Woman as meat

July 16, 2010

Montreal has banned a billboard showing actress Pamela Anderson in a bikini with her body marked as meat cuts.

The ad for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) says: “All animals have the same parts. Have a heart. Go vegetarian.”

The overt message is clever. But the subliminal message of woman as meat isn”t.

Would it be any better if it was a bloke?


Vegetarians not so green?

February 28, 2010

Vegetables good – meat bad. That’s what we keep being told by people wanting us to save the planet by going vegetarian,

But a study by the World Wildlife Fund has found that the environmental impact of growing some meat substitutes are worse than that from raising animals.

It has often been claimed that avoiding red meat is beneficial to the environment, because it lowers emissions and less land is used to produce alternatives.

But a study by Cranfield University, commissioned by WWF, the environmental group, found a substantial number of meat substitutes – such as soy, chickpeas and lentils – were more harmful to the environment because they were imported into Britain from overseas.

Far be it for me to stick up for anyone advocating we all give up meat, but this is the food miles argument which Lincoln University proved doesn’t necessarily stack up.

How far produce travels is only one factor. Lincoln’s study found New Zealand’s free range meat had a smaller environmental footprint even when transport was accounted for than meat from intensively farmed animals sold on local markets.

The study concluded: “A switch from beef and milk to highly refined livestock product analogues such as tofu could actually increase the quantity of arable land needed to supply the UK.”

The results showed that the amount of foreign land required to produce the substitute products – and the potential destruction of forests to make way for farmland – outweighed the negatives of rearing beef and lamb in the UK.

An increase in vegetarianism could result in the collapse of British farming, the study warned, causing meat production to move overseas where there may be less legal protection of forests and uncultivated land.

Meat substitutes were also found to be highly processed, often requiring large amounts of energy to produce. The study recognised that the environmental merits of vegetarianism depended largely on which types of foods were consumed as an alternative to meat.

It’s good to see an environmental group taking the trouble to investigate claims that vegetarian diets are better for the planet than those which include meat and that the study looked at the economic impact a mass conversion to vegetarianism would have.

This study shows that working out the green credentials of any produce is a complex business and being vegetarian isn’t necessarily better for the environment than eating meat.


Meat’s the new tobacco

November 23, 2009

Lord Stern, who last month suggested we should all become vegetarian for the good of the environment, has an ally in Peter Singer, a professor of bioethics at Princton University.

Writing in the New York Daily News under the headline, Make meat eaters pay: Ehicist proposes radical tax, says they’re killing themselves and the planet, he says:

. . . the reasons for a tax on beef and other meats are stronger than those for discouraging consumption of cigarettes, transfats or sugary drinks. 

First, eating red meat is likely to kill you. Large studies have shown that the daily consumption of red meat increases the risk that you will die prematurely of heart disease or bowel cancer. This is now beyond serious scientific dispute. When the beef industry tries to deny the evidence, it is just repeating what the tobacco industry did 30 years ago.

There is a lot of evidence which suggests too much read meat is bad for the health. But eating moderate servings of lean meat a few times a week is not generally regarded as dangerous and insufficient protein, iron and B vitamins, of which red meat is a good source, can be.

Singer uses examples of animal cruelty to further his argument then gets to the environment:

Third, industrial meat production wastes food – we feed the animals vast quantities of grains and soybeans, and they burn up most of the nutritional value of these crops just living and breathing and developing bones and other unpalatable body parts. We get back only a fraction of the food value we put into them.

This is a valid criticism but he is talking about the United States. In New Zealand almost all sheep, cattle and deer are pasture reared and much of the land on which they graze is not suitable for cropping.

The clincher is that taxing meat would be a highly effective way of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and avoiding catastrophic climate change. . .

. . .  So let’s start with a 50% tax on the retail value of all meat, and see what difference that makes to present consumption habits. If it is not enough to bring about the change we need, then, like cigarette taxes, it will need to go higher.

Singer appears to miss a vital difference between cigarettes and meat. People who stop smoking don’t have to replace the tobacco with anything else. People who stop eating meat have to replace it with other food.

A 50% tax on meat would not only increase the price of meat it would increase the demand for alternative food sources which would become more expensive, at least in the short term until the supply increased.

If a lot more grains and cereals were needed to replace meat, there is no guarantee that production methods would be without negative environmental impacts.

Singer’s suggestion would add to world hunger and associated health problems with no guarantee of helping the environment.


Shoot the lot

October 29, 2009

Dear Lord Stern,

Re your suggestion that the whole world should go vegetarian to save the planet.

Why don’t you just shoot all the people?

It would be kinder than letting millions die of starvation which is what would happen if we took your idea seriously.

Yours sincerely

Homepaddock

P.S.

If you don’t like my suggestion you may be interested in:

Inquiring Mind where Adam Smith posts on how Coppenhagen could threaten NZ’s very future.

Farmgirllive who says it’s time to get serious about countering this silliness.

Liberty Scott who says Lord Stern loses the plot some more.

and Fairfacts Media who urges Go on have that extra steak.


This could make a vegetarian of you

October 15, 2008

The owner for an English fast-food business has been banned from every operating a food business again after he was found preparing a kebab with the body of a dead employee near by.

Sometimes Nanny is right – fast food is bad for you.


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