I have recently been reading this book for a second time. At the end of Chapter Four, Howard Lyman explains the moment when he suddenly realised that the only way forward was on a 100% plant based diet. I wanted to share this.
'One summer day in Washington in 1990, I was sitting with my feet up on my desk, looking out at the Potomac. The humidity was 98% and it was hot enough to make a mosquito sweat. I started thinking about all the issues, personal and political, that were concerning me. I was feeling a growing sense of cynicism about my work and about the chances to effect change through legislation. I'd lived through the relentless decline of the family farm. I knew that most of the bureaucratic subsidies I was fighting for went to the raising of feed crops, not human food. I'd read a whole host of depressing statistics about the loss of rain forest throughout the world and I knew that the lion's share of that rain forest loss came about in order to clear land for cattle grazing. I'd read, too, that livestock outnumber humans on the planet by five to one. I'd learned that about 50% of our water usage in this country is dedicated to the production of meat and that our natural aquifers were being depleted at an alarming rate. I'd learned that we were losing topsoil at a rate of one inch every sixteen years, and that much of that loss of topsoil was related to cattle grazing and to the chemically intensive methods that factory farmers were using (and that I had once used). I'd seen rivers polluted from the waste of cattle and pigs and chickens, and seen birds disappear fom the skies over the fields sprayed with herbicides that were meant to facilitate the growth of crops used to feed those animals. I'd put many thousands of head of cattle into confinement and seen how they suffered from unnatural conditions. I knew that while a billion people went to sleep hungry, the overfed part of the world was busy feeding sixteen pounds of grain to cattle in order to make one pound of beef. I'd seen countless friends suffer from heart attacks or require heart surgery. I'd seen the cancer rate in America increase dramatically. My own health was hardly exemplary : I weighed three hundred fifty pounds, my cholesterol was over 300, my blood pressure was off the charts and I was getting nose bleeds.
Suddenly the circle came together for me. We were as a civilisation making one big mistake, a mistake that was understandable because we had been raised to make it. We had been culturally indoctrinated to believe it to be not a mistake at all , but rather a normal and healthy habit. But this mistake was killing us as individuals just as it was destroying our land and our forests and our rivers. We were eating dead animals and it wasn't working. If those animals had set out to take their revenge on us, they couldn't have done a better job.
And I became, right then and there, something I nver dreamed I'd become : a vegetarian. At first I had trouble announcing the fact to others, because I honestly wasn't acquainted with any admitted vegetarians and I feared ridicule. I knew many members of Congress who were gay, some of them openly so, but I didn't know any who were vegetarian. I did know one aging hippie woman from Montana who was vegetarian, but her name was Atlantis. Most folks back home in Montana would rather be caught riding someone else's horse than be accused of vegetarianism. I had always been more or less a macho kind of guy, and vegetarian just wasn't how I saw myself.
Within a year of eating no meat, my health problems all started to go away. Not only did I feel better physically, but I felt better knowing that there was one answer to many of the different ills afflicting both ourselves and our environment.
Everything revolved around the fork'.
To me, this says it all. Everyone should read this book!