Your diet can change the world

The article “Naughty or Nice? Two (Very) Opposite Sides of the Holiday Food Spectrum” [Dec. 15, 2010 Xpress] begins with the sentence, “Don’t give a flying fig about your waistline or cholesterol level over the holidays? Would you rather chew the fat than gnaw on a carrot stick?” While this opening perpetuates the myth that those who don’t consume animal products are deprived, the delicious “nice” (vegan) recipes presented disprove this falsehood. Unfortunately, the article never discusses why someone would choose to stop eating the rotting carcasses and reproductive secretions of our fellow earthlings. Let me take this opportunity to do so.

Many people eschew “naughty foods” (meat, dairy and eggs) because of the senseless and egregious violence systematically inflicted upon chickens, cows, pigs, fish and other sentient beings. Most of these individuals suffer horrific lives; all meet gruesome deaths. Others do it because healthcare professionals have concluded that the fewer animal products we eat, the healthier we are. Not only can common diseases be prevented with vegan diets, many can be reversed. Top environmental scientists have revealed that, as summed up in The Live Earth Global Warming Survival Handbook, the companion book to Al Gore’s Live Earth concert series, “Refusing meat” is the “single most effective thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint.” Anti-hunger activists are well aware that if we want to lower starvation rates as world population swells, a paradigm shift away from eating animal products will be a necessary component.

No single food choice has a farther-reaching and more profoundly positive impact on our health, the environment and all of life on Earth than adopting a plant-based diet. To learn more, watch “Glass Walls,” narrated by Paul McCartney, at www.meat.org, and visit www.veganoutreach.org and click “Why Vegan?” Is there an easier way to fight oppression and work for social and environmental justice three times a day?

— Stewart David
Asheville

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92 thoughts on “Your diet can change the world

  1. Pete Smith

    It is common in the natural world for animals to eat other animals.

    There is a distinction between industrial processing of meat and humane and ecologically responsible husbandry.

    When a whale or shark or bear eats other marine animals they don’t have a philosophical discussion on the matter. A petroleum heavy economy allows you to eat cheap vegetables. When we get out of the inevitable spiral we are in there is zero chance you will be able to derive all of your nutritional needs living in the mountains. Good luck, and stop pushing your agenda.

  2. travelah

    Stewart, you have just provided the incentive needed to have a delicious pulled pork sandwich for lunch today.

  3. Stewart David

    Pete,

    Your position ignores the fact that world population is about to reach 7 billion, and projected to increase to 9 billion by 2050. Massive amounts of petroleum are used to grow soy and grains that are fed to animals. It’s an incredibly wasteful process, we’d save so much energy if we ate plants instead. There isn’t enough earth on earth to raise animals in non-industrial settings. We’d need a few more fertile planets.

    If you are interested in learning more, check out this link:
    http://www.mountainx.com/opinion/2009/070109greenwashed

  4. Stewart David

    Travelah,

    Here’s a behind the scenes look at a pig farm. It’s from “The American Conservative” and authored by a former George W. Bush speechwriter, imagine that! If you read about where that pulled pork sandwich comes from, you just might lose your lunch.

    http://www.amconmag.com/article/2005/may/23/00007/

  5. shadmarsh

    Do you good folks at the MX have a quota to fill or something?

  6. Pete Smith

    I’ve read the books you are talking about. As previously stated there is a difference between sustainable, ecologically friendly animal husbandry and petroleum dependent industrial production.

    Have you been to any local farms where they grow vegetables, fruit, and raise animals?

    Population growth is a huge problem, I agree. Eating animals and population growth are not mutually exclusive. Eventually population will get back under control and animals will eat other animals since there is such a large store of calories in them. When the cheap oil runs out get ready for everything to be ridiculously expensive … And be prepared to revisit your dietary requirements accordingly.

  7. Stewart David

    Replying to Bill, “What a bunch of unsubstantiated, dogmatic nonsense.”

    It’s not possible to substantiate every comment in a letter limited to 300 words. That’s why I included websites that contain additional information.

    All of what I said is well-documented. For example, I mentioned the senseless and egregious violence systematically inflicted upon chickens, cows, pigs, fish and other sentient beings. At slaughterhouses, chickens are shackled upside down, submerged in stun vats of electrified water, moved on conveyor belts to neck-cutting machines, then plunged, sometimes still conscious, into vats of scalding water. Is this “dogmatic nonsense?”

    Of course, slaughterhouses are just the horrible, violent ending to a miserable life on the factory farm. Please watch the video, Glass Walls, narrated by Paul McCartney that I noted in my letter. It’s at http://www.meat.org. Then let me know if you still think the cruelty I mentioned is “dogmatic nonsense.” Thanks.

  8. Stewart David

    Pete,

    Yes, I’ve been on small farms, and y grandfather had a family farm in Michigan and raised animals and vegetables.

    We lose as much as 90% of calories when we feed plant food to animals rather than eating the plants directly. When cheap oil runs out, growing food to feed animals will become cost prohibitive. That would already be the case if our government did not subsidize animal agriculture.

    I do agree that, environmentally speaking, “there is a difference between sustainable, ecologically friendly animal husbandry and petroleum dependent industrial production.” However, about 98% of animal products come from industrial production, and that percentage won’t go down as human population swells. To speak about eating animal products is to speak about industrial animal agriculture. “Elite meat” is statistically insignificant and only available to the privileged few. Leading scientists agree that society would benefit from a paradigm shift towards healthy, plant-based diets.

  9. I’ve got a gumbo recipe that works very well with roadkill. Email me for the link to my gumbo video….it’s delicious & free.

  10. Johnny

    “Elite meat” — hah.

    It’s not expensive if one is not making payments on a car they can’t afford, and not buying other crap churned out by our consumer culture and somehow determined to be necessary.

    Stewart’s facts are mostly just opinions, as the same old saw is run out here for for our reading pleasure. On we on a monthly schedule now?

  11. Margaret Williams

    We can’t account for silly posts, but do try to be civil. There’s no reason to attack Mr. David personally — i.e. that’s why some submitted posts haven’t gone through.

    Back to the topic at hand: A few weeks ago — possibly during another cabin-fever-inducing snowpocalypse during which I actually time to watch a movie of any sort — I watched Food Inc.. Enlightening.

  12. Stewart David

    Hey Johnny,

    I agree that people could afford better food if they cut back on their consumerism. Very good point. But it’s not just about cost, it’s also about accessibility and availability. We have 7 billion mouths to feed on the planet. Raising animals is very resource intensive. On factory farms it requires incredible amounts of food, water, and energy. On small farms it requires a tremendous amount of land. It’s simply not a solution for the masses. I support family farms, but when it comes to meat, dairy, and eggs, they will never be able to provide more than a small percentage of what’s consumed at current levels. Perhaps Madison County could produce enough animal products to feed the population. Buncome County couldn’t come close. And what should the folks in NYC eat? Small farms play a role, but we shouldn’t be nostalgic when we seek to solve problems. We need 21 century solutions. Society would benefit from a shift to plant-based diets.

    The scientific evidence revealing the environmental damage of eating animal products is overwhelming. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization 2006 study, Livestock’s Long Shadow, concluded that “livestock are responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, a bigger share than that of transport.”
    http://www.fao.org/ag/magazine/0612sp1.htm

    More recently, World Bank agricultural scientists Robert Goodland, who spent 23 years as the Bank’s lead environmental advisor, and Jeff Anhang, a research officer and environmental specialist for the Bank, concluded that the figure is drastically higher. As if livestock producing more GHG’s than all of the cars, SUV’s, trucks buses, airplanes, trains, and ships combined shouldn’t have been enough to get everyone’s attention! Their study concluded that livestock and their byproducts account for at least 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions. That’s right: According to these two scientists, animal agriculture causes more climate change than everything else combined. Their study, Livestock and Climate Change, was published in the November/December issue of World Watch Magazine: http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6294

    Whether the percentage is 18 or 51, or somewhere in the middle, the need to reduce the consumption of animal products is clear. Scientists at the University of Chicago expressed the importance of doing so in simple terms when they calculated that the food that people eat is just as important as what kind of cars they drive: http://www-news.uchicago.edu/releases/06/060413.diet.shtml
    New Scientist reported on their study, saying that you’ll actually do more to combat global warming by switching to a vegan diet than trading your sedan for a hybrid. See “It’s better to green your diet than your car,” http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg18825304.800

    Prominent Stanford University biochemist Patrick O. Brown recently announced what he sees as the solution to the problem of climate change: to “eliminate animal farming on planet Earth.” Forbes Magazine ran a very interesting story about Dr. Brown, see “Drop that Burger” in the November 30, 2009, issue: http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2009/1130/thought-leaders-mcdonalds-global-warming-drop-that-burger.html

  13. bill smith

    Once again the PETA-fueled David conflates ‘meat’ with meat produced through industrial agriculture.

    To compare the inputs necessary to produce a fast-food burger to the inputs for a grass-fed animal on a small farm (or better yet, wild game) is disingenuous, to put it kindly.

    Apples and oranges, as it were.

  14. Stewart David

    Hi Bill,

    Yes, I do conflate the two. I explained why in a previous post. About 98% of animal products come from industrial production, and that percentage won’t go down as human population swells. To speak about eating animal products is to speak about industrial animal agriculture. “Elite meat” is statistically insignificant and only available to the privileged few. I think it’s high time we evolve and change the paradigm rather than look for loopholes.

    And, even if an animal gets to eat grass before being butchered, why kill animals? What gives us the right? Is it simply because we can do so? Why shouldn’t animals be treated with respect? People often respond to this by saying “they are only animals.” People have dismissed extending rights to people based on their sexual preference, color, religion, etc., because they deemed them unworthy of respect. It’s the exact same mindset. We enslave and discriminate because we have the power to do so, not because it is right.

    “The denial of rights to other animals by humans (speciesism) is analogous to the denial of rights to lesbians and gay men by heterosexuals (heterosexism). Both these forms of oppression derive from a prejudiced and chauvinistic mentality which devalues ‘difference’ and ‘otherness.’ Likewise, animals deserve rights for much the same reason that lesbians and gay men deserve rights. All human and non-human animals have a shared capacity for feelings. This recognition gives society the moral obligation to confer the right to be spared physical and psychological suffering on all animals, irrespective of their species, race, sex, class, disability or sexual orientation.” Peter Tatchell, cofounder of ACT-UP London and OutRage

  15. Stewart David

    For those interested in learning more about the health benefits of vegan diets, you’ll have a great opportunity next month. World-renowned nutritional expert and author of the China Study, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, will be in Asheville. He’ll attend and speak at the movie preview of “Forks Over Knives” on Thursday, February 10, 7:00 pm, at the Fine Arts Theatre.
    You can watch the trailer at

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPJbYAYzP04&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    He’ll give a lecture the next day, Friday, February 11, at 5:30 at Lipinsky Auditorium Lobby, on the campus of UNCA

    THE CHINA STUDY:
    The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health.
    Referred to as the “Grand Prix of epidemiology” by The New York Times, this study examines more than 350 variables of health and nutrition with surveys from 6,500 adults in more than 2,500 counties across China and Taiwan, and conclusively demonstrates the link between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. While revealing that proper nutrition can have a dramatic effect on reducing and reversing these ailments as well as curbing obesity, this text calls into question the practices of many of the current dietary programs, such as the Atkins diet, that are widely popular in the West. The politics of nutrition and the impact of special interest groups in the creation and dissemination of public information are also discussed.

    Dr. Campbell’s Website:

    http://www.tcolincampbell.org

  16. Betty Cloer Wallace

    It’s okay to conflate. Really. To do otherwise is discriminatory.

  17. Samual D Jones

    Notice how David falls back on the ‘moral’ claims of veganism when he is proven to be incorrect in his claims it is ‘environmental’?

    Perhaps he should stop selectively and inaccurately citing UN studies that speak directly to the problems with industrialized agriculture (and NOT small, sustainable farms that have been building topsoil fertility for centuries) and just stick to the moral claims.

  18. Johnny

    Oh geez Stewart, you’re saying racism and discrimination against gays and lesbians is on the same moral footing as people eating meat? For real?

    Good grief — now THAT is offensive.

    Fine if you don’t want to eat meat for moral reasons, and fine that you foist this sideshow environmental argument on us instead of your main reason. In fact it’s fine if you do it month after month after friggin’ month.

    I can deal with the relentless “I’m better than you” attitude that never seems to end with you. What choice do I have anyways? You’re an endless and amusing tape loop with no humility or respect for others’ views, a constant provider of endless links to ill-conceived studies, and a colorful way for the Mtn. Xpress Letters section to have more clicks in the on-line edition.

    But I’m sorry, making comparisons of one’s choice of diet to slavery, racism, and discrimination against gays and lesbians? More than a little over the top. Way. Way. Way. More.

  19. Stewart David

    Samual,

    That’s funny. My letter noted all of the reasons to be vegan, and none have been refuted.

    As to your distinction between “sustainable farms” and industrial agriculture, I’ve made the point that only a select few of relatively privileged individuals have access to animal products produced on places other factory farms. Yes, of course, I still find it morally objectionable As Schweitzer said, “Compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to humankind.”

    But back to your so-called “sustainable” farms. That’s a funny choice of words, since how can killing be considered sustainable? But, that point aside, as I understand it, you believe that those who can find’afford non-factory farmed animal foods can take a moral high ground. Does that mean that the rest of the population (about 98%) needs to become vegetarians? Interesting approach. I say we share the planted with the hungry, the poor, and we all shift to healthy, environmentally-friendly diets. Just a thought.

  20. Stewart David

    Hi Johnny,

    Renowned philosopher Peter Singer said “It is easy for us to criticize the prejudices of our grandfathers, from which our fathers freed themselves. It is more difficult to distance ourselves from our own views, so that we can dispassionately search for prejudices among the beliefs and values we hold.”

    If you had asked a group of white man in the South in 1800 if black people had rights, most would have laughed at you. Now, when you look back at it, it’s hard to comprehend. I think we can evolve. Yes, I think discrimination based on species is similar to discrimination based on sexual preference, color, gender, religion, etc. I just think it’s harder to recognize our own prejudices, as noted so eloquently by Dr. Singer’s quote. I think future generations will look back and recognize our bias towards those who were born different, whether they be human animals or non-human animals. That is, if there are future generations, considering how we are destroying the planet and each other.

    A lot of people have made similar analogies. Here are just a few:

    “The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites or women for men.” Alice Walker

    “I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.” Leonardo Da Vinci

    “As long as human beings go on shedding the blood of animals, there will never be any peace. There is only one little step from killing animals to creating gas chambers a la Hitler and concentration camps a la Stalin… There will be no justice as long as a man will stand with a knife or with a gun and destroy those who are weaker than he is.”
    ” Isaac Bashevis Singer, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust Survivor

    Sorry if you are offended, but many people do get offended in the struggle for social justice.

  21. travelah

    “Sir, your hamburger is an impediment to the struggle for social justice in this world … please, eat this tofu instead.”

    Bugs .. how about bugs, Stewart? They are highly socialized and I would think you would want social justice for bugs too. How are you going to deal with all those bats eating all those bugs and protect bug rights??

  22. BigAl

    “The denial of rights to other animals by humans (speciesism) is analogous to the denial of rights to lesbians and gay men by heterosexuals (heterosexism)”

    “Oh geez Stewart, you’re saying racism and discrimination against gays and lesbians is on the same moral footing as people eating meat? For real?…But I’m sorry, making comparisons of one’s choice of diet to slavery, racism, and discrimination against gays and lesbians? More than a little over the top. ”

    This should be no surprise. I made the assertion weeks ago in a similar comment line that progressives routinely pigeonhole all behaviors and opinions in one side or the other of a well-defined line between right and left. I am pretty sure that my example of this was that in the opinion of progressives all meat-eaters are racists, sexists, homophobes, anti-semites, and any other negative stereotype that can be attached to the politically conservative. My assertion was ridiculed, but here it is, right out of the mouth of progressive elites and their followers.

  23. Stewart David

    Travelah,

    Predator/prey relationships are a part of nature and should be left alone. Some animals are carnivores, some are herbivores. I spend my time advocating that those animals (humans) supposedly capable of making kind and compassionate choices consider doing so. Most of the animals who kill for food could not survive if they didn’t. That is not the case for humans. We are better off not eating meat. Many other animals are vegetarians, including some of our closest primate relatives. Why not look to them as our example instead of to carnivores?

    We are designed to be herbivores. Carnivorous animals have long, curved fangs, claws, and a short digestive tract. We have flat, flexible nails, and our so-called “canine” teeth are minuscule compared to those of carnivores or even compared to vegetarian primates like gorillas and orangutans. Our tiny canine teeth are better suited to biting into fruits than tearing through tough hides. We have flat molars and a long digestive tract suited to a diet of vegetables, fruits, and grain. Eating meat is hazardous to our health; it contributes to heart disease, cancer, and many other health problems. If we were carnivores, we’d salivate at the sight of a dog or cat, as well as road kill. And we’d eat out meat raw. Funny how you never see lions holding their prey over the fire.

  24. Johnny

    Uh….BigAl you got some things REALLY mixed up here.

    Stewart is no progressive elite. He’s a typical small city extreme vegetarian activist using a letters section as his platform to (incessantly) get his message out.

    On the other hand, the overwhelming vast majority of political progressives (be they “elite” or not) are proud meat eaters, always will be, and find the moral tone of militant vegetarians rather difficult to stomach.

  25. Stewart David

    Hi Big Al,

    I am a progressive, and I think that progressives should extend their circle of compassion to include animals. I think it’s hypocritical to say that we value others who are “different,” and then conveniently draw the line at species. When people tell me that animals don’t feel pain, it reminds me that the same was said of slaves. Here’s a link to a letter I wrote to the Mountain Xpress comparing the suffering of animals to the Holocaust:
    http://www.upc-online.org/thinking/020515letter_holocaust.html
    So yes, I believe that it is the attitude that some lives are more important than others that perpetuates most injustices. And I continue to prod those who call themselves progressives to make the connection. As you might imagine, as is noted above by Johnny, it doesn’t make me the most popular guy in the progressive community.

    That said, extending compassion to animals is not a right/left issue. It’s a right/wrong issue. It’s just wrong to gratuitously harm living beings simply because we have the power to do so. One of the most articulate voices for animals is Matthew Scully, a former George W. Bush speech writer. He also wrote Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech given at the Republican National Convention. His article published in Pat Buchannan’s magazine, The American Progressive, gives a chilling behind the scenes look at a North Carolina Pork “Farm.” It’s long but a great read, and if you take the time, I don’t think you’ll ever look at a piece of bacon in the same way.
    http://www.amconmag.com/article/2005/may/23/00007/

    While I disagree with Mr. Scully’s politics, I applaud his compassion for animals.

    “Animals are more than ever a test of our character, of mankind’s capacity for empathy and for decent, honorable conduct and faithful stewardship. We are called to treat them with kindness, not because they have rights or power or some claim to equality, but in a sense because they don’t; because they all stand unequal and powerless before us.”

    from Dominion, the Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy, by Matthew Scully

  26. Margaret Williams

    @Johnny: Play nice. Disagree w/ SDavid or other commenters ad infinitum but refrain from taking a personal, nasty tone (i.e. You’re an endless and amusing … [etc etc]

  27. shadmarsh

    You’re an endless and amusing tape loop with no humility or respect for others’ views, a constant provider of endless links to ill-conceived studies, and a colorful way for the Mtn. Xpress Letters section to have more clicks in the on-line edition.

    sometimes the truth hurts. I defy anyone to refute this statement.

  28. travelah

    Stewart, you have had your errors refuted time and time again on MX. Man is not a herbivore. We are omnivores. Our intestinal tract is not similar in length to herbivores. We have a non-complex digestive system that is very accommodating for processing animal proteins. The typical length is 20-25 feet and on average is 8 times average body length. That is pretty much indicative of most omnivores, in between carnivores and herbivores regarding body length.
    Stewart, you are a walking book of errors.

  29. Margaret Williams

    @Frosty+ … The letter above has had a mere 500ish views (compare that to almost 4,000 for the “Hidden Hazards” cover story). 500ish puts it in the middle of the letter pack when it comes to views this week (sorry, SDavid!).

  30. bill smith

    Mr. David continues to try and put all animal products in the same category as the worst-case examples. Comparing the inputs necessary to produce a McDonald’s burger and the inputs necessary to produce a pound of grass-fed beef on a small farm is ridiculous.

    I agree that westerners should eat less meat. I agree that we should not be subsidizing corn at a level that makes it cheap enough to then feed it to cows on feedlots, all so we can have cheap mcburgers. I agree that factory farms (of all kinds) are inhumane and environmentally destructive.

    What I take exception with is the constant refusal to admit that one can most certainly eat animal products without contributing to that chain, and that merely removing these animal products automatically makes one’s diet ‘green’ or ‘moral’.

    TO me, Mr. David represents an old-guard vegetarianism based on outdated ideas of agriculture.

    Instead of drawing these arbitrary lines based on a dogmatic dietary choice, why not embrace potential allies in the fight against industrialized agriculture?

    Unless, of course, you really could care less about small farms and environmental sustainability, and really just think everyone should eat and think and act and speak exactly like you.

    When petroleum subsidies collapse, and one can’t ship in apples from New Zealand and salad greens from California (from a farm controlled by a subsidiary of a multinational corporation), one will most certainly have to adapt to food produced by those in our region. And for the vast majority, that will be meat.

    So, why not build bridges to make that a more smooth transition?

    So which is it, Mr. David? Working together, or creating divisions?

  31. Stewart David

    travelah,

    Below is a link to a very thorough analysis of human anatomy and physiology done by Dr. Milton Mills. Dr. Mills analyzes facial muscles, jaw type, jaw location, jaw motion, jaw muscles, mouth opening vs. head size, teeth (incisors, canine and molars), chewing, saliva, stomach type, acidity and capacity, length of small intestine, colon, liver, kidney, and nails. He concludes that we are hrebivores, and I agree. It’s easy to tell me I’m a “walking book of errors,” but much more difficult to refute good science. Please give it a read.

    The Comparative Anatomy of Eating, by Dr. Milton Mills

    http://www.vegsource.com/news/2009/11/the-comparative-anatomy-of-eating.html

  32. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Stewart, have you done much research on the larger global aspects of diet and environment relating to the particular health needs of native peoples and other animals in various latitudes?

    For example, Inuit Eskimo natives above the Arctic Circle evolved as mammal, fish, and fowl eaters with no agriculture and with virtually no diabetes, heart disease, or cancer—and with astonishingly low levels of cholesterol largely as a result of high consumption of seal oil. They say they would freeze to death without meat.

    Natives of temperate and tropical zones, on the other hand, require much different diets in order to maintain body temperature and metabolism and other health needs.

    And the same is true for non-human animals native to various latitudes.

    “Each of us at the table will eventually be part of the meal.” (Gary Snyder)

  33. Stewart David

    Hey Betty,

    Yes, I have done a good bit of reading and research. I agree that the world is complicated, and certain choices make more sense than others, depending on the situation. We can’t rewrite history. I suggest that people who are in the position to make kinder choices consider doing so. That’s the case with most of the people reading my letters. We all draw the line somewhere, and I advocate we do it with compassion.

    RE: “Each of us at the table will eventually be part of the meal,” you seem to want to justify egregious and gratuitous cruelty to animals based on the fact that we will all die one day. I am happy to become part of the meal one day, but I hope to continue living a good life and die a peaceful and natural death. Animals raised for food do neither.

    I know you are a proponent of small farms, not industrial agriculture. So you draw a line, and I commend you for it. Less suffering is better than more. But I encourage those who think that animals raised on small farms are treated humanely to watch “FREE RANGE: A Short Documentary” at
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMF5ZW2QvYg.

    The family farmer profiled “specializes in turning vegetarians into meat-eaters” and “believes in treating animals with respect.” While he doesn’t subject the animals he raises to some of the more egregious cruelties they systematically endure on factory farms and at commercial slaughterhouses, he didn’t convert me. I don’t find what he does to be at all respectful. Webster’s New World Dictionary defines humane as “having what are considered the best qualities of human beings: kind, tender, merciful, sympathetic, etc.” I think when we rob animals of their lives to satisfy a culinary preference to eat their corpses we distort the very meaning of the word “humane.”

  34. Betty Cloer Wallace

    @Stewart: “Each of us at the table will eventually be part of the meal,” you seem to want to justify egregious and gratuitous cruelty to animals based on the fact that we will all die one day.

    Sweet Jesus and pass the dumplings! However did you read that into that?

    When an Eskimo meets a polar bear on the ice, they see each other as protein, and they do not debate the whys and wherefores beyond satisfying hunger and survival in a way that is instinctive and/or learned for each and in a way that will feed their families and perpetuate their species.

    Hence, please consider my use of intentional phrases in my earlier post: “people and other animals” and “non-human animals.”

    My opinion is that neither human nor animal has dominion over the other as a “right” or in any other self-serving “ethical” or “moral” context artificially devised and defined by humans as “humane.”

    (If polar bears could speak and write, would they describe their eating of Eskimos as “animale” or “egregious and gratuitous cruelty to humans”?)

    So, I still wonder how you would explain the superior health of (traditional) Eskimos with their primary diet of mammals, fish, and fowl when compared with vegetarians elsewhere. Also, what do you think about temperate and tropical diets for both humans and other animals according to their particular environmental needs?

    My point is that contrary to the human-constructed paradigm of alleged dominion of human animals over non-human animals, we will all “eventually be part of the meal” by returning to Mother Earth (Gaia) in some molecular fashion, as will all living things, and other life forms will be fed by us—including plant and fungal life and other life forms we have not yet discovered.

  35. Candyland

    Hear, hear Stewart. Though I am not necessarily opposed to eating meat, I am opposed to the current treatment of the animals and the planet in order to make a profit. No doubt these “products” are not only unhealthy, but in fact dangerous to more than just our bodies. I’m not going to get into the debate as to whether humans should eat meat or not. But I will say that if we are, we definitely don’t need to eat nearly as much of it as we do, in the sick form that we do. And, even though we and other cultures love dairy, there is no need for humans to suckle cows, sheep and goats for survival. This seems logical to me, from studying mammals in my college education. (I love cheese, by the way, but it is no necessity to me).

    In response to the Eskimo argument above, they are healthy because they have adapted to that diet over many years, and those animals are not pumped full of antibiotics and fed GM corn. They also get to breathe air and see/feel sunlight. The meat the Eskimos eat is nothing like the fattened Tyson chicken or injected Hillshire Farm beef we love in America. This abuse of nature does become an ethical issue that Eskimos did not have to face, for the Eskimo lived a completely different lifestyle than we Americans do. They did not waste, they utilized what they had, and took only what they needed to survive.

    The current meat consumption in this culture is, without a doubt, an ethical concern, because humans have the capacity to reason (though “rationality” often seems to always serve the ego first) that the mistreated livestock, the workers involved, the people eating it, and especially the environment are all in danger.

  36. Betty Cloer Wallace

    As always, regarding Stewart’s letters, any meaningful dialogue is impossible when conflating (my newest favorite word) the following disparate issues, among others:

    Factory farming and its impact on the earth
    Small diverse farming and its impact on the earth
    Hunting and gathering and its impact on the earth

    Scientific considerations regarding food production
    Religious/ethical/moral considerations regarding food production
    Monetary considerations regarding food production

    Scientific considerations regarding hunting and gathering
    Religious/ethical/moral considerations regarding hunting and gathering

    Monocultural agriculture vs. agricultural diversity
    Symbiotic relationships of plants, animals, and earth

    Scientific considerations regarding eating certain diets
    Religious/ethical/moral considerations regarding eating certain diets

    Nutritional value of meat from wild animals
    Nutritional value of meat from domestic small farm animals
    Nutritional value of meat from factory farms
    Nutritional value of vegetarian diets

    Diversity of health needs in consideration of latitude and environment

    [And, uh, Candyland, you do not need to speak of Eskimos in the past tense or as if they are not Americans. Thousands of Eskimos are very much alive, both in circumpolar regions and spread throughout the world. Also, the ones with whom I lived for ten years above the Arctic Circle in Alaska considered themselves American citizens.]

  37. Stewart David

    Hey Betty,

    If you think the health of Eskimos compares favorably to vegetarians, you are misinterpreting the data. Sure, compared to many of the starving people on the planet who happen to be vegetarians by necessity, Eskimos might stack up well. Compared to vegans who have access to good foods, it’s not even close. Despite their high calcium intake, Eskimos have one of the highest rates of osteoporosis in the world. That’s because of the excess protein they consume. They also have much higher rates of a myriad of diseases vegans seldom contract, and the lifespan of an Eskimo is much shorter. But let’s change the subject, since those who defend eating animal products always want to talk about Eskimos, Native Americans of the 1800’s etc., rather than talk about how the decisions made by individuals in the 21st century affect the planet and its inhabitants. We have 7 billion humans now, and we need to act globally. We can’t go back to being hunter-gathers or live like they did in Little House on the Prairie. There just isn’t enough land, and I doubt you advocate that we kill off 5 billion people so that those remaining can live like our ancestors.

    Polar bears and Eskimos will eat each other, but they don’t raise and kill each other using violent and depraved procedures. On factory farms, animals routinely have their body parts (genitals, toes, ears, tails, horns etc.) mutilated or severed while they are fully conscious, and no pain relief is provided. Most animals are crammed indoors and inside enclosures so they can’t turn around — or, in the case of chickens, spread a wing. The Humane Methods of Slaughter Act doesn’t apply to birds, who represent 98 percent of the animals slaughtered for food. And it’s seldom enforced for other animals. Countless animals are hacked apart while fully conscious, or scalded alive. If you treated a dog or cat this way, you’d go to jail.

    You’ll be surprised to hear this, but I’m not a big believer in moral absolutes. Letters to the editor need to be succinct, and I write to encourage others to make more compassionate decisions. No one is perfect, I think we should all do the best we can. I drive a car and kill bugs with my windshield, etc. A starving person living in the woods killing an animal to survive gets no grief from me. If I was faced with the same dilemma, who knows how I might act? I might eat a human if hungry enough and without any other alternatives. A person who spends thousands of dollars on travel expenses and fancy equipment to kill an animal in the woods so they can mount their head on a wall is in a different league. A person who eats animal products at a soup kitchen scores higher in my book than someone choosing a factory farmed animal at their local grocery store. A person eating foie gras is near the bottom of what I like to call the “karma scale.”

    We all draw the line somewhere. I commended those who opt to eat animals who are not raised on factory farms, they are drawing a line. It would be a better world if people would try to see the repercussions of their daily decisions, like buying sweatshop goods, wasting electricity derived from blowing the tops off of Appalachian mountains, etc. When it comes to eating animals, my experience shows me that almost everyone who claims to only eat “humanely raised” animals doesn’t do so, they just eat fewer factory-farmed animals. And, as previously noted, it’s not an alternative for the masses, and I think we need to act globally. And let’s quit pretending that these animals have a idyllic life, when nothing could be further from the truth. Most still suffer greatly, they just suffer less. Words like “free range” and “humanely raised” are all but meaningless marketing gimmicks, see http://www.humanefacts.org/). But, in the end, why kill when you don’t have to? Most people are uncomfortable even watching how animals are raised and killed (www.meat.org), let alone doing it themselves. Who would rather spend a day knee-deep in blood slicing throats than picking apples, blueberries, tomatoes, etc.? If someone isn’t comfortable slaughtering animals, where’s the integrity in paying someone else (usually an underpaid, overworked member of a minority group) to do so?

  38. BigAl

    To Johnny:

    I was not way off, you just did not read closely enough to this comment thread. The elitist I was referring to was not Stewart, it wasthe afforementioned:

    “This recognition gives society the moral obligation to confer the right to be spared physical and psychological suffering on all animals, irrespective of their species, race, sex, class, disability or sexual orientation.” Peter Tatchell, cofounder of ACT-UP London and OutRage”

    I he saying one cannot be gay or support gay rights if they are a meat-eater?

    And yes, I completely agree with you that in spite of the assertions of the progressive elitists, it IS possible to be a liberal thinker on many issues AND be an unapologetic consumer of meat and meat products.

    Unfortunately, the loudest and most outspoken progressives have not learned how to attract more followers with the carrot of compromise rather than the big stick of sanctimonious indictment.

    It is this inability to compromise that keeps many moderates, and some conservatives, from joining some meaninigful progressive causes, like civil rights, when they feel rejected just because they enjoy a mamburger.

  39. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Serious conflation again, Stewart.

    Regarding Eskimo health, though, my comments were confined to the major health problems suffered by most Americans—but which are virtually absent among the meat-eating Eskimos: diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and strokes (cholesterol).

    The reason Eskimos have a shorter lifespan, disaggregated numbers show, is because of (1) accidents in the unforgiving environment, (2) lesser access to immediate health care, and (3) the highest rate of suicide in the nation.

    [Suicide, however accomplished and for whatever reason, is unfortunately quite common. It is called “going out on the ice,” which refers historically to voluntarily thinning the population when hunger was rampant during their nomadic days prior to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971.]

  40. travelah

    Stewart, I already refuted your claim you were designed as a herbivore. Milton Mills on the other hand is a crackpot.

  41. entopticon

    Seriously, when is the Mountain XPress finally going to stop acting like Stewart David’s own personal vegangelical newsletter? The endless barrage of his vegan propaganda crossed the line a long time ago. If the Mountain XPress wants to be Stewart’s official newsletter, so be it, but they should stop pretending to be a legitimate news source if that’s the case.

    There are so many factual errors, quasi-scientific absurdities, and flat out lies in Stewart’s screed that it is hard to even know where to begin. I guess we should start with physiology. The human pancreas produces a wide range of enzymes specifically for digesting both meat and vegetables, because we are omnivores! We do not have multiple stomachs or a caecum for digesting cellulose, because we are not herbivores. Our stomachs produce hydrochloric acid for digesting meat, because we are omnivores. Our colons are much shorter than an herbivore’s and longer than a carnivore’s, because we are omnivores. Evidence of meat eating dates back more than 3 million years, because we are omnivores. Evidence of tools for meat eating dates back at least 2.5 million years because we are omnivores. Any argument that we are herbivores is complete and utter nonsense, and it is woefully irresponsible to spread such blatantly false disinformation.

    Stewart’s incessant claims that sustainable farming (which includes animals according to virtually all of the world’s lforemost sustainable ag experts) can’t feed the world are absolutely false. As a matter of fact, researchers from the Pottsdam Institute for Climate Impact found in a study of the issue that with a small reduction in average meat consumption, we could easily feed the entire world by 2050 with sustainable methods, even if population doubled!! And that isn’t even accounting for advances in sustainable animal agriculture!!! As Joel Salatin says, we can’t afford not to farm sustainably.

    Animals are amazing at converting inedible grasses, bugs, and agricultural waste into food. As Michael Pollan says, a sustainably pastured cow requires little more than sun, rain and inedible grasses. And as opposed to all plant agriculture, sustainable pasturing actually increases the health of the soil and biodiversity in the process.

    Virtually all of the world’s most renowned sustainable ag experts, such as MacArthur genius award winner Wes Jackson of the Land Institute, Macarthur genius award winning plant and animal conservationist Gary Nabhan, the award winning head of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Fred Kirschenmann, renowned sustainable farming experts Eliot Coleman, Joel Salatin, and Wendell Berry, sustainable farming extraordinaire Gene Logsdon, author of Holy Sh*t: Managing Manure to Save Mankind, the world renowned Sustainability Institute (who raise their own animals as well), renowned soil and land management expert Alan Savory, and on and on and on… all recognize that animals are absolutely essential to any truly sustainable system of food production.

    Oversimplified binary polemics like “meat bad, vegetables good” are part of the problem, not the solution. Food systems work in complex webs of intertwined relationships, not binary polemics. Any truly sustainable system of food production must mirror the natural balance of microorganisms, plants, and animals in a given environment.

    And by the way, even the people who came up with the statistic attributing 18% of ghg’s to livestock have now admitted that that figure was grossly inflated. They have publically admitted that they completely skewed the data. And it doesn’t even apply to US pastureland, because 48% of it was for land use changes that aren’t even practiced here. The 51% figure is downright laughable. Even the former vegan climate change activist has now conceded that those figures are nonsense. Check out his piece, I Was Wrong About Veganism. Let them Eat Meat – But Farm it Properly:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/sep/06/meat-production-veganism-deforestation

    And even former PCRM board member Andrew Weil has now conceded that the evidence is overwhelming that meat is not the cause of heart disease or any other illness. In his own words:

    “Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, is not a cause of obesity, heart disease or any other chronic disease of civilization.”

    A meta-analysis of many studies on the issue, spanning a whopping 347,747 subjects, found that there was absolutely no connection between saturated fat and heart disease whatsoever.

    In other words, Stewart has no argument, so he substitutes disinformation for facts. I suspect Stewart’s heart is probably in the right place, but his arguments sure aren’t. Agriculture without animals would be an environmental nightmare.

    There are many problems with industrial agriculture, both plant and animal. What Stewart doesn’t want to tel you is that the vast majority of all of the commercially grown vegetables eaten by vegans are either grown with animal products such as manure, bloodmeal, and fish emulsion. or toxic and completely unsustainable fertilizers derived from petrochemicals.

    In much of the country, for much of the year, sustainably pastured meat is the most environmentally sound primary protein choice there is.

  42. entopticon

    To be clear, I don’t have a problem with the fact that Stewart got a chance to voice his view that veganism is good and eating meat is evil here. It’s great for the MX to publish a wide range of opinions. But Stewart’s posts do not represent a wide range of opinions by any stretch of the imagination. He uses the MX to make the same misguided point over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. And it is not right for the MX to allow that. If Stewart wants to write a letter about his fondness for movies about kittens, the color yellow, or nipple rings, that is fine, but he has already said his piece about veganism. Using the MX as his personal vegangelical propaganda newsletter is almost as bad as the MX allowing it to happen.

  43. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Thank you, Entopticon, for your concise overview, straightforward facts, and legitimate references—accomplished with nary a shred of conflation, obfuscation, disinformation, hyperbole, or sanctimonious nonsense.

    Sometimes the steady diet of faddish vegan porn around here becomes quite unbearable, especially when delivered with street-preacher zeal.

  44. So when the moderators suggest that a point of view has been hashed and re-hashed to the point that commenters need to be told to only post new and different perspectives, then it seems Mountain Express might consider doing the same thing as regards to repeated vegangelical issues such as Stewart’s????????

  45. Margaret Williams

    Good points, all. @entopticon, if we cut/stop David’s comments, we’d have to, in fairness, cut your long response as well… and just about everything else on the thread.

    @Davyne, the tone here does seem to have devolved. Perhaps a little pause in the discussion would be a good idea…

  46. entopticon

    Really Margaret, you can’t even differentiate between comments that are actually published in the paper and reactions on the comments section?!? Seriously?!?

    If you stopped constantly publishing the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again in your newspaper, you would have to cut out my only post in several months out of some outlandishly misguided sense of fairness?!? C’mon Maragaret, you know better than that.

  47. Margaret Williams

    @entopticon: There’s no reason to be rude just because you disagree with me.

  48. Stewart David

    “We can disagree without being disagreeable.”

    –President Barack Obama

    “If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat. That’s the single most important thing you could do. It’s staggering when you think about it. Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty.”
    –Sir Paul McCartney

  49. No one can “save” the planet. We can only affect how we live on this planet. Living simply, & well within our means will go a long way.

  50. Margaret Williams

    Hi y’all — realizing I may have been a little snappy yesterday. Took my own advice to chill. Stewart might say I should eat my vegetables…

  51. travelah

    “…Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty.”
    —Sir Paul McCartney”

    It apparently did not take care of saving his wife (notice the similar irrelevance of your comment and mine)

  52. Betty Cloer Wallace

    ELVIS’S FAVORITE
    GRACELAND OATMEAL MEATLOAF

    2 green bell peppers, diced
    2 onions, medium, chopped
    2 eggs, large
    2 lbs. lean ground beef
    1 lb. sausage
    ½ teaspoon salt
    ½ teaspoon black pepper
    ½ teaspoon garlic powder
    ¼ teaspoon onion powder
    1 cup rolled oats
    1 ½ cup ketchup

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all ingredients except ½ cup of the ketchup. Mix well and shape into a loaf. Place the loaf in a shallow baking dish and top with the remaining ketchup.

    Bake for 90 minutes or until well done.

    Serve with mushroom gravy and mashed potatoes.

    Love, Elvis

    ______________________
    NOTES from Green Bough Grange:

    I use sausage and ground beef from Hickory Nut Gap Farm or Nantahala Meats.

    Other ingredients that may be added according to taste include chopped dried garlic, crushed fresh garlic, wine, tomato juice, diced tomatoes, parsley, scallions, chopped celery, chopped carrots, celery seeds, fennel, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, dried onion soup mix, etc.

    This recipe may be doubled and baked several hours in a large crock pot (slow cooker) by mounding the loaf in the center away from the sides as much as possible and by periodically using a baster to siphon off the fat as the juices collect around the edge of the crock.

  53. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Davyne, no joke! When I lived in Alaska, a friend signed up with the DOT roadkill program for 1/4 of a moose. After a month or so, DOT called her to come down and pick it up. The 300+ pounds of good moose meat made for a great winter. (They still have roadkill sign-ups in Alaska.)

    When I was growing up here, the sheriffs’ offices would confiscate wildlife (mostly deer, some bear) killed out of season, along with significant roadkill, and take it to the school lunchrooms and hospitals. Can you imagine such a thing happening now!

  54. Me too. Where I grew up when it was common to raise chickens, hogs, rabbits and to garden so as to be self sustaining.

  55. Stewart David

    Even Andy Rooney thinks that humans might evolve.

    “I don’t know why anyone who eats beef finds the idea of eating a horse so repulsive but I’m one of them. Horses seem so friendly and I don’t like to be reminded of the animal I’m eating. I often pass a farm with cows grazing in the field and I think to myself how terrible it is that human beings grow other animals just to kill them and eat them.

    Most of us think of vegetarians as nuts and I’m not a vegetarian but I wouldn’t be surprised if we came to a time in 50 or 100 years when civilized people everywhere refused to eat animals. I could be one of them. Of course, I’d be pretty old by then.”

    Andy Rooney
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/09/28/60minutes/rooney/main2048965.shtml

  56. Stewart David

    There are so many statements made by the pro-meat folks on this thread that contradict the conclusions of the vast majority of environmental scientists and health care professionals, I really don’t know where to start. This will be my last post, and I’ll keep it as short as I can while I address the misinformation campaign.

    Regarding health, let’s see what the world’s largest group of food and nutrition experts has to say:
    “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes. A vegetarian diet is defined as one that does not include meat (including fowl) or seafood, or products containing those foods. This article reviews the current data related to key nutrients for vegetarians including protein, n-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, iodine, calcium, and vitamins D and B-12. A vegetarian diet can meet current recommendations for all of these nutrients. In some cases, supplements or fortified foods can provide useful amounts of important nutrients. An evidence-based review showed that vegetarian diets can be nutritionally adequate in pregnancy and result in positive maternal and infant health outcomes. The results of an evidence-based review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Vegetarians also appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than nonvegetarians. Furthermore, vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index and lower overall cancer rates.”

    In other words, eating animal products causes degenerative diseases, stopping can reverse them. Sadly, many people switch to vegan diets after they have a heart attack, begin to suffer with osteoporosis, have a stroke, get cancer, etc. It’s a shame that more don’t do it first; there is a good chance that their disease could have been prevented.

    Sure, you can always find a quack or two to tell you that animal products are good for you. They are usually trying to sell you a book, a diet plan, a line of foods, etc. Like Dr. Robert Atkins, who made millions telling everyone that they should eat a lot of meat. The medical examiners report noted that Dr. Atkins weighed 258 pounds at the time of his death (he was six feet tall) and listed myocardial infarction (heart attack), congestive heart failure, and hypertension on the report. Conveniently, an autopsy was not performed after his death. The American Heart Association and the American Dietetic Association have issued warnings about the Atkins diet. And people listened to this guy when he told them that cholesterol and saturated fat don’t matter? As the famed animal abuser P.T. Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

    Regarding the environment: From the Environmental Defense Fund (not an animal rights group, to say the least): http://www.edf.org/article.cfm?contentid=6604
    “You don’t have to be a vegetarian to make a difference….If every American had one meat-free meal per week, it would be the same as taking more than 5 million cars off our roads.”

    Virtually every comprehensive study on the environment and climate change cites animal agriculture as a major culprit. I’ve already posted links to some of this info, no need to repeat myself. The science is clear. Yeah, you can find a few “scientists” who say otherwise, and Exxon can find “scientists” who say that climate change is a myth. And you can deflect the conversation to talk about grass-fed cows. Not only do they do terrible damage the environment, but “elite meat” is not an answer to feeding 7 billion people on Mother Earth. If you won’t look at the science and do the math, try common sense. If you know anyone with a one-acre garden, ask them for an approximation of just how much food they produce. Then compare it to just how little food is provided by letting a cow graze on an acre. In order to feed the world on grass-fed beef, we’d need to deforest this planet and find several more fertile planets. It’s just downright silly to think otherwise.

    Regarding ethics, Betty likes to dismiss animal cruelty by saying ““Each of us at the table will eventually be part of the meal.” I might become part of the meal one day, but, I hope not to be boiled alive or otherwise tortured beforehand. Some of my ancestors lived and died good lives in America, while others didn’t fare so well in the Nazi death camps. How we live and die matters and shouldn’t be oversimplified. No one on this forum seems to be willing to even address where they might draw a line. I guess mocking and oversimplifying a complex issue is easier than personal reflection and responsibility. Is foie gras too cruel? How about veal? Is it okay to torture an animal simply because you have the power to do so? Why are someone’s taste buds more important than someone’s life?

    Most everyone (besides Betty) supporting animal cruelty on this thread hides behind a moniker. I can only surmise that some folks work in the animal agriculture (cruelty) industry. Perhaps some are even paid to post; the industry has a lot of staff working hard to confuse people by repeatedly citing junk science. Which brings me to the words of Upton Sinclair: “It is hard to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

    The Citizens United case now allows multi-national corporations to spend unlimited funds influencing politics. The animal agriculture industry spends a fortune getting people to think that they need animal products to be healthy. They have done a remarkable job. Just look at the ”Got Milk!” campaign. It’s brought to you by Dairy Management, a creation of the USDA, which has an annual budget of almost $140 million. This is largely financed by a government-mandated fee on the dairy industry.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/07/us/07fat.html Yes, you heard me right, consumers get the privilege of paying for an organization that distorts the facts. And the USDA, the same group that oversees nutritional guidelines, is behind it all. What a gross conflict of interest.

    Forget the science that tells us just how bad milk is for us, just use common sense. No adults of any species drink milk, it’s for babies. No species drinks milk of another species (except when humans feed it to animals). Milk is designed for calves, who gain 1,000 pounds in the first two years of life. Yet if you repeatedly tell people that milk is good for them, they’ll believe it. They’ll even believe that it can help them lose weight despite science showing the opposite. With their budget, they could probably sell refrigerators to Eskimos. But people are starting to wake up and use critical thinking and common sense as well as acting with compassion.

    I’ll sign off now and wish you all the best. Go ahead and drag out your junk science and “refute” what all of the leading scientists have said. I need to move on and spend my time more productively; this thread has run its course. And thanks, Margaret, for your work at keeping the tone civil.

    “Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.”

    “Compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to humankind.”

    –Albert Schweitzer

  57. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Environmental activist Gary Snyder would be aghast to see his oft-quoted statement (“each of us at the table will eventually be part of the meal”) so taken out of context and so intentionally misconstrued, misrepresented, and abused by Stewart David.

    Stewart David has taken his own misperceptions about the natural world that Snyder considers wild, intimate, and sacred and has turned those misperceptions into his own wrongheaded anthropocentric evangelical vegan purposes through false accusations about people “dismissing animal cruelty” and even “supporting animal cruelty.” Incredible!

    So here is a longer Gary Snyder passage:

    Most of humanity—foragers, peasants, or artisans—has always taken the other fork. That is to say, they have understood the play of the real world, with all its suffering, not in simple terms of “nature red in tooth and claw” but through the celebration of the gift-exchange quality of our give-and-take. What a big potlatch we are all members of! To acknowledge that each of us at the table will eventually be part of the meal is not just being “realistic.” It is allowing the sacred to enter and accepting the sacramental aspect of our shaky temporary personal being.

    The world is watching: one cannot walk through a meadow or forest without a ripple of report spreading out from one’s passage. The thrush darts back, the jay squalls, a beetle scuttles under the grasses, and the signal is passed along. Every creature knows when a hawk is cruising or a human strolling. The information passed through the system is intelligence.

    __From “The Etiquette of Freedom,” THE PRACTICE OF THE WILD, 1990, by
    Gary Snyder, environmental activist

  58. Pete Smith

    That is a great response to thequetins entropic posed to you Stewart …. Generalize and avoid

  59. entopticon

    Stewart’s smokescreens certainly are entertaining. It is always very amusing when vegans trot out Winston Craig’s less than objective paper for the ADA, as if it somehow proves that we should all be vegans. Winston Craig, a vegan zealot with numerous ties to to total crackpot orgs, is about the least objective source on the planet. You might as well have Jeffrey Dahmer write a paper on the merits of cannibalism. Basically, he volunteered a paper for the ADA on veganism, which was so laughably unobjective that he repeatedly cited himself as a reference! The job description from the Seventh Day Adventist University that he works for is the very definition of propaganda, not science:

    “The mission of the Nutrition Department of Andrews University is to prepare dietetic and nutrition professionals for service in church, society, and the world and to influence the community-at large to affirm the Seventh-day Adventist lifestyle, including the vegetarian diet.”

    In other words, it’s the opposite of science. His job is literally to provide propaganda for the obscure dietary edicts of his religion.

    It was particularly funny that when I cited a peer reviewed scientific study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showing that an analysis of the foremost scientific literature on the subject showed that there was absolutely no connection between saturated fat and heart disease whatsoever, Stewart called that junk science, but Winston Craig’s laughably pseudoscientific vegan propaganda is just dandy with him. Priceless.

    In actuality, numerous peer reviewed scientific studies have actually shown that vegetarians have significantly worse heart health indicators, particularly concerning elevated homocysteine levels, which comes from their well documented vitamin B12 deficiencies. There are no reliable plant sources for B12, so not surprisingly, studies have shown that vegetarians have much higher rates of B12 deficiencies than omnivores, and an astonishingly high percentage of vegans have severe B12 deficiencies. For example, this study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the majority of vegans have severe B12 deficiencies:
    http://www.ajcn.org/content/78/1/131.full

    This recent study fro Oxford University, published in the European Journal of Clinical nutrition, found that the majority of vegans have severe B12 deficiencies as well:

    http://ukpmc.ac.uk/abstract/MED/20648045;jsessionid=F68815AC4D2E6824F04B66F6CCBA61D7.jvm1

    B12 deficiencies are a health nightmare. Studies have also found lasting neurological damage from B12 deficiencies for vegan children:
    http://www.ajcn.org/content/78/1/3.full

    And here is yet another recent study showing that people eating a diet high in saturated fat had significantly BETTER heart health indicators than people on a lowfat diet:
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2010/08/03/128958420/low-carb-diet-matches-low-fat-diet-results—-with-a-heart-bonus

    I’m not into Atkins, but Stewart’s ad hominem attack on Atkins’ death was truly disgraceful. It is bad enough to mislead people here on a regular basis, but twisting the truth to slander a dead person is downright shameful. Hospital records show that 72 year old Atkins, at 6 feet tall, was 195 pounds when he was checked into the hospital in a coma. In the coma, his organs failed and caused a great deal of weight gain. That’s right, Stewart has actually stooped so low for his cause that he is dragging someone through the mud for having gained weight during a coma before dying! It really is shameful. Notably, the vegangelical quack doc T Colin Campbell did the same sick thing in the pseudoscientific mess of propaganda found in his thoroughly debunked book, the China Study.

    Stewart’s lack of understanding of the basic fundamentals of sustainable agriculture is what puts him at odds with virtually all of the world’s foremost sustainable ag experts, who recognize the essential importance of animals in any truly sustainable system of agriculture.

    He asks is to take a comparative look at a single acre of growing the shallow-rooted annuals of agriculture verses sustainably pasturing a cow on the same acre, so lets do just that….

    Take a walk out onto a newly plowed field and you will find that it looks like the surface of the moon. Spend a minute counting all the life forms that you find that survived, till you run out of things to count. Then take a walk out onto a sustainable pasture. You will find that it is teeming with life. Spend a few weeks counting the life forms that you find there, and notice that you barely made a dent.

    A single acre of perennial grassland can be home to more than a million creatures. When that land is plowed for plant agriculture, the ecosystem for all of those creatures is annihilated, and many die horrible deaths in the process, being crushed to death and ripped apart at the seams. The last time the organic vegetable farm on my land was plowed, I was particularly disturbed to see a turtle that had been torn in half. And more than 2 billion microorganisms can live in a single tablespoon of soil, so trillions of those microorganisms, the lifeblood of the earth, are obliterated through oxidization when that acre is plowed for plant agriculture. On top of that, the water runoff of a plowed field is not much better than a parking lot, which leads to erosion and desertification.

    Conversely, studies show that on sustainable pastureland, biodiversity, soil vitality, and water retention are dramatically increased! When a cow chews off the top of a grass plant, the plant responds by sloughing off roots that become decaying organic matter, which feeds the microorganisms, massively increasing its vitality. Along with the benefits of the naturally occurring fertilizers and the hoof action, the plant then responds by sending down deeper and deeper root systems, retaining water and tapping into hard to reach nutrients that are then distributed across the ecosystem.

    As opposed to the devastating effects of plant agriculture, sustainably pasturing ruminants results in a significant net gain of life! And the meat from one large cow can serve as the primary protein source for an adult for several years. So let’s add it up… one acre of land used to grow the shallow-rooted annuals of plant agriculture will obliterate the ecosystem for a million+ creatures, while greatly depleting the soil in the process. One acre of sustainable pastureland will actually improve the health of the soil and increase biodiversity, resulting in a significant net gain of life. So much for Stewart’s argument.

    There are very real environmental problems from industrial agriculture, both plant and animal, but oversimplified binary polemics like “meat bad, vegetables good” are part of the problem, not the solution.

    As for Stewart’s ridiculous conspiracy theories about how anyone who disagrees with his vegangelical propaganda must be a secret minion for the meat industry, that is just another laughably pathetic smokescreen.

  60. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Entopticon, you clearly understand the interrelationships and interdependence of all living things, from large mammals to microorganisms in the soil.

    A year or so ago you shared an enlightening video about a man who had reclaimed depleted soil (desert?) with cattle over a period of several years. Could you find and share that source again without too much trouble? I so wish I had not lost it.

    I’ve worked for the last decade at reclaiming previously plowed ground, and I’m seeing increasing success. I’m growing native hardwoods, a dozen varieties of bamboo, and patches of elderberries and blueberries.

    To avoid use of pesticides, herbicides, and artificial fertilizers, I’ve also been gradually “planting” earthworms as I can “farm” them–covered with cardboard and newspapers until they can burrow down into the soil. (They are the earth’s most valuable composters, and they are lusty!) With recent weather, I even have Rubbermaid tubs of copulating earthworms in my basement that must wait for warmer weather to be put outside. In healthy soil they have a life span of ten years. Salt is their worst enemy.

    I do not raise cattle anymore, but I mooch cow patties from my neighbor (who farms the old way) to make manure tea for my plantings.

    Now I’m seeing more deer, turkeys, birds, and other wildlife–even occasional pheasants–as well as more turtles, frogs, and black snakes–and butterflies. I have not yet seen a return of minnows, crayfish, leeches, some kinds of salamanders, or June bugs, among other life forms that used to be plentiful around here.

    The collapse of the bee population is a really large concern now, because we must have bees for pollination. If the bee population does not revive and increase soon, many of those big agricultural industries will collapse, especially the fruit and vegetable industries.

  61. entopticon

    Thanks for the kind words Betty. And thanks for doing all that you do for the land.

    That video is definitely profoundly moving. It was of the renowned soil scientist and holistic land management expert Allan Savory:
    http://vimeo.com/8239427

    Savory and his organization Operation Hope recently won the prestigious $100k Buckminster Fuller Prize for world-changing ideas. Their work is truly beautiful and amazing. They have been turning desert wastelands back into lush, healthy land through holistically managed intensive grazing, creating much needed food security for hungryh people in the process. Springs are literally springing up where there was once desert because of the water retention. There was a really wonderful article about it is SEED magazine, which I strongly recommend to anyone interested in the issues:
    http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/Greener_Pastures/

  62. Johnny

    For entopticon: fine work with those responses! Seriously, you have got it together on all fronts, and it’s appreciated.

    Carry on.

  63. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Yes, yes, yes! That was it, Entopticon, and thanks!

    For both (1) those who did look at the actual intercontinental long-range work of Allan Savory referenced above by Entopticon and (2) those who know people in the mountains of WNC who still do actually farm using those same principles as practiced and described so well by Savory–go back and read some of Stewart David’s monthly theoretical street-preacher faddish vegangelical diatribes.

    Then, decide if you want to trust in the Stewart David/ Sir Paul McCartney philosophy about “changing the world” through “social and environmental justice” or Allan Savory’s actual scientific demonstrations and evidence about how the earth really works through interdependence of all living things.

  64. Betty Cloer Wallace

    And Elvis and his meatloaf has done more for the world than Sir Paul McCartney’s veggies ever did.

  65. BigAl

    “This will be my last post…”

    Promises, promises.

    Elvis sang with Meat Loaf? I gotta start reading my memos.

  66. bill smith

    Merely removing animal products from one’s diet does not mean you are disconnected from industrialized agriculture AT ALL. Conversely, one can eat a varied diet from local sources that contribute very, very little to the industrialized model.

    People like the letter-writer seem unwilling to re-examine their calcified belief system. “Vegetarianism” is not directly connected to environmentalism. Working to continue to strengthen our local food systems is. “Vegetarianism” is merely a morality-based dietary choice, and one based on a very limited understanding of agriculture and how farms work. To conflate that moral-ism with environmentalism is ridiculous.

    Want to stop industrialized animal agriculture in it’s tracks? Lobby the government to stop subsidizing corn.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1112115/

    http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi949027097/

  67. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Bill Smith is right. Pick up just about any packaged product in any supermarket and look at the ingredients.

    You’ll see that corn, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, etc. is one of the first few ingredients in an amazingly large number of products–and the reason we are a fat nation.

    In fact, it’s hard to find a packaged product without some kind of corn in it.

  68. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Okay, Frostillicus. I’ll pick you up next time I see you on a supermarket shelf.

    I am particular.

  69. bill smith

    [i]In fact, it’s hard to find a packaged product without some kind of corn in it. [/i]

    My point though, Betty, is that if feed corn were not subsidized, industrial ‘factory’ farmed beef and poultry would be essentially non-existent. It is only because corn is SOOOOOO cheap for ‘beef factories’ that it make their feed-lots profitable. Allow the price of the crop to sell at fair market value and they couldn’t afford it.

    But David regularly glosses over all these sorts of nuances, never even bothering to debate them. He just avoids them entirely in favor of posting yet another one-sided, cherry-picked, out-of-context ‘study’.

    This is unfortunate, because it shows he’s more interested in re-affirming his own dogma than having a real, informed debate where all parties learn something new, and perhaps even finding reaching common ground with local farmers.

    Because, as far as I know, there are NO local producers growing food without animal inputs. In fact, there are very, very few ‘vegan’ farms anywhere in N. America. Animal husbandry is an ESSENTIAL part of farming, and Stewart’s constant need to pretend that a farmer with a handful of cows on pasture is comparable to a feedlot turning over tens of thousands of head of cattle a year is beyond absurd.

    [b]My package is 100% corn free. [/b]

    Interesting enough–it might actually be partly corn. Most humans have a significant amount of corn in our DNA, from all the corn bi-products we ingest.

  70. entopticon

    All good points Bill. I definitely think a switch to grassfeeding where possible is the best way to go. Grain subsidization is a tricky issue. One of the common arguments of vegans is that grains, particularly corn and soy are grown for animal feed, but that’s a very misleading argument. Soy is primarily grown for the oil, which comprises about 3/4ths of all of the vegetable oil consumed by humans in the US. Most of the byproducts such as leftover hulls and defatted soymeal end up going to animal feed. Just as corn syrup and ethanol are primary corn products. As long as there is a demand for those products, such as soy oil, farmers are going to grow those crops, no matter what they end up doing with the byproducts.

    I think one of the best steps that we could take would be to subsidize vegetable growing, which tends to be the provenance of small and medium sized farms. As you know, the subsidization of a handful of grains has had devastating consequences for both the health of the land and for ourselves.

    Your point about virtually all sustainable farms using animal products is extremely important. There is no evidence to believe that farms using veganic gardening techniques have any relevance to our food systems here. I have genuinely been amazed by how many former vegan farmers I have encountered, who discovered the essential importance of animals in agriculture the hard way. One former vegan farmer in Northern California said that every vegan farmer they had ever met there had gone back to farming with animals and eating animal foods. The environmental journalist Richard Manning put it very well when he said this in a piece for Mother Earth News:

    “Over the years, organic farmers have told me they relearned this important point: Many found out the hard way that they could not make their operations balance out — both biologically and economically (they’re the same in the end) — without bringing animals back into the equation. Handled right, animals control weeds and insects, cycle nutrients, and provide a use for waste and failed crops. Healthy ecosystems — wild and domestic — must include animals. Now there’s a chance we may realize how very important this idea is to the life of the planet.”

  71. bill smith

    [i]I think one of the best steps that we could take would be to subsidize vegetable growing, which tends to be the provenance of small and medium sized farms[/i]

    I tend to agree. Although it’s a complex issue in and of itself, subsidies.

    Perhaps you should write a letter tot he editor on how we need to save our farms and farm land with subsidies for small, ‘sustainable’ producers. You seem to have a lot of great information and informed opinions on the subject. I, for one, would LOVE to see more of a discussion about this VITAL topic in the so-called ‘local matters’ WNC weekly.

    It’s unfortunate that Mr. David is unable to find common ground with the people who actually grow his food. His dogma seems to blind him to the subtle nuances of agriculture, as well as reality.

  72. entopticon

    No doubt subsidies are a very tricky issue. And no doubt big ag wouldn’t go down without a fight if current subsidies were shared among vegetable producers and not just all allocated to high yield grain crops.

    A curious disconnect exists in the vegan community, between those who support sustainable farming, and those that rail against it. Most vegans I have encountered have no idea that virtually all of the farmed vegetables that they eat are either grown with animal products such as manure, or toxic and completely unsustainable fertilizers derived from petrochemicals. Virtually all of the world’s foremost sustainable ag experts recognize the essential importance of animals in any truly sustainable system of food production, which pits the most rigid vegangelicals against them. In fact, a number of the most prominent vegangelicals are among the harshest critics of sustainable ag, because they have been confronted with the fact that ultimately the two aren’t compatible.

    A lot of vegans are just trying to do the best they can for their health and the health of the planet while causing as little harm as possible. I they are on the wrong track, because animals are essential to the most sustainable and healthy food systems, which cause the least harm and suffering in the end, but they are coming from a place of compassion even if misguided. On the other hand, with the most strident and rigid, the vegangelicals, there is no compromise. Their minds are made up, and even the world’s foremost sustainable ag experts are ever going to convince them otherwise. They are the people drawn to extremist groups like the FBI’s number one domestic terrorist threat, the ALF, who do things such as commit arson, bombing, kidnapping, mailing people envelopes with poisonous razorblades hidden in the flaps, death threats, and on and on. No surprise Stewart is featured on their website.

  73. bill smith

    Wonderfully articulated, entopticon.

    I suspect the only way to combat ‘big ag’ subsidies is to aggressively push for ‘small ag’ subsidies, as well. This would help preserve our local farmland from the hands of developers, for one. As well as increasing our ‘foodshed security’.

    I used ot think we had to do away with farm subsidies in general, but, as you point out, that is VERY unlikely to happen. But one can combat it by providing the smaller players a more even foothold in the market. I would LOVE to see a more focused movement towards this goal. Unfortunately, actual farmers have little time for such endeavors.

    As for the misguided intentions of many militant vegan types, I doubt there is any real way to ‘convince’ them. They will have to come around to a truly rounded diet on their own terms–but hopefully a more well-rounded education to balance out the one-sided, fanatical ravings of the PETA-types who seem to have zero understanding of how food is actually grown.

    I think if agriculture where taught in public schools, children would be less susceptible to the knee-jerk reactionary ‘vegan/vegetarianism’ that is generally a reaction against the worst-case examples of factory farming, and not a reasoned, informed attempt at a balanced diet.

    But more and more, especially in a town like Asheville, you find the ‘beyond vegetarian’ types who have moved past the city-fied ‘vegetarianism’ to a more holistic understanding of healthy, sustainable agriculture, which invariably includes animal husbandry.

    I suspect the above letter-writer is a lost cause, but his constant dialogue on the topic provides ample opportunity to point out the actual facts, and not the cherry-picked and misrepresented ‘studies’ conflating factory farms to meat in general.

  74. entopticon

    Well said Bill. Great point about teaching agriculture in schools. After all, what could be more fundamentally important knowledge than understanding the connection between us and how our food is produced? The few schools that have started school gardens for learning about sustainable food production have been having wonderful results. A great side effect is that the kids are actually eating more vegetables :)

    This brings to mind an interesting article about the Arthur Morgan school up near Burnsville. Traditionally they were a vegetarian school, growing much of their own food, but they served some turkey for a Thanksgiving celebration that includes family etc. They decided that it would be more affordable and sustainable to raise their own turkeys for that event, with any kids who wanted to participating, and that opened a Pandora’s box. It went over very well, and some of the kids started petitioning the school to serve some meat during the year, which was of course very contentious in a historically vegetarian school. There was much push an pull, but this year when they asked which kids would like to participate in the turkey killing, nearly every student raised their hand. Here is a link to the article:
    http://www.grist.org/article/food-2010-11-23-bloody-over-turkeys

  75. entopticon

    Another interesting link is climate change activist and former vegan George Monbiot’s formal announcement that he was relying on faulty information, and that he was wrong to have been advocating veganism as a solution. He still has more to learn about sustainable farming, but at least now he has a better understanding of the fact that oversimplified polemics such as “meat bad, vegetables good” are part of the problem, not the solution. In the article, he discusses a few of the common fallacious vegan talking points that rely on bad science, which are often cited by vegangelicals such as Stewart.

    The article is titled, I Was Wrong About Veganism, Let Them Eat Meat — But Farm It Properly. It can be found here:
    http://www­.guardian.­co.uk/comm­entisfree/­2010/sep/0­6/meat-pro­duction-ve­ganism-def­orestation

  76. Candyland

    True, Betty – I stand corrected, if what I said was to be read as if I was referring to Eskimos as a culture that no longer exists, and I can see where that is easy to misinterpret. Thanks for your expert nod.

    But, I am under the impression that the Eskimos don’t eat quite the same diet as their ancestors, due to change in technology and culture, and availability. I was referring to a more traditional diet of Eskimos. A “past” diet, not a past people.

  77. bill smith

    Thanks for the tip on the guardian article, entopticon! And the Grist one about the AMS! Great stuff! I notice The letter-writer has nothing to say on the subject.

  78. Laura

    Really appreciate the comments and information that everyone has posted. As a former vegetarian for 18 years who converted back to being a conscious omnivore, I, like Stewart, once fell into the trap of self-righteousness that comes with making such a life-encompassing choice rather than seeing the reality of a complex interrelated system.

    My switch back to eating meat was sparked by a visit to my naturopathic doctor, who introduced me to the Weston A. Price Foundation. Those of you who are familiar with Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions will recognize some of the precepts. Price was a dentist who traveled the world studying heritage diets and found a connection between superb dental and bone health (along with a myriad of other health benefits) from eating a meat inclusive diet. Particularly, he found the benefits of fermented foods, raw milk, organ meats, animal fats, and cod liver oil. The Foundation continues to research although Dr. Price passed away many years ago, and their website is a goldmine of scientific research proving the benefits of a meat-inclusive diet. http://www.westonaprice.org/

    Although health has played a major role in my decision to eat meat, I chose to return to eating meat for ethical reasons as well. The impact of changing to a local and sustainable diet, and the decision to only eat humanely raised, organic-fed animals does more for the earth’s and my own health than an urbanized pseudo-diet that requires shipping food from all over the world in order to scrape by with meeting my nutritional needs.

    I am attuned to the suffering of animals and am mindful every time their flesh or products are put on my plate. I pray and honor those animals at every meal, being consciously aware of my part in the cycle of life, but feeling no more guilt for being an omnivore than any animal who must eat other animals for sustenance.

    Let our relationship with animals that we rely on for nourishment be based on respect for the life we take, awareness of our interdependence, and moderation in our consumption.

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