We had the pleasure of attending a talk by the somewhat shy but awesome Philip Wollen this week, where he took us through his beliefs around ethics, peace, compassion and the philosophy of Occam's Razor. The talk was hosted by the South African Vegan Society and sponsored by Fry's Vegetarian (those dudes who make food almost as awesome as ours). The talk was both awe-inspiring and terror-inducing, and we'll break it down for you here.
The Awe-inspiring Stuff
Philip has a pretty epic history. He was once the Vice-President of Citibank and General Manager of Citicorp (read: corporate heavy-weight). And he achieved all of this success while in his thirties. Pretty impressive, right?
But something interesting happened during his tenure at Citibank. He was tasked to oversee a merger and acquisition for one of his clients, and one of the sites he visited happened to be a slaughterhouse. In his own words, during an interview with Gary Smith, he said:
It was the most shocking, terrifying and violent experience of my life. It was tangible proof of the abject failure of human beings to develop empathy for the suffering of other living beings. I think I now understand what Hannah Arendt meant in her work “Eichmann in Jerusalem” where she coined the term “the banality of evil”.
After his encounter with the banality of evil, Wollen turned his back on mindless consumption and became a vegan philanthropist. He realised that eating meat and dairy was a bizarre, terrible and cruel thing to do, especially when it caused unnecessary harm and extreme suffering to billions of animals a year. He even took part in the well-known debate, "Animals Should Be Off The Menu", which you can check out here.
In the years since, he started a foundation called the Kindness Trust, has spoken at venues and in forums all across the world, and has changed countless lives; human and animal alike. For a dude who considers himself a private, introverted person and who would rather think in silence than talk to groups of hundreds of peeps, he does a good motha-flippin' job. We take our hat off to him.
The Terror-Inducing Stuff
So, what about his speech made peeps like us go "F**K", but not in the light-hearted way we usually do? Wollen relayed some facts that we already knew but hearing them in person had a profound effect, especially when he explained the significance of the year 2048.
But before we get there, let's lay out some of the facts that Wollen shared with us. Pay attention, yo...this is the kind of sh*t that makes you take a step back and go "f**k"-
- There are 7 billion peeps on the planet, and we murder 2 billion land animals every two weeks. This means that if we killed each other at the same rate that we kill food animals, there would be practically no humans left on Madre Earth in little over a month.
- There are 7 billion peeps on the planet, and we directly and indirectly kill 1 billion ocean animals every three hours. So how long until humans are wiped out if we killed each other at the same rate? You guessed it. One day. That's 24 motherf**kin' hours. By this time tomorrow, humanity would be extinct. Think about that for a second...
- By 2025, India's population will contribute to 17% of the world's cardiovascular disease statistics. And guess what? They're addicted to dairy. Is this a coincidence? We think not.
- The United States is in so much medicare debt - about 8 trillion dollars worth of debt, to be exact - that the amount it needs to get back to break-even could have covered the costs of building a logistics infrastructure throughout the whole of Asia. And, you know, Asia is pretty big, so that means a lot of roads. Oh, and ICYMI - we're talking medicare debt. As in, people going to hospitals because they have shit clogging up their bloodstream, or some or other meat- or dairy-related disease. Fact, bro.
- It takes 5000 litres of water to make 1 kilogram of beef. It takes 1000 litres of water to make 1 litre of milk. Oh, and did we mention that there is a world shortage of water? Hmmm. Must be another "coincidence".
- The Himalayan ice fields - colloquially known as the world's third pole - supplies enough water to feed half of the world's population. But thanks to factory farms and their contribution to greenhouse gasses, the third pole is melting. This is not a good thing.
- Of the greenhouse gasses mentioned above, factory farms contribute 51% to global warming. That's more than the entire world's transportation industry combined.
We could go on, but you get the point...
Now, what does the year 2048 have to do with everything, and why are we so fixated on it? Let's break this down too. Pay attention again, yo. This sh*t is serious-
- At the rate we're going, by 2048 all of the world's fisheries will disappear. Gone. Kaput. There will no commercial fish left to eat. Why is this significant? Simple:
- 90% of fish harvested are ground into pellets and fed to (herbivore) factory farmed animals. This means that the 90% of food fed to land animals will have to be sourced from elsewhere. Since there is nowhere else to go for said food, this is a problem. In fact, as things currently stand, vegetarian cows have become the world's largest consumers of sea-food; how sickening is that?
- Fish and the billions of other ocean animals that are killed every 3 hours are vital contributors to the ocean's reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; the sea and its inhabitants are the earth's veins and arteries. But, like us at a buffet, even the ocean can only stomach so much. At the rate we are pumping carbon gasses into the air, the ocean will become too acidic, destroying the ability of certain marine life to thrive, which will have a ripple effect on marine - and therefore land - biodiversity.
Phil believes that the social fabric holding all the peeps of the world together will collapse before the fisheries collapse, with wars being fought over water and other critical resources. Like we don't have enough reasons to kill each other already, right?
Dudes, let's be real here. The message is straightforward: if we do not stop our current trend of mindless consumption, the world will go to sh*t. Humanity will not last the century. At the time of writing this article, 2048 is only 32 years away. Which means that any child born in 2016 may very well not live to see old age.
Heavy stuff, man. F**k.
All is not lost *big sigh of relief*. There is still time to right humanity's wrongs, prevent the cold-blooded murder of billions of animals and correct the path of self-destruction that we are on. Not sure about you guys, but we like living, you feel?
The answer is simple: eliminate the consumption of animal products from your diet.
Stop eating the meat and dairy that is literally killing millions of people and animals a day, destroying the planet and ensuring the extinction of our own species. There is enough food on the planet to end world hunger and malnutrition forever, dawg. We just need to stop feeding the food to factory farmed animals and feed it to ourselves instead.
There are like a bazillion resources on the web to help conscious peeps make the transition towards becoming a mindful consumer, so there really is no excuse anymore. The fate of the planet, our species and every other sentient being that we torture and murder every day depends on it.
So what are you waiting for? Go be a hero, yo!