Humane Meat

I was recently introduced to yet another an article about the dangers of veganism by a friend. After looking at the piece I had a few remarks: first that there is a body of peer reviewed scientific literature that explains that vegan diets are appropriate for adolescents and infants alike; second that the author of the article in question, while well meaning, is still merely a journalist and anyone can publish an article, blog, or whatever other sort of publication you prefer; and third, that the New York Times’ journalist favored the writing of an acupuncturist (whose understanding of biochemistry was lacking, to say the least) among others and makes unfounded assertions (about the methionine content of soy based infant formula, for example) to bolster her point – so much for journalistic integrity.

One of the more vocal contributors to our discussion about veganism and growing bodies was an individual who felt that veganism was ‘too extreme’ and found a happy medium in ‘humane meat’. They asked me if I felt that sustainable meat was ‘a step in the right direction’. I can’t say that I do. Even though ‘humanely’ raised animals boast a better, more sustainable way of farming and arguably happier livestock; it’s certainly not sustainable for the animal, still pollutes the environment, is an inefficient use of land, grain, water and labor and neglects to acknowledge that there’s nothing humane about killing an animal for something as trivial as taste. It also still promotes the exploitation of the voiceless, which doesn’t say anything good about our species.

I understand that buzz words like “sustainable”, “ethically farmed”, “free range”, “organic”, “no BGH”, etc. reflect the horror we feel at the mistreatment of animals by CAFOs and small scale farms alike. People like animals; we keep them as pets, we like to observe them, they populate our books, movies and art, we like to commune with them – wild or domesticated. When people don’t like animals or routinely hurt them, we consider it to be a warning sign for psychosis and other dangerous antisocial behaviors. This is why these buzz words gain momentum in a world where we can afford to buy almond milk over heavily subsidized dairy milk.

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I’ll take us back to the question of ‘humane meat’ being a happy medium versus veganism. This will sound like a slippery slope argument and in part it is so bear with me. Veganism, being too extreme, opens the door for something arguably less extreme like ‘humane meat’. Now consider that the vast majority of meat in America today is produced on CAFOs and that the cost of producing humane animal products can be prohibitively expensive. Avoiding inhumane animal products sounds like a full time job for anyone with considerable disposable income. So how is ‘happy meat’ not extreme in and of itself?

This is food for thought, I suppose. I’d love to hear about people you know who think that animal products are more humane, sustainable, healthier or efficient than their vegetable counterparts. Suggested reading is also welcome, just know I prefer peer reviewed scientific articles to editorials and will consider accordingly.

This is Christie, signing off!

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