could be time to rethink meat again

i bought a copy of upton sinclair’s “the jungle” and brought it with me to costa rica. good timing, as the meat industry is once again in the news. from an article this weekend in the NYT:

To put the energy-using demand of meat production into easy-to-understand terms, Gidon Eshel, a geophysicist at the Bard Center, and Pamela A. Martin, an assistant professor of geophysics at the University of Chicago, calculated that if Americans were to reduce meat consumption by just 20 percent it would be as if we all switched from a standard sedan — a Camry, say — to the ultra-efficient Prius. Similarly, a study last year by the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Japan estimated that 2.2 pounds of beef is responsible for the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the average European car every 155 miles, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days.

[….]Perhaps the best hope for change lies in consumers’ becoming aware of the true costs of industrial meat production. “When you look at environmental problems in the U.S.,” says Professor Eshel, “nearly all of them have their source in food production and in particular meat production. And factory farming is ‘optimal’ only as long as degrading waterways is free. If dumping this stuff becomes costly — even if it simply carries a non-zero price tag — the entire structure of food production will change dramatically.”






3 responses to “could be time to rethink meat again”

  1. Jondi Avatar

    Cows are an awesomely efficient food animal, in terms of converting grass into high quality protein. The problem comes when you feed cows grain, which they can’t digest, and takes much more water to grow. The price of marbled meat is too high, but grass-fed meat gets unfairly lumped in with the corn-fattened animals.

    There are ethical reasons (which I am sympathetic to) to not eat animals, but I don’t there there are valid economic ones. The real question is which foods are being subsidized by the US government (that would be corn).

  2. ru Avatar

    rethink, react

    good post. one of the reasons why i don’t partake. Jon Josef aka bloodclot, vocalist for the cro-mags, has been talking about this for a good while. while not a solution in and of itself, a nice dump tax would help. the mechanism of a corporation’s purpose-making profit- can work to human benefit if negative practices run against the purpose and hinder profit.

  3. Michelle Avatar

    I could have told you that!!!

    I think the economic reasons for not eating meat actually outweigh the ethical reasons. Grass-fed beef isn’t the average American eats, and is a fraction of a fraction of the tiniest percentage of meat out there on the market. And also… if you want to factor in the amount of water it takes to raise, feed and lead a grass-fed cow to slaughter, the negative environmental impact isn’t that much better than the factory farm, corn-fed model.

    I used to have a revised food pyramid that simplified this… broke the traditional pyramid down by the foods that had the most harmful impact… don’t know where I have that in a digital format anymore…

    Here’s a good run-down by Vegan Outreach, an org that came to be back when I first became vegan almost 14 years ago:

    Yay for bringing up the discussion!

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