A Very Inconvenient Truth - by Capt Paul Watson

April 2007



The meat industry is one of the most destructive

ecological industries on the planet. The raising and slaughtering of

pigs, cows, sheep, turkeys and chickens not only utilizes vast areas

of land and vast quantities of water, but it is a greater contributor

to greenhouse gas emissions than the automobile industry.


The seafood industry is literally plundering the ocean of life

and some fifty percent of fish caught from the oceans is fed to

cows, pigs, sheep, chickens etc in the form of fish meal. It also

takes about fifty fish caught from the sea to raise one farm raised



We have turned the domestic cow into the largest marine predator

on the planet. The hundreds of millions of cows grazing the land

and farting methane consume more tonnage of fish than all the

world's sharks, dolphins and seals combined. Domestic housecats

consume more fish, especially tuna, than all the world's seals.


So why is it that all the world's large environmental and

conservation groups are not campaigning against the meat industry?


Why did Al Gore's film Inconvenient Truth not mention

the inconvenient truth that the slaughter industry creates

more greenhouse gases than the automobile industry?


The Greenpeace ships serve meat and fish to their crews everyday.

The World Wildlife Fund does not say a word about the threat that

meat eating poses for the survival of wildlife, the habitat

destroyed, the wild competitors for land eliminated, or the predators

destroyed to save their precious livestock.


When I was a Sierra Club director for three years, everyone

looked amused when I brought up the issue of vegetarianism. At each

of our Board meeting dinners, the Directors were served meat and only

after much prodding and complaining did the couple of vegetarian

directors manage to get a vegetarian option. At our meeting in

Montana we were served Buffalo and antelope, lobsters in Boston,

crabs in Charleston, steak in Albuquerque etc. But what else can we

expect from

a "conservation" group that endorses trophy hunting.


As far as I know and I may be wrong, but my organization, the

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is the only conservation

organization in the world that endorses and practises vegetarianism.

My ships do not serve meat or fish ever, nor do we serve dairy

products. We've had a strictly vegan menu for years and no one has

died of scurvy or malnutrition.


The price we pay for this is to be accused by other

conservation organizations of being animal rights. Like it's a bad

word. They say it with the same disdain that Americans used to utter

the word communist in the Fifties.


The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is not an animal

rights organization. We are exclusively involved in interventions

against illegal activities that threaten and exploit marine wildlife

and habitat. We are involved in ocean wildlife conservation



Yet because we operate our ships as vegan vessels, other groups,

and now the media dismiss us as an animal rights organization.


Now first of all I don't see being accused of as an animal rights

organization to be an insult. PETA was co-founded by one of my

crew-members and many of my volunteers come from the animal

rights movement. But it is not accurate to refer to Sea Shepherd as

animal rights when our organization pushes a strict conservation

enforcement policy.


And secondly we do not promote veganism on our ships because

of animal rights. We promote veganism as a means of practising what

we preach which is ocean conservation.


There is not enough fish in the world's oceans to feed 6.6

billion human beings and another 10 billion domestic animals. That is

why all the world's commercial fisheries are collapsing. That is why

whales, seals, dolphins and seabirds are starving. The sand eel for

example, the primary source of food for the comical and beautiful

puffin is being wiped out by Danish fishermen solely to provide fish

meal to Danish factory farmed chickens.


This is a solid conservation connection between eating meat and the

destruction of life in our oceans.


In a world fast losing resources of fresh water, it is sheer

lunacy to have hundreds of millions of cows consuming over 1,000

gallons of water for every pound of beef produced.


And the pig farms in North Carolina produce so much waste that it

has contaminated the entire ground water reserves of the entire

state. North Carolinians drink pig shit with their water but its

okay they say, they just neutralize it with chemicals like chlorine.


Most people don't want to see where their meat comes from. They

also don't want to know what the impact of their meat has on the

ecology. They would rather just deny the whole thing and pretend

that meat is something that comes in packages from the store.


But because there is this underlying guilt always present,

it manifests itself as anger and ridicule towards people who live

the most environmentally positive life styles on the planet -- the

vegans and the vegetarians.


This is demonstrated through constant marginalization especially

in the media. Any organization, like Sea Shepherd for example,

that points out the ecological contradictions of eating meat is

immediately dismissed as some wacko animal rights organization.


I did not set the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society up as an

animal rights organization and we have never promoted animal rights

in the organization. What we have promoted and what we do is oceanic

wildlife and habitat conservation work.


And the truth is that you can't practise solid and

constructive conservation work without promoting veganism and/or

vegetarianism as something that promotes the conservation of



A few years ago I attended a dinner meeting of the American

Oceans Campaign hosted by Ted Danson. He opened the dinner by saying

that the choice he had to make was between fish and chicken for

the dinner, and what was the point of saving fish if you can't eat



Guest speaker, Oceanographer Sylvia Earle put Ted in his place

by saying she did not think that he was being very funny. She said

that she considered fish to be her friends and she did not believe

in eating her friends. So neither Sylvia nor I ate dinner that night.


I met Sylvia again at another meeting, this time of

Conservation International held at some ritzy resort in the Dominican

Republic. Harrison Ford was there and the buzz was what could be

done to save the oceans. I was invited as an advisor. I sat on a

barstool in an open beachfront dining plaza as the conservationists

approached tables literally bending from the weight of fish and

exotic seafood including caviar. I looked at Sylvia Earle and she

just shook her head and rolled her eyes.


The problem is that people like Carl Pope, the Executive Director of

the Sierra Club, or the heads of Greenpeace, World Wildlife

Fund, Conservation International and many other big groups just

refuse to accept that their eating habits may be just as much a part

of the problem as all those things they are trying to oppose.


I remember one Greenpeacer defending his meat eating by saying

that he was a carnivore and that predators have their place and he

was proud to be one.


Now the word predator in relationship to human beings has a

rather scary connotation having nothing to do with eating habits, but

for any human being to describe themselves as a carnivore is just

plain ridiculous.


Humans are not and have never been carnivores. A lion is a

carnivore as is a wolf, as is a tiger, or a shark. Carnivores eat

live animals. They stalk them, they run them down, they pounce, they

kill, and they eat, blood dripping, meat at body temperature. Nature,

brutal red in tooth and claw.


I've never met a human that can do that. Yes we found ways to

run down animals and kill them. In fact we've come to be rather

efficient at the killing part. But we can't eat the prey until we cut

it up and cook it and that usually involves some time between kill

and eating. It could be an hour or it could be years.


You see our meat eating habits are more closely related to the

vulture, the jackal or other carrion eaters. This means that we

can't be described as carnivores. We are better described as

necrovores or eaters of rotting flesh.


Consider that some of the beef that people eat has been dead for

months and in some cases for years. Dead and hanging in

freezers, full of uritic acid and bacteria. It's a corpse in a state

of decomposition. Not much that can be said to be noble about eating

a cadaver.


But a little dose of denial allows us to bite into that Big Mac

or cut into that prime rib.


But that one 16 ounce cut of prime rib is equal to a thousand

gallons of fresh water, a few acres of grass, a few fish, a quarter

acre of corn etc. What's the point of taking a shorter shower to

conserve water as Greenpeace is preaching if you can sit down and

consume a 1000 gallons of water at a single meal?


And that single cut of meat would have cost as much in vegetable

resources equivalent to what could be fed to an entire

African village for a week.


The problem is that we choose to see our contradictions when it

is convenient for us to see them and when it is not we simply go into

a state of suspended disbelief and we eat that steak anyway

because, hey we like the taste of rotting flesh in the evening.


Have you ever thought why it is that with a person, it's an

abortion but when it comes to a chicken, it's an omelette?


Does anyone really know what's in a hot dog? We do know that

the government health department allows for an acceptable percentage

of bug parts, rodent droppings and other assorted filth to go into

the mix.


And now tuna fish comes with a health warming saying it should not

be eaten by pregnant women or small children because of high levels

of mercury. Does that mean mercury is good for adults and

non-pregnant women? What are they telling us here?


Eating meat and fish is not only bad for the environment it's

also unhealthy. Yet even when it comes to our own health we slip

into denial mode and order the whopper.


The bottom line is that to be a conservationist and

an environmentalist, you must practise and promote vegetarianism

or better yet veganism.


It is the lifestyle that leaves the shallowest ecological footprint,

uses fewer resources and produces less greenhouse gas emissions,

it's healthier and it means you're not a hypocrite.


In fact a vegan driving a hummer would be contributing

less greenhouse gas carbon emissions than a meat eater riding a



Capt Paul Watson



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