Posts Tagged With: jivamukti

#MythMonday : Hanuman

Anjaneya was the son of Vayu, the wind God, and Anjana, a mortal woman. Because of his demi-God status, Anjaneya had superpowers – he could grow really large, and shrink really small, he had super-strength and could leap to great heights. Because of this, Anajaneya was unintentionally a bit of a troublemaker as a child.

One morning, Anjaneya saw the sun in the sky and thought it was a mango. He leapt up to eat the sun, but before he could, Surya, the sun god, threw a lightning bolt that hit Anjaneya in the jaw (hanu in Sanskrit) and he fell to the earth.

The Gods and Goddess were in distress. This little guy with all of his powers could cause the destruction of the world. They agreed to revive him, but with short-term memory, so that he would never remember the powers he had. He was given the nickname Hanumān, in reference to his broken jaw, was sent to foster with Sugriva the monkey king and was given the form of a monkey to fit in with his new family. Hanumān lived most of his life with no knowledge of the true power he held within.

When Hanumān was grown, he met Rām in the Dandaka forest and joined him on his journey to save Sītā from the evil demon Rāvaṇa. After travelling for many days, they arrived at a large ocean that was separating them from the island of Lanka, where Sītā was being held. Hanumān was distraught and felt defeated. They had come all this way, and all he wanted was to help his friend Rām. He was about to give up when his friend Jambavana, King of the Bears, whispered in his ear that Hanumān was more powerful than he realized. With that subtle reminder, Hanumān, out of pure love, devotion and joy for Sītā and Rām, and without thinking about tight hamstrings, quadriceps or psoas muscles, leapt across the ocean to the island of Lanka to save Sītā.

Most of us are more capable that we realize, and we all have so much power within, it is just clouded sometimes, by physical and/or emotional pain. We are all stronger than we know, and can handle A LOT. Most of the time, when we finally leap across what seems like a very large chasm of an ocean, we say to ourselves, “Well, that wasn’t so bad!” On the other hand, sometimes we don’t realize how powerful we actually are. That our thoughts, words and actions, hold so much power, that we don’t realize how what we put out into the world affects the other living beings around us.

Hanumānāsana requires a balance of strength, trust, ease, grace, and a bit of fearlessness. Rather than focusing on tightness and un-comfortableness of the āsana, you can return to the intention you set in the beginning of class. Offering the efforts of your practice to someone other than yourself is one way of bringing a sense of mindfulness into the practice. Let go of what is holding you back!

Video edited by https://www.facebook.com/jivamuktiyoganyc/

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#MythMonday: Aṣṭāvakra

This story is very much about ego. Kahola could not stand being corrected by his unborn son, and cursed him, causing a birth deformity. Aṣṭāvakra couldn’t stand the mistakes being made by Kahola and could not help but correct him from the womb. The supposed vedic scholars could not believe that someone who looked like Aṣṭāvakra could also be a vedic scholar and were embarrassed when he proved them wrong.

Similarly arm balances are also all about ego. Yes, they require strength and flexibility – both attributes we need in our everyday lives. But when we can all of a sudden come into an arm balance, it all of a sudden becomes our new social media profile pic or new party trick (don’t drink and yoga you guys!) And when we can’t do them, we are looking around the room comparing ourselves to those who can and wondering why we can’t. It’s all about ego, and none of that matters. You won’t all of a sudden become enlightened when you come into Aṣṭāvakrāsana the first time (wouldn’t that be nice!) There is a deeper meaning behind why we practice āsanas, and it’s not about circus tricks. Although this does not mean that you shouldn’t at least try and work your way up to the full asana. If you never try, nothing will ever change. We can say that nothing we do will make changes in the world, but if we don’t at least try, then DEFINITELY nothing will ever change. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Videos created by Jivamukti NYC

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#mythmonday : Matsyendra

Thousands of years after Matsya the fish received the teachings of yoga from Shiva, he was reincarnated as Matsyendra (sometimes also referred to as Matsyendranath), which means Lord of the Fishes (matsya = fish, indra = lord, nath = refers to Nath group). 

Matsyendra was a Nath Warrior, who was also a half man, half fish (a mer-man!) The Nath Warriors were a power-hungry group of people during the 10th-14th centuries who would do whatever it took to become more powerful – pillaging villages, tearing down forests, destroying everything around them without giving a second thought to the destruction they caused. 

Matsyendra had heard about this strange group of people who hung out in caves deep in the woods meditating and contorting their bodies in all sorts of ways – and they also had superpowers. These yogis, as they were called, could predict the future, become invisible, levitate, had super-strength, could go a long time without food or drink, had super-sonic hearing, and so much more. The Nath Warriors thought that if they had all of these powers, they would be invincible and could take over the world! So they took a break from destroying the world to study yoga. Eventually they transformed and realized there was much more to life than taking over the world. Through long and consistent practice (abhyāsa) but also non-attachments to the results of yoga (vairāgyā) they found happiness, joy and bliss, and became the Nath Yogis, rather than the Nath Warriors. 

Matsyendra shared these physical yogic practices with Swami Svatmarama, who wrote them down, and they were passed down to us in the form of the Hatha Yoga Pradīpikā. Each chapter of the HYP starts off with an invocation to the Lord Shiva who was the first to pass down the teachings of yoga.

In an āsana class we take the form of Ardha Matsyendrāsana (sometimes referred to as seated spinal twist) as an homage to the lineage of teachers who passed down the teachings of yoga either directly or indirectly to us. The upper body represents the torso of a man, while the folded legs resemble the tail of a fish. This āsana is not only a twist, but also an outer hip opener (on the side you are twisting). It promotes spinal health and flexibility, and also stimulates our digestive function.  We typically twist to the right first to allow food to move up the ascending colon, and then to the left down the descending colon.

Videos Created by Jivamukti NYC

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Always Moving Forward

This past December I travelled to Australia for the first time. I spent time in Sydney, Melbourne, and the Blue Mountains. I taught some yoga classes, hit up every beach possible, went to art galleries, and went on bush walks. But the only thing I really wanted was to see kangaroo in their natural habitat.

Much like deer in the United States, there is an over-population of ‘roo in Australia, so I didn’t think it would be that hard to do. A friend who lives in the valley of the Blue Mountains told me she has kangaroo in her backyard pretty much all day everyday, so she offered to pick me up from where I was staying and take me to her home. We drove about 40 minutes to her house and were hanging out for about an hour without a single ‘roo in sight. None on the drive there, none in her backyard. I had pretty much given up hope and while my friends went inside for some tea, I decided to walk around the garden. I had been outside for a while, and started to head back in when I saw a flicker in the corner of my eye. I was sure it had to be a squirrel, but when I looked I found an entire kangaroo family in front of me – mom, dad, and toddler joey! I spent a good 15 minutes hanging out with my ‘roo friends before they headed off into the woods. (See video below).

I compared kangaroo to deer in the U.S., and that is pretty much what they are. Although they are not evolutionary related (kangaroos are marsupials), they are very similar; they look at you the same way, live in the same type of habitat, travel with their family, have similar ears, are both herbivores, and, as I mentioned earlier, are over-populated and sometimes a nuisance. Aside from how they take care of their young, there is one big difference – how they move around. While a deer can move forward, backwards, and side to side (although as Bambi has taught us, sometimes quite clumsily), kangaroo can only move in a forward direction. They are completely unable to move in reverse, but they can pivot quickly to change direction with the use of their tail.

Similarly, in our own human lives, we can only move forward. Physically we can move in all different directions – forward, backward, sideways, turn upside down and bend over backwards. Time-wise we can only move forward. Yet many of us are stuck in the past – we ruminate and agonize over things that have happened – words we regret, actions we wish we could change. We even tell ourselves that things will never change – that we will always be miserable, never have enough money, find the perfect partner, always have tight hamstrings (!). We tell ourselves these things as if they were hard truths. When the truth is that everything changes AND we can always pivot in a new direction.

There are many ways to look at the concept of truth, or satya in Sanskrit:

Within the realm of yogic philosophy we are told that the only thing that is True or Real is that which never changes. That there is something within all of us that is a constant, and this is what the quest is within a yogic practice; our Holy Grail; the journey of finding Ātmabōdha, or Self-knowledge.

In the realm of science there are definitely things that we can take as truth (for now anyway) – the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. The Earth is round; the Earth and the other planets in our solar system revolve around the sun; Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, just to name a few. But even these scientific truths have changed. It was once thought that the Earth was flat, and that the sun revolved around the Earth. As science progresses, what we once thought of as truth is suddenly not. What I am absolutely sure of is that it cannot be proven that you will always be miserable and that your hamstrings will always be tight…

In a relative sense, in our everyday lives, EVERYTHING CHANGES. Our bodies change, our hair changes, clothes, jobs, the people we hang out with, life situations, our āsana practice, EVERYTHING CHANGES. And although we can’t change something that has already happened in the past, the truth is we can make different choices in the present moment. If we are not happy with something in our lives, if we recognize that something needs to change, but we feel like it never will, then that is the first step! Hopefully making choices that are the benefit to ourselves and others.

I’m not saying this is an easy thing to do. Most of us don’t like change – it is hard to let go, even of misery, and is very often painful, but this challenge is what allows us to grow. In every single yoga āsana we are moving in opposing directions. In tāḍāsana (mountain seat), we are grounding down to lift up taller; in utthita parsvakonāsana (extended angle), we are pushing into the back leg while our top arm and the crown of our skull (amongst other things happening) are reaching forward. It is the opposing directions that allow us to feel expansive and grow. Similarly, in life, we are often pulled in opposing directions. We are trying to make changes and move forward, but are being dragged back by those incessant thoughts of the past. It is within this challenge that we can find growth, and maybe discover new truths. Just like a kangaroo, we can pivot, and then keep moving forward.

Categories: focus of the month, jivamukti, Sanskrit, Uncategorized, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jigsaw Falling Into Place

First…Thank you Radiohead for your entire catalogue of music, and for the title of this blog post 😀

I have a slight addiction to working on jigsaw puzzles. Really CHALLENGING jigsaw puzzles – usually about 3000 pieces, but they have to be minimum 1500. Working on jigsaw puzzles allows my brain to work in a different, meditative, and creative way.  I often come up with dharma talks or sequencing while puzzling! The one I finished this morning was 2000 pieces, but is of Monet’s Garden (pictured below), so it might as well have been 5000 pieces. Side note – Barnes & Noble carries a 5000 piece Ravensburger, my favorite brand (yes I have a favorite brand of puzzle), but it is like $85. I am obsessed, but not crazy – I refuse to spend this on a puzzle!

When I am working on a puzzle, and have been looking for a specific piece for a long time without success, I’ll start looking for something completely different. And then, all of a sudden I find what I was looking for in the first place, and it is usually, literally, right under my nose. Or, if I have been sitting in front of it for a while without finding any piece at all, I walk away and do something else. Then when I come back, I often find about 20 pieces immediately.

One of my teachers, Ruth, says that one of the results of a yoga practice is that your vision changes, and when you look at anything you are able to see the whole picture – the past, the present, and the future. You are able to see where things have come from and where they are going.

In our āsana practice, over time, you might realize that the poses we come into all link to each other, just like a puzzle, or that they strategically build up to a more challenging pose later on, the bigger picture. Or maybe you one day realize that all of the poses are exactly the same, just take on a different form! (The truly bigger picture!)

When you are faced with a challenging situation in your life, whether it is personal, or with another person, or more national or global, you may start to see how all of the actions, or karmas, you have taken so far have led up to this point, and how whatever you are about to put into the word as a reaction to this situation will lead to other future karmas. So how you act will affect not only you, and the immediate person/situation in front of you, but the greater world as well. Maybe if you start to look at the situation from a different perspective, from the other person’s point of view, or walk away for a bit and come back, you’ll get what you wanted in the first place, and all of the puzzle pieces fall into place…

Maybe your vision expands so much that, as Ruth says,  when you are in the grocery store and you see the non-biodegradable plastic bags that are there for you to put fruit and vegetables in, you can see that they end up buried in the Earth, or in our oceans, and that this causes the Earth and oceans to become sick, and then all of the living begins on the planet become sick. Or when you look at paper plates, cups, napkins, etc., you can picture the trees they came from, and how when we cut down all those trees, it leads to global warming, because there are less trees to take in the carbon dioxide we are emitting, which they then turn back into oxygen, for us to breath, and also to go back into the atmosphere creating rain, which in turn allows everything to grow again. A lovely mandala of life.

The mysteries of the universe often feel like one big jigsaw puzzle, but if we pause for a moment and take it piece by piece, and in the process set an example for others to follow, then slowly, maybe over many lifetimes, the jigsaw will fall into place.

Monets Garden

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Be the Change

I had the humbling honor of writing the Focus of the Month for the Jivamukti Yoga School for the month of May. You can read it on the Jivamukti website, or right here! You can also find my newest playlist (and all my playlists) on Spotify 

BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD

Focus Of The Month – May, 2017

yad-yad ācarati śreṣṭhas / tad-tadevetaro janaḥ / sa yat pramāṇaḿ kurute / lokas-tad-anuvartate
A great person leads by example, setting standards that are followed by others all over the world.

Bhagavad Gita III.21

The streets of Calcutta were dangerous and dirty. Thousands were infected with leprosy, cholera, and other contagious diseases. At overcrowded hospitals, nurses were forced to turn away dying patients onto the cockroach-infested streets. A group of activists, led by Mother Teresa, risked their own health to treat the sick and poor, even though most could not be saved. Why would Mother Teresa dedicate her life to working in the most unsettling conditions for people who did not have anything to give in return? She responded by saying, “I see the divine in every human being. When I wash a leper’s wounds, I feel I am nursing the Lord himself. Is it not a beautiful experience?”

The great leaders of the world – Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks, the Dalai Lama, Malala Yousafzai – all share certain characteristics. They are clear communicators as well as great listeners. They have a firm and steady grounding that reflects an unwavering commitment to their cause. They inspire and empower. They are also confident, honest, and discerning. There is another quality each great leader has, that perhaps outshines all the others – humility.

Business philosopher Jim Rohn says, “Humility is almost a God-like word. A sense of awe. A sense of wonder. An awareness of the human soul and spirit. Humility is the grasp of the distance between us and the stars, yet having the feeling that we are part of the stars.” In other words, humility is seeing yourself in others; it is seeing all life as holy.

The word humility is derived from the Latin humilis, which is translated as “grounded” or “from the Earth.” The Chandogya Upanishad teaches tat twam asi or “you are that.” This mahavakya, or great saying, relates to the idea that everything is Brahman, that the supreme Self and the individual self are one and the same. If you are Brahman, and the tree is Brahman, then you and the tree are one. The yogi has the humility to understand they are the same as all that exists on Earth. Its natural resources support life, so it is our responsibility to support the Earth just as much.

According to Vedic scripture, we are currently living in the Kali Yuga – an era of conflict and struggle – and great leaders are especially needed. If we want to see peace and happiness in the world, then we must live the kind of life we want to see. There was a point in time when humanity lived in harmony with nature. We only took from the Earth what was necessary to survive. Now, each year, humans kill billions of animals and destroy millions of acres of land. We are fighting wars over natural resources and the Earth can no longer sustain us. The business of taking all the earthly resources we want was once thought of as progress. We have instead regressed, causing billions of humans, animals, and plants unhappiness.

A great yogi offers strength to others so that they too can learn to be steady and joyful. Humility allows the yogi to be the change they want to see in the world. We can consider progressing in a different way, one that would help us rediscover our higher consciousness and realize that we are the same as the stars and shine just as bright. We can also lead by example, setting standards that are followed by others all over the world.

April Dechagas

Teaching Tips:
  • The asana practice is an expression of humility. For example, when practicing Hanumānāsana, we take on the qualities of the great leader Hanuman. In his unwavering devotion to Lord Rama, he is the epitome of virtue, strength, power, humility and courage.
  • Standing asanas – and warrior asanas in particular – convey the qualities of a great leader: having a firm and steady grounding, a steady gaze, and unwavering intention.
  • Teach alignment of tadāsana/samastithi. Explain that the alignment of this āsana exists within all the others. The mountain, or Earth, is also the connection between all the other forms we take on: humans (warriors, sages, saints), animals (dogs, frogs, monkeys, etc), insects (locusts), plants (trees, mountains), and even inanimate objects that come from materials from the earth (plows, boats, compasses).
  • Have students hold asanas for longer than five breaths while maintaining ujjayi pranayama with peace and humility.
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Jivamukti in Paradise: Retreat to Belize

Jivamukti Yoga in Paradise: Retreat to Belize with April Dechagas 

March 31 – April 7 2018

Deepen your yoga practice surrounded by the beautiful tropical paradise that is Belize. Ak’Bol Yoga Retreat Center and Eco Resort is on the tropical island of Ambergris Caye, just outside the peaceful fishing village of San Pedro Town. Yoga classes take place in a studio with a spectacular 360-degree view of the water, filled with the sounds of tropical birds, unspoiled beaches and jungles, and home to the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world.

Your retreat package includes:

  • 7 nights accommodations
  • Special Full Moon welcome dinner
  • 3 vegetarian meals/day (minus one night off to explore San Pedro Town)
  • Unlimited water/juices/teas
  • 2 yoga classes/day with April (mats and props included)
  • Day trip to Lamanai Jungle River and Mayan Ruins
  • 1 Snorkle Trip to Hol Chan National Reserve
  • Evening Drum Circle
  • Unlimited use of beaches/pools/pier/retreat grounds

Not included:

  • Airfare to Belize City and Airport transfer to Ak’Bol
  • $40US Cash Departure Tax
  • $5 US Cash Mayan Ruin Park Fee
  • Staff Tips at end of trip ($50 recommended)
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Additional excursions & Spa Treatments

 

Bookings after December 1st (A 50% non-refundable deposit must be made by December 31st, Paid in full by February 28th):

Village Room Double: $1375 (MUST SIGN UP WITH A ROOMMATE)

Village Room Single: $1475

Triple Occupancy Partial Sea/Garden View Cabana: $1625 

Double Occupancy Partial Sea/Garden View Cabana: $1725 

Single Occupancy Partial Sea/Garden View Cabana: $2225 SOLD OUT

Triple Occupancy Sea Front Cabana: $1650 SOLD OUT

Double Occupancy Sea Front Cabana: $1825 SOLD OUT

Single Occupancy Sea Front Cabana: $2425 SOLD OUT

Room Descriptions:

Thatched Cabanas (Private Bath): All have full or partial sea view, within the gardens, and a killer breeze. Each Cabana will house 1-3 guests max comfortably. The cabanas have amazing outdoor showers, private front porches, hammocks, and a hot and cold water dispenser with a mini fridge.
ak-bol-yoga-retreat-eco

Village Rooms (Shared Bath): Welcome to community living on the lagoon! This building houses several private rooms with beautiful garden views. Guests can choose between 2 twins or 1 queen bed. There are two large island-chic shared bath and shower rooms, and 2 community lounging areas overlooking the lagoon. Great for sunsets and bird watching, you might even spot a croc or two.

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To register email aprildechagas@gmail.com. Payments can be made by check or Venmo (no charge if bank or debit account used). There will be a 3% charge for credit card transactions (Venmo/PayPal).

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The Heart of Understanding

Comprehend:

Latin root  com = together in mind; prehendere = to grasp it, or pick it up

“To comprehend something means to pick it up and be one with it. There is no other way to understand something.” Thich Nhat Hanh

Respect:

Latin root respectus; from the verb respicere = look back at, regard; consisting of re = back; specere = look at or look back

“Respect means to look again, to keep looking with increasingly sensitive eyes.” Zoe Slatoff-Ponte

From Thich Nhat Hanh’s The Heart of Understanding:

“When we want to understand something, we cannot just stand outside and observe it. We have to enter deeply into it and be one with it in order to really understand. If we want to understand a person, we have to feel their feelings, suffer their sufferings, and enjoy their joy.

If we are concerned with peace and want to understand another country, we can’t just stand outside and observe. We have to be one with a citizen of that country in order to understand her feelings, perceptions, and mental formations. Any meaningful work for peace must follow the principal of non-duality, the principal of comprehension [and respect]. This is our peace practice: to comprehend, to be one with, in order to really understand.”

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BigToe Yoga

Introducing a new App that connects yoga teachers to students throughout NYC! I am now teaching a weekly class through BigToe Yoga in Bed-Stuy at Aspire2Dance. This weekly class will be a bit different from the other classes I teach – each week will be more of a workshop where we work through a specific pose. There will be some vinyasa involved to warm up, but a majority of the 1 hour & 15 minute class will be focusing on a specific pose.

Thursday nights at 6:30 pm, Aspire2Dance, 1195 Bedford Ave. Pre-Registration is required through the BigToe Yoga App http://www.bigtoe.fit/, and it’s only $12!

The next four weeks we will be working on arm balances. This week we will be focusing on Eka Pada Galavasana, also know as “Flying Crow.”

flying-crow

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Cowspiracy – You cannot call yourself an environmentalist and support animal agriculture

This past Sunday, September 21st, 2014, I joined  400,00 others in the People’s Climate March in NYC. It was the largest of it’s kind, and amazing that so many people care about the future of this Earth we live on. Unfortunately, it was covered by only one news network, and only for about 23 seconds.

One of the reasons for the lack of coverage is very same reason why I marched: our major “environmental” organizations, like GreenPeace, 350.org, etc., refuse to acknowledge the biggest cause of our environmental decline: the animal agriculture industry. The farming industry in the United States essentially runs our government. This industry has so much power in our country, that even high profile people like former Vice-President Al Gore, are afraid to talk about it. In fact, animal rights and environmental activists are the #1 offenders on the FBI watch list, rather than the actual bad guys.

It is estimated that at the rate our population is growing and the amount our word eats animal based food, we will only be around another 50 years or so. In 50 years I will be 84…I’d like to see the world last a bit longer than that! The farming industry is not only affecting the air and water we need to survive, but also killing off our natural wildlife. If you get excited when you see a fox or bear while on a hike, you better take advantage of it now, because natural wildlife won’t be here much longer.

There are a few things you can do:

The first is to educate yourself: watch the movie Cowspiracy. The movie highlights the fact that the largest cause of environmental decline is being hidden by all major environmental organizations, and our government. You can learn more about it here: http://cowspiracy.com/.

Cowspiracy

#2: Eat a plant based diet. It is completely possible to live a healthy, happy life on a vegan diet. Even if you are pregnant and/or raising children. Milk produced by cows is for their calfs to grow up into big strong cows! And if you love ice cream and cheese, you can get amazing tasting nut based ice cream or tapioca based cheese – it tastes the same, I swear! And you don’t even have to eat soy if you don’t want to! Sharon Gannon, co-founder of Jivamukti Yoga School, just released a new cook book called Simple Recipes for Joy. There are over 200 vegan recipes in the book, even things like meatballs and spaghetti and manhattan clam chowder! I happened to have helped make the food in pictures in the book and tested recipes before publishing! You can order it here: Simple Recipes for Joy

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book-cover

#3: Sign this petition to have the movie Cowspiracy aired on CNN

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Please feel free to comment or ask questions. Here are some facts that are posted on the Cowspiracy website, all completely research based. I have a copy of the Cowspiracy movie if you are in the NY area and want to borrow it.

LOVE, PEACE & VEGETABLES!

FACT CHECK


Director’s Note:

The science and research done on the true impacts of animal agriculture is always growing. The statistics used in the film were based off the information below.

We will continually update this list with further resources as they become available.

Although there may be fluctuations in numbers from year to year and from researcher to researcher, the fact remains that animal agriculture, as a whole, requires tremendous amounts of resources and is a leader in environmental degradation.

Animal agriculture is responsible for 51 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than all transportation combined. [i]

Fao.org. Spotlight: Livestock impacts on the environment.

http://www.fao.org/ag/magazine/0612sp1.htm

Transportation is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenhouse gas emissions from this sector primarily involve fossil fuels burned for road, rail, air, and marine transportation.

Environmental Protection Agency. “Global Emissions.”

http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/global.html

Livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.

Goodland, R Anhang, J. “Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change were pigs, chickens and cows?”

WorldWatch, November/December 2009. Worldwatch Institute, Washington, DC, USA. Pp. 10–19.

http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6294

Methane is 25-100 times more destructive than CO2.

“Improved Attribution of Climate Forcing to Emissions.” Science Magazine.

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/326/5953/716.figures-only

Methane has a global warming power 86 times that of CO2.

NASA. “Methane: Its Role as a Greenhouse Gas.” Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/education/pdfs/podest_ghg.pdf

Livestock is responsible for 65% of all emissions of nitrous oxide – a greenhouse gas 296x more destructive than carbon dioxide and which stays in the atmosphere for 150 years.

“Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2006.

http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.htm

Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) water use ranges from 70-140 billion gallons annually.

“Draft Plan to Study the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources.” EPA Office of Research and Development. United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2011.

http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/documents/HFStudyPlanDraft_SAB_020711.pdf

Animal agriculture use ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons of water annually. [ii]

Pimentel, David, et al. “Water Resources: Agricultural And Environmental Issues.” BioScience 54, no. 10 (2004): 909-18.

http://bioscience.oxfordjournals.org/content/54/10/909.full

Barber, N.L., “Summary of estimated water use in the United States in 2005: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2009–3098.”

http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2009/3098/

Agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of US water consumption.

“USDA ERS – Irrigation & Water Use.” United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. 2013.

http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/farm-practices-management/irrigation-water-use/background.aspx

Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of water in the US.

Jacobson, Michael F. “More and Cleaner Water.” In Six Arguments for a Greener Diet: How a More Plant-based Diet Could save Your Health and the Environment.
Washington, DC: Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2006.

http://www.cspinet.org/EatingGreen/pdf/arguments4.pdf

One hamburger requires 660 gallons of water to produce – the equivalent of 2 months’ worth of showers. [iii]

Catanese, Christina. “Virtual Water, Real Impacts.” Greenversations: Official Blog of the U.S. EPA. 2012.

http://blog.epa.gov/healthywaters/2012/03/virtual-water-real-impacts-world-water-day-2012/

“50 Ways to Save Your River.” Friends of the River.

http://www.friendsoftheriver.org/site/PageServer?pagename=50ways

2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef.

Robbins, John. “2,500 Gallons, All Wet?” EarthSave

http://www.earthsave.org/environment/water.htm

Meateater’s Guide to Climate Change & Health.” Environmental Working Group.

http://www.ewg.org/meateatersguide/interactive-graphic/water/

“Water Footprint Assessment.” University of Twente, the Netherlands.

http://www.waterfootprint.org

Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Minneapolis, MN: Langdon Street, 2013. Print

477 gallons of water are required to produce 1 pound of eggs; 900 gallons of water are needed for cheese.

“Meateater’s Guide to Climate Change & Health.” Environmental Working Group.

http://www.ewg.org/meateatersguide/interactive-graphic/water/

1,000 gallons of water are required to produce 1 gallon of milk.

“Water trivia facts.” United States Environmental Protection Agency.

http://water.epa.gov/learn/kids/drinkingwater/water_trivia_facts.cfm#_edn11

5% of water in the US is used by private homes.
55% of water in the US is used for animal agriculture.

Jacobson, Michael F. “More and Cleaner Water.” In Six Arguments for a Greener Diet: How a More Plant-based Diet Could save Your Health and the Environment. Washington, DC: Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2006.

http://www.cspinet.org/EatingGreen/pdf/arguments4.pdf

Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Minneapolis, MN: Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

The meat and dairy industries combined use nearly 1/3 (29%) of all the fresh water in the world today.

“Freshwater Abuse and Loss: Where Is It All Going?” Forks Over Knives.

http://www.forksoverknives.com/freshwater-abuse-and-loss-where-is-it-all-go

Livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land.

Thornton, Phillip, Mario Herrero, and Polly Ericksen. “Livestock and Climate Change.” Livestock Exchange, no. 3 (2011).

https://cgspace.cgiar.org/bitstream/handle/10568/10601/IssueBrief3.pdf

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution [iv], and habitat destruction.

Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. . Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

“What’s the Problem?” United States Environmental Protection Agency.

http://www.epa.gov/region9/animalwaste/problem.html

“Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2006.

http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.htm

“Fire Up the Grill for a Mouthwatering Red, White, and Green July 4th.” Worldwatch Institute.

http://www.worldwatch.org/fire-grill-mouthwatering-red-white-and-green-july-4th

Oppenlander, Richard A. “Biodiversity and Food Choice: A Clarification.” Comfortably Unaware. 2012

http://comfortablyunaware.com/blog/biodiversity-and-food-choice-a-clarification/

“Risk Assessment Evaluation for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Office of Research and Development. 2004.

http://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPURL.cgi?Dockey=901V0100.txt

Every minute, 7 million pounds of excrement are produced by animals raised for food in the US.
This doesn’t include the animals raised outside of USDA jurisdiction or in backyards, or the billions of fish raised in aquaculture settings in the US. [v]

“What’s the Problem?” United States Environmental Protection Agency.

http://www.epa.gov/region9/animalwaste/problem.html

“How To Manage Manure.” Healthy Landscapes.

http://www.uri.edu/ce/healthylandscapes/livestock/how_manure_overall.htm

335 million tons of “dry matter” is produced annually by livestock in the US.

“FY-2005 Annual Report Manure and Byproduct Utilization National Program 206.”
USDA Agricultural Research Service. 2008.

http://www.ars.usda.gov/research/programs/programs.htm?np_code=206&docid=13337

A farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people. [vi]

“Risk Assessment Evaluation for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Office of Research and Development. 2004.

http://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPURL.cgi?Dockey=901V0100.txt

3/4 of the world’s fisheries are exploited.

“Overfishing: A Threat to Marine Biodiversity.” UN News Center.

http://www.un.org/events/tenstories/06/story.asp?storyid=800

“General Situation of World Fish Stocks.” United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

http://www.fao.org/newsroom/common/ecg/1000505/en/stocks.pdf

90 million tons of fish are pulled from our oceans each year. [vii]

“World Review of Fisheries and Aquaculture.” UNITED NATIONS FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION (FAO). 2012.

http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i2727e/i2727e01.pdf

For every 1 pound of fish caught, an average of 5 pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as by-kill. [viii]

“Discards and Bycatch in Shrimp Trawl Fisheries.”
UNITED NATIONS FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION (FAO).

http://www.fao.org/docrep/W6602E/w6602E09.htm

As many as 40% (63 billion pounds) of fish caught globally every year are discarded.

Goldenberg, Suzanne. “America’s Nine Most Wasteful Fisheries Named.” The Guardian.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/20/americas-nine-most-wasteful-fisheries-named

Scientists estimate as many as 650,000 whales, dolphins and seals are killed every year by fishing vessels.

Goldenberg, Suzanne. “America’s Nine Most Wasteful Fisheries Named.” The Guardian.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/20/americas-nine-most-wasteful-fisheries-named

100 million tons of fish are caught annually.

Montaigne, fen. “Still waters: The global fish crisis.” National Geographic.

http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/global-fish-crisis-article/

Fish catch peaks at 85 million tons.

“World Review of Fisheries and Aquaculture.” UNITED NATIONS FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION (FAO). 2012.

http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i2727e/i2727e01.pdf

Animal agriculture is responsible for 91% of Amazon destruction.

Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. . Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

Margulis, Sergio. Causes of Deforestation of the Brazilian Rainforest. Washington: World Bank Publications, 2003.

https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/15060

1-2 acres of rainforest are cleared every second.

“Avoiding Unsustainable Rainforest Wood.” Rainforest Relief.

http://www.rainforestrelief.org/What_to_Avoid_and_Alternatives/Rainforest_Wood.html

Facts about the rainforest.

http://www.savetherainforest.org/savetherainforest_007.htm

Rainforest facts.

http://www.rain-tree.com/facts.htm

The leading causes of rainforest destruction are livestock and feedcrops.

“Livestock impacts on the environment.” Food and agriculture organization of the United Nations (fao). 2006.

http://www.fao.org/ag/magazine/0612sp1.htm

110 plant, animal and insect species are lost every day due to rainforest destruction.

“Rainforest statistics and facts.” Save the amazon.

http://www.savetheamazon.org/rainforeststats.htm

Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Minneapolis, MN: Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

26 million rainforest acres have been cleared for palm oil production. [ix]

“Indonesia: palm oil expansion unaffected by forest moratorium.” USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. 2013.

http://www.pecad.fas.usda.gov/highlights/2013/06/indonesia/

136 million rainforest acres cleared for animal agriculture.

“AMAZON DESTRUCTION.” MONGA BAY.

http://rainforests.mongabay.com/amazon/amazon_destruction.html

1,100 activists have been killed in Brazil in the past 20 years. [x]

Batty, David. “Brazilian faces retrial over murder of environmental activist nun in Amazon.” The Guardian. 2009.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/apr/08/brazilian-murder-dorothy-stang

Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day. [xi]

Ross, Philip. “Cow farts have ‘larger greenhouse gas impact’ than previously thought; methane pushes climate change.” International Business Times. 2013.

http://www.ibtimes.com/cow-farts-have-larger-greenhouse-gas-impact-previously-thought-methane-pushes-climate-change-1487502

130 times more animal waste than human waste is produced in the US – 1.4 billion tons from the meat industry annually. 5 tons of animal waste is produced for every person. [xii]

Animal agriculture: waste management practices. United States General Accounting Office.

http://www.gao.gov/archive/1999/rc99205.pdf

2-5 acres of land are used per cow.

Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. 

Minneapolis, MN: Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

The average American consumes 209 pounds of meat per year.

Haney, Shaun. “How much do we eat?” Real agriculture. 2012. (276 lbs)

http://www.realagriculture.com/2012/05/how-much-meat-do-we-eat/

“US meat, poultry production & consumption” American Meat Institute. 2009. (233.9 lbs)

http://www.meatami.com/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/48781

Bernard, Neal. “Do we eat too much?” Huffington Post. (200 lbs)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/neal-barnard-md/american-diet-do-we-eat-too-much_b_805980.html

Nearly half of the contiguous US is devoted to animal agriculture. [xiii]
30% of the Earth’s entire land surface is used by the livestock sector.

Versterby, Marlow; Krupa, Kenneth. “Major uses of land in the United States.” Updated 2012. USDA Economic Research Service.

http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/sb-statistical-bulletin/sb-973.aspx#.VAoXcl7E8dt

“Rearing cattle produces more greenhouse gases than driving cars, UN report warns.”

UN News Centre, 2006.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?newsID=20772

1/3 of the planet is desertified due to livestock.

“UN launches international year of deserts and desertification.”

UN news centre, 2006.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=17076#.VAodM17E8ds

Oppenlander, Richard A. Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

World population in 1812: 1 billion; 1912: 1.5 billion; 2012: 7 billion.

“Human numbers through time.” Nova science programming.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/worldbalance/numb-nf.html

70 billion farmed animals are reared annually worldwide. More than 6 million animals are killed for food every hour.

A well-fed world. factory farms.

http://www.awfw.org/factory-farms/

Oppenlander, Richard A. Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

Throughout the world, humans drink 5.2 billion gallons of water and eat 21 billion pounds of food each day.

Based on rough averages of 0.75 gallons of water and 3 lbs of food per day.

Worldwide, cows drink 45 billion gallons of water and eat 135 billion pounds of food each day.

Based on rough average of 30 gallons of water and 90 lbs of feed per day.

Land required to feed 1 person for 1 year:
Vegan: 1/6th acre
Vegetarian: 3x as much as a vegan
Meat eater: 18x as much vegan

“Our food our future.” Earthsave.

http://www.earthsave.org/pdf/ofof2006.pdf

1.5 acres can produce 37,000 pounds of plant-based food.
1.5 acres can produce 375 pounds of meat.

Oppenlander, Richard A. Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

A person who follows a vegan diet uses 50% less carbon dioxide, 1/11th oil, 1/13th water, and 1/18th land compared to a meat-eater.

CO2: “Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK.” Climactic change, 2014.

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-014-1169-1/fulltext.html

Oil, water: “Sustainability of meat-based and plant-based diets and the environment.”
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2003.

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/78/3/660S.full

Land: “Our food our future.” Earthsave.

http://www.earthsave.org/pdf/ofof2006.pdf

Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land, 20 lbs CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life. [xiv]

“Water Footprint Assessment.” University of Twente, the Netherlands.

http://www.waterfootprint.org

Oppenlander, Richard A. Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

“Measuring the daily destruction of the world’s rainforests.” Scientific American, 2009.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/earth-talks-daily-destruction/

“Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK.” Climactic change, 2014.

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-014-1169-1/fulltext.html

“Meat eater’s guide to climate change and health.” The Environmental Working Group.

http://static.ewg.org/reports/2011/meateaters/pdf/methodology_ewg_meat_eaters_guide_to_health_and_climate_2011.pdf

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