Less Meat vs. Organic Meat

A section of Bittman’s weekly links roundup of special interest to vegetarians:

A Vienna University of Technology study says if you want to help the environment switching to organic is a lot less productive than just eating less meat. Different story, same ending: Tufts food economist explains why not all food price increases are bad (spoiler alert: they can lead to drastic forms of moderation like. . .gulp. . .eating a little less meat.)

If you can crowd out half the animal products in your diet by eating more vegan foods, within a few months you’ll discover that crowding out the other half of your animal products is a piece of cake. Anytime omnivores decide to cut their meat consumption, they inevitably get a glimpse of the diversity of a well-planned vegan diet. Link.

Vegan For Health Winners

If you are:

  • Donna from The Woodlands, TX
  • Shana from Broadview Heights, OH
  • Thea from Charlotte, NC
  • Kelly from Kenmore, NY
  • Martha from Goleta, CA

Then rejoice, as you’ve won a free copy of Jack and Ginny’s Vegan for Life. If you’re not one of the lucky winners, I hope you’ll pick up a copy of this superb book and follow its recommendations. Many vegans I meet are making some basic blunders regarding nutrition—often, simple vital things like neglecting B-12 or Omega 3s, and this book will give you the necessary advice to steer clear of every common nutritional pitfall. At the same time, you’ll learn information about diet and health that will enable you to speak more persuasively and accurately about the issues.

Jolley vs. Bittman

The guy behind the Meat Industry Hall of Fame is apparently not Bittman’s biggest fan. But he makes a semantic rather than a substantive argument against Bittman’s recent writing, arguing that conventional agribusiness is both “sustainable” and “organic.”

I suppose if you are guaranteed a flood of subsidized corn, and get to externalize upon society the costs of antibiotic resistance, water use, greenhouse gases, and runoff then factory farms are indeed “sustainable” for many generations. Especially if the USDA regularly steps in to prop up meat and dairy prices by making purchases for the National School Lunch Program.

And killing off your customers through heart disease and cancer is likewise sustainable, as long as you get their children started young on a diet of Hot Pockets and Happy Meals.

So if we’re trying to seriously discuss exactly what’s wrong with industrially produced meat, “sustainable” may not be the perfect word, but it’s as useful as any. Link.

Even Stuffed Rhinos Aren’t Safe

Thieves looking to sell rhinoceros horns for Chinese medicine have moved beyond poaching wild animals: they’re stealing the horns from museums. In one case, they sawed a horn off a hundred year old stuffed rhino.

What a world we live in. Link.

Europe’s Battery Egg Ban Won’t be Delayed

Many European factory egg farmers have held back in phasing out their battery cages, in hopes that if they dragged their feet long enough an extension to the January 2012 ban would be granted. But that proposed extension has just been denied, so these douche bags are deservedly hosed. (Thanks, Paul.) Link.

Update: German anti-battery egg campaigner Mahi Klosterhalfen emailed me:

Unfortunately, the douchebags won’t be hosed. Several EU governments will just watch their egg producers breaking the law without doing much about it. We still have got a lot of work to do.

Pacelle on Alabama & Tennessee Cock Fighting

Appalling information from HSUS chief Wayne Pacelle on how cock fighters in Alabama and Tennessee have formed alliances with lawmakers and agribusiness academics. HSUS deserves a ton of credit for digging into this story and publicizing the details. For the underground cock fighting subculture to persist, the connections that enable it need to remain hidden. Link.

The Joy of Factory Farming

A very thoughtful piece in The Atlantic by James McWilliams that manages to break new ground on the subject of factory farming. It looks into the question of how people can own these facilities and appear outwardly untroubled:

True, even without subsidies, there might indeed be economic advantages to raising animals under intensive conditions. But we should never fail to overlook the psychological implications of something as emotionally charged as killing animals for food. And when it comes to this endeavor, scale and density of production accomplishes something essential for all factory farming: it severs the emotional bond between farmers and animals. In the bluntest terms, it allows my friend Bill to kill thousands of animals a year and remain a happy person.

The final paragraph asks a wonderful question. (Via Hawthorne.) Link.

Bittman & Wallace on Lobster

Bittman writes:

The pleasure of eating lobster is intense, and the reward-to-work ratio is unsurpassed, all of which is fun to talk about. What’s not so fun to talk about is lobsters and pain, which is why I’m going to avoid it. All of us lobster eaters do. (If you want a full consideration of the lobster/pain issue — one that resolves absolutely nothing but grapples with it beautifully — read David Foster Wallace’s hilarious essay “Consider the Lobster.”)

I think Wallace’s essay resolves absolutely everything. Read it online and decide for yourself. It’s definitely one of the top five pieces that every animal advocate needs to read; simultaneously clear-thinking, important, and funny as hell.

The essay can also be found in Wallace’s book, Consider the Lobster and Other Essays. The lead-off essay on a porn industry convention is Wallace at his finest, and I regard this as the best of his essay collections and the best starting-point for discovering Wallace.