a forum for the discussion of issues concerning the natural environment
June 21, 2009 By jennifer
June 21, 2009 at 10:03 am
Those weird and wacky vegetarians, eh? Not eating meat! How un-natural is that? They’re out to destroy civilisation as we know it – in fact many of them are Greens! They’d probably eat your babies if you let them near them, or drown puppies, at the least.
June 21, 2009 at 10:39 am
Some other religion has all ready taken friday, so this one is laying claim to monday.
I wonder how long it will be before rickets makes a comeback?
Ian Mott says
June 21, 2009 at 10:57 am
Of course, McCartney doesn’t have to figure out how to feed all those people who derive a large part of their nutrition from grass conversion, rather than grains from crops. The vegatiteasses like to believe that cattle and sheep compete with humans for grain. But this is just the grossest ignorance. Sheep, cattle and goats are the most efficient means through which humans can obtain nutrition from grassland.
There is no so-called “substitution gain” by eliminating cattle meat from our diet. The idea that cattle in particular are raised their whole life on grains which would be better used if humans moved back down the food chain has minimal basis in fact. Less than 5% of the Australian cattle herd goes through a feedlot. And even then it is only for a few months to boost their weight for sale.
The land on which most sheep, cattle and goats graze is land that is not, and should never be, cultivated because rainfall is too unreliable, the slope is too steep, the ground is too rocky, or, more importantly, it has an intermittent cover of trees and shrubs that provide habitat to wildlife. It is by far the largest of the worlds ecosystem types.
Humans are both reluctant and poorly equiped to convert rangeland pasture to food. So grazed livestock are the best option for deriving nutritional benefit from this type of landscape. They seek out the parts that they can eat and leave the remaining parts intact. And make no mistake, if we did not have food from this landscape then we would have to undertake a major extension of cultivation into both marginal lands or, more likely, onto even more cleared forest lands.
So contrary to Slim’s pathetic sneer, we must not ignore McCartney and his ilk because they are evil or weird. We must ignore them because they are ignorant, egocentric morons who have minimal regard for the facts of what they claim and even less regard for the consequences of what they promote.
June 21, 2009 at 11:01 am
I would imagine this idea originated from the same people who dine al fresco under the those huge gas heaters in mid winter yet are calling for emission reductions.
I’m sure they proudly tend their organic vegetable gardens fertilised with battery chook and cow poo, or is sheep poo the new trendy fertiliser?
spangled drongo says
June 21, 2009 at 11:03 am
What was wrong with meat free Fridays? Why upset the system?
Until recent times in countries where meat has been available, though expensive [more than today] it was always a food of choice amongst the working class. You could work and think better under stress on meat. Vegetarians virtually didn’t exist. If meat was plentiful and time was short, you had to often force yourself to eat vegetables.
Although today’s world is completely different, the greens would have us all back there and I doubt if the carbon accountants have even half looked at the problem. With a 10 fold increase in population, the horse manure alone would upset the ledger.
June 21, 2009 at 11:08 am
The Monarch’s Crown Jewels are guarded by the Beefeaters – the most privileged members of the Military and Royal Court. The British Empire was successful because our ancestors carted their protein supply with them and why goats, sheep and cattle are worldwide and grass is the most successful agricultural crop.
Kohl Piersen says
June 21, 2009 at 11:36 am
In my opinion, eating vegetarian results in a greater production of methane emissions. I am not in a position to do the experiment(s), but I would be very interested to find out just how much the saving really would be.
Of course, this is not the first time that refraining from eating meat has been used for purposes other than sustenance. In the Catholic church, eating meat on Friday was first introduced for the purposes of promoting the fishing industry!
June 21, 2009 at 11:56 am
Goats and ‘roos would graze much more productively amongst the PV panels and windfarms than trying to plant and harvest staple crops there.
But what a crazy concept! How environmental? [or just plain mental]
June 21, 2009 at 12:06 pm
Ian Mott wrote:
“The land on which most sheep, cattle and goats graze is land that is not, and should never be, cultivated because rainfall is too unreliable, the slope is too steep, the ground is too rocky, or, more importantly, it has an intermittent cover of trees and shrubs that provide habitat to wildlife. It is by far the largest of the worlds ecosystem types.”
That’s probably true for Australia. But the feedlot approach is more common in the U.S.
The Dust Bowl conditions of the 1930s came about because farmers in parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, etc didn’t have perfect long-term weather forecasts, and because the drought-prone climate was marginal for farming anyway. Cattle–or even bison–grazing would have been more sustainable.
For the relatively few people who live near National Forests, there’s also the kill-it-and-grill-it argument. For the price of a .308 round plus a little gasoline, you can provide all of the protein your family needs for a month. (I don’t know the going rate for hunting licenses.) But deer hunting season is typically only a few weeks during the Fall.
Henry chance says
June 21, 2009 at 1:29 pm
“I’m sure they proudly tend their organic vegetable gardens fertilised with battery chook and cow poo, or is sheep poo the new trendy fertiliser?”
If they want to elevate to the next level of green nirvanna, they should dispose of human waste in their organic gardens and not send it to the sewage treatment plant.
Something to think about for a few days. I believe they flush their toilets on thursday to conserve water. Fishing for plant food to me seems like dirty work.
June 21, 2009 at 1:58 pm
Here you go Larry. It’s much the same all over. Generally cow and calf units are open grazed with maybe some supplimentary feeding until the calf is weaned. Upon weaning a steer and heifer calf might go to a feedlot for finishing or be despatched at that point. Other steers might end up on pasture again, as that is what that producer prefers to do. Heifers might might get lucky and become a breeding cow etc etc.
June 21, 2009 at 2:13 pm
Meat free Mondays is quite a good idea, but a farmer should say this not some celebrity- ” environmentalist” . I support Paul for his fight for battery chickens but the celebs are not familiar with sealing/ whaling.
I must say that I’m almost a vegetarian , for animal concern reasons, because usually you don’t know where from the meat comes from.
A study conducted by Cornell University says that eating little meat , not fully vegetarian is most enviro friendly.
Personally I would choose kanga , reindeer, moose , deer, wild boar meat, before livestock. Even a minke steak, due to animal and enviro concerns. Those animals have less impact on the environment and are killed so to say at their home range . Bison would do as well.
Problem is that the wild meat is restricted , it can’t supply the world as the livestock.
The uttermost important issue is to improve conditions for farm animals , especially factory farming.
June 21, 2009 at 2:15 pm
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, three-quarters of the world’s critically-important food crop varieties disappeared during the 20th century. Hundreds of locally-adapted livestock breeds are also on the brink of extinction. The UNFAO has warned that most of the world’s food supply had narrowed to just a dozen crops and fourteen animal species.
Clearly we need to be widening our palates, NOT reducing them.
June 21, 2009 at 2:27 pm
In this case IceClass is right. Local cattle , as Swedish mountain cows are almost extinct now, as well as most grain that was common some decades ago. Maybe there are some seed banks but the development is very sad.
It is only some enthusiasts now that breed local almost extinct livestock breeds and grains.
June 21, 2009 at 2:37 pm
There is no doubt a good reason that human food sources have narrowed to a claimed dozen or so crops and fourteen animal species. These are the most palatable, easily grown/cultivated and herded, or most productive. This is a rational response.
Would you prefer any other? These foods are the ones the growers and consumers prefer, and the genetic diversity is probably sufficient between them to avoid mass starvation. Another potato blight will merely means another food crop is substituted. I cannot see any great risk or concern.
The FAO has been cultivating wild wheat as a precautionary measure for 30 years and it hasn’t been required. The use of genetic engineering makes the potential risk even lower. Aren’t we a wonderful species?
June 21, 2009 at 2:41 pm
“It is only some enthusiasts now that breed local almost extinct livestock breeds and grains.”
Just as it should be.
Sentiment does not belong in commerce.
By all means preserve our heritage in zoos (last resort) or in national parks, but breed grain and animals for the best return.
Also it doesn’t mean one has to be cruel to animals.
I agree, keeping chooks in cages is unnecessary and cruel.
It would only cost a little more for barn kept or free range eggs
June 21, 2009 at 2:44 pm
Much in modern farming can be called animal abuse, for example high productive meat cattle , like Belgian Blue need to do cesarians etc, etc . The battery hens are laying bigger and bigger eggs than cause them great pain….
June 21, 2009 at 3:26 pm
“By all means preserve our heritage in zoos (last resort) or in national parks, but breed grain and animals for the best return.”
I sometimes wonder if we are too countrified with animals, by that I mean, hippos live in Africa and that’s the way it is yet I have no doubt Hippos could live in Kakadu National Park. It’s only our specism and nationalist boundaries that stop us from spreading the wildlife freely around the globe.
June 21, 2009 at 3:34 pm
“The uttermost important issue is to improve conditions for farm animals , especially factory farming.”
Birdie, A worthy sentiment, provided it is looked at realistically.
The campaign against sheep muelsing eg, is simply emotive vandalism as often the alternative is sheep being eaten alive by maggotts, suffering who knows how much agony and dying a terrible death.
Our free range hens are commonly ripped to pieces by dogs and foxes.
Native wildlife have never had an idyllic existence [seriously declining numbers in many species] so we shouldn’t assume that farm animals are automatically worse off. A battery hen in a barn with endless food, shelter, warmth and her [and her neighbour’s] beak clipped for comfort may not lead a life that hones the nervous system to its most functional state but in most respects it is pretty satisfying.
How do you know the bigger eggs cause them great pain? Do you use the cackle index?
June 21, 2009 at 3:50 pm
I have seen hens laying flat out after laying large eggs….
If you have free range hens they should be fenced in ….there are many predators out there otherwise for them ( like a BIG outdoor cage with apropriate wire/ fencing/ hensnet….
June 21, 2009 at 4:03 pm
Spangled – we created the need for meulsing, trying to breed the ultimate merino. There are many farmers who have abandoned the practice with no problems that can’t be solved.
I believe we should be paying double – triple the price for meat protein. That would encourage the Monday vegetable dinner and also give our animals a better life style.
There are other factors than the condition of chooks in a cage. There are the bulls that spend their life separated from the herd, the play horses left alone in paddocks cos the owner grew up and went to Sydney. There are many ways we could improve our relationship with the other beings that share this planet and this existence.
June 21, 2009 at 4:19 pm
Further on muelsing: I used to muels thousands of sheep when I was in the wool business. For some reason the Spanish Merino has a wrinkly rear that, when moistened with dung and urine in a good “fly season” is a haven for blowflies and while removing a strip of this loose skin on the back of the legs caused some initial pain, upon release, they settle down to graze very quickly and did not give the impression of suffering pain. The skin quickly heals, leaving a smooth, bare, fly resistant area.
At one stage instead of cutting their tails off, [also to prevent fly strike] CSIRO developed a rubber ring put on with an applicator to prevent pain and infection. I saw much greater evidence of pain and discomfort from this process than the docking of their tails with the proper knife.
I can’t help but feel that this animal rights action is not about the animals but about getting everyone possible out of the domestic animal market.
We must at all costs reduce the capacity of the planet to support humans.
June 21, 2009 at 5:52 pm
I can’t help but feel that this animal rights action is not about the animals but about getting everyone possible out of the domestic animal market.
not at all – we just need to value it better.
John Davidson says
June 21, 2009 at 6:20 pm
I remember my my mothers first reaction to the first Chinese restraunt in my home town. Undercooked, strange etc. 55 years later we think Chinese and other exotic food is marvelous and think Australian food cooked like it was 55 years ago is overcooked, unhealthy sludge. If the world is going to feed future populations without causing massive environmental damage we need to learn to appreciate a wider range of foods than we do now. We not only need to get used to eating less grain fed foods such as chicken. We also need to get more of our protein from vegetable, insect etc. sources. (Insect protein requires far less water and could allow us to exploit insects that we now destroy without any gain.)
Meat free Monday is a good start to getting used to eating less environmentally damaging foods.
June 21, 2009 at 6:47 pm
“Meat free Monday is a good start to getting used to eating less environmentally damaging foods.”
yes – if you can define how the animal worth eating is damaging the environment.
June 21, 2009 at 6:52 pm
It seem that vegetarians are all AGWarmists —- probably!! I mention this for two reasons, both are linked at Second Opinions. You will find only sense and sensibility from Barry Groves.
BTW, it’s worth reading about NOT eating margarine. As for Linda’s meatless sausages, Yuck!!!
June 21, 2009 at 7:00 pm
“Spangled – we created the need for meulsing, trying to breed the ultimate merino.”
True, and it will take a century to breed it out. Whadda we do in the meantime? Don’t ever doubt that there are millions of sheep at risk.
“not at all – we just need to value it better.”
I don’t know anyone who values or cares for livestock more than the person who owns them. A bit like parents and kids, some good, some average, some bad.
June 21, 2009 at 7:30 pm
“I have seen hens laying flat out after laying large eggs….
“If you have free range hens they should be fenced in ….there are many predators out there otherwise for them ( like a BIG outdoor cage with apropriate wire/ fencing/ hensnet….”
Birdie, you may be right about the large eggs. My experience with good hens is that the egg sizes increase with age of the hen which is never a problem.
When you are surrounded by good forest are you supposed to clear fell so you can build an even bigger yard so your chooks can “free range”?
I turn ’em loose into the forest to free range as nature intended but they don’t stay out long. They can be attacked by all sorts of predators, brown and grey goshawks, powerful owls, eg. But that red fox can pretty well climb trees and wire netting so “battery” hens are not on such a bad wicket. Our free range eggs cost us about $10 each by my reckoning.
June 21, 2009 at 9:58 pm
I have followed your comments here on the blog. You seem to be a good hearted man saving bird chicks and so on….
We had hens in the stable , free ranging , one day we needed another box for a horse , so the hens needed to move outside most of the time ….foxy lady killed them immediately one night…
Methinks the best solution for happy hens is to have much space and a netting big ” cage ” outdoors with ” natural surroundings” with a roof , otherwise the goosehawk would kill / detect them immediately…
And I DO have a big problem with the captivity issue….
Re the money ! I would happily pay more for eggs and meat from happy animals….
June 22, 2009 at 6:57 am
True, and it will take a century to breed it out. Whadda we do in the meantime? Don’t ever doubt that there are millions of sheep at risk.
I recently saw this subject being taken up by landline – in the program they interviewed an award winning wool grower who stated that he had stopped muesling years ago and has had no problems since. He admits he did it because he believes he would get a better price for his wool, which he does.
June 22, 2009 at 8:18 am
Birdie – there’s a farmer on Kangaroo Island who breads free range chooks. Because the island is fox and carpet snake free he can allow his chooks to roam freely and they feed on natural food as well as the feed he puts out for them.
These birds sell for twice the normal price, have a deep yellow fat and are a completely different animal to the factory bred chickens we normally buy. And they have a much better life. The restaurants can’t get enough of them.
June 22, 2009 at 8:32 am
Naturally, we cover Climate Change but will do so from markedly different points of view. Professor Ian Plimer counters ‘irrational’ elements within the environmental movement, is critical of the narrow politics of greenhouse gas emissions and describes extreme environmental change as inevitable. Meanwhile, Dr Andrew Ash addresses the environmental impacts of not tackling climate change head on, and Dr Martin Parkinson details how government policies will affect farmers.
from the national congress handbook of the national farmers federation congress to be held this month.
June 22, 2009 at 8:34 am
If you’re running a sheep farm where you have high yielding animals particularly on small holdings [which is the case in many parts of the mainland and Tas] and you can afford to devote a lot of time to each animal, you can get away without mulesing but on large holdings in good seasons when flies are thick you will get plenty of flystrike and many deaths.
The ideal sheep farm is where you muster once a year to shear but every time you muster for crutching, whigging, drenching, dipping, marking etc, sheep suffer their most stress and injuries.
Mulesing is a once only operation and apart from breeding flyproof sheep, the other CSIRO proposals have all been tried with very dubious success.
Mulesing is only done where there is absolutely no rational alternative. People, like the RSPCA, who have taken the time to look at the whole picture critically, have realised how essential it is.
June 22, 2009 at 8:42 am
“I agree, keeping chooks in cages is unnecessary and cruel.
It would only cost a little more for barn kept or free range eggs”
Probably you say this on the basis of shop prices. I grew up on a poultry farm and know the ins and outs of egg production. The problems of free range are huge for instance with cages you confine the birds to one shed area where you can use lights to trick them into laying all year. Switch the lights off and it becomes seasonal. Half the production if you are lucky and this is not the only problem. Have a closer look there is little regulation and money to be gained from selling eggs as free range. The actual cost is higher than the public is prepared to pay. I think probably more than $10 a dozen would be near the mark.
My view is they cheat that is you have a front model farm. This is used for promotional purposes and then eggs are brought in from elsewhere and sold as free range. It is not easily detected, profitable and probably legal.
Food production is a nasty smelly business it sucks but I don’t see it can changing no matter how much we pretend otherwise.
Patrick B says
June 22, 2009 at 9:42 am
Here chook, chook, chook … here chook, chook, chook …lol
June 22, 2009 at 9:54 am
“Our free range hens are commonly ripped to pieces by dogs and foxes”
Commonly? Presumably the implication here is that this mode of production is unsustainable due to predation? One fears that the Spangled Drongo is being forced out of its range by the Spangled Moron. There is a highly successful business in the South West of WA at Mt Barker that runs free range chooks. They advertise in prime time over here, not cheap. Their prooduce is sold as premium quality in all the supermarket chains. Restaurants make a point of naming their produce in their menus. They are not suffering overly from deaths caused by predators, stupidst thing I’ve heard around here for a while and that’s saying something. Obviously the Moron is a creature of the city.
Helen Mahar says
June 22, 2009 at 10:28 am
Perhaps a little added information to inform the muelsing debate?
For breach strike, which muelsing is designed to prevent, the problem is two flies. The first, a fly attracted to urine and faeces is introduced. Thought to have come in during the 19th C on boats transporting horses from either India or Sth Africa. It is a rather small green blowfly, and makes the intial strike in urine and faeces stained wool on the breach. It does not kill sheep, but its maggots create the smell which attracts a native blowfly which feeds on meat (carrion). The poor sheep gets eaten alive. If that green blowfly (a real dunny budgie) had been native to Australia, the wool industry would not have got off the ground. It apparently became a problem in the late 19th C.
In humid conditions, the wool itself can sweat and create odors attractive to this native, carrion devouring, and deadly fly. Then sheep can be struck on any part of their body. We call that body strike. Some seasons are bad for body strike – and muelsing is irrevelant. We can lose a lot of sheep in bad body strike years. The vast majority of strikes in Aust are breach strike.
Some management practices to target the green blowie have been developed. One, reasonably successful, is to drill a certain size small hole in a drum with a light allowing lid and bait it with an attractant inside. The green flies enter (the natives won’t fit) fly to the top, cannot find their way out, and eventually fall to the bottom, where they are devoured by maggots from prior victims. Place these drums near water points, where sheep (and their wastes) congregate, and many, but not all of these green flies can be removed from a flock. Blowie lib rights anyone?
At present we have no practical alternative to muelsing, although breeding developments (eg bare b*m sheep) are in the pipeline. Will take decades to get this natural genetic trait throughout the wool industry. Most farmers hate muelsing. As soon as there is a viable alternative, it will not need legislation to get them to switch.
Sheep have either a short life a a meat producer, or much longer life, after muelsing, as a wool grower. If muelsing is banned, then there will be only one type of sheep industry left in Aust.
Myself, I prefer clothing from animals that have had a haircut, rather than from skin products.
June 22, 2009 at 10:50 am
Even though I grew up in the City (Auckland NZ) the park our back gate opened onto was a fully operational sheep farm – One Tree Hill Park.
I would wake in the morning to see the hillside white with a flock of sheep and hear the dogs etc. We would head off and follow the flock to the yards where they were either dipped, shorn or crutched or as we called it Dagging – hence John Clarke’s character – Fred Dag.
Mulesing never took place, it must be a recent practice.
June 22, 2009 at 11:08 am
A good discussion apart from patb’s usual unpleasantness. 2 fundamental issues haven’t been touched however; firstly vegetarianism is unnatural; humans are omnivores and the vegetarian lifestyle is a highly decadent and elitist one and to that extent, a hypocritical one since the practitioners of vegetarianism usually are the ones extoling the advantages of the natural way.
Secondly people like McCarthy never seem to deal with the real unpleasant animal practices like bear caging, bush tucker in the central African states and the dog cusine in central Asia; and insects, you must be joking.
June 22, 2009 at 11:25 am
Not too constructive there. I dont run a commercial egg farm but I am aware of commercial “free range eggs”.
I do monitor for feral animals on a daily basis, trap dogs and foxes and data log bird species, forest wallabies, koalas, echidnas etc and I appreciate any constructive advice.
If you’d like to give me your address I’ll post you the chewed carcasses as they occur.
June 22, 2009 at 11:28 am
Yes, Janama, muelsing is a relatively recent practice. Invented sometime in the 1940’s-50’s to cope with the increasing stike problems, (plus possibly a post-war shortage of labour?) I can remember farmers attending govt sponsored muelsing demos into the 60’s-80’s to make sure they got the balance right – ie did the job with the least impact possible on the lambs.
Apparently there is only one fully vegetarian society and it exists in southern india. I heard an interview with the bloke you runs the famous Demeter Bread in Sydney. He spent time with them and he says they eat 7 – 10 meals per day. i.e. they graze like the other vegetarians. They are still preparing meals at 10 pm.
the worst examples of long term vegetarianism are found in the Byron bay area where you can pick them out easily – their tissue texture is weak and their faces are drawn looking – like Bob Brown and Michael Raper from Red Cross.
June 22, 2009 at 11:34 am
“Mulesing never took place, it must be a recent practice.”
it’s being going on for over 70 years in the areas where it is necessary but as I said on the smaller sheep farms where sheep are herded and supervised regularly it is not so necessary.
When you’ve got 300,000 acre paddocks of mulga scrub it’s a somewhat different situation.
June 22, 2009 at 11:38 am
Ok – point taken spangled 🙂
June 22, 2009 at 12:04 pm
You don’t think the AR people could be fooled in like manner to the fraud range egg industry? You know you have some boutique farms where ALL wool comes from then keep actual producing farms well away from scrutiny. The conformance would be self regulated and perhaps there would be “good” souls who would pay more. Evidently Peta had a go at Obama for swatting a fly on tv. Burn the cruel bastard at the stake I say.
June 22, 2009 at 12:08 pm
Helen’s point about labour shortage is what mulesing is all about, also labour cost [hate to labour the point] but as the price to farmers of their produce has in many cases reduced to incredibly low levels and the tyrannical distances and fuel costs further increased the unviability, some large holdings in Australia are virtually unsaleable, they have become “deserted” and in ruins and the animals have pretty much become feral. They are visited once a year to be mustered by helicopter and in the scrub many animals are missed.
Their lifestyle has probably improved as a result.
June 22, 2009 at 12:21 pm
But the comment was interesting.
June 22, 2009 at 12:23 pm
Ya knows nuttin’ Patrick B, nuttin’ I tells ya.
How’s this for starters, I gave up on chooks, free range of a day, penned at night, when slowly but surely the numbers dwindle from 15 to 3. It is reasonable to assume it was foxes or feral cats. The eggs forever get snitched by snakes. Goannas also hang around and are not averse to ripping open a chook cage for their afternoon delight.
My neighbour lost an entire flock of 30 chinese geese over a week to either wild dogs or foxes and he also lost 37 out of 42 sheep, these I might add where just “ripped to pieces”.
The next neighbour, in more open country, regularly loses his chooks to the wedgies
Right, lets move on…. my property is closer to forestry land and hill country. Wild dogs/ dingos inhabit those hills. It’s not unusual for these said beasties to roam 20 kms a day in any direction. I’ve seen german shepard crosses 1 metre + tall, another type that looks like a hyena with massive shoulders and huge head and yes, a spotted coat and off course the odd dingo.
I’ve lost cows while calving to these things, They attack the emerging calf, the cow panics and goes down. End of story.
When these wild dogs pack up, watch out. Could explain some missing bushwalkers. No? And all this 3 hours from Sydney, in a well known beef, dairy, chicken/turkey district.
Please Patrick B, go for an overnight bushwalk and spare us the pus.
peter d. jones says
June 22, 2009 at 1:13 pm
Methane is the second largest contributor to global warming after CO2 and the main part of that comes from animals, especially beef cattle. It’s increased because of the enormous increase in meat eating in the last few decades. Obviously not every society can switch over to a vegetarian diet but those of us in the advanced industrialised societies do have the option of either going vegetarian, vegan or just cutting down on meat consumption – and certainly avoiding cruel practices that treat animals as mere “units of production.” That’s why meat is so cheap, especially chicken.
Incidentally, the word vegetarian is nothing to do with vegetables, it comes from ‘vegus’ meaning fresh. I’ve been one for 45 years and in JM’s eyes, I am also a sinner, as I’m proud to be a member of the Australian Greens since it started.
My reasons for changing over as a teenager were ethical – the Indian concept of ahimsa or respect for life – but there are also these environmental grounds today as well as health reasons.
June 22, 2009 at 1:42 pm
It is also worthy of note that by far the largest and most enduring culture of a vegetarian bent, the Hindus, have managed to merge some trully appalling social stratification with their supposedly high regard for animals. An Australian farmers treatment of his cattle or sheep is light years ahead of your average Brahmin’s regard for the Harijans (aka untouchables) and other lower castes.
In fact, the main reason for the rapid spread of Islam in india was the absolutely disgusting treatment meted out by the higher castes on the lower castes who eagerly took up the new religion that offered them both dignity in life and paradise in the hereafter. Hinduism remains a religion that assigns no promised land, or hope of redemption/salvation/enlightenment for these lower castes. They remain generally trapped in hard circumstances by way of birth into a rigid occupational destiny.
It is worth noting that the infamous surgeon, “Dr Death”, of Bundaberg was a Brahmin who had merged only part of the science of infection control with traditional Hindu values. He, apparently, only saw infection as a risk to himself, as a high caste person, from those of lesser caste. He did not consider the possibility that a high caste person could pose any threat of “contamination” to a lesser caste. And in this case, the lesser caste was ordinary Australians seeking competent medical care from surgeons who feel a duty to wash their hands.
Clearly, religion and practicality can merge in unforeseen ways. And one does not need to scratch our average western green/vegetarian too deeply to uncover a similar intellectual architecture of sanctimonious concern for animal welfare combined with a callous disregard for the large portion of humanity that does not belong to their own particular political ‘caste’. They are equally capable of demonising a different occupational caste to the point where delivery of the accepted rights and liberties are no longer obligatory.
June 22, 2009 at 2:25 pm
It’s interesting to see how strident vegetarians are in seeking to impose their standards on we natural evolved omnivores.
The likes of Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UNs IPCC, a vegetarian,(now there’s a person who meets janama’s desciption of a vegetarian) urges a radical shift in diet “as a personal and effective sacrifice that would help tackle climate change” (The Guardian 7/9/2008).
He went on to say that diet change was important because the huge greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental problems, including habitat destruction, associated with rearing cattle and other animals.
What he fails to acknowledge is the vast numbers of cattle in his native country of India. Of the world population of approx. of 996,000,000, India has 281,700,000 or 28.3%, Brazil has 187,100,000 or 18.8%, China has 140,000,000 or 14%, USA has 97,000,000 or 9.75%, EU has 87,650,000 or 8.8%, Argentina has 51,100,000 or 5.15 %, Australia has 29,200,000 or 2.95%, South Africa has 14,200,000 or 1.42%, Canada 13,950,000 or 1.4% and other countries, 49,750,000 or 5.0% plus 20,000,000 for the rest of Africa or 2%.
So how many of these cattle in India are just wandering around and belching methane for a zero contribution to food supplies?
Yes, do as I say but don’t look in my back yard ought be Dr Pachauri’s motto.
By the way brahmin cattle meat is crappy stringy stuff suitable only for mince meat. Hello burgers! No juicy steaks there, no sirree.
June 22, 2009 at 2:55 pm
dhmo mentioned PETA. Among other things, PETA is a companion-animal killing machine. Here’s the MO. PETA people promise to find a loving home for the dog that you can’t take care of anymore. Then they take your money and promptly kill your former pet. Here’s a link to the story.
June 22, 2009 at 3:13 pm
The issue of PETA is something which the AGW and greens generally do not want to confront; its hard to really get a clear idea what PETA stand for at all;
Nonetheless PETA is at the cutting edge of noveau naturalism which appears to be some sort of egalitarian equivalence between humans and animals;
At the heart of the green ideology is this equivalence whereby animals are invested with human attributes and therefore rights; this goes well beyond the idea that the dominant species should not be cruel to animals because as the actions of PETA clearly demonstrate they really don’t care about animals; that being the case all that is left is self-loathing and misanthropism.
June 22, 2009 at 3:30 pm
There’s a problem with misdirected empathy as well with the nice animal loving people , that are very distanced from the real nature.
Currently my home is full of ” orphaned” animals as this is the breeding season. I do take care of orphaned animals and raise them , but lately there has been an epidemi of people bringing bird chicks to me that have parents. They do not know that many/ most animal babies are left lonely most time of the day AND ARE NOT ABANDONED.
People just don’t know anymore how the nature and species are functioning! All this has now gone so far that I get about 6 calls every day to take care of seabird chicks that are not abandoned at all.
I have called the district chief veterinarian and urged the NGOs and authorities to urge people to notice that the ” abandoned” animals do have parents in 99% of the cases. It is all about animal abuse. This is the result that people have estranged themselves from the natural environment. An animal that is raised by humans cannever function as well as it had had natural parents!
June 22, 2009 at 3:31 pm
Perhaps we have it all wrong and need to follow the green prophets like these http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cattle-killing_movement#Xhosa_cattle-killing_movement_and_famine followed their’s.
“Apparently there is only one fully vegetarian society and it exists in southern india.”
I’m assuming that fully vegetarian means vegan. There are a number of health issues associated with that lifestyle. Interestingly, protein isn’t the biggest one. Using protein complementarity, as described in Diet for a Small Planet, you can get a survivable amount of high-quality protein from a plant-based diet, if you know what the hell you’re doing.
The biggest problem is Vitamin B12. The vast majority of humans simply cannot get enough of it from plant-based foods. If you try–and don’t cheat when your vegan buddies aren’t looking–you’re probably looking at pernicious anemia several years down the road. Not a fun way to go. At least one vegan society recommends that vegans either take a B12 supplement or eat B12-fortified foods. Example: certain vitamin-enriched breakfast cereals.
Prior to B12-related research in the 20th Century, long-term Veganism, which didn’t even have a name in the 19th Century, was essentially an evolutionary dead-end for humans.
I feel comfortable with 4 oz (113g) of beef per day. A 12-oz steak isn’t really necessary. I don’t regard meat-eating as morally neutral, but I’m more important than the cow. (At the moment, dairy products–aside from butter–don’t agree with me.)
June 22, 2009 at 4:20 pm
” Nonetheless PETA is at the cutting edge of noveau naturalism which appears to be some sort of egalitarian equivalence between humans and animals;” – Cohenite
Noveau naturalism says Cohenite. As mentioned in my above post I see it contrary. Animal loving people or the so called ” greens” are VERY DISTANCED from the natural world. Actually most contact seems to be Animal Planet, the TV show, and not the real nature.
I see it from the ” greens” that want wind turbines in areas with high biodiversity and cutting down animal habitats for bio fuel.
I see as well that animal loving people don’t know how to handle an animal
Yesterday I had a very disturbing day. I visited a tropical butterfy house. You would guess that animal loving people would visit such a house. What I did see was very sad, people harrassing animals , even if there were signs ” Don’t touch the animals”.
June 22, 2009 at 4:48 pm
My posts are not a generalisation. There are good NGOs and ” greens” , there are average ones and there are bad ones, as Drongo rightly pointed out;))
June 22, 2009 at 5:14 pm
and if peta can stop this travesty they will be doing something worthwhile.
This is where most of our industry will be going.
June 22, 2009 at 6:58 pm
I suppose the opposite to all this is the genetically engineered sirloin steak.
“No animals suffered to produce this Chateaubriand, the Sauvignon Blanc is a “substitute” so no plants had their right to fullfill their life and breed interfered with….enjoy”
June 22, 2009 at 7:10 pm
oops – it should have been a red substitute wine with a red substitute meat 🙂 I’m so uncool.
I’m actually serious as this is where we are headed IMHO.
Louis Hissink says
June 22, 2009 at 8:44 pm
Not really – the ruling classes need lots of achohol to amuse the proletariat – or drugs. Looney Vegans might want to eliminate it, but alas, history shows otherwise.
They really are misnathropes.
June 22, 2009 at 9:21 pm
I had the opportunity to observe one particular follower of causes cool and forthright who essentially ate himself into a wheel chair. Fred C. had all the badges and slogans but decided that he could get all of his nutritional needs from a diet entirely of very ripe bananas. His methane budget was something extraordinary but his disability pension went a lot further. He was ideologically opposed to just about everything, including the medical profession. But what he did not appreciate was the fact that bananas are very rich in either potasium or phosphorous (I don’t recall which) and the only way his body could deal with his mineral oversupply was to combine it with calcium and pass it in his urine. The problem was that he did not combine his banana fetish with a suitable source of calcium, like milk etc, so the only available source of calcium was from his own bones. Some six months later I saw him in the street in a wheel chair, very frail, and unable to propel himself. He had quite literally pissed his own bones away, and is now presumed dead.
You are spot on about the Byron vegans, Janama. Although it is hard to distinguish between the impact of diet and substance abuse. Amazing really, folks with a fetish about farm chemicals who will then take any number of substances manufactured without any controls by anonymous persons with zero chain of custody and zero product liability cover.
Jan Pompe says
June 22, 2009 at 10:04 pm
Ian: “Although it is hard to distinguish between the impact of diet and substance abuse.”
Often it’s not a case of distinguishing people who over indulge substance abuse don’t usually care about nutrition; it goes hand in hand.
June 23, 2009 at 2:05 am
And the skeleton is meat-free.
June 23, 2009 at 7:10 pm
There is something Pythonsquely absurd about this whole beat-up. Cattle (herbivors) can only intake carbon from the fodder they eat (whether feedlot or pasture). That carbon came from the atmosphere via photosynthesis. Herbivors – like vegans – must be carbon neutral. If the cattle (sheep, vegan) hadn’t eaten the grass/fodder/vegetables it would have decomposed into – guess what? – CO2 and methane.
If the herbivor is eaten by a carnivor, (not that I suggest vegans should be eaten) it just takes a little longer for the C to be recycled as CO2
June 24, 2009 at 11:48 am
You are quite right, Roger. I have been trying to get to the full carbon budget for ruminants but stll have large gaps that none of the researchers appear eager to fill.
One thing for certain is the fact that the carbon in grass is part of a cycle of annual growth and decay. And therefore any intervention in that cycle that does not alter the basic balance of growth and decay cannot be regarded as an emission. So when we determine an emission level for livestock we/they SHOULD be deducting the amount of natural CO2 and CH$ that has been diverted through the ruminants stomach. But they don’t, and I/we am having difficulty finding the data that would enable this to be done.
If anyone would like to nail down the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth of this matter then all assistance would be most welcome.
One very interesting point to note about Australian livestock methane emissions is the fact that emissions from this sector have not changed since about 1910. Total grazing activity has actually declined since then. Sheep numbers have declined by almost the equivalent of the cattle herds increase and the age and body weight of slaughtered animals has declined. The quality of feed has also improved with pasture improvements so there is no doubt at all that Australian livestock have made zero contribution to the doubling of global atmospheric methane over the past century.
Yes, the original build up of the Australian livestock herd had an impact on global atmospheric methane. But given that our herds account for only 2.9% of global domestic animals, one can only conclude that we did so at a time when the global environment was more than able to deal with it.
So when urban Australia can claim to have reduced their emissions to 1910 levels then, and only then, would they have any moral right to demand reductions in livestock emissions.
June 24, 2009 at 4:47 pm
Now that you mention ruminant emissions, it’d be fun to do the same sort of analysis for North America. (Not that I believe in the Flying CO2 Monster.) 200 years ago, we had tens of millions of bison farting up a storm in the Great Plains area. Since then, they’ve been mostly replaced by cattle. Has this affected the total ruminant methane emissions for N America significantly? If not, then cattle grazing on my continent has been essentially carbon-neutral. Do we win a prize?
June 24, 2009 at 5:30 pm
Yes, Larry, there was a lot of Bison and Deer, maintained in a landscape managed for that purpose by the first nations. In fact, all over the world we see domestic animals replacing wild species who obviously burped methane too. So what is/was the natural level of ruminant methane emissions?
More importantly, what was the size of the North American ruminant herd in 1910, ie before atmospheric methane took off.
The simple facts of the methane curve are that the rate of increase has diminished to zero. So any of the IPCC projections of future emissions that include ANY increase in atmospheric methane are in very serious error. Can anyone enlighten us on this point? Were increasing methane levels included in the projections?
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