Comfortably Unaware by Dr. Richard Oppenlander

Savvy Vegetarian Book Review

Comfortably Unaware

Global depletion and food responsibility - what you choose to eat is killing our planet

I was so excited about this book, I could hardly wait to get it, and read it. And I wasn't disappointed. "Comfortably Unaware" is a concise, clear and precise account of our food-related planetary woes.

Finally, here's an authoritative voice, saying everything I and lots of other people have been thinking and feeling for so many years, and struggling to express. I was glad to see the extensive end notes documenting every single thing Dr. Oppenlander had to say - the what, when, where, who and whys of planetary destruction.

Quotes from Comfortably Unaware illustrate the scope of the book:

"Many times we hear only what others want us to hear. This is particularly true when facts have been discovered regarding a sensitive topic that is being sheltered for one reason or another by large business or our government."

"It is not so cool to think of yourself as "green" or sustainable because you recycle or you change to energy-efficient light bulbs when you still eat animal products that have a much more profoundly negative impact on our environment..."

"We collectively raise, feed, water, kill, and eat over 65 billion animals each year for food ...10 times as many people as we have on the entire earth... We have developed a complex system of producing more and more animals that use more and more of our resources, while leaving a massive amount of waste, pollution, and adverse climate change in their wake. ... This system...is... heavily intertwined with our culture, politics, economics, and the suppression of the reality of its effect on our planet."

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I admire Dr. Oppenlander's analytic powers, truthfulness, courage, hard work, and persistence. I think that this is an excellent book that everybody should read and take heed. But one old saw kept coming to my mind: "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink."

Although Dr. Oppenlander intends his book to enlighten the masses of people who are "comfortably unaware" of global depletion caused by our society's food choices, it seems to me that he is "preaching to the choir".

It's obvious that those who most need to heed his message don't want to hear it and refuse to listen - even if he shouts it in their faces repeatedly. Those who most need to know what he has to say couldn't care less.

Dr. Oppenlander refers to that phenomenon throughout his book, and comes back often to the idea that development of consciousness is the basis of change. "...instead of 'voting with our forks,' which we have actually been doing for the past fifty years - and look where it has gotten us - we should actually vote with our minds first; then, let our forks follow."

As I understand it from my spiritual teacher, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the enlightenment of many individuals leads to growth in the collective consciousness. That supports life in harmony with natural law, and the fading of negative influences in the environment.

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I believe that's what Dr. Oppenlander is aiming for with his book - influencing enough people to make enlightened food choices that the influence will spread spontaneously throughout society.

Much of the information in Comfortable Unaware has been preached by many others for a long time. But as Dr. Oppenlander says,

"So if this information has been available, why haven't you heard about it? And why isn't anything being done now to move people in the right direction of choosing foods that will not kill us or our planet?"

To summarize the 3 reasons for this, given by Dr. Oppenlander:

  1. Lack of access to public platforms to disseminate the information
  2. Inadequate or incomplete data and misinterpretation provided to the public (misinformation)
  3. Suppression of information by powerful businesses and industries
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Another old saying goes, "A rising tide lifts all boats". Dr. Oppenlander's message is riding the wave of rising collective consciousness generated by hundreds of thousands of individuals throughout the world over the last 60 years.

While books like this one are needed and welcome, I feel that they are a result of that rising tide of consciousness, not a cause. They don't provide real solutions beyond the obvious - don't eat animals - and they only reach those whose consciousness has risen to the point where they are ready to make that choice.

If enough people are to stop eating animals in great enough numbers soon enough to make a difference, it will need a massive global shift in awareness, fed by rising collective consciousness. Being optimistic by nature, I see that happening now and the publication of "Comfortably Unaware" as a sign of the times.

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