I was appalled at the glorification of butchers in “The Art of Butchery: An Ancient Craft is Reborn in Asheville” in the July 15-21 issue [of Xpress]. A butcher is a skilled tradesperson, much like a pipefitter or welder. “Ethical meat” and “process animals respectfully” are oxymorons used by those who wish to profit from the public’s increasing awareness of the horrors involved in confined agricultural feedlot operations (CAFOs), otherwise known as factory farms. The marketing tactic of “happy meat” appeals to those who consider themselves compassionate and environmentally conscious. However, if we examine what is behind this marketing ploy, we see a different picture.
Regardless of an animal’s living arrangements while alive, a “free-range” animal and a CAFO animal endure the same fate: an early and brutal end to their lives. They are killed as they approach adolescence and are not yet fully grown. At the slaughterhouse, cows are shackled by one leg and hauled up into the air, upside down, along the assembly line. They are terrified and conscious while their throats are slit, their legs hacked off, and they are skinned.
Webster’s synonyms for slaughter include bloodbath, carnage, murder, death, holocaust and massacre. In both cases, the animals are commodified, that is, they are converted into objects used and consumed for the purpose of making a profit. This commodification does not respect the inherent dignity and worth of the animals.
No one who consumes meat can consider himself/herself a committed environmentalist. As U.N. scientists discovered several years ago, animal agriculture is the No 1 source of greenhouse gas impact, far greater than that contributed by all modes of transportation. Production of food for a diet based on grains, nuts, vegetables and fruits uses several times less energy and water and creates vastly less pollution than a diet based on meat, milk, and eggs.
Furthermore, Washington State researchers found that “pound-for-pound, beef produced with grain produces significantly less greenhouse gas emissions than grass-fed beef. A grain diet is more easily digestible than the cellulose fibers of grass, producing less methane.” According to this research, it takes 226 more days for grass-fed cattle to reach market weight than grain-fed cattle, meaning that each pound of grass-fed beef requires 45 percent more land, 76 percent more water, 49 percent more feed, all while generating 51 percent more manure and 42 percent more carbon emissions. In short, no form of animal agriculture is sustainable, and all are contributing to the environmental catastrophe we are facing.
The term “ethical meat” belongs in the same category as “ethical child abuse” and “ethical torture.” It is a mythical concept!
— Robbie Coleman