Planet on a plate
Farming / Water Eutrophication
/ Bio Accumulation / Nitrogen
Pollution / Manure / Acid
Rain / Water Usage / Top
Soil / Energy / Inefficiency
of Meat / Global Warming / Meat
- Guilty / Wildlife / Desertification
/ Species Loss / Fishing
/ Fish Farming / Conclusion
is increasing, the hole in the ozone layer is getting bigger, rainforests
are disappearing, deserts are expanding, fossil fuels are running out
and seas are dying.
So what's this
got to do with diet? Everything!
The meat industry
directly contributes to all the major environmental catastrophes facing
our planet. The number of farmed animals in the world has quadrupled in
the last 50 years, and this puts an incredible strain on the environment.
Food production no longer nurtures the land; instead both animals and
soil are pushed to their limits and beyond in an effort to satisfy the
voracious appetite of the western world. It is an appetite for both food
The current buzz word
is 'sustainable' and yet modern agriculture is manifestly unsustainable.
Rainforests are still being chopped down either for grazing or to grow
crops to feed to animals. The crops require pesticides and fertilizers
that then leach into waterways, causing massive pollution. The increased
numbers of animals means more manure, which contributes to acid rain,
pollutes rivers and lakes and renders drinking water unsafe. Soil is pushed
beyond its fertility limits, is not replenished or fallowed and becomes
prone to erosion. Top soil, the very stuff of life, is now a rapidly disappearing
commodity. Oceans are being destroyed by overfishing, which is devastating
entire marine ecosystems, while coastal fish farms are causing extensive
pollution and wildlife decline.
That, in a nutshell,
is what confronts us, and it is a pretty depressing picture. Despite an
abundance of scientific evidence that the world's life support systems
are being seriously eroded, the situation is getting worse, not better,
as the scale of decline accelerates.
We will show the many
ways that growing grains has a negative impact on the environment. Growing
grains to be fed to animals significantly increases the problems because
it takes more grain to produce the same amount of food from animals as
it would to eat the grains directly.
practices have intensified over the last 60 years and resulted in a powerful
and destructive industry based on 'intensive' or 'factory' farming. Its
aim is to increase yields while decreasing the cost of production. The
welfare of animals is rarely considered in the equation, so they are kept
in tightly packed and frequently inhumane conditions to ensure maximum
More animals need
more crops to feed them so there is pressure on agricultural farmers to
increase crop yields. Over 70% of grain produced in the U.S. is fed to
livestock and 29% of the landmass of the U.S. is currently used as grazing
land, primarily to feed cattle (1). A typical steer will consume about
two tons of grain while it is at a feedlot, just to gain 400 pounds in
Animal feed crops
are often products of monoculture - a practice that involves growing the
same crops in the same field year after year with no fallowing or rotation.
Soil cannot sustain such intense demands, so chemical fertilizers are
used to promote crop growth as a matter of course. Growing feed for industrial
animal agriculture systems changes land use, harming biodiversity through
habitat loss and ecosystem damage (3).
Improper grazing has
caused extensive environmental damage and rangeland degradation in the
Western U.S.; topsoil erosion is a serious problem in the U.S. and to
a large extent is caused by the monoculture of corn and soybeans for the
pig and chicken industries (4).
Without its hedgerow
and woodland habitats, wildlife has gone into serious decline and natural
predators of crop-pests have been decimated, allowing the pests to thrive.
The answer is to kill them with chemical pesticides. Weeds, which compete
with crops for nutrients, sunlight and moisture, are also destroyed, with
herbicides. This constant saturation of our countryside with poisons has
led to some insects and weeds developing resistance to the chemicals.
So what happens? Even more powerful concoctions have been developed.
Chemical warfare has
been declared in a vicious circle of madness. Seven hundred and fifty
million pounds of some twenty thousand different pesticides are poured
over the U.S. landscape annually (5). Some are carcinogenic, while others
promote allergies, birth defects and various health problems (6).
The high nitrogen content of fertilizers causes algae to thrive and has
led to algal blooms so toxic that they have killed healthy dogs who have
swum through them. The sheer density of algae can block out sunlight,
denying it to other plants and fish. When the algae dies, its remains
are broken down by bacteria that remove oxygen from the water in the process
and can suffocate most life.
This process is called
eutrophication and even the seas are not safe from it. In 1981, 83
and 86, large quantities of flatfish were found dead in the North
Sea where this process had led to an 80 percent oxygen decrease in bottom
waters (7). A dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico of up to 7,000
square miles that can no longer support most aquatic life is linked to
nutrients from farm runoff including animal waste.
This type of pollution is also believed to be linked to Pfiesteria outbreaks
and massive fish kills in the coastal waters of North Carolina and Maryland
The chemical cocktail sprayed on agricultural land is accumulating and
contaminating reservoirs, rivers, lakes and ponds, and its residues can
be found throughout the food chain. Just as with heavy metals, these residues
are increasingly concentrated the higher up the food chain you go by a
process of bio-accumulation. Chemicals present in waterways are absorbed
by micro-organisms. Aquatic life feeds on huge quantities of these organisms,
which are then eaten by fish and the residues they contain are stored
in their fatty tissues.
Fish are fed to chickens,
used as fertilizer or are eaten by humans, and the residues continue to
concentrate up the food chain - and the higher you go, the larger the
dose of toxins you receive. A similar process takes place with livestock,
who consume vast quantities of residue-containing food. It is particularly
marked in dairy products, which can contain 14 times more contaminants
than plant foods. The way to reduce your level of ingestion of these chemicals
is to choose your diet from low down the food chain - from plants - preferably
Fertilizers contain large amounts of nitrogen, which leaches from the
soil on which it is spread into ground water and eventually into underground
reservoirs - the source of much of our water supply. Nitrogen in drinking
water is associated with blue baby syndrome - a potentially
fatal destruction of the red blood cells in new-born children.
Nitrogen can also
transform into nitrites, which can combine with proteins in food to form
nitrosomines, which are carcinogenic - cancer promoting. Throughout chicken
country, as many as one-third of all wells exceed EPA (Environmental Protection
Agency) safe drinking water standards for nitrate, a form of nitrogen
concentrated in chicken waste that seeps into groundwater, according to
a study by the U.S. Geological Survey (9).
The USGS has also
found trace amounts of arsenic in the Pocomoke River (which feeds into
the Chesapeake Bay), which is probably the residue of arsenic added to
chicken feed to destroy parasites and promote growth. The Chesapeake Bay
is the largest estuary in North America and is home to approximately 3,000
species of plants and animals (10).
Waste from intensive farming also poses an environmental threat. A lot
of manure, particularly pig manure, is stored with water as slurry. This
toxic liquid is 100 times more polluting than human sewage and it frequently
leaks into rivers and streams where it can exterminate all life.
There is obviously
a simple equation - the more animals, the more manure. Both have increased
dramatically (11). In 1992, the waste from livestock was 13 times as much
as from humans in the U.S. (12). In 1998 the amount of animal manure produced
was 2.6 trillion pounds (13). Ammonia emissions from manure can settle
on plants and soil, resulting in toxicity and biodiversity loss; spreading
manure on land can lead to nitrates in groundwater, posing health hazards;
manure can accumulate heavy metals, contaminating crops and increasing
health risks (14).
Stored slurry contains large amounts of ammonia, which becomes a breeding
ground for bacteria. Their action creates acid, which evaporates, and
then combines with nitrous oxide from fertilizers and industrial pollution
to form acid rain. Acid rain is extremely destructive and sours soil,
destroys forests and renders once prolific waters lifeless. After the
burning of fossil fuels, animal manure is the second biggest cause of
Animal agriculture uses huge amounts of water, energy and chemicals, often
with little regard for the long-term adverse effects. Many irrigation
systems are pumping water from underground reservoirs much faster than
they can ever be recharged.
The University of
California studied water use in their state, where most agricultural land
is irrigated, and they place water use for vegetables such as tomatoes,
potatoes and carrots in the 20 to 30 gallon range for an edible pound
of food. It takes 441 gallons of water to make a pound of beef (15). Sixty
four percent of U.S. arable land is used for livestock feed.
Fresh water, once
a seemingly abundant resource, is now becoming scarce in many regions
and that poses a real threat to the stability of the world. Numerous countries
are in dispute over water supplies, and the seeds of future wars are clearly
beginning to germinate.
Between 1940 and 1980,
world-wide usage of water has doubled and 70 percent of it goes into agriculture
Top soil is the fertile upper layer of soil without which almost nothing
will grow. It is essential for life and yet it is being eroded at an alarming
rate through over use and denaturing due to the over-use of fertilizers
In the 20th Century
alone, the US has lost half its topsoil and 7 billion tons a year continue
to be eroded (17). Its structure has been so distorted that wind and water
can simply carry it away (18). With luck, topsoil is replenished at a
rate of 2.5 centimeters every 100 years.
Some 85 percent of
top-soil loss is attributed to livestock rearing (19). Around the world,
topsoil is being eroded at rates 16 to 300 times faster than it can regenerate
Intensive farming requires large amounts of energy: fuel to run huge combine
harvesters, tractors and other machinery; energy to produce and transport
pesticides and fertilizers; and fuel to refrigerate and transport perishable
produce across the country and around the world. Fossil fuels are required
throughout this process and their use contributes to ozone depletion and
Animals use the energy they gain from food to move around, breathe, grow,
keep warm and perform all their bodily functions - just as we do. Only
six percent of their energy intake ends up being stored in flesh or milk.
For every 16 pounds of high-protein food fed to cattle, only one pound
of meat results. In terms of food energy, it takes 24 calories in the
form of grain or soy to produce a single calorie of beef (21).
In fact, the more
a cow is milked, the more grain concentrates she needs (22).
Looked at from a global perspective, livestock production represents an
obscene waste of food and a betrayal of the world's poor. High quality
food such as wheat and soy, which could feed humans, is being fed to animals
and largely wasted. The amount of feed consumed by the US beef herd alone
would feed the entire populations of India and China - two billion people.
As factory farming is spread to these and other developing countries,
the implication for world food resources is deeply depressing. As always,
it will be the poorest who pay the price in disease and famine.
A vegetarian - or
even better a vegan - diet is capable of feeding the entire population
of the world - and then some (23)!
Carbon Dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are naturally occurring gases
in the atmosphere. They act like the glass on a greenhouse by trapping
the sun's heat and reflecting it back to earth. This phenomenon is what
makes the world habitable, keeping the atmosphere about 33°C/92°F
higher than it would otherwise be. But animal agriculture adds significantly
to global warming. Scientific American (9/97) reported that growing feed
for livestock requires intense use of synthetic fertilizer, releasing
nitrous oxide a far stronger greenhouse gas than CO2. Producing
feed and heating buildings that house animals uses fossil fuels, emitting
CO2; decomposition of liquid manure releases larger amounts of methane
into the atmosphere as well as forming nitrous oxide (24).
of carbon dioxide, methane or nitrous oxide has, until now, been determined
by a complex interaction between oceans, forests, soil, ice-caps and clouds.
These natural changes have taken place over millions of years. However,
the last few decades have seen an extraordinary explosion in these three
greenhouse gases. The result has been global warming. All 10 of the hottest
years on record have occurred in the last 15 years.
Warmer weather might
sound great to those who live in cold climates, but such dramatic changes
could actually mean disaster. Britain's Hadley Center for Climate Change
has predicted dramatic events, including, for example, flooding. As the
polar ice caps melt and the world's oceans warm and expand, flooding will
be a global problem. The number of people on coastlines subject to flooding
each year will rise from 5 million at present to 100 million by 2050 and
200 million by 2080. Vast tracts of land and some island countries will
disappear under water permanently as sea levels rise. Mass migrations
of millions of landless people present a potential environmental and humanitarian
disaster as well as threatening potential serious conflict.
Another 30 million
people will be hungry in 50 years because large parts of Africa will become
too dry to grow crops. An extra 170 million people will live in countries
with extreme water shortages.
Malaria, one of the
worlds most dreaded diseases, will threaten much larger areas of
the planet (25).
The tundra regions
of the world contain within their frozen soil an incalculable amount of
methane. As the soil defrosts with increasing temperatures, billions of
tons of gas may be released to add to the global warming. The more the
earth warms, the more gas will be released. This is called positive feedback
and could mean that the greenhouse effect becomes unstoppable with unknown
There is much talk
about planting more trees to replace those cut but it is only a partial
answer. Rainforests developed over thousands of years and constitute unique
and perfectly balanced ecosystems which, once destroyed, cannot be successfully
Rainforests are as important to life on Earth as our lungs are to our
own well-being. They are the planets breathing system. They soak
up carbon dioxide and give off oxygen in a process that helps control
pollution and provides the key to life. In fact rainforests produce 70
percent of all the oxygen in the world (27).
Every hour, at least
an additional 4,500 acres fall to chain saws, machetes, bulldozers and
flames (28). Rainforests are chopped down initially for the large trees,
which are used for timber. The rich tapestry of saplings, seedlings, shrubs,
bushes, plants and smaller trees are cut to the ground and burned - as
are many of the creatures who depend upon them. The barren land which
results from slash and burn is largely used as grazing or growing feed
for livestock cattle (29).
The U.S. imported 4.2 percent of our 2.07 billion pounds of imported beef
from Brazil; thats over 80 million pounds of beef (30).
Slash and burn eradicates
all growth and unlocks centuries worth of stored CO2 in only minutes when
the wood is burned. It floats upwards and contributes to global warming.
One of the most affected
areas is Costa Rica, which was once almost entirely clad in trees. In
the last 20 years, nearly 80 percent of its forests have been cut. Just
one hamburger made from Costa Rican beef is estimated to cost the life
of a large tree, 50 saplings and seedlings of some 20-30 different species,
hundreds of species of insects and a huge diversity of mosses, fungi and
More cattle means
more belching and this is now the second largest contributor to global
warming after fossil fuel burning. World-wide, livestock produces 882
tons of methane per year and accounts for 17 percent of all global warming
emissions of methane (32). Methane is 20 times more effective at warming
the globe than CO2, which it joins above the earth (33).
A branch of the USDA, called the U.S. Department of Wildlife Services
(formerly known as Animal Damage Control) kills wildlife to protect the
interests of farmers, i.e. the herds of sheep, cows, etc. Each year the
federal government hunters and trappers kill about 100,000 coyotes, bobcats,
feral hogs, and mountain lions. They are shot from airplanes, caught in
steel-jaw leghold traps or neck nooses, or poisoned with cyanide (34).
This number does not include the many animals mistakenly caught in traps
or the animals the killed by the landowners themselves. Its ironic
that wild animals are killed for eating their natural prey just so that
humans can kill and make a profit off those same domesticated animals.
According to the United Nations, deserts are growing at the rate of 74,592
square miles every year - an area the size of England and Scotland (35).
This decline of once fertile soil into desert land is called desertification.
One of the major contributors to the process is cattle ranching and the
grazing of other livestock such as sheep, camels and goats on the margins
of existing deserts.
is particularly prone to deterioration as the soil is comparatively thin.
It has adapted over thousands years to support the forest with its network
of roots, and these in turn hold the soil together. The effect of cattle
grazing, with their heavy bodies and hard hooves, is to compact the soil,
break down its structure and reduce its fertility. The loss of trees also
leads to a reduction in water vapor, which prompts climate change and
reduces rainfall levels. The eventual end result of these different factors
is desert. Unfortunately, when the soil becomes dry, lifeless and unsuitable
for cattle, the ranchers move on and start the process again somewhere
The scale of deforestation means that thousands of species, possibly millions,
are losing their habitat at an accelerating rate. The richly abundant
and often unique flora and fauna of the forests are disappearing. Every
hour, a further four plant or animal species become extinct (36). It is
estimated that at least one half of the world's species live in the rainforests.
Many rainforest plants
have valuable medicinal properties and contain the only known cure for
certain diseases. They are used to treat cancer, strokes, heart disease
and many other illnesses. By wiping out the rainforests we are possibly
destroying an abundant supply of new drugs capable of curing major diseases.
Many of the species being destroyed are unknown to humankind.
birds and other animals suffer and die from injuries caused by swallowing
or becoming entangled in discarded fishing hooks, monofilament line, and
lead weights (37).
of the oceans has decimated both fish stocks and the aquatic environment.
Herring, cod, jacks, redfish and mackerel are the fish species that are
most commonly exploited commercially across the world. There are several
methods used for commercial fishing:
Trawlers, some the size of football fields (38), work non-stop across
the oceans' fishing grounds, plying backwards and forwards in a never-ending
process which scoops up huge quantities of fish and destroys the sea bed
and the creatures that live there. Nets like huge tapering bags are used,
and the mouth of the bag can be 224 ft. wide. It is kept open by huge,
metal-bound trawl (otter) boards that can weigh tons and crush and grind
to destruction anything in their path.
A variant is the beam
trawl, where a long metal beam is fixed to the underside of the net's
opening. Floatation devices keep the mouth of the net open and dangling
from the beam are 'tickler' chains, which drag along the bottom forcing
almost every creature from its hiding place into the mouth of the net.
Between 60 and 80
million tons of fish are caught from the seas of the world each year by
trawling. The total for all methods is about 100 million tons. Fish that
are too small, non-target species or species with no commercial value
are discarded. This can include almost every creature from the sea or
sea bed - sea urchins, brittle stars, crabs, dolphins, seals and sea-birds.
As shrimp nets are
dragged through the water, they catch every living creature in their path
- trapping both shrimp and unwanted fish and sea turtles. Sea turtles
caught in shrimp nets are held under water until they drown. Thousands
of endangered sea turtles are killed in this way every year (39).
The ecological balance
of oceans is disturbed when the catch rate exceeds the natural reproduction
rate. This is overfishing. All 17 of the world's major fisheries have
either reached or exceeded their limits. The North Sea is cleared of a
quarter of its fish every year.
Drift nets hang like curtains from the surface of the sea. Constructed
from thin but strong monofilament nylon, they are virtually invisible
to all sea life. They can be up to an incredible 30 miles long. The target
fish are often tuna, but as dolphins tend to congregate where tuna swim,
they too die in large numbers. Rays, sharks, sea birds and small whales
all become entangled in these ghostly nets.
It is not uncommon
for nets to become detached in rough weather and float away to kill large
numbers of animals and birds. When weighed down with dead bodies they
sink to the bottom, but once the carcasses have rotted, they float back
to the surface and continue their destruction. Thousands of dolphins,
porpoises, small whales, sea lions, and walruses are killed by drift nets
each year (40).
Purse Seine Netting
A purse seine net is suspended from the surface, the bottom of it many
fathoms below the surface. The boat pays out the net in a complete circle
so the effect is like that of a tube of netting hanging down, surrounding
the target school of fish. A kind of drawstring at the bottom of the net
is pulled tight so the net represents a purse with an open top but a closed
bottom. The top is then also closed and the net hauled inboard. Again,
tuna are caught by this method and, again, many dolphins drown in the
purse seine nets as a result.
Many birds, including razor-bills, cormorants, and little auks, feed mainly
on sand eels, sprats and small herrings, all of which are heavily exploited
by fishermen. In 1994, overfishing in the North Sea was believed to have
caused about 100,000 birds to starve, and the problem seems to be worsening.
often blame the low numbers of fish on local wildlife and call demand
culling to solve the problem. As a result, seals have been killed in their
thousands - 51,000 in Russia and 250,000 in Canada and there are similar
demands being made in Britain. In February of 1999, a proposal was presented
to Congress by the National Marine Fisheries Service to allow fishermen
and resource managers to shoot Pacific harbor seals and California
sea lions along the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington to protect
the dwindling stocks of salmon and steelhead and to reduce competition
for fish between these pinnipeds and humans (41).
The flesh of fish
often stores dangerous contaminants, such as PCBs, suspected of
causing cancer, nervous systems disorders, and fetal damage; dioxins,
also linked to cancer; radioactive materials like strontium 90; and such
toxic metals as cadmium, mercury, lead, and arsenic, which can cause health
problems ranging from kidney damage and mental retardation to cancer (42).
Overfishing and the subsequent collapse of many commercial fisheries has
led to an increase in fish farming. According to the National Fisheries
Institute in the U.S., farmed catfish production in 1995 was 447 million
pounds, pen-raised salmon was 34 million pounds, Tilapia was 15 million
pounds and hybrid striped bass totaled 9 million pounds (43). Rainbow
trout and Atlantic salmon are the most popular species but there are also
farms for carp, marine fin fish and eels.
are kept in shallow concrete troughs. The intensive crowding as
many as five fish per square foot spreads infection and parasites,
so factory fish farmers use antibiotics and growth hormones to get more
fish fatter faster (44).
In the U.S., there
are only five drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
to be used in food fish; however there are fifteen in Europe and twenty-four
in Japan. This should give anyone who eats fish another reason to be concerned,
since the U.S. imports approximately 60 percent of its fish and shellfish
Other chemicals used
in fish farming include the pigment Canthaxanthin, used to turn the fish's
flesh from its natural gray to pink. Canthaxanthin is banned in the USA
because it is believed to be carcinogenic (46).
According to the executive
director of the Marine Aquatic Association, farmed salmon are pale because
they have been weaned off their carotenoid-rich diets. The FDA has approved
Asta (the carotenoid pigment Astaxanthin) to help restore fish to their
natural color. Red year (Pfaffia rhodozyma) is also being used on penned
salmon to help their color (47).
As well as altering the natural balance of coastal waters, fish farms
attract fish-eating wildlife. So the fish farmers often try to protect
their stocks by killing the wildlife, including seals, otters, black guillemots,
great northern divers, dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks.
On March 4, 1998,
a federal law took effect that allows fish farmers in 13 states to kill
unlimited numbers of cormorants to protect their profits. Catfish and
other species on fish farmers attract cormorants. The U.S. Fish &
Wildlife Service estimates that 92,000 of these birds will be killed by
fish farmers each yearabout 5 to 10 percent of the North American
Northern Hemisphere fish farms are commonly found in the same coastal
areas as those polluted by industry, human sewage and agriculture. It
is inevitable that fish will take in some of the toxins and concentrate
Fish farms also cause
their own pollution, and one ton of farmed trout produces pollution equal
to the untreated sewage of 200-300 people. Feces and food pellets are
concentrated around the netted underwater cage, but the bulk accumulates
beneath the cages. This toxic build-up causes de-oxygenation and can adversely
affect local wildlife communities. Eutrophication can occur as the water
is enriched with nitrates, phosphates and nitrogenous waste products.
farming is now a global phenomenon for expensive creatures such as prawns
and yellow tails. The coastal areas chosen for the farms are usually mangrove
swamps, seen as useless areas ripe for exploitation. In fact they provide
the most productive and important habitat in the oceans. Ninety percent
of marine fish rely upon the amazing diversity provided by the mangroves,
particularly for spawning. Over 2,000 species of fish, crustaceans and
plants thrive there.
flooding, stop erosion, and are the nursery of ocean life - and they are
being ripped up faster than anyone can count. Indonesia, the Philippines,
Malaysia, Thailand, Ecuador, Panama - clearance is rampant everywhere.
The subtropical regions of the world have lost 70 percent of all mangrove
swamps since 1960, largely to fish farming. After a few years the farms
have to be moved, cutting down yet more mangroves. Desolation is left
The environment pays
a terrible price for that king prawn cocktail!
There is one thing
within your power that will have a huge and immediate impact in protecting
our planet, and that is to change your diet. Stop eating meat and fish
today - and, give up dairy products. Any step you take is important, and
you can immediately begin to remove yourself from the cycle of exploitation
and destruction. Even better, raise your voice in protest, join with others
such as Viva! and actively fight against the ruthless corporations who
will allow greed to destroy the globe.
Planet on a Plate
is an excellent introduction to the problems wrought by the traditional
Western meat-based diet, and the increasing role that factory farms play
in exacerbating an already dangerous situation. The production of large
numbers of farmed animals under incredibly cruel circumstances has lead
to air and water pollution, a huge waste of water and grain, and a host
of public health problems, such as the emergence of antibiotic-resistant
organisms. Planet on a Plate makes a compelling case that we are individually
responsible for our own consumption and the resultant environmental, ethical
and health consequences. There are more than six billion people who share
Ultimately it is
they who have the power in the marketplace to determine which foods will
be produced and sold, and to what extent the industrial model of agriculture
will be replaced. It is clear that the adoption of the Western diet as
a worldwide standard will ensure a planet with more disease, and increasingly
severe environmental problems. Conversely, we know that plant-based protein
is readily available, and it is less costly, both in terms of direct costs,
and in terms of the "external" costs that we are already paying
(e.g., for subsidies, environmental cleanup and to treat disease). Planet
on a Plate offers insight into how our food consumption patterns impact
on the biosphere and the earth's ability to sustain a growing human population.
This publication deserves wide circulation and support - it is a valuable
educational tool. Too many of us simply have not seen the connection between
what we put on our plates and the state of our physical world, and our
own health. We have not, for example, related the quality of our water
to the foods that we purchase. We have not related the myriad of Western
ailments to our diets. This is beginning to change. The evidence against
industrial animal production ("factory farms") specifically,
and meat-intensive diets in general is both overwhelming and compelling.
Fortunately, this fact is being widely recognized and changes are occurring.
For example, the veggieburger, once relegated to the status of a "niche
market" is now commonplace in virtually every grocery store. The
consumption of soy-based products is rising exponentially. Even major
corporations such as The Kellogg Company and Kraft Foods have entered
the vegetarian market in a significant way. Yes, positive change has begun.
While it is true that we have a long way to go, Planet on a Plate will
have enormous impact in hastening the dietary revolution that needs to
occur. We can build the kind of planet, the kind of future that we want.
But we need to act, and we need to get started now.
Ph.D. is Director of the GRACE Project on Industrial Animal Production,
Center for a Livable Future, Johns Hopkins University School of Public
Health. He also serves as a consultant to the Global Resource Action Center
for the Environment in New York City. Brubaker is a graduate of Temple
University, Southern Illinois University, and the University of Pennsylvania.
He is a member of the Committee for a Global Water Contract. Brubaker
has served an a consultant to numerous non-governmental organizations.
Previously he was the Executive Vice President of PennAg Industries Association,
a regional agribusiness trade association. He is a former president of
the Agricultural Associations Executive Council, and was a member of the
board of Directors of the American Feed Industry Association. Long active
in the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay, he has served as Chair of the Citizens
Advisory Committee to the Chesapeake Executive Council and in many other
Bay-related positions. He lives in Lititz, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.