All posts by roberdan

Can we afford to lose our planet just because we like the taste of meat?

This has been a topic of debate for years now, especially as climate change has become more prevalent, and as a vegetarian/veganism diet has become more accessible and popular. I have been a vegetarian for 7 years, and I’m currently trying to make the switch all the way to vegan. As a nutrition major, you bet I’ve watched documentary after documentary and read article after article on this. I was so excited when I saw the title of this article, On the Limits of Food Autonomy, because I’ve been doing research on it lately and it pertains (somewhat) to my major.

I’ve heard many arguments on both sides of the vegan debate, and they tend to usually be the same ones. I thought this article was really interesting because it brought up something I’d never really thought of before – eating meat is what everyone grew up with, and most people don’t want to stray away from the societal norm. Lots of people claim it is harder to be vegetarian or vegan, and that can be true in some cases. It requires an extra step or two of thinking when you eat out at a restaurant, and you have to plan your diet to contain the nutrients that are harder in some cases to get with those dietary restrictions. However, if society considered veganism or vegetarianism more normal, options would soar for places to eat and items to get in the grocery store (and prices would go down for direct vegan substitutes; a general vegan diet tends to be cheaper than an omnivore one).

I could type for hours about the many reasons to transition humanity to a more plant-based diet, and I think the biggest barrier for most people is that the average human does not know how big of an industry livestock raising is, and how staggering some of these facts are. 18% of the world’s greenhouse gases come from the emissions used to raise livestock – that’s more than all of the transportation systems in the world combined. 70% of the water available to humans is used to give to farm animals; 20,000 pounds of water is used to create 1 pound of beef (whereas a pound of potatoes takes only 60 pounds of water). I am really hoping that if more information gets out to the general population, more people will consider reducing their meat intake. I really hope that we aren’t condemning our planet just because we like the taste and convenience of meat.

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If We Push Nature from all Sides We’ll Only Run into Ourselves

“We must think of nature without…exempting ourselves from it, and also without remaking it into our own image.” Thesis 2.

Humans have almost always thought of ourselves as separate from nature. Nature was always something we explored or adventured in – it was almost synonymous with the word “wilderness.” I still say to my friends, “oh, I haven’t seen enough of nature recently! I need to get out into the forest!” However, if we continue to think of ourselves as separate from nature, there isn’t really going to be a way to fix how we are affecting it. We have to treat humans and nature as connected in one system so that we can really see how our lifestyle impacts the world we live in (and on). By separating it, I believe we are distancing ourselves from so-called “Nature” and the environment itself. If we claim not to be a part of nature, then we think we really don’t have a responsibility to clean up our act.

“However far we go in space, we will never find an edge or boundary.” Thesis 4

I really liked this quote, because I feel like the author was trying to tell the reader that we are treating the Earth like outer space. We keep pushing and pushing our boundaries into what we consider “nature” and we aren’t considering that eventually we will meet ourselves on the other side. Space is infinite, and we have endless places left to explore. Humans are well aware that Earth is a finite resource, and yet we still act like we have all the time in the world to make a change in our attitude. It starts with stopping the mental separation of nature and humans. I really enjoyed this reading and I thought the format of 22 Thesis was a very interesting way to get a point across.

The Degrowth Theory Seems Great! …In theory

This article had an extensive review of the word “degrowth.” There was so much going on that it took me a while to understand what I wanted to take away from the three authors. At first, I agreed with what Kallis, Demaria, and D’Alisa where saying about the negative environmental impact of growth. I particularly connected with the quote “To date there are hardly any countries who can claim an absolute reduction in material use or carbon emissions while growing.” This rings so true in a way that I don’t believe a lot of people had thought of. Every country (especially developed countries) wants to advance faster and better than the next – but they will just outsource their dirty energy practices to countries behind them. Especially with the fact that our natural resources will run out eventually, we need every country working on ways to be sustainable. The degrowth transition includes a transition to renewable energy as a way to keep advancing technologically but making sure that we don’t take the Earth down with us.

However, I was sort of confused when the article went deeper into the economic and political aspects of degrowth. It didn’t seem to match the rest of what they were saying – and I really didn’t understand their reasoning. I think they were being a little too optimistic in hoping people would accept this change. There is a reason America is a democracy – everyone wants their opinion to be accounted for. I don’t think this “degrowth principle” would sit well with a majority of the people in America – much less across the globe. America likes to be set in its ways – which may mean it is time to change some of those. However, if we had an “unconditional basic income” granted to all citizens no matter what, a lot of people would not put effort into their work. On paper, this theory seems to work, but when the work ethic of a good amount of people is put into play, one realizes that it just wouldn’t work the way it would need to.

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Paganism Could Be the Way to Go

As humans, we have always considered ourselves above nature – not a part of it. When we started designating “nature” as a separate entity is when we lost our respect for it. Every other animal is considered part of nature – since we do we get to count ourselves out? Is it when we found out we can design our own technology to shape it? I was really intrigued by the path that Lynn White took in “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis,” and even more so when I realized it was written in the 60’s. This author was way ahead of his time. My favorite quote of his in the article is, “its [technology over nature] acceptance as a normal pattern of action may mark the greatest event in human history since the invention of agriculture, and perhaps in nonhuman terrestrial history as well.” If we are to progress environmentally in any way, he is encouraging us to have to change our point of view – and he recognizes that it most likely will have to be religiously.

White goes into immense detail on how humans have transitioned from a pagan belief that nature is to be respected, to a Christian belief that nature is to be used and is only there for them. The Greek and Roman myths have always intrigued me, and I immediately knew what he was going to talk about. Humans used to worship nature and look at every living thing like it had a soul and was its own spirit, and we had to respect it. If we didn’t, the gods would curse us or cast us out. It was a fantastic comparison and backed up his point nicely.

The article written by the Pope goes well with White’s article, especially since White encouraged the general population to turn to the Pope and change how we think religiously. My favorite line from the Pope was “We seem to think that we can substitute an irreplaceable and irretrievable beauty with something which we have created ourselves.” It rings very true and summarizes what White was trying to say in his writing. Both men back each other up in their beliefs, and I’m glad we read both together.