Friday, June 20, 2008

A Case for Vegetarianism

I am scared right now. Petrified. Mortified. The whole world is in big trouble right now. The proverbial shit has more or less hit the fan.

Fidel Castro, in what is now a classic letter (written in 2007), lamented about the growth in use of biofuels. He felt it fundamentally unethical to put food inside the fuel tank.

A little more than a year down the line - and here we are. Food prices are headed north all around the world. Inflation in India has reached double figures. All the gradual progress that was made over the last few decades .. uplifting the 100 million people or so from poverty .. all that could disappear if the prices do not drop quickly.

Let me go on a limb here and make some guesses. I am assuming that the reader of this article is not accustomed to feeling hunger (because, in all probability, he or she is rich enough to afford a decent meal). Almost all the people I know in India and in the US are rich. Almost all the people that we know are rich. As a consequence, all of us are more or less spent forces in actually empathizing with the billions of hungry on this planet.

The planet (populated like never before) is facing a massive shortage of food grains. It is not as if the planet is not growing enough food. We're growing enough to feed 9 billion vegetarian people. It's just that the rich have billions of cows, pigs and hens to feed (and eventually eat) - and they do so by snatching the food away from the mouths of the poorest of the poor in India, Africa and China.

When billions of people on this planet cannot afford a decent meal, does it make ethical sense to consume foods which eat what the poorest of poor could eat? Is is humbling to know that more crops are consumed by animals that are eaten as meat than actual human beings.

Add to this the further ethical bankruptcy of causing pain to a sentient being when one could very well have avoided doing so. Animals suffer when killed. They don't like it. Ought we be torturing them like this?

Further, it takes much more energy to raise animals to be killed and eaten. It requires much more resources. And with the planet boiling over - a gram of CO2 saved from going up into the atmosphere is worth its weight in gold.

I only hope that people eat meat because they are ignorant of these hard facts. But I have a deeper, more nagging suspicion. Evolution has hard wired a certain hypocrisy into humans. People can live happy lives fully cognizant of the fact that their actions have contributed to the silent genocide that is third world hunger - but not care enough to mend their ways. Because all there is to life is fornicating and passing on one's genes.


unicorn said...

Though I agree with you on converting to Veg, there are other factors like arable area available, cattle feed often is not cultivated separately.

And moreover, the current situation is more to do with keeping the stocks, India, China, US produce 50% of all the food produced in the world, the uncertainty of prices and the new innovations in futures market has led to an under maintained stock.

Moreover, the US' obsession with ethanol might have diverted at least 15-20% food grains for this savior-fuel. So I say US is responsible for global food price rise.

Rap said...

I'm not trying to analyze why the food prices are high. I am just contending that if the world converted to vegetarianism (not that it will ever), then we can solve some of the biggest problems facing humanity (without significantly sacrificing quality of life).

unicorn said...

Well RAP, I got you what on what you wanted to convey, just that I added my views on the wider topic, might be. Just a digression, can be attributed to the general reading I was doing before reading your blog....

unicorn said...
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