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Old 04-28-2010, 06:50 PM   #1
Albert Chang
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Sustainable meat production

So I got in a bit of a fight with a BUNCH of vegetarians. They were saying how meat production, even if it's the traditional way, isn't sustainable because raising animals requires so many resources (ie water, land, and food) that humans could've eaten. Unless they somehow misunderstood me, we're not talking about grains or legumes for human consumption. Real fruits and vegetables.

I argued by eating only vegetables and fruits, I wouldn't get the same ratios on a vegetarian diet (minus grains and legumes) as if I were to eat animals. Not only that, but I would have to eat a TON of food to equal the same amount (5000 calories). They not only said that it was possible and not hard, which I already didn't believe, but that it's far more efficient since you don't have to raise the animal.

The only counter I could think of was that if we're all competing for the same resources, it just makes it even more scarce. You'd have a bunch of animals all over the place and wouldn't be able to use them. I argued this is why some animals evolved to be omnivores and carnivores.
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Old 04-28-2010, 07:31 PM   #2
Corey Wright
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Re: Sustainable meat production

Not to mention a lot of animals are killed plowing fields. Suggest they read "The Vegetarian Myth".

One thing that drove me nuts about being a vegetarian(did it for five years) was the air of superiority some exude. Instead of saying, "No thank you, I am not hungry" or "I do not like that"; they smirk and say in their outdoor voice, "Uh no, i cannot eat that, i am a vegetarian." That and other countless ****......

I guess it is just better sometimes to agree to disagree.
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Old 04-28-2010, 08:28 PM   #3
Blair Robert Lowe
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Re: Sustainable meat production

I wonder about sustainable meat production but the reason civilizations began and thrived was due to the abundance of grains.

Fruits and veggies just won't match grains for energy over space and such. I wonder with new technologies and strategies if it could be overcome, but in the end I doubt it.

Easy solution is less people, yes you do not need to have a half dozen to dozen children in civilized societies as they don't need to work the farm nor have to worry about them dying off as rapidly.

I do know that crops by the Native Americans were often not in plots of land but were mixed which actually helped protect the crops from diseases and bugs and be efficient with the soil. I want to say the Cherokee in the south came to mind.
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Old 04-28-2010, 08:59 PM   #4
Benjamin Wheeler
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Re: Sustainable meat production

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Originally Posted by Albert Chang View Post
So I got in a bit of a fight with a BUNCH of vegetarians. They were saying how meat production, even if it's the traditional way, isn't sustainable because raising animals requires so many resources (ie water, land, and food) that humans could've eaten. Unless they somehow misunderstood me, we're not talking about grains or legumes for human consumption. Real fruits and vegetables.

I argued by eating only vegetables and fruits, I wouldn't get the same ratios on a vegetarian diet (minus grains and legumes) as if I were to eat animals. Not only that, but I would have to eat a TON of food to equal the same amount (5000 calories). They not only said that it was possible and not hard, which I already didn't believe, but that it's far more efficient since you don't have to raise the animal.

The only counter I could think of was that if we're all competing for the same resources, it just makes it even more scarce. You'd have a bunch of animals all over the place and wouldn't be able to use them. I argued this is why some animals evolved to be omnivores and carnivores.
As mentioned, "The vegetarian myth" is a good option. Basically no matter you eat, you need soil to grow it. By raising animals on pasture they build soil for you. By planting crops you actually deplete the soil, actually you destroy entire ecosystems by planting annual mono-crops. Ask these vegetarians what they will eat when all the soil is gone and you can't grow anything. Something dies to get food on your plate. By choosing grass-fed meats your only killing one animal to eat. By eating grains and other mono-crops your killing a much larger number.

As far as eating only fruits and vegetables, thats just crazy. Could you even be fertile on that kind of diet? I'd like to see someone try that, just fruits and veggies.

Blair makes a good point, we grew because agriculture allowed us to feed a larger number of people. Cordain points this out nicely in his piece on cereal grains. Basically we cannot feed the world without them, but they are killing us at the same time.

http://www.thepaleodiet.com/articles...%20article.pdf (WFS)
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Old 04-28-2010, 09:16 PM   #5
Blair Robert Lowe
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Re: Sustainable meat production

Fruits and veggies? Well there are the fruitarians out there besides some of the flavors of "Raw diets". Fruits and veggies, is that some sort of Paleo Vegan?
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Old 04-28-2010, 10:27 PM   #6
Katherine Derbyshire
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Re: Sustainable meat production

Michael Pollan describes a cow as the world's most efficient mechanism for converting sunlight into protein. I think he was quoting Joel Salatin. There's a long section in the Omnivore's Dilemma detailing the amount of food -- both meat and vegetables -- that properly maintained land can produce.

Herbivores can also extract nutrition from land that's marginal at best for growing human-edible plants. The cows grazing up the road from me are in one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, but look at some of the places where people raise sheep, goats, or camels.

Katherine
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Old 04-29-2010, 12:00 AM   #7
Jesse Gray
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Re: Sustainable meat production

I hate to say it but your vegetarian friends are right... sort of. Eating meat is not terribly efficient. The amount of resources an animal must consume before it may be eaten by you is far greater than the amount of energy you get from eating plants directly. Essentially, you are losing energy in the process of converting it from plant to animal. This is the second law of thermodynamics at work.
That being said, I love meat.
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Old 04-29-2010, 07:16 AM   #8
Jamie J. Skibicki
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Re: Sustainable meat production

Less people.
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Old 04-29-2010, 07:39 AM   #9
Allen Tluczek
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Re: Sustainable meat production

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Originally Posted by Jamie J. Skibicki View Post
Less people.

+1

My next book purchases are going to be "Omnivores Dilemma" and "Vegetarian Myth." Living with a vet student gives me some interesting perspectives that I am not necessarily looking to argue against, but to get more information. I can't compete with 12-16 hours of study a day...
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Old 04-29-2010, 07:50 AM   #10
Nic Kirkland
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Re: Sustainable meat production

I'm with Ron White on this one. He had a joke about how his vegetarian friend was complaining about meat production and bovine flatulence causing global warming and his vegetarian friend asked Ron what he was doing to save the environment. His answer? I'm eating the cows.

The faster I eat them, the faster we can stop the evil bovine hordes from consuming our planet's natural resources. Clearly the best solution to this dilemma.
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