No but for real: Simon Fairlie thinks eating meat can save the planet »
There’s nothing the media love more than an “everything we thought was bad is actually good!” news cycle, and the latest comes from Time, discussing Simon Fairlie’s new book Meat: A Benign Extravagance. We have yet to receive the book for review, but the argument, that eating moderate amounts of meat is better for the environment than going vegan, is an eye-roller we just can’t get enough of. Whether it’s from the touchy-feely “slow food” movement or in more dangerous screeds like Lierre Keith’s Mein Kampf for carnivores (no, seriously: The Vegetarian Myth calls for both violent struggle and a swift reduction of the human population down to 600 million), justifying society’s bad habits is the most direct route to love-hearts and unicorns from the mainstream media.
By asking, “To save the environment, should you go vegan, or should you eat small amounts of grass-fed, humanely raised meat?,” Fairlie and others are fundamentally misreading the society we live in. Even in a veg-friendly city like San Francisco, ask people to maybe optionally consider taking Monday off from eating meat, and they show up with pitchforks and torches. Fairlie wants to pull out the calculator and compare the micro-efficiencies of our utopia vs. his utopia (“Animals kept on small farms also produce benefits, such as fending off predators and pests and fertilizing soil”). But when the rest of Western world is still eating pink goop spat out from factories that blend animals fattened up on soybeans as fast as industrial farms can grow them, the whole exercise seems pointless.
If we really want to save the environment, squabbling over a few chickens on the family vegetable farm isn’t going to cut it. We do know a few things: factory-farming animals and growing the feed to raise factory-farmed animals is wrecking the planet. And titles like How Eating Meat Can Save the Planet and Meat: A Benign Extravagance send exactly the wrong message. Keep doing what you’re doing! It’s fine. And if eating some meat is good for the environment, then eating more meat must be even better!
Unfortunately for Simon Fairlie, that is exactly how his message will be received. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt: I’m sure he sincerely believes that a small amount of family-farmed animals would benefit the environment in a mostly plant-based future, and he isn’t only trying to assuage his own guilt over becoming a “born-again carnivore.”
But nuanced arguments like his have no place in today’s world, especially when they come packaged in “what you like doing but feel guilty about doing is actually GREAT.” The message people need to hear, over and over again, is stop eating animals, not “Let’s all eat meat!” with two paragraphs of fine print. Whenever omnivores finally get it into their heads that eating meat is no good, most will at least cut back. And less meat is better for the planet. Simple, right? If we’re sincerely wanting to Save the Planet, how about we get to the point where everyone is cutting back on the worst of their planet-destroying habits before worrying about the details.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go chain-smoke around some pregnant women. I hear it helps fetal brain development, didn’t you know? I read it in Time.
Take the Veg Pledge 2010! (Or vegans, tell your friends!) »
Students for Animal Rights (StAR) is organizing their first annual Veg Pledge for 2010. Their goal is to get 25,000 people to cut down on meat, dairy and eggs for the month of May, and they need your help.
While it’s aimed at college students, anyone can do it. All you have to do is sign up on their website:
As a university student, I am a leader for my generation and an example for society. I am concerned about the suffering of farm animals and the impact of animal agriculture on global warming, the environment, and my health. By signing my name, I pledge to cut down on meat, dairy, and egg products for the month of May, 2010 and commit to exploring a more humane and sustainable diet.
If they get to 25,000 pledges, StAR estimates that 250,000 animals will be saved, CO2 emissions will be reduced by 2.5 million pounds, and 5 million pounds of livestock manure will never get…manured. Not too shabby.
You can pledge at one of four levels: Platinum (all-vegan for all of May), Gold (vegan for five days a week), Silver (vegan for one meal a day), or Bronze (vegan for one day a week).
Taking the Veg Pledge is a great excuse to try something new, and to show people how easy it is to go vegan, or to at least cut back on the meat. So if you or your green-minded friends have been looking for an excuse to rethink your diet, May is your month. We won’t even make you grow a mustache.
My name is Martha and I’m an employee of the Government of Canada working on the seal file.
While some may not agree with the harvest itself, it is worth noting that the seal population is healthy and abundant. The Northwest Atlantic harp seal population is currently estimated at 6.9 million animals—more than triple the size of the herd in the 1970s—and is not considered a threatened or endangered species.
Fishery officers monitor the harvest closely and infractions are taken seriously.
For you and your readers, there is information about seal populations available here: http://bit.ly/buywqj. As well, the full text of the Marine Mammal Regulations can be found here: http://bit.ly/bbYSXN
Hey Martha! Thanks for stopping by! We love getting the other side around here, especially when it’s full of doublespeak from a government eager to wipe the blood off its public face. So let’s get a few things straight.
1. A “harvest” is when you pick fruit off trees or whatever. It’s not when you bludgeon the heads of newborn seals until they’re good and dead (and before they have a chance to breed because that’s so “sustainable”). I would love to have been a fly on the wall in the meeting where a roomful of government staffers decided which word to use. ”How about ‘cuddle’? Are we liking ‘cuddle’?” “I don’t know, I’m still pushing for ‘happy finish’.” “YOU GUYS. I’VE GOT IT: ‘harvest’.” And the room breaks out in high-fives and fist-bumps.
2. Well shit howdy, the herd size has tripled since the 1970s? I wonder what else happened in the 1970s. Oh yeah, that’s right: The United States of America, your No. 1 trading partner, banned the importation of seal products. You’re kinda making my case for me, Martha.
3. And well done ignoring the point of the post and the Humane Society’s video, which is to show unprecedented melting of Arctic ice. Melting that is only getting worse. Yes, I’m sure your office will say, “based on data from the last five to 10 years, we predict that we can continue to
give sustainable happy finish to harvest X number of seals for the next five to 10 years.” Well guess what, the world’s climate is changing, and fast. What happened five years ago is nothing like what’s happening this year. Try reading the news sometime. It’s in that section buried under Sports, Gossip, and Offbeat. No, keep going, you’re at the comics. There it is. It’s called Science.
4. Lastly, did you not notice the name of the site? We don’t care if your seal hunt is sustainable or not. But let’s put it this way. You may think it’s sustainable, but it’s not. Because in a few short years from now, the habitat for those animals will be completely gone, and all of you will be taken by surprise.
Obama offshore drilling announcement reaction roundup »
Somehow I’ve managed to become the “doom and gloom” guy around here, but the awesome environmental news just keeps rolling in this week, so what the hell, let’s go with it. I swear, on the inside I’m nothing but kitten videos and sunshine.
So, this sucks. There are no two ways about it. Over at Grist, they’re “stunned and baffled.” At Daily Kos, they’re saying that “oil drilling for minimizing carbon pollution is like fucking for virginity,” while Kevin Drum at Mother Jones goes for the measured approach, pointing out that Obama campaigned on offshore drilling. Steve Benen goes a step further, publishing an anonymous email from a White House staffer saying that there’s some kind of strategy to make Republicans look crazy by opposing Obama’s drilling plan, and using that to pass his climate bill as some kind of jujitsu move. Kate Sheppard reports that Republicans are indeed being crazy and flipping out. Treehugger just says WTF while letting the big environmental news of the day fall off their front page in favor of press releases about new cars (loving the irony).
California and all of the West Coast are spared from the plan. So, yay us, I guess. Nearly all the states chosen appear to be “red states,” so if there’s a silver lining, it would be watching a right-wing NIMBY anti-drilling movement pick up steam.
The plan is to open areas for exploration, not yet for drilling. Oil companies are famous for not using their offshore drilling leases (too expensive to get the oil) so in all likelihood, very little will change. But unless there’s some kind of grand strategy at work, every second we spend chasing our tail on oil and coal is a colossal waste of time that kills animals (holla back, harp seals!) and threatens civilization. In summary, fuck that noise.
What the fuck is your problem? You love lecturing us about being a responsible member of the world community, but you can’t even keep your own house in order. Global warming is melting away Arctic sea ice, and for the first year on record, no ice formed in key birthing areas for harp seals off Canada’s East Coast. The Humane Society toured the area, and they’re expecting “mass mortalities” of seals. Don’t feel like watching the video? I can sum it up for you in one word: BLEAK.
So of course you’re not canceling the baby seal hunt for this year. Which makes total sense. Any time a species is about to collapse, the most logical thing to do is club the few surviving newborns to death. In polite company, they use words like “tragedy” and “disaster” in a very passive-voice, evade-blame kind of way to describe what you’re doing. Since we’re not polite company around here: refusing to call off the seal hunt this year—of all years—is fucking genocide. Full stop.
Seriously, Canada, why can’t you take a hint? All your best friends have already banned imported seal fur. We did it in the ’70s, and the EU finally followed last year, leaving you with China, hardly an ethical powerhouse, as one of your biggest seal fur customers. Really, Canada?
You already know that the Humane Society has been hounding you and your prime minister with letters and boycotts of Canadian seafood. So now they’re trying another approach: rewarding good behavior, in the off chance it ever materializes. Each one of us will pledge to spend more money on everything Canadian if you stop the seal hunt. I personally pledged to drink an entire gallon of Canadian maple syrup and listen to nothing but Shania Twain and Rush on shuffle for a whole month. Tens of thousands of other people are already pledging their American dollars to you, but only if you cancel the hunt.
And by the way, while we’re talking about boycotts and embargoes, you know all that tar sand oil you keep trying to sell us? You can keep it. Or better yet, keep it in the ground. Oil and coal are what got us into this mess, and the last thing we need is an even dirtier and more polluting version of oil to melt away what’s left of the Arctic ice.
Anyway, Canada, thanks for listening, and GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER.
ps. If this is your way of keeping disaffected Americans from threatening to move to you if George W. Bush or Sarah Palin gets elected, well, it fucking worked. Now can you leave the g-d seals out of it next time?
Give Meat a Break, John Stossel »
We don’t normally like linking to Fox News, but sometimes they’re begging to get mocked, and we can’t help but oblige. You see, Fox News’s John Stossel, author of Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media, has a really hard life. If it’s not the eco-fascists denying him his God-given right to eat endangered animals, it’s those lazy women mouthing off about how their easy jobs don’t “pay” enough.
This time he’s locked in epic battle against the Forces of Tyranny, in the urban hell-hole known as Cambridge, Mass., where “Vegan Mondays” have been proposed by the city as a way to fight climate change.
In dubbing it “tyranny,” Stossel comes to the startling revelation that Mayor Denise Simmons wasn’t legitimately elected by a democratic process, but in fact seized control of Cambridge by military coup, because that’s what actual tyranny is. After a decade of cheering on racial profiling, torture, secret prisons and other war crimes, Fox News wants us to believe that leaving meat off the menu one day a week is tantamount to jackbooted thugs marching through the streets.
Never mind how much meat production and animal experimentation remind us of the cold, mechanized efficiency of a certain World War II-era regime that will remain nameless, or how island nations like Tuvalu and the Maldives are faced with evacuating their entire populations. None of that matters if someone, somewhere feels guilty about eating a steak. No one is free when others are oppressed; that’s a bumper sticker we take to heart here at Fox, though we’ve exempted “confinement crates” and “watching your nation slowly drown to death” from “not free.”
Be sure to let John Stossel know what you think.
[Ed.: we’d like to take this moment to again commend the city of Ghent, Belgium, for instituting Thursday Veggie Days to near-total civic success. Europe wins again]