I’m gonna address each individual point you just referenced in order.
- Animal agriculture uses 80% of arable land to produce 18% of calories.
My Response: Agriculture to grow feed for animal agriculture uses 80% of arable land, but there are huge areas that are suited for grazing but are not suited for crop growth. In response to this statistic, my answer is that regenerative farming can make use of huge swaths of land that crop agriculture cannot use.
You would have to consider this when making the statement that pasture agriculture is more resource intensive. Furthermore, regenerative agriculture is a whole separate category from pasture agriculture. It is lower in physical resource requirements than pasture raised.
2. 1.5 billion cows but only 6% calories
My Response: Which is it? Do cows produce 6% or do they produce 18%? Either way, I’m not telling people to only eat meat. We have a large calorie surplus with the current agricultural system.
My argument is that regenerative agriculture, which needs animals, is the only system I am aware of that can reverse soil damage. Basically, it is sustainable. I never said this land that is used for regenerative agriculture cannot or should not also provide plant foods too.
I have strong doubts that a system which involves only plant could soil environments. I am utterly convinced that somewhere, animals need to be involved.
I just don’t really see us creating a regenerative agriculture system that truly restores our soil, without using animals. Nature has it figured out, and we can imitate nature.
Millions of buffalo roamed the U.S. As many as 75 million, which is nearly as many cows that live here currently. I don’t really see why it would be different to just restore that natural habitat. They died out because we massacred them to hurt Native Americans, not because there were too many to live sustainably.
3. The crops used to feed animals could feed the world 10x over
My Response: Yeah, probably, but I want us to stop using arable land to feed our animals anyway. Go ahead and use those crops to feed people. We’ll use the vast grasslands of the world that can’t be used for crops. I really don’t think regenerative agriculture will be at-odds with crop agriculture.
Current animal agriculture is bad. Yes. I agree. But that’s not what I’m promoting.
4. If we adopted plant based agriculture, we’d need only 1/4 of our current farmland
My Response: Great! This might mean we can have regenerative agriculture restoring soil for crop-based agriculture. To support animal populations, we can use the grasslands that can’t grow soil anyway, but we can also rotate animals through arable land in order to restore it. Since we will need so much less of this land for plant agriculture, we can rotate the locations where we mono-crop.
Basically, monocrop til’ the soil depletes, then move to another location and let animals come through and restore the soil.
Again, this point doesn’t really contradict my arguments.
5. When you say animals are market products, that means they are killed young.
My Response: Actually, grass-fed cows need to be raised longer before slaughter to achieve comparable quality meat. Sure, you can argue it’s still unethical, but generally speaking, regenerative agriculture will promote longer lifespans for animals in their system.
Belcampo harvests their cows close to 30 months of age rather than 19 months.
With that said, the ethical arguments you have are where I can respect your opinions. My ethics on the topic are different. I’d love if all animals could live to a ripe old age, but very few animals live to be old in the wild.
I don’t think becoming old is a good metric for measuring ethics regarding animals. I think it’s mainly a personification of a human desire. Perhaps it is more ethical to allow animals to live as close to their evolutionary behavior patterns as possible, even if they die somewhat young.
As long as they are killed humanely, I think it is a necessary thing. Is it purely good? No. But I think that humans forgoing meat entirely is a greater evil.
I have a question for you now: If dogs evolved to become sentient beings, and could live lets-say 80% as long, but with 30% of their potential quality of life, by being vegans, do you believe it would be the right choice for them to do so?
I’m truly just curious. I’m not trying to prove anything. To anyone reading this, let me just say that my above question doesn’t support the idea humans should or shouldn’t eat meat. It’s more of a philosophical question.
6. I’m not sure how the farms you mention do the calculation to be zero carbon, but they are not as good as the untouched wilderness and no mention of methane.
My Response: Well, the croplands that provide your plant food are not as good as untouched wilderness either. Plus, the regenerative agriculture system mimics “untouched nature” more than any other food-production method that exists.
As far as how this was all analyzed? They were analyzed by Quantis, a third-party sustainability firm that does life-cycle analysis. A life-cycle analysis is a very intensive study that takes into account every resource that goes into the creation of a product.
Quantis was contracted by general mills (who make their money off of plant foods primarily) to analyze the life-cycle emissions that go into the creation of one beyond burger vs. one white oak pastures burger (a regenerative farm in Bluffton, GA.)
The result? though Beyond burger’s plant burger produced far less greenhouse gas emissions than typical animal agriculture, it still caused some emissions to go into our environment.
The white oak pastures burger removed nearly exactly the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as the beyond burger created.
Basically, you’d have to eat one white-oak pastures burger for every beyond burger in order to have zero emissions.
These analyses took into account every resource that was used in making either burger, including shipping, machinery, etc.
The lifecycle analysis looked at all greenhouse gas emissions, not just carbon. I say carbon because it’s a bit of a buzzword but yes, methane was also a factor.
Methane is a bit of a straw-man though. Everyone references animal methane as this big-bad thing, but if it were really so influential, why wasn’t the earth rapidly warming during the time when Bison still roamed? They produce methane too.
Here’s the thing: Methane degrades from the atmosphere in a decade, but carbon stays in the atmosphere for much, much longer. Sure, methane is more warming, but the scale is much smaller. Methane also degrades into gases that are removed from the atmosphere by plants, whereas car carbon emissions are not so easy.
Global transportation (cars and vehicles) is undeniably worse than animal farts and burps. The study everyone references that said cows are worse than cars had to be redacted because it made a false comparison. It compared the lifecycle emissions of a cow to the tailpipe emissions of a car. That’s like me saying you cause more trash than a landfill by comparing your lifetime trash contribution to one day’s worth of dumping at a landfill.
Animals are part of an evolutionary gas-emission cycle, and I do not believe that their burps and farts truly cause any level of climate change. The tools we humans have created? That’s a different story. Here’s a great article about the carbon cycle.
7. On health, we evolved to eat meat but we are not adapted to it.
My response: I disagree. There is plenty of evidence that we are well adapted to it. Stable isotope studies show that man often consumed more meat than even the highest trophic carnivores. These levels imply an all-meat diet for much of the year.
This wasn’t neanderthal or some other species either, this was homo-sapiens. There is a substantial argument that meat is what made us human rather than just being a survival mechanism.
Modern tribal peoples still typically consume high amounts of fat and meat from animals. Even in the most carb-heavy groups, the amount of calories from carbohydrate is only 30%. Furthermore, these groups ferment the majority of their plant foods which reduced antinutrients and toxins.
I truly find little evidence to believe that veganism is our base. If anything, I think carnivorous ways are our base while we have pretty good ability to also eat plants due to our evolutionary past as mostly herbivorous primates.
Our digestive system actually doesn’t much suggest we are good at eating plants. It is closer in acidity to Carnivores, and we have a way smaller intestinal tract than herbivores.
There’s really no reason for this except to eat meat. The primates we evolved from had large guts for digesting leaves. Why would we leave that adaptation behind if we are supposed to eat all plants?
8. Meat Causes Disease, These Aren’t Linked To Correlation. Furthermore no plant food has ever caused a disease.
My Response: Of course they are! The only way these arguments could be anything other than correlation is if you forced someone to eat a meat-only diet and it reliably induced artherosclerosis and disease.
Otherwise, you’re basing your data off surveys, and that is absolutely correlation.
As far as no plant food causing disease? This is still only correlation, so I’m not declaring it as fact, but that’s blatantly false.
There are a whole class of plant foods labeled Goitrigens because of their ability to induce thyroid goiters, which causes thyroid disease. Last I checked, even the best plant based diets allow many goitrigens, such as broccoli and brussel sprouts. Not to mention links between lectins and gut barrier issues, etc.
Many, many, many plant foods are easily correlated with disease. Hell, gluten causes celiac disease.
I’m not saying any of this means all plants are bad, but it is an absolutely false statement to say that meat is factually proven to cause disease but no plant food is even correlated with disease. Even if you personally don’t promote them, a diet that includes them and cuts out all animal foods is a plant based diet.
Meat is NOT proven to cause any disease, and plant foods are NOT proven to cause diseases, but plant foods ARE correlated with MANY diseases, as are meats.
I personally believe the correlation with plant foods is much stronger, but it depends who you are and what plants you are eating. Don’t tell me there are no links between a plant based diet and any disease though. If that’s true, it’s via denial not truth.
9. Finally ethically, first and foremost I am thinking of the victims. You wouldn’t accept someone else’s choices if there were human victims.
There is an important argument called ‘name the trait’. If it is fine to kill young healthy animals but not kill humans, you have to give a reason why it is fine to do this to animals and not to humans.
My Response: No, I wouldn’t accept the meat industry if we did this to humans.
I have to give a reason why it is fine to do this to animals and not to humans.
First of all, as I alluded to earlier, I do not believe it is just “fine” that we do this to animals. I think it is a necessary evil (killing animals for food) to prevent what I consider to be a greater evil (causing the poor health of our own species, which can in-turn cause suffering to humans and animals alike due to our making decisions from a place of low quality of life)
Because of this trade-off, I think it is our responsibility to create as humane a system as possible that allows animals to live as close to their evolutionarily ingrained behavior patterns as possible, but I think their death as part of the food supply is necessary.
As far as why I am ok with doing this to animals and not to humans?
Plain and simple: Because I am a human, and I do not view animals as our equals. I think animals provide a powerful sacrifice that must be respected. In many ways they are greater than us, but they are not us.
To compare humans and animals is to compare apples and oranges. The rules are different. I do not believe the argument “You shouldn’t do to an animal what you wouldn’t do to a human” is relevant.
I believe it is pertinent to treat other humans as you would want to be treated if you behaved like them, but I think our responsibility to animals is different.
I think we should treat animals with the respect and care of a steward and a guardian, knowing that they sacrifice themselves for our own sustenance. We should apply as much respect as possible to this, and for those who would like to step out of this interaction altogether, I support and understand your decision but I do believe this system of sacrifice and sustenance is necessary, and ideal, for our species.
There is plenty of argument to be made that it is better for the animals too. Is it better for cows to exist, living in a protected environment and grazing like their evolution wants them to (regenerative agriculture) or is it better for the cows on the planet to starve to death and go extinct? Even if they didn’t go extinct, many will die of starvation.
Humans WILL NOT fund the caretaking of 100 million cattle who are not economically valuable. Even the richest countries in the world don’t have the resources for that, and many of these cattle live in the poorer parts of the world.
Going 100% vegan will be a genocide of farm animals. After that is over, sure, you can argue that the long-term suffering of animals will have been reduced, but make no mistake, the current population of livestock animals will mostly die, through neglect and starvation.
I mean that’s simply what will occur if we all stop eating meat. If it’s the right thing to do, I’m ok with that, but I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.