I received an interesting comment on one of my blog posts the other day that I thought I’d share here.
TL;DR: Growing soybeans to feed cows is far too energy efficient, therefore we should eat less meat (or better still no meat).
Here’s the comment in full…
Hi there Suz
I have enjoyed looking through your site – so first I’d like to say thanks and well done, it looks great.
I’ve been following the paleo diet ‘craze’ for some time now – and I don’t by any means intend to undermine it by calling it a craze. Paleo appears to me to take advantage of fresh, natural ingredients from the earth which is highly commendable from a health perspective. Let’s be honest though, it is ‘crazy’ how many people are talking about the diet.
I follow a similar diet to this – although I mostly choose not to eat meat. The only time I generally eat meat is when I go out for dinner, and the only vegetarian item on the menu is ‘mushroom risotto’ (seems to be the most common offender) or some other dish that has chosen to substitute all its protein value for not so complex carbohydrates. Then, I make sure that I choose something that has been what I call ‘consciously produced’ and if possible locally sourced.
The reason I don’t cook meat at home, is because eating meat is so energy intensive for the earth. If you think about it, if we grow 1,000 sqm of soybeans (which we need to constantly water and fertilise) to feed 200 cows (also need water) to feed 100 people we have reduced our ability to feed about 900 people. Now I know that I will be criticised for the kinds of numbers I chose to illustrate this point, but really the numbers I just made up and probably are in a magnitude far greater and far sadder than I’ve attempted to illustrate. You get the point though.
The point is, that we should be taking responsibility for the imbalance of resources available to feed people in this world – and encouraging people to eat LESS meat not MORE. Especially in a country such as Australia where our weather patterns are so variable (an argument for climate change – something for another time) that in some places we have drought and in others we have torrents of floodwater destroying farmland.
Whilst I sympathise with people looking for an alternative way of life, one which provides them with lasting health, fitness, comfort and satisfaction, shouldn’t we find it simple to then realise that people in countries not as ‘lucky’ as ours wish for the same too? NO matter who you are, we all have one single thing in common – the desire to be happy. In fact even happiness is above the requirement for food and water in the hierarchy of needs, and most of the earth’s population don’t even have that.
Anyway, I’d like you to think about perhaps posting some recipes without meat – and helping people to see that the premise of Paleo, which is taking advantage of having access to clean, natural ingredients given to us by our Earth should mean that we take more responsibility in looking after the entity that provides them. Go meat free a couple of days a week, I promise it won’t kill you
Where to start?
Firstly, I would highly recommend everyone reads the “The Vegetarian Myth” by Lierre Keith.
This book was written to address the popular thought that eating meat is bad for the planet and our health; whereas eating vegetarianism is thought to be the best move.
Before modern grain agriculture, animals grazed on the land, and returned nutrient rich manure that could work its way back into the soil. Land was rotated allowing nutrient rich food to be grown from it.
Now grains and legumes are grow intensively, leading no room for animals to graze naturally. Soil is completely depleted of its nutrients and animals aren't able to take part in this vital circle thanks to widespread intensive grain agriculture.
This is why I completely disagree with the commentator, and actively seek out naturally reared, grass-fed meat – and think more people should to.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Vegetarian myth, and the comment I received.