Be Aware the Myth #1

ImageOccasionally, I will encounter individuals who have difficulty comprehending the concepts and facts about food choice that I relate in my lectures and book, or perhaps even question my intent. This is normal, in that I am presenting perspectives that are in direct conflict with what 98% of the world has mistakenly learned to accept as truth regarding this topic.  Unfortunately, these are the very same individuals who are wrapped in a complex and substantial layering of influences—cultural, social, psychological, economic, and political. These individuals are collectively consuming massive amounts of our planet’s resources while raising and slaughtering billions of livestock and fish, and thus are the primary contributors to Global Depletion.  We need to change that.

If you grew up being told by your family, and later on by society, that blood letting would cure an infection (which was the case for nearly two thousand years until the late nineteenth century), the chances are quite high that you would not understand or believe a person who came along trying to explain to the masses that a simple antibiotic pill would cure you—while blood letting may, on the other hand, kill you. How could that be?

It’s time I address all those believers in blood letting that I have encountered or will encounter, by responding directly to one of the more recent communications we have received below. The subtopic is about grass fed livestock, however his remarks and tone strike a bit deeper, displaying perpetuated belief systems that tend to foster barriers to finding reality, combined with a pronounced reluctance to change—all too commonly found in our global society.

The following is from “Tom”, as posted on You Tube and our Comfortably Unaware Facebook page and copied for you to see below:

“This isn’t a lecture, it’s a sermon. No facts just a totally disorganized clinging to his uninformed biased self-evident beliefs. Livestock’s Long Shadow didn’t address pasture raised beef at all but focused on modern conventional industrialized chemically fertilized feed crop production that raised animals in CAFOs, the total opposite of pasture raised operations that sequester tons of carbon on pasture every year. His example of raising a cow on 2-20 acres assumes that the cow is on a lot.”

And, my response:

Tom, I am truly sorry you feel that way, having essentially missed the entire central theme of my lecture, book, and message. It is NOT about the 2006 United Nations L.E.A.D. Committee’s report, Livestock’s Long Shadow (which actually did account for grazing livestock, but underestimated their methane and respiratory carbon dioxide production and therefore minimized their contribution to global anthropometric greenhouse gas emissions). My message is about the foods we choose to eat and the effect is has on Global Depletion. It’s about aspects I have uncovered over the past 40 years researching this subject, beginning with the fact that our planet is unhealthy and so are we. My intent is to simply relate these facts to audiences in order to increase awareness, which will ultimately lead to better health. For better context, please see a full lecture at

And, then, perhaps listen more carefully to the one section “The Myth About Grass Fed Beef: Is it Sustainable” or read my book, “Comfortably Unaware.”

Global Depletion is a term I use to describe the loss of our primary resources on Earth as well as our own health due to food choice. It’s still about sustainability, just from a different direction. The single largest contributor to Global Depletion is the raising, slaughtering, and eating of animals—over 70 billion livestock animals and 1-2 trillion fish (some researchers have estimated as many as 1.7 trillion chickens are raised and slaughtered in one year). I speak and write about how eating animals is negatively, and in many cases irreversibly, impacting world hunger, water scarcity, agricultural land use inefficiencies, loss of biodiversity, loss of our own health, and the ravaging of our oceans and fish. This stark reality is well documented by numerous organizations and researchers. Scientific literature is now replete with articles in each area I discuss, and easily accessible for those who wish to open their minds or take the time to hear it.

Regarding the grass fed argument of yours and other individuals, I have researched and visited over 150 various grass fed/pastured animal operations in the U.S. and many other countries. The numbers are always quite consistent, in that you cannot raise one grass fed cow on less than 2 to 20 acres. Even Polyface Farms and agriculture educational institutions with their “mob grazing” and “juvenile growth rotation” techniques cannot extract more than one cow per acre of land, which then produces not more than 480 pounds of an end product (“edible carcass weight”), that some consider food. During the 2 to 2 ½ or even 3 years required to raise that cow, you will need minimally 20,000 to 1,000,000 gallons of water (20,000 gallons for drinking and up to 1 to 2 million gallons for irrigating portions of your pasture which is necessary in many areas of the world), and you will have produced 3 to 4 tons of methane and carbon dioxide by way of enteric fermentation and respiration. After consuming this end animal product, you have created for yourself a 20-30% increased risk of contracting coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, any of the five most common cancers (colon, lung, breast, prostate, pancreatic and many more), diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, kidney and gall stones, diverticulosis, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and many more diseases. This risk is from eating animal products and animal protein, which does not change if it is grass fed.

These reflections are not my “beliefs”, as you charged. Sadly, they are quite factual. Nearly one thousand researchers have found similar conclusions— independent of each other.

If you are defining a person who relates facts, as one who provides a “sermon”, then fine, my lecture must be a sermon.

And, finally, the only “self evident beliefs” I am guilty of conveying are the following:

  1. that all the damage we are doing to our planet by way of eating animals will end
  2. that people such as yourself, as improbable as it may seem, will ultimately become aware

I certainly appreciate your comments and providing me the opportunity to respond, as we collectively move forward, evolving toward a healthier and more peaceful planet. Dr. O


4 responses to “Be Aware the Myth #1

  1. You are one of the few people speaking out on the whole question of veganism and the environment. Great work!

    The figure of 2 – 20 acres to support a completely pasture-raised cow is similar to figures I have seen elsewhere, and John Robbins gave a similar figure in “The Food Revolution” (if I recall correctly). Is there a print / internet source for this figure? Is it in “Livestock’s Long Shadow”? In your book you give the source as “USDA Economic Research Service” but I don’t know exactly what that is or how to cite it.

  2. I own Land, Instead of Fast cars, beach property or and number of other wasted thing of this world…I worked hard and bought LAND….It is mine ….I raise cattle on it, I eat the cows…How is this YOUR business? I do not tell you what to do with your Things…You have no right to think you can tell me what to do with mine….Most of you are so full of yourself and your self worth….Live in your small spaces, I live on Land and I produce food..both plant and animal……

  3. To ALFTN: I’ve heard Dr. Oppenlander speak and I know he owns land (not a “small space”) where he runs a sanctuary for rescued animals. I believe you are missing his point here. It is not about being able to do what you want to do, it is understanding the effect of what you do on the rest of the world and becoming AWARE. He is not telling anyone “what to do” with their land, he is simply educating people on what it takes to raise, kill, and eat animals and the ripple effect it has throughout the world. He is more concerned about what the global community is doing with their property for massive and collective food production, in the attempt to feed the 7 billion people of the world. His “business” is to research and divulge wiser, more efficient, healthier methods of using our resources- including land. Of course you can do whatever you want with your land, but most people appreciate being more educated and comprehend that all who walk the earth are actually borrowing the land from our future generations. By reading his book and blogs as well as hearing him speak, you would know that Dr. Oppenlander most definitely is not telling people what to do, he is informing them of a better, healthier, more efficient and peaceful way of living. From meeting him, I can say first hand he is not full of himself or self worth and you should not be so accusatory without knowing more. His message is merely one to help make the world a better place. Take it or leave it- but assumptions, judgements, and defensive reactions are certainly not necessary.

  4. I would be interested to know what data you have on what would happen if the same amount of land that is used to grow a cow, was instead used to grow something like soy?

    How much water would be required, and how much food would we end up producing in the same amount of time 1 cow is produced?

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