Meat Week infects NYC  »

Tomorrow, NYC’s Meat Week comes to a close. It’s tragic, really. You know how I feel about Meat Week, but unlike many Meat Weeks I’ve read about, NYC’s carries the message of sustainability. It’s a celebration of “the farmers, markets and chefs who bring sustainable meat to our tables,” to be exact. How very charming! 

While this message seems good, at least better than your “bacon, lulz” Meat Weeks, it’s still off the mark. I refer you to a recent article from The Atlantic by James McWilliams. He makes the point that while people seem more conscious of and opposed to factory farms than ever, factory farms are booming:

Earlier this month we learned that the global production and consumption of meat is skyrocketing. Indeed, according to the Worldwatch Institute, meat production has tripled over the last forty years, growing 20 percent in the last 10 years alone. What’s particularly distressing about this recent 20 percent increase is that it’s occurred as campaigns against factory farms have reached a fevered pitch.”

He goes on to say:

As long as we eat meat factory farms will be the dominant mode of production. In other words, as long as humans deem it culturally acceptable to consume animal flesh — that is, as long as eating meat is an act that’s not considered taboo — factory farms will continue to proliferate. The reason for this strikes me as intuitive: An unfettered demand for meat, in conjunction with basic human choice, provides political, technological, and scientific incentives to produce meat as efficiently as possible. Unless you have a plan to displace capitalism, density of production will rule, billions of animals will suffer, and our health will continue to decline.

His ultimate point: “Until meat as meat is stigmatized, factory farms will thrive as assuredly as a dropped object falls downwards.” He says of course there will always be people who get meat from alternative sources such as small, sustainable farms, but as Laura paraphrased it, “as long as there is meat week, there will be factory farms, and the seven wealthy locavores don’t really matter all that much.” 

So thanks, Meat Week NYC organizers, for continuing to glorify meat despite the fact that it’s cruel and destroying the planet. Meat consumption is an epidemic. It compromises people’s health and quality of life. If Meat Week had a responsible message, it wouldn’t be “eat sustainable meat,” it would be “eat less meat.”

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