MC (m): We are further honored today to have the Founder and Deputy Director of ČSVV (Czech Vegetarian Society), Mr. Jaroslav Škvařil, with us also. Mr. Škvařil, we believe you have 2 questions for Supreme Master Ching Hai?
Supreme Master Ching Hai: Yes?
JS(m): Hallo, on behalf of the members of our society, I would like to ask Master two questions. On one hand, I have encountered the opinion of the Food and Agriculture organization, which says that it is necessary to decrease the meat consumption by half just to ensure that the current situation, the ecological situation on the planet, won't deteriorate further. That was in 2006. Isn't this statement exaggerated?
And how do you see the current situation? And the second question: Nowadays, we perceive the growing deterioration of our current climatic situation. We also see that the economic crisis is increasing and, furthermore, witness a growing moral crisis. Does any connection exist between these crises and the current diet of the people?
Supreme Master Ching Hai: Hallo, sir. Welcome to our meeting, Mr. Škvaril. How are you? I think you are correct that reducing meat production by 50% is a very underestimate, in part because we have waited so long to change. So our time has become too short in fact, and the situation is too dire. Just in case you are not aware, or maybe others viewers are not, I will share with you some of the facts of where we are today.
With melting that has caused the biggest ice loss ever known in the Arctic, scientists now tell us that the region is warming at the rate twice as fast as the rest of the world. As you may already know, two German ships have just traveled through the Northeast Passage because the ice all melted, and that is the first time in known human history that the ships could pass through.
So the vast ice beneath Greenland is also melting even faster than previously predicted. Many researchers are saying that at the rate of current warming, there is almost no way for our world to stay within the limits of a 2 degree Celsius temperature rise, which is the maximum that will still ensure the safety of most life on the planet. But even though our predicament is very grave, we do still have time if we act now. And the solution is still very simple. Well, you know it, right? It's the vegan diet - no animal products.
No more killing, no more torturing, no more even experimenting with animals, no more raising animals for meat or any other purposes, except to protect, love, and take care of the animals. This is the key. If everyone switches to this beneficial lifestyle, our planet will be cooled in no time, scientifically speaking and my promise. One reason for this is that the main contributing gas from livestock, which is methane, traps 72 times more heat than CO2 over a 20-year period. And then there is the other gases, nitrous oxide for example, which comes from the unregulated waste contamination and fertilizer runoff of crops that are primarily grown for livestock to consume.
This gas traps 289 times, 289 times, more heat than CO2, more than carbon dioxide. According to the most recent figures from scientists, livestock raising is actually responsible for more than 50% of global warming. More than 50% is coming from meat and dairy production! Imagine that? So, with 55 billion animals currently being murdered every year for meat consumption, you can imagine how much the Earth would be restored if this is stopped. The original United Nations report in 2006, “Livestock's Long Shadow,” spoke in bold terms even already about the damage caused by the livestock industry, saying that, “It is one of the topmost significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems at every scale, from local to global.”
Furthermore, I would mention a few of the problems the United Nations and others have noted are coming from livestock raising and meat consumption. First, depleted land and forests. According to the United Nations, livestock is the main reason for deforestation and the loss of our vital trees, which in turn is causing tragic declines in natural biodiversity. Livestock raising is also among the top factors in degrading our lands through soil erosion and pollution, as well as climate change. Second, wasted resources. For every kilogram of animal protein produced, livestock are fed about 6 kilograms of plant protein. The US livestock population currently consumes more than 7 times as much grain as the entire American population.
Third, wasted water. With current droughts and water shortages already affecting millions and only expected to get worse, worse and worse. Scientists have found that each person eating a meat and dairy based diet uses around 4,500 gallons of water per day, compared to 300 gallons per day for a vegan diet. This also means that 1 pound of animal protein requires 100 times more water to produce than 1 pound of grain protein. Over the course of a year, the vegan diet saves approximately 1.5 million gallons of water per person.
Fourth, wasted energy. Now, the artificial indoor environment of the factory farm and slaughterhouse use massive amounts of energy. In fact, it takes 8 times as much fossil fuel to produce animal products as to produce plant food. Fifth, environmental contamination. The United Nations has also recognized livestock as inflicting some of the biggest damage to our dwindling water supplies. Just to give you an idea of the scale, one dairy farm alone with 2,500 cows produces as much solid waste as a city with over 400,000 residents.
This waste, which sometimes contains bacterial contaminants such as E. coli, ends up in waterways that affect drinking water and aquatic life. Along with the waste are chemical fertilizers runoff used on crops fed to animals which have been documented by scientists to cause dead zones in the ocean as well as toxic algae outbreak, those green moss that grow in the water. One such event just occurred in Brittany, France, where a majority of the country's livestock and a third of the dairy farms are located. On the Brittany coast, this waste and chemical runoff coming into the sea causes outbreaks of toxic algae, which emit the lethal, deadly gas hydrogen sulfide.
So, recently in news we heard of a horse that died within half a minute of stepping into the algae and now the health concerns of over 300 people are being investigated for the same reason around that area. Making all of this worse is the fact that animal waste is largely unregulated - meaning that there is nothing to stop these events of contamination that can cause illnesses or even death for massive numbers of animals and people.
Just talking about financial saving alone, scientists in the Netherlands found that of the estimated US$40 trillion needed to stop global warming, a full 80% of this amount would be saved with the vegan diet! That's a saving of US$32 trillion for the simple step of turning away from the meat to eating plant-based goods. According to a recent announcement by the United Nations, the number of people going hungry across the world in 2009, this year, has now officially exceeded 1 billion.
This is due in part to the steeply rising food costs that are part of our global economic crisis. However, this is directly related to meat consumption. Because if all the grains fed to livestock animals were grown for human consumption instead, then the amounts of food harvested for humans would be higher and prices lower. Logically, no? Moreover, the global warming caused by livestock has resulted in many instances of documented extreme weather and drought, leading to devastating crop losses and also drive food prices sky high.
So, if everyone turns to the plant-based diet, we have more food immediately and an easing of conditions like drought and flooding, with abundant harvests and food supplies quickly restored. In fact, the head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Mr. Yves de Boer, already stated in June 2008 that “The best solution would be for us all to become vegetarians.” He meant vegans. Because vegetarians mean people still drink milk and related dairy products.
That means we still have to keep a large amount, maybe less large but still a large amount of cattle. And that will contribute to global warming and further food crisis and security. Another reason to stop livestock raising is the horror of disease linked to eating meat. There are many bacterial infections that come from eating meat, some of which are deadly. And then there is cholesterol, which originated only from animal products and has been linked to stroke, heart disease, obesity and so on.
Another meat-related disease is cancer. Scientists have documented a rise in cancer rates with increased meat consumption. The more meat we have, the more cancer risk there is. And certain cancers, like colon cancer, have been directly linked to eating meat, with one study on red and processed meat finding a 50% higher chance of contracting cancer with meat consumption. Another research conducted in your home country, Mr. Škvaril, stated that the life expectancy of the Czech people, your country's people, had actually gone down in recent years, from 10th to 22nd place among 27 European Union nations. Why?
The report said that this was due in part to environmental problems that included disease-contaminated meat. This is so sad, Mr. Škvaril. The beautiful Czech people deserve so much more from their life, as do all the animals and all the beings in this world. You mention also the moral crises of our world and wonder if there is any connection to our food choices? You can guess the answer to that, right? Yes, there is, sir, there is. This is the other reason we must become vegan.
We have to stop the cruelty, the inhumane and below-human standard treatment of all the animals that come here to bless our world with their uniqueness and love. I mentioned before that 55 billion animals are murdered every year, legally for consumption. This is not even counting the billions of fish! Can we imagine? There is no bigger moral crisis than the one that is created by the mass massacring of sweet innocent living beings for our pleasure when we have other choices. Such mass murder is a crime of global proportions. And this killing energy in turn breeds and strengthens other negative energy, which is degrading our society and destroying our world.
So, to return ourselves and our world to a purer state, one where all beings can feel safe, protected and loved, and where all humans walk the dignified way of the children of God, we have to stop the killing of innocent animals. Stop it now. Stop it now and turn to the merciful way of life. The natural way of life that God intended us to live, which is the vegan diet. This will restore the conscience of every person who adopts such a lifestyle as well as the planet itself. If the conscience is clear, we have no more moral crisis, sir.
We have peace. We have harmony. We will have abundance. So please, Mr. Škvaril, join in this peace and planet building purpose. If you need any information at all or any materials, we are very happy to help through Supreme Master Television.com. Everything on our TV or website is free to download and share with as many people as possible. We still have a lot of work to do, sir, and not much time. Thank you for your very present and thoughtful question. I wish you and the Czech people all the best. God bless. Thank you. Q(m): Thank you.
MC (m) : Thank you, Master.
MC(m): Our next theme will be “Save Our Planet, Everybody Can Do It.” Just before we begin, we conclude “Vegetarianism: The Noble Way of Living” by enjoying some traditional Chinese pipa music, a piece entitled “Yi Zu Wu Qu,” which means “Dance of the Yi People.” This piece describes the spirit of the folk tradition, with the human community and Mother Nature coming together in harmony.
Supreme Master Ching Hai: Thank you.
Supreme Master Ching Hai: Thank you, thank you. Great!
MC (f): Remarkable. What an enriching and soul-resonating performance. Thank you so much. Thank you.
MC(f): Our first VIP to speak on “Save Our Planet, Everybody Can Do It” is Dr. Astrid Sieglinde Kaplan. Dr. Kaplan acquired a Ph.D. in psychology and is an animal rights author and artist. She is employed as a psychologist by "Volkshilfe Salzburg" and "Evangelisches Diakoniewerk Gallneukirchen," associations, providing alternative kinds of social services, such as for senior citizens and people with physical and learning disabilities.
Astrid is also a puppeteer for children's puppet theatre called Sindri. In addition, she is author of two books: "Die Mensch-Tier-Beziehung. Eine irrationale Angelegenheit," which in English, "The Relationship of Humans and Animals, an Irrational Issue" and "Solange es Schlachthäuser gibt, wird es Schlachtfelder geben," or in English, "As Long as There are Slaughterhouses, There will be Battlefields,” which investigates the relationship between violence towards animals and towards humans, and is soon to be published in German. It is our great honor to welcome Dr. Astrid Kaplan.
Dr. Kaplan (f): Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, I am very pleased to be here and to talk about the subject which is so dear to me. My presentation is about our power in everyday life. Everyone, including all of us here, have an influence every day on the life of our planet. Each one of us has individual power and strength to shape our environment as well as the way we treat our fellow human beings and our co inhabitants. If we become aware of this personal power, we can voluntarily decide to contribute to peace or to violence. We have the opportunity to contribute to peace or violence in every situation in our daily lives.
For example, in our interactions with our fellow humans, including children, our partners, friends, colleagues, parents and people we do not know; our interactions with our animals - our pets, so-called farmed animals, animals in laboratories and in the wild; through our food choices, whether they be vegetarian, vegan or meat; through our transportation, and the way we spend our free time - imagine for a moment how each one of you in your daily lives consciously chooses to make decisions in so many situations that lead to peace.
All together there are millions of us who are generating peace and can save our planet if we consciously choose. I would now like to talk a bit more about three of the above areas in our daily lives: treatment of our fellow humans, our animals, and our food choices. For people and animals to experience peace, the meaning of compassion is essential. To implement compassion means to feel the unhappiness of others just as we experience all other feelings such as joy, fear, happiness and pain. Compassion is the counterforce to cruelty. It appears to be the only counterforce to cruel, violent behavior. To practice compassion means most of all to stop harming other beings. We begin with people and animals that are near to us.
For example, we stop feeling distrust towards our neighbors, colleagues, friends and supervisors. We stop our competitive, elbowing behavior in general and cease devaluing other people and give no grounds to harassment. Furthermore, for example, we do not acquire any animals if we cannot care for their needs and we do not submit any animal to active or passive violence. In this way our fellow humans and animals will receive peace from us. We can also develop our compassion by doing good things to others, people and animals, and thus spread joy.
True compassion is not limited to certain life forms. On the contrary, it encompasses people of all races and all animals as well. Teaching compassion - children should be raised from their earliest years to have compassion for all beings, because only then real compassion fundamentally can prevent violence. To do this, a child need only know that other creatures exist and that they are capable of suffering just as are we.
Children who have learned to be fair, friendly and loving towards animals will also treat other children and adults in a more fair, friendly, and attentive manner. Experts agree that children and adolescence who harm or kill have never learned compassion or the ability to put oneself in someone else's shoes and to empathize with another's feelings. If we are lacking in compassion, it becomes easy to reduce animals or people and to objectify them as things without emotion. We feel more compassion towards those beings that are closer to us; less the more distanced they are.
Because children, by their very nature, identify with animals and because animals are living beings just as we are, through our relationship to animals, we can teach children how we should treat other people. When we demonstrate to children our friendliness and compassion towards animals and teach them to respect even the smallest creature, they learn to appreciate and respect one another. Especially parents and instructors, because of the examples they are providing, they have an enormous responsibility.
Therefore, parents and instructors definitely should go to extra lengths to teach children compassion to all living creatures. Another important point in contributing to peace or violence in our daily lives is our food choices. If we eat meat, we are exerting passive violence, as usually we allow others to kill for us. Yes, around the world, billions of animals are killed for meat. This generates immeasurable suffering. Furthermore, for psychological and moral reasons, eating meat poses a constant danger to our fellow human beings. About this, I have written in my book in more detail. With the title, as you've already said, “As Long as There are Slaughterhouses, There will be Battlefields.”
In brief, I will say here the following, regarding to animals, there is a moral vacuum which is accepted by society at large. This moral vacuum facilitates the psychologically desensitization towards suffering. In addition, and I say it again, this moral vacuum also provides the danger that we place any being to a space outside of our morality, be it animal or human, that we would like to enslave, exploit or kill. In this space outside of our morality reigns the principle of “might makes right” or “the law of the jungle.”
The manner in which people and animals become victims of violence depends on their unique economic and sociopolitical situation. As long as there is a moral vacuum for animals, this poses an enormous, constant threat to humans and animals. Because just as ethics is not divisible, neither is violence divisible. That is why the only true solution for securing non-violence and peace lies in converting the moral vacuum in our psyche into a space of compassion.
Certainly this is one of the most important and difficult tasks of humanity of our entire evolution. Nonetheless each one of us can immediately choose to take decisive steps in this direction, for example, being a vegetarian or vegan. If we follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, this has an extremely positive effect on our animals, our fellow humans and the environment.
Global warming is, to a great extent, the result of the meat industry. And did you know that livestock has a greater impact on global warming, than do all forms of transportation put together? I quote Dr. Pachauri, Chair of the UN council on climate change who says, “Please, eat less meat. Meat is a very CO2 intensive product.” This is what he said. Vegetarianism and veganism are an expression of a peacefully implemented antidote towards environmental destruction and killing.
I would like to appeal to you to reflect on the choices you make in your daily lives. Be conscious what options you take in various situations that contribute to peace and joy in your living on this wonderful planet. After all, “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change.” Together we can heal the world. Thank you.
Supreme Master Ching Hai: Thank you.
MC (m): Thank you so much, Dr. Kaplan, for your very insightful speech.