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Further Phoenix
at Rio's Attic:

Diet For A New America

John Robbins

Vegan, Vegetarian, Vegetarianism
Rio's Attic: Celebrating the Life and Times of a Dearly Missed River Phoenix
American EnglishEn Français

Diet For A New America

by John Robbins.

Section Three


ISBN 0-913299-54-5 (Paperback, 423 Pages)

So, having dealt with animal welfare in the first section of his book and nutritional needs in the second, the author now turns to a number of other topics for the closing section of his book, the first being pollution. Always an important issue of course, but not one that is immediately obvious for a book on diet. Wasting no time, the author immediately clues in his readers.

Recent studies indicate that of all the toxic chemical residues in the American diet, almost all, 95% to 99%, comes from meat, fish, dairy products and eggs.20 If you want to include pesticides in your diet, these are the foods to eat. Fortunately, you can overwhelmingly reduce your intake of these poisons by eating lower on the food chain.

Choosing one particular diet or another is a comparitively easy decision to make. With pollution however, there appears to be no such quick, easy answer. In fact, as a species who has poisoned the environment in which it lives, one wonders if we are now beyond the point of no return and are now truly without hope.

Ominously, a recent government study found PCB's present in 100% of the human sperm samples tested.75 They also found a correlation between high PCB levels and low sperm count.76 PCB's are considered one of the chief reasons for the staggering fact that the average sperm of the American male is today only 70% of what it was only 30 years ago.77

Tests done at several major universities have found that nearly 25% of today's college students are sterile.78 This is a terrifying trend. Only thirty-five years ago, the sterility rate was less than one-half of one percent.79

The final subjects to be studied in this book include energy and logistics. We learn that it takes, on average, ten pounds of grain, to make one pound of meat. If the pound of grain were eaten instead of the pound of meat, this would free up nine pounds of grain which could be fed to others. It is somewhat difficult to find error with this simple calculation. And it is with this calculation in mind that it should be noted that forty thousand children starve to death on this planet every day.

The livestock population of the United States today consumes enough grain and soybeans to feed over five times the entire human population of the country.1 We feed animals over 80% of the corn we grow, and over 95% of the oats.2

Lester Brown of the Overseas Development Council has estimated that if Americans were to reduce their meat consumption by only 10 percent, it would free over 12 million tons of grain annually for human consumption. That, all by itself, would be enough to adequately feed every one of the 60 million human beings who will starve to death on the planet this year.6

According to Department of Agriculture statistics, one acre of land can grow 20,000 pounds of potatoes. That same acre of land, if used to grow cattlefeed, can produce less than 165 pounds of beef.9

In a world in which a child dies of starvation every two seconds, an agricultural system designed to feed our meat habit is a blasphemy. Yet it continues, because we continue to support it. Those who profit from this system do not need us to condone what they are doing. The only support they need from us is our money. As long as enough people continue to purchase their products they will have the resources to fight reforms, pump millions of dollars of "educational" propaganda into our schools, and defend themselves against medical and ethical truths.

Over half the total amount of water consumed in the United States goes to irrigate land growing feed and fodder for livestock.39 Enormous additional quantities of water must also be used to wash away the animal's excrement. It would be hard to design a less water-efficient diet-style that the one we have come to think of as normal.

To produce a single pound of meat takes an average of 2,500 gallons of water - as much as a typical family uses for all its combined household purposes in a month.40

Over and over again, as I've envisioned the possibilities ensuing from a new direction for America's diet-style, I've been struck by what might be gained by such a move. I've seen how helpful it could be towards reducing world hunger, towards reducing the fear in the world that leads to wars, towards preserving our precious topsoil and forests, towards saving thousands of species in the tropical rainforests from extinction, towards cleaning up and preserving our water. And I've been moved by how much animal suffering would be alleviated, how our health would improve, and how greatly we could diminish our use and intake of toxic chemicals that threaten so seriously the future of our species.

This is our wake-up call. It is now time to question and reassess a lifetime of prejudices and statements that were once thought of as fact. The new revised and updated facts are now in, and it is books such as this that make sure that these facts are distributed to the public. For it is the public, or rather, the individual, who now needs to make a very important decision.

Once we become aware of the impact of our food choices, we can never really forget. Of course we can push it all to the back of our minds, and we may need to do this, at times, to endure the enormity of what is involved.

But the earth itself will remind us, as will our children, and the animals and the forests and the sky and the rivers, that we are part of this earth, and it is part of us. All things are deeply connected, and so the choices we make in our daily lives have enormous influence, not only on our own health and vitality, but also on the lives of other beings, and indeed on the destiny of life on earth.

20 - Harris, S., "Organochlorine Contamination of Breast Milk," Environmental Defense Fund, Washington, D.C., Nov 7, 1979
Balbien, J., Harris, S., and Page, T., "Diet as a factor Affecting Organochlorine Contamination of Breast Milk," Environmental Defense Fund, Washington, D.C.

75 - "A Plague..." as per note 44

76 - Ibid

77 - Richards, B., "Drop in Sperm Count is Attributed to Toxic Environment," Washington Post, Sept 12, 1979
Brody, J., "Sperm Found Especially Vulnerable to Environment," New York Times, March 10, 1981
"Unplugging the Gene Pool," Outside, Sept 1980
Jansson, E., "The Impact of Hazardous Substances Upon Infertility Amongst Men in the U.S., and Birth Defects," Friends of the Earth, Washington, D.C., Nov 17, 1980

78 - As per note 77

79 - Ibid

1 - Bralove, Mary, "The Food Crisis: the Shortages May Pit the 'Have Nots' Against the 'Haves,'" Wall Street Journal, October 3, 1974, pg 20

2 - Maidenburg, H.J. "The Livestock Population Explosion," New York Times, July 1, 1973, pg 1 Finance section

6 - Resenberger, Boyce, "Curb on U.S. Waste Urged to Help World's Hungry," New York Times, October 25, 1974

9 - As per note 5

39 - Lappé, as per note 5

40 - Borgstrom, Georg, presentation to the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1981


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