Green Building and Food

In my ongoing self education on green building I watched a movie tonight called Forks Over Knives. Food and building are intimately connected, just like fast food and habitat destruction are connected and healthy food and green building are connected.

Keeping our “temple”, our body, healthy is so important. What kind of building you live in, what kind of food you eat, and the people you associate with will for the most part determine your health.

I liked Forks Over Knives a lot. It was a powerful argument for eating a plant based diet. The argument was not moral in terms of animal rights. It was purely health related. Simply put the movie showed conclusive evidence that if you eat a plant based died you will be significantly healthier than if you eat an animal based food.

The movie dispelled a lot of myths about food:

Myth 1: Meat is needed for health and protein. Actually meat is not healthy and not needed for protein. They show a vegan cage fighter as an example and also provide lots of others where meat causes cancer.

Myth 2: Cows milk is healthy and needed for calcium. Actually cows milk is not healthy and not needed for calcium. It actually can sap the body of calcium.

Myth 3: A plant based died does not provide you with the protein you need. Actually it does.

If you are wondering why there can be such contradictions you guessed right: corporate interest. The government scientists who proclaim what is healthy (and thus determine menus in schools, army, hospitals etc) are also working for large corporations who sell food….

Who created the 4 food groups? Corporations lobbied for it to sell what they were selling.

I read a book called Nourishing Traditions, that made a huge impact on me. It argued that most traditional cultures actually ate large amounts of animal fat. It condoned eating butter, eggs, and organic meat. The book made a lot of sense to me so I followed the died.

Two months later I was 15 pounds fatter and my cholesterol had gone too high. “Duh!” you say? Well maybe but the book was pretty amazing. Despite that I backed off the diet and began searching elsewhere. Forks Over Knives is the direction I’m going.

The facts are very clear. Watch the movie. It is empowering.


The case against meat

I am still fighting it out with my fellow green builders on a list serv. I still eat meat, although a lot less, and am still not sure if my body is made to not eat meat…..but…here is what I wrote:

After cooling off a bit I am ready to come back in. I have a lot to say about this issue and apparently my opinions are in the minority on this list. Obviously local organic meat is better than overseas contaminated vegetables. But that is what I call a denial comparison because it is a way to justify something that is not sustainable. It is like saying that a new green building is fine because it is better than a badly renovated old building.

As long as we have the huge quantity of good old buildings, I do not think new buildings are sustainable, no matter how green they are. Obviously there are exceptions where some bad old buildings are better off demolished. But I am talking from a big picture point of view. The situation from the big picture in my eyes should always start with, “Can we avoid building new and renovate instead.” Then go from there.
Likewise for eating meat. The numbers I have seen are that our current world population can not sustain the amount of meat we consume. Period. The argument that it is part of our genes and we’ve been doing it forever is weak. Anyone for a smoke? We’ve been doing that since the beginning of fire too. Yet it does not seem to be part of our genes. And genes evolve anyway. History is not a great indicator of what is correct. Times have changed. Never have we had so many mouths to feed.

“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility of our future” GB Shaw.

So my original point when we started this discussion, a point I felt was misrepresented by others, is that the ideal situation is to drastically reduce our consumption of meat, if not eradicate it altogether. Just like I think we should drastically reduce our new construction, if not eradicate it altogether.

Of course there are exceptions where some will eat more meat than others based on needs and geography. But our current consumption of meat is not at all sustainable. Organic and local is a good start and maybe all we need. But I am not convinced we can stop there. How are we going to feed a city like NY or New Delhi with organic grass fed local beef. Come on, be realistic.

We are at a new era and I think meat is more part of history than it is our future.

And it is not about simple physical survival. Clearly that goes hand in hand with our spiritual survival.

Our evolving awareness of animal emotions and needs shows that it is cruel to keep and kill animals beyond the most local sustainable means, and even that practice I think will fade.

The way we view and treat animals remains barbaric. The vast majority of the population still sees animals as unfeeling stupid creatures, which in my opinion is a mirror of the humans.

It is not possible for me as a green builder to not take into consideration the statistics (which resoundingly show current meat production is destroying the planet) but also the moral and spiritual aspect of killing animals.

This is not to say that plants do not scream when we cut them. Studies show that they do. All living creatures feel and experience the world way beyond what we think they do. We are so out of touch with our surroundings in this area.

I read a great quote the other day: What will it take for humans to become indigenous again?

We are this arrogant plague on the earth right now, barreling down a path to self extinction. I personally don’t want my ancestors to be cockroaches.

We need to drastically rethink how we do things. Green builders need to be leaders in this field for the very reason that we are responsible for changing one of, if not THE MOST destructive forces on the planet: human development. If green builders don’t change this then I don’t see who will.

And I don’t mean building a LEED platinum building. That is a joke. It is like smoking more efficiently. I mean really, drastically rethinking how we build, why we build and if we need to build at all.

And the consumption of meat, the production of meat, and the distribution of meat is deeply connected to this. I realize most people don’t see a connection but I do. I don’t think one can be solved without the other. They both involve the same change of viewpoint.