A Modest Proposal Regarding Eating Animals *

*This is a talk I gave a few years ago on World Vegetarian Day.

I am not a climatologist. Neither am I a nutritionist. I write fiction. And, occasionally I have the pleasure of giving talks on world vegetarian day. Vegetarianism is something close to my heart and I was chuffed when asked to speak. So thank you for having me. I have spent my professional life constructing fictions out of the raw material of reality. To do that I try to see things as they are. So while I spend a lot of time my writing fiction, I also spend an inordinate amount of time reading factual material. And one area has become a source of absorption for me is the environment and eating animals. I think there is a very direct connection between the way we consume the worlds resources and the way we consume animals. I think the origins of this attitude towards the environment is so deep and so all embracing that most of us, and to some extent I include myself in this, are in denial of the philosophy we have constructed and have interiorized to blind ourselves to our predatory attitudes to the environment. Much of it is based on bad science, rabid all-consuming greed, the extensive use of the most sophisticated marketing and advertising techniques, and the simple fact that many of us are simply struggling to get by and are too tired and distracted to deconstruct the complicated multi layered incredibly clever messages about what is good to eat, what is right to do, how to vote and how to live.  That we have become blind to this is no accident. We are distracted at times by very real concerns, and at other times we are fed such subtle messages both through advertising, the media, learned discussions, and sometimes by people we trust, like our parents for instance. So much of the message of vegetarianism, that it’s good for you, is inexpensive and delicious, and that eating animals is morally repugnant and not good for you, is something that people will inevitably realize. This knowledge is best shared by education and debate.  And science.

And there is a lot of science to back up vegetarianism. It’s important to have the facts. We want the facts. But facts are hard to get. And science is not about certainty, but probabilities. In an utterly absorbing book about nutrition by T. Colin Campbell, Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, and his son Thomas M. Campbell II, a physician, called the China Study. My big problem with this book is the fact that so much of it is connected with or talks about animal testing. PETA for instance mentions on their website the following:

“More than 100 million animals every year suffer and die in cruel chemical, drug, food, and cosmetics tests as well as in biology lessons, medical training exercises,and curiosity-driven medical experiments at universities. Exact numbers aren’t available because mice, rats, birds, and cold-blooded animals—who make up more than 99 percent of animals used in experiments—are not covered by even the minimal protections of the Animal Welfare Act and therefore go virtually uncounted.[1]

There are also other issues around animal testing, its efficacy, the fact that humans have genetic and biological differences and that you can never for instance use animal testing to decide whether a drug is safe and effective for a human being but rather whether it should be tested on humans[2]. But, despite its liberal use of animal testing, something I vehemently oppose, The China Study remains one of the best-selling books ever on the subject of nutrition, and indeed a book about the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever made. It says the following about scientific research and results from scientific research:

“Proof in science is elusive. Even more than in the “core” sciences of biology, chemistry and physics, establishing absolute proof in medicine and health is nearly impossible. The primary objective of research investigation is to determine only what is likely to be true. This is because research into health is inherently statistical. When you throw a ball in the air, will it come down? Yes, every time. That’s physics. If you smoke four packs a day, will you get lung cancer? The answer is maybe. We know that your odds of getting lung cancer are much higher than if you didn’t smoke, and we can tell you what those odds (statistics) are, but we can’t know with certainty whether you as an individual will get lung cancer.”

Campbell goes onto say how things get even more complicated when we start talking about nutrition in people and its effects. There are just so many variables: genetic differences, lifestyle differences – of course food lifestyle and health interact in all kinds of different ways for different people that no matter how rigorous one is the best one gets is a statistical level of probability. It’s something we need to bear in mind when we look at what we refer to the facts. In other words one might be wrong, but there is a high level of probability one is not wrong, based on the analysis given. Something is significant statistically when there is only a 5% or so probability that the correlation is due to chance.  

So we need to be careful and be thoughtful. And more than anything else we need to start from the beginning. So let’s find the beginning. I think when we start talking about subjects, particularly subjects like modest proposals about eating animals and the direct relationship between meat eating and consuming the environment, we need perspective. We need to look at things from first of all a broad perspective and from there move our focus down to the subject that we are here to talk about and celebrate today. So, today is World Vegetarian Day. We are celebrating the fact of vegetarianism in the context of this wonderful, beautiful world. This Earth we inhabit. It’s a small planet we are on. This Earth. And life is not easy here for any species. Life is fragile. Life on Earth is very fragile. Let’s take a quick perspective of this planet we are on right now. Earth is the fourth planet in our solar system, the fourth smallest planet of the nine planets. Its 6,371 km in diameter, which is really tiny when you compare it to Jupiter the largest planet, which is just shy of 70,000 km in diameter, and a mere mote in the eye of our comparatively small sun which is 1.4 million km in diameter. Earth, revolving round the sun at 107,000 km/hr, is so small you could fit a million Earths inside the sun. Our Sun is but one star of 400 billion stars in our galaxy. Our Galaxy is about one of about 100 billion galaxies that are known of. So we are tiny. And we are fragile.

Just how fragile we are comes to the fore when we think about the Earth. Earth is a small planet in big trouble. The problem with Earth is that it’s warming up.  In a survey of eleven thousand scientific papers on global warming, those papers that took a position on climate change, it was found that over 97% agreed that global warming was anthropogenic, or human made[3]. That is a massive consensus.

The US EPA released the following fact sheet around global warming. It’s on their website:

“The global average temperature increased by more than 1.4°F over the last century.  In fact, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the decade from 2000 to 2010 was the warmest on record, and 2010 was tied with 2005 as the warmest year on record.  Rising global temperatures have also been accompanied by other changes in weather and climate. Many places have experienced changes in rainfall resulting in more intense rain, as well as more frequent and severe heat waves. The planet’s oceans and glaciers have also experienced changes: oceans are warming and becoming more acidic, ice caps are melting, and sea levels are rising.All of these changes are evidence that our world is getting warmer.” (EPA CLIMATE CHANGE BASICS)

Between 1980 and 2000 were the two hottest decades since 1600. An increase in 2 degrees decreases crop yields up to 15%, up to a 10% increase in rainfall, a decrease in river flow in some basins. And wildfires – an increase of up to 400% in wildfires. We have all seen those wildfires on the news. Some scientists predict that the temperatures will increase between 2 and 12 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100.[4] It’s reasonably predicted that the arctic ice caps, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Centre that

“Ice loss rates were quite steady through most of the month of August (2015). Sea ice loss for August averaged 75,100 square kilometres per day (29,000 square miles), compared to the long-term 1981 to 2010 average value of 57,300 square kilometres per day (22,100 square miles per day), and a rate of 89,500 square kilometres per day for 2012 (34,500 square miles per day).”

When the ice disappears, sunlight doesn’t get reflected back, and one of Earth’s natural cooling agent’s is gone. Instead of reflecting 80% of the sunlight, the ocean absorbs 90% of the sunlight. Temperatures go up, and the sea heats, which causes more ice to melt, which causes the oceans to rise.

So we have what the World Health Organization refers to as an “Escalating human pressure on the global environment.” Well, the WHO talk about climate change, ozone depletion, forest clearance, land degradation and cover change, loss of biodiversity, freshwater depletion, an costal changes and costal ecosystems change and loss. They also plot the effects of such changes. They are quite clear that we are in trouble: Direct Impacts include Floods heatwaves, landslides, water shortage, exposure to UV radiation and pollutants. Indirect impacts include reduce food yields, altered infectious diseases, reduction of natural medicines, mental health impacts as a result of destruction of a natural aesthetic, livelihood loss, population displacement, among many others.

Just to illustrate the kinds of impact: political, humanitarian and environmental that climate change can have: Take Syria, for instance. For forty years Syria had a pretty brutal dictatorship. Then between 2006 and 2011 Syria experienced the worst drought in living memory. Ninety percent of livestock died and most of the country’s pepper fields also died. The drought has been attributed to the effects of greenhouse gases, high co2 content, in other words – climate change. Well drilling rights for water were given out by the Assad regime on purely political grounds and people who spoke out against the regime were tortured and imprisoned. A million people lost their farms due to the drought and consequently moved to the cities. From there the unrest spread. Moving into the cities didn’t help. In fact the water shortage got worse. People were dying. People couldn’t get jobs. And a revolution began. For decades people lived under a brutal repressive regime. Climate change was what sparked the horrific situation we have today in Syria. The revolt actually followed the path of the drought in Syria, which took place in around 50% of the country. Overall as a result of both war which sprang from drought, there are over 12 million of the 20 million population are displaced, and 4 million of that 12 million are external refugees. The environmental impact of such an extended drought, loss of plant and animal life, is yet to be counted amidst the fog of war in the area.

Syria is a horrific and very telling example of a loss of plant, animal and human life, as well as a political destabilization of terrible proportions. But what of a less politically charged situation? If you take politics out of the equation what is happening in our world as a result of human activity? Well we have Habitat loss and degradation. We have excessive nutrient load and other forms of pollution. We have over-exploitation and unsustainable use of resources. We have invasive alien species taking over ecosystems that are not naturally their own. In other words we have the possibility of almost irreversible loss of species and wholescale destruction of the biosphere. In a short video that came out in 2008 The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) notes in this video that many species are threatened with extinction. 1 out of 8 birds, 1 out of 4 mammals, 1 out of 4 conifers, 1 out of 3 amphibians, 6 out of 7 marine turtles, 75% of genetic diversity of agricultural crops has been lost, 75% of the world’s fisheries are fully or over exploited, Up to 70% of the world’s known species risk extinction if the global temperatures rise by more than 3.5°C. 1/3rd of reef-building corals around the world are threatened with extinction.  Again I draw your attention that these facts and figures are available online from a simple search, and also to the fact that allied to this potentially irrevocable loss is the fact that human survival is inextricably linked to biodiversity and the survival of the ecosystem. On the 05 June 2015 the following statement was issued by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Director General, Inger Andersen for World Environment Day. I quote a part of it. The full statement is available online. Mr Andersen observes that

“…the same changes that have led to widespread increases in economic well-being are undermining the systems that sustain life on this planet. And we can expect more of this to happen over the next 15 years, in ways that bring hope yet further strain the planet’s capacity to support human needs and expectations.

The world is facing a rapidly closing window. The path we choose today will define nature’s ability to support us as a species during our lifetime and for generations to come. Everything is at stake. But how do we achieve our dreams of universal well-being while conserving the nature we depend on for realising these very aspirations? Is it even possible?

We at IUCN believe that this is not a zero-sum game; human progress and nature conservation are not mutually exclusive. There is a viable path: a profound transformation of our patterns of production and consumption that re-establishes a balance between human needs and natural endowments.”

Following from this, a recent Princeton Study the researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page argue that over the past few decades America’s political system has slowly transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy, where wealthy elites wield most power, and we are dealing here with one of the biggest, if not the biggest economies in the world.

Using data drawn from over 1,800 different policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, the two conclude that rich, well-connected individuals on the political scene now steer the direction of the country, regardless of or even against the will of the majority of voters.

“Ordinary citizens,” they write, “might often be observed to ‘win’ (that is, to get their preferred policy outcomes) even if they had no independent effect whatsoever on policy making, if elites (with whom they often agree) actually prevail.”[5]

It seems almost trite to say in the light of the overwhelming evidence that we are addicted to consuming the world. That we destroy habitats and homes, that we cause typhoons and floods and droughts, that we poison the air and acidify the seas and ruin entire species, that we have to stop eating the world. But we do. We have to stop eating the world. We need a rigorous policy of re-education to halt this economically driven, corporate driven policy of over consumption which is destroying our planet. In a study issued in 2013 Oxfam released an analysis of the distribution of the words wealth called “Working for the Few” in which they say the following:

“Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population, and seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years. The World Economic Forum has identified economic inequality as a major risk to human progress, impacting social stability within countries and threatening security on a global scale.

This massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a real threat to inclusive political and economic systems, and compounds other inequalities – such as those between women and men. Left unchecked, political institutions are undermined and governments overwhelmingly serve the interests of economic elites – to the detriment of ordinary people.”

To be more specific, the more wealth is concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer the more political power is concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer. This means economic and political power is thus further removed from the majority, the more we are at risk from a continuation of the kinds of economic activities we are talking about here. The total world wealth is $241 trillion. The poorest half (50%) of the world have only 0.71% of that wealth, or $1.7 trillion. The top 1% of the world have $110 trillion, or 46% of the total wealth. This is 65 times the wealth of the bottom 50%. The richest 85 have the same wealth as the poorest 50% of the world, or 3.5 billion people. In the US, the richest 1% got 95% of the post financial crises growth. The poorer 90% got poorer. The share of US income going to the top 1% in 1980 was 8%. In 2008-12, the share was 19%. Education of people about the consumption of the Earth is the only way this kind of inequality can be addressed. Education empowers people to act intelligently. And let’s be frank here. We are for the most part trained to work in the economic system. Education is an entirely different matter. It is extremely difficult to combat arguments that are calmly given and emanate from scientific theory. And scientific theory isn’t just a theory. Scientific theory is something that is rigorously tested and improved upon over time by testing and experimentation with falsifiable predictions. To dismiss scientific theory as ‘mere’ theory is an astonishing display of ignorance.

It is in this context, this economic and political context of out of control consumption driven by an ever centralized economic and political power base that we are consuming and slaughtering billions of animals in the most efficient, most brutal manner imaginable. The attendant marketing, advertising and nutritional rationale for this consumption also emanates from this powerbase. AnimalEquality.net make the following statement on their website:

“Over 56 billion farmed animals are killed every year by humans. More than 3,000 animals die every second in slaughterhouses around the world. These shocking figures do not even include fish and other sea creatures whose deaths are so great they are only measured in tonnes.”

It’s an interesting thing to note you never see a movie star or a celebrity look meaningfully into a camera during a sponsored ad break, snap their fingers and mention 3000 animals are dead, then snap their fingers once more and say another 3000 animals are dead. It’s also interesting that despite the fact we legislate heavily against cruelty to animals we don’t see or hear of legislation being passed to ban this monstrous act of mass cruelty: the concentrated feeding, the lack of movement, the lack of light and air, the infections, the antibiotics. It’s also interesting that people think this is an entirely acceptable economic activity. Not only is it regarded as an acceptable way of life and an acceptable food source, it is deemed to be an extremely healthy one. But it isn’t. It isn’t in the least bit healthy. It’s rather bad for people. The best argument against forced livestock is threefold. One it’s cruel. Two it’s bad for the environment. Three it’s costly in health terms. In other words it makes the animals and it makes humans sick.

As we begin looking at the effects of mass farming of animals and its effect on humans, we have to go back a little bit just for a second and ask a basic question about the human body. What kind of body do humans have? Are we built for eating animals? Are we omnivores? Well, not really. Dr. Williams C. Roberts from the USA National Institutes of Health and Baylor University — who is the editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Cardiology and one of the most prominent cardiologists in the world with over 1,500 publications in peer reviewed medical journals — summarized our answer very nicely. He wrote:

“Although most of us (humans) conduct our lives as omnivores, in that we eat flesh as well as vegetables and fruits, human beings have characteristics of herbivores, not carnivores. The appendages of carnivores are claws; those of herbivores are hands or hooves. The teeth of carnivores are sharp; those of herbivores are mainly flat (for grinding). The intestinal tract of carnivores is short (3 times body length); that of herbivores, long (12 times body length). Body cooling of carnivores is done by panting; herbivores, by sweating. Carnivores drink fluids by lapping; herbivores, by sipping. Carnivores produce their own vitamin C, whereas herbivores obtain it from their diet. Thus, humans have characteristics of herbivores, not carnivores.”[6]

So it seems that not only is the human race investing vast resources in livestock farming, and though we have spent thousands of years eating meat, our bodies aren’t even designed to eat meat in the first place. It’s also interesting to note that our bodies synthesize all the cholesterol we need, but that when we take in animal products, we begin to build up cholesterol, and run intro real dangers of developing atherosclerosis, and heart disease. Animals that are not designed to eat meat, like herbivores including humans, do develop atherosclerosis. You will never see a genetically designed meat eating animal, with a pacemaker. They never develop atherosclerosis.

Campbell in The China Study backs up the cholesterol theory about animal based products. They say how

“…several studies have now shown, in both experimental animals and in humans, that consuming animal-based protein increases blood cholesterol levels. Saturated fat and dietary cholesterol also raise blood cholesterol, although these nutrients are not as effective at doing this as is animal protein. In contrast, plant-based foods contain no cholesterol and, in various other ways, help to decrease the amount of cholesterol made by the body.” They write that “these disease associations with blood cholesterol were remarkable, because blood cholesterol and animal-based food consumption both were so low by American standards. In rural China, animal protein intake (for the same individual) averages only 7.1 grams per day whereas Americans average 70 grams per day.” (p 80)

Campbell and Campbell argue that “the findings from the China Study indicate that the lower the percentage of animal-based foods that are consumed, the greater the health benefits—even when that percentage declines from 10% to 0% of calories. So it’s not unreasonable to assume that the optimum percentage of animal-based products is zero, at least for anyone with a predisposition for a degenerative disease.”[18] (P 242)

The authors describe several studies linking huge reduction in forms of cancers, brain diseases, osteoporosis, diabetes, eye diseases, obesity and kidney stones, again all linked by a plant and wholemeal based diet. Whether one agrees or not with the conclusions of the China Study, it seems to be backed up not only by considerable and extensive research, it also by and large has met with a positive critical response. For example the book was reviewed[7] byWilfred Niels Arnold, University of Kansas Medical Center who, praising the authors’ interdisciplinary approach, said the following:

“Any serious challenge to the “American Diet” is bound to elicit some academic, public, and food industry opposition, which will range from mild skepticism through agitated re-evaluation to bitter disdain. What makes this particular contribution exciting is that the authors anticipate resistant and hostile sources, sail on with escalating enthusiasm, and furnish a working hypothesis that is valuable. In fact, the surprising data are difficult to interpret in any other way.”

Of course the issue remains as to how useful data is drawn from animal experimentation. Probably one of the worst arguments I have ever come across was one put forward by the pharmacologist William H Carey in a letter to the British Medical Journal[8]

“We have 4 possible new drugs to cure HIV. Drug A killed all the rats, mice and dogs. Drug B killed all the dogs and rats. Drug C killed all the mice and rats. Drug D was taken by all the animals up to huge doses with no ill effect. Question: Which of those drugs should we give to some healthy young human volunteers as the first dose to humans (all other things being equal)?

To the undecided (and non-prejudiced) the answer is, of course, obvious. It would also be obvious to a normal 12 year old child…

An alternative, acceptable answer would be, none of those drugs because even drug D could cause damage to humans. That is true, which is why Drug D would be given as a single, very small dose to human volunteers under tightly controlled and regulated conditions.”

If drug D could cause damage to humans, despite the fact it harmed no animals, there is equally no guarantee drugs, A, B or C could be extremely helpful to humans despite the fact it poisoned the animals. It’s also entirely possible that even if the animals had no ill effects whatsoever, there is still a big chance that human subjects may become ill from side effects.

You have a one in five chance of getting seriously ill from any new drug that comes online. It’s far, far better to wait five years before trying out a new drug. Why? Because it hasn’t really been tried out on humans.(see footnote 9)

“Few know that systematic reviews of hospital charts found that even properly prescribed drugs (aside from misprescribing, overdosing, or self-prescribing) cause about 1.9 million hospitalizations a year. Another 840,000 hospitalized patients are given drugs that cause serious adverse reactions for a total of 2.74 million serious adverse drug reactions. About 128,000 people die from drugs prescribed to them. [9]” (Donald W Light)

Or do we need to be reminded that despite the truly extraordinary advances made in the drug industry, drugs and pharmacology is also extraordinarily if not extra terrestrially profitable? If not in terms of health benefits of being a veggie, think of the aforementioned environmental impact. Okay, 30% of the world’s ice free surface is used to support livestock, chicken, beef, eggs etc. for the purposes of consumption. In a Time Magazine article dealing with livestock production[10] Brian Walsh, drawing material from a paper brought out by the Academy of Sciences of the USA[11] says the following:

“40% of global agricultural gross domestic product, provides income for more than 1.3 billion people and uses one-third of the world’s fresh water. There may be no other single human activity that has a bigger impact on the planet than the raising of livestock.”

Combine Animal Feeding operations produce enormous amount of methane, and aside from the horrific cruel and unconscionable conditions which the animals are subjected to, the stress of confinement, the sicknesses, the feeding with antibiotics, the soya beans and GMO corn they are fed, animal agriculture is responsible for 18 % of all greenhouse gas emissions, including 37 % of methane emissions and 65 % of NO2 emissions. The methane releases from billions of imprisoned animals on factory farms are 70 times more damaging per ton to the earth’s atmosphere than CO2.[12] Don’t forget that much of this livestock production is heavily subsidized by governments, so that the real costs of production are not passed onto the consumer.

As livestock farming is such a huge source of income for billions of people (global value in 2013 $883 billion [13]), as the production of meat and poultry and fish for supermarkets great and small all over the planet is such a lucrative undertaking, as so much research is produced each year about economizing and increasing productivity and efficiency in the livestock industry, as so many with the exception of the vegetarian and animal rights community point out the cruelty inherent in the beef and livestock industry, there is a strong and unfounded impetus to keep underlining the health benefits of eating meat, and to divorce the eating of meat from the enormous suffering and horrific cruelty endured by billions of animals world-wide every day, and every moment of every day. I think it was the Singer Morrissey who said in so many of his interviews that the very best way of turning people into vegetarians and away from meat eating would be to take them to an abattoir and invite them to spend an hour on the killing floor of any slaughter house and see the kind of horror that these beautiful creatures endure. Another interesting and often quoted thought experiment is the notion of pets. We would never dream of eating our pets. Why? We would eat a pig, yes. But the thing is, pigs make excellent pets. Warm playful, highly intelligent and clean, pigs are tremendous companions in the family. Why would we not eat our cat or dog, but eat a pig without a second thought? Why do we see a pig as a food source but not a cat? I would suggest the answer to this question is because we have been trained to see a pig as pork, a cow as beef, and a chicken as something served in a plastic bucket with special herbs and spices and the Colonel’s very special sauce. Why did the chicken cross the road? It was desperately avoiding Colonel Sanders. It’s a question of marketing, disassociation, and culturally approved actions. All animals have consciousness, language and a type of culture, by this I mean a socially approved and communally understood sense of expression. They suffer and love and live, have families as we do. To kill one and eat it, and not to kill another because it is forbidden exhumes a type of double standard that we have been culturally programmed not to see and pervades our entire culture. It’s a question of intelligence. Some animals are not so smart. Some are. As we go up the IQ points we get very sophisticated creatures indeed. Like Coco the Gorilla for instance born 4 July 1971, lives in Woodside California, understands 2000 words of English, speaks Gorilla Sign Language, has her own pet cats, and has something of a fondness for sexually harassing some of her carers. Strange as it might sound, there have actually been law suits from carers. Aside from these little moments, Koko is by all accounts a delightful playful funny companion. One of the more hilarious stories I heard about her was firstly when Robin Williams paid her a visit (check out the YouTube video) and secondly another occasion when she blamed one of her kittens for a damaged sink that was very clearly wrenched off the wall by a creature of extraordinary physical strength, is Koko herself. A sense of humour is a clear sign of intelligence. Koko seems to have a far higher understanding of language and an ability to express complex thoughts on a far higher level than her fellow Gorillas and has also invented new bits of sign language to suit her own thoughts. But whether we go up or down the scale of language, killing an animal because they aren’t as smart as we are, or don’t have souls, or that we were told its okay to do so (in other words the argument from authority) holds no substance whatsoever.

What is at the core of vegetarianism? Is it the idea that meat is not good for you? Or that animal cruelty is an abomination? Or is it the nutritional value of vegetarianism? Or the fact that the livestock industry is a hugely wasteful deeply environmentally unfriendly industry dedicated to the death of so many innocent creatures? All of the above is an aspect of the picture but I think there is something far more personal at work than merely having good politics and good food, which though excellent, does not to my mind get to the core of the problem. There’s a story told about Paul Mc Cartney, probably apocryphal, about how he and Linda became veggie. Apparently he was having a roast dinner with Linda in the 1970’s and as they were tucking in to dinner they looked out a window and saw lambs frolicking and playing out on the field nearby. They looked at each other and looked down at their dinner and said to each other that they didn’t want to continue eating meat. And thus not long after that they became vegetarian. It was something akin to a moment of enlightenment. The Mc Cartneys perceived a connection between the playful lambs and what they were eating. A connection which seems almost trite to us now, obvious, but if we can just think back to that moment, it was almost a spiritual experience, a moment of compassion and understanding that changed our world forever and gave us a sense of interconnectedness that has brought us so much joy and meaning. And if you haven’t had a Mc Cartney quarter pounder with cheese my friends you have not lived. I think this perception underlines much of the science and drives us not if you will. And I think this perception is the core of any kind of revolution. If this understanding can be communicated, that we are connected to animals, that animals are also profoundly connected with us and that if we are to continue to exist successfully on this planet we need to re-engineer our relationship  with animals.

[1] http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/animal-testing-101/

[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/animals/using/experiments_1.shtml

[3] Environmental Research Letters Volume 8 Number 2  Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature  John Cook1,2,3, Dana Nuccitelli2,4, Sarah A Green5, Mark Richardson6, Bärbel Winkler2, Rob Painting2, Robert Way7, Peter Jacobs8 and Andrew Skuce2

[4] NRC (2011). America’s Climate Choices: Final Report. National Research Council. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, USA.

[5] Perspectives on Politics / Volume 12 / Issue 03 / September 2014, pp 564-581 Copyright © American Political Science Association 2014 

[6] WC Roberts. Twenty Questions on Atherosclerosis. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2000 Apr.; 13(2): 139–143.

[7] http://www.leonardo.info/reviews/feb2005/china_arnold.html

[8] William DH Carey, BMJ 2002; 324: 236a

[9] June 27, 2014 by Donald W. Light Edmund J Safra Centre for ethics http://ethics.harvard.edu/blog/new-prescription-drugs-major-health-risk-few-offsetting-advantages

[10] http://science.time.com/2013/12/16/the-triple-whopper-environmental-impact-of-global-meat-production/

[11] http://www.pnas.org/content/110/52/20888.abstract

[12] http://ecowatch.com/2013/01/21/factory-farming-global-warming/

[13] (Statistical database of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.) http://faostat3.fao.org/