I would never call myself an environmentalist. I self-identify as an animal rights advocate. So when the publisher of The Sustainability Secret wrote to me and asked if I'd review it, I reluctantly agreed. What I discovered was that it was probably the best book I've read in the last year. It was inspired by Cowspiracy, a movie I have not yet seen, and although it certainly hits on the environmental impact of eating meat, it also touches on the health and ethical concerns as well. It is an easy-to-read to-the-point book that is informative and enlightening.
In just 165 pages, the authors, Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, discuss everything from water as a finite resource and the realities of factory farming to the effect the industry has had on oceans and the advantages of veganic agriculture. There are some great graphics as well that show the effects visually for those who are visual learners.
Interestingly enough, I found the statistics on water consumption fascinating! "According to the EPA, the average household of three in our country consumes 50,000 gallons of water in one year for indoor use..." But, average meat consumption contributes to 405,000 gallons of water in one year per person! So, while California likes to blame their drought on human water usage, I think they need to address the usage of water used to support animal consumption as a food product instead.
As the authors address factory farming, they mention the trend of buying fresh and local. They quote Frank Reese, a poultry farmer, who says, "It's all a sham. It's the same kind of bird, and the suffering is in their genes. When the mass-produced turkey of today was designed, they killed thousands of turkeys in their experiments. Should it be shorter legs or shorter keel bone?" Whether the turkey is local or not, they all endured suffering.
Rain forests are an area I never really researched. This book has a whole chapter on them. Come to find out that animal agriculture is the number one source of the destruction of rain forests. "Cutting down the rain forests to provide ranch land and crop land for the meat industry means that we are cutting away both the earth's oxygen-producing capacity and its ability to absorb tons of global-warming carbon dioxide." And when rain forests are destroyed, they release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere contributing to global warming.
One of the best chapters addresses Activists, Governments, and Corporations and their ability to silence others and put forth laws protecting those who are harming animals and the environment. They discuss ag-gag bills and their effect on society as a whole.
Howard Lyman, a fourth generation rancher turned animal rights advocate states, "I totally believe, with every fiber of my being, that you cannot be an environmentalist and consume animal products. It's totally opposed. Kid yourself if you want. If you want to feed your addiction, so be it, but don't call yourself an environmentalist."
Of course, one of my favorite chapters was the one on Ethics, Dairy, and Eggs: Choosing Life Over Death. "We grow up assuming that having udders full of milk is the result of being a cow, not the result of being a pregnant female mammal. It seems remarkable to me that anyone can be a feminist, fighting for the rights of women, and also drink milk and eat eggs. The dairy and egg industries are massive global businesses built on the reproductive systems of enslaved female animals." I couldn't have said it better myself.
I'll stop there because I could go on and on about what a great book this is, but now you'll have to just read it for yourself. You can find it on Amazon for under $20 here. Highly recommended!
Full Disclosure: Although the book was provided to me for free to review, that in no way influenced my veracious opinion.