I’ll be honest, I had put off watching Cowspiracy for a long time. For those of you that missed it, it is a film that looks at the animal agricultural business. Essentially, from the title alone you can already get a sense that it is a film that is about to question that industry. And as a film about that subject, I thought it would preach. I thought it would make me question my actions. I thought I would feel lectured, and dictated to, and generally annoyed. Right now, I just feel a bit stupid.
I’ve called myself an environmentalist in a sort of half-arsed way for a few years. I don’t use plastic bottles unless I can’t avoid it. I try to grow some food on a balcony. I was a terrible vegetarian for about 14 years and then fell off the wagon spectacularly into a pile of bacon, only to return to the cause a couple of months back. But, watching the film, a lot of alarming facts were put forward that I feel I can’t ignore.
Some of the true clangers include –
- The fact that growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of water in the US. And that animal agriculture is responsible for 20-33% of all freshwater consumption in the world today.
- 1/3 of the planet is desertified, with livestock as the leading driver, and animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction.
- Every minute, 7 million pounds of excrement are produced by animals raised for food in the US alone. That then runs off into water sources, causing additional problems and ocean dead-zones.
But there was one fact that is truly terrifying – the world is currently growing enough food to feed 10 billion people.
Yeah, you read that correctly. We are running at surplus and yet people are still dying of starvation because that food is going into the mouth’s of animals, which are then slaughtered to produce less food than they consumed. Even writing this now I can’t help but a question, why? Why are we doing that because that simply doesn’t make sense?
And that’s sadly one thing that didn’t get answered for me by watching Cowspiracy. But I don’t think that is its position, instead, it is there to offer the panacea of veganism.
Now, I’ve often thought of vegans as radicals. Crazy people who clearly are taking this vegetarian malarkey to the nth degree, because they are equal parts bonkers as they are caring. But actually, when an old uni friend turn up on Instagram looking super fit and healthy or food bloggers like Jack Monroe make the switch to leave out half of their ingredients, you’ve got to question that there might be a slightly stronger rationale than just the old British eccentricity behind this move to veganism.
I’m not declaring, by any road (yet), that the documentary has made me vegan. But it has made me question my dietary choices, and it has expanded my reading list. Neither of which is a bad thing.