Friday, April 1, 2011

On Time

I'd like to say a few things about an interesting article published this week in Time magazine that has been circulating FB and Twitter.

Overall, the Time piece is excellent for mainstream coverage.  Walsh covers Gene Baur's pro-vegan viewpoint well.  However, Walsh misses two points that often go unmentioned in articles like these.  I know he is also responding to Myers' piece in The Atlantic, and isn't trying, in this one article, to completely inform folks on how to make their food choices, so bear with me.

When Walsh discusses the food movement's idea of shifting towards "more humanely" raised animals and "better meat production," he says nothing of the effort needed to significantly reduce demand for animal products in general. That's a problem.  If people want "more humanely" raised food animals, overall demand for animal products must go down, whether folks go vegan full or part time.  We currently slaughter ten billion animals a year.  I don't think we should kid ourselves about being able to come remotely close to producing enough animal products to meet current demand for cheap meat with family farms.

From the Time article, "When the food movement succeeds, it can break down ignorance — and then it's up to individuals to decide how that will affect their lives. Some will go vegan. Others might choose to eat meat that has been more humanely produced, following the writer Michael Pollan's basic dictum: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." And whatever you do, be aware of what you're eating and why."

Personally, I think I only know one non-vegan person who follows Pollan's advice. ONE person, and she is really a part-time vegan.  Most people who eat animal products eat a lot of them at the known rate of about a half pound to a pound per day.  Using the USDA's report from the year 2000I calculated a per capita intake of 0.63 pounds per person per day (and it is likely higher now, but the USDA has changed how they represent that data, no more easily read report, no more neat graphs and tables that add up all animal products and all meats for you...gee, I wonder why??).

And no one I know who eats animal products ONLY buys family farmed products.  Factory farmed items like cheeses, cream cheeses, butters, milks, ice creams, etc. sneak their way into the fridge.

The second point he misses is an important one for the argument to go vegan.  Food folks who talk about "more humanely" produced and farmed animals rarely talk about slaughterhouses (though I am personally aware of the mobile slaughterhouse movement).  The problem is this: family farms use commercial slaughterhouses.  The same houses where the known atrocities and torture occur for factory farmed animals.  But no one ever talks about that.  The Time article certainly doesn't mention it.  It is difficult to get more information on this.  If your family farm doesn't use a commercial slaughterhouse, I want to hear about it.  In detail.  Comment on this post.

Vegan folks effectively avoid contributing to both of these problems.

Well, it's Friday, and it's raining (here in the Northeast) and I've got to get ready for my day.

What do you guys think?


  1. I think you are spot on! Thanks for this, Dawn.

  2. Well said Dawn. I'm going to follow up this post by reading those articles. As I said on facebook, I appreciate your vigilance. After my new arrival I have no time to pursue articles and information about this subject so your posts are an important part of my decision making for my family.
    Thanks again!
    Miss Christine of WESTPHILLY yo! :)

  3. Anonymous, (I mean, Christine!) since you gave me permission, I'd like to thank you for being that ONE person I mentioned in the post itself who actually eats according to MP's advice. And I know you do take the time and care to pursue books and articles regarding animal agriculture and welfare, so don't sell yourself short.

    Looking forward to learning together.