Vegans rejoice! U.S. meat consumption has been falling since 2004! »
Per Parke Wilde at U.S. Food Policy blog, we as a country have been eating fewer cows, chicken, and pigs since peak meat-eating in 2004 (chicken-eating peaked in 2006). The vegans are winning! Sort of.
Beef consumption peaked in 2002 and has fallen about 12 percent since then. Pork consumption peaked in about 1999 and has fallen about 11 percent since then. And I had not realized that chicken consumption peaked in about 2006 and has fallen almost 5 percent since then.
Total combined consumption of beef, pork, and chicken peaked in about 2004 and has fallen more than 6 percent since then.
But, Wilde says, it’s probably as much (or more) to do with the recession and the cost of dead animals than it is people’s actual desire to stop eating them. Still, that’s something to be pleased about. If only it were 16 percent instead of 6.
[Photo by Tambako the Jaguar via Flickr]
International tragedy: Britain’s National Pig Association predicts global bacon shortage »
[T]he European Union pig herd is declining at a significant rate, and this is a trend that is being mirrored around the world. Pig farmers have been plunged into loss by high pig-feed costs, caused by the global failure of maize and soya harvests.
(“maize and soya” means “corn and soybeans,” but you knew that already.)
Global warming is fucking it up for you meat-eaters all over the place: those cows being fed gelatin and sugar instead of corn; the World Water Week scientists predicting our need for water will make eating meat globally untenable. We are running out of water to nourish everything on the planet that needs water (read: everything on the planet), and raising commercial livestock not only requires massive amounts of water, but it contributes to the global warming that makes water even more difficult to get.
It just gets harder and harder to be a meat-loving food-obsessed asshole, doesn’t it. Even with the Today Show inanely calling this whole thing “ham-maggedon” like colossal fuckfaces. At least it’s not “bacon-gate.” I really hate meat-product fetishists.
[Photo: Oklahoma bacon cheeseburger at Native Foods by Jeff Gunn via Flickr]
(Source: The Huffington Post)
Discussion topic: New poll shows vegans and vegetarians are still a national minority »
Quality human Cord Jefferson wrote about the results of this Gallup poll for The Nation, conducted from July 9 to 12 of this year, on Americans who self-identify as vegetarians. Of the 1,014 people age 18 and over polled, not very many people self-identified as “vegetarian.”
Some of our assumptions are correct: It’s a liberal, single ladies’ game, the abstention from meat. But beyond that, I’m surprised: More older people than younger; less educated people than more. Weird, right?
And what about the vegans?
That 7 percent gap is a curious thing. Gallup says that those respondents “did not have an opinion” when asked if they were vegan. Are they they Mark Bittman, part-time vegans? Did they not understand the question?
I immediately wanted to know how the vegans responded to the vegetarian question; Gallup explains:
Vegans apparently view themselves as different from, rather than a subset of, vegetarians; most of the small number of respondents in the survey who said “yes” to the vegan question had said “no” to the vegetarian question.
Overall, Gallup’s stats look like this:
But if vegans are not calling themselves vegetarians, can we add the vegans to the vegetarians to get a 7 percent total of American adults who at least don’t eat meat? No; for starters, Gallup didn’t define “vegetarian” or “vegan” for this survey, so this could include, ugh, pescatarians, or other not-actually vegetarian “vegetarians.”
Jefferson concludes that
The new thing is to allow yourself to eat meat, but to make sure that it’s meat that is hormone free and hasn’t been factory farmed. I can’t say I agree with that decision, but I do like that it appears we are living in a time in which Americans are thinking more than ever about what they put into their bodies.
What do you think? How would you have responded to the poll? I wouldn’t call myself a vegetarian, but seeing that the total percentage doesn’t include vegans, I might.
U.S. meat consumption is decreasing, even without the help of those pushovers at the USDA, which is wonderful. And yes, it’s great that people are satisfying their appetite for flesh with animals who weren’t raised in environment-destroying torture chambers. I just wish there were more of us. Ex-vegetarians who now eat “only free-range chickens” depress me.
Meat prices are higher; the solution is clearly theft »
Obviously this is the most sensible thing to do: steal meat from the grocery store—hide it in your pants!—and sell it to restaurants at a discount. Or just steal the still-living animals from which the meat come.
Definitely don’t eat things that are not meat. What kind of sucker stops buying a food because it’s become prohibitively expensive? Don’t find delicious, affordable alternatives—grains, legumes, nuts, pulses—that would be practical and smart.
No; just steal meat.
[“The Harvest Moon” by Samuel Palmer via Yale Digital Commons]
It’s World Water Day! God forbid we talk about meat »
It’s World Water Day and almost no one, save a lone sexy twitterer, is talking about the toll meat takes on water conservation! Everyone is more than happy to turn the faucet off when they brush their teeth but no one wants to look at the ginormous pink hamburger in the room: meat consumes a crapload of water. It’s bad with a capital awful. Here we are, telling people to speed up their shampoo routines while conscious choices in eating could reduce individual water usage by hundreds of gallons a day. Reducing meat consumption is a substantial, documented way to reduce water waste and yet, nobody wants to get the word out. Lucky for you! I’m HERE and I’m LOUD.
I’ve been hunting around today and National Geographic has this great interactive comparison guide for water use and different foods. According to this, it requires 1,799* gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. It’s only 216 gallons to produce one pound of soy beans. Say it with me now: JESUS CHRISTMAS! That’s a big difference!
Because reading is boring, I have more pictures for you! I found a super quiz over at H2Oconserve.org that estimates the amount of water you use a day. It’s like a Cosmo quiz with morals! I went ahead and took the quiz two separate times! In the quiz, they ask if you are an omnivore or a vegan; keeping all the other answers exactly the same, I did one go-round for each diet option and here are the results!:
So vegan diet to omnivore diet, that’s 543.9 to 1,149.9. DAMN, SON! Meat-eaters use 606 more gallons of water a day than us vegans? Yowza. I kind of saw that coming but more than twice as much? That’s pretty criminal. Yet we’re harassing people about how often they wash their hands? For real, just how many times will we tell people to turn the faucet off when they brush their teeth? Hey, did you also know you should turn the lights out when you leave your house? YES DUH now let’s talk about how we can make real change!
*This is the most conservative figure I’ve seen all day; other sources calculate that it takes thousands of gallons more.
Test-tube meat: Would YOU eat it? »
Somehow, I just can’t see myself eating test-tube meat. I imagine it would come with the same horrific and potentially organ-altering issues as genetically modified corn and shiz, you know like growing eight uteri or something. BUT. I do think that cloning meat-tissue would take pressure off of industrialized meat production AND weird cloning experiments. Save our farm animals and just eat pseudo-meat? I’m wondering if it would be anywhere near the same as a Boca burger.
Eat, Drink…Better wrote about biologist Vladimir Mironov and his in-vitro meat research. This man with the name of a Russian astronaut claims we are already running out of agricultural space globally, and that contributes to that whole hunger thing. And PETA is a major investor. “PETA is apparently offering a one million dollar prize for anyone who can grow a commercially available synthetic meat for market by June 2012.” Whaaaaa?
I’m not so all-aboad-the-biotech-wagon as I am on the alternatives-to-animal-exploitation-mobile. But the fact that scientists are trying to develop a “product” that would eliminate all the crazy issues we face with big Ag: greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, factory farms/slaughterhouses, and fucked-up biodiversity—that doesn’t sound so horrible—as long as there are no rogue mutated species coming out of this mess. I’m not prepared to join the X-Men. [Ed.: however, some of us named Laura are! And she wants the ability to eat unlimited amounts of ice cream WITH NO HEADACHES and to fly and to be invisible and to have people-crushing fatness. Please note: she is working on the last one already, fuck science!]
Mironov claims this risk just isn’t there and that we, the consumer, will accept the test-tube meat. He says, “We are already mass consuming cultured products like yogurt, brewed beer, and distilled wine. Therefore, the prospect of consuming cultured meat is not a foreign concept.” The jury is still out over here, but it will be interesting to see big meat producers freak out—and probably try to lay claim to the profits.
Perhaps these two geniuses could help make some strides!
This guest post was brought to us by Jessi Stafford! Jessi is originally from St. Louis…ish. She’s now squandering her fortune while freelancing in Baton Rouge, L.A. A University of Missouri Journalism grad, Jessi uses her degree for cocktail-drinking. She loves hyperbole and whoring around thrift stores. This is Jessi’s second post for Vegansaurus. Thanks, Jessi!
Movie review: Meat, the thinking person’s slaughterhouse documentary »
This is a pretty obscure film, but I’ve LOVED Frederick Wiseman’s documentaries* ever since I saw Welfare in law school. So when I learned he once pointed his camera at the inner workings of a slaughterhouse and meatpacking facility in 1970s Massachusetts, I knew I had to watch it. Not only does Wiseman show cattle and lambs rounded up, fed, slaughtered, and turned into meat products, but we also see footage of animal auctions, the rather mundane administration of the company, labor meetings, and marketing discussions—Meat made me feel like I was a part of every aspect of a meatpacking company.
Wiseman refuses to provide narration, thereby forcing the viewer to take what they will from Meat. Thus, the movie plays like a seemingly unbiased, unemotional exposé of an industry typically unexposed to the vast majority of the country. The veil between animal and meat product is the disconnect animal rights activists fight against on a daily basis—despite what the dairy industry would have you believe, I’m pretty sure none of their cows in California are happy. In lifting the veil, Meat felt to me like a precursor to PETA videos. But while that horrific footage will never find their way into a high school classroom or aired on television due to their overtly politicized message, Wiseman presents Meat so evenhandedly that one could actually imagine such market penetration, much to the meat industry’s dismay.
But oh dear god; watching Meat is no less unsettling. Trust me when I say Wiseman doesn’t pull any punches. I’m stating the obvious, but the slaughterhouse scenes are beyond ghastly. I can’t describe my revulsion at watching a cow’s skin, intestines and head being ripped from its body. I’m bracing myself for the inevitable nightmares; the film’s visceral impact is crushing.
I also have to admit feeling really bad for the employees on the slaughterhouse floor, dismembering cows for 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year. Can you imagine the psychic trauma of that job? The Texas Chainsaw Massacre analogized slaughterhouse workers to a nation besieged by bloody images from Vietnam for very, very good reason. You might think “Well, they should just get another job,” but keep in mind that it’s rarely a seamless process to transfer jobs, particularly in this job market, particularly in certain parts of the country and especially for the undereducated. Anyhow, in addition to screaming “WHY ARE THEY CUTTING UP THAT VERY CUTE LAMB?” Meat also made me ponder the abusive psychological and economic power dynamic involved in the production of every steak.
Put it this way: if PETA videos are the porno of animal abuse videos, designed to grab the viewer’s attention and heighten their emotions, Meat is the calm, investigative PBS special. This is the thinking person’s slaughterhouse documentary—there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write—best for educating your friends and family about the reality of meat production and animal commodification. In this respect, I thought Meat was an utterly engrossing masterpiece. Alternately, in the sense that Meat required me to watch a lot of grisly, gruesome footage of harmless creatures being killed and dismembered like a real-life horror movie, I really hated it.
Damn. Someone owes me some vegan booze for making it through this one! I promise my next installment will be more upbeat! [Ed note: If you would like to watch Meat, Jonas reports having seen a copy at Lost Weekend Video.]
Zach Cincotta is a vegan movie obsessive who, along with his vegan brother, discusses his thoughts on every movie he watches at Le Souvenir d’un avenir. When he’s not slowly burning out his projector bulb, Zach is an entertainment and business attorney representing awesome bands, record labels, and other small businesses. His previous movie reviews for Vegansaurus can be found here, you can contact him here, and follow him on Twitter here. Phew.