How can another world be possible if those who proclaim its necessity replicate the very causes they want to fight?
Yes, I am sorry to say it, but the old practices reproduced all around us (with rare exceptions) at the Fifth World Social Forum won't take us to another world. This is what I stated to some 200 people who attended the talk promoted by the Brazilian Vegetarian Society at the Fifth WSF, which took place in Porto Alegre from the 26-31st January 2005.
We were surrounded by barbecues, creating halls full of smoke, giving off an unbearable, bad smell to the point of nearly preventing one's breathing. Also – with a few commendable exceptions – eating places under tents served food that for the most part was meat-based and quite lacking in nutrients.
The meat industry is one of those mainly responsible for the consumption and contamination of water and destruction of forests. It was – and still is – mainly responsible for the destruction of the Atlantic Forest and Cerrado and, now, the Amazon Forest. The promotion of soy cultivation also contributes to the destruction of springs and aquifers, as well as fertile land. With it goes, of course, flora and fauna diversity, generating many of the problems discussed at the WSF.
Who consumes soy in Brazil? Apart from a substantial portion used to make oil, the Brazilian population is not used to soy consumption. It is used to feed animals, which will turn into beef and barbecue, creating a vicious circle, responsible for enormous waste. One kilogram of meat generated from grain uses 7 kilograms of these same grains, which could be directly used to feed the hungry. The grain which is used to feed animals could feed up to 10 times as many humans if it was used for human consumption. How then, can we talk seriously about Zero Hunger without addressing this issue?
People's health is undermined. The Health System is bankrupt. The main diseases from which our population suffers are directly connected with a meat-cantered diet – heart diseases, high blood pressure, various types of cancer, kidney diseases, diabetes and the staggering rates of obesity, to mention a few. Food quality is quite bad and poor. And it is evil the way thousands and thousands of defenceless animals are reared in confining and appalling conditions, then to be slaughtered in even more appalling conditions.
It is useless to continue to hide the rubbish under the carpet. What we sow is what we reap – says the old maxim. And if our societies treat sentient creatures in such uncivilized ways we won't have a better world, nor will another world be possible. I'm totally convinced of this. Those who want a better world must realize that the simple act they repeat every day, even three or more times, which is the act of eating, is umbilically connected to this new world they legitimately seek and that, yes, is possible. But for that, they must start putting into practice this new world every day in the dish of food right in front of them.
Marly Winckler – Brazilian Vegetarian Society – President – firstname.lastname@example.org
Pics of the event at: http://client.webshots.com/user/marlywinckler