I met Daniel Zetah this past summer, while interning on a small-scale vegetable farm in northern Minnesota. He arrived one Thursday in a white, well-worn isuzu pickup, together with his fiancée, Stephanie. They brought with them two coolers full of meat (which they raised and butchered themselves), a few baskets of vegetables, a live turkey and her poults, two dogs, some camping equipment, and an old friend from their eco-village days who they had fortuitously seen hitchhiking along the side of the road. Daniel had interned on the farm years ago, and he was now returning to be married.
I learned over the course of their visit that Daniel had spent years living in Tasmania, where he had been a “freegan” (someone that scavenges for free food to reduce their consumption of resources), and full-time environmental activist, then a permaculture student, and then a natural builder. I learned Daniel had spent nine months on The Sea Shepherd—an anti-whaling ship vessel that uses direct-action tactics to confront illegal whaling ships—and played a very active role in Occupy Wallstreet.
I learned, too, that after ten years of vegetarianism, Daniel had become a big-time carnivore. As I had recently given up meat in an effort to mitigate my environmental impact, this choice struck me as incongruous. We ended up having a conversation about ethical and environmental eating, which challenged, angered, intrigued, and enlightened me. Daniel and his wife returned to their once-farm in central Minnesota, to finish packing and preparing to move to Tasmania. I called him at home to get the whole story, and record it for this article.
Would you describe yourself as a long-time farmer and environmental activist?
Not at all. I used to be a redneck. I used to race cars and motorcycles and snowmobiles… I was a motorhead. I don’t want people to think I was always like this, because then they’re like “oh, they were just brought up that way by parents that…” it’s like no, no: I was raised by wolves.
Until I was in my early 20s I ate nothing but crap. Like, garbage, American, supermarket food. When I would go shopping, I was literally after the cheapest calories I could possibly find at the supermarket.
When did that start to change?
Well, I met a girl that I ended up getting married to and she was vegetarian, and so I started eating a vegetarian diet. Which is still completely disconnected and completely clueless as to what your eating and where it’s from, it’s just you’re not eating meat. I ate tons of grain, lots of dairy and cheese, even eggs, but just no meat… And that’s where I was at for probably a good eight years, until my early 30s.
But then I met a guy in Tasmania that basically just said “Dude, what are you doing?” and kind of told me in a very blunt manner that my actions did not match my rhetoric in a lot of areas of my life, including my dietary choices. His words were as sensitive as a sledge hammer but I couldn’t refute what he was saying. It was tough… but, like…
A lot of people, when you tell them a truth that goes against their reality, they get pissed off, because their egos can’t handle it, and so they want to dismiss what the person said… but I couldn’t do that in this situation. I was just clueless and when this guy gave me a clue, I couldn’t return to being clueless.
So at that point, I started looking at labels of everything that I was eating. It’s like, ‘whoa okay, so now I’ve got to worry about this and this and this… ‘ and it was a rabbit hole.
The more I learned about what was actually destructive to the environment or my body, the more I had to look for on labels, and after a time I couldn’t actually shop at the supermarket anymore because there was nothing I could eat there in good conscience, and then I started shopping at the food co-ops, and then I ended up as a two-year freegan – freeganism.
And I thought: ‘that’s my way out of guilt– my way of absolving my guilt from staying alive and eating food, is just eating food that’s getting thrown out.’ So I spent probably a good year and a half in Hobart, eating nothing but discarded food from restaurants and from market stall owners. I got to know all of them by name, and they would just save me whatever they had left over, and I actually had a rounds, so I never actually had to go to the dumpster, I just intercepted food destined for landfill.
What were you doing at the time?
I had quit my job working for the state government as an auditor/prosecutor for chemical spraying operations in Tasmania and had become a full-time environmental activist, because when I started going down this rabbit hole and learning more about peak oil and climate change I was like, ‘oh God!’ Here I was, just a couple years ago being completely clueless, and then this guy told me this stuff, and now I have the responsibility of the world on my shoulders, to tell everybody what I know, and I just thought at the time that it was literally a lack of awareness by people, and that if people like me would just get out and talk enough that it would all be okay, but I had no idea that it wasn’t a lack of information, it was just a lack of willingness to change. So that’s what I was doing, was just going around and speaking to school groups, speaking at different engagements… I was going to the state government of Tasmania and doing lobbying for energy policy reform, studying energy policy really really heavily, reading everything I could about climate change and human behavior, trying to figure out a way to engage with people that would allow them to absorb what I had to tell them. We all know how that works, but yeah, that’s what I did for a year and a half.
And where does the Sea Shepherd fit into this?
I was living on my boat, when the Sea Shepherd’s ship the Steve Irwin docked next to me. So I ended up going over there and volunteering. They invited me to come along, so I sold my boat, and ended up on that ship for about 9 or 10 months. So then I was a vegan all of the sudden, because the ship is a vegan ship. So I didn’t really have much choice. And I remember seeing the disconnect there—seeing people eating these soy based meat replacers, and veganase, and all this horrible packaged shit, that had all these ingredients that were grown in industrial agriculture, but they were eating them quite happily, knowing that there wasn’t any animal product in it. Their reasoning behind being vegan, was apparently to minimize animal suffering, but in my mind, they were actually causing more cumulative harm than they would have caused if they were eating meat.
Well… Don’t get me wrong, I like folks who eat vegan diets because at least they care enough to want to do less harm, but most of their food is heavily processed, most is from unknown origin, and a large portion of the calories vegans consume are soy based. And growing soybeans in a way that minimizes suffering is tough. Most, I would say 99.9% of soy beans grown, are grown in a monoculture, and they rely on outside inputs for fertilizer, and unless they are organic they rely on lots of toxic chemicals to be sprayed on for insecticides, fungicides, herbicides… more and more they’re GMO in the seed. So it’s all kinds of bad. If you’re eating stuff that contains palm oil grown in once-rainforests or anything with corn or soy beans, anything that’s grown in the absence of a functioning ecosystem by industrial farmers…to me, the misery is just more spread out.
I mean, I grew up with cows, and I love cows more than most people I know, but why is their right to live more than the right for a whippoorwill to live or a snake to live or a mouse to live? Why is it that their rights trump the thousands of species that die in monocropped, industrial agricultural fields every year? Why does it trump all the species that have damn near gone extinct, or have gone extinct, since industrial agriculture has plowed up millions and millions and millions of acres of prairie in this country and destroyed their habit? Why do their rights not exist?
I mean, and this is the same thing: I love whales, that’s why I was on that anti-whaling ship, but why does the whale’s right to exist supersede that of those other beings? Just because they’re cute and they’re big and they’re high profile? So we only like big animals? It just didn’t really compute with me.
What happened when you got off the Sea Shepherd?
After I got off the Sea Shepherd I ended up moving to a small village up in the mountains of Tasmania called Lorena, to do a permaculture course—my first permaculture course—and ended up getting offered a job by an awesome guy that was building straw bale houses in that valley, so I stayed there for two years. That’s when I read The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which helped me realize the complexity of our food choices.
The day I finished that book, I decided that I needed to take more personal responsibility for the calories that were keeping me alive, and that if I ever hit an animal with my car again, I would feel like I had to eat that animal. That very same same day, I hit a humongous wallaby, so I brought it home, and with help from my neighbor, went through the process of gutting, skinning, butchering, cooking and eating it. That was the first time I’d eaten meat in over 10 years.
There is no magic bullet. There is no one way to eat that is going to be devoid of guilt or devoid of suffering. There is no way to exist in this world without taking the life of other beings. And that complex truth was missing for me, and it’s still missing for a lot of people… They just go to this magical place called the supermarket, and these magical trucks come in the middle of the night, and magical ferries put all this stuff on eye level shelves, where you just go in there and give this magical money to somebody, and they give you all the things you need to survive. Well, that’s all really convenient, but it’s really disconnecting. And as long as you’re doing that, you can believe this myth that you can eat and survive without doing any harm to anybody else. That myth was shattered when I read that book.
And that event set you down the path towards raising livestock?
Well I guess that path led to learning more and more and more, and realizing, that while there is no hard rule for what a human being should eat, or what the perfect diet is, in terms of minimizing suffering of other beings, there is an ideal diet for each region and each situation, and where I chose to farm, which is south-central Minnesota, well that bioregion was a tall-grass prairie/ oak savanna biome, and that oak savanna biome evolved over hundreds of thousands of years with grazing animals as an integral part in it.
I can’t eat grass, I can’t break down cellulose, but I can eat meat. And the fact is that every time we plant some kind of annual crop, in a monocultural setting, we have to effectively destroy an intact ecosystem to do that. Annuals are only meant as a tool in nature to stabilize soil that has somehow become open to the elements– that’s their job. They come up right away, after a flood or a tree falls or whatever, and they stabilize that soil so it’s not going to wash or blow away, and then overtime the perennial plants will say “okay, we got this. Thanks for doing that, you did a good job, but we’re back now and we’re going to be an intact ecosystem of perennial plants and grazing animals.”
And so I realized that I wanted to gain as many of my calories from that perennial ecosystem as possible, and in this biome, I can do that with some vegetables that we grow in a diverse garden; wild edibles like wild greens, berries, nuts, fruit; and with meat!
I mean having one animal, that’s eaten nothing but grass all its life, and that grass is actually benefiting from it because that whole system evolved to have that animal in it, as part of it, putting its nutrients back into the system in the form of urine and feces, covering the soil by trampling and eating the plants, feeding the soil microorganisms, and it’s all just this beautiful cycle that annuals can’t match…
It came down to would I rather kill one animal that’s going to feed me literally hundreds of meals, or eat annual crops that I know are just destructive to countless beings?
Even when we’re unaware of all this, I think we all feel this burden, unconsciously, of just being, because we know deep down somewhere in our core, that what we’re doing and what agriculture is doing, is just bad. And so when I broke that tie, and that reliance from annual agriculture like that, I just felt more at peace. Even though I had to shoot animals directly in the head that I knew and loved and had to watch them die, I felt I was causing less death and suffering in this world than I had before. As long as I was growing, preparing and preserving that food, and getting at least 90-95% of our calories from our land, I’d felt more peace in just being than I have in years. Because I felt that burden lift.
Even more at peace than when you were a freegan?
When you’re a freegan, you’re removing yourself from all responsibility. Which is good, because… it’s one step to say “no” to bad. That’s what vegans do. And that has some kind of an impact on how many resources flow towards that bad system, of keeping animals in confined barns standing in their own shit, but it’s not actually benefiting, or creating, what you want to see.
And what I want to see is systems that are going to mimic natural systems and be good for everything, not just the humans or the domesticated animals, but the wild species as well. I want to see food that is grown in those systems in harmony with an intact ecosystem. And if I stop eating CAFO meat, like I said, that’s better than bad, but good, on the other side, is actually supporting those few farmers that are growing food regeneratively, and doing agriculture in a completely different way.
I’ve had this argument with many folks for the past few years who say without large scale industrial agriculture, people will starve. “We have to feed the world!” is their mantra. They use this story to perpetrate all kinds of horrible stuff on the earth’s ecologies and beings. My argument is that if your idea for feeding a growing population is reliant on a degenerative system, one that produces less with every succeeding year… you are kidding yourself. It’s a divergent equation. Only regenerative agriculture has any hope at feeding a growing population into the future, since it is becomes more productive as it matures.
I’ve traveled enough and seen enough things grown around the world to know that even organic food, most of it, 99% of it, is grown in monocultures. Go out to California and see the organic almond orchards that go for miles and miles with not one other species in the mix. It’s just those trees, there’s no biodiversity at all, all of the native animals are gone, because all of their habitat is gone.
That’s not sustainable, that is not ethical, it’s just bad. But because technically they’re not spraying toxins…
I look at organics kinda like I look at vegetarianism. Organic food is better than bad, but it’s still not good. And so if your goal is to be better than bad, by all means, just buy organic food from people you’ve never met from the supermarket or co-op. Better than bad! But if you want to go a step further and actually try to create a system that’s going to feed people into perpetuity, and not destroy the ecosystem, you gotta do better than bad. You gotta do good.
So now you’re heading back to Tasmania, and you’ll be trying get your calories from an intact, local ecosystem?
I’ll be eating a lot of wallaby.
Post written by @Dustin_Michels. This interview was conducted August 1, 2015. Daniel and Stephanie are now kicking off their new life in Lorinna, Tasmania. You can learn more and connect with them online at newstoryfarm.com.
226 thoughts on “Beyond Vegetarian: One Man’s Journey from Tofu to Tallow in Search of the Moral Meal [Interview]”
This was an interesting read, Dustin. Thanks for posting! However, I was left wanting a more detailed reaction from you regarding Zetah’s journey and current argument. How does his position align with what we know scientifically (trophic ecology, nutrition, transgenics, climate change, etc.)? How attainable is his approach for the majority of the global human population? Should the geese at Viele Lake be served for lunch at Fairview High School?
Thanks for your story.
Conventional (industrial agriculture vs rotational grazing, and omnivore vs. herbivore.
For all the propaganda surrounding the productivity of GMOs (feeding the world) and Western Ag, the wage of consequences and disruption cannot be ignored. If your food requires inputs that must be brought onto the lands in order to bring about food production on the land, it counts against the viability of this food production method. The lowest amount of input wins.
My food production litmus test these days amounts to this: if you’re hungry now, how are you going to feed yourself…sans our just-in-time grocery store supply chain? Corn takes 80 to 120 days from planting to harvest. Soy about the same. Processing costs more time. Consider the contrast of raising multiple animal species which are rotationally grazed. Sun feeds the pasture grasses which feeds the animals. I first learned about this practice from Joel Salitin. Then I learned about the Savory Institute and Holistic Management Inc. Amazing resources that teach how to reduce impacts on the land and actually build soil, sequester water in-place and raise healthy animals. It’s an amazingly sustainable system.
I appreciate the contrasts and nuance of the vegan vs omnivore debate which ultimately resolves to this: our diet choices are our choices. How many people, processes, time and resources does our choice take to put food on our table? Milk and eggs from a biodynamic rotationally-run farm 2 miles from home….or buying a package of tofu at the store? And how does one eat seasonally as a vegetarian?
Why Allan Savory is not a Saviour
Hi Dustin, I am 80 years old and I have had my farm in Camp Verde, Arizona, for 45 years. For the first ten years, I produced organic grass fed beef that I sold to the Earthen Joy restaurant in Tempe, Arizona. My cattle were “pets” and it was a painful experience for me to kill them. They were always treated with kindness and never knew what was going to happen to them. Before each kill, I said a prayer, “Dear God, I am about to take some of your beauty from this earth. I promise that I will do my best to return good to this earth in exchange for the beauty that I am about to take from you.”
For my time on this farm, I have worked to promote the local production of organic food products, the creation of local and sustainable sources of energy and now research and experiments to remove carbon from the atmosphere and to sustainably store this carbon.
To do this, I grow trees on my farm, cut them down, cut them to length, split them, dry the wood and convert them into charcoal (which produces some net energy in the form of “wood gas”). I grind the charcoal and incorporate it into the soil on my farm (bio-char) which serves as a media to store nutrients in the soil and to absorb any toxic materials that come to the soil. This sequestration is only safe in the case of farmed land. There have been wild fires in Alaska where not only the timber burned, but the organic material in the soil burned!
Wood gas is an interesting subject. During the two world wars, cars and trucks were powered in Europe and Russia with wood gas. Today, good gas generators are being built in Russia.
I am also working on a project to store power on a small, local scale and other projects to benefit our earth.
Thanks for your patience to read my thoughts. I will appreciate any comments and suggestions about what I write here.
Fascinating really. I always understood the repercussions of mono-culture of all food but didn’t even bat an eyelid at veganism. It’s clear I’ve been brainwashed, and I am not even Vegan.
It’s comforting to know my family is on the way to being sustainable in TAS with yes, a small amount of monoculture, but next to a more sustainable permaculture plan.
I think for people to realise the effects of monoculture they need David Attemborough or similar to do a piece on its devastating effects. They have and always will need to have a doco. People are seldom reading now with all their time taken up with relaxing brain guzzling activities.
Are you in Tassie Claire?
I read your article about Daniel Zetah and I liked it very much. What a man! I agree fully with his opinions, and I realize that it is easier for mormor and me to live a life closer to his views than it is for big families in a city, especially if they don´t have much money. We consider ourselves priviliged. Thank you for sharing this interesting and convincing man with us all.
Jag älskar din envishet och glöd för att hitta det som känns rätt och bra för både jorden och oss människor. Det vet du.
Massor av kramar från din mormor
Thanks for the story! I’ve met and talked with Daniel a few times since we have a mutual acquaintance, but didn’t know his whole evolution. This covers it very nicely and concisely. Like others, I hope you follow up with him, and I’ll be checking out his website as well. Thanks again.
The issue I have with meat, even home raised has to do with the whole issue of trust that is built between the animal and its human caregiver.
The female animal is bred, gives birth to a baby that everyone says is so cute and adorable, and then over the course of weeks, months and in the case of cattle a few years, the animal bond with the human and builds trust, all within a captive environment.
Then one day the human because of selfish wants, takes the trusting animal and kills it. Takes its life. To me there is some mental disconnect when someone builds trust and then takes that trust away.
Am not talking of someone in the wilds of Alaska, Wyoming etc who hunts wild game. At least in that situation the animal has a chance of getting away because its not in a confined environment, and often the hunters comes home empty handed after a day or more of hunting.
the main problem here is that you are anthropomorphising the animals. They arent people. That cow doesnt “trust” you, he is simply accustomed to you. You bring him or her food or water or attention or whatever and it gets used to that action in what is essentially a training effect. You say you feel less guilty if an animal is hunted than if one is cleanly slaughtered.. why, because YOU feel it has some sort of “sporting chance”? What about the ones that get away with a bullet or an arrow in them, now they get trailed for hours or days while they slowly bleed out, panicing and tainting the meat… how is that better than a bullet to the brain or a quick swipe with a very sharp blade? I dont think either is actually wrong, but im just trying to point out to you that what we think will assauge our guilt as humans is not necessarily the same as being better for the animal. And neither is a “natural death” In my opinion, the kindest way the cycle of life can play out is an animal that is kept comfortable, content, ie grazin to their heart’s content, with good care and shelter as needed, never going hungry or thirsty or being scared by predators, then meeting their end in an instantanious fashion without even seeing it coming, having never known suffering. And that is doable.
“They aren’t people”
And presumably Marie, people aren’t animals either…
Whilst I agree with a lot of what you said re the appropriate way to raise and eat meat if we must eat it, never doubt that animals are capable of a wide range of emotions – especially the more ‘intelligent’ animals. How would you feel about the confining and raising of chimps and primates for food? Dogs? I guess we all have our own particular lines we will not cross.
Well said Marg. Our animals were emotional beings and wore it on their hides if you learned to observe. Love, respect, birth, death, life.
Perfect answer Marie
Re: The art of separation
Perfect for whom? Indeed, we live in a culture that condones the commodification of living beings.
Very well said, Marie! Thanks for sharing those words.
Marie, that is absolutely nonsense. If you think humans have a monopoly on the emotions, thought processes, and the ability to trust, you clearly know nothing about biology/animal psychology and can keep your unfounded assumptions to yourself. Blanket replies of “anthropomorphism” are facile nonsense.
Thank you Anthony! What is anthropomorphism anyways …. we are all beings but humans seem to think they can dominate and manage for survival …. which is all it is because there is no evolution of our being here in this whole conversation. Being a vegan for certain is not one thing … there are many many different vegans who adhere to different diets and, yes, just as there are unhealthy ways to be an ominvore or veggie, there are unhealthy/unethical/unsustainable ways to be vegan. I want to be vegan (thats a limited label of my lifestyle) and I create my life from that choice …. and so animals in my ‘system’ would share my space, drop their manure or finished bodies to enrich my soil ….. and not be used for any more than that. The biggest concern for me is that I love rice!! I cant grow that where I am and I am aware that my consumption of it is not viable. But being a vegan means that many many other options for food arise which so many dont consider. I have been absolutely loving burdock root lately …. highly efficient and compact food! VEgans arent only about tofu!!! This article is limited in its understanding of veganism ….. and I think Daniel simply want to eat meat … so be honest about that. btw I eat precious little soya at all.
I’m sorry my views of people who eat a vegan diet came across as harsh. I applaud your efforts to eat locally and even wild forage. We ate burdock root too, roasted it with dandelion and chickory root to make a yummy drink. In the interview, i tried clumsily to say that there is no perfect diet and it depends where on earth you are. I’m sure there are ecologies in the world where eating a vegetarian or vegan diet would be ethical and ecologically appropriate. Most cold climates where I’ve lived are not among them.
Marie, you said the “the cow doesn’t ‘trust’ you, he is simply accustomed to you.” You’re defining trust just as it applies to humans. You build trust with other humans by getting to know them, observing how they act, and then you assign “trust” to them once you’ve evaluated that they will act in good faith toward you. That’s the process of building trust and it’s the same for humans as it is for cows, just as you described.
Lately I hear people say that the kindest thing is to give an animal a good life and then a quick death. People say that’s best practice for livestock. So why don’t we apply that to pets? So often someone adopts a dog and years later their lifestyle changes, they get a new job that has them working more hours, babies, etc… and properly caring for the dog becomes a challenge. Why do we expect them to continue to care for the dog? Just euthanize the dog when they become inconvenient. Problem solved. The best application of this methodology is puppies. Because everyone loves puppies! But puppies turn into dogs and often people realize they loved the cute little puppy but don’t want to be responsible for a dog. So why do we insist that they are obligated to do so? Instead, adopt a puppy and when that puppy becomes a less-cute adult dog just give it a quick swipe with a very sharp blade. Then go back to the store and get another puppy. You can have puppies forever! Your kids will be so happy! And you’ll teach them the valuable lesson that if we apply trust to prevent animals from knowing suffering we can use them however we like. Let’s hope the kids internalize that lesson and apply it to all their relationships.
I can see where so many vegans/vegetarians get their sentiments from your post. This is not nature. Suffering is a part of nature. Out in nature, these animals evolved for millions of years because of the stresses. Predation. Droughts. Human ego comes in, doesn’t like the concept of death (because we all live sheltered fairytale lives of privilege and have expectations of creating a utopic world), so it takes this icky concept of death and says : how do we avoid it so that everyone is happy and healthy and we live in a world of rainbows and butterflies, where i can sleep at night comfortably because the world is at peace. This is not natural. yes of course, the animals in our care we want to see happy and living a good life, but you’re taking nature now and treating it as you would your child, protecting it from scary. This is not reality. We don’t need to nerf the world, we need to live more in harmony with it, and yes, animals did evolve in harmony with our ecosystems. Hopefully we can provide them with a good life, but in a properly designed system, the animals can help us regenerate the land and soil, and as in many aboriginal cultures of the world, the harmony that we can create WITH the animals will possibly even result in the animal being willing to sacrifice him/herself for the continuation of the cycle of life.
Agree entirely Beth. Too many people in the eat-meat camp are guilty of confirmation bias. Apart from the trust issue which you point out, let’s face it – there’s so much suffering involved in meat-eating, especially in the whole feed lot to supermarket sector. Also in “live export” which we do from Australia. Even on pasture land, where I observe so many cattle, sheep and even horses, without adequate shade or shelter.
Eating animals ethically, as Marie described above, is possible ( possible, but it does not necessary exist) only on a very small scale, in an environment of small, diverse family farm or homestead. As soon as it becomes commercial, ethic suffers. I moved to the land from the city to solve for myself the same problem as Daniel was facing. And I’ve gone through the same path of thinking as Daniel did, and came to the same conclusion – small farm as diverse regenerative ecosystem with native plants and heritage breeds of animals, who are important part of this ecosystem. This is the only sustainable way I can see. To grow sustainably and locally, to eat seasonally. And whatever the land you are walking on is providing you with naturally and sustainably is your ideal diet. I’ve been vegan for many years. Now I am drinking my milk and eating my meat. It is still never easy for me. But, the burden of guilt for my food and for my environmental impact is off my shoulders now. I am doing my best for myself, for my few customers, for my animals, for my land and at the end of the day, for the planet. I am not sure whether this model could feed the world. But if to think of putting all the soy and corn acres back into the hands of small farmers, probably it could. There would be no cheap junk on the grocery stores shelves, but this is something we can survive without.
This guy is 100% right. Better to eat lard and tallow and butter from pastured animals, raised ethically and sustainably on a small local farm, than to use coconut and palm oils brought here from Africa, which is loosing it’s rainforests, which are, as we know, chimp’s and orang-outang’s and other specie’s habitat, at enormous pace, just to satisfy our needs for “ethical” fats.
Boycott animal factories, boycott imported, not seasonal food, find your small farmer, there are a lot of them out there. Visit the farm, meet the land, meet the animals, probably volunteer there couple days a year or just bring your kids to show them how their food is growing. The greater the demand for local ethical food, the more farmers will switch from stupid routine of growing chemical corn to something much better, healthier and more satisfying. It is a long process and consumers are a driving force. Please! Do not just avoid the problem, do something!
They are not the only choices though, its so much broader than you say here …. there are many ways of going about not using animals. But I have stayed on small-scale ‘sustainable’ farms and they are simply a small scale of the big ones ….. the level of abuse was shocking to me and untenable and I chose to side step the whole issue by being vegan. It seems to make some folks feel better if its small scale but i just didnt get it at all …. animals are meant to be wild … out there … go catch one if you’re hungry … you might get a weak one or a sick one and in that way contribute to the strength of a herd …. but no animal was ever designed to be kept domestically … that is ONLY done to steal the ‘product’. I so long for us to emerge from this seeming RIGHT that we can behave this way .. or indeed that we HAVE to! The article is interesting but its more of the same I am afraid and totally inconclusive …. stay open folks!
Hey Chris (no reply button)
Re: human exceptionalism, self-justification and total domination
Desperate times call for desperate measures. Perhaps ultimately, recognizing truth requires a steady dose of compassion, understanding and selfless acts of kindness.
You said it way better than I did Marie!!!
RE: “…animals are meant to be wild…”
Meant? By whom? By inattentive nature anthropomorphized into a god?
Perhaps we are only meant to hunt with sticks? Not meant to use antibiotics if we’re wounded to give the bacteria a sporting chance?
We’ve evolved as a part of the ecosystem, and recent evolution (15,000 years) includes pastured animals and, even more recently (10,000 years), farming. If we’re restoring the natural chain of things by reversing time, your consumption of farmed vegetables and grains, even in your back yard, is much less as nature “meant” it to be.
We have to look at the outcomes. Can we raise animals in a way that they don’t experience psychological distress (which when permaculture-raised can actually be much less than in being hunted)? Can we raise dairy in a way the the biproduct is fertilizer for the garden? Can we raise vegetables, grains and fruit in a way that allows more species to thrive?
There is no “meant to”. There is “has poor consequences”. There can be “works well and has good consequences”.
I agree. But what is being pointed out here is that there is just as much or maybe more suffering in eating grains than eating meat. So if it’s a moral issue you are wrong. Does the cow mean more or less or the same as the wolves that is almost extinct, that is your choice. The articles is about free range cattle that gives back to the eco systems and that is the perfect way. It also points out that not eating meat is one of the main reasons animals lives in the own shit and are force fed. With all the latest research pointing out how good a LCHF diet is all the vegan jumped back to the moral issue. You are wrong you have to kill to eat and the the vegan moral issue is a joke. The America Grain cartel lied to us all about the health issue get over it and support those that can make a change stop judging like a vegan. The real world is tired of that. Sorry English is not my first language
but the article is limited and incorrect in my view .. its one mans experience, its not the truth, he is not god! Its not conclusive and if anyone wanted to really look at the options then there would be research into vegan systems that are working well …. there are some out there!! This is simply one mans story and as such it is valid but there is no research beyond his experience so its a bit disturbing to see folks jumping on him as if its truth and conclusive … you can create the life you like .. Daniels view of vegans is limited …. we need other words here …. and I think it is you who is tired of vegans!!! Such is life. There is no right or wrong here … there is what we choose and create .. its up to us … what do you WANT? Well, I want to be vegan in a sustainable way …. there is a vegan community in Japan that lives by the sea … they were cited in a programme many years ago as being one of the healthiest communities on the planet who had the longest living people and they stayed extremely active until they died. I choose that example ;-)))
Agreed – this was an article justifying one person’s choices. Fair play to that person but I won’t be adopting those principles. The idea of veganism was just not a very good example of a vegan lifestyle at all.
Beth, it does seem incongruent doesn’t it? I think anyone that is able to kill another being without effecting them is a sad human being. I remember the first cow I killed. he was our bull aptly named “Bull” and was our favorite in the pasture. When I first arrived on the farm, I had little trust and was scared when Steph would pet him as he weighed 10 times her weight. She trusted him right off and over time so did I. He would let you rub and scratch him all over and when he was laying down would let Stephanie (my wife) lay on top of him with no worries. The time came that we realized we didn’t not have enough cows for us to justify keeping bull and were running low on meat so we booked in the local mobile butcher. The night before we spent a good hour with him, talking to him, scratching him. That morning, I said my good byes and said thank you. I drove the skid steer out into the pasture to hoist him up after he’d been killed. He would normally go back out into the pasture with the girls but this day he sat right down in front of that skid steer and waited. Its as if he knew what was going to happen and was at peace with it. When the butcher arrived and offered to shoot him, I said “no, this is my friend and my responsibility.” I sighted in on the X between eyes and ears and said thank you. I never apologized for killing an animal I was going to eat, only thank you. He died quickly and we were there with our hands on him as he bled out crying. I get weepy just typing this. Absolutely it SUCKS to have to kill a being that trusted me so much but you know what sucks even more? Others have to kill beings I don’t even know on my behalf. Did you read the interview? No one lives without killing on this planet. No one and no thing. That is not how life or ecologies work. If I’m going to take responsibility for my life, that means killing beings that I am friends with…respectfully.
Choose life, Daniel. Clearly, something is terribly wrong with the world.
“A society that sees all life as sacred, including the lives of animals, no longer exploits life, including that of other human beings…Ceasing to be omnivores, we cease to be numb. We restore balance not only to the earth—animal agriculture is the primary engine behind the ecological devastation of the planet—but to our lives. We break down the emotional walls that permit us to exploit living beings and kill them.”
“Did you read the interview? No one lives without killing on this planet. No one and no thing.”
Just to put things into perspective…
Early humans once ate members of other tribes.
Beth, it does seem incongruent doesn’t it? I think anyone that is able to kill another being without effecting them is a sad human being. I remember the first cow I killed. he was our bull aptly named “Bull” and was our favorite in the pasture. When I first arrived on the farm, I had little trust and was scared when Steph would pet him as he weighed 10 times her weight. She trusted him right off and over time so did I. He would let you rub and scratch him all over and when he was laying down would let Stephanie (my wife) lay on top of him with no worries. The time came that we realized we didn’t not have enough cows for us to justify keeping bull and were running low on meat so we booked in the local mobile butcher. The night before we spent a good hour with him, talking to him, scratching him. That morning, I said my good byes and said thank you. I drove the skid steer out into the pasture to hoist him up after he’d been killed. He would normally go back out into the pasture with the girls but this day he sat right down in front of that skid steer and waited. Its as if he knew what was going to happen and was at peace with it. When the butcher arrived and offered to shoot him, I said “no, this is my friend and my responsibility.” I sighted in on the X between eyes and ears and said thank you. I never apologized for killing an animal I was going to eat, only thank you. He died quickly and we were there with our hands on him as he bled out crying. I get weepy just typing this. Absolutely it SUCKS to have to kill a being that trusted me so much but you know what sucks even more? Others have to kill beings I don’t even know on my behalf. Did you read the interview? No one lives without killing on this planet. No one and no thing. That is not how life or ecologies work. If I’m going to take responsibility for my life, that means killing beings that I am friends with…respectfully.
My best friend in the field, Bull, on the day he was to be butchered, broke away from the herd came over to the bobcat that would later raise his dead body for us to process and he laid down right next to it. He chewed his cud and didn’t even get up when we approached to say goodbye. He trusted us and we honoured him. We choose to harvest him because we no longer needed a Bull and no one wanted to buy a lowline angus because they are small cows that return less money on the meat market. He died without stress and with utmost ease. In the wild, as he aged, he would be picked-off by predators and would be partially eaten alive before he finally passed. Or he would carry around a broken limb from mounting too many females that would gangrene and slowly claim his life. Big animals in the wild seldom die peacefully, without the stress hormone coursing through their veins.
Re: absolute authority
I’d rather take my chances, wouldn’t you? Besides, as long as we continue to refer to other living beings as property, not respect/recognize that they are individuals with needs and interests of their own, the abuse will only worsen.
Attitude matters. In my opinion, not wanting to harm someone is the first step towards greater understanding. By moving people’s attitudes further away from viewing animals as mere commodities/things toward increased recognition of them will make all the difference in the world.
Thank you for sharing your interview and your thoughts, as you mention its fairly an eye opener. I’ve got to understand this information a while ago by trying to understand our inefficient way of consuming energy, curiosity, long research and doing my own permaculture got me in the track. But, let me tell you that it’s the first i’ve seen published the whole picture together.
We should sinthesize this information for a short film!
Perhaps you could recommend or share if you know some source with the “bigger picture” shown?
Thank you again,
Thank you for the comment; I’m really glad you enjoyed the post so much! One film I’ve seen that does an excellent job exploring conventional agriculture and presenting the permaculture solution is Inhabit. It’s that rarest of breeds–an environmental documentary that is optimistic, and leaves you feeling energized instead of hopeless.
“The bottom line is clear: unless and until we get people to question and reject their daily and wholly unnecessary consumption of animals, we will have no success in getting them to oppose in any serious ways animal uses that they regard as necessary or non-trivial, such as vivisection, or other unnecessary uses that they quite correctly view as arbitrarily chosen by animal advocates and no worse than the uses that they themselves support and engage in every day of their lives.”
I found this interesting and encouraging. I grow vegetables with the help of compost, part of which is from the chickens I keep. They can’t process grass efficiently; they need grain, which I have to buy in. Cows can process grass, but in the Q&A above it contrasted cows fed on grain with permaculture cows in grass and trees. Can vegetables be grown without the input of animal manure, or do vegetarian not realize they are supporting the unsustainable oil industry instead. Perhaps they see organic as not relying on animals? Thanks for putting this up for us all to see.
Where his the like Button ?
Great article, thanks for sharing!
The timing is perfect for me –
I’m currently reading ‘the vegetarian myth’ by Lierre Keith. I highly recommend this book as it explores the moral, political & nutritional aspects of eating meat & the shortcomings of agriculture. After 9yrs of being a strict vegetarian and 4yrs pescetarian… I’m finally thinking about eating meat. I’ve just started growing my own organic veggies & am currently working out the most nutritionally beneficial & ecologically sustainable methods of consuming meat.
If anyone can recommend any other books please let me know! I’ll check out the doco ‘Inhabit’ you recommended.
Katrina – Alchemy Intuitive
“…am currently working out the most nutritionally beneficial and ecologically sustainable methods of consuming meat”
That’s good. Interesting that you didn’t mention ‘cruelty free’ methods.
If you are interested in the health issue google ” Tim Noakes” . I’m from South Africa and he has the facts. The America Grain Cartel block these studies. But South Africa and Australia might change your views.
There is not enough land in the US, or the world, for meat consumption to be free range for everyone. This is a fantasy for the elite few. Those monoculture corn and soy fields are to feed cattle and food animals. Were that land dedicated to feeding people, we could feed the whole world, have more natural eco systems, and a happy byproduct is ending the leading cause of pollution. Which is animal agriculture. And the leading cause of water use, rainforest destruction etc. etc. The oceans are going to be decimated in our children’s life times. Humanely raised is a joke, the vast majority of animals consumed on this planet suffer torture, and are all slaughtered the same way. Look at Mercy for animals, if you dare. And the World Peace Diet considers the energetics of eating meat. The movie Cowspiracy is a must watch.
As a backdrop to my further comments — https://vimeo.com/80518559
There is a follow-up Soil Carbon Cowboys Interview — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDuwmnME0T0 At ~30:00 rancher Allen Williams states (paraphrased) – On well run pastures, grassfed, grassfinished, it takes 0.8 acres to finish a steer to harvest. In US there is enough available, unencumbered grassland to finish >35 million head on grass alone. 26 million are now being finished in feedlots. To mislead us, Cowspiracy used a ranch with a very low stocking rate to extrapolate how much land would be needed to supply beef needs. Most temperate pastures stock at ~10X that rate, and holistically planned ranches grow healthier grass and deeper topsoils to the point that they can stock 2-4X what they had done previously.
While I totally agree that CAFO and factory farming of all kinds is damaging and unethical, there are restorative and resilient ways to farm, and do so including livestock. Cowspiracy is loaded with misinformation. I have taken particular issue with 51% of all emissions caused by livestock. The film mentioned the 2009 report. https://www.worldwatch.org/files/pdf/Livestock%20and%20Climate%20Change.pdf It adds various livestock emissions to the findings of a previous report, but ignores any other non-livestock emissions of the same type. Examples — It adds more recent increased livestock emissions to the total, but fails to add all other greenhouse gas emission increases. It uses a higher global warming potential for methane emitted by livestock, but still uses the lower factor for all other emissions. It counts livestock breath, but no other previously counted respiration. That increases the fraction of the pie for livestock without increasing anything else. The livestock % is exaggerated. It is a shameful misrepresentation. Please read the report and let me know what you think! It’s only 10 pages, with four pages of pictures and no footnotes.
Here is a fairly comprehensive collection of articles exposing the deceit and misleads that pervades the film. http://sheldonfrith.com/2015/12/24/a-collection-of-rebuttals-to-cowspiracy-and-other-anti-holistic-management-propaganda/
I don’t mind discussing factual information — pros and cons of meat, holistic management, grassfed, ending confinement operations, etc. The real conspiracy is in the creation of the film. Leave that out of the discussion, and let’s all join in and end all forms of bad farming!
Just wondering, but if we have enough sustainable land here in the US, then why are we buying rainforest land from S America to raise livestock?
I agree Adele, the vast majority of animals consumed on this planet suffer torture and I will never condone that. People who respectfully raise animals for meat are so rare that I wont eat meat unless I know personally the people who raised the animal. I would love it if more people had the privilege of raising their own food but then, I’d prefer if there weren’t 8 billion humans and we could still be hunter gatherers too.
As I read the interview, I felt like there was a jump in his logic. He seemed to go SAD to vegetarian to (junk food) vegan, decides they’re not sustainable and then turns to eating meat..? Anyone who has researched global food production, environmentalism, and conservation, as he claimed to do, would be confused by his conclusion. And while junk food veganism isn’t healthy for the body, neither is meat.
Yes, monoculture isn’t sustainable, but does that immediately require eating animals? Polyculture is possible, even with animal residents, without them becoming a food source.
Food forests, both temperate and tropical, produce more food per square meter than what can ever be attained in a monoculture or animal based prairie system. They’re adaptable to most climates and provide shelter, medicine, and tools at the same time. Permaculture food forests are being successfully trialed on most continents and I feel a more logical step in the journey to sustainability. There are food forest in Vietnam and Cambodia that have been managed by family groups for hundreds of years.
I agree Savvy, food forests are fantastic and planted hundreds of fruit and nut trees on our farm in a silvopasture arrangement with diverse pastures between the rows where multi species grazing would take place. We were able to eat over 90% of our calories from our land. Someone with the goal of eating wholly from their land who lived somewhere else on the planet would eat a totally different diet. If you have ever lived in a cold climate like Minnesota and managed to live wholly off your land without killing animals, I would love to hear about it.
You’re right that climates vary, as would food sources. But choosing sustainability doesn’t mean turning off our common sense. We can still hybridise, share knowledge, and create micro climates. I read a great article a few years ago about a cold climate vegan family that had an amazing glass house system on the side of their house which provided food and warmth. They sprouted a fair bit from memory, had micro greens and the woman did a large amount of drying and preserving. I’ll try and track it down.
We live on a half acre suburban block that produces the majority of our fruit and veg needs. I’ve even grown barley on our leech drain for beer making.
One does NOT need animal manure or commercial chemical fertilizers to grow food. We use green cover crops like clover, which are a natural manure when grown and then plowed into the ground before planting a crop. Such green manure being a plant also helps clean the air and doesn’t produce the air pollution that animal and even chemical fertilizers create.
Quinoa is a pure protein seed food. Spinach is a protein food. There are so many ways to get ones daily need of protein sans the suffering and killing of animals. And how about we use all those grain products for feeding humans?
With a growing world population and a demand (not a need) for more meat, there is no way to raise animals for meat in a humane way to meet the demand. And to suggest that one should seek out local, small scale humane ranching sources smacks at Whole Foods elitism thinking, because pasture raised beef as an example is often two to three times more expensive than factory farmed meat, because grass raised beef takes longer to grow.
And animals take a huge amount of water for both the grains grown to feed them, which could go to feed humans, and they take a lot of water for drinking and then their urine saturates the earth which then creates polluted under ground aquifers, and even nearby streams and rivers.
Bottom line is, vegan or vegetarians who succumb to consuming meat, do so because like cocaine, they crave it.
It’s all in the attitude.
“First, agriculture is dependent on government and other forms of subsidies. Second, there is virtually nowhere that plants and trees do not grow, or cannot be grown. A vegan society can be expected to subsidise veganic farming practices which, incidentally, is likely to result in more farmers returning to the land. No-dig veganic gardening and farming may well be a viable possibility too.
The bottom line is that we can expect a vegan population to be willing to fund the changes necessary to bring about a world consistent with their values. A vegan population would be interested in the R&D required to forge change, not least because present methods of growing and harvesting crops harm and kill other animals.”
“Put another way, Professor Gary Francione points out that the common claim that eating pasture-raised animals results in fewer animal deaths than in the harvesting of crops is “a version of the argument that if we cannot avoid unintentional death, we might as well engage in intentional killing. Think about that. We cannot avoid accidental or unintended death in manufacturing anything, including the most innocuous and beneficial of products. So it’s okay to kill humans intentionally? Surely not.” And on the issue of farmers intentionally killing animals that threaten their crops, Francione argues that “If we all went vegan because we cared morally about nonhumans, that would necessarily translate into methods of crop production that would be more mindful of incidental and unintended deaths.”
This is a wonderful article. I wonder though, what is your advice for those of us living in urban areas, with no access to wild-growing nuts and seeds.. with no possibility to raise and butcher our own happy cow? I think that this is the dilemma that the “better than bad” doers of this world, that also want to live in a city. Are we urbanites a lost cause?
Nika, my way is very similar to Daniel’s. What to eat and what not to eat was always an existential problem for me. I went from being vegan to eating some poultry and fish, back and forth several time in my life and always felt that it was something wrong there. Trying to solve this problem, I moved from the city to the land, knowing nothing about it and having no previous experience whatsoever. But this was good, as I started to LEARN, to read and to think. And gradually I came to exactly the same conclusions as he did. I agree with his every word. What I would do if I a am living in a city now? I will find my small local sustainable farmer or homestead, I will visit the farm and it’s animals and, probably, volunteer there couple days or weekends to feel connection with the land. And I would stick to local, seasonal diet from local small farms through farmers markets or CSA programs. Remember, only you, because you a a consumer, has a power to decide where this world is going. Making your everyday grocery choices, you are either supporting destructive mono cultural chemical industrial farming, immoral ACFS, destruction of rainforests and natural habitats of a lot of species, or local, sustainable, regenerative and ethical farming practices, which a lot of small farmers and homesteaders trying to implement (not all of them, to be honest, that is why I advices you to visit the farm and to know your farmer personally).
I hope it helps. And, please, remember, you not only can make a difference, but you are the strongest force!
It’s very hard to achieve any sort of consistency in this modern world. The moral high ground is pretty shaky ground.
One other lens to look at the meat/no-meat debate is that of primitive cultures. Small tribal and primitive cultures are arguably both the lowest impact and most-sustainable way of living. They certainly don’t use fossil fuels and remote slave labor to maintain their lifestyles! There is no evidence of vegetarianism in peoples from cold climate ecosystems. Simply not possible to feed oneself without meat.
I was a vegetarian for over 10 years before becoming a farmworker in the northeast and taking part directly in raising and killing animals for sustenance. It’s never easy but I still believe pasture raised animals are way more overall humane than tofu. Not meat from the supermarket. Not meat in the everyday American sense. But some meat yes. More wild than farmed. There used to be squirrel recipes in The Joy of Cooking but they took them out in editions after the 60s…
I’ve also processed and eaten roadkill goose, deer and moose. All very good!
I’ve traveled a lot in the northeast and visited many farms and people working very hard to live light on the land and eat locally. I’ve never met a local vegan. They may exist but I’ve never met one.
We all pick and choose our arguments to suit our current feelings. I’m no exception!
Preferable to factory farming, but not sustainable for 7 billion humans. I’ve been vegetarian since 5 and vegan for 17 years. Perfect health and vitality. Take B12 (only supplement) because I work long hours and don’t plan properly. Killing animals for food is definitely not necessary. I wouldn’t be able to slaughter the sheep, cattle, chickens, pigs on his farm. No doubt he also eats vegetables and grains, so a great deal of land is being used for a few people to indulge their lust for animal corpses. I understand eating road kill, but raising animals that grow to trust you, and then killing them doesn’t work for me. In pictures of the farm, they have several dogs. No doubt they are treated well, and not consumed. “A pig is a dog is a bear is a boy”. Philip Wollen.
Dustin’s View / direct quote – Their reasoning behind being vegan, was apparently to minimize animal suffering, but in my mind, they were actually causing more cumulative harm than they would have caused if they were eating meat. (this was interesting to me because for such a smart, seemingly authentic and well traveled guy he seems utterly dismissive regarding the very foundation of veganism which is exactly that …not -> just minimize but -> not contribute in ANY way to ‘animal suffering’ – and then the swiping of all vegan choices into a monoculture soy etc hat box seems quite deflective – maybe his heart really isn’t right with his new found wallaby diet….one can hope). Peace KB / a modern maverick
I agree Karen, that he put all vegans into a box with an implied GMO soy label on the front. I find it an interesting thought pattern and I wonder if further conversation with him would bring clarity or if he really did just mentally skip sideways to meat consumption.
I agree my words on veganic diets seems over simplified but then it was a phone conversation recorded and written on a blog. of course there is much more to my views on veganic diets. Ask me. I firstly think vegans are great as at the very least they give a shit enough about life on this planet to try and do SOMETHING different to the majority of mindless consumers. Do I think vegan diets are the answer? Depends where you live. How the food is grown. I stand behind the fact that no being can live without directly or indirectly killing other beings. If you are a person who chooses a vegan diet and grows all or most of your own food, I applaud your choices. I have not met many people who identify as vegans who grow their own food as it seems the closer and more connected you become with the soil and your local ecology, the harder it is for you to put yourself in a box like that.
I agree about the box. Having your hands in the soil is a great leveller of ego.
I find that a poor diet is prevalent in our western society whatever people identify as. We have become disconnected from our food. For me that is the main issue and something I work within my local community to address. Where you and I part ways is the conclusion that including meat in your diet is a sustainable solution. Even with ethics and human physiology aside, we can’t sustainably feed meat to everyone on this planet. Even with backyard chooks and rabbits and stock grazing the local school playgrounds (as was suggested at a local Transition Towns meeting last year).
Sustainability needs to be a regional conversation but it also needs address the wider global issues.
Thanks for replying Daniel.
I am 80 years old and in good health. For ten years my orphaned daughters and I lived on our 115 acre farm in Camp Verde, Arizona. We raised meat and when it came time to kill a bull, my older daughter said, “Daddy, I don’t want to do this.” I told her that I could not do the job alone and that the income from selling the meat is what paid our mortgage, utility bills and the food that we could not grow. Both of my daughters are sensitive, loving and caring women. At one time or another, they both helped in the killing of the animals. Before each kill, I said this prayer. “Lord, I am taking some of your beauty from this earth. I promise that I will do my best in terms of being kind to others and to preserve and protect our earth.” I did the kill in such a way that the animal never knew what was going to happen. They land long and happy lives and we loved each other.
This is an excellent article in terms of explaining the different aspects of our diets and life styles.
Today, my work is research to find ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere. They say that it cannot be done! My method is to grow trees, convert the trees into charcoal (which yields some net energy) and to grind some of the charcoal and incorporate it into the soil and to transport the rest of the charcoal (pure carbon) to the oceans where it will be permanently sequestered.
I am also working to find local sources of solar energy and to have a way to store this energy during the day and then to recover the energy at night and to have free water for irrigation.
In the future we will be posting information at “RanchoVerdeResearch.com”
If you think praying to a supernatural, delusional being somehow makes it ok to murder something you say you loved makes it ok to murder anything, you have not learned much in 80 years. You can lessen the carbon greatly by “not ” eating things you say you “love”.
Cheers from northern BC, Canada…not everything grows here, eating moose is a must…
“I would not want to get to know a pig very well if I intended to eat him.” ~ Pat Leigh
Thank you for the interesting interview and comments. Pescatereanism is a happy medium that addresses most if not all major vegan concerns. Wild salmon, for example, are one of the most natural and health promoting foods on earth, providing ESSENTIAL nutrients lacking in the terrestrial food supply. Wild salmon live 95% of their lives as nature intended, and are only caught just as they begin the final weeks of their life cycle. In Bristol Bay, Alaska last year fifty million sockeye salmon returned, a testament to that states successful fisheries management program. 20% of these fish passed freely to the spawning grounds to perpetuate the run, while the rest were ‘harvestable surplus’ and became some of the last truly wild, naturally ‘organic’ food on earth. Salmon and other seafood from well regulated fisheries (see MSC.org) is among the most sustainable foods from just about every conceivable perspective. Inputs of land, water, chemicals, veterinary drugs, and labor are minimal or even non existent, lmpact on biodiversity is less than the best organic farm, and CO2 contribution is far less than any other meat alternative. Finally, fish has long been known as “brain food” which is certainly something we need a lot more of.
Fantastic article i really couldn’t relay my views on the topic better. We too moved to a small farm and started selling direct to those in the city. There is no options you must come to the farm to pick up your meet inforcing not only transparency in what we do but encouraging a connection to the land.
If you don’t think we can feed the world using this system you need to check out Joel Salatin at Polyface farms who feeds countless families in his region all with minimal farm land or maybe Allan Savory who has proven that you can increases productive of farms 400% by using lifestock as a tool for regeneration.
What about all the land that is not capable of growing crops and vegetables what haooens there. Do you just let it turn to desert due to being overgrazed which in many respects is far worse the over grazing. Our grass lands needs a diverse range of animals to ensure its long term success.
Then you can go on about the research that now proves that plants have feelings and also feel plan. Thinking about that you go back to the article we’ve all hopefull read. Why is it ok to kill plants but not animals?
For those in the city there are places all over the world changing the way food is sourced. When you starting thinking differently you realise there is room for food all over the place. Replace none fruiting trees down your street with fruit and nuts is an easy one.
At the end of the day we are all part of a cycle. We need to accept that and be happy with our part. We can all live our lives treading as lightly as our long lost ancestors with a little bit (or maybe alot) of work in fixing what we’ve done to this amazing place we call Earth.
Well said Carrie!
Sorry that should have been first undergrazed and then overgrazed. Typo and i can not go back and edit.
Please define “bad” for me… It was used a lot by the interviewee and if we are truly talking Pirma culture, I feel it’s necessary to include our entire linguistic programming into the mix of food and culture, and so on…
In my mind, “bad” is consuming anything you do not know the origin of. Mindlessly consuming anything is bad. Raising animals in feedlots or concentration camps is bad. Making someone kill animals in a slaughter facility because you don’t want to get your hands bloody is bad. Growing anything in a large scale monocultures is bad. Having a human population so large we have extremely limited options for feeding all of them in a sustainably and ethical way is also bad. It doesn’t mean that those who have the privilege of eating a diet that is ecologically appropriate to where they live doesn’t make sense. Those who can, should. Those who can’t should try.
There seems to be a generalization of a vegan diet here that is not the norm for vegans and vegetarians worldwide. It is possible to be a vegan without eating a diet full of processed food products that is heavily based in soy. Perhaps American vegans too often fall into that trap. There are however vegetarian and vegans in other cultures throughout the world who do not eat that way as well as cultured where vegetarian diets are the norm. I have been a vegetarian for 20 plus years and have switched to vegan in the last few months in hopes that I can have a smaller eco footprint and not be such a big contributor to climate change. I spent a few years living in South America where vegetarians and vegans are plentiful but the products are not. It really forced me to do a lot more cooking and eat a simpler whole foods diet. Fact is, a heavily meat based diet just isn’t sustainable. Perhaps you could include very infrequent and small portions of locally and ethically raised meat in a sustainable diet. (Though if you were into not killing you might not to that.) My feeling is that many folks want to look for justifications to a carnivorous diet. Small scale farming WAS sustainable for much of history. However, there doesn’t exist enough grazing pasture on the planet for the whole world to eat that way. So who should?
My opinion is that a real whole foods vegan diet is best for the plant and the most socially responsible as well. We cannot live in a past that no longer exists. Our present reality demands other choices.
Megan, I completely agree and it’s my main critique of his logic. Any diet can consist of processed foods. The modern sugar free and paleo trend highlights that perfectly – a so called primal eating style that you can purchase from your local supermarket in boxes and jars…?
There is a much healthier and widespread version of veganism that was discarded into a big box labelled GMO soy.
Thank’s Daniel, well said you got it in one.
It’s interesting your view on sustainable practices and your quest for doing what feels right. However, I see a few flawed points in this article:
1) You spend some months on a vegan ship and assume that most vegans eat processed and packaged foods. Wouldn’t the food in every ship that is off-shore for several months consist mainly of packaged and ready-to-eat stuff, since the ship has no regular access to local and fresh produce (plus cooking requires fuel)?
2) Isn’t the eating of non-ethically sourced, monoculture-grown, packaged processed foods a common habit of most people living in large cities in the western world, regardless of their being veg or not?
3) Most of the soy beans grown in monocultures – which are taking the place of rain forests – are destined to feed animals so that people can eat the animals. http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2002/dec/24/christmas.famine
4) For most of us not living in Alaska or Tasmania, having access to locally grown, fresh produce and with plenty of wild plants/fungi to be foraged, eating animal products is optional, but it is rarely ever a choice based on ethics that takes sustainable factors into consideration.
5) Even if you are living in a harsh environment such as Tasmania, there are other possible sustainable permaculture models with perennial plants and food forests that help to enrich the soil, store water and restore the landscape. In those models one could produce all the food one needs for survival with much less energy and efforts, in a way that is more aligned with “how nature would do it” than if one raises animals for food. Examples of that can be seen in videos such as Greening the Desert, from Geoff Lawton or Green Gold, by John D. Liu. Plenty of other videos of food forests can be easily found on youtube.
“I mean, I grew up with cows, and I love cows more than most people I know, but why is their right to live more than the right for a whippoorwill to live or a snake to live or a mouse to live? Why is it that their rights trump the thousands of species that die in monocropped, industrial agricultural fields every year? Why does it trump all the species that have damn near gone extinct, or have gone extinct, since industrial agriculture has plowed up millions and millions and millions of acres of prairie in this country and destroyed their habit? Why do their rights not exist?
I mean, and this is the same thing: I love whales, that’s why I was on that anti-whaling ship, but why does the whale’s right to exist supersede that of those other beings? Just because they’re cute and they’re big and they’re high profile? So we only like big animals? It just didn’t really compute with me.”
Translation: Why even bother trying?
Yes, absolutely. All living beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. From a truly unbiased perspective, selective compassion/society’s deep-seated attitude towards non-human animals is the problem, not the solution.
“Practicing veganism means practicing respect and sensitivity toward others, especially those who are vulnerable and without social privilege, and is precisely the practice required to bring healing to our corrupt and wounded culture. Veganism is a call to renounce the core practice of our culture-reducing beings to mere harvestable and abuseable commodities-and to practice, in every aspect of our lives, its opposite: mindfulness, inclusiveness, equality, and respect. There is no force more subversive to our culture than practicing vegans, no force more challenging, healing, transformative, and uplifting than people living the truth that all life is sacred and interconnected.” ~ Dr. Will Tuttle, “The World Peace Diet”
Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that the claim were true, that indeed more animals deaths resulted in the production of plant foods over animal foods. Would this fact, in itself, make a sound argument in favor of eating pasture-raised animal flesh and secretions? Aside from just doing the number, intention is a key factor that we use to assess the moral weight of an action. The unintentional killing of field mice and other animals during the process of harvesting essential food crops is a vastly different scenario from that of deliberately and artificially breeding animals into existence for the sole purpose of exploiting and killing them for flesh and secretions we have no biological need to consume. One might argue that crop farmers intentionally kill what they consider “pest” animals that threaten their crops, but this claim raises a false dilemma, ignoring the fact that non lethal, humane solutions to crop protection exist and, with consumer awareness, demand for these alternative methods will drive their increased use. In the end, if killing certain animals in the process of raising necessary food crops is morally objectionable, then our accountability for their deaths certainly cannot be rectified by breeding even more animals into existence for the sole purpose of exploiting and slaughtering them at a fraction of their natural lifespans!
For a complete analysis of why plant crops don’t kill more animals than even pasture-based animal farming, please see http://freefromharm.org/common-justifications-for-eating-animals/comparing-animal-deaths-production-plant-animal-foods/#sthash.gKXWSVAk.dpuf
“Restoring prairie ecosystems does not require livestock; conservation biologists can and should employ native species instead.” “Ecosystems do not need billions of domesticated livestock from invasive species to achieve stimulated plant communities; we can accomplish magnitudes of recovery more if conservation biologists introduce native species in tandem with the end of animal agriculture. As it dies, ecosystems will thrive. Conservation biologists will need generations before plant and animal communities regain at least some relationships that are essential to the ecosystems. Grazing cattle will be replaced by the original inhabitants, the bison, antelope, deer, tallgrass and shortgrass, prairie chickens, and ground squirrels. Highlands and lowlands, forests and plains, all should be rid of the pox that livestock represent.” “Livestock were never needed as replacements to benefit ecosystems; maximum ecosystem restoration to the extent possible is best done with native species.” — Will Anderson, from his new book “This Is Hope: Green Vegans and the New Human Ecology.
Also see, Saving the World With Livestock? The Allan Savory Approach Examined at http://freefromharm.org/agriculture-environment/saving-the-world-with-livestock-the-allan-savory-approach-examined/#sthash.wnZc56S5.dpuf
This interview with Daniel Zetah is a good example of many of the problematic, self-contradictory, or simply fallacious arguments that are frequently used to defend eating animals by those who have not yet discovered the freedom of giving up domination and violence toward all species (particularly among some “permaculture” enthusiasts). So I’ll try to bring some clarity with a response.
Many of those that critique veganism, as is done here, start by claiming to have “tried” a vegan diet, but on closer inspection they rarely have, or for short spurts and with very little idea of what they were doing. Daniel Zetah tried being “vegetarian” because his girlfriend was, but ate lots of industrial dairy, eggs, and processed junk. Later he eats a vegan diet while with Sea Shepard but only because he was forced to, and it sounds like they ate pretty poorly.
He summarizes why veganism is bad by using the familiar fallacious argument of assuming that vegans eat the worst possible vegan diet – maximally processed, non-local, and, in his version, mostly soy-based – and compares this to the most ecological version of animal eating which he is championing. Of course most meat eaters eat more processed, non-local, GMO, corporate junk food than any vegan I know (as he did growing up), but even if you compare a less educated vegan who is not too careful about the sources of her food, it might be argued that she would still compare quite favorably with the real practices of a “permaculture” style animal eater in terms of world ecological impact. But, of course, the fair comparison is between the “permaculture” animal eater and an educated, ecologically-minded vegan who eats mostly local, unprocessed whole plant foods – and in that case, the one with the lesser environmental impact (as well as the less ethically compromised) is clearly, to me, the vegan.
This author then goes on to reiterate the common ridiculous argument often heard in animal-eating defenses about how bad industrial, mono-cropped agriculture is, conveniently leaving out that the vast majority of this agriculture is used to grow animal feed, for the industrial animal industry. His diatribe against soy is particularly telling – 85% of worldwide soy production is for animal feed, including virtually all of the GMO crop. It is the animal industry that is mostly responsible for industrial mono-cropped agriculture, and if we stopped eating animals we could greatly reduce the amount of land under this kind of cultivation (or any cultivation). (Whatever increase in crops for human consumption that might occur to provide for a plant-based diet would be minuscule in comparison to the reduction of cultivation for feed crops, as eating plants directly is so much more efficient). So all the death of the wildlife through habitat loss and farming processes that he is lamenting, would actually be monumentally reduced by a transition to a plant-based diet. (And, actually, pasture raised, grass-fed cattle need much more land than conventional, and tend to require more killing of the local wildlife that compete with it).
Then there is the very troubling, but often heard, claim to love the animals that one dominates, controls and kills: “I mean, I grew up with cows, and I love cows more than most people I know”. Then why do you confine them, castrate them, forcibly impregnate them, and kill them? I can’t help but think of parents who beat their kids, or men who batter their partners, “out of love”.
Next is the truly bizarre ethical hypocrisy of the author lamenting our preferences for some species over others: “why is (the cattle’s) right to live more than the right for a whippoorwill to live or a snake to live or a mouse to live?…why does the whale’s right to exist supersede that of those other beings? Just because they’re cute and they’re big and they’re high profile? So we only like big animals? It just didn’t really compute with me.” Yes, actually, it must compute to you, because you base your eating habits on it – you think one big animal’s right to exist far supersedes that of any other – that animal is the human. It more than supersedes others – he actually grants humans the right to kill any other species we like, basically because of taste habits and custom habits (as there’s really no other reason in today’s world, for the vast majority of us). The end of the assumption of inherent species superiority, often called “speciesism”, is actually the fundamental reason behind ethical veganism, so it’s a bit strange to try to use it against a vegan lifestyle. I know of no vegans who care about cows, but not about whippoorwills or snakes or mice – vegans are generally the most consistently compassionate people towards all species that I’ve encountered, as can be expected. If he means that these species are being ignored because they’re killing is more hidden in the processes of industrial agriculture…well, as mentioned, that’s mostly due to animal agriculture. There will always be accidental deaths associated with human food production, but there is every reason to believe that they can be most minimized with a plant based diet.
After the author’s Sea Shephard experience, he reads and is impressed by “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” – a book with a notoriously poor (well, really absent) critique of the alternative of veganism – and then, after hitting and killing a Wallaby with his car, he eats it – his first animal flesh in years. I have nothing, really, against eating roadkill, but I do have an issue with killing animals in the first place with our cars. It’s interesting to me that someone with a supposedly sensitive critique of the destructive nature of our modern industrial processes, doesn’t even mention or question the issue of our reliance on cars – arguably the most destructive habitually used invention of humankind. (of course, striking animals is just one of its many harms). I’ve found this overlooking of the problems with cars, planes and fossil fuels in general to be quite common in permaculture circles.
Then there is this: “There is no way to exist in this world without taking the life of other beings.” This might be true enough, but it in no way should be used to justify not trying our best to live in a way that causes the least suffering. But it often is – and those who aspire to cause the least suffering through a vegan lifestyle are sometimes criticized as denying death, or, using an incredibly cliched term, “the circle of life.” I’ve never noticed vegans to be any more in denial of death than anyone else, but they are more committed to trying to live as compassionately as possible.
The rest of the article basically argues that “keeping” animals and eating them makes the most ecological sense, at least in the author’s chosen environment, but nothing in the argument is persuasive. I think a certain amount of annuals is fine (and the author seems to indicate that he grows them), but if you want more perennials, great. No need for keeping and killing animals.
Finally, the author says, “Even though I had to shoot animals directly in the head that I knew and loved and had to watch them die, I felt I was causing less death and suffering in this world than I had before.” Well, I don’t know how much you were causing before, maybe that’s true. But I certainly don’t think you’re causing the least amount of death and suffering than you can. You could stop shooting those animals in the head, for example.
I appreciate that the author wants to do more than stop supporting the worst aspects of our modern culture, and actually help create a model for a better world. But there is no way that eating animals in any significant amount can work sustainably to feed even a large segment of today’s world population, with the amount of land we have available. It’s been shown, however, that ecologically sensitive farming for a whole foods plant-based diet can, and with more promise of preserving native wildlife populations. And while we work on modeling this, it would be a very wise practice to see what use we can make of the enormous food waste now being generated, through reclamation (which the author calls “freeganism”, and tends to look down on as something he’s outgrown). But first we have to get over, as a culture, our assumptions of the right to dominate and do violence to other species (and, closely related, to ourselves) and stop making excuses for our fear to go beyond our deeply entrenched habits.
You summed up the flaws in his logic perfectly Satya.
I would like to see a follow up interview discussing these points.
I do not think, Satya, that you really appreciate enough the Daniel’s active position of doing more than just not supporting the worst aspects of our culture. Because, by doing more, he is actually creating a solid, sustainable alternative. He is actually contributing to change. I am on the same page with him. I am producing meat and eggs to feed other people. And you know what, 95% of my customers do not give a shit (excuse me, Satya) that the product they are buying from me is more ethical or sustainable. Most of them even do not care or do not believe that it is healthier. They are buying from me simply because my products taste better. You can stand in front of them and preach to them forever, they sincerely do not care. If I do not exist, they would come back to the stores and would buy a product of the worst aspect of our society- meat and milk from animal factories.
I’ve bought my cows out of there and let them out to the pasture. You should see them sniffing and biting the grass the first time in their life, you should This see them making an attempt to jump, to run, to play – they could not do it in the beginning, their legs were too weak because of the many months of strict confinement. If I do not exist, my cows would still be there, some of them would be already killed. They would never see freedom, would never nurse their calves, would never have been given a chance to experience life. Their bull calves would be dumped to the torture of veal operations, their heifers would be chained for life.
Do not tell me I am wrong. And there is now flaws in Daniel’s logic. Because it is simple, down to earth truth – the more animals we can get out of animal factories, the better. One is good. Two is better than one.
“Do not tell me I am wrong.”
Said the person who is wrong, knows she is wrong deep down, and is fearful someone will make her face the fact that she is wrong.
Perfectly put Satya, agreed entirely
Thank you, Satya.
The vigorous nods of support to your comment only substantiate the stated conclusion that either many do not understand Daniel’s argument, or are so enveloped by ego that they cannot accept it and so will argue around it rather than address his actual point.
To begin, your response criticizes Daniel for never fully embracing the vegan philosophy, as if the tainted cannot understand ecology. Yet, the man demonstrates excellent understanding of the situation. Does objective distance really disqualify him from reaching accurate conclusions regarding the issue?
You suggest that his argument succeeds only in comparison to the most destructive vegan diet, but it does not. Vegan activists typically insist that the merit of the choice depends upon a comparison of averages–that the average vegan diet is less destructive of life that the average omnivorous diet–and so intentionally ignore the sorts of exceptions Daniel has pointed out. He is not arguing in favor of the sort of animal agriculture (ironically the worst case scenario typically presented by activists for the sake of argument), but is rather suggesting that animals (and plants) may be raised with varying degrees of damage, and that certain forms of animal agriculture are less damaging than any form of plant agriculture. Your rebuttal demonstrates a typically vegan mindset in refusing even to consider his words and instead attempts to pose the question as a matter of “averages.”
The suggestion that “most” mono-crop agriculture exists to support animal agriculture is another effort to divert from his point, which is that animal agriculture can exist without vast and barren fields of grain. Cattle, sheep, etc. do not need such foods, and may be raised in small number with even less impact than would be imposed by growing apples, strawberries or soy.
You describe the suggestion that he respects animals as “bizarre” and “hypocritical” simply because he admits that he engages in their destruction. Is it your intent to perpetuate the myth that veganism can avoid such destruction? Are you not hearing his point that animal consumption may, under certain conditions, destroy even less life that an all-plant diet?
You even criticize his lack of criticism of vehicular transport, suggesting that any true vegan would address this horrific habit of humankind, yet I hear no such complaints about cars from the vegan community, generally, and so I conclude only that you are grasping at straws to discredit the author. Keep it real. If you want to argue against his actual point, then stick to it. You have made every effort to avoid a straight answer.
The point of his comments is this: It is possible to acquire meat, under specific conditions, with less loss of animal life than is possible with plant agriculture. If you have an actual argument against this conclusion, then, by all means, share it, and dispense with the distractions.
That’s an incredibly assumptive mass generalisation he’s making to what I can only in turn assume is his own way of coming to an extensive justification for why he enjoys consuming other sentient beings and their byproducts.
He’s not the first, and definitely not the last ‘ex vegan’ to make headlines for coming to a very short sighted and convenient justification using an appeal to futility fallacy. The whole “It’s impossible to cause zero harm, therefore I should just commit whatever harm feels right for me.” is a complete failure to have any kind of personal accountability.
To say all vegans eat soy, all soy is monocropped, and all soy is bad is just a successive line of unsupported generalisations that hold no weight in reality. Further to that, to assume all vegans eat processed and over packaged foods is also just some anecdotal assumption he’s stating as fact and this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Even so, the comparison he is making is unrealistic and not even up for debate so I’m not even sure what his point is considering he claims to be trying to do the best he can for the planet, while simultaneously offering up a convenient justification for consuming animals and their byproducts which as any educated person knows, is terrible for the planet.
He’s comparing a junk food vegan, to a whole food omnivore, I wonder why?
Because comparing a whole food vegan to a whole food omnivore would destroy his entire standpoint in seconds.
It’s apple and oranges.
Junk food vegans cause less harm than junk food omnivores.
Whole food vegans cause less harm than whole food omnivores.
There isn’t even a debate on this.
I read things like this all the time and get so frustrated by people’s ability to justify heinous acts for momentary palatal enjoyment that can be found equally in other less harmful foods.
This whole ‘vegans think they don’t kill animals but they do’ myth is being perpetuated all over the internet and has been debunked so many times but nobody wants to hear it. Nobody wants to hear that their excuses are flawed, they just want to hear that they’re justified so their conscience is clear.
In a snapshot, the study that’s being referenced to confirm animal deaths was based on one single study that monitored 33 mice in a crop and of the 33 mice only 1 single mouse died from harvesting the entire crop. 1 accidental animal death to feed thousands of people, so therefore people should just knowingly kill thousands of animals to feed thousands of people, and those thousands of animals are already eating the same grains that the 1 animal died for. You can start to see just how absurd and ridiculous these myths really are when you look at them logically and not just for the click bait titles that make you feel nice about your food choices.
“Whole food vegans cause less harm than whole food omnivores.
There isn’t even a debate on this.”
There should be. Wild fish and game are sources of meat that result in less animal death and environmental degradation that even plant agriculture. A deer taken from the wild is immediately replaced by another that would have died for lack of resources except for the removal of the first. Nature always breeds more animals than habitat can support, and the rest perish of starvation and disease. It does no harm to animal populations to consume the excess. Agriculture, on the other hand, destroys nearly every individual, of every major species, on the land converted to that purpose.
I would appreciate your reference to the study involving the thirty mice, but it still misses the point, which is that the establishment (not just cultivation) of any ag field requires the destruction of an entire ecosystem upon which it is made. Agriculture is now recognized to be the foremost cause of animal extinction and single greatest source of greenhouse gases destined to alter our climate for millennia.
The vegan philosophy is generally sound, but does have its flaws. It is a shame that advocates for improvement are shouted down by those who cling with religious fervor to the mantra. It is time to consider how a more nuanced approach might help us to reach our stated priorities.
There isn’t an ecosystem on the planet that can sustainably support a population of 7.5 billion human beings on a diet that contains meat.
A deer is replaced by another deer, seriously? That’s your argument for sustainability?
No mention of deer numbers versus human numbers, or the fact that one deer being replaced by another deer would need to take into account the time it takes for a deer to grow into adulthood. God I can’t even list the sheer amount of variables you’re failing to consider here. Just look at it logically. 7.5 billon people walk into the forest each week and kill an animal for food. How quickly can you imagine the ecosystem can reproduce what would be needed for that kind of slaughter? That’s once per week, and even if you lower it down to once per month you’re still looking at a theoretical rapid mass extinction that we couldn’t come back from.
Agricultural practices need to change, that’s a given, but plants are the only food source that regenerates fast enough to feed our population levels and therefore instead of looking at ways we can stop factory farming by crushing entire ecosystems with our obsession for meat, we need to look at veganic farming practices and growing food in a way that works in a sustainable way moving forward.
Eating meat isn’t the answer, that’s why veganism is the baseline. That’s why I am so infuriated when I see anti vegan propaganda and ‘tip of the iceberg’ explanations for why eating meat is okay.
Hunting is only relatively sustainable now because such a small percentage of the planets human population participates in the barbaric act of it.
Surely you can look at that fact and know that it’s the truth, thus completely debunking your theory for a sustainable future that includes meat consumption.
As for fishing, we are rapidly moving towards fishless oceans by 2048, again, are you seriously so disconnected from reality that you think a population of 7.5 billion human beings can sustainably fish on a global scale? Reality proves otherwise.
Link to study you requested was cited in the article I attached at the end of my last post.
Slow down. Where have I ever said that wild fish and game can support the entire human race? Perhaps wild fish and game can only provide only hundreds of millions of meals in a sustainable fashion, but that is no reason to pretend that they are not worthy of consideration. Hunters in the State of Tennessee alone consume 500,000 squirrels annually. Add to this the millions of elk, deer, pronghorn, moose, turkey, geese and fish of every description and one appreciates a significant number of meals to our rural populations, and all with far less impact that would be required to produce these meals by agricultural means.
You dismiss hunting as a valid step toward conservation simply because it is not a solution for all? That’s ridiculous. We do not criticize the man who carpools, cycles or walks to work simply because we cannot all do so. And to describe hunting as barbaric when agriculture is far more destructive to animal life and the environment demonstrates the ignorance and disservice of those who perpetuate the vegan mantra without analysis. As an example, I may step off of my porch, walk one-half mile to the nearest lake, and return with enough trout to feed my family. I may do so two or three days a week, all summer long, year-after-year without ever depleting the population of fish. Or, I may drive fifty miles to the nearest grocery store, spewing exhaust the entire way, only to return with vegetables grown upon lands that were once thriving ecosystems, but which have been reduced by man to exotic mono-cultures incapable of supporting any species besides himself. Or, I suppose, I could reduce a portion of the woods near my home to a garden, depriving every mammal, bird, reptile and amphibian of some part of the habitat it requires with the result that many will die. It is difficult to know which of these two options is more destructive, but neither compares to fishing in terms of animal life lost. Of course, fish cannot provide for all of my family’s needs, and I must do exactly one or the other to survive. But, it is important to note that those items delivered by agricultural means are actually the most destructive things on our plates. Now, if you replace the word “fish” in the previous example with “deer” or “turkey,” then you can begin to appreciate why hunters are not the bogey men on this planet. So long as some portion of our lands remain productive habitat for wildlife, then there will always be some food available to us from these sources. The real risk is that these lands will be lost to development. In fact, the foremost cause of animal extinction, world-wide, is agriculture.
Finally, in regard to your “study,” you have not provided me a link to the study at all. In fact, you have provided me a link to a source of vegan propaganda of the very sort responsible for perpetuating lack of real analysis. The upshot of the piece is that the mice moved, supposedly to safe, native habitat around the fields in question. The fails on two counts, the first being the fact that for mice to reach safety they would have to travel many miles, assuming they even know which direction to travel. Drive across the nebraska, iowa or kansas, or down the central valley of California, and then tell me where all of the wild lands are to which these creatures are supposed to escape. Modern ag fields are huge, and then surrounded by…that’s right many miles more of the exact same thing. There IS no safe haven for the mice displaced in most cases. Now, lets consider those who do reach the “safety” of wild lands. What, exactly, do you suppose happens to them when they reach habitat that is already fully occupied by other mice? Of course, either they, or the others, starve, or are immediately consumed by predators since there exists inadequate cover to conceal them all. Anyone with even a rudimentary background in biology understands this fact, yet vegan propaganda fails to acknowledge this fact. Why? We can pretend that we are not responsible for the deaths of those animals displaced because we are not, after all, the immediate agents of their deaths (for that we can thank starvation, disease due to overcrowding, and owl, etc), but this is like saying Typhoid Mary had no responsibility for those killed as a result of her ignorance because it was a virus, not her poor hygiene, responsible for their deaths.
From an environmental standpoint, the study in question is alarming simply because those using it to argue their case focus entirely on lives lost during cultivation, and completely ignore the loss of life resulting in the very establishment of those fields. The author focuses on mice? Really? Is this how we measure the loss? What about all of the species that no longer inhabit those fields because they are, well, just ag fields? What happened to all of those creatures displaced to when the forest, wetland or grassland were converted to barren soil? It is the failure of veganism to acknowledge the loss of life that results from the elimination of entire ecosystems that so alarms environmentalists. Yes, plant agriculture is generally far better than animal agriculture in terms of impact, but is still leaves room for improvement. Unfortunately, the die is cast, and vegans today have been so firmly inculcated in the “If its meat, its murder” mindset that they fail completely to understand where this logic fails in their criticism of wild fish and game consumption.
I don’t have the time to continue going back and forth with someone who although seems quite intelligent, is still so narrow sighted, so I’m just going to respond in short.
Yes, I am saying that we should only be looking at options that are viable for all, considering we share this planet collectively, so just because you can take trout from your pond, really holds no weight in the face of fishless oceans.
Veganism is the baseline because it can work on a global scale, and looking at human nature you can’t honestly believe that if we removed factory farming but still promoted meat consumption everyone wouldn’t then begin fishing and hunting animals into extinction immediately. It’s just not a viable source of nutrients on a global scale, so what works for you personally is of no consequence.
Secondly you’re doing exactly what the OP is doing by comparing wild fishing and hunting to monocrop agriculture to make your side look better.
Let’s compare apples for apples and oranges for oranges okay?
Factory farming versus monocrop agriculture, the monocrop agriculture comes out as the victor as more sustainable which you already know based on the fact the one feeds the other so the eradication of one actually lessons the burden of the other, thus freeing up more land for ecosystems and habits for wildlife and natural plant growth.
So in this fair comparison, veganism contributes to the least harm, so veganism would be the baseline approach to a sustainable future.
Wild fishing and hunting versus veganic farming. Now we compare the two most sustainable versions of each diet. Finally, a fair comparison!
As you have already admitted, and I have pointed out twice, both wild fishing and hunting are not sustainable on a global scale, and considering the global population does exist in reality and we can’t pretend they don’t to sell our fanciful dreams of how food should be, then it’s clear that both wild fishing and hunting aren’t an option moving forward.
Veganic farming however, causes the least amount of habitat destruction, promotes soil quality, and works within natural ecosystems, and still provides us with a viable level of nutrient regeneration on a global scale.
So again, veganism wins hands down as the baseline moving forward on a global scale, which is the only way we can address these issues, as to look at it on personal level you can do exactly what you’re doing and come up with justifications for why it’s okay for you to fish and hunt, while simultaneously admitting not everyone can do it if we want to survive.
You’re an intelligent guy, one of the better I’ve debated with, so I am sure I don’t need to explain to you why we can’t start telling some people they can’t do something, but others can.
As for the mouse study, I disagree that it’s propaganda, and I also disagree that it’s purposefully failing to consider where the mice would go after leaving the crop zone. There are too many variables after that point so it wouldn’t be quantifiable. And in all seriousness, the study was done against veganism, it just backfired. You can’t say for sure if the mice moved in and displaced other mice, that’s just a theory you have that supports your bias. I can’t say one way or the other, but I don’t think either of our viewpoints are propped up on this anyway so I’m happy to let it go.
Do animals lose habitat due to bad agriculture practices? Absolutely, it’s awful. But that’s only a valid point when comparing it to factory farming, which in turn consumes much more of said crops, thus destroying more habitat and taking more life, making bad agriculture practices still the lesser of two unsustainable evils we need to change.
When compared to veganic farming both lose out and all your points become instantly invalid.
So, as from the start, my entire point is if you’re going to eat like shit and like you don’t care about the planet, then eat like shit as a vegan because you’re doing slightly less damage.
If you’re going to eat well, and actually care about the planet, then eat well and consciously as a vegan, because then you’re doing massively less damage.
I’m not even touching on the incredible health and/or ethical aspects of the vegan message, and both are valid and also worth considering.
So, I will end this with the following question.
If there’s a diet that effectively causes less environmental destruction, is healthy for all stages of life, and causes the least amount of harm to those we share the planet with, then why isn’t it your chosen diet?
That was short? (Of course, neither was mine.) 🙂 I will have to respond, comment by comment, where I can. To start, I am not justifying fishless oceans. I have only stated that we should take what can SUSTAINABLY be acquired from wild lands, and in many cases we take far too much. The solution is to take less, not none. As for oceans, fish are not excepted from the point I have made about extinction, and agriculture is not without fault in their destruction as the estuaries man need are drowned in silt, and fertilizers choke ocean waters.
While veganism may the baseline, it is not the finish line. Certainly, people will desire wild fish and game and will welcome the opportunity to have it. This will only increase its value to society, with the result that we will do more to protect it. This is a good thing, because history shows that valueless wildlife are dead wildlife.
I am comparing hunting to mono-crop agriculture because that is the comparison I am making in the effort to allow vegans to understand that their criticisms of fish and game consumption are unfounded, not to construct a case for meat consumption, generally. I thought I had made it clear that I am not arguing in favor of animal agriculture, but perhaps not. Because I concede the point in favor in veganism in that regard, I cannot take issue with your criticisms of animal ag. It is, in fact, a point that I wholeheartedly agree with.
However, as for your example of hunting v. veganic farming, I believe you are still not grasping my point… Where, exactly, does veganic farming take place? Why, on lands from which all native species have been eradicated. Where does hunting take place? On lands where they have not.
You have suggested that, by veganic farming, we may reduce our land footprint, and I generally agree. But, by supplementing veganic farming with hunting and fishing, at a sustainable rate, we may reduce our footprint even further, preserving even more animal habitat and more animal lives. This is true no matter how large the earth’s human population, up to that point that there are no wild lands remaining.
You appear to be fixated on the idea that we all do exactly the same things, on a global scale. My suggestion is that we all do what we can to reduce our impact, even if we do not all do exactly the same thing. Why does veganism through wildlife under the bus simply to achieve conformity? We already cannot all hunt and fish all that we want to. We restrict access to wildlife resources by fixing fishing “season” for example, and we regulate the availability of deer tags to ensure that we do not kill more than our populations can support. I am not suggesting anything different in the future. Certainly, more people will desire access if ag based meats are off the table, but I see this as a good thing.
The suggestion that more mice moving into habitat already occupied by a stable population of mice results in death by competition for unavailable resources is not “just a theory.” It is a fact founded upon decades of study. if this is not the case–if an unlimited number of animals can exist on less and less habitat–then I guess we really have nothing to worry about and all this concern about protecting space for wild animals, and avoiding habitat degradation, climate change, etc. is all just nonsense. But, you are an intelligent person, and I know you, too, do not believe this.
Finally, in regard to my diet, I could ask the same of you. I believe the case is clear–that a plant-based diet, supplemented with wild fish and game, is our least destructive option. And so that is what I do, and encourage others to do. Perhaps the reason that so many people don’t persist with the vegan lifestyle, and have instead adopted locavore habits is because they understand where it fails. Not entirely, mind you, but partially. And the world will be a better place when errors such as these are corrected.
Well after reading both the article and all the comments I find myself agreeing with everyone, nobody is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in my opinion. Why we choose what we choose, is only ever according to our own personal beliefs anyway and those beliefs change as we grow and often something we believed yesterday is not what we believe right now.
When you look at an animal or a plant, you are looking at a reflection of yourself, everybody’s individual reality is just a reflection of their own personal beliefs and if you haven’t experienced that to be true for you, you should probably move onto the next comment…
We are all energy, not solid, this IS a scientific fact, not some ‘new age mumbo jumbo’. At a deeper level we are creating with energy, nothing totally dies and plants and animals already know this through their connection to everything that is, they are naturally connected through their instinct.
As humans we perceive suffering in animals because that is what we believe, how do we really know that animals suffer from death? It us who believe in the ‘fear of death’ and suffering. Death is just a transition into new form.
If we believe there is no suffering, we will not experience suffering because we only ever experience what we believe to be true.
If there is anything out of whack here, it’s the fact that humans haven’t figured out how they feel yet, we just have to be aware of how we feel and what we believe and know that this makes a difference to each of our own personal experiences.
Ultimately, our body does’t need food anyway, it’s only because we so strongly believe that it does, that the need is ‘real’, just like our bodies don’t need to be ill either, these are ‘beliefs’ manifest.
As long as love is involved with whatever we do and a true awareness of our own individual connection to ‘all that is’, we’ll be ok, it’s the disconnection to ourselves, which is at the root of all our problems.
Forget what everyone else is doing and follow your own heart and be connected to your own feelings and you’ll know exactly what is right for you personally because ultimately, you don’t have the right to decide what’s supposedly ‘right’ for everyone else.
Quote of the Day
“As herders and dominators of animals, we must continually practice seeing ourselves as separate and different from them, as superior and special. Our natural human compassion can be repressed by learning to exclude others and to see them as essentially unlike us. This exclusivism is necessary to racism, elitism, and war, because in order to harm and dominate other people we must break the bonds that our hearts naturally feel with them. The mentality of domination is necessarily a mentality of exclusion.”
~ Will Tuttle, The World Peace Diet
Apparently the U.S. could feed 800 million people only with the grain that is fed to livestock. http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/1997/08/us-could-feed-800-million-people-grain-livestock-eat
Sally, your remarks on animal suffering having to do with “what we believe” may have to do exclusively with what you believe, not with the reality. There are plenty of scientific research backing the knowledge that farm animals have highly complex emotions, that they bond with friends and family members, learn to use tools, enjoy having fun and value their lives as much as we value ours.
What about eating insects?
This is a really good question and worth pursuing. Far more sustainable than current stock practises, if a little mentally unpalatable. 😉
I’m not too sure about that one, Savvy. They certainly run for their lives, don’t they? Perhaps they want to live.
They don’t need to run from me Chris, I’m more than happy to let them be. Insects are not going to be featuring on our menu any time soon. Well, except for the accidental addition to my smoothies when I’ve missed a caterpillar on the underside of a leaf.
BUT, for those that do choose to eat meat, what’s the difference between insects and rabbit or beef, except the line drawn in the consumer’s mind?
I agree, Savvy. Selective compassion differs from person to person, culture to culture.
Clearly a hot topic – and a really though provoking assortment of responses and reactions.
A macro view of the broader issue might look something like; individually making an effort to move away or detach from anything that supports factory farming . Attempting a mindful life in relation to the environment and food consumption. Working towards building a like minded community which supports both.
I just discovered you through Robb Wolf. Thanks Dustin for a very interesting article and interview with Daniel. I’ve been ‘Paleo’ for about three years now; and as I keep researching and learning more and more, Daniel’s messages of sustainable, non-monoculture farming, or permaculture keeps making more sense and resonating with me. I believe that as humans being omnivores and on top of the food chain, we need to accept that if we live as nature intended we are creating a beneficial environment for everything and everyone involved, from the little field mouse to the cow to the ecosystem to trying to alleviate and hopefully eliminate global warming … we need to keep breaking down the myth that agribusiness (whether conventional or organic) is the only way to ‘feed the world’. I’m very happy to see that the trend keeps moving in this direction, although there’s a lot of work ahead of us on a global scale.
Who’s to say ‘this is what nature intended’? How does anyone know exactly what nature intended? And how can anyone be that arrogant to assume?
Paleo is nothing but self. Self interest, self-obsession, me, me, me, how can I – that is me, nobody BUT me – be healthier. Which is totally lost on paleo believers obviously. Who are just a product of a wholly selfish society. Justifying their every decision on their own gain. Mind-boggling. Seeing all sentient beings as equal is totally lost on you isn’t it?
Schools should require a semester working at a small scale family farm. Let me say I was a vegetarian for awhile until I got pregnant and started craving meat. But I was such a dumb vegetarian eating a whole lot of fake food (soy meant to taste like meat), canned vegetarian beans, and way to much salt added rice. I have gone from that lost teen thinking she was so healthy while I filled myself with gmo processed foods. Forward ahead, now I live on a farm. I have about 20 free range chickens for eggs and sometimes meat. And I have 21 cows. Besides the fact that the chicken actually taste like chicken (something only a select few will understand), I am Lion Kinging it here and living in the circle of life :). It has opened up my eyes so much. I am a huge animal lover. Huge. My cows are sorta pets. I love on the ones who like it and respect the 1000lb ones who just want to be cows. But I also know what some are here for and respect their importance. Same with the chickens. We have killed chickens for dinner, ran into our pasture screaming like lunatics screaming when dogs or hawks were trying to kill them and then I cried that I wasn’t there in time. I have helped pull a huge dead calf out of a smaller heifer that decided to go into labor in the middle of the night. Dear Lord did I cry about that one. I was sad for days, then another calf was born and I realized how intune farming was to life. I relaized how connected it all was. Like I said, circle of life. There is a quote by Teddy Roosevelt that goes something like do what you can, with what you have, where you are. And I believe that’s how farming should work. We, Americans specifically, are so out of tune with food. I agree and recommend the Omnivores Dilemma as a great beginner book to learn more. The author makes it incredibly clear and you come away with almost a time line of how we got to 10 chicken nuggets for less than $2.00. I live in Alabama, which may be the capital of raising chickens, almost daily I see trucks filled with cage upon cage of these smelly, awful looking white chickens and I am so thankful to know I’m not doing that. I watch my chickens be chickens, peck at dirt, make a mess in dirt, and be free. I know their yolks are more yellow then the highest quality egg sold at Walmart and healthier too. I couldn’t be happier that I feel like so many people other then me are coming back to the way of thinking as are grandparents or even great great grandparents. As a note I have grandparents that lived on the south side of Chicago but still had chickens. I can only hope the message keeps getting g out there and spreading.
Thank you, Cole! I am not alone and I am not crazy. I have hard time explaining my friends and relatives and general public too how I went from being vegan to being a homesteader with home raised meat on my table. When I was a vegan, I knew I didn’t eat meat because it was immoral meat on the grocery stores shelves, as well as milk and eggs. But I could not get rid of the feeling that I was lying about something, you know, this feeling of dissatisfaction about myself. So I decided to move to the land to see by myself whether it is possible to do farming differently, to do it right, and whether there is this right way of growing food anyway. And by doing so I am trying to do my best to be honest.
If I have my meat, I eat meat, if I have my milk, I drink milk. If I don’t have my meat and milk, I would not go to the store to buy it, I it what I have. If I had to move back to the city, I would be even more vegan than I had been before. And I would know for sure why.
“I want to make this clear from the start–I DO NOT kill, slaughter, butcher or murder my calves…they are harvested. Just like other farmers, I’m raising a crop…”
Well thats pure semantics …. and one day you might well be harvested too. This is simply a strategy to keep you separated from your self. It makes for pretty sad reading … and it is your choice…. to create a heartless world. Personally I could not choose this wholly detached way of being.
I couldn’t agree with you more.
“The very saddest sound in all my memory was burned into my awareness at age five on my uncle’s dairy farm in Wisconsin. A cow had given birth to a beautiful male calf. The mother was allowed to nurse her calf but for a single night. On the second day after birth, my uncle took the calf from the mother and placed him in the veal pen in the barn – only ten yards away, in plain view of the mother. The mother cow could see her infant, smell him, hear him, but could not touch him, comfort him, or nurse him. The heartrending bellows that she poured forth – minute after minute, hour after hour, for five long days – were excruciating to listen to. They are the most poignant and painful auditory memories I carry in my brain.”
~ Dr. Michael Klaper
That it why I NEVER separate the calf from the mother. I always calf share. It means that I put the calf in a barn for the night, milk cow in the morning and let the calf out with the mother to the pasture for a day. This way the night milk in mine, the day milk is for the calf. When the calf is about 5-6 months old and the mother cow get impatient with him already, I put a weaning ring in the calf nose. Nobody suffers, as it is the right physiological age for the calf to be weaned. I never separate the calves from the herd and let all the bulls to live in a heard till they are 2 years old. I just cannot keep them longer. By then they are big nasty bulls and mother cows have another babies to care for. I do not “harvest” them. I kill them and eat them. And they are not “harvest”, they are living beings. I am just trying to do my best to do farming in a more ethical way. And I NEVER “harvest” veal. You can justify anything, but the suffering of mothers and killing babies.
Quote of the Day
“The suppression of awareness required by our universal practice of commodifying, enslaving, and killing animals for food generates the “built-in mental disorder” that drives us toward the destruction not only of ourselves but of the other living creatures and systems of this earth. Because this practice of exploiting and brutalizing animals for food has come to be regarded as normal, natural, and unavoidable, it has become invisible.”
~ Will Tuttle, The World Peace Diet
Fascinating post and impressive range of thoughtful, passionate, and (frequently) intelligent comments. Here’s what I know for sure: humans are animals who have, throughout their evolutionary history, consumed all manner of other other animals.
The decision to choose or avoid certain life form sustenance is certainly within everyone’s right, but to propose that this is necessarily a more healthy, ethical or otherwise superior path is in my opinion naive. On the contrary, a huge body of scientific evidence says otherwise. A vegan diet is no more “natural” or nutritious for Homo sapiens than for any other omnivore. Can you imagine judging the dietary decisions of a salmon or squirrel, a bobcat or bear, an orangutan or eagle…or any other life form besides humans?? Lunacy.
We should absolutely apply and fight for the most respectful, ethical, humane and sustainable animal husbandry practices possible. And we should strive to apply these same standards to our treatment of one another, as well.
Practice makes perfect.
“Their reasoning behind being vegan, was apparently to minimize animal suffering, but in my mind, they were actually causing more cumulative harm than they would have caused if they were eating meat…I mean,…”
“…individuals who endorsed the 4Ns tend not to be motivated by ethical concerns when making food choices, are less involved in animal-welfare advocacy, less driven to restrict animal products from their diet, less proud of their animal-product decisions, tend to endorse Speciesist attitudes, tend to consume meat and animal products more frequently, and are highly committed to eating meat.”
Interesting – so now we are getting somewhere…at what point will you meat eaters be comfortable harvesting fellow humans?
yes quite … whoever preys on another must be willing to be preyed upon … I know hunters who take that stance … there is some integrity in that …. so give animals guns!!! Tongue in cheek but you get the meaning … most hunting is completely unfair and is only an illustration of dominance … not very evolved. 😉
Great row of commentary for and against the consumption of meat. I’m an ex vegetarian who has gone back to eating meat (very small amounts of it) All things that grow have some form of life and emotion within them. i believe that meat can be consumed ethically. In saying that the world is a very busy place now and the systems that are running it are maxed out and we need to see serious change. We can bitch and moan about whether its right or not to eat meat or we could accept that there will always be a difference of opinion. There are many people who have stopped eating meat on ethical and sustainable grounds. Good for them, congratulations. there are many who have also gone back to eating meat because the diet wasn’t working for them. good for them also. there is a whole multifaceted web of understanding and beliefs but its still not going to solve the issues we are facing in this world. you cant push your opinion on others based on moral high ground. the science goes both ways in regards to what is natural, healthy and sustainable.
before we knew how to farm we hunted. its in our genes. we learnt to grow food and thus seen concentrations of humanity that have come together and traded what they grew, shared and created community. community became city and now the cities rule.
I don’t think anyone can stand on moral ground until they begin to start changing their ways to live in a more natural way. we can respect animals and eat them too. its called gratitude. the same gratitude that goes into a vegetarian meal. the love and sacrifice of the farmer who worked hard to grow a delicious arrangement of vegetables that we eat.
We all have our perspectives and i believe we have many lives. i might come back as a cow and someone might end up eating me. if that was the case then so be it. it is happening with all animals all around the world. there is more to life than worrying about these things. if i die tomorrow, i’m going to do it with a smile on my face because i believe there is another life or purpose waiting for me on the other side. The cow and chicken is not dying, it is moving on. animal life has evolved through the consumption of plants to consumption of other animals. who’s to say we have evolved enough yet to disassociate ourselves with that evolution. Nature is absolutely cruel. Look at how hunting animals eat their prey. We can talk about the emotions and social constructs of cows and chickens and so on but lions and other hunters have strong emotions also. yet they do what they need to do to survive. Do we need to eat meat? probably not! do we need to eat at all, apparently not also! but we do. and we are ruining the world one way or another through our total domination of it.
We are still part of this landscape even though we have terrorised it so much. Accept your opinions and accept others. allow for constructive discussion and don’t let the anger control your feelings. we simply need less excess and more consciousness. Do the best you can to enjoy this life and live it with purpose. if you believe meat is not for you then good luck with that. We cannot change the current situation and so we just need to be aware of our decisions and how they affect the greater energetic field with which we live. to be happy that this world has provided so much for us or to be angry that people kill animals for food? To be appreciative of the good things in life goes further than the disgust that is put out by so many haters. too much judgement and not enough love. too many egos and not enough consciousness.
Well said Lee!
Are you suggesting that those who turn a blind eye to animal abuse show more love?
So… dear (animal), thank you for letting me eat you? You’re kidding right, this makes the least actual sense yet. In fact just absolute nonsense – in other words just a really long-winded form of bullshit. You preach love but are happy to kill. Your contradictions mirror his original article which claims too be one of peace an drove and freedom but is everything but. Your attitude makes me sick, as does your arrogance. And this ‘LOVE’ you talk about – what on earth does that mean in your mind – I’m so confused as to your definition? Go and think about your ‘consciousness’ a bit more, your excuses are a joke.
Quote of the Night
“In the relations of man with animals, there is a whole great ethic scarcely seen as yet, but which will eventually break through into the light and be the corollary and the complement to human ethics.”
~ Victor Hugo
I am on the same page as you in almost every aspect of this article. I am vegan and do steer away from soybean and processed foods… I understand your choices in raising and killing your own livestock, however, you talk about sustainability… Well there is not nearly enough land in this country for everybody to follow in your footsteps. How much land do you utilize? Multiply that by the 320 million US residents… Not enough room… We would have to level all cities and tear down rainforests to even come close. I truly admire your life decisions and motivation to do good and am inspired to know there are more people like you out there, I just don’t know if your solution is sustainable on a larger than personal scale. “Saving the world”. I think animal agriculture in general should seize to exist… I think vegan gardening and living off of the “freegan” lifestyle is a wonderful idea… I personally would never raise an animal as food and kill it. I have never killed a living creature intentionally and don’t plan to. I hope I don’t offend anyone, just wanted to voice my opinion.
It takes less than an acre to feed a cow to slaughter weight, and there are some 3 plus BILLION acres in the US alone. Yes we can do this.
“Yes we can do this.”
Where do you draw the line?
In my opinion, breaking the habit of exploiting living beings promotes compassion, understanding and peace. Inevitably, on the flip side, justifying the commodification/routine killing of animals skews our sense of right and wrong (justice), opens the door to brutality and desensitizes the mind to violence.
“We know we cannot be kind to animals until we stop exploiting them — exploiting animals in the name of science, exploiting animals in the name of sport, exploiting animals in the name of fashion, and yes, exploiting animals in the name of food.” ~ César Chávez
“Your comment is awaiting moderation.”
From this morning?
Quote of the Night
“The human body has no more need for cows’ milk than it does for dogs’ milk, horses’ milk, or giraffes’ milk.”
~ Dr. Michael Klaper
And how much water? If we want to use our water more wisely then it takes three months worth of showers to produce a burger … I wish i knew how many vegetables or beans that could be but sadly I dont. But having got to know a cow in the same way I got to know my dog …. I absolutely would never kill one, that experience is completely off my wish list!! And its totally feasible … because thats what i choose. I would love to keep a herd of cows purely for the joy of thier incredible being. I think some feel the same way about horses. If only I had some land .. I would put cows there and let them keep their calves and milk but allow them to feed my vegetables and beans!! There is a way we can live together without seeing them as food. We dont just have to survive on this planet … we can create heaven on earth where every being is honored.
“There is a way we can live together without seeing them as food…we can create heaven on earth where every being is honored.”
I like the way you think. 🙂
“We have it in our power to begin the world over again.” ~ Thomas Paine
Marie – Thanks I’ll take my acre and cow just leave out the slaughter and we’re good to go. I’ve never had to take another sentient beings life and I don’t plan on it. Those who choose a ‘vegan’ lifestyle (for lack of any other label) don’t choose it for sustainability alone, but you already know that. I would no more kill a cow or dog or elephant – than another human/a fundamental point you harvesters of cattle keep skipping over. The smell of uncooked + cooked meat in any form (home grown or otherwise) is a major vibe turn off for me – let alone imaging an animal being at my mercy and my choosing its death so I can stuff myself. Not on board with anything that involves taking the lives, exploiting or eating animals, for ANY seemingly well thought out justification or solution. Peace x
Nice! Peace X
Guys! I have a suggestion. Let us stop arguing for a while and do something together instead. Let’s create together one huge food forest. Let’s call it eh… something like “Eden”. Let’s make birds and animals live there to the benefit of our forest. If, by then, some of us would still be craving meat, let them eat some of these birds and animals. Let put big agro businesses and confinement animal operations out of business first. Then, I am sure, we will be able, little by little, to talk these stubborn omnivores out of eating our birds and animals. I am serious.
The truth still remains.
Yes, indeed. Let’s stop exploiting innocent creatures.
I encourage everyone reading the comments to go and plant something, join a community garden, sign up for an action group, get out into your community.
It’s interesting to read everyone’s perspective and to understand the thought processes behind their choices. I’m in a garden group and we merrily bicker about these topics as we’re planting fruit trees and veggies. We’ve found the things we DO agree on and work from there. Our end goal is the same, which I imagine is the case for anyone who read Daniel’s interview, and together we’re working towards solutions.
I think thats exactly what most of us here might be doing but I guess its hard to imagine it with all these words …. and I get the point …. I still like many of the points made here and have got a lot out of reading it all …. we are all part of the whole.
Been stewing on this post fr days, and then came across this perspective. Would love any insight you might add to its assertions as it seems to contrast your perspective (without addressing the issue of Minnesota winters 🙂
“Ecosystems Grow Just Fine Without Cows” @JohnVajraUtah https://medium.com/open-source-permaculture/ecosystems-grow-just-fine-without-cows-f82d09a2faaf
Hi Michael, thanks for stewing, there would be much less venom on the internet if people sat with things for a while before typing. I read you article you posted and it had some good points. I agree with the author that large ruminant animals are not needed in most, if any, ecologies. They are, in evolutionary terms, late entries. The problems I have with the idea that ecosystems grow just fine without cows is that it discounts the current condition of planetary ecosystems. I’m not an ecologist and I would doubt the author is either, but I did grow up on a farm and observed the land. Where cows spent time was more fertile than where they did not. Large ruminants could be considered turbochargers for ecologies. Would the same ecology be fine without it? Sure! Remember though, ecologies are constantly changing and if every human being were erased from existence tomorrow, some sense of balance would come back to the planet and it’s ecosystems in due time. Problem is, we made a hell of a mess of the ecosystems and waiting around for nature to make them productive again just wont cut it. There are folks posting comments here about the “sustainability” of the dietary choices I’ve chosen working for the rest of the 8 billion humans on the planet. It wont. There is nothing sustainable about 8 billion humans. If people only did things that every other human could easily replicate, nothing would happen. Also, as stated in the interview, there is no one perfect diet for the whole world, it’s different for every area. People have to do what is right for their local situation. In the midwest, the percentage of organic matter went from around 13-15% in oak savanna/tall grass prairie ecologies like where I grew up down to around 2-3% now due to my ancestors plowing the grass up to plant annuals. I could either wait for nature to build that back up without ruminants like the do with millions of acres of “conservation” land or I can actively manage the land to best replicate the ecology that once was. We witnessed this first hand on our farm. Our neighbor had 50 acres of CRP land which means it is taken out of annual production and planted into a limited number of grasses and left to sit. No animals are allowed on it other than the deer. On our 50 acres, we were actively managing the movement of multiple species of animals but mostly cows. Our grass was twice as high as the grass on the neighbor’s field. I’ve seen studies where they have tested soil organic matter on CRP land after 5,10,20 years and the increase is staggeringly slow. Folks I know who have done baseline subsequent samples on soil organic matter who with careful management, you can increase you SOM by half a percent a year or more. That is incredible. Think about the billions of tons of carbon that was oxidized into the atmosphere by tilling perennial ecologies to plant annual food crops for people! Are there ways to grow annuals without plowing? yes. Gabe Brown is a great example. http://brownsranch.us/ He also runs lots of cows. The bottom line is this. We have F’d up our planets ecologies and bred with impunity. We caused this mess and if we aren’t willing to voluntarily check off this planet, we now have a responsibility to restore the ecologies as best we can as quick as we can and that’s going to take livestock unless folks want to petition their government to abolish private property rights and reinstate all of the migratory species that have lost their habitat to man and let nature do it for us. I personally am trying hard not to get frustrated with folks who put themselves in a vegan box who have commented on this interview Dustin did with disrespect and disdain. I wonder how many self professed vegans actually live on the land. How many vegan farmers are there? Vegan ecologists? I just think it’s so damn easy for someone to sit in an city somewhere coming up with “theories” as to how to feed 8 billion people without compromising the diversity and productivity we have left on this earth and perhaps even increasing it. I would love for someone that labels themselves a vegan to actually go out and do it. I suspect that any that have tried like Dustin who I met interning on an organic farm in northern MN who took the time to listen to my experiences and made up his own mind come to a similar conclusion as me. I applaud anyone who at least stops talking about it and tearing down others for what they’ve done to get out and work on a farm. Strive toward independence from industry. Try to change all linear systems into circular ones. See how everything is connected and every single bit player in an ecology is just as important as the next. Perhaps see that life is not linear, it is circular and for one being to live, another must die. It is the way this big blue ball was set up by chance or by a God but it is as it is. I wish you joy in your journey. Thanks, daniel
“…for one being to live, another must die. It is the way this big blue ball was set up by chance or by a God but it is as it is.”
You seem to have forgotten something rather important. They were here before us. As science increasingly discovers that there is absolutely no basis/justification for giving our human species a place separate from, above other species, we’ll continue to grow as a people, expand our circle of compassion to all living beings.
What’s your position on vivisection, rodeo events, fur farming and the dog meat industry? Human exceptionalism is exceptionally arrogant, no?
That being the case, how do you justify killing animals in even larger numbers in consuming agriculturally grown fruit and vegetables? The entire point made is that animal lives lost in feeding human race may be reduced by including meat in our diet, provided the sources of such meat are undisturbed, wild lands.
We can do so much better…let’s not miss the big picture.
You do not kill more animals eating more plant foods, animal agriculture worldwide uses 85 to 90% of the land and plant food grown to feed animals humans eat. Only 10% is realized back in the form of a animal food that is very unhealthy and creating our current health and pollution problems for humans. So if you add that 10% to the 10 to 15% of plant food being grown for humans currently, you would only be using 20 to 25% of the land and food now being used to eat animal foods, so 75% less land being deforested, feces and chemically fertilized, running into the streams and rivers and poisoning ALL the water on the planet, resulting in polluting more than all other reasons combined. Plus far less trees to produce more oxygen and the immoral and unethical horrors done to kind, loving animals. And for the free range opinions? There is not enough land on the entire planet, even if there were nothing else on it to do that, plus that causes more pollution than the terrible factory farms.
You are mostly correct, but not entirely. It is well recognized that the impact of the human race may be reduced, rather than increased, by including a small amount of meat in our diet. This is especially true in locations where meat is locally available, but plants are not easily cultivated; where subsistence hunting makes game and fish available from undisturbed wild lands, which reduces the severe impact of even plant agriculture, and where plant by-product can be used to feed animals, thereby producing even more food from every acre under cultivation.
Again, I am not arguing that meat production is generally superior to vegetable cropping. However, I am saying that to consume some meat actually reduces the human impact.
How does using 75% more land to raise food for animals to eat create “less”impact on on the planet? That’s just mathematically impossible. Remember only 10% of the 90% of food being grown is for humans, so 80% is for animal agriculture. That would reduce the human foot print print by 80%. And increase the oxygen producing forests of trees and rain forests that have been destroyed from animal agriculture. There is not enough space on the planet for humans to eat wild fish and game or to raise free range animals. And besides humans are not Omnivores or Carnivores, we are 100% Herbivores. Humans eating out of their natural instinct eating animals is the reason for the pollution of the planet and the destruction of the land. Plus the wide spread health and disease problems for humans as Herbivores cannot healthfully eat animal products. Your statement is totally contradictory, do you work for animal agriculture? Or just a rationalized excuse because you like and choose to eat animals? No matter how little animal products you eat reduces the impact, it will lesson it if you eat less, but still increases the impact over eating no animal products. The problem exists because humans have been eating animals out of line with nature.
I understand everything that you are suggesting about eating lower on the trophic level pyramid, and the relative costs of raising animals rather than crops in terms of land, energy, pollution and lives. And no, I do not “work for animal agriculture.” In fact, I am not speaking in favor of animal agriculture at all, and make no effort to legitimize the sort of meat products upon which many depend.
So, what am I actually suggesting? Let’s address wild fish and game first. Hunters in the state of Tennessee alone consume over 500,000 squirrels, annually, with no harm to the squirrel population and without damage to the habitat upon which they and other creatures depend. Add to this figure the hundreds of thousands of large game animals such as deer, elk, moose and pronghorn taken across the United States, then add millions more small game animals and fish, and one perceives the extent to which wild fish and game feeds rural America.
Certainly, there are lives lost as a result, but remember that nature always breeds more animals than habitat can support, and it does no harm to animal populations to consume the excess before they perish of disease or starvation. Well-regulated hunting and fishing leave habitat intact for future generations of wildlife.
Agriculture (even plant agriculture), by comparison, consumes not just the excess of any population, but every single individual, of every major species, by eliminating the very habitat required for survival in order to establish the fields we require. Consider the millions of acres of forest, grassland and wetland converted to agricultural purpose; consider the billions of pounds of chemicals dumped into our air, water and soil, and the trillions of gallons of fresh water diverted from sensitive aquatic systems–all for agricultural purpose. Certainly, much of this damage is the result of animal agriculture, but the impact is exactly the same (albeit reduced) for plant ag where native lands are reduced to barren mono-cultures of broccoli or beans serving no species besides man. Agriculture has become the foremost cause of extinction, world-wide, as well as the single greatest source of greenhouse gases destined to alter our environment for millennia.
Many do not perceive the irony in criticisms leveled against the rural resident who steps off his back porch and into the woods to return with deer or turkey rather than drive fifty miles to the nearest grocery store–and especially given that many such grocery store items are transported across entire continents or even oceans. Of course, the rural resident will also consume such items, but he will consume less when he includes local fish and game as part of his diet. He is not without impact, of course, but it is important to recognize that the least damaging part of his diet is that which he acquires from undisturbed wild lands. With every bite, he reduces the acreage under cultivation that would otherwise be required to sustain him.
Of course, there is not enough wild fish and game available on this planet to provide the sort of meat to which we have become accustomed, and it is not my suggestion that it should. I am simply noting that, to the extent that wild fish and game may be sustainably acquired from undisturbed lands, they do provide the least destructive source of food available.
Another source of meat capable of reducing human impact is that which can be fed plant by-product that would otherwise be of no value to humans. Corn stalks, for example, can be fed to cattle, allowing us to produce even more food than would otherwise be possible from any given plot of land. When we maximize the amount of food grown on each acre, we reduce the acreage necessary to support our own population, and reduce animal loss of life in the process. (Again, I am speaking of the thousands of wild animal lives lost as habitat they require is lost for each acre of corn, etc.)
Even without referring to studies purporting to measure such impacts, the facts mentioned here are perfectly evident, yet forcefully resisted by those who buy into decades-old mantra. I will encourage you to do the research, and demonstrate to your own satisfaction that I am not alone in reaching these conclusions.
Really? I guess you don’t understand Math, science or anatomy. If you kill 500,000 of anything it takes away 500,000 of that population, period. How does that not cause no harm? Can’t you understand the land being used to grow grains, which are not a healthy food for any mammal, are using 85 to 90% of the land. Only 10% is realized back in the form of another very unhealthy food for humans. So add that 10% to the only 10% being used now to grow fruits and veggies for humans and you are only using 20% of that land, not 90%to just feed animals. Fruits and veggies do not use up the land as you are saying, animal food is, and a food that is only fed them to make them fat and sick for humans to eat and get fat and sick also, creating to huge health crisis this country is in now. Again humans are Herbivores and eating out of line with instinct and nature. Humans are most often described as “omnivores.” This classification is based on the “observation” that humans generally eat a wide variety of plant and animal foods. However, culture, custom and training are confounding variables when looking at human dietary practices. Thus, “observation” is not the best technique to use when trying to identify the most “natural” diet for humans. While most humans are clearly “behavioral” omnivores, the question still remains as to whether humans are anatomically suited for a diet that includes animal as well as plant foods.
A better and more objective technique is to look at human anatomy and physiology. Mammals are anatomically and physiologically adapted to procure and consume particular kinds of diets. (It is common practice when examining fossils of extinct mammals to examine anatomical features to deduce the animal’s probable diet.) Therefore, we can look at mammalian carnivores, herbivores (plant-eaters) and omnivores to see which anatomical and physiological features are associated with each kind of diet. Then we can look at human anatomy and physiology to see in which group we belong.
Carnivores have a wide mouth opening in relation to their head size. This confers obvious advantages in developing the forces used in seizing, killing and dismembering prey. Facial musculature is reduced since these muscles would hinder a wide gape, and play no part in the animal’s preparation of food for swallowing. In all mammalian carnivores, the jaw joint is a simple hinge joint lying in the same plane as the teeth. This type of joint is extremely stable and acts as the pivot point for the “lever arms” formed by the upper and lower jaws. The primary muscle used for operating the jaw in carnivores is the temporalis muscle. This muscle is so massive in carnivores that it accounts for most of the bulk of the sides of the head (when you pet a dog, you are petting its temporalis muscles). The “angle” of the mandible (lower jaw) in carnivores is small. This is because the muscles (masseter and pterygoids) that attach there are of minor importance in these animals. The lower jaw of carnivores cannot move forward, and has very limited side-to-side motion. When the jaw of a carnivore closes, the blade-shaped cheek molars slide past each other to give a slicing motion that is very effective for shearing meat off bone.
The teeth of a carnivore are discretely spaced so as not to trap stringy debris. The incisors are short, pointed and prong-like and are used for grasping and shredding. The canines are greatly elongated and dagger-like for stabbing, tearing and killing prey. The molars (carnassials) are flattened and triangular with jagged edges such that they function like serrated-edged blades. Because of the hinge-type joint, when a carnivore closes its jaw, the cheek teeth come together in a back-to-front fashion giving a smooth cutting motion like the blades on a pair of shears.
The saliva of carnivorous animals does not contain digestive enzymes. When eating, a mammalian carnivore gorges itself rapidly and does not chew its food. Since proteolytic (protein-digesting) enzymes cannot be liberated in the mouth due to the danger of autodigestion (damaging the oral cavity), carnivores do not need to mix their food with saliva; they simply bite off huge chunks of meat and swallow them whole.
According to evolutionary theory, the anatomical features consistent with an herbivorous diet represent a more recently derived condition than that of the carnivore. Herbivorous mammals have well-developed facial musculature, fleshy lips, a relatively small opening into the oral cavity and a thickened, muscular tongue. The lips aid in the movement of food into the mouth and, along with the facial (cheek) musculature and tongue, assist in the chewing of food. In herbivores, the jaw joint has moved to position above the plane of the teeth. Although this type of joint is less stable than the hinge-type joint of the carnivore, it is much more mobile and allows the complex jaw motions needed when chewing plant foods. Additionally, this type of jaw joint allows the upper and lower cheek teeth to come together along the length of the jaw more or less at once when the mouth is closed in order to form grinding platforms. (This type of joint is so important to a plant-eating animal, that it is believed to have evolved at least 15 different times in various plant-eating mammalian species.) The angle of the mandible has expanded to provide a broad area of attachment for the well-developed masseter and pterygoid muscles (these are the major muscles of chewing in plant-eating animals). The temporalis muscle is small and of minor importance. The masseter and pterygoid muscles hold the mandible in a sling-like arrangement and swing the jaw from side-to-side. Accordingly, the lower jaw of plant-eating mammals has a pronounced sideways motion when eating. This lateral movement is necessary for the grinding motion of chewing.
The dentition of herbivores is quite varied depending on the kind of vegetation a particular species is adapted to eat. Although these animals differ in the types and numbers of teeth they posses, the various kinds of teeth when present, share common structural features. The incisors are broad, flattened and spade-like. Canines may be small as in horses, prominent as in hippos, pigs and some primates (these are thought to be used for defense) or absent altogether. The molars, in general, are squared and flattened on top to provide a grinding surface. The molars cannot vertically slide past one another in a shearing/slicing motion, but they do horizontally slide across one another to crush and grind. The surface features of the molars vary depending on the type of plant material the animal eats. The teeth of herbivorous animals are closely grouped so that the incisors form an efficient cropping/biting mechanism, and the upper and lower molars form extended platforms for crushing and grinding. The “walled-in” oral cavity has a lot of potential space that is realized during eating.
These animals carefully and methodically chew their food, pushing the food back and forth into the grinding teeth with the tongue and cheek muscles. This thorough process is necessary to mechanically disrupt plant cell walls in order to release the digestible intracellular contents and ensure thorough mixing of this material with their saliva. This is important because the saliva of plant-eating mammals often contains carbohydrate-digesting enzymes which begin breaking down food molecules while the food is still in the mouth.
Stomach and Small Intestine
Striking differences between carnivores and herbivores are seen in these organs. Carnivores have a capacious simple (single-chambered) stomach. The stomach volume of a carnivore represents 60-70% of the total capacity of the digestive system. Because meat is relatively easily digested, their small intestines (where absorption of food molecules takes place) are short&151;about three to five or six times the body length. Since these animals average a kill only about once a week, a large stomach volume is advantageous because it allows the animals to quickly gorge themselves when eating, taking in as much meat as possible at one time which can then be digested later while resting. Additionally, the ability of the carnivore stomach to secrete hydrochloric acid is exceptional. Carnivores are able to keep their gastric pH down around 1-2 even with food present. This is necessary to facilitate protein breakdown and to kill the abundant dangerous bacteria often found in decaying flesh foods.
Because of the relative difficulty with which various kinds of plant foods are broken down (due to large amounts of indigestible fibers), herbivores have significantly longer and in some cases, far more elaborate guts than carnivores. Herbivorous animals that consume plants containing a high proportion of cellulose must “ferment” (digest by bacterial enzyme action) their food to obtain the nutrient value. They are classified as either “ruminants” (foregut fermenters) or hindgut fermenters. The ruminants are the plant-eating animals with the celebrated multiple-chambered stomachs. Herbivorous animals that eat a diet of relatively soft vegetation do not need a multiple-chambered stomach. They typically have a simple stomach, and a long small intestine. These animals ferment the difficult-to-digest fibrous portions of their diets in their hindguts (colons). Many of these herbivores increase the sophistication and efficiency of their GI tracts by including carbohydrate-digesting enzymes in their saliva. A multiple-stomach fermentation process in an animal which consumed a diet of soft, pulpy vegetation would be energetically wasteful. Nutrients and calories would be consumed by the fermenting bacteria and protozoa before reaching the small intestine for absorption. The small intestine of plant-eating animals tends to be very long (greater than 10 times body length) to allow adequate time and space for absorption of the nutrients.
The large intestine (colon) of carnivores is simple and very short, as its only purposes are to absorb salt and water. It is approximately the same diameter as the small intestine and, consequently, has a limited capacity to function as a reservoir. The colon is short and non-pouched. The muscle is distributed throughout the wall, giving the colon a smooth cylindrical appearance. Although a bacterial population is present in the colon of carnivores, its activities are essentially putrefactive.
In herbivorous animals, the large intestine tends to be a highly specialized organ involved in water and electrolyte absorption, vitamin production and absorption, and/or fermentation of fibrous plant materials. The colons of herbivores are usually wider than their small intestine and are relatively long. In some plant-eating mammals, the colon has a pouched appearance due to the arrangement of the muscle fibers in the intestinal wall. Additionally, in some herbivores the cecum (the first section of the colon) is quite large and serves as the primary or accessory fermentation site.
What About Omnivores?
One would expect an omnivore to show anatomical features which equip it to eat both animal and plant foods. According to evolutionary theory, carnivore gut structure is more primitive than herbivorous adaptations. Thus, an omnivore might be expected to be a carnivore which shows some gastrointestinal tract adaptations to an herbivorous diet.
This is exactly the situation we find in the Bear, Raccoon and certain members of the Canine families. (This discussion will be limited to bears because they are, in general, representative of the anatomical omnivores.) Bears are classified as carnivores but are classic anatomical omnivores. Although they eat some animal foods, bears are primarily herbivorous with 70-80% of their diet comprised of plant foods. (The one exception is the Polar bear which lives in the frozen, vegetation poor arctic and feeds primarily on seal blubber.) Bears cannot digest fibrous vegetation well, and therefore, are highly selective feeders. Their diet is dominated by primarily succulent lent herbage, tubers and berries. Many scientists believe the reason bears hibernate is because their chief food (succulent vegetation) not available in the cold northern winters. (Interestingly, Polar bears hibernate during the summer months when seals are unavailable.)
In general, bears exhibit anatomical features consistent with a carnivorous diet. The jaw joint of bears is in the same plane as the molar teeth. The temporalis muscle is massive, and the angle of the mandible is small corresponding to the limited role the pterygoid and masseter muscles play in operating the jaw. The small intestine is short (less than five times body length) like that of the pure carnivores, and the colon is simple, smooth and short. The most prominent adaptation to an herbivorous diet in bears (and other “anatomical” omnivores) is the modification of their dentition. Bears retain the peg-like incisors, large canines and shearing premolars of a carnivore; but the molars have become squared with rounded cusps for crushing and grinding. Bears have not, however, adopted the flattened, blunt nails seen in most herbivores and retain the elongated, pointed claws of a carnivore.
An animal which captures, kills and eats prey must have the physical equipment which makes predation practical and efficient. Since bears include significant amounts of meat in their diet, they must retain the anatomical features that permit them to capture and kill prey animals. Hence, bears have a jaw structure, musculature and dentition which enable them to develop and apply the forces necessary to kill and dismember prey even though the majority of their diet is comprised of plant foods. Although an herbivore-style jaw joint (above the plane of the teeth) is a far more efficient joint for crushing and grinding vegetation and would potentially allow bears to exploit a wider range of plant foods in their diet, it is a much weaker joint than the hinge-style carnivore joint. The herbivore-style jaw joint is relatively easily dislocated and would not hold up well under the stresses of subduing struggling prey and/or crushing bones (nor would it allow the wide gape carnivores need). In the wild, an animal with a dislocated jaw would either soon starve to death or be eaten by something else and would, therefore, be selected against. A given species cannot adopt the weaker but more mobile and efficient herbivore-style joint until it has committed to an essentially plant-food diet test it risk jaw dislocation, death and ultimately, extinction.
What About Me?
The human gastrointestinal tract features the anatomical modifications consistent with an herbivorous diet. Humans have muscular lips and a small opening into the oral cavity. Many of the so-called “muscles of expression” are actually the muscles used in chewing. The muscular and agile tongue essential for eating, has adapted to use in speech and other things. The mandibular joint is flattened by a cartilaginous plate and is located well above the plane of the teeth. The temporalis muscle is reduced. The characteristic “square jaw” of adult males reflects the expanded angular process of the mandible and the enlarged masseter/pterygoid muscle group. The human mandible can move forward to engage the incisors, and side-to-side to crush and grind.
Human teeth are also similar to those found in other herbivores with the exception of the canines (the canines of some of the apes are elongated and are thought to be used for display and/or defense). Our teeth are rather large and usually abut against one another. The incisors are flat and spade-like, useful for peeling, snipping and biting relatively soft materials. The canines are neither serrated nor conical, but are flattened, blunt and small and function Like incisors. The premolars and molars are squarish, flattened and nodular, and used for crushing, grinding and pulping noncoarse foods.
Human saliva contains the carbohydrate-digesting enzyme, salivary amylase. This enzyme is responsible for the majority of starch digestion. The esophagus is narrow and suited to small, soft balls of thoroughly chewed food. Eating quickly, attempting to swallow a large amount of food or swallowing fibrous and/or poorly chewed food (meat is the most frequent culprit) often results in choking in humans.
Man’s stomach is single-chambered, but only moderately acidic. (Clinically, a person presenting with a gastric pH less than 4-5 when there is food in the stomach is cause for concern.) The stomach volume represents about 21-27% of the total volume of the human GI tract. The stomach serves as a mixing and storage chamber, mixing and liquefying ingested foodstuffs and regulating their entry into the small intestine. The human small intestine is long, averaging from 10 to 11 times the body length. (Our small intestine averages 22 to 30 feet in length. Human body size is measured from the top of the head to end of the spine and averages between two to three feet in length in normal-sized individuals.)
The human colon demonstrates the pouched structure peculiar to herbivores. The distensible large intestine is larger in cross-section than the small intestine, and is relatively long. Man’s colon is responsible for water and electrolyte absorption and vitamin production and absorption. There is also extensive bacterial fermentation of fibrous plant materials, with the production and absorption of significant amounts of food energy (volatile short-chain fatty acids) depending upon the fiber content of the diet. The extent to which the fermentation and absorption of metabolites takes place in the human colon has only recently begun to be investigated.
In conclusion, we see that human beings have the gastrointestinal tract structure of a “committed” herbivore. Humankind does not show the mixed structural features one expects and finds in anatomical omnivores such as bears and raccoons. Thus, from comparing the gastrointestinal tract of humans to that of carnivores, herbivores and omnivores we must conclude that humankind’s GI tract is designed for a purely plant-food diet.
Because you choose to eat burnt dead flesh does not make you a Omnivore anatomically and by doing so are greatly contributing to the demise of our planet. Your argument are only very flawed rationalized excuse because you like to eat burnt, dead, tortured, murdered flesh of another kind, thinking, loving and kind mammal. And NO you cannot be kind and humane to any living sentient being by murdering it. Be REAL!
Any animal taken by the hunter or fisherman is immediately replaced with the next generation, leaving healthy populations in place. Nature always breeds more animals than habitat can support, and the rest perish of disease or starvation whether we consume them or not. These animals will be replaced only because we leave healthy habitat behind. Such is not the case with agriculture, which destroys not just the excess animals in the population, but every single animal, of every generation, of every species, that might ever be expected to exist on that landscape, including the every major non-game species. These die simply because they cannot exist without habitat, and ag fields are inadequate habitat by any measure of biodiversity.
You argument about grains and farm-raised meat indicates that you have not yet understood that I have not advocated for animal agriculture except where animals may be grown using plant by-products that cannot otherwise be used. I appreciate your point that by avoiding animal agriculture we may reduce our impact since it takes fewer acres of plants to sustain ourselves. Of course, the advantage to this is that we may “re-wild” retired ag properties to native conditions. Of course, the same applies to those plant crop fields that might be returned to healthy, wild ecosystems if we reduced our reliance on ag grown plant products. We may do so by consuming, at a sustainable rate, some part of those animal populations found on undisturbed, wild lands. An elk, for example, provides as much protein as 1/8 acre of soy, assuming modern ag practices including the most productive cultivars, pesticides, etc. Imagine how many creatures might be restored by choosing to eat that elk rather than denude 1/8 acre of every living thing in order to produce soy. And, of course, most crops are far less productive than soy, and so the benefit I mention would be much greater for these.
The rest of your cut-and-paste treatise, originally promoted by Dr. Mills, ignores some very obvious points to the contrary that support also the conclusion that humans are well-adapted to, and perhaps even dependent upon, meat consumption. The fact that we possess enzymes specific to the digestion of meat indicates that we have evolved this capability. Our inability to extract B-12 from other sources or synthesize it ourselves is further evidence. But this diversion avoids the point that I am making here, which is that the consumption of some meat allows us to reduce our environmental impact and animal death. If your believe that no meat in your diet will improve your health, then that is your prerogative. I believe that a greatly reduced meat diet is superior, and that is my prerogative. And, where the vegan argument strays from the pro-environment argument, then I will point out the inconsistencies. Remember, veganism is not inspired by environmentalism, and it does, at times, contradict environmental objectives. Get past repeating the mantra. Think.
You have what’s called cognitive dissonance, why do you think humans need more protein than is in fruits and veggies? How much protein does the human diet need? What is the protein in mothers milk when a human is at the highest needed protein in it’s lifetime? What is an adult humans need for protein? No, there are No contradictions in Dr. Mills essay. So you just ignore ALL the other points of our anatomy because you state there’s an enzyme for digestion? Of course there are many, but not specifically for anything. ALL current knowledge states that a plant based is by far the best for health and sustainability of the planet. Where do “think” B-12 comes from? Not an animal for sure. What is our requirement for b-12? Yes we can synthesize it if we ate it, same as eating an animal with it in it as you do. Soy is not a food for human protein that is not necessary, it’s a bean / grain that was not in existence 2.5 million years ago for humans to evolve, they are in evolutionary discordance. The time grains and beans have been here is .01% of evolutionary time to re-evolve to another anatomy, which is kind of impossible in our current anatomy. So why use soy as an ignorant example? Corn, wheat and soy are the primary grains used to feed animals you eat, not to feed humans. They are not a healthy food for any mammal, cows are supposed to eat grasses, not grains. There should be no grains of any kind for any mammals consumption, so that is not a valid argument. Your flawed argument of using plant by products to feed animals is really dumb, where do these by products, corn stalks, come from in that abundance? The 90% of animal agriculture land used now? Get it? Think!! LOL!
Using old ag land is still using land that forests could grow on creating oxygen, not a valid argument to use to grow more animal food on it that would just return to the same way it is now because of ignorant mans’s obsession with greed and murdering all in it’s path.
Besides there is no argument against all the science and facts that prove humans are herbivores anatomically and instinctively.
Yes a greatly reduced meat diet, reduced to ZERO, is far superior.
What evidence do you have in your own health that eating meat is better?
Are you very old? Out perform people 4 times younger than you at physical and mental athletics? Have ZERO blockage in your entire body? And been tested for it? On NO medications? Have a resting 42 pulse?
Yes, you have a right to your opinion/prerogative, but that is a “belief” and belief is NOT fact, and your prerogative is wrong by all true science, not BS rationalized, made up arguments with no true facts, just assumptions because you like to eat dead, burnt, rotting, tortured and murdered flesh of a once living, breathing, loving, caring, beautiful sentient being.
And by the way, Carnivores in nature do not eat the flesh, they eat the internal organs only as that is where the nutrition is. So you are eating the wrong part of the animal anyway if you wrongly think meat is better than no meat.
Pointing out what you believe to be inconsistencies, “belief” is not fact, with ignorant untruths and rationalized nonsense that does not compute is “cognitive dissonance”.
My comments have nothing to do with the “need” for meat from a human health perspective. You and I do appear to disagree on this issue, but, regardless, it has nothing to do with my point, which is that wild fish and game, and animals raised on plant by-product, provide the means to reduce human impact even further than is possible with an all-plant diet. If you choose to give up corn tortillas, then there will be less by-product of that sort, but more apple cores, etc. Humans do not consume the entire plant of most crop species (broccoli, brussel sprouts, artichokes, etc.) and so there will always remain some potential in this.
“Using old ag land is still using land that forests could grow on creating oxygen, not a valid argument to use to grow more animal food on it” You have misunderstood me, I am not proposing growing “more” animals, or animal food. I am simply proposing using the by-product of whatever plant food we do require to feed animals, and thereby reduce our environmental footprint.
“Carnivores in nature do not eat the flesh, they eat the internal organs only as that is where the nutrition is…” You ask for the facts, yet you seem completely ignorant of them. Are you a city boy? Your knowledge seems limited to that which one might experience on television. Many animals do prefer the organs–they are richest in energy and in nutrients–but this does not mean that they skip the rest.
Am I old? I am a retired Biology instructor, and so I understand every aspect of the argument you are attempting to use. I also understand its failures as it relates to our environment and would encourage you to research this yourself. Incidentally, I require no meds, have clear arteries, am a hell of a lot brighter than you, and understand that these facts mean nothing. And neither do studies that compare veganism with the “average” American, who over-consumes meat. It appears that the best diets, in terms of health and environment, are plant-based, supplemented with very modest amounts of animal protein–especially fish. Where wild fish and game are available, then these remain our very best option.
You said “corn stalks” which is not a good food for humans or any animal and does not need to be grown to feed either. You never answered a single question I asked you. If you are a biology instructor, you would know these answers, I do, so how are you brighter? Yes, Carnivores do skip the rest and you are NOT a Carnivore. You would know that if you if you are what you claim. If you eat animals and are retired/old you will not have clear arteries, probably in the 70 to 80% blockage range. Another unanswered question, have you been tested, or do you not know which test that is?
Protein? B-12 ? Evolution ? Evolutionary discordance of Grains/dairy?? You have not answered anything with any evidences what so ever, just ridiculous nonsense to rationalize your desire to eat, dead, rotting, burnt, tortured and murdered animal flesh. None of your arguments are even reasonable looking at the numbers of people that would need to eat animals of any kind.
Of course it’s better to eat far less animal products, but not the best, which is to eat none. It’s best to eat a very varied diet of Plants, which is
now known by all science. Maybe you’re so old you can’t learn new. Not squirrels either ! LOL!
I have an above genius IQ, tested many times in the Army in the early to mid 60s because they thought something was wrong as it is so high. 1st was the Stanford-Binet, then the Wechsler, then the Cattell Culture Fair tests.
My physical conditioning, coordination, stamina, reaction timing and mental abilities are far, far above any person that does not eat as I do at my age. I actually am better than most people 25 and under at the many extreme, endurance sports I do almost daily. My Drs all say I am in the condition of a 19 to 20 year old. This is not by accident, my entire family has always been sick, but they eat the normal SAD diet, like you do. Even my 5 kids, all 50 plus, are sick and overweight, but I am not. Do you think my diet may be the reason for that?
It’s too bad your cognitive dissonance is causing you to not accept new science and knowledge.
If I have not answered your questions, it is because they do not address MY point. You focus on questions of human health (not at all related to the question of environmental health that I have made) and continue to repeat the same concerns regarding plant agriculture and animal agriculture, which have nothing to do with the comparison I have made between plant agriculture and wild game. Get back to me when you have thoughts relevant to my own.
The questions I asked are replies and related to statements you made 1st. You never answered a single one even though you made the false claim 1st. You do not answer because you do not know and try to show you do. Or you know answering them as I did, with truth, science and facts would prove you wrong. It’s obvious you are ignorant of so much about this subject you can’t communicate intelligently. You sound like an 8 year old in his sand box. Good bye, have a great life with your cognitive dissonance.
You came to me in response to my statements regarding the damage imposed by hunting and fishing in comparison to the greater damage done by agriculture (even plant agriculture). If you ever feel up to the task, then by all means, bring it. Otherwise, you are arguing points (plant ag v. animal ag,, human health, etc.) that I mostly agree with anyway, and so feel no inclination to take issue with your point of view. Incidentally, I do understand that your effort to divert the conversation is because you have no valid argument against my own.
Your words “My comments have nothing to do with the “need” for meat from a human health perspective.” Then you said this ” I believe that a greatly reduced meat diet is superior” in response to saying what is better for health. so another contradiction and lie. So I gave you the facts and evidences against that and you did not answer a single question of why you think that or where your info came from, just your opinions. You brought up B-12, I asked if you knew the humans needs of B-12 and you did not answer, related because you applied it as false evidence as humans cannot get it from anything but animals, another lie. And you still do not know where B-12 comes from. Then you brought up protein, which I questioned, and you still have no answer for protein which makes it related as you brought it up, but do not know. As a proclaimed biologist, (doubtful), you should know these things you said. You cannot intelligently take issue with my point of view as mine is correct, by all modern science, history and facts, as I have shown you and 1 was a Dr. Mills essay to try and educate you and does prove you are wrong, and you have not shown a single thing or answer to my his or points except your opinion. Not a single one of your arguments are valid as you have shown nothing to prove them. If humans started eating wild game, it would all be gone in a few days, that’s just ridiculous. Don’t you understand the numbers involved here? But I should know you don’t, as to your land usage ideas of fruits and veggies compared to AG use, math really eludes you. You do not understand when you make a statement, you need to prove it to make it valid. You said you would several times, but still nothing. My points have proven humans do not need to eat animals and are far healthier by not eating animals. If you would have known or even googled for the answers, you would know as it proves my points. It’s far better for the planet and all the animals on it. Humans are not scientifically evolved to eat animals as a healthy food source and in doing so have destroyed the planet by going against instinct and nature. How are my points showing your idea of humans eating meat of which they should eat none NOT related? Every question I asked you was in reply to your comment and YOUR points, so they are related. By you saying the same old rhetoric and showing no real reason for them or answer anything about what you said, proves it is all invalid. Here’s some answers to my questions on your comments; B-12 does not come from plants or animals, it is a bacteria in dirt on dirty plants. So the animal or human that ate that those plants gets it from that. During evolution we got B-12 that way as do all Herbivores and Omnivores. Carnivores in nature never eat another carnivore as they know they would not get the needed nutrients to survive with the plant life that is in the plant eating animal.
Humans need of protein for an infant is 3.5 to 4 %, mothers milk is 5%, adults only need 2.5 to 3%. A typical US diet is at about 40 to 60% protein, so way too much protein which has caused all the obesity, sickness and disease we suffer from. A assortment of fruits and veggies has 15 to 22% protein, so why eat animals to eat far too much protein? Plus that we cannot healthfully eat? According to the Harvard School of Public Health, however, the guidelines are “too lenient on red meat, despite substantial evidence that replacing red meat with poultry, beans, or nuts, could help prevent heart disease, and that lowering red meat can lower the risk of diabetes.” This is at a 10% protein suggestion.
You are not looking at the big picture of what eating any animal causes and is is far too unethical, ignorant and immoral.
Every comment I have made about human health was in response to your mostly plagiarized comments about same, and which served only as a diversion from the points which I originally made about environmental health, and which you necessarily bailed on after determining that you had no adequate response to my position. And, since I have already said that I mostly agree with your points with respect to human health anyway, I have no intent of revisiting them.
However, with your assertion “if humans started eating wild game, it would all be gone in a few days”, we are finally back, on topic. Need I remind you that humans DO eat wild game…and have for a very long time…and we still have healthy populations in areas that have been protected against habitat loss to agricultural and other development? Or, perhaps you meant to say “if ALL humans started eating…”?
I believe I addressed that distraction long ago when I wrote “Of course, there is not enough wild fish and game available on this planet to provide the sort of meat to which we have become accustomed, and it is not my suggestion that it should. I am simply noting that, to the extent that wild fish and game may be sustainably acquired from undisturbed lands, they do provide the least destructive source of food available.” I have never suggested that everyone must eat meat, or that we must continue to demand meat in present quantities. I have simply pointed out that wild game, to the extent that it remains sustainably available, is capable of providing some part of the human diet with less environmental impact and loss of animal life than is possible with any form of agriculture, including plant agriculture. It is for their pathetic lack of analysis in this regard that I criticize those who buy wholesale into the vegan mantra, which is otherwise a fairly sound philosophy.
That is a lie, My first comment on this was this; “You do not kill more animals eating more plant foods, animal agriculture worldwide uses 85 to 90% of the land and plant food grown to feed animals humans eat. Only 10% is realized back in the form of a animal food that is very unhealthy and creating our current health and pollution problems for humans. So if you add that 10% to the 10 to 15% of plant food being grown for humans currently, you would only be using 20 to 25% of the land and food now being used to eat animal foods, so 75% less land being deforested, feces and chemically fertilized, running into the streams and rivers and poisoning ALL the water on the planet, resulting in polluting more than all other reasons combined. Plus far less trees to produce more oxygen and the immoral and unethical horrors done to kind, loving animals. And for the free range opinions? There is not enough land on the entire planet, even if there were nothing else on it to do that, plus that causes more pollution than the terrible factory farms.” Nothing do with health, as it continued you started with how humans cannot synthesize B-12, how we need more protein, how we need grains, ie, corn, soy. I gave you proof that you were wrong and you keep choosing to ignore the facts and evidences and show nothing to show your claims as I did with every point you made. I gave you the proof that humans do not need animal food and are much better off without it, so why eat any. There is no way that humans can eat any animals or fish ethically, morally, healthfully, or sustainably on this planet, you have not shown 1 single fact to prove and you are so dumb you can’t understand any of the science, math, anatomy, environmental damage or biology about it. There are many more reasons against it, but I can’t waste any more time trying to explain with facts to someone so stupid that can’t understand simple facts known to all current, modern science. It seems you think that my using others science and facts to show you you are wrong is plagiarizing. Did you go out and follow every person in Tenn. that killed a squirrel, then followed them to see if they ate it, then counted the number eaten to come up with your 500,000 squirrels eaten? Of course not, you plagiarized it from someone else, how stupid, and you keep using that as some kind of evidence for your flawed, ignorant attempt to show it’s better to eat meat than not eat meat, more ignorance. I gave you facts for every thing you claimed or stated that are wrong, you did nothing but keep repeating the same ignorance over and over. You can’t even google my questions that you should know, claiming you are a biologist, to counter my facts and evidences in showing your statements are wrong, then you bail out and change the subject because you really don’t know what you are talking about. Now you seem to think I said humans do not eat wild game, I never said that and I know that they do, but for all humans to eat wild game is also impossible. Another one of your deceitful attempts to try and show I am wrong about something. You just ignore all the facts I have given you that are in direct conflict with your statements, which is most all of them. The least destructive food source available is plant food with no grains at all. It would use approx. 20% of the Ag land currently in use now. If you choose to eat wild natural animals in very small amounts, it may not upset the environment too much, but is still not the best as you are trying to fraudulently state with no evidence to back it up. Just because you choose to eat tortured, abused, murdered animals rotting, dead, poisoned, burnt flesh, plus it’s greatly immoral and unethical, you make up all this rationalized BS. i have already given you way more science, facts, anatomy, biological and historical than necessary to prove to any sane person they are wrong. I am done conversing with an an insane moron.
“You do not kill more animals eating more plant foods, animal agriculture…” Yes, you are making my point for me. No where in my comments did I mention animal agriculture except in response to your own digression to that point, which I quickly established had nothing to do with my own. The meat I referred was specifically described as taken from “undisturbed, wild lands,” and any discussion of animal agriculture has nothing to do with MY point. I understand it to be central to your own point, but since I agree with you on that particular, you cannot expect me to argue in its favor.
“I gave you the proof that humans do not need animal food and are much better off without it…” Yes, you did, as you understand it, and, while I took issue with your assertion, I explained why it is a distraction from my own point, which involve environmental health and animal death. If you wish to discuss these, then I will be happy to do so, since that is, after all, the point I made and which you responded (sort of) to.
“Now you seem to think I said humans do not eat wild game, I never said that…” Actually, I did not say that I think you said that humans do not eat wild game. I simply pointed out that they do, after you made the claim that “if humans started eating wild game, it would all be gone in a few days…” It seemed clear to me that, given the fact that humans have hunted for millennia (and not just a few days), and the game is not, if fact, “all gone”, you might wish to revise you statements, or at least think before you speak. Merely a suggestion, but you do as you wish, of course….
“…I know that they do, but for all humans to eat wild game is also impossible.” As do I, and I made this point long ago with the sentence “Of course, there is not enough wild fish and game available on this planet to provide the sort of meat to which we have become accustomed, and it is not my suggestion that it should. I am simply noting that, to the extent that wild fish and game may be sustainably acquired from undisturbed lands, they do provide the least destructive source of food available.”
The fact is, you appear incapable of following this conversation. Perhaps you are so inculcated in the mantra that you cannot think outside the box, or perhaps your mind is less able than it once was (protein deficient?). I simply do not know, but so far this conversation has been surreal in your inability to grasp, let alone address the point I have actually made.
I am done conversing with an an insane moron.
Yeah. I thought so.
Does a fox “murder” a chicken? No, the fox eats it.
OK, then does a human commits “murder” if they kill and eats the same chicken for the same reason.
The fox and the human being both see the chicken as a meal. The chicken likely sees little difference in the death from the jaws from a fox vs. the human being. If anything, the human being may be easier since we value humane treatment of food animals (animals don’t think about it). The fox will simply tear the chicken apart.
I accept that almost almost nothing in nature dies peacefully. Nature is cruel. It is beautiful as well, but a single adult tiger meant hundreds of deaths of prey animals.
If you have a cat, then you are the owner of a murder machine. The little kitty will die unless it gets animal-based nutrients. Also, your little fluffy of cuteness will wipe out a collection of birds, rodents, reptiles, etc. It will kill for fun.
So, if “meat is murder” then is owning a cat the same?
In the words of Daniel Quinn, “The world doesn’t belong to us, we belong to it. Always have, always will. We belong to the world. We belong to the community of life on this planet-it doesn’t belong to us. We got confused about that, now it’s time to set the record straight.”
Chris, I appreciate your passion but I wish you’d use your own words rather than just quoting others. Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael was one of my favourite books and is the reason we named our farm New Story Farm. Humans are the most destructive force the earth has seen in millions of years and possibly the only destructive force that had consciousness of our actions. We are also very loving and creative and capable of regenerating ecosystems far faster than they could if left to their own devices. Firstly we need to stop doing harm as I said in the interview. From the urgency in your words, I assume you feel you’ve done that to the best of your ability. Whats next? Start doing good. What does that look like for you? When I took over my family farm, most of the oak trees that were there when the native americans lived there were gone. We planted more. The soil organic matter averaged 3.8. We raised it. We took 50 acres of productive soil that most farmers would have planted corn into and replanted a perennial prairie ecosystem with over 65 species of warm season grasses and forbs. We planted specific flowers and plants to attract native pollinators. We managed to feed ourselves predominantly from our own soil as well as many other families as well as Our farm was an oasis of life, wild and domestic, in a desert of industrial annual agriculture. Where does your food come from Chris? Do you grow it? What have you done to restore your local ecology? I’m not insinuating that you haven’t done anything positive like this, I will assume you have until I know otherwise but I do know this for certain. When you’re trolling for a reaction with someone who doesn’t share your exact views and beliefs, you aren’t doing anything positive. This world is in too much need for regeneration of any flavour for you or I or anyone else to waste another minute bickering on the interweb. You want to get back to the garden of eden like Quinn talks about where you can walk around in the nude picking fruit and petting animals? We have a lot of work to do to get there again.
“Firstly we need to stop doing harm as I said in the interview.”
Yes, exactly. I strongly agree. Does might make right? Of course not!
Come on. By your own admission, “your” cow died crying. Let’s cut to the chase. There’s no such thing as humane slaughter.
Anyway, I primarily shop at a local farmers market and I certainly don’t support companies that test on animals.
Again, what’s your position on vivisection, rodeo events, fur farming and the dog meat industry?
“You want to get back to the garden of eden like Quinn talks about where you can walk around in the nude picking fruit and petting animals? We have a lot of work to do to get there again.”
By the way, Daniel. That speaks volumes.
I am sure you do many good things Daniel …. and your journey is a valid one. Where it goes off is where its being used to justify the use of animals for our own survival … as if it were necessary. In my view and experience its not, not necessary to use animals. Thats my opinion .. and there are other ways to be with animals than yours… which is not to say that i/we cant learn from you, you are part of us. I have learned much from many …. but the being of vegan IS a choice ….. and from that I CREATE the world around me. Its not a matter of getting back to Eden … its a matter of advancing way beyond it … by my own creation. I was married to a butcher …. we did all our own slaughtering ….. many of the animals were walked into the yard from a farm behind us …. i know how to gut chickens and cows, pigs and sheep and I know how to use every part of the animal … quite unlike modern butchery! But the fact is that I dont want to do it anymore. The story from Tallow to tempeh is valid too (sorry, I have to take the tofu out!) … your story is your experience, it isnt right or wrong …. but somehow we manage to get into the swing of that pendulum and forget that we can each choose what we want to do … but its not because we HAVE to … its because we CHOOSE it … and you have chosen to eat meat … and we choose not to …. both those choices create very different worlds and, without a doubt, there are ways in which we numb ourselves to the huge impact that our choices have. It is my view, after years of consuming/using animals … that I was oblivious of extraordinariness of their beings …. conveniently …. just as I was oblivious to the extraordinariness of my own being. We treat other beings the way we treat ourselves … so by shifting our awareness into another realm …. by not eating/using animals (plants are a whle other story, too big for here) … we shift ourselves into a completely different world. Its beautiful!! And its totally feasible …. when we CHOOSE it.
You ignore Daniel’s point, which is that in choosing not to consume meat raised under specific conditions, you choose instead to destroy even greater numbers of animals in consuming vegetable matter.
Absolutely YES to getting connected to what you’re eating, whatever style that is and wherever you live in the world. Even if it’s only a couple of carrot seeds to highlight that food takes time, input, and that the effort doesn’t always pay off. The current high intensity farming system isn’t working for anyone and posting links, quotes and abusive comments on the internet isn’t contributing to change. The extremists of any belief system seem to drown out the ones wanting to learn and grow. They seem to become so attached to the label and forget that life is about change and evolution. It’s why I’m reluctant to climb into any box and why I don’t normally comment in places like this.
“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Note: No reply button above
Re: “I CREATE the world around me. Its not a matter of getting back to Eden…choices create very different worlds…”
Yes, absolutely. That’s a very good point, Amanda.
The following quote illustrates your point perfectly:
“Your attention should be focused on moving into a comfortable, steady position…you need to remind yourself, yet again, that nothing bad happens until you pull the trigger…my mind is totally focused on the picture in the tube of my telescopic sight and it is calculating the precise spot on the animal which I must hit in order to drive the bullet through its heart or spine…hunting has coloured my entire life. It gets me out of bed every morning to exercise so that I may remain fit enough to hunt. It dictates the books I read, the art I admire, the places I visit, the people I befriend and the subject matter I write about and film.” ~ big game hunter
Re: The Circle of Slaughter
This has made me think about the title of an upcoming book. The book will be called…
Human Exceptionalism: View From The Roof With A Pocket Full Of Shells
Quote of the Day
“What is clearer than that man is not furnished for hunting, much less for eating, other animals? In one word, we seem to be admirably admonished by Cicero that man was destined for other things than for seizing and cutting the throats of other animals. If you answer, “that may be said to be an industry ordered by Nature, by which such weapons are invented,” then, behold, it is by the very same artificial instrument that men make weapons for mutual slaughter. Do they this at the instigation of Nature? Can a use so noxious be called natural? Faculty is given by Nature, but it is our own fault that we make a perverse use of it.” ~ Pierre Gassendi
“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us the “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires…Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures…”
~ Albert Einstein
a Great and timely quote 😉
Telling it like it is…
“When it comes to the violation of basic human rights, we are absolutist. No one talks about making slavery, child molestation, rape, etc., more “humane.”
When it comes to the violation of the basic rights of animals, we talk about anything *but* absolutism and, instead, focus on making the violation of those basic rights more “humane.”
We treat the fundamental interests of humans and nonhumans differently.
That is what speciesism is.”
~ Gary L. Francione
Quote of the Night
“Men don’t achieve truth because they lack humility and love of truth. They won’t criticize their own beliefs. Truth would overwhelm them.” ~ Henri Amiel
I don’t want to leap into the FRAY by adding my vapid opinion to those already voiced. I would like to state that
#1-IMHO the article was well written and was obviously evocative 🙂
#2-I deeply appreciate the conscientious mindfulness of Daniel’s lifestyle choices, even while morphing from one mindset to another over time – go in peace, man, you seem to be one of the minority who even *thinks* about walking gently on this earth
“The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.” ~ Charles Darwin
“By the time selective compassion solidifies in the mind of an older child, he or she is usually too indoctrinated into the system that is killing them to understand an alternate message. Like a drug addict looking for the next fix, they just can’t be bothered to hear the truth and are no longer equipped to listen, as selective compassion has already taken root, imposed by a society that does not believe in equality. This is why industries target young people in advertising campaigns and they always have. From Camel cigarettes to McDonald’s hamburgers, the message has always been geared toward youth.
So here lies the dilemma. How do we throw the proverbial “monkey-wrench” into the gears and cure humanity’s selective compassion? Obviously, both a pig and a dog can feel pain, as well as register emotions. Animal agriculture begins brainwashing children at a young age to believe that one gets to live and the other is food. The majority of children and young adults don’t question the logic, eventually becoming part of the reliant agenda…brainwashed by propaganda. The cycle continues. Corporations get richer, children become more unhealthy and animals continue to suffer, all because humanity is comfortable in its selective compassion.”
~ Marla Stormwolf-Patty
Vice-president of AELLA
its not a quote! ;-0 .. you sure seem to know a lot of quotes!
My bad. 😉
“The wisdom of the wise and the experience of the ages are perpetuated by quotations.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli
The ‘cowspiracy’ film radically affected me. For the first time I realized that vegans were prepared to blatantly lie and distort to gain traction in their quasi religion belief about food. If you consume, you kill. Their caste system of what is a valuable life and what isnt is not the system for me. All life is equal. The industrialized vegan options they espoused is not for me. The model of veganism they offered in that film was essentially more industrialization and a further move away from natures cycle.
Here you go…
“Their caste system of what is a valuable life and what isnt is not the system for me. All life is equal.”
Jon, the article below breaks down the Cowspiracy inaccuracies fairly well, but also highlights the overarching point of Cowspiracy that meat consumption with our current population levels is not going to work. It’s worth a quick read whichever side of the fence you fall on.
Quote of the Day
“It is wrong to harm others, and as a matter of consistency we don’t limit who the others are; if they can tell the difference between pain and pleasure, then they have a fundamental right not to be harmed…Unless you believe in fascism, that might makes right – we do not have a right to harm others.”
~ Henry (Noah) Spira, animal activist and Holocaust survivor
Chris, please stop posting links that are only tangentially related to the discussion. A thoughtful dialogue consists of thoughtfully responding to the claims and assumptions of others. You, instead, are merely posting quotes and articles related to animal activism, with little acknowledgement of those who have posted before and after you. I hope I do not sound rude.
Obviously, veganism is much more than a diet, Bob. History provides us with a fairly truthful account of what happens to those who are vulnerable, discriminated against, deemed inferior/lesser beings, etc. Indeed, human rights and animal rights go hand-in-hand.
Don’t non-human animals have rights?
Sorry, Bob. In the words of Johnny Depp, “If you don’t like seeing pictures of violence towards animals being posted, you need to help stop the violence, not the pictures.”
Those quotes are related, Chris has aright to post what he wants. Are you the posting Nazi police?
Words of wisdom
“True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.” ~ Socrates (best known for his motto, Know thyself to be true, or Be true to yourself)
“Each of us is a tiny being, permitted to ride on the outermost skin of one of the smaller planets for a few dozen trips around the local star.” ~ Carl Sagan
“The highest form of wisdom is kindness.” ~ The Talmud
“Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” ~ Albert Einstein
“Mankind’s true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it.” ~ Milan Kundera
It can truly be said: At the end of the day, compassion holds the key to change.
Peace to All.
When you grow your organic food near GMO crops, you risk contamination for one it makes your crops GMO, two it may end up to the point where you end up having to pay Monsanto.
An interesting piece about Sarah Palin and her attitude towards animals…
I think its a great shame that this article had to be pitched against vegans … so setting the stage for controversy and for folks to be right, one way or another. Being vegan is a choice …. if you stop chooosing it .. you simply stop choosing it. It doesnt mean youre right or moral! There are numerous vegan communities across the globe and I have stayed in some …. I have met some discompassionate vegans and carnivores .. and some extraordinaryily empathetic and beautiful vegans …. my experience is that consciousness of vegans tends to be more empathetic …. and whilst i became vegan due to health …. my reasons, if i need any, continue to grow. What happens takes place in the space of powerful choice. WE dont need to live by killing others just because the past tells us its proven (this is debatable as we can see!_ …. or our teeth or guts (also debatable) … but when we CHOOSE it …. that is what creates our clearing ….. we are all powerful beings. If we WANT to be vegan …. ie not eat other earthlings …. then we create a world that simply WORKS by BEING our CHOICE. I can have animals in my system …. they contribute magnificently! I just dont eat them or drink their milk. But carnivores dont usually get it … and dont usually want to …. so its like trying to explain abundance from a position of scarcity … its unlikely to be understood. There are endless examples of folks who kept animals and dont any longer … cos they were too complicated and hard work! There is a guy in Melbourne with 57 square metres of back yard and he produces enough veg for 16 people … allowing animals to come and go by flight or digging under his fence … using all the veg waste in the garden and adding NO MANURE. Its phenomenal. Anything is possible … just choose it. And then live it .. and learn .. keep learning … but if you want to eat meat … dont blame the vegans, just get that its your choice. Humans will never evolve if we simply think we have to be the way our predecessors were …. we can choose the world we live in. I know how mine looks and I will keep creating it, every moment ….. I wont give up on it, and thats my game in life. We are all on a journey. EAch to his/her own.
Empathy is no substitute for understanding. If the author’s comments appear directed against veganism, it is because vegans are the only population currently working against the most sustainable manner of feeding our population while minimizing animal lives lost and habitat destruction in the process. Certainly, veganism is better than many alternatives, but it is ridiculous to suggest that refusing to consume meat necessarily preserves animal life. The author points out why limited animal agriculture under specific conditions actually decreases our impact, and to his comments we might also add the wild fish and game that may be consumed in a sustainable manner with no net loss of life and no damage whatsoever to habitat. No manner of agriculture can achieve this, yet vegan activists work tirelessly against such consumption either for lack of understanding or for refusal to accept that their own mantra could stand correction.
I have the utmost respect for vegans who grow all their own food. But I’ve never met one.
Vegans who believe they’re “preserving animal life” have never seen a soy combine working a field, followed by vultures who eagerly devour all the rodents, quamata, and lagomorphs that the combine has chopped up into bits or crushed.
That’s pretty unbelievable! Does he at least return his own manure to the soil? Or is he adding lots of non-local inputs? If neither of those, he’s simply “soil mining,” and he won’t be feeding 16 people for very long.
I see no reason why I can’t help create a thriving and diverse habitat, sharing my land, living alongside animals without eating them. I think some people are missing the point of this article, where eating factory farmed plants is still causing harm to the ecosystem.
This guy speaks absolute sense and echo many of my own thoughts! That’s why I can never be vegan cause it just don’t make sense…
Thanks for the very insightful interview, will be sharing it as much as I can…. ??