Documentary questions sustainability of eating meat

Jefri Nazri

Staff Writer

Around 80 people filled the Maureen Stapleton Theatre last Wednesday for a screening of the documentary “Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret” hosted by the Animal Outreach Club along with the New York State Humane Association.

The film showed how factory farming and animal agriculture is a leading cause of deforestation, water consumption, and pollution. It produces more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry and is a primary driver of rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, topsoil erosion, and ocean dead zones.

After the screening, a discussion was held. It was led by Demosthenes Maratos, communications director at the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College, who was featured in “Cowspiracy.” Also included on the panel was Kathy Stevens, president and cofounder of Catskill Animal Sanctuary, and Dr. Holly Cheever, a veterinarian and consultant for local, state and national animal protection organizations.

Melanie Hecker, human services major, asked, “What are the effects of animal agriculture on biodiversity and endangered species loss?”

Stevens answered, “Think about the Amazon alone, the most ecologically diverse part of the planet: it’s being destroyed at an acre per second. The consequences to ecological diversity and species biodiversity are devastating.”

“There are more organizations that are beginning to address climate change from an agricultural standpoint. I think you really have to look into the organization you support, I believe that you may be able to gain more support on a local grassroots scale. A lot of good things are happening on the grassroots level, and they’re really talking about the issues and connecting with people, and they are less concerned with paying salaries and more concerned with fighting the good fight.” said Maratos.

Catalina Calico, an early childhood major who has been involved in the Animal Outreach Club for over 2 years and is currently president of the club, said, “It was great to have so many people attend, and I hoped that it raised awareness on the issue. The club is all about the rights and welfare of animals. We’ve done many events on campus, such as bake sales and fundraisers. Earlier this month, we visited the Catskill Animal Sanctuary. We’re hoping to start a book drive with the Rensselaer Humane Society to help raise money for animals. I feel like the club provides knowledge and can educate people who care about animals to do the right thing.”

Valerie Waldin, assistant professor and Animal Outreach Club advisor, said, “I think people saw the title “Cowspiracy” and immediately thought, ‘Oh, another gruesome slaughterhouse documentary,’ but it was entirely different than that. The key thing people took from this is that large-scale agriculture and factory farming of animals for food is mathematically impossible to sustain on this planet.”

Waldin continued, “The money that the big agribusinesses has is sadly purchasing votes in Congress and environmental organizations are also silenced by big agribusiness interests. There isn’t enough land on the planet to keep eating a meat-based diet at the rate we are going. This is not just about animal rights, though what the animals are forced to endure is absolutely a key consideration for me. It’s about how we live. The movie is filled with data: scientific and irrefutable facts. Everyone should see this. It is not graphic, but it is one of those documentaries that will be life changing.”

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