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A challenge to environmental arguments against meat-eating

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Koll
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Joined: February 7th, 2011, 8:46 am

Re: A challenge to environmental arguments against meat-eating

#21 Postby Koll » February 10th, 2011, 8:53 am

Latest post of the previous page:

We avoid eating meat out as well when we can jaywhat, but just avoid rather than refuse and try to stick to pork if we can. That's for the similar reasons but more especially that we could be eating Halal (probably pre-stunned Halal, but you can't tell).

The only label that I know where you can guarantee provenance is Freedom Food. To get FF status for beef and sheep, the animal has to be born on an FF farm, raised on an FF farm, and slaughtered in an FF abattoir, which is a bit impractical really unless everyone was doing it. The scheme hasn't got anywhere yet even though it's being going for years, we were on it but gave up as no-one was interested. I don't know how it works with poultry.

Re global warming and cattle, here's a new report produced by the Union of Concerned Scientists which is quite interesting http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/science_and_impacts/science/global-warming-and-beef-production.html.
Koll

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Nick
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Re: A challenge to environmental arguments against meat-eating

#22 Postby Nick » February 10th, 2011, 12:35 pm

Hi Koll :) Thanks for the reference. :)

You mentioned abattoirs. IIRC, a lot of local abattoirs have had to close in recent years. (Was it to do with foot and mouth, or BSE...? Can't remember.) This has resulted in livestock having to travel greater distances before slaughter, which is not nice for them, nor (apparently) good for the quality of the meat. Is there any likelihood of this trend being reversed?

Pigs! Despite being a great means of recycling food waste, this has been severely curtailed (maybe banned) for similar reasons. Again, do you see any alternative? A safe way to feed pigs on (more) scraps?

Methane and cows! Could there be any way of methane capture from cattle? Yeah, it has it's funny side, but still!

Koll
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Re: A challenge to environmental arguments against meat-eating

#23 Postby Koll » February 10th, 2011, 1:16 pm

Hi Nick,

Yes, a lot of abattoirs have gone because of the standards they have to meat requires quite high levels of investment. But there are still plenty in a lot of parts of the UK. 99% of our cattle go to very small abattoirs, and I mean small. So small they cannot store animals for an time at all, they are in and slaughtered very quickly. But there are parts of the country (I think south east might be one) where only large ones remain. I don't like the large ones, no special reason, just the industrial scale of it.

Travelling does affect meat quality, but not much if it's say just a journey of up to 40-50 miles. On that subject, I recently had a lamb break it's leg completely through when going through the sheep equipment, a very unusual thing to happen I have to say, and I immediately slaughtered it and it went in the freezer. Anyhow, the lamb was simply the best I've ever had in my life without any doubt.

I don't know much about pigs, only did them once for a year for our own freezer. I was told it is illegal to give them any waste, i.e. you can give them apples, but if you take a bite out of the apple, that's waste. Don't know what the rules are now, but ours got all the kitchen vegetable waste and they loved it. I think the rules are there to ensure something unwanted doesn't get fed in waste bought in bulk from supermarket or whatever.

IMO, a good thing to save the planet is, instead of focusing on grain or whatever, simply to eat more root crops and other high yielding vegetables. The yield from these crops can be many, many times that of wheat per acre and very little processing takes place. With grain, when the farmer has done his bit, that's when the work really starts. That's one of the quirks of the grain argument because I'm not sure if the figures they quote really take this into account.

PS. Our cattle and sheep are grass-reared by the way, meaning they never receive any grain with the exception of ewes at lambing time which get pellet feed (containing a proportion of grain), or if an animal is ill and needs a boost for some reason. We're not organic.....and don't start me on that one :laughter:
Koll

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Nick
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Re: A challenge to environmental arguments against meat-eating

#24 Postby Nick » February 10th, 2011, 2:08 pm

No views on cow-farts, then... :laughter:

A friend of a friend keps pigs on her small-holding. She too does not follow "organic" practice, because (she says) it would mean the pigs would be permanently suffering from worms. (Dunno if that's true.) She keeps them in an orchard, and markets the pork as "happy pork". :D

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: A challenge to environmental arguments against meat-eating

#25 Postby Emma Woolgatherer » February 10th, 2011, 2:59 pm

Koll wrote:Certainly for the UK, the figures quoted I find pretty dubious ...
I can't vouch for the figures. I got them from UK Agriculture. I wasn't including all crops and I wasn't presenting them in order of their use as feed crops. But you're right: I should have mentioned forage maize. My point was simply to emphasise that meat-eaters consume arable crops, both directly and indirectly, and I think it's likely that, given current production systems, the diet of most meat-eaters is crueller, in terms of the numbers of animals killed directly or during harvesting, than that of vegans (see Andy Lamey's article, "Food Fight! Davis versus Regan on the Ethics of Eating Beef", pdf file). Things would be different if meat-eaters ate only grass-fed meat. But then if people ate only grass-fed meat, there'd be less meat to go round, so they'd be eating much less of it, and they'd need to consume more protein-rich crops. Either way, it would be good if we could find ways of growing such crops with as low a degree of cruelty to animals as possible. We're never going to have food-production methods that are cruelty-free, but we ought to be able to improve matters significantly.
Koll wrote:The Welsh farms had grass. Grown and grazed intelligently, it is said to be a huge carbon sink. That is one of the main good points of traditional livestock farming methods mixed with modern grazing techniques. New Zealand are experts at this. They can graze for just hours, then move livestock to another paddock creating constant regrowth.
My understanding is that this is still all a bit tentative. And that while ploughing up grassland to plant arable crops may be a big mistake as far as carbon emissions and sinks are concerned, allowing grassland to revert to forest would not be: forests are still better carbon sinks than grasslands (according to the Australian government, anyway). And there's still the issue of methane emissions, which may be higher for grass-fed cattle, according to some Australian research. And Nick, it's the belches you have to worry about, much more than the farts.

Emma

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Nick
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Re: A challenge to environmental arguments against meat-eating

#26 Postby Nick » February 10th, 2011, 3:09 pm

:redface: Now I come to think of it, you corrected me on that point once before.... :redface:




Not nearly so good for school-boy sniggering, though...

Koll
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Re: A challenge to environmental arguments against meat-eating

#27 Postby Koll » February 10th, 2011, 6:30 pm

Nick wrote:No views on cow-farts, then... :laughter:
They don't very often Nick, well mine don't, much too polite, but they make up for it from the other end. Although I was in the cow shed one night when one of them lifted her tail to poo and coughed at the same time. A perfect cigar-shaped missile went straight past me a great speed and hit the wall a good 8 feet away. I've been very careful ever since that evening. :D

The article "Food Fight! Davis versus Regan on the Ethics of Eating Beef", looks fascinating Emma. Burger Vegans! ...perhaps I can become one? I shall read it properly. You're obviously really clued up on all this and think about what you are doing.

Going back to the damage to wildlife by arable, it's not just numbers as they seem to say in the article though, or the fact they are small, it's the way they die.

The real problem is there's too many people, we're eating the planet, whether that's grain or meat. We keep being told about the population forecast for 2050, which won't bother me because I won't be here, but what about a hundred years later? It's not that far away. You won't be able to move.
Koll

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: A challenge to environmental arguments against meat-eating

#28 Postby Emma Woolgatherer » February 11th, 2011, 12:07 pm

Koll wrote:Going back to the damage to wildlife by arable, it's not just numbers as they seem to say in the article though, or the fact they are small, it's the way they die.
Yes. I can imagine. Horrible ...

I've been trying to find information about reducing wildlife deaths during harvesting, but there's not much out there. The RSPB does touch on it briefly. And I did find a leaflet published by the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service (pdf file) entitled "Reducing Mortality of Grassland Wildlife During Haying and Wheat-Harvesting Operations". You're no doubt familiar with it all already, or as much of it as is relevant to the UK, but is it possible that considerable numbers of animals (globally) would be saved simply by drivers reducing their speed, timing the harvesting to reduce the chance of there being birds still nesting, and harvesting from the inside outwards rather than from the outside inwards? The other method I thought interesting was raising the cutter bar to at least three inches above the ground, and angling it upwards.
Koll wrote:The real problem is there's too many people, we're eating the planet, whether that's grain or meat. We keep being told about the population forecast for 2050, which won't bother me because I won't be here, but what about a hundred years later? It's not that far away. You won't be able to move.
Hmm, the population question. Perhaps this isn't the right place for it, but do you fancy resuscitating an old thread?

Assuming that the population is going to continue to rise until 2050, though, I do think that in the future we will have to move food production systems closer to the centres of population. There will have to be more urban and suburban agriculture. I don't just mean individuals growing food in allotments and back gardens, and community gardening projects, though there's a lot to be said for all that. But vast greenhouses on supermarkets roofs, or stacked on the sunny sides of office blocks. City orchards for fruit and nuts, and a greater use of hydroponics. I think you're right about the need to change what we eat, and eating less grain will have to be a part of that, and perhaps more root crops, and more peas and beans. But there are pseudograins, like buckwheat and quinoa and amaranth, that look as though they're more suited to urban production, in gardens and greenhouses, and that have a better amino acid profile too. And as I mentioned before, there's hemp, which is already grown with great success in urban environments, albeit illegally!

What I'm not sure about, though, is whether meat production could be successfully moved into, or closer to, cities. Again, perhaps we would need to change what animals we eat. Fewer large ruminants, and more small invertebrates. Urban snail farms might work. Or mealworm factories? Lots of deaths involved, of course, but less suffering, I think.

Emma

Koll
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Re: A challenge to environmental arguments against meat-eating

#29 Postby Koll » February 11th, 2011, 6:57 pm

The other things that is happening in the livestock industry, especially cattle, is breeding for food efficiency, which has always happened, but some of the latest results are quite dramatic. For example, there's a "new" breed around that called Stabilisers, strange name! I say new, I think it took 30 years to develop them. They started as a controlled mix of various breeds and years and years of selection, and they became a breed in themselves some time ago. But instead of a normal breed society, they are operated by a company and the genetics are strictly controlled. The result is medium-sized cattle that breed very efficiently, without much or any intervention, and they also use just slightly over half the feed that the average of all the other main breeds do. Those cattle are really taking off now and the feed prices will be another boost. The genetics from these animals can be used to cross with others to make these great improvements.

With harvesting, there are three main constraints, weather, weather and the weather. When it's looking good the arable guys have to go for it flat-out. With young deer and also leverettes, they just won't move, especially deer. Main thing is just keep your eyes constantly on the ground and foot hovering over the brake pedal.
Koll

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Nick
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Re: A challenge to environmental arguments against meat-eating

#30 Postby Nick » February 14th, 2011, 10:59 am

So farming is not just a matter of leaning against the farm gate chewing a straw, then...... :exit:

Koll
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Re: A challenge to environmental arguments against meat-eating

#31 Postby Koll » February 14th, 2011, 1:15 pm

Nick wrote:So farming is not just a matter of leaning against the farm gate chewing a straw, then...... :exit:


I haven't graduated to that level yet Nick, I'm working on it though :sleep: :sleep: :sleep:
Koll

Koll
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Re: A challenge to environmental arguments against meat-eating

#32 Postby Koll » February 22nd, 2011, 1:28 pm

Emma Woolgatherer wrote:This looks very interesting. See George Monbiot's article in the Guardian yesterday: "I was wrong about veganism. Let them eat meat – but farm it properly", about a new book, Meat: A Benign Extravagance?, by Simon Fairlie. Looks like I might have to eat quite a few of my words.

Emma


I bought the book, "Meat: A Benign Extravagance?". It's certainly NOT a light read but it is excellent and full of detailed info which I assume is correct? I'm only half way through at the moment, but so far it seems to come down to small-scale and mixed farming is good, factory farming is bad. That's just a slight over-simplification on my part :smile:. Interesting things like how in China until quite recently, almost every organisation, school, office block, factory, had their canteens and also a piggery where all the food waster would go. Now that's on the decline and they are catching our disease and moving into massive pig-factories and transporting everything. Shame.
Koll

Koll
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Joined: February 7th, 2011, 8:46 am

Re: A challenge to environmental arguments against meat-eating

#33 Postby Koll » February 22nd, 2011, 1:28 pm

deleted duplicate post!
Koll


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