Interview with Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, the makers of Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret
Part 1: The sham of “sustainable fishing”
- By Animal Rights Media | Anupam Katkar
Keegan: Hey, thanks so much for reaching out to us. We really appreciate it!
ARM: Thanks for granting us this interview. You’ve been traveling a lot to promote the film, so we appreciate you taking the time to speak with us. You were in New York last weekend [for the Climate March] – how was your experience?
Kim: It was great! There was a huge turnout – around 400,000 people. And there was a good turnout of people who are lighting the way for the truth about animal agriculture – around 1000 people. And when you think about 300,000-odd people, it wasn’t really the best percentage, but it was a good turnout overall that heard us, so that was good. The sad part is that there were so few people who were talking about animal agriculture and what a huge role that plays in climate change. And you have all these dedicated, passionate activists who came from all across the country and all across the world to demonstrate before the UN, and yet they are misguided. They are only talking about fossil fuels and are not talking about deforestation because of animal agriculture. They are not talking about methane production from livestock. Anywhere between 18% to 51% of all greenhouse gases come from animal agriculture, and that is sadly being greatly underrepresented.
ARM: Although the UN figure is that animal agriculture contributes 18% of greenhouse gases [Livestock’s Long Shadow, 2010], there are independent studies [WorldWatch Institute, 2009] showing that if we consider the long-term effects of methane – it adds up and has an exponential impact over many decades, which turns out to be 51% cumulative, which is the figure you are going with in your film.
Keegan: Yes. But it’s also important that we look beyond animal agriculture and at animal consumption. I was just talking with a researcher last week about what’s happening to our oceans when we remove upwards of 150 million tons of fish a year from the ocean – fish that feed on plankton. But then we have a bloom of plankton, and plankton absorb heat from the sun that’s hundreds of times greater than water. We’re basically paving the oceans with plankton, which increases the temperature of the oceans, which affects the entire planet. The ocean produce anywhere between 50% to 70% of the world’s oxygen. So the problem goes beyond simply raising animals for food. We are eating animals across the board!
ARM: I was not aware of how fishing affects the climate, so thanks for explaining that. I find it odd that a lot of organizations like Oceana or Ocean Conservancy … they are suggesting that there’s something called “sustainable fisheries”. And they are promoting and supporting “sustainable fishing”. Aren’t we past that point already? Every fish now gone from the oceans is having a huge impact, because such few fish are left in the oceans. And only a few organizations like Sea Shepherd seem to be doing anything about that – saying it like it is. Everyone wants to save dolphins, but nobody cares about the fish.
Kip: Exactly. It was really important for us to have all that on film – a session all on fishing, because it is such a ridiculous concept – “sustainable fishing”. Of all the environmental groups, I felt that the one that was pretty much the most worthless was Oceana. Oceana has a TED talk that not only was annual fishing 90 million tons, but that you can take another 100 million tons of fish from the ocean every year, and somehow do that sustainably. It’s incomprehensible. With over 7 billion people, going to 9 billion people, there’s no such thing as sustainable fishing. We have other people ask, “What if I live by a river in the middle of West Virginia?” Let that fish stay in the water, so that it can reproduce and generate a lot more. There’s no such thing as sustainable fishing. It’s one of the most important, urgent needs that we just have to stop fishing altogether. Our ocean’s fish are so important to our climate. If our oceans die, we die.
ARM: I’m so glad that you’ve covered that in your film. But then of course, there will be some people who will say, “So many poor people depend on fishing for their livelihoods. And you radical vegans, you’d rather see them starve!” But that isn’t the point here, right? For instance, whales are turning up dead on shores because they are starving … today’s population of whales is like 5% of what it used to be two centuries ago, and even if such a small population of whales is not able to feed themselves, then how much fish are we actually taking out of the oceans? And what is most odd and incomprehensible about this is that most of this fish is not being eaten by people directly, but by livestock! Because most of the ocean’s fish are fed to livestock, and as fertilizer on farms that raise grain from degraded land for livestock.
Keegan: Yeah. And that’s the thing too, with “sustainable fishing”, is that these ecosystems never evolved to have this massive superpredator come in and remove 70 million tons of fish … not even 1 million tons. And as for feeding the world’s communities along coastal waters, we absolutely cannot ignore that. But when we stop supporting industrialized [animal] agriculture – land-based or aquaculture – there will be an abundance of plant-based foods for these communities. The price of plant-based foods will also come down because we will have such an overabundance. I think that addressing the world’s hungriest people is definitely important, but we have to look at the fuller scope of that, the big picture, and not just have a Band-Aid solution.
ARM: So here’s something that I’d like to understand. Why is it that organizations such as Oceana or Greenpeace do not speak out about what the reality of the meat industry is? Is it because they are not aware of it – are the volunteers at the grassroots not aware of this? Or are they afraid of losing funding, and having their support base eroded? Or is it just more fashionable to speak out about ‘visible’ problems like nuclear testing?
Kip: Well, I feel that there are multiple reasons for this, and not just one. A big reason is actually that the heads of these organizations, the Board of Directors – they themselves eat animal flesh and dairy. And how can they tell someone to do something if they are addicted to it themselves? That’s actually a pretty big part of it. And another part is that the majority of the incomes of these non-profits come from a handful of very, very wealthy people. And those wealthy people, again, they are not vegan or vegetarian, and they do not want to alienate them. That goes into alienating all your supporters. It’s basically “Profit over Planet”. The sustainability of their organizations trumps the sustainability of the planet. They’d rather be doing well for themselves rather than seeing what their actual job is. It comes down to money. And it comes down to the heads of these organizations – they are strongly addicted to animal flesh as well. We’ve interviewed several of them. The head of Sierra Club was talking about how he eats grass-fed beef and free-range chicken. And he’s pretty open about that. So there definitely are multiple reasons for this.
Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn were interviewed on 24th September, 2014. This is Part 1 of the interview, and is free for reproduction, provided that the text is not modified or edited in any manner. Original is available under ‘Notes’ at http://www.facebook.com/AnimalRightsMedia. Help protect our Earth by creating a vegan world. Thanks for reading!
Carnists Say the Darndest Things is run by some of the same vegans who manage Animal Rights Media. We were thrilled to interview Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, the makers of the film Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. So far, only a precious few investigative documentaries have been made about the most staggering environmental problem of all: animal agriculture (and fishing). ARM had a lengthy, animated conversation with the filmmakers about ecosystems, wildlife protection, the nature of the world economy in a future vegan world, the future of farmers in a vegan world, sustainable fishing, the operation of some major environmental organizations and a lot more! This hour and a half long interview will be shared in parts in the coming days. It will be in the public domain, so that you can reproduce it on your blog, site or page if you’d like. Part 1 releasing in a few hours!