Articles From The Writings of Vasu Murti

Attention: Armchair Activists!

In his 1987 booklet, The New Abolitionists, B.R. Boyd writes: "Seventy to one hundred million, including lost and abandoned pets, are quite literally injected, infected, mutilated, driven insane, strapped immobile for years on end, blinded, concussed, burned, mechanically raped, dismembered, disemboweled, mutilated, and otherwise violated--often without adequate anesthesia--in order to test shampoos, oven cleaners, make-up, and scientific hypotheses; to advance medical science or personal careers; to develop and test nuclear, biological, chemical, and conventional weapons; or for general scientific curiosity, and because public funding is available.
 
"Twenty million unwanted companion animals undergo euthanasia every year and countless others are abused by their guardians.  Spay-neuter clinics get little or no public funding, while the pet-breeding industry continues to enrich itself by pumping out living, disposable toys. Seventeen million wild fur-bearing animals (and twice as many 'trash' animals) are mangled in steel jaw traps and seventeen million more factory farmed, then gassed or electrocuted, that we may wear furs. 170 million animals are hunted down and shot to death in their habitats, mostly for sport, often leaving their offspring to die of exposure or starvation. 
 
"Industrial pollution, habitat destruction, and our transportation system kill and maim untold millions, while we kidnap and imprison others for our entertainment in zoos. Ten billion land animals and trillions of aquatic animals are killed in the United States every year; 95 percent of them are killed for food.  We force-breed, cage, brand, castrate, and over-milk them, cut off their beaks, horns, and tails, pump them full of antibiotics and growth stimulants, steal their eggs, and kill and eat them."
 
Animal activists are the new abolitionists. There are many reasons for a plant-based diet. Our food system -- from farm to table -- is dominated by large corporations whose main aim is not to keep us healthy; it is to make profits. Promoting meat, dairy and highly processed food is dangerous for your health and dangerous for our planet, but great for corporate profits. The book, Rethinking Food, features more than one hundred doctors citing scientific studies proving that a plant-based diet (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes) is best for human health. They also present abundant evidence that eating animal products is the cause of many of our most prevalent and dangerous diseases.
 
“Isn't man an amazing animal? He kills wildlife - birds, kangaroos, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice, foxes and dingos - by the million in order to protect his domestic animals and their feed. Then he kills domestic animals by the billion and eats them. This in turn kills man by the millions, because eating animals leads to degenerative - and fatal - health conditions like heart disease, kidney disease, and cancer. So then man tortures and kills millions more animals to look for cures for these diseases. Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals. Meanwhile, some people are dying of sad laughter at the absurdity of man, who kills so easily and so violently, and once a year, sends out cards praying for Peace on Earth.” --David Coats
 
The meat industry abuses and kills bilions of animals every year. If meat-eaters would visit one of these slaughterhouses, or just watch some of the videos available online, they would see the incredible suffering our food system imposes on these helpless animals. The meat industry has a worse impact on climate change than fossil fuel. Meat production produces huge amounts of methane (CH4). Methane traps up to ninety times more heat than carbon dioxide (CO2). The federal government does not regulate methane emissions. The meat, dairy, and egg industries produce 65 percent of global nitrous oxide emissions. Nitrous oxide (NO2) is three hundred times for powerful than CO2 at trapping heat in the earth's atmosphere. 
 
The diets of meat-eaters create seven times the greenhouse gases as the diets of vegans. To produce one pound of animal protein versus one pround of soy protein, it takes twelve times as much land, thirteen times as much fossil fuel, and fifteen times as much water. Cows use 85 percent of the energy from agricultural land but account for only eight percent the food we eat. Over 260 million acres of U.S. forest land has been cleared to creat room to grow grain to feed farmed animals. The equivalent of seven football fields of land are bulldozed every minute to create more room for farmed animals. By not eating one pound of beef, you save more water than you would by not showering for six months. Meat industry workers suffer some of the lowest pay and most dangerous working conditions of any workers. One vegan meal can save three thousand gallons of water, sixteen pounds of grain, and possibly your life, and possibly the planet's ability to support human existence.
 
The International Network for Religion and Animals was founded in 1985. Since then, numerous books have been written on animals and theology, including: The Vegetarianism of Jesus Christ: the Pacifism, Communalism and Vegetarianism of Primitive Christianity; Food for the Spirit: Vegetarianism and the World Religions; The Souls of Animals; Replenish the Earth; Of God and Pelicans; Is God A Vegetarian?; God's Covenant with Animals; They Shall not Hurt or Destroy; The Lost Religion of Jesus; Good News for All Creation; Vegetarian Christian Saints; The Dominion of Love; Good Eating; Of God and Dogs; Every Creature a Word of God; School of Compassion; For Love of Animals, etc.
 
While humans are starving, half the world's grain is fed to livestock! Aren't feeding the hungry; treating the body as a temple of God which should not be defiled nor dishonored through antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, poisons and other unhealthy toxins and unhealthy food in general; the institutionalized killing of billions of animals being directly responsible for global hunger, global warming, the energy, environmental, population and water crises; treating animals humanely, and compassionate stewardship over the environment, over all of God's creation, all biblical issues? The editors of the Green Bible, which highlights environmentally-friendly biblical passages might think so.
 
Test tube meat?  It's animal protein, but it doesn't involve violence.  It doesn't involve taking the life of a fellow creature. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is offering millions to anyone who can perfect lab grown meat. To me, test tube meat is science fiction.  When I was in grade school in the early '70s, I read a science fiction book called The Lost Race of Mars. It was set in the year 2017, depicting a future in which humans have colonies on Mars. The colonists enjoy meat grown in labs and test tubes, as it's impossible to transport livestock through space, go through the waste of resources and energy to raise animals for food (and deal with the animals' waste!) in colonies on other worlds, etc.  
 
No need for test-tube meat: the imitation meat and dairy products are just as delicious! Shifting to a plant-based diet in 2017 was fact, not fiction. Vegetarian and vegan celebrties included: Russell Brand, Kristen Wiig, Natalie Portman, Pamela Anderson, Mýa, Toby MacGuire, Kristen Bell, Russell Simmons, Ellen DeGeneres, Olivia Wilde, Stevie Wonder, Kellie Pickler, Alec Baldwin, Anthony Kiedis, Leona Lewis, Paul McCartney, Carrie Underwood, Venus Williams, Alicia Silverstone, Shania Twain, Ayssa Milano, Brad Pitt, Christina Applegate, Lea Michele, Steve-O, Erykah Badu, Jared Leto, Portia DeRossi, Kimberly Elise, Daryl Hannah, Sandra Oh, Petra Nemcova, David Carter, Miley Cyrus, Moby, Tony Kanal, Alicia Silverstone, John Salley, Emily Deschanel, Joaquin Phoenix, Seba Johnson, Kat Von D, Daisy Fuentes, and Jessica Chastain.
 
An animal rights message is warmly received on the political left, not on the right. Bill Clinton was vegan and Al Gore is vegan. Dennis Kucinich is vegan. Cory Booker is vegan. Reverend Al Sharpton is vegan. Chelsea Clinton was vegan for a number of years... her wedding in 2010 was strictly vegan. Amy Carter is a vegetarian. And the Bush daughters were famous for... underage drinking? Well, to be fair, PETA reports that Lauren Bush, niece of George W. Bush, is a vegetarian.
 
Pound for pound, many vegetarian foods are better sources of protein than meat.  A one-hundred-gram portion of lentils yields twenty-five grams of protein, while a hundred grams of soybeans yields thirty-four grams of protein.  But although meat provides less protein, it costs more. A spot check of supermarkets in Florida in August 2005 showed sirloin steak costing $7.87 a pound, while staple ingredients for delicious vegetarian meals averaged less than $1.50 a pound. Becoming a vegetarian could potentially save an individual shopper at least several hundred dollars each year, thousands of dollars over the course of a lifetime.  The savings to consumers as a whole would amount to billions of dollars annually. Considering all this, it's hard to see how anyone could afford not to become a vegetarian.
 
Merely shifting to a plant-based diet: a slight change in lifestyle, comparable to cellphones; going from gas guzzlers to compact cars and unleaded fuels; legalizing industrial hemp; paper Vs plastic bags; recycling; switching to decaf; switching to the metric system, etc., can save the planet. Attention: armchair activists! Through a slight change in lifestyle, we can save redwoods and rainforests, the ozone layer, and end global hunger, global warming, the energy, environmental, population and water crises... as well as end abortion and bring about world peace, too, as abortion and war are the karma for killing animals!
 
“If anyone wants to save the planet,” says Paul McCartney in an interview with PETA’s Animal Times magazine from 2001, “all they have to do is stop eating meat. That’s the single most important thing you could do. It’s staggering when you think about it. “Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty. Let’s do it! Linda was right. Going veggie is the single best idea for the new century.”
 
Roberta Kalechofsky of Jews for Animal Rights similarly says: "Merely by ceasing to eat meat, merely by practicing restraint, we have the power to end a painful industry. We do not have to bear arms to end this evil. We do not have to contribute money, we do not have to sit in jail or go to meetings or demonstrations or engage in acts of civil disobedience. Most often, the act of repairing the world, of healing mortal wounds, is left to heroes and tzaddikim (holy people): saints and people of unusual discipline. But here is an action every mortal can perform--surely it is not too difficult!"

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