Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Can a meat eater be an environmentalist?

Yesterday's Huffington Post had a post regarding whether or not you can call yourself an environmentalist if you weren't a vegetarian. We all know the arguments, eating meat, particularly those of the beef and pork nature, has a heavy impact on the environment.

Although I would argue that there are plenty of vegetarians that make poor food choices that result in an equal, if not higher, impact on the environment than some more conscientious meat eaters. In other words, there are more involved issues that need to be looked at here.

Anyway, I'm not going to tell you my opinion on the question (although you may easily guess my answer) because I want to hear what you think and open this up for your discussion without tainting it too much with my thoughts on the topic.

Can you call yourself an environmentalist if you eat meat (fish, poultry, pork, beef, etc.)? What about if you eat local, sustainably raised meat? Can beef fit into the picture, or does it have to be more of the sustainable chicken n' fish variety?

50 comments:

Ed Bruske said...

I am definitely an environmentalist, and I definitely eat meat. Meat has always been crucial part of the human diet. There is every indication that humans evolved as they did because they hunted meat. And yes, it is possible to raise meat--beef, pork, lamb, goat, chicken, what have you--sustainably. Mostly, however, it is not. Forests are cleared to make way for cattle operations. Huge fossil fuel inputs are involved in the production of industrial meat. Huge swaths of earth are tilled, carbon released into the atmosphere, to plant corn and soybeans to feed livestock. The industrial method of meat production is not environmentally sustainable. The problem is that there are too many people on the planet to feed them sustainable meat, or meat raised on naturally occuring pasture. So yes, you can be an environmnetalist and eat meat, if you choose meat that is raised sustainably.

Julie Artz said...

If you avoid meat replacements (Quorn cutlets, veggie burgers, tofurky, etc.), I think it's certainly easier to eat sustainably on a vegetarian diet.

That said, we eat some meat (mostly local, mostly sustainable, but not always), and I'm fairly certain our diet, the veggies/grains for which come from overwhelmingly local organic sources, is more sustainable than most Western diets.

I blogged about my thoughts about this a while back too: http://www.terminalverbosity.com/2008/05/01/environmentalist-locavorevegetarian/

Aydan said...

Yes.

I eat meat. I radically altered my meat-eating habits about a year ago, when I learned about factory-farming. I stopped eating most meat, and I take a lot of care to get my meat from humanely-raised sources. A lot of it's local, too. I try to go for one to two servings a week, and I haven't eaten beef since I was 12.

There's a great passage in Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer, where one of the characters reflects on the damage done to the environment by growing crops, and on seeing bunnies beheaded by wheat harvesters, and concludes that no way of life is inherently less deadly than any other. That's a passage that has stuck with me.

I try to avoid soy products, too; yes, the rainforests in Brazil are cut down to make way for cattle, but they are also cut down to make way for planting soybeans. Soy products travel around the world and can be heavily processed and packaged. That said, I still eat some of them, I just try not to rely on them.

Robj98168 said...

I dont call myself an eviormentalist - not because I eat meat. Because that's a label I don't feel comfrotable with. I agree for the most part with Ed. Of course I have also cut down my meat intake a great deal. For health reasons more than anything.
I don't eat Veal or faux grois because I definetely do not like how it is raised. Nothing wrong with vegan-ism. Just not my cup of tea.

ruchi said...

I think if you care about the environment, you should call yourself an environmentalist. I hate the weird high threshold for environmentalism that exists and makes everyone feel like if they don't live in a mud hut eating nettles then they don't deserve the title of environmentalist.

That said, I believe that if an individual wants to make the greatest individual impact in terms of reducing carbon emissions, they should

1) become vegetarian (however this also means not eating processed soy meats)
2) stop flying
3) stop driving

Most people can't commit to any of those. Some commit to one. But most people can reduce all three. That's what I am to do, personally.

Correne said...

I figured out a while ago that there is almost nothing "sustainable" about living in a Canadian city, from the coal we burn for electricity, to the gas we burn to heat our homes, to the fuel we burn to drive our car.

So, yes, we eat a lot of beef here, because it is one of the cheapest and easiest-to-find foods that is local and organic.

Honestly, I try to drive my car less, and use less natural gas, and less electricity, and buy more local food and grow my own food, and all that stuff, but really, I am still nowhere near "sustainable." Not even close. I don't know anyone who is.

I can't waste time feeling guilty about beef. If I do, I might as well feel guilty about everything else I do all day, or about being alive at all, and that leads me down a really dark, suicidal, ugly train of thought that I try to avoid for my children's sake.

Terra said...

My kids, at this point, are 100 % vegetarian, and my husband and I are about 99%. We eat fish and occasionally chicken maybe 6 times a year. Of course I don't tell people we are veg because I don't want any rabid PETA-ers on my case about the dang "sea kittens." We also don't eat soy, or most any other processed food aimed at veg. or otherwise. I definitely think you can be an environmentalist and eat meat if it is usually sustainable and local.

Amber said...

I consider myself an environmentalist, and I eat meat. As you say, there are many complex issues at play. I don't believe that it's as simple as defining a single set of criteria in terms of what makes an environmentalist. We each have to weigh the pros and cons and make the best decisions we can. And that isn't going to look exactly the same for everyone, in every situation, everywhere in the world.

Laura said...

From merriam-webster.com:
Main Entry: en·vi·ron·men·tal·ist
Pronunciation: \-tə-ləst\
Function: noun
Date: 1916
1 : an advocate of environmentalism
2 : one concerned about environmental quality especially of the human environment with respect to the control of pollution

Yes, I am an environmentalist. But I am not perfect. My level of environmental piety is lower than some people, and higher than others. Should people who meet certain criteria start calling themselves Environmentalists (capital E)? Or Super environmentalists? Or SuperDuper Environmentalists?

Can you call yourself an environmentalist if you drive a car? Have several(more than 1) children? Any children? Work in an profession that does not adhere to sustainable practices? Use flush toilets?

I understand the need to maintain the meaning of a word. I mean look what happened to 'green'! But don't we want _more_ people to include themselves in the movement to build more sustainable, earth-friendly, human-friendly lives? We can't expect them all to be uber-environmentalists right off the bat.
There's already a word for people who don't eat meat. Vegetarian. :)
Maybe we could coin a new term: vegetanvironmentalist. Yeah, that's catchy. ;)

Lil said...

I think you can be environment-aware while having an omnivore diet. I mean, we are supposed to be omnivore animals, right ? As people have commented before me, you just have to look at which meat you eat, and how much, and even how.
Anyway, this kind of questions always make me feel a little confused : what's the point ? My goal is not to know if I could be called environmentalist, it is to make efforts to decrease my impact on environment, however I am called by others : often "crazy ecogirl who isn't even vegetarian and who still drinks coke" ! Ha ! Nobody's perfect, I'm just making efforts. I reduced the coke drinking, I swear ;o).

Michelle said...

I am with Ed - an environmentalist who eats meat. However, my solution to the sustainability/food miles/humane treatment problem is to start raising my own. We have a thriving rabbit herd here, and our rabbit food is produced fairly locally, and we supplement with the copious weeds from our yard. In the spring I'm going to start putting the fryers in pasture pens in the front yard, which I will be overseeding with oats and clover this fall. They'll get fresh greens along with kibble, and they'll fertilize the heavy clay soil in return. It's not perfect, but it's a good start.

megan said...

To be honest, I just don't agree that there is a way for most people to eat a lot of meat and still call it sustainable. The truth is that local, organic, sustainable beef can not produce enough for everyone to eat any substantial amount of it. It's definitely more plausible with smaller animals, but still not as sustainable as a vegan or vegetarian who makes intelligent food choices. The problem is that a lot of them don't. A vegan who eats nothing but processed food or a vegetarian who eats only cheese pizza (um, do you know where cheese comes from?) certainly isn't any better for the environment than a meat eater who is thoughtful about their food choices. As a strict vegetarian (no meat of any kind, no dairy, no eggs) I feel that my diet is probably better for the environment than most meat eaters. Most. Definitely not all. And it absolutely does not mean that I think that I am more of an environmentalist than most meat eaters. I know meat eaters who don't own cars, live in much smaller spaces, etc--all "greener" than me and my mostly vegan diet.

Really though, who cares? Anyone who is actually an environmentalist probably realizes the futility of sitting around on high horses and pointing out the lesser activists. It certainly doesn't do anything for the cause.

Billie said...

Another meat eater here although I have substantially reduced my meat input over the last 6 months or so. I usually eat one meal with meat a day. 1-2 lbs of meat will last me for about 2 weeks.

I hope I am an environmentalist. I know folks who do less than me and know folks that do more. I suspect the same can be said for most people. I try to do my best for the environment.

Wade said...

I think it has to do with someone's dedication. Certainly being vegetarian or even vegan is one of the most environmentally friendly things someone can do. During the summer I tried to live as green as possible and I was a vegan. It was challenging at first, but eventually I came to enjoy it. At the same time though, I recognize that it is very difficult for some people to be vegan (in fact, I had to quit because of cost and the difficulty of being vegan in college). For those who can afford it, I say eat local, sustainable meat. I would if I could afford it!

jewishfarmer said...

I don't know that in a global sense you can be an environmentalist and eat a lot of *animal products* (focusing the discussion on meat is foolish - the production of eggs and milk in the US almost always involves grain that could be fed to humans, while the production of meat can often be done with only grasses and other non-human food), but a Cornell University study found that the state of New York, for example, found that we could feed everyone a bit better if people ate about 2oz of animal products per day, because doing so made use of land not suitable for growing crops.

In cities, where there are huge quantities of wasted food, it makes sense to raise chickens, rabbits and other small animals on food scraps to reduce waste and methane emissions from landfills - most poor world cities raise a substantial percentage of their meat within the city limits. So rational urban dweller could certainly eat some eggs and rabbit, a little pork, but would eat no beef.

There are whole chunks of the planet that are *only* suited to grazing animals the US and Canadian prairies shouldn't be tilled for the most part - of course in a food tight world we should be raising grazing animals on that land - we need to use land wisely.

On the other hand, eating animal products fed human food (grain) is a bad idea - so for people without a source of food scraps or other feed, or who can't grow their own, meat animals probably make more sense than eggs and milk - the exact opposite of the vegetarian hierarchy.

More importantly, small scale agriculture involves polyculture and animals - if we ever want something other than the endless fields of overfertilized corn and soybean that are contributing to global warming and sending topsoil down the river, we need diversified small farms, which include animals, raised sustainably on the waste products of farming, and with their nutrients recycled back to soil to improve carbon capture.

Yes, you can be an environmentalist and still eat animal products - in small quantities, appropriately to your locality, climate and environment. What you can't do is eat meat (or anything else, for that matter) without thinking.

Sharon

JCBBaca said...

The answer is yes. But I am not going to mention myself, although I eat meat and am more of an environmentalist than most, but will reference my friend David Mager. He is an environmental consultant and advises major corporations and businesses on how to be more environmentally sustainable. Is is the co-author of a the book Street Street Smart Sustainability - The Entrepreneurs Guide to Profitably Greening Your Organization's DNA. David is also one of the founding developers of the first Earth Day. And I guess you can already tell... David is a meat eater.

Ashley Gill said...

I'm generally pretty uncomfortable with the idea of deciding what someone else can call herself or himself, no matter the context.

Perhaps we should spend our time deciding what we can DO instead of deciding who is doing it THE RIGHT WAY or THE WAY WORTHY OF THE TITLE 'ENVIRONMENTALIST.'

Katy said...

I think I'm just an echo of what most people have been saying. I think the very idea that "You aren't and enviormentalist if you don't [insert desired action here]" is totally missing the point and leaning toward a fundamitalist and militant maintality.

Any time you start down the slippery slop of "who is in the club" you start to alieniante and issolate people. To me that is worse for the enviroment that any one person eating meat, sustainable or otherwise.

Deoxy said...

I try to be as environmentally friendly as I can, but I do eat meat. The human digestive system is designed to work best on a diet that includes meat. Cooking beans with a SMALL amount of meat makes the nutrients much more usable by our bodies. We don't eat a lot of meat, I try to think of it more as a flavoring than as the substance of the meal, and it is almost exclusively chicken with a bit of fish. Beef is a rare treat.

mamasapplecores said...

I guess I could be considered an environmentalist, but I do have some hesitation using that term - I'm not sure why. We are an environmentally conscious family but we also do some things for convenience, especially given our current time and energy constraints. I too am uncomfortable with the idea that any one criteria, such as eating meat, can determine if someone is not an environmentalist. I think everyone's situation is different, and eating meat is a personal decision, not just an environmental one.

Aydan said...

Sharon said the other thing I had in mind better than I could. Animals eat things we can't or won't eat and turn them into things we can eat, and they can thrive where we can't/shouldn't grow crops. Most people (in Western cultures, anyway) wouldn't be willing to eat bugs, but they can be incorporated into our food supply anyway through chickens that eat the bugs. In my mind, this is why small amounts of meat are important for a world where there are already enough people starving-- if we're going to feed people, we have to use every available food resource.

Tree Hugging Mama said...

I am aware that this planet is on loan from my great grandchildren. I do that which I can to reduce my wastefulness, but no one can have a zero impact.

I ride my bike to work or take the bus. We have one car in this family and most of the time it sits in the driveway. Yes its an SUV (not my choice), but we intend to get a more friendly vehicle now that the kids are older. We need 4 wheel or AWD we live in a snow area, and drive to camping spots. We camp for vacation and bring it all in and take it all out. So a smaller car with a cap when we are camping is probably more environmentally friendly, but we cannot afford a newer car just yet (notice I said newer - we don't buy new).

We live in the city - where I am terrified to grow my own veggies for fear of lead, but because we live in the City I can bike to work and take public transportation.

We buy Pasture Beef from a local farmer, we buy organic milk from a local farmer, I buy oranic local produce first, local produce second and organic produce third.

We do not heat our house in our cold winters above 68 degrees and most of the time its around 63 (and 55 at night to prevent pipes from freezing).

Would I live to be vegan? No - I don't care to give up the occassional bacon, and I like my cheeses (some goat, some sheep, mostly cow).

I use reuseable products and search for items made sustainably in the USA. I also go without many things, just because I cannot justify them.

Am I an environmentalist? No. I am just another person on this planet who is living my life in the least harmful way that I can, and teaching my children to do the same. I do not campaign for global change, I live in community change.

eatclosetohome said...

I would like some actual data on this. Most of the reports we have on the environmental impact of meat assume that cattle are fed corn grown with chemical fertilizer and raised in a feed lot.

I would like to see how a pasture-raised steer compares in terms of impact and calories and nutrients to both local vegetables and grains, and the kinds of foods raw food vegans rely on (which are not generally grown outside of very warm areas).

Greenpa said...

lol. Ah, you troublemaker, you.

Should we eat meat? Do bears eat in the woods?

Contrary to what many vegetarians believe and will present as fact, our evolutionary past is not as a vegetarian, but as an omnivore. This is abundantly illustrated in our anatomy and physiology.

Real vegetarian animals have something like a rumen; a way to ferment vegetation. Ruminants (obviously) kangaroos, rabbits, and gorillas all have such a thing. Likewise, all specialized granivores, nucivores, insectivores, and fructivores all have highly specialized teeth and guts- which we do not possess.

Omnivores (like humans, bears, pigs, and to a lesser extent dogs) tend to have a distinct set of teeth, called a bunodont dentition. Adapted, specifically, to omnivory. We fit exactly.

If you want a balanced world, it might be a good direction to allow ALL the creatures in it to live as they have chosen to do- and evolved to do. That means us, too.

Now- should we eat massive quantities of meat created in utterly warped ways? Hell no.

Our closest remaining relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos, both hunt, kill - and share meat; usually juvenile baboons, monkeys, bush babies, baby warthogs, or tiny forest antelope. Chimps share poorly- bonobos with no fuss.

Like once a month. Sounds good to me.

For me, anyone who wants everyone to see, think, and believe as they do, is instantly out my philosophical door. Not listening here- to think you alone know the truth is proof of an infantile, and wholly uneducated person.

Anyone who says "you're not an environmentalist unless you ... " is a pitiable infant- and really not worth long discussions... :-)

In my opinion.

Greenpa said...

ruchi -"if they don't live in a mud hut eating nettles then they don't deserve the title "

Gracious me- around these parts, the only people who eat nettles are the fussiest of foodies. We, for example, provided nettles for the dinner given to Michael Pollan when he was speaking hereabouts...

:-)

Katherine said...

I don’t believe you have to be a vegan or even a vegetarian in order to be an environmentalist and/or sustainable. For one, I am of the camp who doesn’t believe humans can reach their full health potential without at least some animal products (though they don’t necessarily have to be meat). For another sustainable agriculture really requires animals, and there manure, to maintain fertile soils as the nutritive value of vegetable matter is greater after it’s been through an animals digestive track. (And if you have animals on a farm then at some point you’re either going to need to start eating them or be over run by them.) Many of the problems with animal production come when we isolate it from plant production as we have with our current monoculture system.

Other problems come from the emphasis on quantity over quality. I am fortunate to have small local farms in my area producing wonderful organic pasture raised animal products including dairy, eggs and a wide selection of meats. If I didn’t, I would limit myself to what I could raise myself. Yes, the prices are higher, but I’m supporting a way of life I truly believe in and get a great deal of satisfaction out of being a part of. And the quality is phenomenal, both in its nutritional value and in its taste and texture. I can’t eat conventional meat any more.

But a little of this excellent produce can go a long way (and reducing the quantity of animal products at the same time you increase the quality is one way of reducing the price difference). I grew up with my frugal Bohemian grandmother cooking for us who considered one chicken sufficient for nine people and the typical restaurant steak the same. In addition, dairy and eggs can feed a lot more people per animal than just eating their meat (as well as being less expensive) so I’m working on incorporating them into our diet more in place of meat.

Our meat production system is also hugely wasteful. While I accept it as a necessary part of life, killing animals (or plants) to sustain ourselves is something I think we should do with great reverence and respect for those giving there lives that we might live. And part of that is respecting the animals enough to make the most out of their sacrifice. When we kill an animal we should use every part of it, especially as typically ignored organ meats and bone broths from healthy animals are some of the most nutritious and delicious animal products we can eat (and also the cheapest). In the end, I think that conscientious moderate consumption of animals products is a more environmentalist and sustainable solution than vegetarianism.

Erika said...

I think it's totally okay for someone to call themselves an environmentalist and eat meat. I've actually been considering transitioning back to omnivorism (is that a word?!) due to the lack of sustainability for a nearly-vegan diet. Yes, I could eat just locally produced beans and soy products, nuts, seeds, and other non-meat protein sources, but it just doesn't work all the time - BBQ with friends, labor and non-human energy required to prepare and store beans/soy, etc., and a lack of variety.
There are definitely sustainable ways to eat all kinds of meat - including beef; sustainably raised, caught with a hook-and-line or similar small-scale sea harvesting, and eaten in moderation - not like the way folks currently eat (more than 1 serving of meat at EVERY meal and many at snack time too!)... being an environmentalist and advocating sustainability is more than meeting a checklist of dos and don'ts; it's about making the best choice for yourself and your family AND the environment.

Vegan Burnout said...

This is a great discussion about the power of labels as well as choices. I'm adamant that if you buy factory-farmed animal products (dairy and eggs included), then you're not working to protect the environment. There is simply no way for intensive animal agriculture to be sustainable. I'm vegan, so I know that biases my position. I don't know if it's ever more efficient to raise an animal for food than it is to grow crops. I don't know if purchasing meat from small farmers or raising your own is more environmentally friendly. Even if it is, that's not the choice for me, because I can't eat another living being. But I don't see the logic in filtering plant food and nutrients through animals just so we can kill them, when it would behoove us to eat those plants in the first place.

goatldi said...

I have gone back and forth. Vegetarian/meat eater. Right now I am a meat eater. Actually even when I am on a vegetarian path I eat eggs and dairy. I raise dairy goats and chickens.

I buy my beef and pork from fellow farmers locally and have always done it that way or raised it myself. I am very careful to raise my girls in a humane fashion, heck they are part of the family and are spoiled rotten.

To be honest I am more worried about the huge percentage of people who still don't understand that milk or other food products don't come from the market or McDonalds.

Farmer's Daughter said...

I wrote about my thoughts on this issue in my post "Ethical Omnivores" http://farmersdaughterct.wordpress.com/2009/05/16/ethical-omnivores/

This post highlights not only our ethics regarding eating meat, but also details where we get each of our meats (seafood, poultry, beef, pork and game) as well as milk and eggs.

Eco Yogini said...

I liked the Huffington Post article. It was great.
We have been cutting down on our meat- I would be extremely unhealthy if I tried to be vegetarian or vegan- my diet restrictions would require me to be on supplements for the rest of my life.
no thank you. :)

Farmer's Daughter said...

I'm going to totally agree with Greenpa. Our teeth and our digestive systems are evolutionary evidence that we are omnivores. You can learn a heck of a lot from teeth, but that's a side note.

Also, it's my understanding that our ancestors were scavengers before they became hunters, and that the ability to harness fire and cook food allowed for better digestion of the animal proteins, which enabled our ancestors to get enough calories to develop our complex brains, and therefore intelligence.

Let me make it clear that I'm not saying vegetarians aren't intelligent. I'm just saying that our ancestors evolved intelligence partly due to the fact that they consumed meat.

knutty knitter said...

There are issues other than the meat too. I eat meat in moderation and locally. I also wear the odd leather shoe, jacket etc. I prefer that to plastic generally. There are quite a few non food and food products out there which contain animal elements. Sanctimonious vegetarians beware!

Generally what Sharon said. And Greenpa.

viv in nz

Sonja said...

Rather than environmentalist, can I just call myself responsible? I know where the majority of my food comes from, I butchered the chickens in my freezer and I can go any time and pet the cow that we will be eating this winter. We also hunt and fish as well as garden. I have not visited where my grain comes from, but I grind my own wheat, and we heat our home with corn grown by local farmers. I think educating yourself and making responsible choices goes just as far as eliminating animal products from your diet whether we are meant to eat them or not. Pass me a hamburger!

kasey said...

I was raised by a trapper/hunter. Our meat was from the woods of northern Minnesota. My father may not admit this, but he is the biggest "treehugger" in the world. He takes the bird poop from his chicken coops and fertilizes his lawn with it. When I was little I was taught that trees were the most important thing on the earth. We weren't allowed to tear off bark or rip off branches, because trees are living and breathing things. If we went back to the real ways of the past in our primitive history our diet would mostly be meat. We are omnivores, we are mammals. We are part of the circle of life. We just, currently, have to be label readers and conscientiously make the right choices of what we are eating, as to how it effects our own health, the earth and therefore other earthlings (humans and animals). And not be wasteful as well, including the packaging.

Segwyne said...

Of course a person can eat meat and still be an environmentalist. That is like saying that you can't be an environmentalist if you use toilet paper, or tampons, or whatever. Let's get real here.

I know that I am about to open a can of worms here myself, but it really irks me when people say that we shouldn't eat meat because it means killing a living being. All of our food was once a living being. The beans and tomatoes and wheat and oats were all living beings, too. Why are their less worthy of our concern than animals'?

Aimee said...

My family of five goes through about twenty individual animals a year; and fifteen of those are chickens. We buy one quarter of a grass fed steer (which I have been watching graze through my front window - doesn't get a whole lot more local) per year. We raise and butcher one pig per year. We raise and butcher two or three goats per year. The chickens, I admit, come from the grocery store. We do raise and occasionally eat our own chickens, but I haven't been able to close the quality gap. I just don't like home-grown chickens. they're tough and there's no way around it. On the other hand, I never buy eggs.
I do my very best not to participate in feedlot meat production or battery chicken raising, or any kind of meat production that deprives an animal of a basically natural life, by which I mean a life wherein it can indulge it's natural instincts and reproduce according to it's own inclinations and timetable.
I also admit that a do eat meat at restaurants and I am not an inquisitor. But we eat at restaurants relatively rarely. I'm going to guesstimate that our family goes through approximately 500 pounds of meat per year - that's 100 pounds/person or about 1/4 pound/day.
I would not enjoy life as a vegan. Meat eating is a true pleasure for me, from raising the animal to preparing the recipe. I do believe that a certain amount of meat eating is compatible with environmentalism. Can you eat meat 3x/day? Probably not.

Allie said...

I don't consider myself to be an environmentalist, though I do find that many of the "green" principles overlap those of frugality (which I most certainly consider myself to be). And I still eat meat. I think we consume maybe a pound of meat per week each (so ~2 lb/wk total), and most of our meals are vegetarian or vegan.

Humans are omnivores and there are things our body needs that are best acquired from meat. That being said, we don't need to eat meat daily. It's more expensive to eat meat daily (and less sustainable, I'm sure), but I don't think meat was ever intended to be a cheap source of plentiful nutrition anyway. Meat should probably be eaten sparingly and with appreciation for the sacrifice the animal makes.

All that being said, I'm a broke college student, so I rarely buy locally "grown" meat. I usually buy bulk meat on sale and stretch it out for a really long time.

And that concludes my rather long and pointless comment. :)

Anonymous said...

Anyone else sick of self righteous vegans? Soy is the number one cause of deforestation of the amazon. Hardly sustainable, let alone healthy.

Allie said...

Yes, I am. Though I love the interesting food ideas the non-self-righteous vegans have (which work out really well when you have a hurricane so there's no power for a month).

suzannah said...

absolutely. the meat we eat is primarily venison, (some goose), hunted by my husband in our own backyard.

we know exactly where it came from, how it was treated, and how it got to our table.

Anonymous said...

"Soy is the number one cause of deforestation of the amazon."
You do realise that soy is grown for animal feed, not soy milk and tofu, right? Please, if you are going to bash vegans, at least get your ammunition in order.

Lisa Sharp said...

I think you can be. I hope so cause I eat meat but we don't eat as much as most families.

Our meat is organic and I hope at some point to get some local meat to reduce the impact more but for now we do what we can. We eat more bison than beef for one thing and this helps the impact.

I have many food allergies and I will not eat soy so it would be very hard for me to get everything I need without meat. Even with meat my iron is often low and my protein levels are low.

I don't really like meat most of the time and it's mostly used as an ingredient not a main dish for us.

Rebekka said...

"But I don't see the logic in filtering plant food and nutrients through animals just so we can kill them, when it would behoove us to eat those plants in the first place."

That would be a very good argument, if humans could digest grass.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20026770.300-meat-and-methane.html

Anonymous said...

http://permaculture.org.au/2009/10/11/the-vegetarian-myth-food-justice-and-sustainability/

Interesting and I suspect challenging for some, perspective if you follow the above link.

We are animal product consumers, we raise our own chickens for meat and eggs, our own sheep for meat and fibre and our own pigs for meat, fertiliser and cheap labour, best mini tractors ever! All are free ranged, grass fed, with supplemental locally grown, bought grain going to the chooks. Sustainable, humane, local = good for the environment (and our health).

*~*Laura*~* said...

i completely agree with megan.. so.. ditto..

daharja said...

Interesting how all the meat eaters are saying "yes" and the vegos are saying "no"!

No, you can't be an environmentalist and eat meat daily or even regularly. That's a given. People who think they can simply haven't learned about the ecosystem, balance, and the place of carnivores in the web (very small in number).

To be sustainable regular meat-eaters, we'd need to slice our numbers by a massive amount. Are the meat-eaters who say they are environmentalists willing to not have children, and to actively enforce massive population reductions around the world so they can have their beef? I doubt it.

Yes, you can probably eat meat a few times a year, if it were, say your own chickens or sheep, and they're on your own land and you're not dumping hormones and antibiotics in them, and you slaughter them annually.

But the twice a day, meat with everything habit that most westerners have? Forget it.

A couple of generations ago, people had a Sunday roast, then the scraps were used throughout the week. The rest of the week was vegetarian, mainly. Not vegetarian by label (virtually no-one actively called themselves "vegetarian"), and certainly a lot more sustainable.

The meat used was local, usually from the same village or town. This is how my mother grew up in mid 20th century England. Not too long ago.

Labels aren't useful. You can be "vegetarian" (or even "vegan"), live on Coke and imported vegetarian mock-meats, and your carbon emissions might be just as high as a meat eater.

The key to sustainability is learning that meatand other luxury foods were so highly valued *because* they should be a rarity. Meat is not an everyday food, or even a weekly food really.

Our current gluttony on non-stop meat teaches absolutely no respect for life, the value of life, or the balance of the planet's ecosystems.

However, meat for special celebrations (such as Christmas and Thanksgiving) or even once ever few weeks or months might be doable.

Yes, there are a few people touting the line "we've always eaten it". There have always been slavery and murder too. Not exactly a convincing argument for continuing a habit. And the fact is, we have not always eaten meat in the amount we currently do in the West, and in the numbers we currently exist in.

History teaches the exact opposite - a struggle to get enough food, and humanity poised at several points in the historical record on the brink of extinction.

Times change, habits need to - or we face our own anthropocene extinction.

Anthony said...

"The best solution [to the climate change crisis] would be for us all to become vegetarians." - YVO DE BOER (Executive Secretary of the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change)

Being a vegetarian is probably the single biggest contribution 'you' can make towards helping save and care for our deteriorating environment.

DID YOU KNOW? The livestock industry is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. That's more than all the world's cars, trucks, trains, planes and boats combined! - UN's Food & Agriculture Organisation (2006)

Ok to the interesting facts of scientific proof /evidence that humans are a herbivore not a carnivore or omnivore-:

Please follow this link - http://pavf.org/topics/topics1.php

There is 35 valid points explaining this - its at best logical and illogical to be ignorant /arrogant.

Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

Anonymous said...

I am an environmentalist, although probably not to the best extent. I try to do what I can. But I think the question of vegetarianism goes beyond just the emissions of green house gases or sustainability. It goes as far as basic rights. What gives humans the right not to be slaughtered and tortured? It is their ability to suffer. It is not their consciousness of thought- if it was then it would be okay to torture the mentally retarded.

Animals have the ability to suffer, just like humans. I see being an environmentalist as not just being concerned for the earth in the long run but for the safety and respect of the creatures it houses. I am a vegetarian and I don't think I could call my self an environmentalist if I wasn't.

Anthony said...

Pranam 'Anonymous' blogger, you speak vidya and are walking in the path of Sanatan Dharma. The fact being a vegetarian does goes far beyond sustainability and emissions of green house gases, unfortunately the world at large (majority of population) does not know these deep sentiments you speak of within you. People want proof /evidence knowing why; there is nothing wrong with that hence sometimes only science and statistics is used to workaround avidya. People want objective reasoning not subjective reasoning. This is the age of Kali Yuga (age of darkness) - avidya and adharma (non truth /ignorance, unrighteousness etc) is more prominent today than vidya and dharma. It is not the fault of people, it's just their understanding and through sincere knowledge in time peoples understanding will change. People think of evolution more than involution - introspection is the key but a lot of factors will cloud this hence their understanding. Please understand the era and environment /surroundings have to do with peoples understanding – this people cannot change or have neither had a choice. Good and bad times go hand in hand at present in this era of Kali Yuga. All I can say is kal (time) is a healing factor and change is inevitable.

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