The V Word: Cowspiracy theories

Clearwater's Nature's Food Patch is set to show Cowspiracy Saturday. Here's what to expect.

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Maybe you've heard of it, maybe you refuse to watch it under the impression that it's just another pro-vegan film with gruesome photos of your beloved steak in its pre-steak form.

However, Cowspiracy — a documentary that Nature's Food Patch is showing at 4 p.m. Saturday in Clearwater — skips the hard-to-watch images and dives in with a more urgent message, revealing the detrimental effects animal agriculture has on our planet.

The film follows co-producer Kip Andersen as he seeks answers. Andersen, an OCE, or over-compulsive environmentalist, as he puts it, got his wake-up call after watching 2006's An Inconvenient Truth. He started doing everything from taking short showers to riding his bike to work in the hopes that his efforts were enough to live a sustainable life. Eventually, he was left feeling no closer to making a difference.

The film heats up when facts about the rapidly declining place we call home are presented. Among the information:

• Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.

• Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, or 51 percent of all worldwide greenhouse emissions.

• Emissions for agriculture are projected to increase 80 percent by 2050.

• Animal agriculture is responsible for 80 to 90 percent of U.S. water consumption.

• Three-fourths of the world's fisheries are exploited or depleted.

• One-third of the planet is desertified, with livestock as the leading driver.

The list goes on and on; you get the point. 

But the documentary seeks to uncover another truth, something more concerning. Why is no one talking about this? Why are environmental organizations promoting shorter showers but not a change in diet?

Experts in the film say environmental groups are membership organizations. Thus, becoming anti-meat would hurt fundraising. In a food-driven society, people don't want to hear that they must drastically change the way they eat.

Along with hurting the organizations' pockets, the film introduces Howard Lyman, who's one example of the animal agriculture industry's power. A former Montana cattle rancher, Lyman was sued by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association for speaking about "mad cow" disease on The Oprah Winfrey Show. He spent years, and an enormous chunk of change, to walk free years later. He and others vouch that speaking out against the industry can bring serious repercussions.

Cowspiracy also touches on subjects such as backyard farming and sustainable farming, asking if these are sustainable forms of eating animals. The question is answered in many ways, but Lyman answers it with, "You can't be an environmentalist and eat animal products. Period.”

The film stays solid in its mission from start to finish, leaving the audience with a final quote to inspire: “You can change the world … You must change the world.” 

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