Making Meat-Eating Look Green
the current (July/August) issue of Mother Jones http://motherjones.com/,
Associate Editor Kiera Butler questions the "greenness" of
eating plant foods vs. eating meat in "Get Behind Me, Seitan: Why
the vegetarian-equals-green argument isnít so cut-and-dried."
Right out of the starting gate, Butler tells us that until recently she
had been a lifelong vegetarian. Wow, lifelong--thatís unusual and,
among longtime committed vegetarians and vegans, enviable. Yet Butler
tells us this in the context of being in a restaurant ordering a burger,
that is, a dead-flesh type burger. What gives?
Well, long story short, Butler compares eating sustainably raised,
grass-fed, "happy" meat with eating vegetarian meat analog
products, like Boca or Morningstar burgers. In this kind of comparison,
the energy inputs to veg food donít compare so well to meat burgers,
because both meat and meat analogs require considerable processing. She
cites a 2009 study by the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology,
stating that while producing a plate of peas requires a fraction of the
energy needed to produce the same number of calories of pork, the energy
costs of a peaburger and a pork chop are equal. Worse, some veggie
burgers, including the above-named brands, use a nasty chemical called
hexane, a suspected neurotoxin, to remove oil from the soybeans. So
because of this, some people Butler quotes are deciding that happy meat
is a better choice than plant food? Come, come, let us be reasonable.
Since when have meat analogs been a required part of a vegetarian
diet? Theyíre easy, sure, usually tasty, and very helpful in
converting meat-eaters who want to do better but havenít yet had time
to understand whatís for dinner if itís not flesh. However, even
vegetarian health experts like Drs. Michael Greger and Michael Klaper
have urged vegans not to overdose on the analogs. What we should be
eating are whole grains, legumes, vegetables, nuts and fruit. Space does
not permit me to go into numerous other environmental negatives of happy
meat, nor does Butler even mention the health hazards of eating meat nor
the fact that meat requires animal slaughter.
She concludes the article by saying that she plans to eat mostly
plants with the occasional serving of meat because she finds meat
tastier than fakiní bacon. What about black beans and quinoa, or a
rice and veg stir fry, or vegan pizza loaded with vegetables, or . . .
or . . . or . . . So many delicious foods await that are healthful,
humane, and admirably low in energy inputs and resource consumption. The
attempt to justify meat consumption on the basis of misunderstood
environmental ethics just doesnít cut the (vegan) mustard.