Thursday, April 12, 2012

Comfortably Unaware

comfortably unaware, richard oppenlander, vegan, biodiversity
We've all heard about "sustainability" but what about "global depletion"? This is the term Dr. Richard Oppenlander uses in his book, Comfortably Unaware: Global Depletion and Food Choice Responsibility, which has been endorsed as a “must-read” by Ellen DeGeneres, Jane Goodall and Neal Barnard, M.D., among others.  Dr. Oppenlander is a sustainability and wellness advocate, writer, and speaker committed to improving the health of our planet. And he'll be appearing at BU next week in a talk sponsored by the BU Vegetarian Society. (Location and time: Sargent College on April 18th at 7 pm at 635 Commonwealth Ave, Boston MA, in room 102. Students, faculty, and guests are all welcome to attend.)

I saw him speak at the Boston Vegetarian Festival in November and he's a dynamic speaker who comes out swinging. In one of his first slides, he mentioned that there are 7 billion people on the planet and 70 billion animals raised to feed them. Think of all the land that has to be cleared to raise these animals, all the crops required to feed them, all the waste generated and so on. No, he says, we don't want to think about it, we'd rather be comfortably unaware. Some numbers from his book: 70 percent of our rainforests have been slashed and burned to raise livestock; more than 70 percent of the grain in the US is fed to livestock; while it takes 10-20 gallons of water to produce one pound of vegetables, fruit, soybeans or grain, it takes over 5000 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat, which is not as healthy for you; an acre of land devoted to plant-based protein (vegetables, grains and/or legumes) produces 10-15 times more protein than if devoted to meat production.

Given that land conversion for agriculture is one of the leading causes of biodiversity loss, these are compelling numbers. Next week, in conjunction with Boston University’s Earth Week, Dr. Oppenlander will be presenting a three-pronged approach to the ways in which our food choices are affecting human health, the planet's health and the welfare of the animals, while discussing why sustainability initiatives would benefit from including food choice as a relevant topic in curbing global depletion. He is president and founder of an organic vegan food production and education business, an animal rescue operation, and has given hundreds of lectures, presentations, and open discussions on the topic of food choice.

Come and check him out!

We also remind you that eating less meat is one of our events at Ecofest  and you can signup for this and
other events, which run April 15-22, today. Get your green on! We've got prizes like DVDs of Planet Earth, gift certificates for restaurants that serve local food, an Ecosphere, and artistic prints of endangered and extinct species. Sign up today!

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