Recently a very dear person (who also happens to be a vegetarian) challenged me on “promoting a diet consisting of lots of red meat every day, since this quantity of meat intake seems wasteful and ecologically difficult to sustain”. I realized that if she made this assumption (and she’s pretty well educated, although hadn’t actually read the post in question), then possibly other people may have the same misconception.
Firstly, I would like to set one thing straight – I have never advocated eating large quantities of meat. I do, however, advocate the importance of eating meat as a part of a healthy diet, and I maintain that the body is healthier with it than without. The quantity is up to the individual and their particular needs, and, depending on energy expenditure, activity levels, life-style factors etc, the amount could vary a lot between individuals. I hope that is clear.
Now for the concern about environmental sustainability.
So, a lot of us have become convinced about the importance of eating meat, and animal products, in terms of maintaining our health. We have learnt that it is impossible to get certain nutrients and vitamins from plants alone, and so have decided to incorporate humanely-raised, grassfed animal foods into our diets. But, for many of us, there is a niggling thought in the back of our heads that questions the fact that, although it may be better for each individual’s health, it probably is not better for the planet as a whole. We are bombarded with (often pretty convincing) propaganda that tells us that there is no way we could feed the world if everyone were to eat meat, and that, in order to save the planet, we need to eschew animal foods for a benign, peace-loving, flowers-and-rainbows-producing, plant-based diet.
This would be a lovely thought, if only it were true. And, like I have said before, I would be the first person waving the veg@n flag if it were in any way better for the well-being of our planet, or for my own health.
But what if I told you that humanely raising grassfed animals as food is, not only vital for our health as individuals, but actually the ONLY way we will be able to ultimately save our planet?…*gasp*
It actually is true. The video below is an excellent little documentary by Allan Savory, a biologist, environmentalist and founder of the Africa Centre for Holistic Management. It puts forward some pretty compelling evidence to show how we can reverse the desertification of the planet (and thus climate change), through simply allowing land to revert back to its natural state of being covered with grass and allow it to be inhabited by grass-fed ruminants. I won’t do the video justice by trying to describe it, so please watch it.
The following is also really worth checking out. Lierre Keith is the author of The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability. She goes into the fact that if we choose to avoid animal products for sustainability reasons, we are actually completely fooling ourselves. She is also a former vegan and describes the health-implications of eating a plant-based diet devoid of animal foods. It’s just an audio recording, but really very worth listening to:
Ultimately, one thing is clear to me. We need to make some serious changes to the world’s current farming practices and what foods we choose to nourish our bodies.
If we continue with the farming practices so prevalent on the planet today – mass scale farming of wheat, corn, soy etc, we will not only eventually completely destroy our planet, but we will continue to see a terrible decline in the health of every one of its inhabitants.
In my opinion, this farm ought to be the blueprint for the farming practices of the future.