Friday, 13 May 2011

The Omnivore's Dilemma

In my wanderings through the intarwebz, I came across this delightful bit of logic, from the book the Omnivore's Dilemma. Which, in total fairness, I haven't read.

One very interesting point in "Omnivore's Dilema" is that in the broad scope, it is impossible for us to eat without causing the death of animals. Even if you decide to eat only plants - what happens to the mice, moles, etc. when you plow the earth to plant the food? So, if your interest is to cause the least number of animal deaths, then eat the largest animal that you can grow for food purposes - which would be the cow. 

Firstly; yes, every vegan is aware that we cannot save every animal in the world. We just do our best.  I get really tired of people who decide vegans are idiots, and try to prove it by throwing out things like "I bet you wear leather shoes!" (real quote).  Seriously?  Most vegans and vegetarians do avoid animal products in areas other than food.  Most veg*ns I know are neither stupid nor hypocrites, at least no more than the rest of the world.

Main point; what exactly do you think the cow eats?

Answer; 12lbs of grain per 1lb of meat.  Not including the 55 square feet of rainforest, and 2500 gallons of water.  If you eat the cow, you are consuming all of that, plus the cow.  Not just the cow.

So yes, although you cannot save every single life, you will minimise them, not by feeding grain into a cow which will produce less food, but by just eating it yourself.

Besides which; I can't be the only person who thinks the phrase "animal you can grow for food purposes" sounds a bit sociopathic, can I?  Really think about it.  That's a creature, not a thing.

Some farms do advertise themselves as fully grass-fed and sustainable. Those words are contradictory after a certain point.

Grass-fed cows need a lot of space to wander around in. This space becomes more compacted and arid the longer they stand on, resulting in the death of plant life followed by the death of local animal life. With a very small herd of cows, it would be possible to keep rotating them through different pastures. However, if the demand for this meat grows, more cows are required. Which means more space. A lot more space. Byebye rainforests.

Grass-fed cows will also be given hay in winter sometimes. Which comes with all the harvesting problems mentioned above.

Grass-fed cows only work if only a few people do it. Like freeganism. It relies on everyone else either eating factory farmed meat, or a vegan diet. Plus, it doesn't account for dairy cows, and their calves.

Finally, in my case, grass-fed sustainable meat isn't possible, or desirable (don't let the word 'meat' fool you, we're still talking about living creatures). Furthermore, I couldn't live on a fully carnivorous diet. I doubt most humans could. Which means I'm still going to be eating quite a lot of grains, and vegetables. Replacing my meat intake with those grains doesn't actually raise the total amount significantly.

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