I have been contemplating and thinking about this post since an exhibition I was in last year, October 2016, “Encyclical, On Care for Our Common Home,” in Berkeley, California, which was inspired by Pope Francis’s Encyclical. This is a hard post for me to write. But I’m going to give it a try as I feel it’s so important.
Like many Americans I remember visiting my Grandparents farm. These are some of the best memories I have. I loved the farm, the freedom to explore, the hay bales, the animals, the creeks. My Grandfather Sweet milked the cows and had fresh milk, showed his Red Poll Cattle and took great pride and care of them. I’m thankful I never tried the Mountain Oysters at my Grandfather Chlouber’s farm. Within our lifetimes we have seen the transition from small scale farming to large scale animal agriculture. Like most everyone, I knew the practices of large scale animal agriculture weren’t ethical but it wasn’t until my oldest daughter alerted me to the extent of the problem that I realized how bad it was. Nobody wants to hear it, I certainly didn’t!
If you’ve followed my work you know I’ve been working on the Climate Change issues and went to two trainings given by The Climate Reality Project that Al Gore organizes. Which are, to say the least, excellent. I didn’t want to focus on all the disasters so I decided to focus on the solutions to adapting and mitigating Climate Change, of which there are many. It has lead me down a difficult path psychologically, frankly it’s really depressing. But, in the end one doesn’t do the world good by mourning and pinning for loss. So we move on take responsibly and action to change our behavior and save the one planet and its creatures we have!
So that leads me back again to solutions. I love it when you can solve several problems by doing one thing. That seems so efficient to me. A couple of years ago after my daughter helped organize a screening of “Earthlings” which I went to at UC Santa Cruz, I made the decision to eat a vegan diet. Between the abuse and suffering the animals endure, the contribution to Climate Change by Animal Agriculture, and the effects on our health by the misuse of antibiotics and hormones given to the animals, the deal was sealed.
By adopting a predominately whole foods plant based diet we can help solve many problems. The thing about our day and age is this; you can find all kinds of information to back up whatever view you want to adopt. Seeing clearly what the solutions to our problems are is very difficult. But in the end there are some things that are so clearly wrong they can’t be ignored. Keeping animals in small cages where they can hardly turn around is wrong. Feeding antibiotics in the food of animals is wrong. Trawl fishing is wrong. Clear cutting the rain forest to graze cattle is wrong. Creating dead zones in the ocean from agriculture run off is wrong. Increasing the risk of antibiotic resistance through overuse in animal agriculture is wrong. And lastly, I really do believe people love animals and our planet and would never condone these and many other practices if they really thought it through.
Here are some of the best resources I have found if you want to explore this issue further.
The Climate Reality Project, Organized and created by Founder and Chairman Al Gore.
The Whole Food Diet, by John Mackey, Alona Pulde, MD, and Matthew Lederman, MD
I love Kris Carr, she reminds me of a health cheerleader. Who doesn’t need that!
Cowspiracy, a film.
And, if you are really brave the film that will change the way you see things, it did for me anyway. Earthlings.
Within my mother’s papers I found this poem by Heather McHugh. I think of it, and wonder about the poem. Increasingly I gleam understanding to its meaning.
What Hell Is
While we discuss despair
he is it, somewhere
in the house. Increasingly
he’s spoken of
not with. In kitchen
conferences we come
to terms that we
can bear. But where is he?
In hell, which is
the living room.
In hell, which has
an easy chair.
written by Heather McHugh
We can leave the world a better place if try. If only we try.