Earthlings: A documentary on speciesism.
Forks over Knives: A documentary on what we eat.
Should Animals Be Off The Menu? An Intelligence Squared Debate
Eat Like You Care by Gary Francione and Anna Charlton
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
Eternal Treblinka by Charles Patterson
Farm Sanctuary by Gene Baur
- Animal Products Are Linked to Heart Disease. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Accessed May 12, 2015. <http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/heart-disease/>
- Baur, Gene. Farm Sanctuary. A Division of Simon and Schuster. 2008. Print.
- Bekoff, Marc. Do Animals Have Emotions? Of Course They Do. The Bark. Accessed May 12, 2015. <http://thebark.com/content/do-animals-have-emotions>
- Bentham, Jeremy. A Bentham Reader. Western Publishing Company. 1969. Print.
- Breier, Davida Gypsy. Vegan and Vegetarian FAQ. The Vegetarian Resource Group. 2001. Print.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics. Average Retail Food and Energy Prices, U.S. and Midwest Region. Accessed June 30, 2015. < http://www.bls.gov/regions/mid-atlantic/data/AverageRetailFoodAndEnergyPrices_USandMidwest_Table.htm>
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart Disease Facts. Last reviewed February 19th, 2015. Accessed June 26, 2015. <http://www.cdc.gov/HeartDisease/facts.htm>
- Chris Winters. The Case for Vegetarianism- Explained by a child – Cutest kid ever. [Video File]. June 4, 2013. Retrieved from <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJNntUXyWvw> Accessed July 30, 2015.
- Clementine Homilies: Primary Source Edition. Chapter XLV- Sacrifices. Ante-Nicene Christian Library. Edinburgh T&T Clark. Clement, 1st Bishop of Rome. Print.
- Eiselen, Frederick Carl. The Abingdon Bible Commentary. Abingdon Press. 1929. Print.
- English Standard Version Bible. Crossway Bibles. 2007. Print.
2 Kings 3:27.
2 Kings 21:6.
Acts 10:11-29, 34-35.
1st Corinthians 10:23.
- Facts About Pollution From Livestock Farms. Natural Resources Defense Council. Last Revised February 21, 2013. Accessed May 12, 2015. <http://www.nrdc.org/water/pollution/ffarms.asp>
- Feder, Yitzhaq, Ph. D.. Meat or Murder? A Vegetarian Start. Dietary Dilemmas in Biblical Law. The Torah. Accessed May 12, 2015. <http://thetorah.com/meat-or-murder-part-1/>
- Fergusson, Mark. World Hunger Can Be Solved With Vegetarian Diet. Down To Earth Blog. May 22, 2012. Accessed May 12, 2015. <https://www.downtoearth.org/blogs/2012-05/world-hunger-can-be-solved-vegetarian-diet>
- Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. Back Bay Books. 2009. Print.
- For Dummies. The Symbolic Foods at a Passover Seder. Accessed July 4, 2015. <http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/the-symbolic-foods-at-a-passover-seder.html>
- Francione, Gary. Charlton, Anna. Eat Like You Care. Exempla Press. 2013. Print
- Global Rich List. <http://www.globalrichlist.com/>
- Gonzalez, Robbie. Ten of The World’s Deadliest Plants and How They Kill You. IO9 Welcome from The Future. September 19, 2011. Accessed May 12, 2015. http://io9.com/5841540/10-of-the-worlds-deadliest-plants—-and-how-they-kill-you
- Good Reads. Good Reads Quotes. Foer, Jonathan Safran. Singer, Isaac Bashevis. Bentham, Jeremy. Pythgoras. Accessed May 12, 2015.
- How Many People Are In The United States. 1howmany. Social Science: How Many. Accessed July 1, 2015. <http://1howmany.com/how-many-people-are-in-the-united-states>
- International Standard Version. Bible. Print.
- Kindness Trust. Philip Wollen: Animals Should Be Off The Menu Debate |Subtitles in 18 languages. May 16, 2012. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQCe4qEexjc> Accessed July 23, 2015.
- Kowalski, Gary. The Souls of Animals. New World Library. 2007. Print.
- Marzluff, John. Angell, Tony. Gifts of the Crow. Simon and Schuster. 1988. Print.
- Melone, Linda. Food: Everyday Eating. 10 Reasons to Stop Eating Red Meat. CSCS. January 30, 2014. Accessed June 26, 2015. < http://www.prevention.com/food/healthy-eating-tips/10-reasons-stop-eating-red-meat?slide=2>
- Meriam Webster’s Online Dictionary. Accessed May 12, 2015.
- Mills, Milton M.D. The Comparative Anatomy Of Eating. Vegsource.com. Nov 21, 2009. Accessed August 2, 2015. < http://www.vegsource.com/news/2009/11/the-comparative-anatomy-of-eating.html>
- Mitchel, David. Cloud Atlas. Random House Publishing Group. 2008. Print.
- New American Standard Bible.
- New International Version. Bible Gateway. Accessed June 26, 2015.
Genesis 22:2, 6-14.
Romans 14:2, 14, 15.
1st John 3:17-18.
- Patterson, Charles. Eternal Treblinka: Our treatment of animals and the Holocaust. Lantern Books. 2007 Print.
- PETA2. Making The Connection. <http://features.peta2.com/making-the-connection/world-hunger.aspx>
- Poulter, Sean. The Daily Mail. The disturbing conveyor belt of death where male chicks are picked off and killed so you can have fresh eggs. Nov. 4, 2010. Accessed July 22, 2015. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1326168/Secret-footage-shows-millions-British-chicks-killed-year.html>
- Poverty.com. UNICEF. Accessed May 12, 2015. <http://www.poverty.com/>
- Practical Ethics. Singer, Peter. Cambridge University Press. 1979. Print
- Stahler, Charles. The Vegetarian Resource Group. Vegetarian Journal. 2009. Accessed July 1, 2015. <http://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2009issue4/2009_issue4_2009_poll.php>
- Sheve, Tom. How Stuff Works. “What’s the difference between LDL and HDL cholesterol?” Accessed June 26, 2015. <http://health.howstuffworks.com/diseases-conditions/cardiovascular/cholesterol/difference-between-ldl-and-hdl-cholesterol1.htm>
- Vegetarian Diets Can Help Prevent Chronic Diseases, American Dietetic Association Says. Science News. Science Daily. July 3, 2009. Accessed May 12, 2015. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090701103002.htm
- Vegetarian Foods: Powerful For Health. Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine. Accessed May 12, 2015. <http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/vegdiets/vegetarian-foods-powerful-for-health>
- Vidal, John. Ten Ways that Vegetarianism Can Save the Planet. The Guardian. July 17, 2010. Accessed May 12, 2015. <http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/jul/18/vegetarianism-save-planet-environment>
39. Water Crisis. Towards a Way to Improve The Situation. 2012. Accessed May 12, 2015. http://www.worldwatercouncil.org/library/archives/water-crisis/
In the end, I’m not too hopeful for change. After reading this book, you most likely will not. Chances are that you will go about your life the exact same way that it has been going with no alterations to your diet. However, as I said in the beginning, this book has not been written to change your mind. There is no person, fact, or event that can ever do that for you. It is not what I was aiming for. If anything softens ones heart, it will be compassion.
I did hope, however, to reveal how the Bible has a lot of material that would go against the grain of today’s modern animal foods. Verses like Genesis, where our Creator tells us what we should eat, all the way to Solomon claiming that only righteous men care for their animals, we can easily understand how the Holy Scriptures encourage us to live a vegan lifestyle.
The counter arguments (in agreement with animal slaughter) discussed above are, for the most part, taken out of context. The ones that are not taken out of context were geared towards specific people groups for very specific reasons. None of them applies to our Christian walk in the 21st century.
Essentially, I want the audience to look at the real reasons why they support the subjugation of animals. It is not because the Bible says so. It is because they simply want to. Christian groups twist what the Bible says in an attempt to justify an action that they know deep down is wrong. Most of us knew it was wrong as children.
Realizing this, as well as the looming dangers of water shortages, human exploitation, and more, there are so many reasons why we ought to at least consider a different way of life.
When confronted with oppression, David Mitchel’s character Adam Ewing stated “I cannot, in good conscious, participate in this kind of business any longer.” What can we say, now that we know the truth? Most of us do not say anything. Most of us turn off the documentaries, shush those advocating for animal liberation, and continue to contribute. But as William Wilberforce boldly explained in the 1800’s, “You may choose to look away, but you can never again say that you did not know.”
When God asks us how we handled His creation, what will we tell Him? That we loved it, raised it, and nurtured it or that we tortured it, forcefully raped it, and in the end killed and ate it? I would hope that I could say that I was concerned with animals’ wellbeing, and that I did a good job looking after his masterpiece- life. My prayer is that we can someday fulfill our roles as the caretakers of the planet, and put an end to our selfish actions.
I believe the arguments presented here offer adequate inspiration for a change of both heart and diet for the individual who claims to follow Jesus.
“We can’t plead ignorance, only indifference. Those alive today are the generations that came to know better. We have the burden and the opportunity of living in the moment when the critique of factory farming broke into the popular consciousness. We are the ones of whom it will be fairly asked, ‘What did you do when you learned the truth about eating animals?”
Jonathan Safran Foer
Eating animals, in our American model, plays a key role in a vast amount of other problems. These include deforestation, water pollution, poisoning the ground, third world poverty, disease, and the global water shortage. If the arguments in the first two sections were not enough to convince you to be a more compassionate individual, perhaps you might be more interested in the effect your diet has on other humans as well as your home planet.
“Global agribusiness has for 30 years turned to tropical rainforests – not for their timber but for the land that can be used to graze cattle or grow palm oil and soya. Millions of hectares of trees have been felled to provide burgers for the US and more recently animal feed for farms for Europe, China and Japan.
In its latest food report ‘What’s Feeding Our Food? Friends of the Earth’ estimates that around 6m hectares of forest land a year – an area equivalent to Latvia or twice the size of Belgium – and a similar acreage of peat and wetlands elsewhere, is converted to farmland a year. Of that, it says, most goes to livestock or to grow the crops to feed the cattle.
As soya becomes the world’s major crop for chicken feed, so the industry is driving cattle ranching deeper into the forests” (Vidal, 2010).
Most of this land is being used to grow food to feed to animals. Why is this a problem? Mainly because of the food shortage that is already prevailing in many countries today; mainly because of global warming; mainly because of the number of animals that go extinct every year because their homes are ravaged by us. The amount of forests that we cut down in order to grow more food for livestock, the more we screw up our environment. If we stopped plowing fields for animal feed, we would have more than enough space to continue growing our own personal food, but we would also stop killing off endangered species. Which, while I’m at it, I’ll just go ahead and say it once more: poor stewardship guys, poor stewardship.
One of the most precious resources we have is pure drinkable water. It is liquid life, absolutely necessary for mankind’s survival as well as millions or perhaps billions of other species. Here is a scary thing to think about: it is becoming scarce as time goes on. In some countries, people travel miles and miles to get it because of its rarity. California is suffering through a tremendous drought, and it is estimated that, soon, countries will fight each other for it; Philip Wollen claims that water is the “new oil.” You would think that we would be utilizing our amount as best we can, but this is not the case. We take it for granted, and while factory farms are in business, we waste an awful lot of it- even the supply that we not currently using. As for the bodies of water that are being consumed, often times they are polluted by the waste of animals from the farms. Here is a list of sobering facts brought to you by the NRDC:
“California officials identify agriculture, including cows, as the major source of nitrate pollution in more than 100,000 square miles of polluted groundwater. High levels of nitrates in drinking water also increase the risk of methemoglobinemia, or “blue-baby syndrome,” which can kill infants.
Animal waste contains disease-causing pathogens, such as Salmonella, E. coli, Cryptosporidium, and fecal coliform, which can be 10 to 100 times more concentrated than in human waste.
More than 40 diseases can be transferred to humans through manure. Manure from dairy cows is thought to have contributed to the disastrous Cryptosporidium contamination of Milwaukee’s drinking water in 1993, which killed more than 100 people, made 400,000 sick and resulted in $37 million in lost wages and productivity.
In this country, roughly 29 million pounds of antibiotics — about 80 percent of the nation’s antibiotics use in total — are added to animal feed every year, mainly to speed livestock growth. This widespread use of antibiotics on animals contributes to the rise of resistant bacteria, making it harder to treat human illnesses.
Large hog farms emit hydrogen sulfide, a gas that most often causes flu-like symptoms in humans, but at high concentrations can lead to brain damage. In 1998, the National Institute of Health reported that 19 people died as a result of hydrogen sulfide emissions from manure pits.
Huge open-air waste lagoons, often as big as several football fields, are prone to leaks and spills. In 1995 an eight-acre hog-waste lagoon in North Carolina burst, spilling 25 million gallons of manure into the New River. The spill killed about 10 million fish and closed 364,000 acres of coastal wetlands to shell fishing. In 2011, an Illinois hog farm spilled 200,000 gallons of manure into a creek, killing over 110,000 fish.
In 2012, a California dairy left over 50 manure covered cow carcasses rotting around its property and polluting nearby waters.
When Hurricane Floyd hit North Carolina in 1999, at least five manure lagoons burst and approximately 47 lagoons were completely flooded. Runoff of chicken and hog waste from factory farms in Maryland and North Carolina is believed to have contributed to outbreaks of Pfiesteria piscicida, killing millions of fish and causing skin irritation, short-term memory loss and other cognitive problems in local people.
Nutrients in animal waste cause algal blooms, which use up oxygen in the water, contributing to a “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico where there’s not enough oxygen to support aquatic life. The dead zone fluctuates in size each year, extending a record 8,500 square miles during the summer of 2002 and stretching over 7,700 square miles during the summer of 2010.
Ammonia, a toxic form of nitrogen released in gas form during waste disposal, can be carried more than 300 miles through the air before being dumped back onto the ground or into the water, where it causes algal blooms and fish kills.” (NRDC, 2013)
Poisoning the Ground.
John Vidal says
“Industrial-scale agriculture now dominates the western livestock and poultry industries, and a single farm can now generate as much waste as a city. A cow excretes around 40kg of manure for every kilogram of edible beef it puts on and when you have many thousands crowded into a small area the effect can be dramatic. Their manure and urine is funneled into massive waste lagoons sometimes holding as many as 40m gallons. These cesspools often break, leak or overflow, polluting underground water supplies and rivers with nitrogen, phosphorus and nitrates.”
Our land, our precious earth is slowly becoming useless, obsolete, and perhaps irreparable. You read what the NRDC said about the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico- nothing can survive there because of the growing amount of the algal blooms. Because of our domestication and operations concerning animals, we have literally killed an area of our planet. We have poisoned the earth to a point that may not be reversible.
World Hunger and Poverty.
“The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said that food production will need to increase globally by 70% to feed the world’s surging population in 2050. The FAO says that efficiency gains in agriculture will be overwhelmed by the expected population growth. As the global population surges towards a predicted 9.1 billion people by 2050, western tastes for diets rich in meat and dairy products, and which are increasingly being adopted around the world, are unsustainable. Simply put, the more people eat meat, the fewer people can be fed. For example, over 10 pounds of plant protein are used to produce one pound of beef protein. If these grains were fed to humans instead of animals, more food would be available for the 925 million people in chronic hunger worldwide. Research from Cornell University, of the United States, found that the grain used to feed livestock in the United States alone could feed 800 million people” (Fergusson, 2012)
How many natural plant based foods are we throwing to animals in order to eat a hotdog? Way too much. The evidence is undeniable; whenever we consume meats and other animal products, we are contributing to the deaths of over 21,000 people every single day; these people cannot get ahold of a secure food source. By using mass acres of land to farm animals, we give up the land for more agricultural farming. And almost 40% of corn and 63% of soy is used to feed livestock rather than humans (PETA2). As Philip Wollen cries out, “Am I the only one who sees this as a crime?” It takes 13 pounds of grain to produce an average of 1 pound of meat (PETA2). Does this not sound backwards? It must be said- Raising animals for slaughter is a waste of land, crops, and life. This is one of the biggest reasons why you ought to change your lifestyle. If you do not value the lives of animals, surely you value the lives of your fellow humans. There are some estimates that say if we used all our vegetation to feed people, rather than feeding it to livestock; we could feed over 800,000 starving people worldwide.
Animal food products not only steal the health and life of those who go hungry, but they also harm those who consume them. This is returning to the section where we discussed Daniel and his health during his Babylonian captivity. There are scientific reasons why he was healthier than all the other candidates. We function best when we eat our natural foods. When we consume the flesh and secretions of other creatures, our own bodies suffer for it.
“Women who ate large amounts of red meat had a 20 percent higher risk of dying of cancer and a 50 percent higher risk of dying of heart disease than women who ate less. Men had a 22 percent higher risk of dying of cancer and a 27 percent higher risk of dying of heart disease. That`s compared to those who ate the least red meat, just 5 ounces per week, or 25g per day — approximately a small rasher of bacon” (Moritz, 2009).
Nutritionists claim that eating excessive amounts of meat, dairy products, and eggs are the cause of the majority of chronic illnesses, particularly heart failure. Cancer, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Gallstones, Kidney Stones, Osteoporosis, and Asthma can all be eased (in many cases, some of these diseases can be cured) by staying away from meats and other animal products. And for pregnant women,
“Vegetarian women have a lower incidence of pre-eclampsia in pregnancy and significantly more pure breast milk. Analyses of vegetarians’ breast milk show that the levels of environmental contaminants in their milk are much lower than in non-vegetarians. Studies have also shown that in families with a history of food allergies, when women abstain from allergenic foods, including milk, meat, and fish, during pregnancy, they are less likely to pass allergies onto the infant. Mothers who drink milk pass cow antibodies along to their nursing infants through their breast milk. These antibodies can cause colic” (PCRM).
Based on decades of research, there is no denying the substantial harm caused by a flesh eater’s diet. Do we want our children to be healthy or are we complacent about the outrageous number of cases of chronic illnesses this country has?
Global Water Crisis.
The World Water Council states that over 1.1 Billion individuals do not have access to clean drinking water. This causes a plethora of deaths such as 1.8 million from diarrheal and parasitic diseases every year. Over 3,900 children die daily from water borne viruses. What are we doing with our clean water? Using 13,000 liters to produce 1 kilogram of beef. By contrast, it takes around 1,000 liters to produce 1 kilogram of wheat, and 1,400 liters to produce 1 kilogram of rice (World Water Council, 2012).
We are throwing water out the window while millions die all over the globe because they simply cannot get to a clean supply of the life sustaining liquid. Mark Fergusson preaches a similar truth,
“The issue with water is…It takes about 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef and about 660 gallons to make a pound of chicken. It only takes about 220 gallons to make a pound of tofu and 180 to make a pound of wheat flour. Compared with the meat industry, a vegetarian diet consumes far less water. There are plenty of other examples, but you get the idea.”
We must prioritize our humanitarian desires over our luxurious lifestyles. Humanity cannot afford to eat an animal-based diet without sacrificing the lives of millions of people and billions of animals.
If the bible made it known that donkeys were intelligent beings, why should we think that other animals do not have access to a higher level of thinking as well? On a feeling level, animals experience the same emotions that we are familiar with.
Crows, as one example, are a fascinating species due to their obnoxious and mischievous behavior. In a book titled “Gifts of the Crow” by John Marzluff and Tony Angell, they discovered that crows could distinguish individual faces and then spread the word and describe these faces to other crows. In their studies, they found that the birds that had never even been targeted by the researchers would recognize specific masks that were worn during the captured crow’s harassment. How these unknown, un-banded creatures knew which face was the enemy was beyond the researchers understanding. Their means of communicating and documenting threats is still unknown, but is assumed that they have a complicated language.
Dogs feel jealousy, rats feel regret, swans splash each other for entertainment, elephants cry, cows jump with joy, African grey Parrots feel loneliness, and as Mark Bekoff says, “Research has shown that mice are empathic rodents, but it turns out they’re fun-loving as well. We also read accounts of pleasure-seeking iguanas; amorous whales; angry baboons; elephants who suffer from psychological flashbacks and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD—elephants have a huge hippocampus, a brain structure in the limbic system that’s important in processing emotions); grieving otters, magpies and donkeys; sentient fish; and a sighted dog who serves as a “seeing-eye dog” for his blind canine buddy. Today, the paradigm has shifted to such an extent that the burden of “proof” now falls on those who still argue that animals don’t experience emotions” (Bekoff).
We Aren’t That Different
Not only do we feel similar emotions, but we also have comparable desires. Basic needs such as security, food, companionship, and shelter are all present in their lives as well as our own. We are not that different from them when you think about it. Consider commonplace mammals- we all share the desire for community. We want friendship; so do they. We want to play with each other; so do they. We want to love; so do they. Possibly the only real difference between humans and other species is the social construct that humans themselves have generated; namely that we are different. The belief that we are different is what makes us so, thus breeding years of oppression based solely on one belief of segregation. This is known as speciesism.
Similar to racism in that the racist looks out only for the benefit of his or her own race, and sexism inasmuch that the sexist looks out for his or her own sex; the speciesist is only interested in the desires of one’s own species. To them, anthropomorphizing, comparing human qualities to animals like love, curiosity, fear, and others is just outrageous. Often they will say that dogs simply react to their instinctual natures, grossly simplifying a complex and sentient being.
The Image of God
Of course, from a Biblical standpoint there is one more difference. We have been specifically and exclusively created in the image of God. Theologians disagree on what this means exactly, but whatever it is, it makes us different from all other creation; from a Biblical perspective, it makes us more important. However, this is no reason to abuse other animals since cruelty is not necessary. Philip Wollen, an animal rights activist and philanthropist, admits that animals and humans are not equals, however, “When we suffer, we suffer as equals, and in their capacity to suffer, a dog is a pig is a bear is a boy.” We have been given the duty to protect and care for all other living beings. Obviously, humankind has abused this divine task throughout all history, but the truth remains that we really have dominated the planet in the worst way possible. We have taken whatever it means to be created in God’s image and we’ve used it to crush, exploit, and bully other life forms.
We must ask ourselves this question: Why take away a life that is precious to a conscience being? Is it not meaningless to commit such a crime? In the eyes of God it is vile and discouraged in all modern scenarios, save poverty. It is unthoughtful and inhumane; but most of all it is not how our Creator intended us to live. Let’s look at how a diet consisting of animal slaughter affects all other humans, another reason why our Creator would disprove of our lifestyle.