"When our actions don't match our words, we wound our souls."
Dr. Sailesh Rao, world-renowned systems engineer specialist, executive producer, speaker and author, joins Katie Kurpanek, Eco-Living Coach and Podcast Host, to recognize our place of belonging within nature -- exactly as we are.
Dr. Rao supports us in coming back into alignment with our core Dharma (our core truth), walks us through the 7 chakras of transformation, and unveils the power of "ahimsa" (non-violence) to bring healing to our world.
He also comes from the unique place of having over 30 years of professional experience within two different careers -- with the first 20 years as a Systems Engineer Specialist whose work on the internet has benefited all of us today. With this intellectual specialty, Dr. Rao has dedicated the rest of his life to approaching our earth's broken systems and providing solutions that will heal our climate.
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You're listening to all things sustainable, where we unpack topics related to sustainable living, as well as how to apply specific actions to your own life. I'm your eco living coach and podcast host, Katie Kurpanek. Let's jump in. Hey, real quick before we dive into our show today, I want you to know that I've recently launched a brand new video course called caring for the earth and kids. Have you ever thought about the connection between eco friendly habits and financial savings, lots of people think living sustainably is expensive, because you have to like go out and buy all these special eco friendly products. But that could not be further from the truth. In my experience, and countless others, you can literally save 1000s of dollars by adapting your lifestyle to become more sustainable, especially when it comes to having kids. raising families can be so expensive. 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And all of that is linked in the show notes for you to start this video course today. Alright, let's get back show. Hello, my friends, I am so happy that you are back with us to our for another episode of the All Things sustainable podcast where we are in season three currently exploring all things vegan within this series. This series is almost over I cannot believe it. It has taken so long, almost a full year to come to completion since the very beginning of putting it together. And this is among one of the final episodes. We have this episode. Today. We have the final interview episode coming out next week. And then there will be the last episode to wrap up the series. Just with me sharing my own thoughts, my own story and what I've learned so far through this series. If you missed any of the previous episodes, I highly recommend going back and listening to them all or whatever majorly grasps your attention. We cover everything. When it comes to veganism from nutrition and physical health, you know the medical impacts of diet with our physical bodies. We talk about the connection between animal rights and human rights, the social justice piece of all of this and the shocking amounts of oppression and injustice for both humans and animals within the meat and dairy industries. We talk about the impacts that our diet has on the planet when it comes to climate change. In the previous episode, we talked about the vegan experience across different cultures and families and traditions, and also deeply addressed the food inequities and vast disparities within our food distribution systems, especially within the US and how food justice needs to be a key part of this vegan conversation. In that last episode, we briefly touched on the negative impacts that religion has had within our well specifically our country's history, but it could also be applied throughout the world. In regards to colonialism, and very racially fueled injustice. There are resources linked in that episodes description to explore further learning. But I wanted to point out especially in today's episode, that there are also a lot of beautiful and positive things that can come out of religious and spiritual experiences and connections to our way of life. In order to grow we need to look at something from all sides and be able to recognize the good and the bad, you know, the the healthy and the unhealthy, the beautiful and the ugly, and we need to be able to explore what is no longer working, what never worked, and what do we need to do to fix or pivot and change and adapt in order to move forward? In today's episode Dr. Sailesh Rao talks a lot about reconnecting ourselves with nature and with our core dharma. Or another way to phrase that would be our core truth. What we have been created at our core to be and Dr. Sailesh Rao has just the most calming and grounding presence and such a gentle strength that just comes out of him. In talking with him, I just felt so honored to be able to share space with him not only for the incredible work that he has done in his lifetime, and I will get into his bio in a second. But he also just deeply, deeply cares for humanity and for all of creation, and it just flows out of everything that he has to say. So this episode, the cadence feels very different from any episode that has been in this series so far. And I'm just really excited for you all to hear his perspective. Now giving a brief summary of Dr. Rao's bio because it is vast. All of this comes from his website, which is also linked in the episode description called Climate healers.org. So Dr. Sailesh Rao has over three decades of professional experience, and is the founder and executive director of climate healers, which is a nonprofit dedicated towards healing the Earth's climate. Dr. Rao is a Systems Specialist with a PhD in electrical engineering from Stanford University, he worked on internet communications infrastructure for 20 years after graduation, he blazed the trail for high speed signal processing Chips and Technologies for high definition television, real time video communications and the transformation of early analog internet connections to more robust digital connections, while accelerating their speeds tenfold. Today over a billion Internet connections deploy the communications protocol that he designed, he has received multiple awards for his work. He's the author of 22 Peer Reviewed technical papers, 50 standards contributions, 10 US patents and three Canadian patents. In 2006, he switched careers completely and became deeply immersed full time in solving the environmental crises affecting humanity. Dr. Rao in this episode talks about himself as being a Systems Specialist. And so that is the person that you turn to when you're looking at a system that is flawed and you need to fix it. He is kind of a perfect person to be able to look at climate change from a systems perspective. And he has dedicated the rest of his life to solving this environmental crisis. He is the author of two books currently carbon Dharma, the occupation of butterflies, and carbon yoga, the vegan metamorphosis. He's also the executive producer of several documentaries, including, the human experiment, Cowspiracy, what the health, a prayer for compassion, the end of medicine, the land of Ahimsa, and more. Two of those documentaries by the way, were key in my own personal journey to becoming vegan. Dr. Rao was actually the very first interview that I had in putting this whole series together. And so his interview was back in June. And in that interview, I referenced a lot of episodes that I had not yet recorded, but you have already had the privilege of hearing if you've listened to them all the way through. So the timeline may seem a bit off, but his episode felt just right to come here at this time towards the end of this series. I am so excited for you all to hear what Dr. Rao has to say when it comes to reconnecting with nature, reconnecting with our core Dharma, and then also focusing on the science and the mathematics of reversing climate change from an engineering and Systems Specialist background. So without further ado, let's dive right in Dr. Sailesh Rao, it is a huge honor and a privilege to have you on this podcast. I am just personally so thrilled to be able to speak with you. And I've given my listeners a little bit of a background about you already and the fact that you are officially a Systems Specialist and you also have switched careers. And you're now a climate activist and an author and executive producer of several documentaries. Two of which, what the health and Cowspiracy, were very influential in my own journey to becoming vegan. So I'm really excited to talk with you today. Before I have you introduce yourself, I just wanted to share with everybody that we are planning on covering in this episode, a few key points we're going to cover what it means to reconnect with nature and our core dharma. We're going to talk about how veganism goes beyond simply a diet. And we're going to talk about your personal journey to becoming vegan as both you and I did not start out you know growing up vegan, and then how this lifestyle has been scientifically proven to reverse climate change. So we have a lot of really good things to talk about. And my goal with this podcast series, and really my whole life is to always lead from a place of empathy and respect and compassion. I know that a lot of listeners tuning in, are brand new to the concept of veganism. A lot of them have had very shameful All kinds of guilt driven experiences in the past by people in their life who are vegans. And so that is not the place that I want to come from. So I'm, I'm excited for this conversation, I know that you will be such a healthy and experienced and intelligent person to speak with. So all that rambling aside, I would love if you could tell us a little bit about yourself, and you know who you are, who are the beloved people in your life and all of that?Dr. Sailesh Rao:
Well, thank you, Katie. I am, I am a system specialist by training. I did my undergraduate in India, and I came to the US to do my graduate studies. And I did my systems engineering in Stanford University. And then to my PhD, I went and joined Bell Labs, worked on high definition television and high speed communications infrastructures. So I quit Bell Labs in 91, started my own company, I worked on the internet. And my company got acquired by level one, which got acquired by Intel. And I wound up doing the project for Intel. And then, in 2005, I was working on doing the same thing, 10 times faster, you know, 10, Gigabit Ethernet. And I came home one day, and I happened to see Al Gore's presentation on TV. And I was so shocked. I said to my wife, if half of what he's saying is true, I'm wasting my time. So that's when I started looking into the environment seriously. And in within a couple of months, I decided to close my company and focus on it full time. Because it was actually far worse than what Mr. Gore was saying. Wow. So that started my, you know, my transition to environmentalism. And I began looking at the environment from a very systems perspective, to understand why we do what we do, and how do we then transform into doing what we need to be doing. So to me, it's been a it's been a learning experience more than anything else. Because, as William awful said, the genuine product of I mean, the product of genuine systems analysis is not solutions. But understanding. So when you truly understand what's going on, then the solution presents itself. So that's the way I see it. And so that's, I guess, in a nutshell, my journey.Katie Kurpanek:
That's wonderful. I think that it is amazing to have such a combination of professional experience within your one lifetime, when it comes to something as huge as climate change. Because we do need that background in understanding how systems work in order to create, you know, systematic change that would that could advance at a global level, and then also your own personal journey into veganism, which I know we'll talk about later. I just think all of that is so interesting. And so I've been reading through carbon yoga, which is one of your books, and I'm about three quarters of the way through it, I really wanted to finish before this interview, but I just could not read through it quickly. Like I need to take my time with this book. And really, I've underlined so much of it. I don't know if you're type, a type of person who like underlines and marks in your book, but I just have been really digesting it. And so a lot of what I'll talk to you about in this interview comes from some questions that stemmed through this reading. But in in the beginning of your book, you had mentioned the interfaith Declaration on climate change. And a bunch of would you call them religious leaders from around the world? Yeah, they came together, they created this declaration, and one of the quotes from it was, while climate change is a symptom, the fever that our Earth has contracted the underlying disease is the disconnection from creation that plagues human societies throughout the earth. And that quote, in particular, just stunned me. The story of separation from creation. You talked about how that's very connected to what you call speciesism. And I was curious if you could describe that concept to our listeners, especially because I had never heard that word in particular before even though I understand the concept, but I know that many of our listeners might be brand Due to that idea, and so how would you describe speciesism and the idea that we're separated from nature?Dr. Sailesh Rao:
Yeah. speciesism is the idea that one species is superior to others, you know, to that one species that dominates the Earth can do what it wants, the might is right, you know, so I wrote the book in 2016. And since then I have sort of formulated that speciesism as a foundational axiom, that is false. And so I call it the axiom of supremacism. The false axiom of supremacism, which is that life is a competitive game, in which those who have gained an advantage may possess, enslave and exploit animals nature and the disadvantaged, for the pursuit of happiness, and that encompasses speciesism, racism, sexism, all the isms, you know, in, in one axiomatic flaw in our civilization. So I say that, you know, when you look at civilization as a system, and the array, and you understand why it is not sustainable, you realize it is because it is founded on some false axioms, or to false axioms, actually. One is speciesism. And the false axiom of supremacism. And the other is the false axiom of consumerism. Which is that the pursuit of happiness is best accomplished by stoking and satisfying a never ending series of desires in human beings. And I call these as axioms in our civilization. Because we take it as take it as granted that this truth is granted, right? So we see 3000 ads a day, and we think it's normal. But that is the false axiom of consumerism. That greed is good. When we see slaughterhouse trucks passing us by, and we think it's normal, and that is a false axiom of supremacism, that's coded in our civilization. And these two axioms are false. And therefore, there can never be a sustainability revolution until you overturn these two axioms. It's just like, we couldn't have the scientific revolution happen until we acknowledge that the sun does not going around the Earth, but the Earth goes around the sun. Because if we kept thinking that the sun goes around the earth, there was no way that Newton could have come up with a theory of gravity. Right? Because it doesn't make any sense. Yeah, it wouldn't, it wouldn't follow from the laws, right? So same, the same way you cannot create a sustainability revolution until you overturn these two false axioms. So and of course, the, the, the false axiom of supremacism is one of the foundational axioms that need to be overturned. So I say that we are in a double Galilean moment in human history, we have to overturn to false axioms, not just one. And people are protesting against changing these two axioms. But we know it is not true, we know that it is only going to lead us to disaster. So there are so many signs around us saying that we need to shift from these false axioms.Katie Kurpanek:
I think that, like you said, you wrote the book in 2016. And even since then, so here we are currently six years later, and so much more has unfolded since you've written this book, scientifically, but also, you know, as a global society. And I think that particularly within the past couple of years, we have had such a global uprising over recognizing areas of supremacism, racism. I think, our our consciousness toward the environmental impacts of credit consumerism, all of this has heightened and I think that it feels like we're at a very strong tipping point, at least to me, it feels this way that a lot of people are becoming more aware of all of this and rising up to change and to voice their opinions and the need for change. And so, to me, this is just an interesting time to start talking about speciesism because it is completely in line with what we've all been talking about. We which is putting ourselves in other people's shoes, recognizing the systems of oppression that need to be torn down and rebuilding a lot of our systems. And so I think that speciesism falls right in line with this. In chapter four of your book, you were talking about how humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. And even after being vegan for coming up on five years for myself, that was something that I hadn't really given a lot of thought because my first motivational factor for becoming vegan was my own personal health. And then after that, it was the climate and everything that I was learning about the environmental impacts of being vegan, and then animals kind of came third on my list. But could you talk a little bit about how veganism has been very closely associated with our diet? But really, it's so much more than that. And especially when you take in to consideration that consciousness piece of animals, how do you define and approach the concept of being vegan? And if you'd like maybe you could share a little bit of your own story, your tipping point into veganism as well.Dr. Sailesh Rao:
Yeah, sure. So to me, veganism is much deeper than than just a diet. Okay, this I use an acronym for vegan, which is Vitally Engaged Guardians of Animals and Nature.Katie Kurpanek:
I love thatDr. Sailesh Rao:
That becomes vegan, right? And so that to me, captures what veganism stands for me okay, which is that we are here not to dominate animals, we are here to serve them. Okay, so it flips it around as because as James Lovelock said, if the earth improves as a result of human presence, we will flourish. If it does not, we will perish. Okay, so, how do we create a civilization in which the Earth improves as a result of human presence? We have to constantly give more than we take. Right? So we need to routinely give more than we take on the planet, and that allows the planet to thrive, and the planet tries will thrive, it does not thrive, we're gonna die. So it's a simple equation. Right? So, right now you ask yourself, is the planet improving as a result of my presence? And for most human beings? No, it does not, it actually gets worse as a result of our presence. So it's creating a civilization a system in which we lead our ordinary lives, and the planet thrives. And that comes from recognizing that we are here to serve the animals not to use them. So it flips it around, right? So I became vegan in, well I, I guess I've been vegan all my life, the way I frame it is that if you do not want deliberately wish to hurt an innocent animal unnecessarily, you're already vegan. Right? So I was already vegan meaning, but but my, who I am, and what I do were not in alignment. And that's what I mean by coming back into alignment with nature. So, we all say that we do not want to hurt innocent animals unnecessarily. And yet, we routinely do it in our actions. Right? So that's the disconnection from creation, then talking about. So I happened to be in India in 2008. And I was a lacto vegetarian at that time. And I had convinced myself that I was not harming the environment so much. Because you look at scientific papers that tell you that lacto vegetarianism is only a little bit worse than veganism in terms of its impact. And then I saw what was happening in the forests of India. And I realized that I had been fooled that they were doing a local sensitivity analysis of dairy. And if you did a global sensitivity analysis, then dairy is actually the worst food we're eating from an environmental perspective. And what do I mean by global sensitivity analysis? In a global sensitivity analysis, you assume that every human being is doing exactly what you're doing. And then you look at the impact. So I wanted to drink milk and eat cheese butter, didn't want to hurt the cow. Right? If everybody did that, then the number of cows on the planet would proliferate. Because no one wants to kill the cow and the cow was living for 25 years eating up the forest. So if we did that the planet will be dead instantly. So I realized that as a lacto, vegetarian, I was causing the most harm, not the least harm. So that's when I, I felt a sense of shame. That even though I'm a Systems Specialist, I had bought into my lies for so many years. So then I went vegan on the spot in December 2008. And at first I thought, I don't think I can, I can't sustain this. Because you know, I love my milk sweets, I love yogurt, you know. But then within a week, I realized that I can do this, this is not so hard. And that's when I had this huge sense of guilt lifted off my shoulders. So I'm saying this because I, I want people to understand that these negative emotions like shame and guilt, they are part and parcel of any transformation. So you have to welcome them. It's not that someone is trying to shame you, or trying to give you a guilt trip. It's your own negative feelings that surface, then someone say something, right. So and that's part and parcel of transformation. So I call it the seven chakras of transformation. The seven chakras are open when you overcome fear, guilt, shame, grief, lies, delusions and attachments. And for any attachment, such as attachment to dairy foods, or whatever meet, you have to overcome these seven chakras, you have to overcome the fear of the transformation, then the guilt that comes with it, the shame, the grief, the lies and the delusions, and finally, the attachments. So it's a process and it is not going to be instantaneous, it's not going to be painless. It is it is the birthing the birth pangs of a new species. That's what we are becoming, you know, a new species. So I say that we are transforming from Homo sapiens sapiens, which is what we call ourselves, which is Latin for the wise wise hominid. Which, knowing that we named ourselves it's sort of, you know, a narcissistic, we call ourselves the wise wise species. Right? Right. And so I'm saying we are transforming from that narcissistic predatory taker species to a compassionate climate regulating caretaker species. And that, and that is I call the I'm suggesting that we call ourselves Homo Ahimsa based on Judy Carmen's book, Homo Ahimsa. So, which is a combination of a Latin word and a Sanskrit word. And basically signifies that we are coming together as a species from around the world. And a Ahimsa means non violent. So it, it describes our character, not our characteristic. So we don't have to call ourselves wise wise, I've never met a truly wise person going around saying I'm wise. Yeah, yeah. So that is the transformation that's happening now. You know, and, and so there are birth pangs of that transformation. And we all go through it. Whether we like it or not, we're going to go through it. So I say welcome it. So don't shy away from feeling negative feelings.Katie Kurpanek:
I think that's beautiful. And I think that it is a natural part of our life cycle. And it is not just as humanity but within any species. You know, there are the birth pains in order to bring forth life and in our history, anytime we have had to go through some sort of an evolution of progress and systems change. And ultimately, you know, what we're trying to lead towards, which is hopefully a better future. It always involves some change and with that change is hesitation. And, you know, like you said, you have to combat those feelings of attachment. This is the way things have always been. But does that mean that that's the way they should always be? And again, this book, carbon yoga in particular, it you, you get into this in so much depth. And if you would be okay with it, I wanted to read just one passage from your book that has really stuck with me.Dr. Sailesh Rao:
This is in chapter four on page 89. And you said, "but when we deliberately act contrary to our core Dharma, our mind stores the resulting guilt as an imprint in our subconscious, which then gnaws away at our spiritual, mental and physical well being. These subconscious imprints are known as samskaras in Sanskrit. How often have we heard people say that the first time they witnessed an atrocity, say the slaughter of an animal, it really affected them badly, but then they got used to it. Clearly, it affected them the first time, because their inner being was screaming at them to intervene and stop the atrocity, the oppression of an innocent other than assuming that they are powerless to stop the atrocity. Their minds use this subconscious imprint the Samskaara, to dull their senses to the event if it ever occurs again. This is nature's mechanism to reduce the instantaneous impact of any continuing atrocities, and thereby minimize our suffering. But it doesn't mean that our core Dharma has somehow changed. It certainly doesn't mean that our silent witnessing of the continuing atrocities, or worse yet, participating in them directly or indirectly, is inconsequential to our well being. The best that the Samskaara can do, is to dull the instantaneous guilt, not eliminate the accumulated suffering. When our actions don't match our words, we wound our souls." And that passage, just I mean, I've read it over and over again. And that final line that if our actions don't match our words, it wounds our souls. I don't know if you've ever heard of the book, The Body Keeps the Score. I forget which psychologist that's written by, but it's on my huge stack of, you know, books list that I want to read through. But it reminded me of that idea that the Body Keeps the Score, whether it's, you know, going through personal trauma, or just witnessing the oppression of other life, we're wired to care about that we're wired to have a very like, negative reaction, and then pretty immediately dissociate, if we feel like we can't actually stop what's happening. Because we don't want to feel hopeless. And so, but our Body Keeps the Score, our minds, our physical well being our emotions, it all is going to stay within that. And I'm not going to share my entire story into becoming vegan in this episode, but I do resonate with what you shared that when I finally made that switch, I mean, within 10 days, my physical body felt so much healthier. But my mental and emotional state of well being had so improved, I felt like this weight had been lifted off my shoulders. And I felt much more in connection with my core, Dharma, which is to care about all life and creation and, and knowing that I'm a part of that. So thank you for what you're sharing and what you've written. It's beautiful.Dr. Sailesh Rao:
Yeah, this is something that I personally experienced because I, when I was a child, my parents used to send us all to our grandparents home. And one time, I think I was seven years old at the time. We had gone to my grandparents home, and I overheard my grandmother talking to my grandfather, that this particular calf is drinking too much, is not leaving enough milk for the children. And what do I do? And then my grandfather told my grandmother, don't let him drink to his fill, pull him after 10 minutes. And at that point, as a child, I knew that there was something wrong going on, you know, but I couldn't do anything about it. So I tried to put it in the back of my mind and forget about it. And that was that guilt accumulated with me throughout my life. And I'm sure you know, all the arthritic pains I had under inflammation, I had all had something to do with that guilt, as well. So it's psychosomatic. But it's when I went vegan. That memory flooded back into my mind. And I felt a sense of relief that I don't have to lie to myself anymore. And so I had this huge sense of guilt lifted off my shoulders, and then all my arthritic pains went away, or my inflammation problems went away. So physically I got so much better. But it's probably also psychosomatic. Right. So I say that when we come into alignment with who we really are, because we are compassionate beings, at our core, we are born compassionate. And then we get conditioned out of it. So when we return to being compassionate, and to feel the suffering of another, and to alleviate the suffering of another, and we're constantly working on that, then we are the healthiest, you know, we becomeKatie Kurpanek:
Yeah, because then we're living in alignment whole again. with who we're naturally created to be. And anything that's out of alignment in life is going to cause some pain and cause some issues. And so, I think that that is an astoundingly beautiful and necessary concept for us to wrestle with. And I know that there will be listeners tuning into this episode who resonate with this, and also maybe even at the same time, they're feeling that battle internally with, okay, this might make sense. But, you know, what about da-da-da-da-da. Whatever other factors that could be societal, you know, peer pressures, it could be something within their family or their, their entire culture around food. I mean, there's a lot of reasons why people would be very, very hesitant to changing their diet, let alone their entire lifestyle. Like you've said, already, veganism is not just a diet. But I know that in other episodes, in this series, we're going to, I'm going to be speaking with so many experts, as well as yourself. And we're going to talk through, you know, nutrition, we're going to talk through our physical health impacts, we're going to talk about, like, even deeper into animal rights and their levels of consciousness and that kind of stuff. But in particular, for this conversation, I would love to hear from you about the global carbon footprint that animal agriculture is contributing to, and in particular, how switching to a vegan diet will reverse climate change. It's been scientifically proven, you have written about this in depth in carbon yoga, this book and also in the, when was it, it was the 2020 documentary that you were an executive producer and a speaker in "United in Heart: hunger and climate solutions". I watched that documentary as well. And both of those. So the documentary and the book really go into depth about the Giga tons of carbon per year that is contributed from animal agriculture. Could you share a bit about how a vegan diet would actually reverse climate change? And why you're pushing for really a vegan world within the next few years?Dr. Sailesh Rao:
Right. Yeah. See, from a systems perspective, you need to look at not just the direct emissions, but also the opportunity cost. Because for any solution to climate change, an opportunity cost is the cost of not doing something. So I say that, no, right now, we are extracting six times as much food as we need from the planet. Okay. And yet, a billion people are going hungry. So you ask how did we manage that? You know, we extract six times as much food as we need, and yet make a billion people hungry and starve. Because we took most of that food that we extracted and we fed it to animals, and the animals do a 40 to 1 reduction in the food. So the amount of animal foods that we get from the animals is 148 the amount of food that they eat. So we create an artificial scarcity by by using the animal as an intermediary, and then the animal foods make us sick. So it's like it doesn't make any sense. The food system doesn't make any sense whatsoever. So you ask instead of feeding the animals, if you took the food directly and ate it, what would happen? Well, then you don't have to extract six times as much food because you need from the planet, you can extract exactly the food that you need from the planet. And the other five of the food that we extract, we can leave it for biodiversity to come back for carbon to get sequestered. So it's that the act of not extracting the food is a carbon opportunity cost, right? So it turns out that the amount of food that we would leave, the amount of vegetation that we would leave, actually is about 11 Giga tons of co2 equivalent 11.5 Giga tons of co2 equivalent, and that's just above ground. Whatever you leave above ground, twice as much gets stored below ground. So you can triple that. So the opportunity cost of eating animal foods is on the order of 35 gigatons of co2 per year. Okay, so which is almost 70% of the total co2 emissions that we're doing every year. So just the opportunity cost. And then there is direct emissions, which is another 30%. So, overall, I say that animal agriculture is responsible for at least 87% of co2 emissions on an annual basis, meaning if we stopped animal agriculture and had a vegan world today, and we just took all the animals out, they would reduce our co2 emissions by at least 87%. On an annual basis. Okay. So that is engineering, actually, it's simple systems engineering one on one, because the systems engineer is the first person you ask to come up with a solution to a problem, right? That's what I specialize in. And if someone gives me a problem, like climate change, and says, How do you solve it, I would actually start with with tabulating all of these opportunity costs and figuring out what is the next step that we could be doing that would minimize that will get us on the path to a solution. And I say that shutting down animal agriculture, shutting down the killing machine is the number one thing we can do. Because there is nothing that does not improve when you shut down the killing machine on this planet. Because we have to recognize that we have unleashed a machine that kills over 80 billion land animals, or one to 3 trillion sea animals, in addition to 10s of billions of trees, and 14 million human beings on this planet from avoidable causes. Okay, starvation, through chronic diseases, and so on. And that machine is not good for us. It's not good for our health is not good for the planet health. And it's almost self evident, that the planet is dying around you that we need to turn off the killing machine that they've unleashed on this planet. Right? It's almost common sense. And to me, it's truly shocking that the UN Climate Change meetings and all don't even address that.Katie Kurpanek:
And you speak to that, again, you know, in Well, it's been covered in several of the documentaries that you've been an executive producer for, and then also in your own books. But could you speak to that a bit here? Why is that so ignored? And so silent among many critical environmentalists? And yeah, why is that so ignored?Dr. Sailesh Rao:
Because it's the foundation of the current system. So it's, in any system. People tend to only look at possibilities that maintain the system, especially those in power, because they're in power, and they like their position within the system. And they don't want that to change. Right? So they, they only look at things that will keep their system stable. Whereas when we address the foundation flaws, we are actually talking about creating a new system. You know, because I guess, you know, coming back to the Galilean moment, when he insisted that the sun does not go around the Earth, the Earth goes around the sun. And he got thrown in jail for that, right. But imagine if if we had stuck to our guns and sat down that the sun goes around the Earth, then there would be no scientific revolution. There'll be no industrial revolution, none of that would have happened at all right? Because we couldn't have made any progress. And so the Enlightenment in Europe happened because People who are bold enough to say, okay, that's that's the truth. In the same way now, everyone the establishment is sticking to its false axioms, the axiom of consumerism and the axiom of supremacism. I mean, I go to cop 26. And you see a huge ticker tape with all the corporate sponsors, you know, and you see that the axiom of consumerism is alive and well. And you go to the cafeteria, and you see burgers being served. And so you see the axiom of supremacism is alive and well. And so they are desperately trying to find a solution that maintains the axiom of consumerism and the axiom of supremacism. And I'm telling them, it's impossible, you know, and you really have to overturn these two axioms. Yes, so then what are the correct axioms, instead of the axiom of consumerism, is the axiom of inner peace, which is that the pursuit of happiness is best accomplished by seeking it within ourselves. And this is something that we need to teach our children to look for happiness within themselves, to teach all of us I mean, we all need to recognize that we all know that, you know, in our heart of hearts, we know that except we pretend, and we go along with the current system. Right? And, and instead of the axiom of supremacism is the axiom of unity, which is that all life is one family in which we each bring our unique skills to give all we can receive what we need and become all we are, which is the vitality code of Dr. Shelley estrus. So, and I say that is the truth, we each have our own unique skills that we bring to every species, every member of every species belongs on Earth. And so when we implement a system on the correct axioms, we automatically with a small climate change, automatically will solve biodiversity loss and ecosystems collapse, will automatically create a system that can thrive forever, right. But, unfortunately, those who are empowered today are trying to maintain the system. That's their role. I don't blame them, and that's their role. So but it's up to us to keep pointing out that there are foundational flaws, that there is no way that you can, you can come up with a scientific revolution by pretending that the sun goes around the Earth, right. So at some point, you have to give that up. In the same way, we have to give up these false axioms of consumerism and supplements.Katie Kurpanek:
Yeah, and again, connecting this to what we talked about earlier, any kind of change that is necessary to bring new life into the world, there has to be a giving up of the old to some degree. And whether it is shifting to a global, you know, vegan diet, or a lot of environmentalists right now will focus on fossil fuels instead, and how we need to stop relying on fossil fuels for our energy sources and switch to more renewable energy clean energy sources. And like you've said in your work, you've talked about, yes, we do need to do that. That is important work to be doing. But again, that is going to require a shift in our systems, it's going to require changing how we've done things, how we've relied on the fossil fuel industry. So there's going to be that kind of a shift coming anyway. But then you've talked about how that does not like renewable energy does not remove the excess carbon that's already in the atmosphere. And so in order to do that, that's where the shift to a vegan diet comes in. Because not only are we not contributing more excessive carbon into the air through through not just the air, but the atmosphere through animal agriculture, but also the replenishing of forests and green land in general is going to sequester that extra carbon. So it's kind of both, we need to do both. And that means that we're going to have to make some giant shifts anyway, I guess that's the point that I'm driving at that like, in order to sustain better health on our planet and a future for our next generations, we're going to need to make these big shifts. Anyway. That brings me to one of my last talk main points for you, which is that you compare this whole global shift to the metamorphosis from a caterpillar to a butterfly. And I love the connection that you created here. And I think it would be really powerful if you would be able to expand on that in this podcast, and what brings you hope in the work that you're doing recently as we work towards this sort of butterfly metamorphosis.Dr. Sailesh Rao:
Yeah. See, I begin the assumption. I mean, this again, this thanks to my granddaughter. You know, she changed my life when she was born.Katie Kurpanek:
Aww,Dr. Sailesh Rao:
yeah, she did. So because we are the first generation to admit that humans are changing the climate of the planet, okay. And we are also the last generation that can act that can take action about, they can do something about this. If we don't take actions in the next few years, it will be impossible for generations coming after us to reverse the damage. As it is, I'm not sure if we are on time. Okay, so I have to assume that we are on time, I have to assume that it's best better to do it now than to wait another few years. Right. So because we have wiped out seven to 13% of all species on this planet, and it's not clear that the ecosystems of the planet are stable, once you wipe out seven to 13% of all species, we, but we have to use whatever stability there is, in order to prop it up and then and make sure that we don't lose any more species and then to bring back the biodiversity of the planet. Right. So that's our job. And that is the transformation that is the metamorphosis from the caterpillar to the butterfly. Because, like in any, you know, any species on this planet belongs exactly as it is, you know, like, the elephant belongs exactly as it is the elephant, even when the elephant is breaking branches of trees, eating the leaves and throwing the branches away, wherever the elephant broke branches of trees, that's where the sunlight streams to nourish the underbrush. Right, so, the elephant has no choice, but to belong in the ecosystem. So it has no choice but to be in alignment with the ecosystems of the planet. And I say in the same way, we can pretend all we want, but we belong exactly as we are. Right? We think that we are separated from nature, but in reality separation is a delusion. We have always belonged in nature, we still belong in nature. And, and it is our role in the caterpillar phase to heat up the planet. And we have done a really good job of it. Okay, so our role was to heat up the planet, so that the Earth does not ever have to go back to the Ice Age again. And we have accomplished that. And now we have to stop heating up the planet, and instead start healing the planet and healing and, and maintaining the temperature where it is. So soon as we admitted that we are changing the climate of the planet, we own it, we have responsibility to maintain it. And to keep it stable. That requires a different system than a climate heating system. Climate heating is easy, just burn down forests, kill things, you know, you can heat up the climate, right? Climate healing is, is a much more, it's a much more of a responsibility. And we have to start playing infinite games as opposed to finite games. If you look at all the games we play today, it's they're all finite games. There's one winner and all the rest are losers. And then we play that game. Even among species, we think that we are the winning species and all the other species are losers, right. But when you play an infinite game, the purpose of the game is to prolong the game. So that's what sustainability is. Sustainability means that you're living in a way that you can live like that forever on this planet. Right? So that's an infinite game. So fundamentally, you want to get into an infinite game. Therefore you need to start playing infinite games. And so in an infinite game, there are no winners and losers. Every one is a player, and everyone is contributing to prolong the game. Right. So it's a different mindset altogether. Where we begin to treat all of our fellow beings, you know, as fellow passengers on spaceship Earth, who are each playing the vital role. And this patient worth now we'll never have another ice age again. And that's what we have accomplished as a species, right? In the caterpillar phase, it to me, it's part of the progression of humanity. It's a natural step, to go from the caterpillar to the butterfly.Katie Kurpanek:
And then, once that transformation starts to take place, you know, going into the cocoon, the caterpillar literally literally turns its world upside down in order to do that, and the cocoon forms around cutting it off from all the life that it's known before. I think that that in itself is a very powerful image. And where do you personally fall with that? Do you feel that we're in this sort of, you know, cocoon phase where the cells of the caterpillar are competing against the new cells of the butterfly? Do you feel like we're about to emerge into this completely transformational butterfly stage? What do you think currently, I know that your book was written, you know, six years ago now, but where do you land on that today?Dr. Sailesh Rao:
I say that the Coronavirus was mother nature's way of sending us to our rooms. And to think about what we have done. And to me, that is the cocoon phase. Right? So cocoon phase meaning you go and you start thinking about what you've done. And and and then you come out and you decide what kind of butterfly, what what part of the butterfly they want to be. Right. So, so it's not about going back to the way things were, which is what some people are trying to do. It's about recognizing that something has fundamentally changed in and I you know, when when the pandemic hit, I was asking, you know, why aren't our leaders telling us that eating animals causes pandemics? Right? Why would they treat animal agriculture infrastructure as critical infrastructure is like a military war. I mean, it's it's a military objective to produce meat, you know, that sort of framing basically, was trying to fight the fight nature, fight the, the idea that we were going into a cocoon. And then we are transforming as a species, but it's inevitable. Human nature is so much more powerful than us. So she, nature is going to force us to, to, to do it, right. You know, because if we ignore this signal, there's another signal coming. And it will be more powerful than the signal. So it's at some point, you have to wake up.Katie Kurpanek:
I love that. And I'm very hopeful that we are on that brink of change, and that more and more people are listening to those signals and waking up now. So thank you so much, just endless gratitude for everything that you do and the work that you're doing with climate healers, you know, the nonprofit that you founded, we, I would love to bring it in for a landing by talking about not only how could people get in touch with the work that you're doing now, like what would you point them towards as resources, but also, I always ask my guest speakers, a similar question at the end, which is typically what are three steps, 1-3 steps, that our listeners could take, you know, as soon as today in order to and then fill in the blank, depending on what we're talking about. So for you, you know, considering their various backgrounds and cultural stigmas, and you know, levels of privilege and accessibility to resources, do you have a couple actionable steps you would recommend taking so that listeners can deepen their understanding of what it means to be vegan, and then make that connection toward healing our planet?Dr. Sailesh Rao:
Oh, thank you. Thank you, Katie. I yeah, I say to people, you know, the most important thing you can do is to go vegan. And, and but then, almost as important is to stay engaged. reached and increase your social interaction, not decrease it. Which is what I did actually, when I went vegan, I increased my social interaction, I went and stayed with relatives, I went and stayed with friends, wherever I went. And because to me, it was important to, to spread the word. So people will ask me, so why do you eat this way you eat? Why do you do what you do, and gives an opportunity for you to talk about it? Right? With compassion, of course. And not, there is no judgment involved. But I tell them, This is why I do what I do. And no one can argue with your story. And they will then take what they need from yesterday. So you're planting a seed, I'd say that's the most second most important thing you can do. And third is, you know, don't be isolated, just come come together with people join a community and do it together. Because, to me, sustainability, the path to sustainability is a group effort. You know, it is we, together, but butterfly, not individually.Katie Kurpanek:
That's so beautiful. Thank you. And I completely agree with all of that. And it really ties into so much of what previous speakers on this podcast have shared, it always comes back to community and the fact that the choices that we make are intersectional. And they're all you know, connected. And one more thing that I'll reference from your book, you had referenced a quote, talking about how once a choice not only impacts you but you know, millions, if not more people and life around the planet, it's no longer a personal choice, it's a moral choice. And so then you need to focus on like, what is the most ethical, moral choice that you could be making? So I think that this, you know, to me, this conversation feels very inspiring. And what could people look towards when they they want some resources? How can they find out more about you and your work?Dr. Sailesh Rao:
Yeah, everything I do is on climate healers.org. And everything I do is open source. I don't. I mean, I try not to solicit funds for what I do so so that it's as unencumbered as possible. So I have pulled it all out, put it on the website, even the books are on the website, or the entire text is on the website. So people can can go through those. And I tell people, it's up to each one of us, to educate ourselves, and to communicate effectively. Because we each have our own circle of influence. So don't ever underestimate your circle of influence.Katie Kurpanek:
Mm hmm. Yeah, that that global scale of change is only going to happen within small communities all over the world. So thank you so much again, for your work and for your time today. It is genuinely a privilege to be able to talk with you and I'm just so appreciative of this conversation.Dr. Sailesh Rao:
Thank you, Katie.Katie Kurpanek:
I hope you enjoyed today's episode, and if you did, I would love it if you would share it with a friend. Spread the word over your social media, or simply leave a review wherever you subscribe to this podcast to help others find it as well. Thank you so much for being here. I'll catch you next time.