Meat Free Monday on campus was kicked off with the Dutch premiere of Cowspiracy. Kip Andersen, maker of the documentary, wants to start a revolution that will take us into a future without meat. “There is no such thing as sustainable animal agriculture.”
Cowspiracy is a ground breaking new documentary that takes a closer look at the environmental effect that our diet is having on the planet. More specially, the effect the animal agriculture industry is having on the rainforest, the seas and the rest of the world. The director, Kip Andersen, is an entrepreneur, a vegan but above all else, an environmental activist. He is currently touring the world in support of his new film, Cowspiracy. His goal is to reach 700,000,000 people or 10% of the population in order to start a revolution that will take us into a future without meat. Before the Dutch premiere of Cowspiracy, EM talked to Andersen about his journey into environmental activism and the making of his latest documentary.
Can you explain your journey into environmental activism and animal agriculture?
“Before I knew about the environmental effects of the animal agriculture, I felt like I was doing everything I could do to be a good steward of the planet. I was riding my bike everywhere, taking short showers, watching my water use, recycling. But then one day, I came across this UN report that said animal agriculture causes more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. That’s trains, planes, automobiles combined! Other research suggests that animal agriculture is the leading cause of water consumption, deciding fish stocks and species extinction. This is when it became clear to me that the energy saved by riding my bike was hardly anything compared to my choice of diet. I tried to see what the big NGOs like Greenpeace, Serra club and Oceania were doing about this but when I contacted them, they knew nothing about it. If anything it felt like they were covering it up.”
With this new knowledge of the animal agriculture industry, how has your lifestyle changed?
“Cows are like giant termites, in that they are sucking up all our water, all of our aquifers, all of our rainforests and all of our food. They are responsible for the consumption of around 50% of all water. Therefore the major change for me was to stop eating all animal products, because that is what is killing the planet.”
Is there a particular individual animal product that is the worst?
“They are all bad, but I personally think dairy is one of the worst. I was vegetarian for a while, but once I found out that one litre of milk takes roughly one thousand litres of water, I realised I had to stop. Cow’s milk, like all mammal’s milk, has casomorphin- it’s like a natural morphine or heroine to make your baby bond to you. A cow has twenty four to twenty six grams of casomorphin per litre, compared to human breast milk which only has four grams per litre. That is why there are so many vegetarians and not many vegans, it’s the worst addiction on the planet! It’s worse than heroine, cigarettes or alcohol because it’s not just killing families – its killing the entire planet.”
Why did you tell your message with a documentary?
“When I found out that these organisations, that I had looked up to and was supporting my whole life, didn’t have any information on their websites about this crisis, I tried to contact them. I called and called and emailed and emailed and I got nothing. I have been trying to contact them for five years and they consistently ignored any effort of mine to start the discussion about animal agriculture. Sometime ago I decided that the only way I was going to make them talk to me and to start the discussion on this topic was if I made this film and made a big deal about this.”
Why can’t we just eat less meat and make the production process more sustainable?
“There no such thing as sustainable animal agriculture. In 1812, when we had a population of one billion people, there was sustainable animal agriculture. In 1912, when there was a population of one and half billion people, there was sustainable animal agriculture. But now, with a population of over seven billion, there is no such thing as sustainable animal agriculture. With the economic growth in China and India, two of the largest populations in the world, and their increased demand for animal produce, there is no way we can support that many people with meat-based diets”
What can ordinary people do?
“Each person has the most powerful choice three times a day- change your diet. Every day you have the choice to take from the planet or give back to planet. If you eat meat or animal products, you are contributing to the destruction of this planet.”
A lot of people feel helpless or scared of this problem. They say the meat industry is too powerful or that meat is too far ingrained in our culture.
“I’d say that there is hope and there are good signs that say change is happening fast. A few years ago, being a vegan was a weird thing to do and now it’s becoming cool. In America, meat consumption is down and dairy consumption has dropped dramatically. I feel very optimist, over the next five or ten years you are just going to see the light turn on and change is going to happen.” DB/photography TF