We were talking in one of my classes a few weeks ago, and this one phrase has stuck with me: "When you shop for groceries, each thing you put in your basket is a vote."
Sometimes I don't even think when I pop stuff in my mouth. Interestingly enough, that indifference, that monotony of Frankensteining my way to the kitchen and digging around for some boxy food in a shiny package, shoving it in my mouth and repeating the process one hour later...now come on, there's no pride in eating like that! There's no breaking bread around the table in fellowship when you eat like that! And I do it all of the time...habits are so hard to break.
I admit it, I struggle with food. Do you?
I love food, think about it a lot, and dream up new recipes. I learn from others who have been cooking/working with food more than me, and I love to see their creative takes on _______ (fill in the blank with whatever their focus is, from baking to food photography, etc.).
My whole life, as probably yours, has been surrounded with so many messages about food. From the early '90s, when my family (and millions of other Americans) bought into the "fat free craze," where Snackwells and other low fat food brands dominated the market.
And I started looking at healthy alternatives in junior high and high school. I ate less meat and no meat at times (which was never really a struggle).The "low fat foods = healthy" mentality was there, but I saw more options and felt more confident in myself and my choices.
This part written back in February: Here we are today and, in about 30 more hours, I'll be a whopping 27 years old. Some of that little girl is there, wanting to grab every cookie and sugary sweet in sight. The teenager is there, wondering if she'll ever measure up to the world's standards. And then there is the Laurel of today, slightly bewildered and definitely wondering where my food life will take me next.
All of these little stomachaches I keep getting, combined with my reading and discovery of the vegan lifestyle is leading to one thing...I need to try it. It probably won't be for forever and probably will be difficult at times, but I must figure out what is best for myself. There are lots of prayers going into this. So, for now, I'll be baking without beautiful eggs, milk, cheese or butter. We'll see where it takes me.
Now that was far too much information. I just thought I'd share where I am right now. As for the info I've been reading about now (and, embarrassingly enough, first heard from the musician/environmental activist Moby when I was about 13), there are some alarming facts about how many resources it takes to feed animals that we eat (milk and cheese included). It takes SO MANY FEWER resources to merely grow fruits, vegetables, beans, and other plant-based foods on that land. If we all ate plant-based diets, there would be enough food to feed every person on this Earth. Every single person. Even those kids without fresh water and those who have dirt floors, worn out shoes and smiles on their faces. My kind of kids. That sounds a bit like a wake-up call from God, if we're commanded to do this whole "Love your neighbor" thing.
- Human population of United States: 270,000,000 (and counting)
- Number of human beings who could be fed by the grain and soybeans eaten by U.S. livestock: 1,300,000,000
- Sacred food of Native Americans: Corn
- Percentage of corn grown in United States eaten by human beings: 20
- Percentage of corn grown in United States eaten by livestock: 80
- Percentage of soy grown in United States eaten by livestock: 90
- Percentage of oats grown in United States eaten by livestock: 95
- Percentage of protein wasted by cycling grain through livestock: 90
- Percentage of carbohydrate wasted by cycling grain through livestock: 99
- Percentage of dietary fiber wasted by cycling grain through livestock: 100
- Pounds of potatoes that can be grown on 1 acre of land: 20,000
- Pounds of beef that can be produced on 1 acre of land: 165
- Percentage of U.S. agricultural land used to produce beef: 56
- Pounds of grain and soybeans needed to produce 1 pound of feedlot beef: 16
- Pounds of protein fed to chickens to produce 1 pound of protein as chicken flesh: 5 pounds
- Pounds of protein fed to hogs to produce 1 pound of protein as hog flesh: 7.5 pounds
- Number of children who starve to death every day: 38,000 (1 every 2.3 seconds)
- Amount of total U.S. grain production consumed by livestock: 70%
- Amount of U.S. grain exports consumed by livestock: 66%
- Amount of world grain harvest consumed by livestock throughout the 1980s: half
- Number of pure vegetarians who can be fed on the amount of land needed to feed 1 person consuming meat-based diet: 20
- Number of people who will starve to death this year: 20,000,000
- Number of people who could be adequately fed if Americans reduced their intake of meat by 10%: 100,000,000
- Amount of increase in global cattle population during the last 40 years: 100%
- Amount of increase in global fowl population during the last 40 years: 200%
- Ratio of livestock to people on Earth: three to one
- Amount of Earth's land mass grazed by livestock: half
- Amount of U.S. cropland producing livestock feed: 64%
- Amount of U.S. cropland producing fruits and vegetables: 2%
- Percentage of original U.S. topsoil lost to date: 75
- Amount of U.S. cropland lost each year to soil erosion: 4,000,000 acres, the size of Connecticut
- Percentage of U.S. topsoil loss directly associated with livestock raising: 85
- Amount of original U.S. cropland permanently removed from production due to excessive soil erosion: one-third
- Pounds of topsoil lost in the production of one pound of feedlot steak: 35
- Current annual topsoil loss on agricultural land in the U.S.: over 5 billion tons
- Current annual topsoil loss on agricultural worldwide: 26 billion tons
- Time required for nature to form one inch of topsoil: 200 to 1000 years
- Historic cause of demise of many great civilizations: Topsoil depletion
- Length of time world's petroleum reserves would last if all human beings ate meat centered diet: 13 years
- Length of time world's petroleum reserves would last if all human beings ate vegetarian diet: 260 years
- Principal reason for U.S. military intervention in Persian Gulf: Dependence on foreign oil
- Barrels of oil imported daily by U.S.: 6,800,000
- Percentage of energy return (as food energy per fossil energy expended) of most energy efficient factory farming of meat: 34.5%
- Percentage of energy return (as food energy per fossil energy expended) of least energy efficient plant food: 328%
- Pounds of soybeans produced by the amount of fossil fuel needed to produce 1 pound of feedlot beef: 40
- Percentage of raw materials consumed in U.S. for all purposes presently consumed to produce current meat-centered diet: 33
- Percentage of raw materials consumed in U.S. for all purposes needed to produce fully vegetarian diet: 2
- User of more than half of all water used for all purposes in the United States: Livestock production
- Quantity of water used in the production of the average cow sufficient to: float a destroyer
- Water needed to produce 1 pound of wheat: 25 gallons
- Water needed to produce 1 pound of meat: 2,500 gallons
- Cost of common hamburger meat if water used by meat industry was not subsidized by U.S. taxpayers: $35/pound
- Current cost for pound of protein from wheat: $1.50
- Current cost for pound of protein from beefsteak: $15.40
- Cost for pound of protein from beefsteak if U.S. taxpayers ceased subsidizing meat industry's use of water: $89
- Production of excrement by total U.S. human population: 12,000 pounds/second
- Production of excrement by U.S. livestock: 250,000 pounds/second
- Sewage systems in U.S. cities: Common
- Sewage systems in U.S. feedlots: Nil
- Amount of waste produced annually by U.S. livestock in confinement operations which is not recycled: 1 billion tons
- Number of U.S. medical schools: 125
- Number of U.S. medical schools with a required course in nutrition: 30
- Training in nutrition received during 4 years of medical school by average U.S physician: 2.5 hours
- How frequently a heart-attack strikes in U.S.: Every 25 seconds
- How frequently a heart attack kills in U.S.: Every 45 seconds
- Most common cause of death in U.S.: Heart attack
- Risk of death from heart attack for the average American man: 50%
- Risk of death from heart attack for the average American man who consumes no meat: 15%
- Risk of death from heart attack for the average American man who consumes no meat, dairy products or eggs: 4%
- Amount you reduce your risk of heart attack by reducing your consumption of meat, dairy products and eggs 10%: 9%
- Amount you reduce your risk of heart attack by reducing your consumption of meat, dairy products and eggs 50%: 45%
- Amount you reduce your risk of heart attack by reducing your consumption of meat, dairy products and eggs 100%: 90%
- Rise in blood cholesterol from consuming 1 egg per day: 12%
- Rise in heart attack risk from 12% rise in blood cholesterol: 24%
- Leading sources of saturated fat and cholesterol in American diets: Meat, dairy products and eggs
- Amount of cholesterol in an average egg: 275 mg
- Amount of cholesterol in chicken: The same as beef, 25 mg per ounce
- Main location of cholesterol in animal flesh: The lean portion
Worried about not getting enough protein if you cut out meat and dairy?
- Recommended percentage of daily calories to be derived from protein according to World Health Organization: 4.5%
- Recommended percentage of daily calories to be derived from protein according to Food and Nutrition Board of the U.S.D.A.: 6%
- Recommended percentage of daily calories to be derived from protein according to National Research Council: 8%
- Percentage of calories as protein in wheat: 17%
- Percentage of calories as protein in broccoli: 45%
- Percentage of calories as protein in rice: 8%
What about milk? Don't we need milk to keep our bones strong?
- Natural food for any baby mammal: The mother's breast milk
- The only mammal that consumes the milk of another species after being weaned: Humans
- The Dairy Council tells us: Milk is nature's most perfect food.
- The Dairy Council doesn't tell us: Milk is nature's most perfect food for a baby calf, who has four stomachs, will double its weight in 47 days, and is destined to weigh 300 pounds within a year.
- The Dairy Council tells children: To grow up big and strong, drink lots of milk.
- The Dairy Council occasionally tells children: The enzyme necessary for digestion of milk is lactase.
- The Dairy Council never tells children: 20% of Caucasians and up to 90% of people of African and Asian descent have no lactase in their intestines.
- The meat, dairy and egg industries tell us: Animal products constitute 2 of the "Basic 4" food groups popular until very recently.
- The meat, dairy and egg industries don't tell us: There were originally 12 official basic food groups, before these industries applied enormous political pressure on behalf of their products.
- The meat, dairy and egg industries tell us: We are well-fed only with animal products.
- The meat, dairy and egg industries don't tell us: The diseases which are commonly prevented, consistently improved, and sometimes cured by a low-fat vegetarian diet include: Strokes, Kidney stones, Prostate cancer, Cervical cancer, Diabetes, Peptic ulcers, Hiatal hernias, Gallstones, Irritable colon syndrome, Heart disease, Breast cancer, Pancreatic cancer, Stomach cancer, Hypoglycemia, Constipation, Diverticulosis, Hypertension, Salmonellosis, Osteoporosis, Colon cancer, Ovarian cancer, Endometrial cancer, Kidney disease, Hemorrhoids, Obesity, Asthma, Trichinosis.
Oh dear, I've said too much. Well, I didn't say it, but it is worth repeating so we all know what we're getting ourselves into when we put a fork or spoon into our mouths. God told us our body is a temple, to be used for His work. I need to take that more seriously. Yes, healthy eating is trendy but a life long commitment to health is not necessarily popular. But we need to think if this is the right thing for us to do, as individuals with minds and hearts.
Think about it, a commercial for cereal or soda is just easier to sell. I mean, have you ever seen an ad for doing push-ups or climbing up and down your stairs 30 times? So, as you stare at the plate in front of you at lunch or dinner today, think about what went into preparing that meal. Think about the land that was consumed to grow your food. And talk about it with your friends and family. Happy Monday!