Thursday, April 24, 2008

Drawing Tools/Water and Meat

I've gotten a few inquiries about two of my previous posts, so I thought I'd answer them here.

Drawing Tools: I draw my cartoons the old-fashioned way, with brush and ink on bristol board, then scan them into a Mac to do all the repair work and coloring in Photoshop. I have a very cool state-of-the-art screen from Wacom called a Cintiq, on which you can draw with a stylus directly on the screen, which is pressure sensitive. So I can get a thicker line by pushing harder, thinner line by letting up pressure, etc., just like a paintbrush. I could (and have, on rare occasion) draw an entire cartoon on my computer, and no one would be able to tell the difference. This fancy-pants screen is tons o' good in my line of work.

Water and Meat: Many folks all over the place wonder about this "5,000 gallons to raise a pound of beef" (the subject of CHNW's demonstration in Times Square) and how much water it takes to raise plants for vegan/vegetarain diets. The way it works is that most of the crops we grow in this country are fed to animals, not people. So the water it takes to grow them is figured into the amount it takes to raise a pound of meat. Feeding plants directly to humans is 12-to-16 times more efficient than feeding them to animals (the number varies depending on the animal and the crop). In other words, it takes enough food and water to provide 16 meals for humans to create a single serving of meat. If the whole world turned vegetarian (yeah, like that would ever happen), we could feed 12-to-16 times more humans with the crops we currently grow. Simply put, it would solve world hunger.

The next question people ask is what you would do with all those farm animals in this vegetarian utopia. Simple: Stop breeding them. There are nearly a 100 billion "food" animals alive on the planet at any given time. Stop allowing them to breed, and they'd be gone in no time. As would the millions of tons of feces per second that they create, as well as the greenhouse gases they emit, and the pollution resulting from their poo. Contrary to popular belief, you can't use that much poo for fertilizer. Mostly, it just pollutes the air and ground water. We'd also see a HUGE reduction in medical costs, as most cancers, heart disease, diabetes, you name it, would disappear.

Like I say, vegetarianism will never happen worldwide without some kind of devestating plague that makes it too dangerous to eat animals, but all of these facts are part of why I don't subsidize the animal agriculture industry by buying or consuming animal products of any kind.

For more info on this kind of thing, visit CHNW and I are founding board members and pour a lot of our time, work and money into this project.


Geoff W. said...

Thanks, Dan!
I appreciate the "how you do it" info.
The meat-water thing was very interesting. Sadly, I'm such a meat eater, I will probably never go veg (sav for the odd meal from time to time) but nonetheless, I find your information interesting and great to know.
Just curious, on that note - you're a vegetarian? Or a vegan?
I ask only because, and i mean no offense here, I find that there are many vegetarians for similar reasons as you, and yet they look down on veganism, which in my opinion is silly because from what I know a vegetarian for similar reasons isn't really helping the cause as much as they could. There's still many vegetarian meals that involve animals (ex - anything dairy)

arcticcircle said...

I admire your puritan spirit on this. I'm an advocate of eating less meat, though I think the same ends could be achieved if humans bred less! My biggest contribution to the planet's health is not to have any offspring...

Eric said...

I'm intentionally kid-free and animal-product-and-by-product-free, but I still don't feel like I contribute enough to the planet's welfare :-( I recycle and compost too and drive a 70mpg vehicle and will start riding the train as soon as they finish installing the damned stations. Still, it is never enough. Dan is totally vegan btw! He writes a great column for Veg News magazine, read it and recognize his glory!

Pseudonym said...

Thanks for this, and I agree in part, but I feel compelled to point out something that I pointed out in a comment in the previous thread. You said:

The way it works is that most of the crops we grow in this country are fed to animals, not people. [...] If the whole world turned vegetarian [...] it would solve world hunger.

How things work in "this country" is not how things work in most countries.

The United States is full of cruel, unsustainable "intensive farms", for which food has to be brought in. The developing world, where most of the world's population lives, is not.

Most of the world's large food animals are fed whatever grows where they happen to live. It's true of most cattle in the world, most sheep and pretty much all seafood.

By the way, it's also obviously not true that "most cancers, heart disease, diabetes, you name it, would disappear". It is true that a vegetarian diet is healthier than a typical balanced omnivorous diet (and much healthier than a typical vegan diet), it's usually not meat that is the problem, but rather the unbalanced nature of the developed nation diet, and the reliance on processed and "convenience" foods.

The most common cancers found in humans (lung cancer and breast cancer) have no known relationship to meat eating. Though anecdotes are not evidence, it's worth remembering that Linda McCartney died of breast cancer and Ingrid Newkirk is diabetic.

Jezzka said...

I love that you said poo...twice.

But seriously, it is for all these reasons you've stated and more, as to why I have given up eating beef for over 8 years now. I am very proud of that, but I have quite a ways to go in giving up all animal product consumption entirely. this you can blame my parents, because I do, they raised me to eat everything, but always in moderation.

This is the problem as I see it, people consume too much food, especially in America, if there was no demand for the fast food crap, over-sized portions, there would be a lot less need to over breed, feed, and ultimately destroy our natural resources. At this rate we will eventually over-consume, over-populate and over pollute till we cause our own extinction... that or an asteroid containing angry constipated aliens will seek to kill us.

It was easy for me to give up beef, upon doing a ton of research, I found that raising cattle has not only deaden the entire midwest landscape (as I've seen flying over the country from NY to SF many times); a truly frightening sight, but rain forests have been cleared and entire ecosystems have been wiped out just to have land for cattle raising. Cow poo also destroys the soil, which renders the land useless to grow much of anything else after the cows have "grazed" it to death. The methane from cow farts have left holes in our ozone as well, which causes the UV rays from the sun to enter the atmosphere and with no where to go, it gets trapped and warms up the entire planet.

Back in 2000, I had the awesome experience of going to Alaska and Canada with my family. I was able to walk across the foot of several glaciers in Baniff and see with my own eyes the glacier recession, there were giant markings along the mountains where the frozen water once carved into. The guide up there was sadden as he was telling us that in six months the glacier had receeded six feet. It may not sound like a huge difference, but it is indeed as this was a massive glacier. It was not only happening to one glacier, but all over the world glaciers are and continue to rapidly recede.

All because of pollution and yes, cow farts and poo. This alone was enough for me to say I need to do my part and thus giving up beef was a piece of cake...

Although, I haven't given up all animal products, I have made a very conscious effort to eat more healthy and always in moderation. I never claim to be an environmentalist, but I see the damage and try my best to change what I can. I can only say I try to be as informed as possible and make my own decisions as to what I think is best.

ok, that's my spiel for now. Who wants to talk about poo???

B.A.D. said...

I love the t-shirt in the bottom photo.

B.A.D. said...

Geoff W: Dan is a vegan.

Pseudonym: Linda McCartney who was both a wonderful women and amazing activist who will be sorely missed, was also a vegetarian. Meaning that she consumed dairy, which has be linked to cancer and a variety of other serious health related problems.

As far as health issues world wide, it is worth remembering that most developing countries are not facing the same health issues that the western world is facing (such as obesity, heart problems and cancer).

However, if we were to look at countries which are adapting our "American" lifestyle when it comes to food, animal products, processed meals/foods and fast food we can also see a rise in similar health issues, again such as cancer. I would recommend the china study for some further reading.

Also check out PCRM for some information on Dairy's link to cancer.

PCRM and numerous other online resources also have information on the benefits of a balanced vegan diet. Which I can assure you is far healthier than both the standard American diet and a vegetarian diet.