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September 6, 2014


COWSPIRACY: The Sustainability Secret

by Anne Paddock

Why doesn’t The Sierra Club, Oceana, Greenpeace, Surfrider Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Rainforest Action Network, and Amazon Watch loudly communicate about the number one environmental problem in the world?

News outlets recently reported that Bill Gates, Peter Thiel, Jerry Yang, and Jessica Powell are investing in Hampton Creek – a small company based in San Francisco focused on developing new ways of utilizing plants to replace eggs and animal products in a variety of different foods. Why would the co-founders of Microsoft, PayPal, Yahoo, and Google invest in a company promoting plant-based foods? The answer is surprisingly simple: there is one single industry that is destroying the planet more than any other:  animal agriculture (which includes animal livestock and fishing). Hard to believe? It’s true but it’s one of the best kept secrets on this planet because no one wants to talk about it. Why? That’s a good question.

Several years ago, a young man named Kip Anderson saw the movie, An Inconvenient Truth, declared Al Gore his hero, hung a poster of the former VP on his wall and decided to do his part to save the environment by becoming a self-described compulsive recycler and bicycle riding conservationist committed to reducing his carbon footprint. Frustrated that the world seemed to be getting worse rather than better, Anderson decided to do some research and found out:

  • Animal agriculture is the leading cause of global warming, water depletion, deforestation (cutting down the forests for animal pasture and to raise grain to feed animals), species extinction and the leading cause of ocean “dead zones.”
  • Domestic water use is only 5% of what is consumed in the US whereas 55% is used for animal agriculture.
  • The human population drinks 5.2 billion gallons of water and eats 21 billion pounds of food every day. The world’s 1.5 billion cows drink 45 billion gallons of water and eat 135 billion pounds of food every day.
  • We grow enough food to feed the world but a huge portion of that food is grown for livestock and fish, so hearing that 1 billion people a day are hungry is shocking.
  • People can save upwards of 50 gallons of water a day with special water-saving appliances, efficient toilets, low flow shower heads, and sprinkler systems or they can forego a 4 ounce hamburger and save 660 gallons of water (1 pound of beef requires 2,500 gallons of water).
  • For every 1 pound of fish we catch to eat, we deplete the ocean of 5 pounds of fish (most of which are inadvertently caught in the nets and die).
  • An acre of rainforest is cleared every second with the leading reason to graze animals and grow crops to feed them.
  • Livestock and their by-products account for 51% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions – more than transportation and industry combined.
  • In 1812 there were 1 billion people on the planet. In 1912, there were 1.5 billion people. By 2012, there were 7 billion people. But the bigger problem is our appetites for animals. We now have 70,000,000,000 billion animals on earth. This isn’t so much a human population issue; it’s a human eating animals population issue.
  • A duck that provides 1.5 pounds of meat requires 110 pounds of grain. A cow that provides 1 pound of beef requires 20 pounds of grain.

e6705dd6e113b2a51007392173f5d72dAnderson found the information shocking and decided to dig deeper. He teamed up with Keegan Kuhn to create a feature-length documentary to get to the bottom of the story. The film is called Cowspriacy: The Sustainability Secret: an 84-minute film about why the top environmental agencies, firms, networks, and foundations are not utilizing their resources and influence to target this critical issue.

Anderson reveals that these organizations don’t want to address animal agriculture because most are membership based organizations looking to maximize the number of people making contributions. And, since most people eat animal products, they don’t want to risk offending donors and potential donors by revealing that most people’s eating habits are ruining the planet. Knowing makes us knowledgeable; it makes us accountable; and it makes us realize we can’t keep adding 216,000 people a day to this planet and act as if only 1 billion people live on this earth.

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret is NOT a gruesome movie along the lines of Earthlings. With the exception of a short scene at the end of the movie that shows a duck being killed, the film is focused on revealing the truth about the animal agricultural industry through interviews, colorful charts, and beautiful graphics. Anyone who sees the movie will make the connection between what we are eating and what we are doing to both the earth and the animals who share the planet with us. After seeing the film, many people may wonder what they can do and if one person can really make a difference? Anderson and Kuhn – two young talented guys on a shoestring budget (who had their funding pulled when the topic upset too many people) – made a difference and recommend the following action:

  • Share the clips and images from, Facebook and Twitter about the film on social media.
  • Organize or help promote a local screening for your community via (see
  • Adopt and promote a sustainable plant-based lifestyle.
  • Go see the movie or buy the download version or DVD and watch with your friends and community.
  • E-mail environmental organizations and request they address the true impacts of animal agriculture and provide real solutions to the problems.
  • Search for and request “Cowspiracy” on platforms such as NETFLIX, iTunes, HULU.
  • Write articles, blogs, posts, tweets, podcasts, or letters to the editor of publications, about the incredible impact of animal agriculture on our planet.
  • Write your representatives and demand they address the environmental impacts of animal agriculture.

The movie opened up this summer and is being played nationwide. For a list of screenings, go to the official website: The downloaded version can also be pre-ordered for $14.95 and will be available November 6, 2014. A DVD can also be pre-ordered.

You can’t be an environmentalist and eat animal products. Period.                                                                                                              Howard Lyman

Curious about the facts: Click on the following link for the Fact Check list:

1 Comment
  1. Sherry
    Sep 6 2014

    Important post, dangerous secrets. Thanks, Anne.

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