Only When Meat is Stigmatized Will Factory Farms Stop Thriving...
Anyone have thoughts on this?
My opinion: I really disagree with it. I think it's dogmatic, irrational, and highly impractical. But I'm not informed enough to make a logical argument. For example, I wonder what a paleo approach to animal rights is, especially as there are 7 billion people in the world now?
I would recommend this article by George Monbiot http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/sep/06/meat-production-veganism-deforestation
You have to understand that McWilliams is an extremist about animal rights. He believes all human use of animals is wrong. Of course he would take that position.
There is no one solution to feeding 7 billion different people. There are local solutions for each area's unique challenges. For some areas, that will mean a predominantly plant-based diet, but honestly a sustainable system for most of these areas does include some animals, dairy goats for example. No, smallholders in Africa might not be eating steak every day, but using animals is part of sustainable systems. For McWilliams this is wrong because those dairy goats have rights that same as you do. McWilliams is completely disingenuous. He pretends to care about sustainability, but animal rights is his highest priority.
His whole argument is based on a faulty belief:
As long as we eat meat factory farms will be the dominant mode of production.
We've been eating meat long before factory farms came about. The increase in meat consumption is more directly related to higher standards of living rather than cheaper production of meat. Factory farming is a problem, but it's not solved by simply forgoing meat. The answer is breaking down the walls between source and product. Many folks have no idea how meat is raised, where meat comes from, or what it even looks like at various points in production. That's the problem with factory farming. The fact that they can put meat in a styrofoam container syran-wrapped in plastic, neatly cut, free from blood, clean and sanitized is why factory farmed products are accepted.
I am a 4th year doctorate student in Agricultural and Applied Economics (my area is environmental economics with a fellowship in sustainable agriculture), and I can assure you, this author has little grasp of basic economics -- just enough to to flaunt his ignorance in a way that promotes his political agenda and makes him sound like he knows what he's talking about to other people who don't understand basic economics. People base their food consumption choices on a variety of criteria, including their value system, their preferences, their budget, the good's price, cultural norms and taboos, their information and knowledge about the good, their need for sustenance etc. They buy to maximize their utility ("happiness/satisfaction"). Period. There is nothing in the theory of economics that supports his statement that "as long as people eat meat, factory farms will be the dominant mode of production." In fact, every dominant means of food production in the history of human civilization has been replaced by a new dominant means of production at some point. As economists, sociologists, ethicists, environmentalists and consumers research and assess the true costs of factory farms, their role in production will diminish and possibly be replaced (I hope soon!)
This author also has no concept of sustainability and of the complex environmental, social, and economic drivers that affect it. Sustainable agricultural systems require complex interactions between plants and animals. They require landscape level environmental processes and strong social systems. We will not achieve this sustainability by all becoming vegans or vegetarians. Again this author knows only enough about sustainability to flaunt his ignorance in a way that promotes his political agenda to other people who know little about sustainability.
We definitely have sustainability, environmental, social and animal welfare problems in the developed countries in this world. And human population growth is putting a huge strain on our natural resources. I am dedicating my professional life to these problems and they are HUGE. But ending all meat consumption is not the answer.
This guy really makes me mad!!!
I don't think it's far to go after meat for causing food shortages or environmental problems. The bigger issue is that too many people eating too much food that other people could be eating. I don't know how to solve the obesity problem and at one point I weighed 170 pounds and I got their eating very little meat. I got to the point that I could get fat eating a homemade vegan diet. You can eat too much homemade beans and rice.
I don't think it's fair to blame the environmental problems on people having too many children because I've seen how many toys rich adults in the United States have that don't have any children: Tablets, Play Stations, boats, scuba gear, brand new BMW'S and small planes. I used to live some what near a family of 17. They had skinny children, a 1000 square foot home, hand me downs everything and an old school bus that only ran on Sundays. The reality is that a lot of people pollute the amount they spend and people that have more money spend more. I know this isn't completely true. There are rich childless people that are good environmentalist, but I've seen a lot of environmentalist spend a lot of money at REI.
I used to agree, but not anymore. I think if factory farms are stigmatized enough, they'll stop thriving. I probably eat a little less meat than many paleo-inclined people, but I think that if people would be more educated (allow themselves to be more educated) about CAFOs things could change.
I think more positive emphasis on supporting local farmers and organics could help immensely. Pounding things like "meat = bad" into consumers' heads doesn't work. Using the positives of local organic farming like the humane treatment of animals, environmental, and healthful foods might help.
Just a thought: Maybe demonize n6's instead? I bet a lot of people would get on board with a "fad." However terrible fad diets are, they do raise awareness. And CAFO meat is full of that stuff. There's been a lot of awareness raised lately on gluten--though there could be more/better--maybe picking the next "thing" to demonize and say "Oh hey! CAFOs make this ten times worse!"
(I'm too lazy to edit for grammar today.. Sorry. :) )
I think factory farming would change if web cams were installed. The watching public would demand it (xcept for a few sadistic creeps). I mean, the whole world has the technology. Backyard small farmers could start the trend, and it could grow. Even could become a marketing tool.
But, the real issue for increasing meat consumption is the elephant in the room -- human population size.
Personally, I find the whole concept of animal rights completely ridiculous. They're food. I don't cry when I find out my wrench was heated to a "painful" temperature of 2500F so that it could be easily shaped, and I don't care how the animal was treated either. The only thing I care about is the quality of the end product. Us morally superior people spend our time and money helping people, not grocery products.