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Vegan: A lifestyle of Compassion

By Jeri Taira, Guest Contributor

I’ve just wrapped up a plant-based nutrition class at e-Cornell.   It was so much more than I thought it would be.  We not only learned about plant-based nutrition, but also about its positive effects on our world environment (land, sea, and atmosphere).   We also learned how animal-based diets, in excess, negatively effect other populations of the world.  The resources and land or third world countries are forcibly taken from them for profit.   I’m astounded by the amount of information we’re not made aware of. The information is publicly available. There are also government studies that prove and/or disprove many nutritional and environmental issues, but are not publicized.

Government subsidies are part of the high cost of organics. They subsidize land for overgrowth of corn to feed the overabundance of animals, including fish, to make meats cheap and over feed America.  On some farms, animals barely have enough space to move around inviting disease. Yes, the farmed fish too.  No wonder America is diseased.

Our ocean is ¾ of our planet.  Irresponsible land-based agriculture has had huge impact on our ocean resources.  Pesticides and heavy fertilization of nitrogen used to maintain crops for livestock feed are draining into our oceans. Dr. Bruce Monger, Oceanography Professor at Cornell University, explains that Midwestern streams are considered, ”the bread basket” in the drainage basin of the Mississippi River.  That bread basket essentially drains the entire Midwest.  He states, “A good fraction of all the fertilizers put on cornfields drains into the rivers and streams and eventually makes its way to the Mississippi River”.  When it gets into our coastal ocean, it causes an overgrowth of algae.  The algae then die and sink to the bottom.   Bacteria feed off it reducing the oxygen in the water to zero killing everything in the area.  He says “hundreds of square kilometers of ocean bottom” are affected.  This video he shared helps us to see beyond our own backyard and into the rest of the world.

There is hope. We can research and learn about these issues. Then we can take action and write to our legislature asking them to stop the abuse of subsidies.  Better yet, fax it to them.  It is much more economical to subsidize organic farming that will remain sustainable for generations.  As we learn, we can share it with others. (for tips on how to write, legislation contact info and pending bills click this)

I thought I was going to learn all about a vegan diet.  But rockin’ the vegan lifestyle is much more than a diet or a label.  It’s about well-being, forming encouraging friendships and improving the ones you already have.  It’s about a growing compassion for our world and how the choices we make each day affect it.  It’s also about being educated through the resources available to us.  By choosing to live a vegan lifestyle we not only improve our health we save our planet.  Yes, that means we’re saving the world!

Photo: Moyan Brenn