Comfortably Unaware maintains that our food choices are depleting our planet’s resources because “the major cause of biodiversity loss on our planet is from the livestock we raise for food and from overfishing of our oceans,” and calls for the consumer to be aware of the brainwashing by the media and become more educated on how to make choices that will save our planet.
Author Dr. Richard A. Oppenlander contends that 80% of the land in the United States is used to support the livestock that is raised for people to eat, and the leading cause of biodiversity loss is to created by “the destruction or global depletion, of natural habitats in order to establish grazing or cropland for livestock.” But the livestock aren’t only depleting our land resources, but also our water resources to produce feed grain and drinking water for cattle. The runoff from the livestock pollutes our water supplies. Even when the livestock are ready for the slaughterhouse, there are huge amounts of water needed by the slaughterhouses to run their operations. Oppenlander goes on to explain that our oceans are in no better form than our lands because fishing has exploited the depleted the ocean environment and caused human-induced extinction of many species of marine life.
Comfortably Unaware questions the necessity and desire and the “need” to eat meat, and stating among other things that “livestock products are also more susceptible to pathogens than other food products”; blaming the power behind the bureaucracy of Dairy and Meat Farmers coalitions and advertising campaigns that even had Vice President Al Gore “treading lightly” when he stated that global warming was because of pollution, but did not directly mention “the livestock industry’s role in producing more global warming than all our cars, trucks, planes and other vehicles used in trasportation combined”, and rather chose what Oppenlander describes as “the path of least resistance… to tell essentially the convenient truth” and only mention at the back of his book, that diet should be modified to include less meat. Oppenlander also mentions other high profile people who are also forced to “tread lightly” when it comes to discussions or any negative publicity against meat or dairy related groups lest they come under the scrutiny of any of these powerful industries, who Oppenlander also states continue to be subsidized by the government to support them no matter what the demand is for the product, thereby creating a false demand and a huge incentive to continue producing their product and the global depletion on our planet .
Oppenlander provides a variety of resources and research to back up his claims and offers solutions that can target the issues on many levels. On a very simple level, the solutions include the following suggestions:
“Eat only plant based foods
Eliminate all subsidies for any business that produce animal products
Create incentives for those businesses that produce plant-based foods
Education all nations as to the real reasons for biodiversity loss and the most effective and quickest way for resolution. Specifics are the rule; there is no room for generality.”
The final chapter of Oppenlander’s book makes a case for the animals, arguing: “all meat and fish items are products that are derived from animals that are very capable of carrying out thought processes and feeling emotion.” The author also draws attention to the fact that we avoid telling our children that meat is flesh from animals, but rather continue “masking the reality of food origins.” In this chapter, he also concisely but powerfully outlines some of the atrocities that animals face while being farmed and slaughtered.
While much of the facts presented about the depletion of land resources by animal and fish farming, as well as the power of the meat and dairy industries not new; Oppenlander does emphasize that you can’t address global warming without addressing this issue or the illusion of sustainable farming.
Oppenlander also offers solutions to the problems we face and stresses the need to be proactive and informed: “As consumers, it is time that we have a conscience: it is long overdue. Ask questions, increase your awareness, and become more savvy in the decision-making process, based on what is in the planet’s best interest.”
Comfortably Unaware is chock full of information that is sure to, one way or another, elicit a passionate response based on this controversial topic; and will at very least make you think twice before you order from the menu.
Reviewed by Maya Fleischmann for IndieReader