plant foods. On top of that,
we have to transport the animals to slaugherhouses, slaughter them, refrigerate their
carcasses, and distribute their flesh all across the country. Producing a calorie of meat
protein means burning more than ten times as much fossil fuels--and spewing more than
ten times as much heat-trapping carbon dioxide--as does a calorie of plant protein."

I also shutter to think of what the slaughter practices will be in Africa if the Heifer Project
goes forward. (Not that ours are all that humane). In Oped I read Martha Rosenberg's description
of the wrenching of a rabbit's neck with the accompaning screams. It was her article which alerted
me to the Gates Foundation support of the Heifer International Program.

If the Gates people didn't do their homework - I hope it is not too late to do it now. and if
the plan seems unwise, it probably is. Helping the impoverished of Africa is a wonderful
enterprise - but sending helpless innocent animals in horrible transportation
conditions to people who don't have the resources or know how to raise them compassionately
will only lead to incidences of cruelty. The Foundation would do much better to send
people with an agricultural background to show them how to coax grain and vegetables
from their poor land. They will probably need help finding water resources along with
sending them seeds and fertilizer as well as tools which will make farming easier for them.

I think providing them with live animals is the last thing they need to be healthily nourished. They
need an agricultural plan which will be a constantly renewing means of providing food for their
families. All of us can benefit from becoming more vegetarian or at least cutting down considerably
from a meat lifestyle which has been proven unhealthy -not only for us but for our environment as
well.

Can you believe that even Gandhi in the 40's warned against the devastation of a world committed
to eating meat. He wisely noted that the world could not sustain such a condition. His words are
being proven over and over again. Sadly, too many people prefer to ignore not only his words
but the words of environmental scientists and health practioners.