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Meat Eating Ethics re Environmental Impact

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  • Meat Eating Ethics re Environmental Impact

    Ok, here's the thing. I am convinced that the primal lifestyle is the best way to go from a health perspective but I am having trouble debating this with my wife who insists (and I can't refute) that a meat-eating lifestyle is way more taxing on the environment in terms of consumption of water and and impact of beef etc on the land than it is to base your diet around organic vegetables for example. I can win the anti-grains debate, but find it difficult to argue that an optimum meat focussed diet for everyone on the planet is environmentally sustainable - there just isn't enough land or resources. So, does it follow that while the grain-based agricultural revolution is responsible for the massive population boom on our planet, can we then advocate a meat-focussed diet for all. Or is this diet just the privilege of the westernised middle-class few who have the means and privilege to eat the best quality foods - even though this diet has a greater environmental impact on the planet - especially if everybody did it? I've looked around on the site for an answer to these concerns but couldn't find it. Would love Mark to chime in if he has a take on this. Cheers

  • #2
    I think this blog post addresses the issues you raise in a very moving way.

    Part of the answer is what we say to people who have to do Primal on a limited budget. But that only goes so far. Saying to buy cheap cuts of meat doesn't work for someone who can only afford to buy meat once in a while.

    Part of the answer is that you don't have to do Primal perfectly, as you know. Maybe if you are living on a few hundred dollars a year you have to eat beans and whatever protein sources you can, supplemented with some goat or chicken when you can afford it.

    Most of Primal can be done by nearly anyone. Above all, avoid American crap food. Avoid wheat and sugar.

    Many of the poorer peoples of the world don't need to worry as much as we do about carbs. They often do physical labor like our grandparents and walk or ride bikes to get around.

    Most of the world can't drive to Whole Foods and fill their shopping carts with grass-fed beef and a variety of vegetables like I do. I am very lucky having a decent income and living in Northern California. But doing Primal means doing the best you can, not doing it perfectly.
    Ancestral Health Info

    I design websites and blogs for a living. If you would like a blog or website designed by someone who understands Primal, see my web page.

    Primal Blueprint Explorer My blog for people who are not into the Grok thing. Since starting the blog, I have moved close to being Archevore instead of Primal. But Mark's Daily Apple is still the best source of information about living an ancestral lifestyle.

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    • #3
      part of the issue is that we live in an unsustainable world. we have too many people supported by unsustainable agricultural practices. this is not a meat vs grains issue, so much as a too much of everything issue.

      Why dont you take a look at Food, Inc and King Corn. Those are just the tip of the iceburg when it comes to taking a long hard look at how damaging growing all this commodity corn and soybeans are to our whole world.

      all farmers used to raise their own animals, alongside crops they planned on taking to market. it was normal to raise cattle, goats, sheep, chickens and pigs. these animals were not held in massive livestock feeding areas, stuffed full of antibiotics, toxic byproducts, and forced to eat things that they had not evolved to eat.

      i view primal / paleo as more than a diet. it's about lifestyle choices and long-term, sustainable changes to all aspects of life. My goal is to have at least 5 acres of sustainable land to raise my own animals. It is amazing to me just how uncomplicated some of the back-to-the-earth, homesteading practices really are.

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      • #4
        As someone who is very interested in eating local foods, eating meat can be very sustainable, so long as it is practiced in a traditonal, pasutred manner. Growing vegetables isn't always the most sustainable option in every place. I used to live in Frederick County, Maryland, for example. The land was rolling, rocky and dry. If a farmer wanted to plant crops, she would have to irrigate. And we had a drought five years in a row. Pasturing sheep, however, is perfect for this landscape!

        It's industrial meat farming that is the problem, not sustainable farms who take into account their specific location.
        Woman, Artist, Wife, Visionary, Mother, Gardener, Daughter, Tea-drinker, Friend, Believer.

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        • #5
          It's agri-business that's doing the damage, not grazing animals.
          WWW.SUGARAHOLICS.COM

          I was a sugarbaby; meaning since I was born I was given lots of sugar, and ate lots of processed foods, especially sweets until I was into my thirties. Most people in the west were/are sugarbabies.

          “How does today’s youngster educate his sense of taste? By submerging it in a sea of sugar from the time he gets up to the time he goes to bed.” W. Root and Richard DeRochemont, Eating in America (1976)

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          • #6
            Read The Vegetarian Myth.

            Eat meat, save the planet from desertification: Primal Wisdom: Earth Medicine: Operation Hope
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            • #7
              The way I see it, primal isn't quite the ALL THE MEST YOU CAN EAT! attitude that can sometimes be sensed out of this blog. If one eats a prudent diet of healthy vegetables and selected meats, one surely is doing better in terms of environmental stewardship than someone who is downing mass market fast food burgers.

              And if someone feels called to a particular concern about this issue, I can't argue against the asceticism of vegetarianism as a personal spiritual and political commitment (but can certainly argue against the crass commercialism of vegetarian food "products"). There's more to health than having the best abs.
              “In God we trust; all others must bring data.” W. Edwards Deming
              Blogging at http://loafingcactus.com

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              • #8
                Originally posted by kennelmom View Post
                Read The Vegetarian Myth.

                Eat meat, save the planet from desertification: Primal Wisdom: Earth Medicine: Operation Hope
                This.
                Lifting Journal

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                • #9
                  Geofftom's wife is right if she is saying that a diet for the whole world should be centered on organic vegetables rather than meat. I don't hear that she is advocating veganism. Of course, as Kennelmom said, free range animals are essential to growing those organic vegetables. And as Loafingcactus said, Primal is not about eating as much meat as possible.
                  Ancestral Health Info

                  I design websites and blogs for a living. If you would like a blog or website designed by someone who understands Primal, see my web page.

                  Primal Blueprint Explorer My blog for people who are not into the Grok thing. Since starting the blog, I have moved close to being Archevore instead of Primal. But Mark's Daily Apple is still the best source of information about living an ancestral lifestyle.

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                  • #10
                    A Vegan No More | Voracious

                    It isnt called the circle of life for nothing

                    In my own life, my decision to return to my omnivorous ways is drastically shrinking my carbon footprint. The truth that as a vegan I did not like to face is that most places on this planet are not suited for annual grain agriculture, but for a mix of plant and animal husbandry. Most ecosystems on this planet simply cannot support annual grain agriculture, and the urging by vegans for the inhabitants to adopt a vegan lifestyle anyway is damning them to an eventually desiccated land base and inevitable starvation. Saudi Arabia, where I live, is one of those places. Now, instead of relying on grains and beans grown overseas with pesticides and seriously unsustainable farming methods to form the bulk of my diet, I can now turn my focus towards local animal products, such as goat, lamb, or chicken. For example, I can go to the local market and buy goat meat from goat herds that graze just a few miles away over the open desert, herded by Bedouins from oasis to oasis in a centuries’ old tradition. These goats make use of the dry and scrubby land that would be completely unsuitable for crop farming and they drink ancient artisanal well water. If the land they use was transformed into huge swathes of crop fields it would require staggering amounts of synthetic fertilizer and imported water, and it would wreck the delicate ecosystem that currently exists in the desert. Not only do I feel better physically and mentally as an omnivore, but my choices are much more consistent with my conviction that we need to live as ethically and sustainably as possible within our local community.

                    Whether it is the staggering destruction caused by factory farms, or the slightly less staggering but no less devastating destruction caused by vegan agriculture, our planet is being irrevocably annihilated and we must stop treating the symptoms of this disease and abandon short term solutions. We can’t shop our way out of this crisis, personal solutions are not enough. Presenting veganism as a panacea that will stop global warming, save all the animals, and feed the starving masses is nearsighted and unfounded. And it shames me, as an academic, that I ever let myself believe it. We must instead focus our efforts on a complete reimagining of the way we live on this planet. Anything less is suicide.
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                    • #11
                      First off, she is comparing organic veggies to conventional beef. Apple and oranges. If you are arguing which is more sustainable, “green” you have to argue sustainable beef to sustainable veggies, beef wins hands down. Second like mentioned above we live an unsustainable life, the world cannot support this many people without cheap, conventional, fertilizer, big agribusiness grown grains.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Free Range View Post
                        the world cannot support this many people without cheap, conventional, fertilizer, big agribusiness grown grains.

                        Exactly. The earth is overpopulated BECAUSE of grains. Some see that as a human success. Most likely it is the overpopulation by humans that will inevitably result in mass starvations and die-off at some point, due to loss of crops from weather shifts, water depletion, soil depletion or some unforeseen circumstance. We've had a great run, but are headed for some kind of "correction" - a humanity bubble burst.
                        Positively Radical — Pigeonholes are for Pigeons!

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by kennelmom View Post
                          Read The Vegetarian Myth.

                          Eat meat, save the planet from desertification: Primal Wisdom: Earth Medicine: Operation Hope
                          This post is all you need to know. Agriculture ruins the planet and strips the environment of nutrients. Animals naturally replace what they destroy thanks to fertilizer. You could raise animals on the same strip of pasture for your entire life. Growing vegetables, especially grains, turns pasture into desert.
                          Don't put your trust in anyone on this forum, including me. You are the key to your own success.

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                          • #14
                            There was an interesting book about this in the mid 1980s called "Food First," that argued that starvation is political, the Earth can sustain everyone, people can do well on rice and beans, and that meat does tax the Earth's resources, beef being the highest cost.

                            My girlfriend backed way off of eating beef because of this book, and I did myself a bit.

                            I think time has not been good to the nutritional claims this book made. It was only looking at the political side.

                            The issue of can the Earth sustain everyone eating meat is completely different than the Paleo/Primal issue of how our bodies work.

                            I agree that agriculture enabled higher populations, but that doesn't change the facts of biology.

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                            • #15
                              big question: Why do we (as humans) want to sustain a planet of 8+ BILLION people? if we are still evolving... i do not think it is in a positive direction.

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