County Sustainability Group If you are serious about sustainability

If you are serious about sustainability

Ron Hart
Dec 23, 2010

The most effective single action each individual can do to move towards a sustainable lifestyle has only been adopted by 1 in twenty Americans.  

If you choose to drive a Toyota Prius over a year, on average you typically remove a huge one tonne burden of CO2 from the atmosphere. If you adopt a vegetarian diet, you typically remove 1.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide. However the benefits of a vegetarian diet are not simply `environmental'. According to the Physicians Committee or Responsible Medicine, "The best and least complicated choice for a healthier, longer, happier life is a weight-control program based on a low-fat, vegetarian diet high in complex carbohydrates, complemented by regular exercise." ( )   

In the latest U of T Magazine, ( ) Stacey Gibson asks, "Most animals raised for food in Canada live on industrial sites where they never go outdoors. Under our laws, this is perfectly legal, but is it ethical?" 

In Canada, animals can be transported for up to 52 hours without food or rest. The U of T Magazine article states that "According to an international animal protection agency, between two and three million animals die during transport every year in Canada and another 11 million arrive at their destination injured or diseased." These are not exaggerated numbers – in fact, they are hyper-conservative. The World Society for the Protection of Animals based the numbers on the federal government's own reports.  

Paul McCartney once observed, "If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian." 

A video, "Meet your meat", takes you inside those walls. ( ) If you eat meat, you should take the time to view it. 

Buddhist monk Tich Nhat Hanh notes ( ) , "If we look deeply, we will see that eating can be extremely violent.. UNESCO tells us that every day, forty thousand children in the world die because of a lack of nutrition, of food. Every day, forty thousand children.. And the amount of grain that we grow in the West is mostly used to feed our cattle. Eighty percent of the corn grown in this country is to feed the cattle to make meat. Ninety-five percent of the oats produced in this country is not for us to eat, but for the animals raised for food. According to this recent report that we received of all the agricultural land in the US, eighty-seven percent is used to raise animals for food. That is forty-five percent of the total land mass in the US."  

"More than half of all the water consumed in the US whole purpose is to raise animals for food. It takes 2500 gallons of water to produce a pound of meat, but only 25 gallons to produce a pound of wheat. A totally vegetarian diet requires 300 gallons of water per day, while a meat-eating diet requires more than 4000 gallons of water per day." 

"Raising animals for food causes more water pollution than any other industry in the US because animals raised for food produce one hundred thirty times the excrement of the entire human population. It means 87,000 pounds per second. Much of the waste from factory farms and slaughter houses flows into streams and rivers, contaminating water sources." 

If you still need convincing to make the switch, consider this: an article in the National Geographic, Secrets of a Long Life, ( ) summed it all up in two words—"Go vegetarian." There is help to start to make a change towards a healthier diet. The Toronto Vegetarian Association's Veggie Challenge is an excellent resource. ( Or you could join a local group of County vegans who meet from time to time to share meals, provide encouragement, and swap recipes. For details e-mail


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