The cow takes the place of the “Elephant in the room” an English metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed. The idiomatic expression also applies to an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss.
I’m not the first to point out that animal agriculture is definitely not highlighted as a major contributor to climate change. The movie Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret does an excellent job of making that point.
There are multiple reasons we don’t hear diet choices as the number one change you can make to help climate change. One of the main ones being that the dairy, beef, egg industries do NOT want us to know the impact because they profit from our ignorance. They influence the government and large environmental organizations. To speak up against them is serious. Ag gag laws specifically target this and try to prevent activists from filming how they actually produce the source of our food!
We allow this to happen because it is easier to just ignore the consequences… ignorance is bliss. Who wants to think about how calves are born and immediately taken away from their mothers so we can use their milk, or how all the male baby chicks are ground up. And those aren’t even the environmental reasons. These factory farms are contaminating our water without commiserate penalties, they are allowed to use natural resources for free or a fraction of the cost. We are destroying everything for the sake of chicken, bacon, hot dogs, and hamburgers.
Besides animal cruelty and environmental impact, even for health reasons people would rather make other other choices than change their diets. Doctors know this, and in many cases will prescribe drugs and surgery instead of trying to have the patient stick to a plant-based diet. Watch Forks over Knives to learn more about how diabetes, heart disease and other issues can be reversed by eating plant-based.
I’m writing this article today since I finally saw the National Geographic Magazine Climate Change issue (November 2015). I was excited to see what it would say. The first section: How YOU can affect climate change.
This section highlights building a tiny house to live in. Small icons have other ideas like composting, not driving two days a week or washing clothes in cold water.
The next page, very small at the bottom. “If meat were dropped from diets globally, the reduction in CO2 emissions would almost equal total U.S. annual emissions.”
So, basically, this enormous environmental change we can make without changing homes is treated as a caption.
Smaller homes is a great idea, but practically speaking, here is a bigger impact each of us can make every day, three times a day that gets very little publicity. It has been gaining awareness, and I really hope to see that continue. On a practical level every restaurant should vegan options, and delicious plant-based cheeses and meats need to become more available and less expensive in grocery stores. The cow in the room isn’t going away.