How A Meat-Eater Tries to Eat Right

I have never been one for jumping on a bandwagon, and I am not one to change my lifestyle based upon what I saw in a biased documentary.  I, like most of you, am a pragmatic and educated individual; who makes decisions based on fact, status quo, and what I would deem as being the most logical choice for living a life a true as possible.  So when we began to watch the documentary Food Inc., I knew deep down I wasn’t going to like what I saw, but I figured that I would shrug it off and continue on… Not the case.

After watching this documentary in class (in two stretches, both on empty stomachs and right before lunchtime), I began to think a little harder about the food that I ingest.  Walking through the meat department at every supermarket since then, I am reminded about how this industry skewed to fundamental concepts of food production; maybe out of necessity, but certainly out of greed.  It began to feel uneasy looking at all the meat that I would normally cook in second; and although I cannot say I am even close to giving up meat, the idea of eating most of what is offered to me by the food industry grosses me out.

With this, I think about the optimistic organic farmer who believes he is fulfilling his duty to the highest standard, and I think about the small price differences in his products.. It feels good to say now that I would seek his product before the mass-produced, standardized product, and I do my best each time to do that, but I will not stop eating meat.  What Food Inc. did for me was inform me that those around me who push for organic food are not pompous urbanites who try to find reasons to critique the lifestyles of others, but rather people who understand the established system which most of us have subscribed to, and what it would take to change that system.


Because of all of this information and the ideas that it has developed, I have now begun to filter my fresh-food (juices, meats, dairy, etc) to organic products only. the quote: “people freak out when organic eggs are $3 while they sip on a $1.75 coke” resonated with me.  Why wouldn’t I support organic farmers anyways? The food is almost as good as their character!

Fast Fashion: Easy On Your Bank Account, Hard On The Environment

My first semester of freshman year I was required to watch a documentary entitled The True Cost. I can honestly say that this documentary changed my mentality when it comes to shopping for clothing. The documentary focuses on the dangers associated with the fast fashion industry and shows viewers that their $5 top from stores like H&M and Forever 21 is doing way more harm than good. Sure, the $5 top may make you feel incredible and savvy because it was so cheap, but the $5 top makes another person in another part of the world angry and exhausted. Fast fashion companies use workers who live in impoverished areas in other parts of the world to do the dirty work for them for a price that is even dirtier. The people trapped in sweatshops creating your $5 top are some of the lowest paid workers in the world. Your $5 top from a fast fashion store is aiding in the continuation of human rights violations and the exploitation of human beings.

Along with having little concern about the health and quality of life of their workers, fast fashion companies and the industry as a whole has little to no concern about the world we live in. The $5 top that has been the continuing example throughout this post will more than likely be out of style next month, or at least that’s what the fast fashion industry will make you think. According to the documentary, the average American creates approximately 82 pound of textile waste each year because clothing is seen as disposable. The image from the documentary that always stands out in my mind is the scene where clothing is being “dumped” to developing countries. The documentary shows an area of Haiti that is essentially overflowing with unwanted clothes. These clothes are not biodegradable therefore they will sit for hundreds of years releasing harmful gases into the atmosphere. That $5 shirt will probably end up in a developing country when you’re tired of wearing it or when it starts to wear out after the third wash due to the cheap material.

Fast fashion may be trendy and easy on your bank account, but is it worth the detrimental impact you’re having on the lives of other humans and your environment? After watching this documentary I spend more to get more. I may buy a basic shirt for $50 dollars or a pair of jeans for $100 from a more “high-end” retailer, but the quality is so much better than those from a fast fashion brand and the item will last therefore there will be much less waste. In the long run spending more will get you more: more wear time from an item, more time doing fun things instead of shopping to replace a piece of cheap clothing that has worn out, and more time on Earth knowing you did something to help rather than being part of the problem.


To Watch The True Cost:


Honestly, watching this documentary I was not 100% sure what it was going to be about. I thought this documentary was going to just scare people out of eating meat and that it would show a behind the scenes look at processing meat farms. I was shocked to see that this video took me in a whole different direction. This documentary talked about many different categories related to sustainability. I was dumbfounded to see the crazy amounts of water needed to keep the cows hydrated because the grains that are fed to the cows causes the cows to be very thirsty, thus greatly lowering our overall water supply. Second, it was interesting to see how much waste the cows produced compared to us as humans. Next, another big issue was the amount of precious land that is cleared out to harvest these animals. In the documentary they looked at Brazil as an example and stated that 80% of their rain forests were cleared out for land for cows. A lady whom was being interviewed in the documentary admitted that she believes that cows don’t leave a carbon footprint. That is crazy to think people can’t admit the effects this has on our lives, and future generations to come. If we don’t start now, we will never be able to have the resources we need to survive in the future.

Another major issue that was discussed in this video is the increase in overpopulation. This was a topic that was discussed in class as well. But when we look at actual numbers, people are starving in different places world wide, but most of our grains, water and resources are given to cows to be produced. If we limit the amount of milk and meat production, we would be able to sustain other natural resources such as fruits and vegetables. A plant based diet is the most sustainable and we would be able to thrive as a world off of this type of diet.

The United States is not suited to meet the demands of meat; and shouldn’t be attempted or tried. We also need to be concerned with preservation of all animals, everywhere. Animals are being killed for no reason, everywhere. Also, the treatment, health and overall well being of these animals in the farms are horrible, and very devastating to see. I am not a big red meat eater to began with but, after watching this video I want to eliminate red meat from my diet as a whole. As a country, and across the world we just keep producing cows as a major mean of food supply, but no one is able to look or admit to see the huge effects it has on limiting our sustainability across our world. More laws and policies need to be set into place to limit the amount of meat production that should be allowed. This would allow for an increase in water supply, limiting waste, helping animals, and thus sustaining land and resources.


I chose to attend the screening of Cowspiracy by Kip Anderson and Keegan Kuhn.  At first I didn’t know what to expect and thought it would be a lot like Food, Inc., focusing on the mistreatment of animals and where our food really comes from.  I was pleasantly shocked that this film wasn’t just about cows and their waste, it was so much more in connecting all other environmental aspects linking back to livestock.  I would compare this film to the documentary about fracking by Josh Fox called Gasland.  The styles used and commentary are similar.  Being filmed from an average humans view point is what really gets me.  This film made me believe that I could potentially be doing what Kip Anderson has done but with the concerns that are dear to me.

This film was filled with statistics and quotes throughout.  One that stood out to me was “Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.”  This blows my mind.  How can over half of the CO2 emissions the world puts out into the atmosphere be from producing livestock? How could I not have known about this just like Kip was confused why no one would talk about this leading issue.  Usually the methane produced by livestock is talked about but nothing about how much carbon dioxide is being emitted.  Livestock and growing feed for the livestock to consume takes 56% of the water in the US.  Over half of our water is being used to grow meat for us to eat? That just seems impractical.  It was mentioned in the film that the food being fed to the livestock could easily be fed to humans and we could also be able to resource all that water for either drinking or growing other foods for us the eat.  To produce one pound of beef it takes 2,500 gallons of water. 477 gallons to produce 1 pound of eggs and 900 gallons of water for one pound of cheese.  These numbers are insane and I feel ashamed to have ever eaten and partaken in such a detrimental act against our environment.

The thing that stuck out to me the most in this film was when it was said that you can’t be an environmentalist and eat meat.  I care way too much about the environment to be eating meat and this film made me realize and opened my eyes to maybe an alternative way of eating that I should pursue.  I know nothing about being and eating as a vegan, but after watching this film I really believe that I need to make the effort and re consider my eating options and the food I put into my body.  “Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 square feet of forested land, 20 pounds CO2 equivalent, and one animals life.”  Eating meat and the industry of livestock is causing too much damage to this earth.  So many environmental problems can be traced back to livestock.  Becoming a vegan is a huge change to one person’s life, but it has an even greater impact on the earth in such a positive way with immediate results, how could anyone not even consider how beneficial for the earth and oneself that it is.


Watching Cowspiracy was very shocking and devastating. One of the major things that I found shocking was that many environmental organizations ignored the fact that animal agriculture was the number contributor to greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Cows produce 51% of greenhouse gases- more than the entire transportation section. With a big issue like this you’d think environmental organizations would draw more attention to this since they want to save the environment, right? Unfortunately the opposite happens and they refuse to bring attention to the subject. In fact, environmental organizations depend on memberships to get their funding. A ton of people eat meat and if you start telling people to change their lifestyle and stop eating meat for the sake of our environment they might withdraw their membership and the organizations lose money.

In order to get meat to the table, a lot of grassland is needed. Land is becoming limited because of our growing human population. So forests get cut down and deforestation becomes an issue. Once you have grasslands, you’ll need a lot of water for cows to drink and survive. Raising livestock in the United States in total consumes 32 trillion gallons of water. While the cow is growing at an extremely, unhealthy fast rate they are releasing tons of methane into our atmosphere. A lot goes into the animal agriculture industry and a lot of bad stuff comes out of it.

A devastating scene in the movie was when a backyard duck farmer cut a ducks head off in front of another duck and a little girl. The little girl didn’t even flinch and asked why the duck was still moving. Later on the duck farmer explained what he did was “just something that had to be done”. It was extremely heartbreaking.

Cowspiracy was filled with a lot of good knowledge and made you really think about what other issues are being hidden from consumers. Towards the end of the movie it was really pushing the idea of not eating meat at all and how cutting down meat consumption won’t help. I don’t completely agree with this. I believe that anyone can help make a positive change to our environment. Realistically, every single person will not stop eating meat but if people are aware of what is going on in our country and find out that there are solutions to these issues I think that will start a great domino effect.

“Bag It: is your life too plastic?”

Wednesday, November 16th, I attended the documentary and panel about plastic usage and waste. The colleges, Alliance for Planet Earth, held the event. The panel included, Mayor of the City of Folly Beach, Tim Goodwin, Director of Global Partnerships & Community Engagement with 5 Gyres, Lia Colabello, and Program Director of Air, Water, & Public Health at Coastal Conservation League, Katie Zimmerman. And the documentary that followed was, “Bag It: is your life too plastic?”.

I chose to attend this event out of curiosity and to hear Mayor Goodwin speak on the recent ban on plastic out at Folly Beach. I have tried my best recently to stay informed on plastic use in my own life and how our communities near and far are considering their plastic use and waste. After attending this event, the statistics and thoughts shared throughout have reconfirmed the frightening knowledge I already knew, and yet was still able to illustrate a promising future if certain steps are implemented.

Firstly, each panel member spoke and gave their thoughts on where the world is today in terms of plastic consumption and waste. Compelling facts and statistics were shared by each member, certain ones that I found to be very memorable are: 8 million metric tons of non biodegradable plastic enters the ocean annually, 5.2 trillion pieces of plastic are floating ON TOP of the ocean, 1 trillion plastic bags are used a year, and in the United States it takes 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture a plastic bag. And to bring it close to home, there are currently 700,000 tons of microplastics in the Charleston Harbor. After hearing these statistics it almost seems crazy not to have a ban on them everywhere!

This leads to the next topic mentioned, bans and their efficacy. When talking about putting a ban on one of the most prevalent materials used today, one must think how influential will this new policy truly be for our communities and environment? Some answers were provided based off the 54% of areas in the world that are currently under plastic bag free zones. In Ireland, there has been a 95% reduction rate in waste due to plastic. In San Jose, due to the 90% reduction rate in plastic bags they have seen a positive impact on storm drain blockage. When heavy rains would come, violent floods would result due to blockage in the storm drains by plastic waste.

The statistics shared, the impacts noted, and lastly Mayor Goodwin’s words on the recent ban at Folly were the most notable parts of the event for me. I was curious to know how the Folly Beach community responded to the ban, was there any backlash, and how he was moved to make this decision? Luckily, most of these questions were answered! Mayor Goodwin stated that there was 4,784 respondents to the call to action on plastic, all saying that something should be done. With this kind of positive feedback it was easy to fuel the movement towards banning plastic. Mayor Goodwin did mention that there was a small window of backlash towards the ban however. He noted that small ‘mom and pop’ shops were worried that they would not be able facilitate paper bags and that would impede on storage. But Mayor Goodwin responded by saying that plastic has not always been around, and if stores in the past were able to make do, then we can very much make it happen now as well.   

Overall, I found the panel members and documentary to be very enlightening. The documentary was able to open my eyes to the fierce impact of plastic all over the world, and the panel members were able to express ways that this impact can be altered. Mayor Goodwin shared that he used to work for conglomerate, DuPont, and now he is the Mayor of the City of Folly Beach where the first ban on plastic in the state of South Carolina has been passed. Additionally, the panel members have urged students to stay involved in the issue and stay abreast on the politics surrounding the issue. If we are informed and educated we can use our knowledge to influence others, furthering our chances to make big changes.

Also, the event was a Zero Waste event and the food was provided by Grow Food Carolina!!


Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret

The documentary Cowspiracy is about the the assertion that livestock’s greenhouse gas emissions are greater than the transportation sector’s emissions. When it comes down to the earth warming, there is more to climate change than just fossil fuels. Livestock produce more greenhouse gases than cars, trucks, boats, and planes combined. Cows produce a substantial amount of methane gas from their digestive system. Methane gas from livestock is 86 times more destructive than carbon dioxide from vehicles. Livestock plays a major role in global warming, it is also the leading cause of resource consumption in environmental degradation that is destroying our planet today. Both co-producers Kip Anderson and Keegan Kuhn argue that our institutional and individual attention to selected environmental issues will not make a collective difference unless we also confront the realities of animal agriculture.
Animal agriculture’s environmental effects are so pervasive that apparent progress elsewhere cannot counter its destructive and growing impact. The film suggests that protecting expanded areas of the oceans will not protect oceans or ocean animals. This goes the same for growing food organically. If we start growing food organically, even on a commercial scale, this will still not protect the land from what has already been done to it. The same also goes for cutting down trees. Keeping lumber operations out of the Amazon will not save the rainforest. No matter what we do or how hard we try to come up with alternative ways to save our planet we have already put us in a deep enough hole that we may not be able to get out of. When looking at statistics, over 100 billion gallons of water is used in the United States but when compared to animal agriculture they consume more than 34 trillion gallons of water. They found that one hamburger is equivalent to 660 gallons of water. That one hamburger is equivalent to showering two entire months! Talk about a waste. We focus so much of our attention on the domestic use of water in American homes which comes down to only 5%. However, when you look at the amount of water animal agriculture uses, they use almost 55% of the water in the United States. That is 2,500 gallons of water for just 1 pound of beef. One thousand gallons of water are needed to produce 1 gallon of milk. That is insane to me. This causes growing water shortages which makes animal agriculture unsustainable. Seventy billion animals are raised annually worldwide. Everyday over 144 million animals are killed for food. The U.S. farm alone produces 7 million pounds of excrement every minute. That is a lot of cow poop.
When looking at the amount of meat an average American consumes, we consume over 209 pounds of meat each year. Everyday, a person that eats a plant-bladed diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 square feet of forested land, all equivalent of just 20 pounds of CO2 and one animal’s life. In order to stop this we need to think about when we eat meat, dairy and eggs, we feed this growing catastrophe. Change will happen as quickly as we convince each other to change what we  eat.



Cowspiracy is a documentary exposing the horrors of the agriculture industry. It talks about how large-scale animal farming has huge negative effects on our environment. I think it is a great documentary to introduce people into one of the greatest environmental issues of our time. I really enjoyed this documentary because it helped me easily understand how our actions impact our environment and the big role that politics, media, and technology have on our society and the environment.

Cowspiracy talks about the major environmental issues being caused by the agriculture industry that are being ignored. This issue is not being talked about in our media or discussed by our politicians because of their financial incentives. Animal agriculture uses more than ten times the amount of water we use domestically and it produces over fifty percent of our greenhouse gages yet we continue to do nothing about it. Animal agriculture is unsustainable and we need to make a big change in our food industry before it’s too late.

This is a great documentary to introduce people to one our biggest environmental issues of our time. It makes it easy to understand the facts of how much we are consuming and what the effects of our consumption are. Most people do not know where their food is really coming from. This film makes it easy to track where our food is coming from and the big environmental impacts we make simply by our food choices. These documentary exposes key features of our food industry that are impossible to ignore once they are presented. This documentary makes the viewer want to further investigate our food industries and our political system.

Cowspiracy also helps to develop critical thinking skills about our human relationship with the environment. As humans, we fail to realize that without the environment we would be nothing. We get everything we need from our environment. Our earth provides us with food, shelter, and money. We cannot keep taking from the environment and giving nothing back. Our planet does not have an infinite amount of resources and we are driving them to depletion. This documentary helped me think about how important my connection with the earth is and how my every day choices can make a huge difference. Although one person is not enough to save the planet, this film is a great start to getting people to be aware of our current reality. This documentary does a really good job at sharing critical information and showing us that we need to think more deeply when making our every day choices.

Cowspiracy also shows how much of an impact politics, the economy, and the media play in our everyday lives. One of our main political parties including our presidential candidate, do not even believe that climate change is real. This shows how disconnected we have become from our planet and from our core values. Politics, the media, and the economy are the reasons why animal agriculture continues to be one of the biggest industries and why we continue to deplete our planet of its resources. It also shows how financial incentives can also get industries to make a switch to more sustainable products. We need people to become aware and to bring exposure to these systems and begin to question the role they play in our lives.

The environmental effects from animal agriculture are massive. As we see in the documentary Cowspiracy, industries will not switch to sustainable products unless they are financially motivated. Our entire food industry is destroying the planet and bringing animals that have been around for centuries to extinction. Animal agriculture is destroying our land, our rainforests, and our oceans. There is no possible way that the earth can continue to sustain our demands for animal products. We need to completely change our food consumption habits and switch to sustainable food. It is our responsibility to put our environment first and start making changes in our food industry, the political system, and the media. This film fortified my beliefs and personal choices to follow a mainly vegan diet and I think it would make other people consider their personal choices too.

Bag It Event

On Wednesday evening I attended “Bag It” presented by the Alliance for Planet Earth. The presentation was about plastic bags and included a panel of speakers as well as a screening of a documentary. The panel included Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin, Lia Colabello of 5 Gyres, and Katie Zimmerman of Coastal Conservation League. It was also a zero waste event, meaning all of the food that was served with compostable plates and silverware. Overall, I really enjoyed this event and I feel like I learned a lot from it.

First, the panel spoke about plastic bags and the threat they pose to both our local environment and the planet as a whole. Charleston is particularly sensitive to plastic bags because we live in a coastal environment. When plastic bags get discarded they often end up in the ocean, where they pose a serious threat to wildlife, especially turtles. Folly Beach in particular is home to many loggerhead turtles, so they’re especially concerned with plastic use. I also learned that although plastic doesn’t degrade, it does get broken into smaller and smaller pieces which never disappear and are incredibly hard to clean up, and when in the ocean they attract other chemicals creating a threat for both wildlife and human health. When we eat fish, we may also be ingesting chemicals that the fish had in its system as a result of pollution. A lot of health complications from this bio magnification are still unknown.

A second main point discussed by the panel was policy. Each person on the panel believed that policy was the best way to combat the consequences of plastic pollution. In this past election cycle Folly Beach was the first community in the greater Charleston areas to ban not only plastic bags, but also all Styrofoam containers. This is a huge step forward in protecting our coastline and oceans. Now that Folly Beach has passed this legislation, it will pave the way for places like Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island to take similar steps. However, these policies generally come with a fair amount of opposition, especially from the plastic industry. Some places in the US have passed “preemptive legislation” which essentially makes it impossible to ban plastic bags like Folly Beach recently did. This type of legislation was attempted in Charleston, but fortunately did not pass. I thought the discussion on policy was really informative, and inspiring that places like Charleston are beginning to make real change.

Finally, we watched “Bag it: is your life too plastic”, a documentary about the effects of plastic pollution worldwide. The film followed Jeb Berrier, an average American who attempts to learn more about our dependence on plastics and how it is harming the environment.  Although the documentary was very interesting and informative, I feel the panel was my favorite part of the event. I learned about how plastic impacts me and where I live and how policy can help change that. It was great to hear from real local officials on what we could do to help protect our environment.


By Lea Wright

Red Wolf Documentary

On November 3rd, I attended a documentary showing about the endangerment of the Red Wolf. Red wolves are not hybrids of coyotes and wolves, even though many people say they are. Red wolves are much larger than coyotes. It is also thought that red wolves share a common ancestor with wolves. Currently, there are no more than 40 red wolves living on earth today. If you compare red wolves to lion, tigers, and polar bears one could say that those species are flourishing. But that does not make the red wolves condition more important than lions, tigers, and polar bears – both cases are devastating.

At the moment, the very few red wolves that roam the earth are being protected in the Alligator River Wildlife Refugee in North Carolina. While the red wolves are receiving protection, the area isn’t ideal for the species. Red wolves, like regular wolves, require a lot of land to thrive.

Years ago, the protection for Red Wolves was almost terminated because private land owners were complaining about seeing red wolves on their property and that they were competing with the endangered species for deer. In order to do this, Fish and Wildlife was about to declare the Red Wolf extinct so that they can halt all works for protecting the red wolves. This is something that I found insane, how do you declare a species extinct when there are still 40 of them roaming around trying to survive? Luckily, Fish and Wildlife didn’t pull the plug and continued to provide protection for the endangered species.

The endangerment of the red wolves was incredibly sad to hear. At the end of the short movie, there was a speaker to talk about an organization that works to continue protecting the red wolves. The speaker really wants to get the attention of many people about the red wolves. Right now many people aren’t aware of what is happening to animals like the red wolves. I’m sure if more people were aware of what is going on, more people would care and want to take action.