Q: What about the seafood
In an ethical sense, fish for the most part have not been factory
farmed. They're killed, but their lives aren't these nightmares
of suffering that we find in animal factories in the confinement
feedlots and so forth. In that sense fish may be a more preferable
thing ethically. From an environmental point of view, the
resource consumption that's involved in poultry and even more so
in beef production, you don't see that there. We're not feeding
grain that could go to hungry people to fish, although there is
a trend, I must say, to cultivating fish farms. And then you have
all the diseases that can happen in there, so they're using antibiotics.
It's the same thing as the factory farms.
If you're going to eat fish, you'd better
be careful of where it came from because fish literally breathe
the water in which they swim and therefore come to concentrate in
their tissues and particularly in their fat very high levels of
whatever pollutants might be in that water, including pesticides
and herbicides and radioactivity as a matter of fact. It's interesting,
there was one study [in which] they looked at children born to mothers
in the vicinity of lake Michigan. They analyzed the kids IQs and
the mother's diets during their pregnancy and they found that children
who were born to mothers who ate fish from Lake Michigan once a
month during their pregnancy had substantially lower IQs than kids
born to mothers who ate none during their pregnancy. Once a month
during that time was enough to alter things for the worse.
We've treated our rivers, streams, and
oceans like garbage dumps -- we just dump sewage in there.
We really have to put a stop to that. We've really got to clean
up our environment, and if someone is motivated to do that because
they like to eat fish, and want their fish to be clean, I see that
person as an ally, not an enemy in the greater environmental struggle.
That's part of that paradox.
Q: I've been a vegetarian
for 28 years and I certainly agree with your stance ... and yet
during this 28 years, I've killed various animals by my behavior,
which is to drive a car at high speeds. I'm wondering that nobody
ever seems to get into this part of the car's inherent problem.
You know, India has a sacred cow. Instead, we have a sacred car.
Cars do a lot of damage. They burn up a tremendous amount of gasoline,
and road building does a tremendous amount of damage, and yet we're
part of this society. I'll tell you my answer, because I think this
touches on part of a bigger question, and I want to deal with that.
I don't try to be pure. I've given that up. I failed so miserably.
I try to be whole; I try to be alive;
and I try to make a difference. I think it's like the bell curve.
I don't mean that book. I mean the random distribution, just random
numbers, of a population on a given issue. Let's picture a teeter-totter,
and you've got a fulcrum and it turns on that. On top of that teeter-
totter you've got the bell curve of humanity. Some people will say
to have the most leverage, you've got to be as pure as you possibly
can. "Go out here. Just live on fruit or just bread, and don't
drive a car and don't wear clothes -- don't think anything but positive
thoughts and just be as pure as you can possibly be, because that
way your weight is furthest from the fulcrum and has the most impact."
That's a point of view, but it's not mine right now. To me, if you're
out there, the only people you can even relate to and have any rapport
with are the people right next to you. Have you noticed people like
that will often quibble and fight with each other about how this
wasn't pure or that wasn't?
What I'm thinking about is that right
in the middle we have this enormous conglomeration of people. If
you're there -- if you're in that area somehow -- you're affecting
a lot of people. You're part of something very chaotic, but something
that's got a lot of juice in it. What happens if everybody
at a certain place in there moves a half step? That's going to do
WAY more good than even a few communities of people out at the far
end -- although there's a place for that, because it stretches the
envelope. People will say, "Well, THAT's weird, but THIS isn't."
There's a place for all of this, but
what I'm trying to say is for me I don't try to be as pure as I
can be. I don't have this more vegetarian-than-thou "I
don't drive a car." I DO drive a car. I know that it's
damaging things. I do feel that, but by being PART of the culture
we have a better shot I think of making that transformation. For
a lot of us, that's where we are if we find ourselves in this room,
we are part of this culture. We imbibe its assumptions and values
-- so can we transform those? Can we work them through and then
be part of the movement by which we find ecologically sustainable
ways of transportation and ways of living that respect life?
So we don't kill lightly and we try not to kill at all?