March 24 2008

Dear Mark: Cheap Meat?

By Mark Sisson
96 Comments

Dear Mark,

I am curious what you recommend for people who either don’t have access to or can’t regularly afford grass-fed, organic, free-range meats? It [cost] is a lot of the reason we are mostly vegetarian – we could have organic meat on a regular basis, or we can have fresh fruits and veggies for us and, more importantly, our young sons, to snack on. I believe the fresh produce is more important, and our budget just won’t allow for both, so we stick to mostly vegetarian – and less expensive – sources of protein. I’d like to hear tips for how to actually apply some of this in these situations, and what you recommend then. Is it better to eat less meat and make sure what you have is organic, or keep eating the same amount of the conventional stuff (which is worse for our bodies and the environment)?

Judy, you raise a number of great points, and I know they’re common concerns. Ideally, we would all eat grass-fed/grass-finished meat all the time, but because of a variety of circumstances (budget, limited availability at home/during travel, etc.) it’s not always possible for people, myself included. For these reasons, the Primal Blueprint also looks at logical, reasonable compromises. If I can’t eat grass-fed meat, I look for the cleanest meat I can find (no hormones, no antibiotics, etc.). But I absolutely suggest that people include meat in their diets, even if they don’t have access to grass-fed.

First, let’s look at the issue of availability. Unfortunately, grass-fed and/or organic meats aren’t carried by many grocery stores. However, I think that trend is beginning to change. While Whole Foods, Wild Oats and community co-ops seem to be the most common sources for these items, more and more “regular” supermarkets are getting in the game. As always, the more people request it, the more likely stores will consider adding these options. That said, there’s a substantial mail order market for grass-fed and/or organic meats, many with competitive pricing.

Another option: small area farms that sell direct to consumers. You’ll usually get the best deal by purchasing 25 lbs. to half a cow, lamb, goat, etc. If you have a deep freezer, it’s ideal. Otherwise, find a few friends, neighbors, or family members who you can split an order with.

Also, just a note about labels… Meat that is labeled grass-fed isn’t necessarily “grass-finished.” Nearly all beef cattle eat grass at some point. Others, those usually labeled grass-fed, eat grass until the final few weeks before slaughter, when they’re switched to a grain diet. During this relatively brief window, the omega ratio reverses to pretty much that of mostly/entirely grain-fed cattle. Look for “grass-finished” or “100% grass-fed.” Though many farms that raise grass-fed cattle also follow other “clean meat” standards, not all do. USDA Organic uses the most stringent rules and certification, including the absence of any pesticides or herbicides on grazing land/feed and moderate animal treatment standards. But keep in mind, also, that USDA Organic doesn’t mean grass-fed. On top of all of this, we’re seeing a new class of “animal-welfare” labels offered by industry certification as well as animal-rights groups. (Whole Foods manages its own standards and labeling.) (I know, Judy, you’ve asked about this element as well.) Standards for these certifications vary considerably. If you buy direct from a farm, you may be able to get the most information about how the animals are raised.

While it’s true that “100% grass-fed, organic” offers the best of all worlds, it’s usually more expensive and more difficult to find. My advice for best compromises: first look for a label that says 100% grass-fed with “no hormones” and “no antibiotics.” This kind of meat encompasses important “clean” elements (in terms of an individual’s consumption) and offers the better grass-fed omega ratio. Next choice: clean, grain-fed meats. Just be sure to add more omega 3s from fish, fish oil supplements and vegetables sources to make up for the 6:3 ratio deficit.

Thanks, as always, for your questions and comments. Keep ‘em coming!

ILoveButter Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

Dear Mark: Pondering Protein

Imitation Crab: What is That Stuff?

Dr. Michael Eades: Another Reason to Eat Grass Fed Beef

Typical North American Diet is Deficient in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

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96 thoughts on “Dear Mark: Cheap Meat?”

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  1. Good answer, Mark. To directly answer Judy’s question – it’s better to eat high quality meat less often than poor quality meat frequently.

    Also – don’t forget about eggs! Eggs are a wonderful source of healthy fats and protein (7g/egg), and they are very affordable. Locally raised eggs from pastured chickens are best, with organic eggs next.

    For me, I try to eat high quality meat 2-3 days a week, and eggs the rest of the time. I think this provides a good balance between high-quality animal protein and affordability.

  2. This post means I have to do some checking. I’ve been eating grass-fed beef but I don’t know if the labeling certifies that it is “grass-finished.” Thanks for pointing that out. This may take a call to the corporate office. For any fellow Texans reading this, I’m getting mine at the H.E.B. Plus here in Corpus. I know they are expanding the “Plus” concept throughout the state so you might want to check it out.

    Dave
    DaveGetsFit

    1. well dave, i found a site and heb`s beef is only finished organic so its not 100% as i was hoping.hopefully that will be changing. soon.

    1. My grandparents would roll in their graves if they saw your food pyramid. Your diet is CRUEL!

  3. Tracy,

    You must be new here. We are long past that vegetarian argument. The entire premise of this site is that we evolved over 2 1/2 million years of eating vegetables, fruits, nuts and meat, and that continuing to do so can and does improve health in most, if not all, people.

  4. Tracy,

    I’m just curious, do you think the Inuit should be on non-flesh diet as well? Do you think they are immoral for their dietary choices of animal flesh?

  5. Tracy,

    Enjoy your high grain, leaky gut, arthritis, high BP and Cholesterol medicine too. I don’t mind vegans, I mind pushy vegans who don’t have a clue what they are talking about. That being said….you kill more animals with overabundance consumption of grains and agriculture than you do with consumption of meat. Not that you will ever read this, but at least become educated on what you preach: (If I can save one vegan…then I have hope for the world..)
    http://www.beyondveg.com/nicholson-w/hb/hb-interview1a.shtml

  6. Charles,

    Good link. Thanks for sending it. Goes to show you that my 3,000 mg fish oil per day go a long way to re-balancing any 6:3 ratio I might have upset by selecting grain-fed beef. I’m feeling healthier already (and less inflamed). 🙂

  7. Mike OD,

    I’m sure Tracy means well. She just wandered into the wrong health site…

    Meanwhile, that beyondveg.com is one of the greatest resources for anyone wanting the full scoop on why we eat meat. A wealth of information. Thanks for linking.

  8. I meant what I said for Tracy only with loving caringness. 😀 As for the beyondveg site, it’s amazing what it has on all Paleo related topics. Someone needs to just make a movie about that site…as it is just way too much to read! (that and people need that kind of info)

  9. Thanks for the response!

    Jen: I absolutely could not stomach eggs for years. I went through a stage where I was pretty poor, and clueless as to how to eat well on little money, and so I ate a LOT of eggs, but then I lost the taste for them completely. Now I can eat eggs again, and my husband will, but I can’t seem to get either of my sons to touch them. I think I need to just try it more often and eventually they will eat them.

    Dave: I envy your location. I’m in McAllen, TX, but wish we were in Corpus. We spend every weekend we can there! Our local HEB has started carrying some organic (but I haven’t checked for “grass finished”) beef. And it has a sushi bar – YUM!

    Tracy: I care about the ethical issues of animal welfare, but I think how the animal lives is the biggest issue. I understand vegetarianism/veganism, and have no problem with it, but personally believe an animal can be ethically raised and slaughtered. That’s also why the argument that “more animals are killed by plowing the fields” doesn’t fly with me – those animals lived good happy normal lives up to that point.

    Okay, so, some things to think about. Thanks everyone!

  10. Tracy wrote: “No cow is ‘happy’ who will be slaughtered for her flesh.”

    The fact that you refer to beef cattle as female betrays your ignorance of animals. The vast majority of bovines slaughtered for their flesh are steers, which are castrated males. I think people who claim to speak for animals ought to at least know a little something about them; otherwise, how can you claim to know what constitutes animal happiness? Otherwise, you slip into sentimental anthropomorphizing: what might make you happy is no guarantee of happiness for a bovine.

    Judy wrote: “That’s also why the argument that ‘more animals are killed by plowing the fields doesn’t fly with me – those animals lived good happy normal lives up to that point.” I sort of see your point, but getting caught up in a combine seems to me to be a really brutal death, much more brutal than being slaughtered by a humane butcher. Plus, it seems to me that the animal caught in the combine died in vain – what a waste to kill an animal and then leave its flesh to rot! (Though I realize my second argument is weakened somewhat by the fact that surely a scavenger will come along and make use of the critter.)

  11. Migraineur: As for animals dying in vain being killed by a combine, okay, maybe so, but yes, they do go back to the food chain to feed other animals, vultures, or back into the earth. I’m sure being caught in a combine is not the best way to go, but I can’t imagine a small animal caught in a combine is going to suffer for long.

    Further, the argument could be made that a lot of animals raised in the typical industrial food chain die in vain as well – “downer” cows, male chicks. And as we all saw in those videos from the slaughterhouse in California, that is not an any less brutal death than being caught in a combine!

    Which is why HOW the animal was raised and slaughtered matters to me, and why I agree that it is important to “vote with your money” and choose carefully where your meat comes from.

  12. Migraineur,

    Crows and other birds feast on combine ‘kill’. They can hardly wait!

    I stopped the car by a recent moose kill. A semi had ‘rear ended’ a female moose with instant death as a result. The animal was still warm but the crows had pecked out its one accesible eyeball. That was pretty fast.

    As re: Whole Foods: I purchased a piece of beef for roasting 2 weeks ago. One of those rolled up jobbies. Note that the raw meat is kept in a glassed in cooler. The attendant (don’t know if he is a ‘butcher’) weighed and wrapped the meat. I took it home, opened the package and smelled…… sour. Old sour meat. I was really absolutely NOT impressed. I live 14 km from the Whole Foods and it’s all urban, red stoplights and major traffic all the way. It would have taken me a good hour and a half to get back in the car and drive the hunk of meat back to the store, give it to the ‘butcher’, and all the rest of the gemisch. I took the chance and roasted it. Result? Brown explosive liquid from the rectum. Thankfully, no major cramping.

    I find the huge selection and variety they decide to carry to be a waste. So much of their fruit and vegetables are not fresh at all. They must be dumping an awful lot of imported, long distance, organic rotten garbage into their dumpster. No wonder the prices are so high!

    I usually shop at a privately owned supermarket that carries plenty of local organic produce. Just this time I was looking for a bottle of Avocado oil and no one else seems to carry this product.

    Whole Foods? Whole Paycheque? Fuggedaboudit.

    1. Mr. Joel Salatin addressed Whole Foods (as well as humane killing, etc.) his “rant” on Facebook today. Check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/Polyfacefarm?fref=ts

      You’ll have to scroll down to find it, since other stuff has been posted since. But it’s definitely worth a read!!

  13. Serving good meat on a budget, one of my favorite subjects.

    I saved money and lots of shopping time for meat by buying a large upright freezer and sourcing meat/poultry from a local “hobby” farm (run by a couple that raises their own food and sells some to defray overhead costs and support their rural life). I buy a lot of the cuts that my source’s other customers don’t want, so they are especially cheap (some of them would have even been thrown out).

    Check out the local county fair; lots of kids sell their 4-H animals at auction to raise funds. There might be a local state or county-licensed processing facility that picks up purchased fair animals at the fair and processes, wraps, and freezes for a reasonable fee. Some specialty butchers can do this, too.

    I think another good thing to remember is that there is more to an animal than the pricey, boneless common cuts. Years ago cooks were more creative about using the entire animal or at least more of it. Find a good classic cookbook, like a vintage edition Joy of Cooking, a UK meat cookbook (I like River Cottage Meat), any Bruce Aidell meat book, or search online for ways to use “thrift cuts” and family friendly recipes. I also really like Jo Robinson and Shannon Hayes cookbooks for economical grassfed meat and poultry ideas. Also consider offal, the organs and “odd bits”. If the meat source is “clean”, then you don’t have to worry about liver or kidneys being full of toxins, like you do with factory farmed animals.

    Learn to appreciate “the squeak to the tail”. Let other people buy the pricey tenderloins and boneless breasts, because that leaves lots of less popular, but still very useful and often more flavorful cuts at lower prices for us.

    The key is learning how to fit different cooking techniques into your life. Weekend cooking is useful for meals later in the week (deboned diced or shredded cooked meat can be made into all sort of meals, so it is *not* leftovers). Slow cookers are great, too. Bruce Aidell has a great recipe for a thrifty, super easy pot roast goes into the oven to cook during the early evening, then is taken out to cool, and makes a great next-day meal.

    I like 7 bone chuck roasts, O bone roasts, shoulder and shank cuts (especially), and other bone-in cuts, as well as boneless round roasts, and other thrift cuts that utilize slow cooking at low temps to tenderize them and melt connective tissue. Whole chickens and whole chicken legs are a better budget and flavor choice than boneless breasts, too. Bones shouldn’t be thought of as waste; they are a resource, providing deep, rich flavor and abundant minerals in an bio-available form when slow simmered with liquid. You won’t need calcium supplements if you cook with bone-in cuts frequently.

    Cooking with thrift cuts will require a new appreciation (& skill) for thinking ahead, rather than sautéing a boneless cut while trying to prepare vegetables and salads all at the same time just a few minutes before sitting down to a rushed meal. There can be a huge payoff in nutrition, flavorful sauces and meat dishes that practically make themselves, plus, a huge reduction of “what’s for dinner tonight?” or “let’s get takeout” panic. And it is hard to overcook simmered and braised cuts, so there is a lot of timing flexibility built in for busy schedules and undetermined meal schedules. The main key is thinking about dinner long before dinnertime, maybe even days before that dinner. For instance, I now have a large O-bone roast thawing, which will cook in the slow cooker tomorrow or the next day, to make a couple different meals later this week.

    Try a new “thrift cut” once a week, especially an unfamiliar one. If you think it makes to much, divide it after cooking and freeze some for another week. There are many ways of preparing cuts with regional and ethnic flavors, so if one recipe doesn’t work out, try the same cut with other ingredients (Moroccan spices and ingredients instead of Polynesian or Italian, for instance).

    I’ll give a good example of how I do this. I put together a Beef Shanks in Coconut Milk with Ginger and Cumin recipe from the Bruce Aidell Meat book recently. Super cheap cut. It needed several hours to simmer in the oven, but it was too late for our Sunday supper. So I put it in before we sat down to something else for our supper and it was finished braising mid-evening, then cooled a bit while I watched Masterpiece Theater, then put in the fridge. Two day later I took it out, and warmed it up on the stove with additional coconut milk and a bit of water. My husband thought it was perhaps the best thing I had ever made. The sauce had that rich, long simmered flavor one gets in fine dining restaurant reduction sauces, because of the long braising with marrow-rich bones. One of the shank slices was mostly bone with hardly any meat, yet I left it in for the flavor rather than discard it. Warming it up on the stove was fast and easy and left only a veg and salad to get ready on a busy evening. I probably spent about 20 minute total of actual hands-on time preparing and reheating the meat dish.

    I like to think of this as old-fashioned “hearth” style cooking. It isn’t fancy, but it can taste very special, indeed.

    1. Wow, thank you so much Anna for this comment, very good suggestions!

  14. Oh yeah, some of those animals caught in the harvesting machines don’t necessarily get left for the crows and vultures. Some end up pulverized or even whole in that vegetarian plant-based food. Another thing to think about when contemplating buying bagged ready-to-eat produce from big industrial farms/processing companies.

    http://www.marlerblog.com/copyvolecsi.pdf

    I know, ick. I stay away from bagged, ready to eat produce!

  15. Hi Mark,

    Greetings from Finland, and thanks for a great blog.

    After reading Cordain’s book “Paleo Diet for Athletes”, I have been rethinking the importance of the omega-distortion problem. The book does actually think that it is a problem, but also offers good statistics about the actual changes.

    Originally, the (muscle) meat used to have something like 35% of fat as polyunsaturates. Nowadays it has 8-10%. Also, even though the ratio is “wrong”, it is still better than for example in olive oil.

    Among the old tribes the muscle meat (that is used to measure the values, and we primarily eat) was not a preferred meat. Whole carcass was consumed. And taking into account all edible parts, about 4-6% of energy came from polyunsaturates. Even though the fat-percent of the animal changed a lot during the year, the amount of polys still stayed within that range. The additional fat came from monos and saturated, which existed in about 1:1 ratio.

    And the same things seem to happen here, when fat-% goes up, percentage of polys go down. And this actually outplays the problem with the distorted ratio. Some domestic meats actually have LESS omega-6 than their wild counterparts.

    So, now I am wondering whether the omega-distortion is a real problem at all? Taken into account that we are not eating bone marrow and brains anymore, it might even be more feasible solution to achieve the original balance by eating meat with less polys and then balance with extra omega-3. Just eating the muscle meat having a lot of polys might make us eat too much polys.

    My educated guess would be that the original recommendation might be based on the fear of the saturated fat, even though well disguised.

    Hormones and antibiotes are a real problem, though.

  16. If there’s a Trader Joe’s in your area, check them out, they carry some cuts of New Zealand grass fed beef at very reasonable prices.

  17. Judy: Ain’t it funny how this works? I’m sitting here in Corpus wishing I had the selection available in San Antonio or Houston! 🙂

    Anna: Wow! What a great post. I’ve made progress from where the time I spent in the kitchen was equal to the time it took to pour milk in my cereal, to actually enjoying doing some real prepration. I’ve saved your post in a document file–it’s definitely something I want to investigate.

    Jaana: Just want to point out that there are some fairly knowledgeable people who take Cordain to task on his analysis of paleo meat. That may not directly affect your point, but it highlights how in some cases we have to pick from different “expert” views.

  18. Judy, I do see your point, and honestly I don’t think we disagree that much. We both agree that it’s ok to eat animals, and that animals should live good lives appropriate to their species. The people I disagree with are the vegans who think we should never exploit animals for food, or for that matter, that it’s even possible to avoid doing so. I’m simply wondering if there is a sort of urban/suburban ignorance of farming behind that mentality. People who don’t know that beef mostly comes from steers clearly don’t know much about farming. I’m just trying to point out that making a decision about what to eat based on ignorance may have some unintended consequences. People who buy vegan sugar (filtered through charcoal that is not made of animal bones) would surely be shocked to know that growing soybeans takes its share of lives, too.

  19. “The people I disagree with are the vegans who think we should never exploit animals for food, or for that matter, that it’s even possible to avoid doing so.” No, it’s not impossible to avoid harming all animals (or humans) – however, we can survive without the slaughter of 10 billion land animals a year. Half the world survives on a plant based diet – that number is increasing steadily here in the US, Europe, etc.

    “People who don’t know that beef mostly comes from steers clearly don’t know much about farming” – the SAD (standard American diet) – reports that most don’t consume muscle meets from steers…. It’s the fast food burgers (aka: gimpy dairy cows) that constitutes “beef” consumption.

    Yes, I agree too…. it’s “okay for you to eat animals” – but not to kill them. May I suggest trolling the interstate for alternative flesh sources?

  20. Old dairy cows are slaughtered, it is true, but I question whether the majority of beef consumed in the US comes from them.

    http://www.bennett.com/blog/index.php/archives/2003/12/26/a-very-mad-dairy-cow/

    A quote from the above: “Worn-out dairy cows don’t get slaughtered for the steaks you’re going to buy at a restaurant, you can’t buy their meat at Safeway, and you can’t buy hamburgers at McDonald’s or Burgerville made out of them. Their meat goes into processed foods like bologna, sausages, and dog food.”

  21. P.S. Provoked, why is it OK to kill critters so you can eat soybeans, but it is not OK to kill critters so I can eat meat? I’m not sure I understand your argument.

  22. Anna,

    Thank you for the detailed information in your comment. This would make an excellent “guest post” on the main site. I think it’s the kind of real-world information all our readers crave.

  23. Jaana,

    Good analysis and worthy of further investigation regarding ratios and sat fat.

    You said, “My educated guess would be that the original recommendation might be based on the fear of the saturated fat, even though well disguised.” I think Cordain still has a problem with sat fat. In my opinion, sat fat is far less an issue.

  24. P.S. Provoked, why is it OK to kill critters so you can eat soybeans, but it is not OK to kill critters so I can eat meat? I’m not sure I understand your argument.

    I’m not growing the critters (most in horrible conditions) to kill – whatever kritters you refer to aren’t deliberately created for consumption. It is an unavoidable occurance – not 10 billion grown deliberately. It is intent that justifies morality. It’s sad if I accidentally run over a squirrel while driving my car – Much different than breeding squirrels to specifically aim my vehicle at. It’s the intent that defines the morality. To do the least harm…. humanity 101.

  25. You are welcome, Mark. I tend to get a bit wordy, I know, so I hope you don’t mind that. But I find that when people are really interested in making changes, but don’t understand the mechanisms of how to make it happen (such as sourcing outside the supermarket system), sometimes they need a good example from “someone in the trenches” offering what works for them. I have a similar post up currently on my puny little blog, too (www.againstthegrainblog.com).

    Other than the change in shopping & cooking techniques, a typical stumbling block is resistance from family members who fear change. Going slowly is very a good idea (and not saying much, either). Not every change will win cheers and some will spark jeers.

    My son, like I was at his age, wants all the fat and anything “yucky” off his meat. So he has become very adept at using a knife & fork to trim his meat on the plate (better than some adults I know!). It didn’t happen overnight, but it also meant *me* moving away from often preparing things especially for him (I still do on occasion, such as when I prepare liver). Once he has seen something at the table a few times, and he sees my husband and I really enjoying it, he eventually asks for a taste. It’s been a great lesson in patience on my part.

  26. P.S. – I did say that the dairy cows go to make burgers – not steaks…. McDonald’s only recently changed their suppliers – countless other dairy cows are processed for human food via grocery stores, other burger joints, the USDA school lunch programs, the military, the Indian Reservations, etc. Dog/cat food? All the by-products – not the “meat”….

  27. Angus beef burgers are not from ex-dairy cows.

    And for those who are willing, it is possible to purchase meat from outside the factory farm system, which I agree is to be avoided for many reasons, included the inhumane living conditions of the animals.

  28. So, Provoked – what if I don’t raise the critters? What if I hunt them?

    I’ve never heard of “accidental/non-deliberate” hunting trip….. They’re planned events aren’t they?

    Hunting while sleepwalking – that would be out of your control and unavoidable.

  29. Oh, I see. I was confused because you said “deliberately created for consumption,” which hunted animals are not.

    I still don’t understand why my deliberate killing of animals makes me bad, but your deliberate plowing of land for soybeans (and killing animals in the process) does not. The intent argument can be used to rationalize away anything that’s uncomfortable. Someone who eats factory farmed animals can just as easily say that he does not intend for the animals to be held in confinement pens; someone who eats dairy or eggs but not meat can say he doesn’t intend for the dairy cow to get eaten; how is that any different from your saying that you don’t intend for voles to be sliced up in the fields?

    The fact that some of the beef consumed in the US comes from dairy cows – a fact I don’t dispute -does not prove that MOST of the beef consumed in the US comes from cows, which is what Tracy seemed to think and what I took you to mean when you said, “the SAD (standard American diet) – reports that most don’t consume muscle meets from steers.” (It looks like there’s a typo in that statement, so I’m not totally sure what you meant.) I still maintain that most of it comes from steers. In fact, there’s no way dairy cows by themselves could meet all current demand for beef.

    I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree. What you are trying to persuade me of is that it is bad for me to kill an animal for the purpose of feeding myself. That’s a fundamental difference between our belief systems.

    1. It’s ok; within a few years we will have in-vitro cloning of meat which will eliminate this issue and point of contention between meat-eaters and vegetarians completely.

  30. Nice post. I appreciate that you teach/remind people about the difference between grass-fed and grass-finished meat, and that you brainstorm options for getting access to good meats.

    Another reason to prioritize good quality meat is to limit the levels of industrial contaminants you ingest. I recently wrote something up about dioxin levels in meat and animal fat, which has been worrying me. This is another situation where good quality matters, although, due to dioxin in soil, water and air, even great quality meats and animal fats can contain concentrated contaminants. I bring this up here because I think it matters more for people following Paleo-like diets, which are high in animal fat. Or for those of us who really like butter.

    Food Is Love

  31. “….deliberate killing of animals makes me bad, but your deliberate plowing of land for soybeans (and killing animals in the process) does not. The intent argument can be used to rationalize away anything that’s uncomfortable.” Well, there is a definate difference in war it’s called “collateral damage” in courts it’s called “manslaughter”. I suppose eventually (if civilization ever progressed enough) most grains and vegetable could be grown hydroponically which would eliminate the need for concentrated land use and accidental killing of animals….

    “the SAD (standard American diet) – reports that most don’t consume muscle meets from steers.” Sorry, didn’t make that clear – you are right – Muscle meats do come from steer…. The gimpy dairy cows account for some burgers – Right that there’s not enough “culling” of crippled dairy to meet the demand – hence the rapid conversion to cattle feedlots….. from the pictues I’ve seen, they’re as far as the eye can see. In fact, my 8 year old nephew made a (not so funny joke) upon seeing the photos on my computer….. “Why are all the cows in jail?” He knows now.

    ” What you are trying to persuade me of is that it is bad for me to kill an animal for the purpose of feeding myself.” If eating meat were the only way to survive and thrive…. I’d have absolutely no problem – it would be necessity. Heck, I’d eat my own dog if required to sustain life. BUT – it’s not necessary (and probably not the best dietary choice at that)…..

    The fundamental difference between our belief systems is that one of us attempts to error on the side of compassion.

    1. @Provoked “I suppose eventually (if civilization ever progressed enough) most grains and vegetable could be grown hydroponically which would eliminate the need for concentrated land use and accidental killing of animals….”

      If civilization ever progressed enough then we would also be growing meat in labs.

      But that’s not the point; the point is morality is subjective and someone like yourself seems to believe that everyone should hold the same moral standards as yourself (or at the very least similar to yourself). Well sorry but that ain’t the case; every body tends to have their own set of morals and what could be moral or immoral for someone could be the very opposite for another.

      What matters is ethics or rather universal ethics which can be applied universally across all segments including across species. May be I would become a vegan the day a Lion would turn one too.

      It is natural to consume other living beings either plant or animal or other forms of life like fungi(mushrooms – which are more animal than plant) and fish etc or any combination of them as suits the living being that consumes.

      I believe you agree with this but have issues with any deliberate attempt to kill another animal. Well that is the way nature works; i.e. food is sought out deliberately!

      We deliberately kill another living being such as a plant or an animal in order to eat it. So I don’t know if you have some kind of Materializing Device or a Magic Lamp that you use for getting your food but we don’t.

      Also, just like animals are deliberately raised for slaughter as you put it; plants are also deliberately raised for slaughter – OK so?

      However if your distinction was one between plant and animal life then it is both speciest as well as absurd. Both are living beings and are able to perceive pain in varying degrees based on their types of nervous systems as well as sensory inputs.

      If you still however contend that for some reason pain as experienced by animals is greater then may be we could lobotomize them; may be fry the circuits in their brain or even better use genetic engineering to ensure that they have no brains just like most of the pushy “Ethical” Vegans out there! Hope that would make you feel much better, much much better!

      Seriously; I see no reason for making a distinction between plants and animals; and I consider it a waste of time to argue with someone who takes of beig compassionate about One Group(put any group, race, nation etc) but discriminates, distinguishes and differentiates about the Another Group (put any group, race, nation etc) in and under the same context; but then I had nothing better to do than argue with a self righteous vegan.

      Yes like stated in the comments above more people have switched to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle than in the past; of course we also have higher heart disease; diabetes; hypertension; etc too – So that kinda explains it!

      Cheers and Love

  32. “The fundamental difference between our belief systems is that one of us attempts to error on the side of compassion.”

    If you wonder why omnivores find vegans annoying, it’s because of the vocal minority who make judgmental statements like this. I think that the farmer from whom I buy my pastured chickens shows more compassion to the chicken than the fox who is waiting in the woods to rip it to shreds. And that’s what would happen to that chicken if there were no farmer to protect it. It’s clear we have nothing more to discuss; get in a last word if you want, but I am done with this discussion.

  33. I think that the farmer from whom I buy my pastured chickens shows more compassion to the chicken than the fox who is waiting in the woods to rip it to shreds.

    Love it!! :-)(and I have some grass-fed beef on the counter getting getting ready for the cast iron skillet).

    Dave

  34. So we resort and conclude by comparing man to foxes? So be it…. have the last word.

  35. The fundamental difference between our belief systems is that one of us attempts to error on the side of compassion.

    Your sense of moral superiority is misguided. Let’s suppose that animal consumption were outlawed. What would happen to all the livestock? Farmers could no longer afford to feed them and would have to release them into the wild, where they would severely disrupt the ecosystem. All living things are destined to die. It’s not like cows, pigs, chickens and other livestock would live forever if we didn’t kill them for food. Humane raising and slaughter of livestock is infinitely better than a short, brutish life in the wild.

    Since you’re so opposed to intentionally killing animals, Provoked, I hope you are a true vegan who consumes no dairy, wears no leather, and refuses modern medical treatment as so many procedures, surgeries and medicines were first tried out on lab animals.

  36. No dairy….. no animal product clothing…. No medications for 12 years (pre-vegan) have not been sick since – sorry…..

    What would happen to all the animals? Now, you’re inviting my loveliest of dreams. Firstly, there would be a halt to artificially inseminating and breeding them. I am in favor of population control for all human and non-human animals.

    I live in Florida – the south is filled with areas that have backyard/urban/sub-urban chickens. Chickens were meant to be wild. The only “problem” animals would be cows & pigs.

    I’m pretty certain many people such as myself with ample property could/would foster many/most. There are countless numbers of sanctuaries – all provide quite well for the animals and exist only on donations – If the government now supports the animal-as-food industries to the tune of 87 billion$/year – perhaps some of that $ could be filtered into the care of animals till their “time”?

    However, it is said – if all factory farm animals were released they would require 3/4 of the US land mass…. that’s how critical the situation has become. As it is now, it is not sustainable -we have literally created a monster.

    Of course nothing happens “overnight” – I believe in time there will be a slow-down on meat eating -so much of the industry is now kept artificially low to keep people buying the “product”. For example the Consumer Price Index records that houses, cars, non-food goods rose approx. 1400% since the 50’s – compared to foods (mainly animal-based foods) which have only risen 300%. If nothing else, I’d like to see my tax dollars not support an industry that I philosophicaly am opposed to. Let the market determine. If the true costs were revealed to people in the $ it takes to clean the water/dispose of remnant wastes, truck/process/refridgerate meats – many would say it’s not worth the expense. Reality would change things slowly – as I think it is already….

    Thanks for being open to hear an alternate scenario – it’s not perfect. But certainly the current situation with manure lagoons, tremendous water/fuel/pharmecutical use to grow/process meat is much worse.

  37. Some animals kill other animals for food to survivie on, that’s their instict to do so, they’re designed that way.
    So, i believe it’s perfectly OK to eat meat.
    “My belief” is that i think everyone should include “clean” meat in their diet occasionally. I used to not eat meat, just fish, turkey, chicken. But, recently i started including some meat in my diet, it’s actually GOOD 4 U!
    (Just what i believe, but, to each his own)

  38. So Donna…. just curious – “it’s actually GOOD 4 U” – care to elaborate? I’ve been in and out of books, doctors websites, assorted dietary experts on and off the internet…. have yet to find anything about meat that is not replaceable (most times better) in a plant based diet. Am very receptive to learn differently. Thanks.

  39. Posting this recommendation for anyone who might be interested – farmer Joel Salatin has a couple of really wonderful books that deal with alternatives to factory farms. The best starting place, I think, is his book, Holy Cows and Hog Heaven, which describes how a farm can produce livestock without resorting to manure lagoons and feedlots. Beware, though, if you are sensitive to criticism – Salatin is blunt, and no one group escapes his critical eye. He is equally likely to point out the foibles (as he sees them) of liberals, conservatives, city people, vegans, producers of factory farmed meat, the USDA, the FDA, big business, you name it. It’s a hard book to read if you have a thin skin, but I can accept his criticisms of things I hold dear because he is so intellectually honest. He has actually led me to question some of my previous beliefs, like the notion that regulations fix problems.

  40. “have yet to find anything about meat that is not replaceable (most times better) in a plant based diet”

    Really?

    I am a normal weight, prediabetic person who takes no meds, but can achieve normal glucose levels with a low carb diet. If I eat starches in even moderate amounts, my BG goes into levels that reach into the officially diabetic range, which if sustained long enough, would definitely progress to full-blown diabetes.

    So what can I eat for protein and still stay healthy? Plant based protein sources are starchy.

    Beans/legumes? Only in the smallest of portions, more like condiments. The starch is simply too much for my system. Granted my BG won’t go quite as high as with grains, but it still goes into the range where cellular damage is done (over 140 mg/dl) and stays there too long (hours). Soy especially is a legume I avoid because of its negative effect on the thyroid (I am also hypothyroid), except in very small, condiment portions of naturally fermented soy, like raw soy sauce and miso.

    Grains, especially high protein grains? Way too starchy, even if the kernal is left completely intact (that is my definition of “whole grain” – ground grains are not whole anymore). I do include a tiny bit of quinoa for variety, but again, more like a condiment or stew thickener, not large portions. I sometimes sprout grains and use more like a garnish, but even so, it would be hard to meet both my protein and BG control requirements with sprouted grain.

    I consume lots of non-starchy veggies, probably more than some vegetarians, certainly more than “muffin vegetarians”. But there aren’t enough calories, fat, or protein in veggies to keep anyone going for long on only that. I also put a lot of thought into my plant foods, choosing a lot of locally produced in-season produce from small family farms instead of mechanically harvested, over-processed industrial fruits and veggies from mega-farms. Industrial scale mono-cropping with mechanical harvesting has significant negative effects on wildlife populations, from accidental death (as previously mentioned) to habitat loss, as well as soil degradation and loss. Huge produce farms in the Central Valley of CA (serving the entire country) and other areas have had a devastating effect on the native animals and ecosystems because it is all about *extracting* from nature and returning little or nothing in return. I wish I knew more people promoting “plant-based” diets acknowledged the damage done by the dominant forms of plant food production.

    That leaves animal products for my protein. I take great care in those choices. I could probably “get by” with eggs and dairy and not meat, but I have a different view of “compassion” I guess so I don’t draw the line here, though some do.

    The meat and eggs I buy are from a small “hobby” farm where the animals live well. They are processed by a local service, not shipped long distance to a huge plant. My dairy source is farther away (but still instate), but I have visited it, too, and the herd is small and on pasture, not confined indoors and eating an unnatural diet. The milking parlor is mobile and goes to the cows in the field. They even keep the gimpy ones around, instead of sending them out for processing into hamburger. If there are truly “happy cows” in CA, they are at my dairy. I doubt there are “happy cows” at the many CAFO dairies in So Cal, where herd sizes are enormous and conditions are miserable.

    I also buy some wild fish, but take into account mercury and PCB contamination, overfishing, and long-transport issues, etc.

    So given my health constraints, I can’t see that a purely plant based diet simply is an option if I want to stay healthy, nor do I think it is optimal for most people. I would never argue that someone consume animal products if they are dead set against it for whatever reason, but I do chafe if they suggest no one should. A lot thought goes into my food choices, including compassion and awareness of animal suffering, though vegans may not see it that way.

    But I think the more important point than arguing about teh correct definition of “compassion” is to just think about our food choices in the first place, and consume with eyes wide open, rather than blindly. A simple way to put it might be consume “everything about the food”, not just the food itself. To me, that is the bigger travesty, that omnivore, vegetarian, or vegan, too many people just know too little about the food they are choosing, how it is produced, and by whom, what *all* the ramifications and costs are, whether the foods are animal-based *or* plant based.

  41. Anna: Just wanted to let you know that I stopped by my public library on the way home and they had a copy of Aidells’ Meat book. It’s mine for two weeks (and I can extend it to six via the computer). Thanks for the tip!!

  42. Dave C.,

    I’ve got my eye on Aidell’s pork book next, because I find pork very versatile.

    But if you really want to get adventurous, consider Fergus Henderson’s or Hugh Fearnley-Whittingsall’s books (British), both of which provide ample ideas for nose-to-tail eating.

    I didn’t mention it earlier, but I think that making use of as much of the animal as possible is part of honoring the animals whose lives end to nourish ours.

    Admittedly, much of this is new territory for me though I’ve made a lot of progress already. Just today, I took delivery of a cooler full of many of the “odd bits” from my farm source, such as pig’s feet & ears, organs, leaf lard, etc. for my freezer. Some of the organ meat will go into the cat food, but the majority I will try to use for us. My husband, living in Britain until age 25 and of very modest means growing up, won’t find this difficult at all (his mom used to roast a pig’s head for holidays and buy cold cooked tongue slices at the deli because the low cost).

    Time to dive into the cooler and see what I’ve got here. Wish me luck!

  43. Anna….. ya got me – I’m not a doctor – like my previous post mentioned I haven’t been ill for 12 years since becoming vegan. But, I did Google Vegan Diabetic and was surprised to see that there are many sites that actually encourage experimentations with vegan diets to curtail/eliminate diabetes…. Certainly, you and your doctors know best. I’m so sorry you’re ill. But thanks for reminding me of my own (sometimes taken for granted) good health – Best to you….

  44. I’m pretty certain many people such as myself with ample property could/would foster many/most. There are countless numbers of sanctuaries – all provide quite well for the animals and exist only on donations – If the government now supports the animal-as-food industries to the tune of 87 billion$/year – perhaps some of that $ could be filtered into the care of animals till their “time”?

    Nearly a billion of the world’s people suffer from chronic malnutrition, not to mention lack of access to clean drinking water and decent medical care, and you want people and the government to spend money on livestock sanctuaries. Provoked, you’ve certainly got your priorities in order. I’m touched by your compassion.

  45. Compassion????

    “Spiritual progress does demand at some stage that we should cease to kill our fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants.” -Gandhi

    Water/Gas/Resources?

    “Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet. ” Albert Einstein

    1. Gandhi said that because he was a Hindu and was influenced by the Hindu belief that every living being has a soul and this soul either transcends to a higher being or a lower being based on its Karma.

      Albert Einstein although not exactly religious in the dogmatic sense was influenced by Hinduism as well as other eastern philosophies as were many other prominent people of his times.

      Also; Gandhi ate diary, drank milk, used honey regularly etc – maybe he should have practiced what he preached given your interpretation of his statement Provoked

      Regardless, someone’s religious outlook or personal moral code is not decider of what is right or wrong. Also; what is even more ironic is that Hindu religious texts actually prescribe eating meat and serving them as sacrifices and religious offerings. This even includes bovine; cows which are considered holy are described as sacrificial animals which were meant to be offered to the Gods as well as eaten as per Hindu texts – A quick read of Swami Vivekananda’s complete works details this irony as well other such quirks.

      In fact; there is a theory that the practice of untouchablity itself came about due to the refusal of some groups to consider the cow holy (this holy status was given due to various reasons such as increased importance in farming; for dairy; basic agricultural usage; result of myths and folklore in Hindu religion which gave it an almost mythical status; most importantly increased belief in the soul and Karmic theory etc – maybe there were a few crazy vegans there too :D)

      Due to the refusal of these groups to consider cows or any other life as holy and their continued consumption of these animals as forms of food and use them for other purposes such as clothing etc they came to be ostracized by main stream Hindu society which had largely become Vegetarian and even vegan or partially vegan in some cases.

      This is no different from the case of the Buraku in Japanese society who were treated even worse off mainly because of their dealing with animal carcasses and consumption of meat considered forbidden due to Buddhism and its version of Karmic Belief.

      Gandhi was a Political Leader and Einstein was a Physicist; neither was a dietitian let alone someone fully capable of making an informed statement about this and even they do not entirely agree with your outlook as not using animals as food sources (they did consume animal derived products such as milk, diary, honey etc).

      They only were against consumption of animal meat and even there Gandhi ate eggs (although he was not supposed to as per his religious beliefs as well as the community he was born into) if I am not mistaken.

      So Provoked don’t get all self righteous about this!

      Cheers and more Love

  46. It takes 6 times more land and resources to produce a pound of meat than does plant based foods…..

    The water! Ha! 2500 gallons = 1 pound of beef
    Things that grow from the ground? 80.

    One more suggestion if Livestock’s Long Shadow is too technical….

    New York Times: Mark Bittman “Rethinking the Meat Guzzler”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/27/weekinreview/27bittman.html

    You’d be amazed at water usage/waste that fuel consumption creates:
    http://www.h2oconserve.org/home.php?pd=index

  47. I have no idea why some of my comment will not post – it’s very odd….

  48. Since I’ve tried to respond to and have been unsuccessful – I can only assume that perhaps links are not permitted.

    If you Google “Livestock’s Long Shadow” – a well researched study, it shows that a meat based diet encourages starvation. Instead of growing plant based foods third world countries are being deforestized to graze American cattle. All benefits to powerful finacial interests. Instead of sending money in emergencies our Government sends foods (mostly animal based and not these people’s normal diet). These releif animal based foods have to be refridgerated during transport and uses a huge amount of fuel/time to transport.

    Meat as food become nearly useless for those it’s intended to help. It is riddled with “special safety handeling” issues. I know, I lived through “government emergency aid” in a hurricane – No roof over our heads – no electricity for weeks. Meat???? What we had on hand spoiled quickly – and was nasty to dispose of. It was the shipments of fruits, vegetables, water and our own shelves of cereals, grains and canned goods that made the difference. This is on a small scale – multiply this by millions, thousands of miles away…… No, people would not starve…. Just gotta stop feeding 3/4 of the worlds grain to factory farm animals. It’s about distribution.

    It takes 6 times more land and resources to produce a pound of meat than does plant based foods…..

    The water! Ha! 2500 gallons = 1 pound of beef
    Things that grow from the ground – vegetable protein? 80.

    New York Times: Mark Bittman “Rethinking the Meat Guzzler” You’d be amazed at water usage/waste that fuel consumption of meat based diets create.

  49. Provoked, all your assumptions about efficiency are about grain-fed meat. I can tell you’re new to Mark’s blog, because both Mark and most of his regular commenters recognize grass-fed meat to be preferable. There are huge tracts of land in the world that would grow grass quite readily but need chemical inputs and irrigation in order to grow grain and soy. In those cases, the efficiency equation reverses solidly in favor of livestock production.

    It seems like you keep shifting your arguments. When someone takes on your arguments about factory farming, you shift to absolutist statements about the morality of taking animal lives. When someone points out that animal lives are taken no matter what you eat, you turn to arguments about health. When someone questions the health value of a vegetarian diet, you turn back to factory farming. And although you haven’t said this explicitly, I sense a desire to equate human and animal life; otherwise, why is animal life so inviolable? And yet when I say that humans take lives more compassionately than foxes, you seem to resent my lowering humans to the standards of the animal kingdom. This position seems to me to be inconsistent – either we are equal to animals or we are not.

    You have, however, expressed some willingness to hear the other side, so I have a few reading suggestions for you. Do check out Joel Salatin’s books to learn more about why some of us think livestock raising can be humane. Check out the Weston A. Price Foundation for information about nutrition. Google “Diabetes low-carb” for a huge body of info about why grains and legumes are not a health food for anyone who is predisposed to obesity and diabetes. Or look for a book called Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution at your library.

    As for links, I think comments with links are moderated (you get a little italic message at the top saying your comment is awaiting moderation) to help protect the blog from spammers. As you’ve probably noticed, they do show up eventually.

  50. Provoked, you are describing efficient production of calories. And by promoting that, you are accepting that the population numbers that have to be supported are optimum, simply because they exist.

    For instance, might it be possible that we have exceeded the carrying capacity of a given geographical area, if we define that carrying capacity as having to provide a diet that leads to optimal health?

    And despite what you say, it is not at all settled that a plant-based diet is optimum for humans. In fact, it is becoming incresingly clear that it isn’t.

    You are basically saying we should keep people crowding into cities, and since we can only feed the billions of people now on the planet by feeding them grains, then grains must be the optimal diet. That just doesn’t follow.

    If you want to make the arguement that plant-based diets are healthier, make that argument, and back it up with research supporting it. (You’ll be hard-pressed to do that, but go ahead and try.)

    But just stating that it’s more efficient to feed people with grains is meaningless if we are trying to figure out what’s healthy. When you do that, you just treat humans like some great herd of cattle.

  51. You’re right, Migraineur. Most comments with links get dropped into our moderation bin. I can assure you that only spam comments are deleted. All of Provoked’s comments have been posted.

  52. to Charles:
    Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

    Red meat, dairy foods, and eggs are the biggest sources of saturated fat and cholesterol, which promote heart disease, the number-one killer in the United States. I estimate that eliminating saturated fat and cholesterol by not eating meat, dairy foods, poultry, and eggs would save about 65,000 lives per year.

    What’s more, replacing those animal foods with plant foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber–which is absent from animal foods–would save thousands more lives every year.

    American Institute for Cancer Research: World Cancer Research Fund International:The result of a five-year process involving nine independent teams of scientists from around the world, hundreds of peer reviewers, and 21 international experts who reviewed and analyzed over 7,000 large-scale studies, the report recommendations for cancer prevention: excerps: obesitiy is a problem (most vegetarians are on the slim side)…. The association between diet and cancer, the new assessment finds the evidence linking red meat (beef, pork and lamb) to colorectal cancer is more convincing than it was a decade ago. Every 1.7 ounces of processed meat consumed per day increases risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent. “We are recommending 5 servings or more of vegetables and fruit daily because, like physical activity, they pack a double whammy against cancer. Probable evidence indicates they help reduce cancer risk on their own, and as low-energy-dense foods, they help maintain a healthy weight, which the evidence shows has a big influence on cancer risk”. Of course alchol consumption, excersize and lifestyle changes are also recommended…..

    Please research: The China Sudy best selling book by Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II.

    Scientists have been trying to figure out why vegetarians have only about half the cancer risk of meat-eaters. The latest plant supernutrient, beta-sitosterol, was lauded at the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology by University of Buffalo nutrition researcher Atif Awad, Ph.D. Beta-sitosterol was shown to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells in the test tube, cutting the number of cancer cells by 66 percent compared with control cell cultures.

    Osteoporosis. High protein intake is known to encourage urinary calcium losses
    Impaired Kidney Function. When people eat too much protein, it releases nitrogen into the blood or is digested and metabolized. This places a strain on the kidneys, which must expel the waste through the urine. High-protein diets are associated with reduced kidney function.

    Heart Disease. Typical high-protein diets are extremely high in dietary cholesterol and saturated fat. The effect of such diets on blood cholesterol levels is a matter of ongoing research. However, such diets pose additional risks to the heart, including increased risk for heart problems immediately following a meal. Evidence indicates that meals high in saturated fat adversely affect the compliance of arteries, increasing the risk of heart attacks.

    some foods are addictive?

    Studies suggest that cheese, chocolate, sugar, and meat all spark the release of opiate-like substances that trigger the brain’s pleasure center and seduce us into eating them again and again. These foods stimulate the same opiate receptors in your brain as heroin or morphine, but to a much lesser degree….

    I really would love to just link you to the many studies supporting my position – but this site does not permit such. You can do your own research…..

    On a personal level – I’ve been vegetarian/vegan for a decade+ ….. I encouraged 3 neighborhood couples to give it a try….. since the beginning of the year 6 of the 8 folks have lost considerable (excess weight) – 7 of the 8 have had their chlorestoral blood points drop – 8 of 8 are “never hungry”. And everyone feels like they have “more energy”.

    You know, I can’t say what’s right for everybody – but I’ve done enough poking around environmental “green” sites to know that animal based foods are just not sustainable – A cow and pig make about 8 times more poop than a human – multiply that by billions of animals….. that’s a lot of methane. It is said that raising animals for food is the single biggest contriubutor to global warming.

    This is an awful long response, but you did ask for something to back up my argument…… I challenge you now to show me where any health study recommends eating “more” animal based foods? Or any environmentally concerned organization that doesn’t support an increase in plant based foods?

    “Have exceeded the carrying capacity of a given geographical area?”….. Yeah, I was one of those “hippies” 30 years ago screaming about population control – I did my “green” then – I went child-free…..

    .

  53. You won’t get an argument from me that the dominant US system of meat production (CAFOs, grain-feeding to herbivores, overseas deforestation for grain production, US & international policies that push cash-crops at the expense of local food production, etc. ) is seriously flawed and worth dismantling. Each year I am finding new ways to reduce my participation or drop out of that system.

    But where I will differ is that the *only* solution to the problems is to not raise meat for food by any method. Also, it’s time to put those tired statistics of what it takes to produce a pound of beef put to bed; I’ve been hearing that mantra and watching the hand-wringing for 25 or more years. It’s no more helpful now than it was back then. It shuts down thinkidoesn’t give people a clue that there is another way, and there is.

    As I’ve mentioned before, but non-meat eaters seem to conveniently ignore, it isn’t only industrial-scale animal production that is unsustainable and detrimental to health, local economies, and the environment. The same charges *equally* apply to modern industrial scale plant food production; it is also very energy and water intensive, creates massive ecosystem imbalances, and undermines local *and* distant economies.

    Small, poly-cultural farms with plants *and* animals raised in a way suitable to their individual nature simply do not wreak a toll on the ecosystem, in fact they can support it, because they don’t extract resources, as industrial scale agriculture does (plant or animal).

  54. Provoked:

    Red meat, dairy foods, and eggs are the biggest sources of saturated fat and cholesterol, which promote heart disease, the number-one killer in the United States.

    Ah, the old lipid hypothesis. As someone (I think Mark) said earlier, you must be new on this site, as it is pretty much dedicated to demonstrating that argument is unsupported by any dependable science.

    I would recommend Gary Taubes’s book, good Calories, Bad Calories,” which makes it clear that the whole saturated fat and cholesterol theory is not only unsupported by good research, it’s contradicted.

    Seriously, you have just displayed yourself as someone who really hasn’t read the research, and looked into the history of the whole “saturated fat will kill you” myth. And it is just that, a myth.

    I really would suggest you look back in the archives of this site and many others with a similar bent and educate yourself. All of your arguments have been refuted at one time or another, and increasingly so.

  55. Oh, and as to colon cancer, one study (I think it was Framingham) demonstrated that if your cholesterol level was below 190, you had three times as great a risk of getting colon cancer as someone with a total cholesterol of 220, and twice as great a risk of all cancers as someone with a total cholesterol of 260.

    And as to the China study, Campbell’s description of it was contradicted by the actual data.

    But really, you are just arguing from a real ignorance of the science. Not what you read about the science in the popular media, but the real science.

  56. Provoked,

    I think this discussion is getting beat to death and we should move on.

    If you had been reading this site for a while, you would know that I and most of my readers are convinced that 1) blood levels of cholesterol per se have little to do with increased risk for heart disease 2) that dietary fat (even sat fat) and dietary cholesterol are “red herrings” when it comes to heart disease and that the main culprit is excess carbohydrate. And by that I mean pretty much any form of carbohydrate in excess of 200 grams a day. The PCRM statement that cutting meat,etc would save 65,000 lives a year is way out of context vis a vis the science. Like any committee, they are 20 years behind the curve. I would submit that if we could get people to eliminate grains, simple sugars and processed carbs we could save 500,000 lives a year (and that’s just from heart disease and stroke…)

  57. I read The China Study, and Campbell impresses me as a rather bad scientist. A good scientist does not conflate correlation and causation; Campbell does. A good scientist designs and performs experiments that could prove his hypothesis wrong; Campbell does not do these kinds of experiments. A bad scientist will claim to have proven a hypothesis; good scientists know that hypotheses can never be proven, only supported or refuted. And he’s not really clear about what conclusions his research supports. As far as I can tell, he has shown that if you add fractionated casein to commercial rat chow, rats get cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. That doesn’t really say much about humans eating whole dairy products, and especially about eating whole dairy products that are not combined with starches (a key component of commercial rat chows).

    I think that if you look at the body of evidence that purports to show that saturated fats cause heart disease, you’ll see similar bad science.
    Check out, for example, The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics (THINCS).

    Cows and pigs do make a lot of manure, but this is only a problem if you treat manure like a toxic byproduct. Grass farmers treat manure as fertilizer.

  58. to Migraineur: “It seems like you keep shifting your arguments.” I’m trying to respond to 3 people on this post – If I sound “inconsistent” it’s because I sort of am getting “ganged up on”…..

    The grass fed cattle – Isn’t there a problem with grazing??? I seem to recall several “land grants” that the government is issuing – and a fight with wild Bison and their needs. Also, am I wrong that grass-fed animals also go to the feed-lot for a few months for “finishing”. At least that’s what M. Pollan’s articles lead me to believe.

    I would have elaborated more about the “fox” – you chose to end the discussion: “you seem to resent my lowering humans to the standards of the animal kingdom. This position seems to me to be inconsistent – either we are equal to animals or we are not.” Animals like foxes, lions, cats, etc – have no choice…. the operate on instinct. Physically, we are the “same” as animals. We all feel hunger, pain, fear, etc. And we all have an interest in our own lives – Since man does trump animals intellectually (and spiritually) we are capable of making choice to kill or not…… At times, these choices actually improve man’s lot – health wise and environmentally. Certainly spiritually, as not many (omnivores) “enjoy” the killing part. I realize most who raise their livestock not only have a interests in their beasts for monetary reasons – but also because they are living beings. Ranchers, farmers (and omnivores) I believe would rather there was another way beyond the killing – I don’t think foxes give a darn either way.

    I promise I will look closer at the Weston Price Foundation – Especially the website tour for vegetarians. I understand that “Wise Traditions” are not in favor of factory farming, de-beaking, and all the other attrocities “modern” agriculture has devised….. This is good. I am very much in favor of a return to traditional farm situations. I am attempting to build a chicken house (yes, for rescued factory birds) – I have no problem with consuming eggs – if they weren’t kept is such horrific conditions. Perhaps you and I aren’t that far from each other in thinking after all?

    Also – Google “Diabetes vegan”….. I think we might reach an impasse’ here…..

    1. To all you people arguing over this vegan/omnivore minefield … you are getting on my nerves. You each exhibit the prejudiced, slanted, pejorative tactics that you accuse the other of using.

      Giraffes eat vegetables – leaves. Lions eat other animals – meat. I have never seen a lion try to convince a giraffe to eat meat, nor have I ever seen a giraffe try to convince a lion to eat leaves. One prefers one type of food, the other, a different type. Yet each flourishes.

      The giraffe does not accuse the lion of being immoral because it kills and eats a zebra. The lion does not think the giraffe immoral for striping the leaves off a tree, even if the tree dies. To each his own.

      There are people groups on this planet whose members have rarely, if ever, eaten meat. They exist and thrive on diets composed entirely of fruits, berries, roots and other vegetables. Other societies sustain themselves on a diet almost exclusively composed of animal protein and fat. Many of them would be hard pressed to get one serving of fruit or vegetables regularly. Yet they, too thrive. To each his own.

      So, knock it off already! I am more than happy to let vegetarians live your life as you would. Please offer omnivores the same consideration. Who made either of you the arbiters of societal morality?

      Eating meat is NOT immoral. Eating vegetables is NOT immoral. However, eating meat produced in such a way that it endangers the planet’s ecology and poisons the meat, or eating vegetables grown in such a ways as to pollute the land and poison the vegetables, IS immoral.

      So, quit bitching about WHAT each of you eats, and grow up and examine the way in which each of you allows your food to be PRODUCED. Yes, YOU. Meat eaters, you can put an end to CAFOs tomorrow – if you cared enough. Without your money, they dry up almost overnight. And, if you vegetarians cared enough, you could end fertilizer runoff, and damage to the water table, and single use, land depleting practices and all the rest of big-Ag’s practices almost overnight, the same way.

      Some animals eat meat, some don’t Humans are, like it or not, animals. Some of them eat meat, some of them don’t. Get over it!

      Peace, Love, and Good Night.

  59. To Anna: “Small, poly-cultural farms with plants *and* animals raised in a way suitable to their individual nature simply do not wreak a toll on the ecosystem, in fact they can support it, because they don’t extract resources, as industrial scale agriculture does (plant or animal).” I agree – I never had a problem till I learned the term “factory farm” – I think small farms are the best/only way for the land, the farmer, the animals and the economy….. Can we go back 50 years?

    To All: No, I have not read this entire blog from the beginning…. sorry if this is an old argument – No one here is going to clean out their fridge of animal products….. I certainly am not going out for a steak any time soon – Can we all just agree to disagree? Maybe we’re all a little bit right & a little bit wrong.

  60. I’m very familiar with every one of the arguments made to suggest that either meat eating is less health promoting or that abstaining from meat is more health-promoting. Anyone truly interested in seeing all sides of these arguments will quickly find that the references you cite are easily picked apart. If you look at them with a skeptic’s eye (for any side, really), they just don’t hold up very well.

    I can’t decide were to begin, so I’ll just pick a couple that stand out. Yes, I’ll agree that sugar tends to fuel appetite, over-consumption, weight gain, cancer, diabetes, dementia, and a host of other problems. Incidentally, starch breaks down into sugar. Opiate substances might play a supporting role, but I think the strongest influence is the glucose/energy regulation system, driven by carbohydrate intake, which drives insulin. Insulin exerts powerful influences on the brain and through the body and especially on hunger. Rapidly falling glucose levels will start hunger cravings like nothing else. Try it with a glucose meter something. Illuminating. It is, of course, more complicated than that, but suffice it to say that if insulin levels are kept low to moderate with minimal sugar and starch intake, hunger and overconsumption are not big issues. Try really overeating on just fat and animal products and non-starchy veggies, with zero added sugar and no starch for a few days. You’ll find it just isn’t possible to do very long. Fat and animal protein on their own just don’t generate hunger, they satisfy it. You might even lose weigh, surprisingly.

    I’ll grant you that meat and fat are sometimes implicated in studies, but what those studies always fail to control for is simultaneous carbohydrate intake (additionally, whether the meat is produced naturally or from unnatural factory farm situations, which greatly changes nutritional profiles). Very few people eat large amounts of meat or fat without also consuming a lot of carbohydrate. It makes a huge difference in the body’s biochemistry! Nutrition science since WWII has not always been very rigorous, and these studies are just a few of the examples of failing to isolate variables (which is unscientific). And I haven’t even gotten into how epidemiological studies fail to show causation, only correlation or how studies are designed to show a desired outcome. One has to be very careful about nutrition studies. They are often worse than useless.

    Check out the review of The China Study on Migraineur’s blog. It’s revealing.

    Really look into the cholesterol theory, with hard science data from someone other than drug sellers who profit from the manufactured fear of cholesterol, the animal rights people, and others who push a vegetarian or “no cholesterol” agenda. Cholesterol isn’t causative. It may indeed indicate something is out of whack in the body (such as hypothyroidism, chronic inflammation, or too much insulin production caused by high sugar/starch intake, as well as well as other pathological conditions) but the rigorous science does not really support the theory that cholesterol *causes* heart disease. Like many other notions that turn out to be missteps by our “great thinkers” (flat earth?), this one is past ready for a paradigm shift. If the theory was right, we really should have beaten heart disease by now.

    It is politically and nutritionally incorrect to say that eating animal products is actually healthy, plus the collective consciousness over the past half century has tended to reward those who toe the party line, and punish and silence those who question it. That is not how good, rigorous science is done, but politicl and social movements sort of stole the show and dominated what became accepted dogma. Question everything.

    Let’s see what else you suggest? Animal products are not rich in vitamins and minerals? What planet do you come from? That’s just plain wrong. Ounce for ounce there’s far more density of essential nutrients in animal products, especially the organs and also in eggs, than in any plant food. Additionally, eating a diet high in grains actually increases the body’s requirement for some nutrients, B complex and Vit C in particular, as well as some minerals. We aren’t herbivores, eating leaves all day. Anecdotal I know, but just last Sunday I had a conversation with someone who proudly claimed to be a super healthy, 7% body fat marathon trainer, living primarily on whole grains, tofu, and lettuce, who had to sit down and put his head down because he was getting dizzy from standing too long. Hmmm, he ate several servings of the very lovely Easter cakes and strawberry tarts. He didn’t have any blackberries because the seeds exacerbate his diverticulitis. I had a bowl of blackberries with whipped cream and felt fine. Doesn’t prove anything I know, but I thought it was ironic, particularly because when he got dizzy, he was telling me about his carb-loading, insulin pump-using hard-core exercising cycling friend with T1 diabetes who inexplicably couldn’t keep his BG from roller coasting). Isn’t a mystery to me.

    Animal products aren’t much of a source of fiber, ok, but quess what? The fiber requirements are highly overrated! That theory sure does sell a lot of surplus stuff, though, doesn’t it. It takes some digging, but once once gets past the circular reasoning of the fiber argument, there really isn’t much evidence that a lot of fiber is necessary or particularly beneficial. However, those that eat a lot of plant material, particularly grains, do get a bit addicted to fiber and find they cannot cut back. Plenty of fiber can come from non-starchy plants, but that they can’t provide the energy and nutrient density that animal products can, so a diet with both can be quite healthy without being excessively fibrous.

    PDRM, an arm of PETA. They aren’t exactly unbiased, so I doubt they just gather the data and let the data speak for itself, like good scientists do (and most physicians aren’t scientists, anyway- they are practitioners). In fact, I would argue that medical training, which is generally risk averse, is oppositional to scientific theory, which tends to rigorously question what we think we know and take risks.

    And for the last fallacy, I don’t doubt that most people who eat the typical crappy food in the American food supply wouldn’t see all sort of benefits from dietary changes that reduced processed foods and increased fresh foods, including vegetables. But that doesn’t mean that shunning animal products is the only way or even the best way to achieve those benefits. Crappy food is crappy, vegetarian or not. Reducing or eliminating crap always is better. Fresh regular food produced traditionally is better than anything processed in a huge factory.

    You know, Provoked, at one time I also believed and said a lot, if not most of the things you are saying here. I accepted them on faith, because intuitively, they made a lot of sense at the time. The problem is, while ti did point out some problems with where things are headed with conventional industrial diets and food production, it wasn’t the whole story, either. Plus it probably just masked some better, more sensible, but old-fashioned ideas. I certainly think that my years of Jane Brody- following with a high whole grain, lower fat, and low animal product diet did me some harm, which a more omnivorous diet is correcting (luckily not too late). The past few years of really looking under the surface of everything that is commonly accepted about diet, nutrition, and health, has been really transforming. I check and recheck everything now and have a much more skeptical eye for all claims. I’m always learning and re-evaluating. Too much depends upon it.

  61. Anna “It is politically and nutritionally incorrect to say that eating animal products is actually healthy, plus the collective consciousness over the past half century has tended to reward those who toe the party line, and punish and silence those who question it. That is not how good, rigorous science is done, but politicl and social movements sort of stole the show and dominated what became accepted dogma. Question everything.” – Thanks very good advice…..

    Your friend with the blackberries – wouldn’t want him in my corner for veggies either…..

    “Crappy food is crappy, vegetarian or not. Reducing or eliminating crap always is better. ” I agree – It’s just going to be VERY difficult to provide affordable “good” food when we’re pushing 7 billion on the planet.

    “The past few years of really looking under the surface of everything that is commonly accepted about diet, nutrition, and health, has been really transforming. I check and recheck everything now and have a much more skeptical eye for all claims. I’m always learning and re-evaluating. Too much depends upon it.” Very wise indeed!

  62. Migraineur:

    “Check out, for example, The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics (THINCS).”…… I will.

    “Cows and pigs do make a lot of manure, but this is only a problem if you treat manure like a toxic byproduct. Grass farmers treat manure as fertilizer.”….. “good” for now – but how long will it/can it last?

  63. “Can we all just agree to disagree?”

    Absolutely! I guess by now, it is probably clear that none of us that have “ganged up” on you have come to our conclusions lightly. it’s interesting too, that you brought up Michael Pollan, who I have read as well. I have few nits to pick with Mr. Pollan* but overall, I like his work. I find it interesting that you only came away with the notion that grass-fed is something negative, though. Yes, he points out that all beef cattle start off grass fed but there is so much more to it, especially when taking a non-factory farm path.

    *Mr. Pollan has a lovely writing style and for those new to thinking about their food in a deeper sense, his writing is a great start. But it is rather incomplete and not exactly on mark nutritionally in some ways.

    I also recommend Real Food: What to Eat and Why, by Nina Planck. It’s a quick to read book, but chock full of ideas and well-researched reasoning. She grew up on a family organic farm (before organic was chic or commonplace), and became vegetarian (it was the trend) in her young adulthood, but found it didn’t jive with her health or her life experience. She became aware of the dissonance, if you will.

    I suppose there isn’t much incentive for someone committed to not consuming meat to explore anything that suggests a more omnivorous path, but if you decide to do so for information’s sake, the suggestion for Joel Salatin’s books is also a great one. So is the Weston Price foundation website, as well as Jo Robinson’s book and Eat Wild website as well as Shannon Haye’s.

    Best wishes to you.

  64. Charles…. “one study (I think it was Framingham) demonstrated that if your cholesterol level was below 190, you had three times as great a risk of getting colon cancer as someone with a total cholesterol of 220, and twice as great a risk of all cancers as someone with a total cholesterol of 260.” Okay – now I’m VERY confused. I think it’s safe to say that all will argue the findings to the side they lean – Too many contradicting studies – I can only take care of this body (which does feel great) and has all the numbers in order. Everyone is different.

  65. There is a British writer, Colin Tudge, with a book called So Shall We Reap, who has been studying population and food production since the early 60s. He knows little about nutrition sadly, but he makes a very good argument that population increase rates are slowing quite a bit and world population is going to level off (I don’t remember when he said but perhaps when my third grader is about 80?) and that the world actually *can* feed everyone both now as well as in the future if changes in food production get going (enough food *is* already produced now, but because it is about wealth-building, not feeding people, some starve and others waste, but that is another issue about how agriculture breeds inequity). I haven’t had time to further dive into this issue other data relating to feeding the world’s population but I plan to (rechecking).

    Once again, I think that the worries and answers of the 60s and 70s when the pop increase rates were really rising, haven’t caught up with the unexpected slowing of population growth in the past two decades. One thing that *is* clear is that food production needs to be made more sustainable *now* no matter what happens to the population rates. What I don’t see is enough movement towards sustainability.

    Oh yeah, manure – you *need* manure in a balanced biodynamic farm to balance the energy and nutrient cycle so you don’t extract more than you put into to the system. You won’t need manure lagoons, either. Joel Salatin explains the cycle system very well. My third grader gets it, so it isn’t too hard to comprehend, but it does take some time to think about it, since there is so little of this type of food production in the US anymore (and diminishing in other parts of the world).

    Polyculture is about working with nature, not fighting it. Manure lagoons ignore nature at great cost. There are all sorts of new ways of looking at animal production with modern view (but based on very traditional methods that farmers aren’t taught in ag school any more) that go way beyond bad grazing techniques and factory farms. If anyone had told me 30 years ago that I would have been reading about farming this much I would have thought them crazy. But it is a huge part of the food issues.

    I have some thoughts about affording the real cost of food but I think I’ll settle down now :-). Enough for two day, yes?

  66. Provoked:

    I think it’s safe to say that all will argue the findings to the side they lean – Too many contradicting studies

    It’s interesting that you are now saying that everyone is different. You started out implying that everyone was basically the same, and all could benefit from a vegetarian diet.

    Actually the studies have been quite consistent. There is little if any relationship between cholesterol and heart disease, and often a negative relationship with overall mortality, particularly cancer and strokes.

    Please go ahead and Google “low cholesterol and cancer” and you’ll come up with a number of links about studies that have nothing to do with arguing for one side or the other.

    Certainly the Framingham researchers had no ax to grind, in fact they were looking for positive results from lowered cholesterol. Particularly in women, they found that higher cholesterol and saturated fat was protective.

    Japanese studies also showed a significant (called “dramatic”) decrease in stroke deaths and deaths from cerebral hemmorhage with an overall increase in animal fats, saturated fats, and animal protein.

    Again, Google “low cholesterol and stroke.” You will find some more confusing research. Confusing, but surprisingly consistent.

    If you leave this discussion confused, that’s a good thing.

  67. Charles….. I’m not a doctor, I’m not a scientist – We could both argue health till the grass-fed cows come home. Although I don’t think I ever said it…… I rescind: eating meat will NOT kill you – Can you concede that doing without will not either? I believe the human body is remarkably adaptable to many diets. I was wrong for making a generality. Pardon.

    “If you leave this discussion confused, that’s a good thing.” Thanx – at least you didn’t say: “just leave”….:)

    Anna: About the pop…… I’m not a researcher either – but taking 3 major studies: The UN, Pew and a National Geographic study – they all seem to point somewhere around 9 billion before it stabilizes – by the end of the 21st. Assuming this is so – is there enough for “all” to be well fed – on the premise that free-range chickens, non-warehoused hogs & grass fed cattle are the best nutritional (of the animal) foods? If that population needs houses, roads, schools, hospitals and all the other infrastructure – where do all the (food) animals live?…. Another monkey wrench: we’re loosing habitable land – There have already been environmental refugees caused by raising water and there’s also soil depletion to consider….. yes?

    ” If anyone had told me 30 years ago that I would have been reading about farming this much I would have thought them crazy.” I agree, I’m 53 and am learning more about beans and beef than I ever dreamed….. Who knows, maybe as more folks become veggies it will help with the free-range sustainability? That’s a bright side right?

    M.Pollan – I got more than the perceived “negatives” – just no need to elaborate – this forum knows them all quite well enough…… He’s done much to show both sides of the dilemma…..

    “affording the real cost of food” ….. am looking forward to it.

  68. I sort of stumbled here…… maybe in search of some answers(?). Overall, it’s been quite an interesting debate – Great blog….. lots of enthusiasm and intelligence. Wish that some of the vegan/vegetarian sites had such articulate folks 🙂

    And not meaning to ruffle any feathers…. these are just questions: And NOT my intent to offend anyone here…..

    1. If there is a future that science will “grow” animal parts – as healthy and beneficial as grass-fed & free range animals meat – does anyone here think there will still be arguments – “it’s not as good as the real (living) thing” or the opposition: (beyond vegatarian, beyond vegan, beyond PETA):”it’s flesh, and still wrong to consume”. I think this is an ancient conflict – else why would so many versions of religions have special mandates, customs, rituals and rites surrounding man’s use of animals? Thoughts?

    2. “We were all alot better not knowing where our sausage came from” – I’ve heard that said many times. Just curious – with Youtube, Hallmark/Westland videos, arbittior and slaughterhouse in the daily news – Are the people who can’t square up to the killing of something lacking? Why can’t some (like myself) distinquish between my frisky dog and the cute pink pig or my fluffy cat and the brown eyed cow? An honest question: is there something amiss (or defective) in us? And the cure is????

    3. Back to the slaugherhouse (as I’ve conceeded the health & environment)…… Thousands of men work the kill floor – it has the highest turn-over rate in packing plants….. Also, the highest instances of suicide, divorce depression and alcholism – Will society ever reach a point where we will no longer ask (or offer) men to do such jobs? I don’t know, maybe an automated machine or something? They’re already gassing chickens – why not other animals?

    Just questions – like I said, NO intent to criticize….. After all, you guys are the beef people – right? Peace 🙂

  69. Provoked, I don’t have time right now to answer your very thoughtful questions, but I promise to think about them, and hopefully post some of my thoughts here, or on my own blog, which I invite you to check out. (I wonder what you’d think about my current post, which is about omnivory.) Or, you know, maybe Mark will turn your quesitons into an Ask Mark post (hint, hint) that we can use as a jumping off point for further discussion.

    But I did want to come back and say a few things that have been turning over in my mind during my evening commute. First, you’re right; we do agree on many fundamentals. Second, I think you’re a good sport for coming into a group of apologetic meat eaters and asking questions and taking the answers seriously. Third, we’ve thrown a lot of information at you, and I hope it hasn’t overwhelmed you. The truth is, many of us have been reading widely on topics like nutrition, sustainability, fat and carbohydrate metabolism, diabetes, and so forth for many years, and here we are emptying our bookshelves on you over the course of a few days! Fourth, as self-assured as I act, sometimes I’m confused, too. Maybe Colin Campbell is right about cancer; it just happens that my more immediate concerns are obesity and diabetes, since they run in my family. Sometimes you just have to put the book down and eat, you know? (At least once a day, actually.) Today I have to make the best food decisions I can based on what I know today; tomorrow I’ll know more.

    And finally, I’m afraid I got the discussion off on the wrong foot with my comment about ignorance and vegans. Truthfully, I’m not usually that crabby. I don’t like oversimplifications and absolute statements, though, even on my non-crabby days. And yet I’m not precisely sorry for my comment, since I think the discussion has been interesting and thought-provoking.

    Oh, OK, I will attempt to answer one of your questions. Joel Salatin only slaughters chickens a few days a month, for the precise reasons you enumerate. He does it on his family farm with his adult son and a couple of apprentices. It’s nothing near like a full-time job, and it’s in the context of the social support of a family. The factory-slaughterhouse guys do it 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, with few if any other tasks to give them a reprieve, and then go home to families who know nothing about what their jobs are like and probably don’t really want to know. Seems like a big difference to me.

  70. I wrote “I don’t have time …” and then launched into my typical 500 word comment. Heh. Someday I’ll shut up and, y’know, do the job I’m paid for. Which is not, sadly, commenting on MDA.

  71. Migraineur…. you are a true gentleman – not too crabby at all – I did over simplify and generalize to the point of ignorance….. Well, at least I wasn’t “the other Vegan” who actually annoyed me too…..

    Okay – Ask Mark….. that’s a good idea.

    Sorry about the diabetes – I can understand how that of great concern and explains your knowledge of different foods. I’m very guilty of having taken so much of my excellent health for granted – It’s sickening in a way…… I’m a horse – never sick, ever (not even pre veg)- guess it will all come down on me at once. Now, that’s something to look forward….

    Your mention of Joel Salatin – and the understanding of my concerns…… I once heard a story – (might have been a biblical event) – Maybe dealing with sacrifice, or teaching how to mercifully kill an animal. There were two students – each with the slain animal….. The second boy asked “how did I do? It was just like the one before”….The teacher replied “yes, but it was without a tear”….. Sounds like Mr. Salatin does not take his task lightly – this is good.

    Thanks for explaining parts about this – I know when I think of the absolute horror – it’s always the large factory-slaughter houses – It’s so machine like and so removed from the value of life (however trite). I know that on a smaller scale (a small farm situation) it’s not taken so lightly. Another great reason to return to something more sustainable (and more sane).

    You’ve been very kind to answer – Thank you…… and have a wonderful evening.

  72. Glad to hear we are all back in discussion mode rather than debate mode.

    Good questions, Provoked. I’m not sure if we will meet the needs of everyone by the time that population peaks. We certainly don’t now and it’s not for lack of total food produced. The bigger question, I think, is if anyone will even be trying in an effective way. I think there will always be relief efforts, but that is like a bandage on a cut to the artery. I don’t seem enough of the “powers that be” working it now so it’s har dot imagine something will change radically to that end. I do see many individuals and small groups trying to work on solutions, but at the same lately it seems the “powers that be” are working overtime to squash many of those efforts. Again, Joel is illuminating on that. I could suggest other places of online discussion where small family farmers are being stomped on big-time by the state and federal gov’t, but I think I’ve done enough reading suggestions, nor do I want to send anyone away from Mark’s generous and informative blog.

    Just came back from my son’s guitar lesson and I see Migraineur has beat me to it on a few points (she and I seem to be like email twins sometimes – same places, similar views, at the same time).

    Gotta get to the dinner simmering on the stove, but I have the same concern about the folks who work in the high speed -high volume processing plants. I don’t butchering itself is necessarily nasty work, but the factory condition under which many of those employees work is brutal. Often they are low paid, not especially skilled, not fluent in English, and grossly taken advantage of. It’s like the book, The Jungle, all over again, just 100 years or so later. Sorry to throw another book out there.

    I’m working harder to make myself less of stranger to the production methods of my food so I can find ways to not support systems like that. I can see a point not to far ahead where I could participate more fully in the processing of an animal for my meat.

    I have a grinder. Sausage is no mystery in this house.

    So far, I’m skeptical of the ability of science to “grow our meat” for us. I guess I can sum it up with worries about the law of unintended consequences. It’s not that I don’t trust ever science – my husband is a research scientist – but the “science” behind that lab-created meat scheme isn’t very appealing to me at first blush. Perhaps I will learn enough to be pursuaded, though. But I kinda doubt it. It’s hard to truly improve on nature.

    Ok, now I really have to get back to dinner before my squash is cooked into squoosh (leftover pot roast cubed and simmering into Coconut Curry Butternut Squash soup – sort of Thai style).

  73. Migraineur…. I’m sorry – I will re-phrase: You are a true lady. Didn’t know “migraineur” sounded so masculine (but so does provoked huh?) – Anyway, online it’s impossible to tell the sexes apart – It should matter little, except that perhaps our life experiences are similiar as man or woman – but that’s another blog somewhere I’m sure…. “A true gentleman”…..sorry bout that!

  74. Anna….. your dinner sounded (somewhat) similar to ours…. fried squash, snap beans & pasta with “vegan” cheese – It was very good – We’re fortunate here in Florida to be in the height of strawberry season – gosh they are yummy over hot biscuits!

    Anyway, guess maybe the thing about trying to feed “all” will be a problem till “forever” – Para-phrasing here: “the hungry will always be with us. I just don’t see how the increased population will be able to consume all the “right” foods. I do agree though that there’s some major concentrations of big money in the food industries now. Names I know: Conagra, Tyson, Smithfield, Cargill, Monsanto…… and squeezed in between each of those is a little bit of “Wal-Mart”. It’s said 90% of our foods come from these mega-giants…. That’s a lot of power – I sympathize greatly with the small farmer and rancher…… I don’t know how they survive. This new farm bill of course is a joke – HA!

    Yes, it’s strange how the ills Upton Sinclair concerned himself with a hundred years ago still surface today….. I know his thrust regarded the working conditions (and animals) – but got consumers more concerned with what was on their plate. Actually, I don’t think you can cure the later (safety part) without addressing the other issues. It’s terrible that the (mostly immigrant) workers get paid so little – but are responsible for so very much. When will we consumers (society) learn…. ya get what ya pay for? Unfortunately the animals don’t get much of a break either. In fact a very disturbing 10 year study was just released by the AWI – This is pre-Hallmark scandal. The information is disheartening – I won’t go into details, but if interested it’s called “Crimes without Consequence”.

    Everyone here on this post is much better off with your grass fed – locally grown choices….. I know if I ever changed my diet – it would never, never be for factory farm anything!

    Yes, hard to improve on nature….. it would have to be considered “artificial meat” though, right? I know they’ve grown an ear on a sheep – The whole cloned GMO “science” is too Franken-food to me…. Like the tomatoes that have genes from flounder – Thank goodness I live in a warm climate and can grow my own!

    Well, it’s been wonderful chatting – I’ve got a trailer full of top soil to get unloaded…… my bones are gonna protest I know – but better get to it –
    Take care, Bea

    1. In response to the words I wrote over a year and a half ago: “If I ever changed my diet”… This is no longer a valid thought.

      Those words I wrote then – “if”, are totally untrue today. With more information and experiences of a vegan diet, I’m certain this is how I will always eat and live.

      And why not? I feel healthier, lost some pounds and have more energy than in decades! Even spiritually… being vegan has given me ethical grounding as well. I like living without harming.

      So, there is no “if” to “factory-farm” meat, feedlot meat, free-range meat, organic meat, or, the most placating of all: “humane meat”. Nah… cross “meat” off my list entirely-

      I do believe it is in our nature to evolve, and progress to our better world. Having respect for life, manifested in a vegan diet is the way.

  75. Provoked:
    “1. If there is a future that science will “grow” animal parts – as healthy and beneficial as grass-fed & free range animals meat – does anyone here think there will still be arguments – “it’s not as good as the real (living) thing” or the opposition: (beyond vegatarian, beyond vegan, beyond PETA):”it’s flesh, and still wrong to consume”. I think this is an ancient conflict – else why would so many versions of religions have special mandates, customs, rituals and rites surrounding man’s use of animals? Thoughts?”

    It’s not really an ancient conflict. Religious rules surrounding animal consumption were mainly about giving priests power over meat consumption, a source of considerable power.

  76. Jason….. couldn’t agree more! Power isn’t in weapons, votes or money. It’s who controls the Food. Food = Life

  77. Hey!
    I just stumbled upon this site (literally via Stumble Upon) and while I didn’t read all the posts, I did notice the one about the beyondveg website. I wanted to add that westonaprice.org is another great one. Ok, I’ll be honest, the westonaprice.org site changed my life, my health, my future for the better. Most definitely worth checking out for anyone concerned about health, nutrition, etc etc etc etc!!!
    Thanks!
    Bye,
    Ann

  78. Weston Price — please no! They are sister to Center for Consumer Freedom –who are the biggest lobbiests who have supported the supporting tobacco, sugar/corn, alcohol, meat/dairy industries. They are against any kind of social awareness that effects corporate (mono & GMO) foods or consumer interests associated with these products…

    And that they are not fond of PETA – good for them… but they dislike peta for all the wrong reasons.

    They do not adocate healthier or more sustainable food… They advocate *not questioning* the bad foods that exist!

    They particularly dislike Obama’s choice of Cass Sunstein for Office of Oversight and Regulation because Sunstein encourages open debate in public forums… About issues that would concern a community — so that they may be resolved in a grass-roots manner. Thus restoring some say in our immediate government.

    And if one of the issues or “problems” that might be discussed would be… OF ALL THINGS – what we eat!!! Oh then the sparks would ignite!

    But isn’t it about time that social gatherings included the open discussion about all the issues regarding animals, meat, sustainablity and ethics?

    There’s good reason organizations like Weston Price and CCF would discourage such open debate… Knowledge always leads people to smarter choices. It discloses secrets and gives rise to better solutions.

    Power only exists with ignorance and apathy. And I assure you CCF & WP operate under some very powerful strings.

  79. WOW ALL THIS TIME WASTED ON A SINGLE BLIND VEGAN??? IF HE IS HAPPY; LET HIM BE.
    MORE PORK, CHICKEN, FISH AND BEEF TO GO ARROUND.
    BESIDES, IF GOD DID NOT HAVE A CLUE ABOUT WHAT WAS GOOD FOR US TO EAT; WHY THE HECK DID HE ALLOW US TO DO IT??? DUHHHHH

  80. Thank you for a very educational discussion folks – very reassuring too how a warm finish can blossom from such bitter opening salvoes. This will be remembered next time I nearly yell at someone! This topic of feasting on the cheap particularly piqued my interest because I am a typical broke student (a fresher) contemplating how to square Mark’s magic bullet philosophy with finances even Gordon Brown would think a bit dodgy. Having read this however, I think I may branch out next term and press my casserole dish into service to make sure I can eat lots of tasty animals (ethical, quality ones!). Beef shanks? Liver? I think so. And a special appreciation for Anna’s posts which greatly opened my eyes in this regard 🙂

    I’ve only enjoyed 2 days of primal eating but I can certainly attest to the point made about over eating. I tried to cram down carrots, omlettes, ham, tomatoes; mostly out of curiosity – and it just didn’t work. I was completely sated, and probably nowhere near the carb level of last week. Tomorrow is a fast day, but dinner will be a feast if I have anything to do with it 😉

    Thank you Mark for teaching me your very promising eating habits. I can’t yet wax lyrical over the benefits, but give me a few months and I may be joining the revolution. If it means anything I finally pressed my 20kg kettlebell today after weeks of negatives and assists. I will keep at it (both the diet and the lifting of heavy things) and will tell you all if anything interesting happens.

    Peace,
    Ayad