I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a newspaper article that does such a good job of exploring the ethical tradeoffs that accompany alternative animal agriculture. In this piece, we meet Bill Niman, founder of Niman Ranch.
Niman has been raising livestock since the 1970s, and has been uncompromising about how his animals are raised. But the trouble with being uncompromising in the meat business is that you’re competing against scads of people who are delighted to compromise at every turn.
No surprise, then, that much of Niman’s career has been spent presiding over a livestock empire that just can’t seem to turn a profit. And now that Niman’s sold out his namesake ranch to a company that is more willing to compromise, he believes enough principles have been violated that he’s no longer willing to eat the company’s meat.
See, if you’re OK with animals being killed for your food, but you’re nevertheless passionate about doing things right, you start seeing that raising animals without compromise is one gigantic, ugly, messy, pain in the ass — and a prohibitively expensive pain in the ass at that.
So now Niman has shifted to raising turkeys — where, once again, he’ll be competing with alternative producers who cut corners everywhere you look.
I don’t get it. Are meat, milk, and eggs really so tasty that all of this hassle is warranted? It’s a shame that someone of Niman’s obvious zeal and talent didn’t take the simpler and even more compassionate path of becoming a player in the vegan foods industry. Link.