Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The message of the wolves

Long live the wolves! In Oregon, we have a history of honoring wolves, who are the sacred animal of the Kalapuyas, the people indigenous to the Willamette Valley where we live. Yet cattle ranchers are waging campaigns against them.

We think that the wolves symbolize something bigger than just issues with cattle. It's a question over whether lands are meant to be used by humans or preserved as wilderness. It's also a question of hierarchy – humans who believe that it's a god-given right for them to have dominion over all the other creatures on the earth.

Many of the ranchers who are actively working to kill wolves are actually leasing land from the federal government and their cattle graze in our national forests.

We have a friend who converted her 10,000 acre ranch from cattle to windpower. It's time to reconsider the real price of raising cattle for human consumption.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health tracked people over 20 years, and found that people who daily consume only 3-ounces of red meat were 13 times more likely to die in that period than those who don't. So maybe it's time to decrease the use of cattle for food.

Raising animals for food is grossly inefficient, because while animals eat large quantities of grain, soybeans, oats, and corn, they only produce comparatively small amounts of meat, dairy products, or eggs in return. You save more water by not eating a pound of meat than you do by not showering for six months!

It takes up to 16 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of meat, and even fish on fish farms must be fed up to 5 pounds of wild-caught fish to produce 1 pound of farmed fish flesh. It takes more than 11 times as much fossil fuel to make one calorie from animal protein as it does to make one calorie from plant protein.

It takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat, while growing 1 pound of wheat only requires 25 gallons. A totally vegan diet requires only 300 gallons of water per day, while a typical meat-eating diet requires more than 4,000 gallons of water per day. Nearly half of all the water used in the United States goes to raising animals for food.

Animals raised for food in the U.S. produce far more excrement than the entire U.S. human population, roughly 89,000 pounds per second, all without the benefit of waste-treatment systems.

We can greatly increase our health and the health of the planet by decreasing our consumption of meat.