Master, Mayte Loredo, a chef, a naturalist, and business woman would like to ask the next question.
Supreme Master Ching Hai: Please, go ahead.
MC (f): She couldn't come, but she left her question. Thirty years ago, my husband and I decided to become vegetarian based on the principle of respect for life and non-violence. Today, doctors recommend us not to abuse them for health reasons. Additionally, we are finding out that this excessive consumption not only negatively affects human health but the health of the planet as well. When a hamburger arrives on my table, what does it involve in terms of climate change?
Supreme Master Ching Hai: Please tell Ms. Loredo that I'm very happy that she and her husband decided to be vegetarian, and for 30 years even. That's a very long, sincere commitment. She and her husband are very smart and so loving to decide to follow their heart. I thank her for asking this beneficial question for the sake of the public. There are a lot of scientific reports made about the costs of meat eating, so I'm sure you are asking for the sake of people who may not be aware.
So, please, allow me to state some of the costs of what we are dealing with for the next time one is about to eat a hamburger. The cost of a hamburger appears to us as cheap. But without the enormous subsidies involved in the meat industry, the real monetary cost of a hamburger would be much higher, much higher, at least US$12.
There are so many costs and resources involved for that one hamburger that you are asking about, from the field to the plate, and all the processes in between. From burning the precious forests to growing the corn and soy to feed the cows, to making the fertilizer and watering these feed crops, to giving the cows huge amounts of healthy land and water, hormones and antibiotics are also forcefully fed to the cows, and we will eat all that.
Then, the transport over long distances here and there and finally to the slaughterhouse, to freezing the meat so that it does not rot as it is supposed to, then finally, it has to be cooked before reaching the plate - and cooked well because, for example, the US Department of Agriculture found that 89% of beef hamburger patties contained traces of the deadly E. coli bacteria. Eighty-nine percent of the beef hamburger contains traces of E. coli. There is more that goes in the hamburger than what you think you see.
Here are just a few examples. Destruction of land: First, land must be cleared to raise the cows. For one hamburger, there are 55 square feet of destroyed tropical rainforest, which is an equivalent of 75 kilograms of CO2, or driving your car for 5 days straight. Also, biodiversity loss. In the process, we lose up to 30 plant species, 100 insect species - I mean the beneficial one as well - and dozens of birds, mammals, etc.
Now, it contributes to hunger. Some of the deforested land is used to grow grains. Oftentimes, poor families are forced off their land in the process. One hamburger costs 4 pounds of grain that was consumed by the cow - that's about 3 loaves of bread or 8 plates of spaghetti that could have fed a number of hungry people. So, another cold cost of a hamburger is human starvation.
Now, we have topsoil loss: For one hamburger, 10 pounds of topsoil for farming are eroded and lost for hundreds of years, a very serious problem. Now, greenhouse gases. Next, one hamburger alone is responsible for greenhouse gas emissions. The methane gas emitted for that piece of meat alone weighs approximately 4.7 ounces, but it has the same heat-trapping effect as 6.8 pounds of CO2, because methane is very potent.
Water waste: not only land and food, but water is also required in huge amounts. Just one pound of hamburger beef costs 3,000 gallons of clean water, or, it would cost you about six months of showers. Six months without taking a shower, for one pound of hamburger beef alone. Imagine that! On a side note, one cow in his lifetime before slaughter, uses enough fresh water to float a large naval ship. A large naval ship. Imagine that again! Just one cow.
Now, we have fossil fuel waste. One hamburger costs thousands of miles of transportation, all the way from the pasture to the feedlot, then all the way to slaughterhouse, and then to the market. So, no matter if you try to buy your food locally to save emissions or not, you can't win if you eat meat. There is much more greenhouse gas that goes into this hamburger. In fact, one hamburger uses up 6.5 pounds of fossil fuels, or about a quarter gallon of gasoline. That's over 16 times the amount needed for one full, nutritious vegan meal.
Now, we have health hazard. There is also the cost in lives. In just one hamburger patty, there are pieces of dozens, or sometimes even hundreds of individual cows, all their flesh mixed together. And you're getting more than what you think you're buying. You're buying a health hazard. There is saturated fat which causes heart disease and stroke, there are also extra things, such as growth-inducing hormones, traces of antibiotics that are fed regularly to the poor cows - the actual bacteria that are resistant to those antibiotics. These resistant bacteria are called superbugs.
So, the added cost here is a multi-fold risk to our health. There are even more costs after the hamburger is eaten. For example, a woman loses 28 milligrams of calcium after eating just one hamburger, which weakens her bones. And there is rampant risk of potentially deadly E. coli infection, as beef is a primary source of this bacteria. And again, there are risks of heart disease, cancer, mad cow disease, bird flu, pig disease, swine flu and other meat-related diseases. We also have other human costs like the poor families being pushed off their land for cattle production; the adults and children of the world who are perishing due to hunger; the grief and sorrow of the families who lost loved ones due to meat-related diseases, etc., etc.
As for the bigger picture of how much meat eating is costing our planet - the cows in such unnaturally huge numbers, more than 1 billion on the planet, are responsible for more than 50% or even far more, of total greenhouse gas emissions on Earth. Nitrous oxide, which is 300 times more potent than CO2, is being emitted in vast quantities from the fertilizers required to produce the food crops for the cattle. The livestock industry produces at least 67% of all the world's nitrous oxide emissions.
So, a hamburger, as you can see, is clearly unaffordable, not only in global warming, but also in deforestation, soil erosion and desertification, water shortage, water pollution, loss of biodiversity - not to mention the negative health and bad karmic (retribution) consequence prices we also have to pay - and loss of lives, precious lives. Thank you so much for asking. MC (m): Thank you, Master.
Supreme Master Ching Hai: Thank her for me - Ms. Loredo. And thank her for being vegetarian, and her husband. MC (f): Yes, sure, Master.
MC (m): The next question is for Mr. Zevallos from Delfina Cabrera de Garcia, a secretary.
Delfina Cabrera de Garcia (f): Thank you and good afternoon. In our city of Lima, what would be the best preventive action to stop global warming from worsening?
Dr. Zevallos (m): Well, in the case of our large capital with 8 million inhabitants, and growing at a dizzying speed with a very high consumption of natural resources, mainly water, which is so necessary for this city that is located in a desert, the great contribution we can make as citizens is to have good management of water because we have a very fragile situation here. There is an increasing lack of water in our country; the quantity of water is decreasing and in worse quality in Peruvian households, and we already had a water crisis in this city in 1990-91, as you remember well.
There was a big crisis during which we had to ration the use of water in Lima, that was when people started to build these water tanks in their own homes in order to store water to have it during the times in which water was unavailable or rationed. These situations of rationing of water in the future will worsen due to global warming and climate change. Thank you. MC(f): Mr. Zevallos. Thank you for your important message.
Supreme Master Ching Hai: Thank you.
MC (f): Master, the next question is from Gloria Narváez, but she's not here today, so I'm going to read the question in English directly for you. How do we handle the situation in the future if the effects of global warming continue, Master?
Supreme Master Ching Hai: Yes, it's a difficult question. Not only us but so many world leaders and scientists are also worrying about this. The truth is, we are already not able to handle such situations in places where global warming is already reaching extreme degrees. Some countries and communities have to cope with worsened drought situations. There is not enough water to raise crops or even to drink. Their rivers and lakes are drying up or completely gone. Please refer to SupremeMasterTV.com for more information.
Glaciers melt in many places so dramatically that one moment there are massive floods, and soon after, a drought. So how can we handle the mass migration of tens of millions of people all at once due to desertification, the rising sea levels or the permanent loss of crop fields? It's very difficult and maybe even impossible. And it's not just numbers. Every child, family, and society will be affected in some way by this experience of trauma and tragedy.
We are not ready for the changes that are coming. We are not ready at all. We are not prepared enough. Some of the changes are even anticipated to be unexpected, because there are many complicated interacting factors. The wisest action would be to fix the situation we have now and prevent further damage, then we won't even have to worry about the future. All the leading scientists we have spoken to tell us one and the same: that we must handle it now, not tomorrow.
The smartest way would be to stop the worsening of global warming by being vegan. It sounds very simple but it is the best solution, the most effective and the effect of it will be felt almost immediately. Without this main, most time-effective change, no matter what we try to do, it won't be enough to repel the worst consequences that we have accumulated. Moreover, the problems we already face now - such as the warming atmosphere, water shortage, food scarcity, desertification - we can quickly eliminate by stopping meat production. Stop it now, no further!
So please, tell Ms. Narváez and everyone else, before the situation gets any more out of hand - let's choose the vegan diet. The future effects will be greatly eased. Only then will we have a manageable situation. Please thank Ms. Narváez for her concern. And please tell her to do her part - means be veg, go green, so we can all save the planet. Thank you very much. MC (m): Thank you, Master.
MC (m): The next question is for Mr. Pauls from Ninfa Del Pozo. Mrs. Ninfa Del Pozo is not here, so we are going to read the question directly: How much does the vegetarian diet help in stopping global warming?
Mr. Pauls (m): Master has just responded to that, I think. I am not a scientist, I only base it on impressions and feelings, on my conscience and on my experience. I just think that it seems to be the only direct and fastest solution, because apparently we have very little time. I think that it is the immediate solution. Of course, we have to change many attitudes that human beings have towards natural resources and the devastation of the planet. We should not forget to be concerned about water and not throw away waste. Let's start talking also about many other things that over time end up affecting a lot. But as a long time vegetarian, I'd say, of course, that this would greatly help the environment.
MC (f): Thank you for that important message, Mr. Pauls.
Supreme Master Ching Hai: Thank you.
MC (f): Master, the next question is from José Luis Perez Albella Beráun and he is not here today. He is a vegan doctor and nutritionist who would like to ask you the next question.
Supreme Master Ching Hai: Please, go ahead.
MC (f): How can we make our life much simpler and harmonious despite all the material things around us?
Supreme Master Ching Hai: How? Yes, it's a very noble-minded question. I agree with him. Simple living and high thinking are the secrets to a long and happy life. One of the best ways to bring simplicity into our lives he's already doing in choosing the vegan diet; I am very happy to see that. Living without killing or bringing harm to other beings can restore harmony and health to yourself and the world around us faster than most anything else.
Especially for such a busy life as his, Dr. Beráun, where caring for others is a part of his profession, the love and compassion of the animal-free, or vegan diet gives you more strength, patience and understanding.
Another way to cultivate simplicity is to spend time also in the tranquility of nature, or create a natural environment at home where we can go for peace and quiet. Reading mind-uplifting books such as spiritual scriptures, as well as practicing meditation, are also good ways to remind ourselves that we truly don't need much to be happy and live a contented, peaceful life. People who meditate, according to scientific research conducted in the US on meditation, no matter what religion they came from, or even if they don't think they believe in God, meditation is still beneficial and, in fact, has been found to help in remaining calm and serene, as well as giving an optimistic outlook on life.
Being vegan, as Dr. Beráun is, also helps considerably in benefiting from meditation, because he already purified his system by removing toxic meat and animal products from his diet. So, the combination of practices like meditation along with daily harmonious living through the vegan diet will lead to a simpler life, with fewer material desires but still full of happiness and contentment. I hope this answers the question for Dr. Beráun. I wish him the best and I thank him for doing his part for the world to save the world as a vegan and a vegan doctor even. Please send him my love and my friendship. Thank you very much, my friend. MC (f): Thank you, Master.
MC (f): The next question is for our panelist, Mr. Zevallo, from Maria Helena Cortez who has left this question for him. Maria Helena Cortez Guardamio is a representative from the Association Ninos Indigo. How can we eliminate the toxins in the atmosphere?
Mr. Zevallo (m): Well, I think we are in a world of consumerism and also of waste. We think and we act as if the planet's resources will never become exhausted and that is not true. There are many resources that can be exhausted and we should be more responsible - not only those who encourage consumerism but also those who are victims of that, and we act with irresponsibility, wasting goods and products.
In fact, what we see is the need for fundamental changes in our way of living. It is necessary to encourage a culture of prevention that anticipates future problems that are coming and for us to make fundamental changes, not only in the economy, or in the way we manufacture, but also in the way we consume goods which are available. The fundamental message regarding the excessive industrial production, many times unnecessary, which creates many needs in the world: let's be moderate and ration the supply of goods that society needs. Thank you very much.
MC (f): Thank you, Mr. Zevallo. Master, Pilar Sanllehi Bracesco would like to ask you the next question. She is a biologist and also the director of the Amazon Shelter.
Pilar Sanllehi Bracesco(f): Thank you for answering all the questions. Pilar Sanllehi Bracesco (f): In which way a vegetarian diet has an influence in the spiritual life of people?
Supreme Master Ching Hai: Hallo, Ms. Bracesco.
Supreme Master Ching Hai: Yes. Being veg is beneficial for any kind of spiritual advancement. In fact, all the wise, ancient teachings of sages since time immemorial have highlighted the importance of a benevolent plant-based diet. It is a fundamental requirement of a spiritual practitioner. The concept behind forgoing animal products is ahimsa - meaning nonviolence.
By partaking of a vegan diet, we also avoid the bad retribution of killing and thus it will not burden and obstruct our spiritual journey. I'm sure you are familiar with this principle, Ms. Bracesco, in your work to save and protect the animals. Being vegan simply means that we protect all the animals. This killing of other beings must be stopped for humanity to evolve as a civilization. The benefits of doing so are manifold. Besides the restoration of health, biodiversity will be allowed to thrive, planet equilibrium restored, along with the easing of our own conscience and our capacity for elevated consciousness.
All these are the fruits of a more compassionate diet. This loving attitude also creates a more peaceful atmosphere that brings greater comfort to all beings. At peace with ourselves in the knowledge that we did not cause anguish or pain to our fellow animal brethren, we will have the inner tranquility to pursue our spiritual endeavors wholeheartedly. Before we expect the lion to lay down peacefully with the lamb, we humans must do it first.
As long as the humans cannot even lay down peacefully with the lamb, causing all the anguish, fear, sorrow, oppression to weaker beings and defenseless animals, we cannot realize this heavenly dream as the lion will lie beside the lamb. So we must return to our compassionate self. We must return to our glorious status as the children of God. We have to bring Heaven to Earth. Thank you, Ms. Bracesco. God bless your noble work in preserving the precious lives of the animals. God bless you! MC (f): Thank you, Master, for your wisdom.
Oscar Simacha Aumada Architect: I'm in the process of transforming towards vegetarianism. To have love is a consequence of acquiring perfection as a human being. That drives you to be a vegetarian, to love selflessly. Vegetarianism is a favorable and positive development of human beings.
Lao GarciaGraphic designerVegetarian (m): We always support all of this work that Master Ching Hai does with great pleasure and good will. More than anything, in regards to climate change, we strongly encourage the complete and cessation of meat eating. Be veg, go green! and save the planet!
Máximo ReateConference participantVegetarian smtv (m): Would you recommend that young people and children be vegetarians?
(m): Yes, of course. It's the best to preserve health, avoid diseases and save the planet. Be veg! Go green! Save the planet!
Sofía Firle Chavarría EspejoConference participantVegetarian (f): I wanted to say to all young people and children and adults to please look after the water, and to be vegetarians to enable them to save the environment and the planet. Be veg! Go green! Save the planet!
RonaldConference participant Supreme Master TV (m): Did you hear anything interesting tonight?
R(m): The work carried out by Master Ching Hai about caring for the environment, everything she is doing to care for it and what she promotes, what she does for charity work in favor of other people.
Supreme Master TV (m): And, are you thinking about adopting a vegan diet?
R(m): Yes, I would like to follow it. it seems to be very interesting and also healthier, and it is something much better for the environment.
Supreme Master TV (m): Alberto, what have you learnt tonight that you can use in your own life?
A(m): That it's good to be a vegetarian to save the world faced with this problem that we have of global warming. So that's why we should be vegetarian to save the planet.
The methane gas emitted for that piece of meat alone weighs 1.2 ounces, but it has the same heat-trapping effect as 1.3 pounds of CO2, because methane is very potent.