Banksy’s Stuffed Animal Slaughterhouse Truck

Yesterday in NYC, what appeared to be a slaughterhouse truck with stuffed animals peeking and squealing through open slats drove through the streets of the Meatpacking District. The truck is the work of international graffti artist and political activist Banksy. Entitled “Sirens of the Lambs”, the piece will be touring the rest of the city during the next two weeks, according to his website.

Personally I think as a form of artwork this is a clever way to introduce people to the inhumane way animals are treated in most of the food industry. For children on the street the substitution of stuffed animals is appropriate. Kids are naturally inquisitive and probably asked about  the truck.

Obviously this is a creative piece only meant to be a subtle reminder of a not-so-pleasant reality. It’s not meant to invade people’s lives or shock people with graphic photos, there are other trucks for that, though I’m sure many people are critiquing the truck for not doing any significant form of activism. Even YouTube users are commenting on the supposed “ineffectiveness” of the truck, as if its only goal should be to turn people vegetarian on the spot. Honestly, the truck doesn’t seem to be doing any harm so even if it’s just raising awareness about the maltreatment of animals that’s fine by me!

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Water Footprints & Food

It’s not really “in” to be concerned with your water footprint. A Google search of the phrase “water footprint” retrieves 8 times fewer results than a search for “carbon footprint” (723,000 compared to 8.5 million).  Even in the dialogues I’ve had of water conservation most focus on reducing water use at home: take shorter showers, use a basin to wash dishes by hand, turn off the faucet while I brush my teeth, etc. With all the hullaballoo centered on household water use, it must have the most impact on reducing our water footprint, right?

Wrong. Only 4% of the water footprint of humanity relates to water use at home, meanwhile 27% is related to the production of animal products.  (Mekonnen and Hoekstra, 2011).

This means that if you want to make a significant effort to reduce your water use you can start by decreasing your consumption and purchase of animal products and byproducts. The quarter pounder is worth more than 30 average American showers (National Geographic). Forget for a second that I’m vegetarian; personally, I would choose being clean for a month or two over a 5-minute inhalation of beef.

  • The average water footprint per calorie for fruits or cereals is 20 times smaller than that for beef and 3 times smaller than that for chicken.
  • Producing a typical American Thanksgiving dinner for six people requires over 30,000 gallons of water.
  • Pork costs water to produce, and traditional pork production—to make your sausage, bacon, and chops—has also been the cause of some water pollution, as pig waste runs into local water sources.
  • California officials identify agriculture, including cows, as the major source of nitrate pollution in more than 100,000 square miles of polluted groundwater
  • On average, a person who doesn’t eat meat or dairy indirectly consumes nearly 600 gallons of water per day less than a person who eats the average American diet.

Water conservation is not a local or regional issue— it’s global. The food consumed in Boston could determine the water footprint of a cocoa farm in Brazil or a cheese factory in Wisconsin. The decision to cut out meat and dairy is not all insignificant and will not only help water conservation efforts around the globe, but also reduce the negative consequences that production of animal products have on the environment and by default our own health.

Sources:

Hoekstra, A. Y., A. K. Chapagain, M. M. Aldaya, and M. M. Mekonnen. 2011. The Water Footprint Assessment Manual: Setting the Global Standard. Earthscan, London, UK

Hoekstra, A. Y. 2012. The Hidden Water Resource Use behind Meat and Dairy.

Natural Resources Defense Council

Veganism Myths

Myths often exist because of a lack of knowledge. Ethical Ocean, an online marketplace for ethical products & service in North America,  created this handy-dandy infographic to dispel some common misconceptions about the vegan lifestyle.

(Note: please disregard the unnecessary sex differentiation of protein intake. I acknowledge that adequate protein varies per person according to physical activity, size, and other factors that aren’t essentially sex-related). 

Veganism Myths Debunked

via Ethical Ocean – eco friendly products, fair trade and vegan shopping.