I finished reading Will Tuttle’s book The World Peace Diet (Lantern Books) last week after about two weeks of reading. I think this is one of those books that changed my life!!
In his book, Tuttle makes the claim for a vegan diet for a more harmonious world with more compassion and writes how the way we treat animals generates human suffering of all kinds. He writes how food that is prepared with love and care has been recognized in many cultures as more healthful than food prepared with indifference and anger.
“If we take another look at the egg, bacon, or cheese we are purchasing and eating, we see clearly that it is a living vibratory embodiment of cruelty, violence, enslavement, terror, and despair. The tormented consciousness of the animals and the hardened consciousness of those humans who abuse sentient creatures and exploit them for money have blended to create a “food” that is toxic the deepest levels. It generates turmoil and disease in the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social dimensions of our being.” [pg. 139]
This book hit home for me. I grew up on a farm and grew up eating animals. I even had animals that were pets for 4-H (a long-standing organization with life-skills for rural youth). I remember Duke the Dorset-mix sheep and Yzerman the Charolais steer. I remember perhaps my favourite animal pet of all (I had him the longest, 2 years, that’s likely why) Blackie the Black Angus steer. I cleaned his pen everyday and took him for walks so that he was trained to walk around the show ring come ‘show day’ at the Harrow Fair.
He did well at the fair. But, what I remember most was the giant tear coming out of his right eye as I led him around the ring. It must have been a lot for him – to go from the farm to a show ring with some man’s voice blasting from a microphone and a bunch of people watching. One of those people would be his buyer. And whoever bought Blackie was going to get him frozen and wrapped up. Blackie likely knew. Seeing him cry that day made me realize that animals know and sense far more than we think they do. It made me question what I was doing completely.
Over the years since I’ve left home I’ve become more and more of a vegetarian. First I cut out red meat (about six years ago). I used to be one of those bacon-eating vegetarians for a while, but then I gave that up as well. And slowly I eat less and less chicken and fish. I’ve just been following what feels good. I don’t understand why our culture has come to view some animals as deserving of a protected life – think dogs or cats – and others not. I can’t believe, just as Tuttle points out as well, the conditions we raise our animals in. I don’t think it’s fair at all that some animals never see sunlight or get to breathe fresh air.
I’m not sure if I will cut out animal products entirely, but Tuttle’s book did bring out some facts that are quite hard to not take to heart. I do think I more plant-based diet is healthier and enlightening. We have many diseases that are linked to diet – such as heart disease and diabetes. We also have a huge obesity problem and animal products have a lot of calories and saturated fat (the bad one).
And, of course, he mentions all the resources that we put into animal products and how those resources could be used to grow enough food for everyone on the planet. He writes how 80 % of the grain grown in the US is for feeding animals and how it takes 27 times as much petroleum to produce a hamburger versus a soy burger.
“This intensive agriculture is unsustainable. The more it damages land and water supplies and drains aquifers, the more fossil fuel input it requires to irrigate, replace nutrients, provide pest protection, and supply hold crop production constant. Unless we switch from eating resource gobbling animal foods, we will have to face the consequences of our limited and declining supply of fossil fuels.” [pg. 188]
Even though there are many who advocate for plant-based eating (Oh She Glows, Kris Carr and Julie Daniluk come to mind) I think our society has a lot to change to catch up with the ideas Tuttle presents. We have a lot of work to be done if we were to change our food system towards one that is more plant-based. But with some consideration and careful planning, I do think it can be done!