Vegan photographer and director of “The Game Changers,” Louie Psihoyos, just appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. The pair discussed climate change, factory farming, and how we might be able to feed the growing population.
The 62-year-old Oscar-winning filmmaker spoke to Rogan about our oceans and marine life. Psihoyos was asked about his 2009 film “The Cove,” which exposed the “gruesome secret” of fishermen in Taiji, Japan, who capture and kill dolphins.
“That movie changed a lot of people’s minds and opened up a lot of people’s eyes to the horrors of the way dolphins are slaughtered,” Rogan, who is a hunter, said.
“I think they are as intelligent as human beings,” he added. “We don’t appreciate what they are but when we look at the complexity of their brains, the fact that their cerebral cortex is 40 percent larger than a human being’s, they have this incredibly complex language that we don’t even really totally understand.”
Rogan commented that films like “The Cove” and “Blackfish” — as well as organizations like Sea Shepherd — were changing people’s outlooks on marine life. “I think when all’s said and done, we’re gonna look at this as some insane slaughter of what’s basically like water people, they’re like some form of super-intelligent life,” Rogan said in the podcast. He later referred to marine animals as “the most fantastic creatures that the world has ever known.”
Seafood and Health
Psihoyos spoke about the health risks tied to the consumption of seafood. “The reason they shouldn’t be eaten besides the fact that they’re sentient and intelligent is also that they’re toxic,” the filmmaker said. “Their flesh is now some of the most toxic waste in the world.”
Psihoyos noted that there are around 6,000 times more PCBs in the flesh of dolphins than in the ocean. Polychlorinated biphenyls are organic chlorine compounds that are thought to cause cancer in humans.
“All the flesh that’s been tested in Japan in the last 20 years has between five and 5,000 times more mercury than allowed by Japanese law if it was a fish, but it’s a mammal of course,” he added.
Rogan replied: “It’s insane. Just hearing that is insane.”
Feeding the World
“It’s weird to reconcile the idea that tuna is endangered,” Rogan later said. “You think of tuna as being something that you get at the store … it’s such a common food.”
Psihoyos notes that the population of bluefin tuna is down to around 4 percent of the species’ historical levels.
Rogan acknowledged that not enough is being done about the issue. “Everyone’s waiting for someone else to do something and in the meantime, everyone’s just trying to make money,” the comedian said.
Psihoyos nodded to the number of people inhabiting the planet — currently 7.5 billion and “soon to be” 10 billion — and stated that there aren’t enough wild animals to feed us all.
But farmed animals aren’t necessarily the solution. Psihoyos highlighted research that found that fish that are raised have eight times more pollutants than wild fish.
A Planet in ‘Chaos’
The pair also discussed the environmental aspect of killing and consuming animals. Rogan stated that our ecosystems are in “chaos.” He acknowledged that fishing has a “huge” impact on climate change. “Most people are concerned with so many different things that they don’t have time to think about the massive overfishing and pollution of the ocean,” Rogan said.
Rogan asked Psihoyos if it would be possible to “repopulate” the oceans. “Stopping or slowing down fishing would be wonderful,” Rogan said.
Psihoyos responded that he thinks it’s “impossible” to replenish the oceans due to “the scale of what’s going on right now.”
Rogan acknowledged that society must figure out how to feed the planet, but also, how to feed a planet that may see its population double in the next 50 years. Psihoyos believes the solution lies with plant-based food.
The documentary filmmaker recalled a recent trip to Loma Linda in California. It’s one of the five Blue Zones on the planet and a community of around 9,000 people reside there. The people living in Blue Zones typically live around 10 years longer and without chronic disease. Psihoyos noticed Loma Linda’s grocery stores don’t sell any meat. “They have cow’s milk but it’s on the bottom shelf,” he said.
Factory Farms ‘Should Be Transparent’
Rogan has long been vocal about his animal-based diet and has frequently encouraged his vegan guests to eat non-vegan foods, however, he may be turning over a new leaf.
Musing on how we might be able to feed the growing population, Rogan said, “I have hope for this fake meat [expletive].”
He clarified that he’s referring to lab-grown meat, also known as clean meat. Lab-grown meat is produced by the in vitro cultivation of animal cells. It results in a food that is identical to meat because biologically, it is. The process can be completed without harming an animal.
“I am not a fan of factory farming … I saw a lot of those PETA documentaries and I just didn’t want to have any part of any of that [expletive],” Rogan said. “All that stuff is wrong. All of it’s wrong.” He added that ag-gag laws “keep people from divulging the horrors of these factory farms.”
“These places should be transparent … It’s not necessary. They’re doing that for profit and this is why you can get a chicken sandwich for $1.99,” Rogan said, later adding that he feels “sick” eating meat that comes from a factory farm. Earlier this year, the Sentience Institute looked at data from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and found that 99 percent of meat, dairy, and eggs in the U.S. come from factory farms.
Rogan revealed that he barely drinks milk. “If I drink four glasses of milk a year, it’s a lot. I don’t think it’s good for you,” the host said, adding that drinking dairy milk makes him feel “gross.” Rogan added, “It’s like my body is like, ‘what is this?'”