I would have just closed the tab and ignored this post – The Vegetarian Myth, but the blogger is apparently an M.D. that goes on to rave about a book of the same name by Lierre Keith,
* But I can tell you that Lierre Keith’s book is beyond fantastic.
*Not only does her passion for her subject bleed through in almost every sentence, she is a superb lyrical prose stylist. My book is dog eared, underlined and annotated from front to back – I can’t remember anything I’ve read that has contained so many terrific lines.
*She ponders the idea of factory farming, which she loathes, and the misbegotten idea that most people hold (not most readers of this blog, but most of the people in the world) that grains are good, not only for people, but for many animals as well. And the common misconception that agriculture, the growing of annual grains and plants, is a wonderful, kind, sustainable activity.
*(quote from The Vegetarian Myth) This misunderstanding is born of ignorance, an ignorance that runs the length and breadth of the vegetarian myth, through the nature of agriculture and ending in the nature of life. We are urban industrialists, and we don’t know the origins of our food. This includes vegetarians, despite their claims to the truth. It included me, too, for twenty years. Anyone who ate meat was in denial; only I had faced the facts. Certainly, most people who consume factory-farmed meat have never asked what died and how it died. But frankly, neither have most vegetarians.
The truth is that agriculture is the most destructive thing humans have done to the planet, and more of the same won’t save us. The truth is that agriculture requires the wholesale destruction of entire ecosystems. The truth is also that life isn’t possible without death, that no matter what you eat, someone has to die to feed you. ( highlights mine)
Keith and the doctor’s glowing approval of the ethics of killing animals in general doesn’t get much better. That Keith does not understand that much of our grains, thus much of our land and water is devoted to raising crops to feed beef cattle, pigs and chickens. That someone wrote a book that left out this primarily fact of food production is amazing. That an M.D. also has the same remarkable lapse in his ability to connect THE essential pieces in the modern industrial food chain is head spinner. If Keith and the doctor want to eat meat they would be better off in terms of moral philosophy and their hackneyed attack on environmental science quietly eating their burgers.
Growing meat (it’s hard to use the word “raising” when applied to animals in factory farms) uses so many resources that it’s a challenge to enumerate them all. But consider: an estimated 30 percent of the earth’s ice-free land is directly or indirectly involved in livestock production, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, which also estimates that livestock production generates nearly a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases — more than transportation.
Its one thing to have reasons for not being a vegetarian, an ovotarian or whatever, but its not a good habit in the way of personal integrity to lie to oneself about the reasons or not do some due diligence on fact checking, and then relay those reasons to someone else as though they were “fantastic”.
Though some 800 million people on the planet now suffer from hunger or malnutrition, the majority of corn and soy grown in the world feeds cattle, pigs and chickens. This despite the inherent inefficiencies: about two to five times more grain is required to produce the same amount of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption, according to Rosamond Naylor, an associate professor of economics at Stanford University. It is as much as 10 times more in the case of grain-fed beef in the United States.
The environmental impact of growing so much grain for animal feed is profound. Agriculture in the United States — much of which now serves the demand for meat — contributes to nearly three-quarters of all water-quality problems in the nation’s rivers and streams, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Yes agriculture especially on the scale required to feed the industrialized world has a huge environmental impact, but the less meat we eat and the more grains -corn,wheat – we eat directly the less the impact. Add in the impact that animal waste has on our rivers, lakes and aquifers, then add in the environmental gases, the energy required to run animal farms and processing plants – that 10 ounces of steak – which is subsidized every which way down the supply chain – comes at a very high cost. Those actual costs are not added to the retail price.
I did a post recently about something similar. I’m not a vegetarian, but I do think its important to understand all the cost related to eating meat – I didn’t even get into the costs of health effects. Its a little shocking that a medical doctor would have a dog eared, highlighted and book marked copy of a piece of garbage and extol the virtues of it on his blog.
Some more in depth reading here, “Livestock’s Long Shadow”
Cheapness, argues Shell, has ruined just about everything. Main streets, with knowledgeable clerks and friendly service, have been decimated by discount stores like Wal-Mart staffed with ignorant employees who don’t give a damn. Customer service has all but vanished (A sign on the entrance of IKEA stores reads, “No One Will Bother You”). Factory outlets have become the “fastest growing segment of not only the retail industry but also the travel industry.” Jobs were lost when manufacturers moved their factories overseas and used cheap labor to produce mountains of cheap junk. Products now come in two categories: stratospherically priced luxury objects or slipshod discount crap, with few mid-priced, well-crafted objects available, because craftsmanship can’t compete in the mass market.
I thought she was a little hard on discount malls. I get the kind of basic good quality shirts that last for years at a discount mall. They’re very expensive at retail – close to a hundred bucks, but I get them for 75% off at end of year sales. I read the first twenty-five or so comments and no one mentioned the evil of dryers. They’re not part of some nefarious plot between clothing and appliance manufacturers, it just seems that way. Clothes that are dried wear our much faster and fade much faster then those hung to dry.