Researchers have long issued warnings about the consequences of our livestock-dominated food system. After the Sars outbreak in 2003, an essay in the American Journal of Public Health lamented that “changing the way humans treat animals – most basically, ceasing to eat them or, at the very least, radically limiting the quantity of them that are eaten – is largely off the radar as a significant preventive measure.” In 2016, the UN Environment Program warned that the “livestock revolution” was a zoonotic disaster waiting to happen.Yet meat consumption continues to rise. Now, just as experts predicted, eating animals is coming back to bite us.
By their mere existence, vegans force people to confront their cognitive dissonance. And this makes people angry.
One popular way to resolve cognitive dissonance is by reasoning our way out of it…
In the case of meat, this “motivated reasoning” might lead people to find explanations for why eating animals is the correct decision. And one of these is that vegans are bad.
Our widely-held belief about not imposing suffering and death on animals for reasons of pleasure or amusement explains polling released in May 2017, which showed that almost 70 per cent of British voters were opposed to fox hunting, and half were less likely to vote for a pro-hunting candidate in the general election. Opposition is not limited to fox hunting. A 2016 poll indicated that, in addition to major opposition to fox hunting, significant numbers of people in the UK were also opposed to deer hunting (88 per cent), hare hunting and coursing (91 per cent), dog fighting (98 per cent), and badger baiting (94 per cent).
If you are in agreement with the position that it is morally wrong to impose unnecessary suffering on animals and you are not vegan, then, I have a simple question for you:
Editors of the Lancet: We need to talk about meat
It doesn’t really fit into my diet but I know a lot of potential vegans whose transitions would probably be eased by some magic vegan bacon grease.
Carlo Rovelli on free will. You have no free will, but it’s OK because you’ll never understand why you do anything anyway.
James McWilliams on some problems with keeping backyard chickens.
For those without the fortitude to self-slaughter, keeping older hens as companion animals is also an option. This choice, too, has a downsideâ€“one that applies to the chickens while they’re laying as well. Backyard chickens are like fish in a barrel for predators. As a quick perusal of any on-line forum for chicken keepers will attest, chickens frequently fall prey to dogs, hawks, skunks, coyotes, foxes, and, notoriously, raccoons. Owners often declare themselves completely helpless to protect their birds. Forcing chickens into semi-secure locations and inhibiting their natural survival tactics is in the same vein as a hunter loading a feeder with corn and sitting above it in a deer blind. And that’s no way to treat a pet.
My friend Eric Prescott has posted the first five of his I’m Vegan profiles. Eric traveled the country and filmed interviews with vegans from all walks of life. There are many more to come and they’ll all be on Youtube in glorious HD.
It’s frustrating how often I read “What you can do about global warming”-style articles that don’t mention vegetarianism. So I’m happy that Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is now highlighting meat production’s role in climate change in his speeches.
UN data says that meat production accounts for about 18% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, topping even transportation, which accounts for 13% of worldwide emissions. The UN included all aspects of meat production, when arriving at the 18% figure: clearing land, creation and transportation of fertilizers, burning fuels in farm vehicles, and the emissions coming directly from cows and sheep.