We currently live in a time when progress is rapid. Our source of knowledge since the Renaissance has culminated in very advanced technology, the exploration of space and the manipulation of DNA; which has put a blindfold on us in terms of a greater understanding of our relationship with the earth.
Most illustrative of the popularity of vegetarianism has been the increasing number of books published on the subject, which has reached maturity in the last twenty years. From 1960 to 1980, 183 English-language vegetarian books were published, 35 of them appeared in the UK, most in the 1970s. In the eighties there was a "boom" with the appearance of hundreds of books each year. Today there are even vegetarian cookbooks written by carnivores.
The existence of these books has brought the vegetarian diet closer to many people who simply enjoy cooking or are interested in knowing more.
Nobody can know the future, what is certain, in view of what the recent history of vegetarianism shows us, is that groups and people will continue to emerge to actively promote vegetarian eating.
A less positive point of view gives us crazy figures on the costs to public health of carnivorous diets. The so-called "diseases of civilization" (obesity, constipation, hemorrhoids, diabetes, colon cancer, heart attack and other coronary diseases ...) are on the crest of the wave. Doctors recommend medicines before changing habits. Medicine treats the causes of disease, but does not prevent them. It also does not treat them naturally.
The future of animal protein lies in genetic engineering; all multinational companies are developing it, and some animals whose genetic code has been modified have already been "manufactured": For example, a pig with human genes, which suffers from arthritis, is lame and can hardly move. There are several techniques, such as cloning, that allow to obtain a perfect cow, a milk and meat machine, which can be reproduced identically a million times or more. It is already possible to reduce sentient beings to food production machines, to the point of "manufacturing" chickens without feathers, without thighs, without beaks, to which food is supplied and that simply sit and get fat, during their short life only seven weeks. Genetic experiments on animals obviously offer attractive possibilities for the insatiable hunger for commerce.
The world is mired in an environmental crisis. Livestock produces a savage amount of manure that ends up in our rivers, lakes and seas; as well as huge amounts of chemical pesticides and fertilizers that are used to grow animal feed. Since 1970, more than 25% of America's forests have been burned in order to grow livestock feed. Drought, the main contemporary problem, is accentuated by the amount of water used to cultivate these fields. More than half of the water consumed in the United States goes to these crops.
Health, animal welfare and ecology will continue to play an important role in influencing people to adopt a vegetarian diet. But there is also a fourth reason, which is the impact that the massive consumption of meat that we do in Europe and North America produces in the Third World. Dr. Susan George's book, How the Other Half Dies, explains and analyzes the ways in which the strategies of the dominant countries create and foster poverty in the dominated. Every year, a number of people equivalent to half the population of Spain die of malnutrition. In the United States, 70% of the cereals grown are used for livestock, while there are 20 million people in the world who suffer from chronic hunger.
But vegetarianism must be understood as one of the fundamental actions that every individual can develop to sow harmony. It is a direct way to contribute to a better world. Trust me, the individual change you can make to a vegetarian diet empowers you to create a better world. You already know, never underestimate the power of your actions, because with a small gesture, you can change the life of another person, for better or for worse. The Universe puts each of us in front of the lives of others for something. Look at God in others. It perceives its reflection in all living creatures: People and animals. So be it.
Excerpted from "The Vegetarian History from Adam and Eve to the XXI Century".
Mandala Editions. Foreword by David Román.