Humans will eat anything that won’t kill them, and some things that will.
You can grow a plant quicker and cheaper than an animal. Less energy is used in the production of vegetables, fruits and nuts. It is easier for your body to transform plants’ and trees’ nutritional properties into energy; usually these also require less processing in preparation for consumption and less work to clean up our controls for healthy growing systems. The result should be less cost per gram of needed proteins, fats and minerals, leading to more consumption by humans, fewer health problems, a healthier, smarter culture and a spiritual-feeling society.
But: Because most humans are taught that animals taste good—and they do—we want more, which means less regard for the animal itself and less stewardship of our environment to produce more of them. There is more cost in processing their proteins, fats and minerals, and production is designed for profit. It becomes a question of humaneness and morality. Eat less of the expensive and unsustainable and more of the nutritious and renewable.
Eighty-five billion chickens are raised every year for food in the United States, in cages in which their feet never ever touch the ground, with their beaks cut or burned off so they will not eat each other. Day and night are reproduced under lights for maximum growth production. One hundred million pigs are raised for food in the United States every year; pigs are known to have the same intellect as your dog, or better. They are raised in closed buildings and individual stalls small enough so they can’t turn around; they live in their own excrement and never breed. The stench leaves blisters on the lungs of many.
Our inhumaneness transfers into ourselves. Consuming less of what is bad will help bring change. Eating more of what is good is the action of our strength. Do not leave it up to somebody else to care. You are the all-powerful consumer. Make the choices, read the labels, ask the questions. If we don’t buy it, they can’t sell it. Together we can force change.
Dave Cook is a chef, educator, restaurant owner and KWMR radio host.