After reading an article by Michael Pollan about factory farming and following his journey through the meat eating process, I became extremely curious about how people could read something like that and continue to eat the same way they do. I proceeded to watch a documentary that came out last year called Cowspiracy, which explores issues related to animal agriculture. Something about the way the documentary was made, and the information presented in such an effective manner blew my mind. The documentary features many experts in the field, such as Dr. Richard Oppenlander, who has written about the various issues raised in food depletion in his book Comfortably Unaware.
Cowspiracy dives into issues of animal agriculture being the cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution without being challenged by “environmentalists.” As someone who claims to be an environmentalist, I was intrigued to learn more about what was going on, so I continued with the documentary. The way I see it, talking about how much pollution through animal agriculture seems like a taboo topic. I was astonished to see that organizations didn’t want to talk about it. While I understand there would be certain legal implications if they went on the record saying anything, it was amazing to learn how little discussion goes on about such a huge issue. According to a recent World Watch analysis by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang finds that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions. That is more than the emissions by transportation, or other causes that we hear about all the time. The facts discussed in the movie were enough to have me seriously questioning the United States Agricultural industry. How can we just let an industry that has such a negative impact on the environment to continue business as usual? I am a strong believer in there being two sides to every story, but the vast about of information showing that animal agriculture is such a huge contributor to so many of our environmental problems combined with the lack of conversation among organizations has me wondering if we really are just comfortably unaware.
It’s amazing how much we know about the problems caused by certain things, yet we continue to do nothing. Even when animal consumption has been shown to be detrimental to the environment, people continue to do so frequently. While cutting down on meat consumption is more practical for most than cutting meat out completely, people refuse to do so. People are simply too comfortable eating whatever they want, whenever they want without thinking about their consequences.
I think the change in people’s consumption and diets needs to be gradual, such as eating less and less meat, but I think there needs to be an active effort to actually make this happen. Whether it be more educational programs, or eventually some sort of rules. But I know how much we Americans love our freedom and not being told what to do, so until then I guess we will all simply be either comfortably unaware or uncomfortably aware.