Non Moral Reasons to Eat Less Meat


I’ve been meaning to post this for a while. Its a really provocative and entertaining talk by journalist and food critic Marc Bittman, on the relationship between modern forms of food production and and its impact on both global warming and individual health. Like most TED talks, its well worth checking out.

  1. #1 by Rumbold on 14th October, 2008 - 1:25 pm

    I’m off for a steak.

  2. #2 by Rumbold on 14th October, 2008 - 1:25 pm

    And some fried chicken.

  3. #3 by Kismet Hardy on 14th October, 2008 - 2:10 pm

    Man is a born predator.

    Ask any woman

  4. #4 by Dave S on 14th October, 2008 - 2:29 pm

    If I ate any less meat, I’d be eating negative meat. :-)

    Rumbold… tongue in cheek I’m sure, but think of your poor clogged arteries man!

  5. #5 by Don on 14th October, 2008 - 6:48 pm

    Excellent clip, Shariq. TED is one of my favourite sites, but I hadn’t seen this.

    I agree with Bittman’s main point, we don’t actually need to eat so much meat and if we didn’t eat so much it wouldn’t need to be so bad for us, so bad for the planet and so inhumane for the animals.

    I’m an enthusiast for well managed game. If you want to eat meat, eat venison when you can. It’s what we evolved to eat and is humane and sustainable. It won’t supply the population with a pound of meat a day (!) but it is currently disregarded. And all those grey squirrels we’re culling, good food going to waste.

    However, I’m lucky enough to live in a place where eating local produce (very often for free) is fairly easy. But I work in the inner-city where saying something like ‘I can’t remember the last time I bought a tomato and one can grow green peppers very well on a windowsill’ is to miss the reality of a single mother for whom that is not a realistic option.

    Yes, it could be made realistic, but right now it isn’t. Tired, harrassed and with the kids demanding the cheap, convenient, heavily promoted crap that passes for food, what are they going to do? Even if a neighbour did call around with a couple of fresh caught trout or an arm-load of veggies from the allotment they wouldn’t be able to deal with it. Several decades of the food industry setting the agenda as ‘more, cheaper and easier’ has been very effective in maximising profits for the least worthwhile foodstuffs while educating a huge number of people into accepting these shoddy foodstuffs are actual food.

    If meat were a ‘luxury item’ we’d enjoy it more, be healthier and have much less impact on the environment. And given the state of the planet, meat as a luxury item seems reasonable.

  6. #6 by fugstar on 14th October, 2008 - 11:56 pm

    sorry…how on earth is it non-moral?

  7. #7 by Gruffy on 15th October, 2008 - 5:35 pm

    Reading about all these food crisis and stuff happening throughout the world there is an urgent need to solve the adequate food problem .One way is the obvious i.e use those ultra high yeilding varities,but to tell you the fact ,being from a developing country ,there is no high yeilding seeds or fertilizers or any other thing here.The reality is people still use the same old things down here.Another way to tackle the problem is promote everybody to go green.But assuming everybody went green in say 5 years ,there is not much for the people now ,think what can be the situation if more people demand the same thing. Yeah the chicken’s feed is saved ,so what do you want me to do eat it?
    The solution I suppose lies with the middle path, some kind of meat is essential for people and if we try to get it from say cabbage(assuming it has the mineral) we might end up comsuming more rather than what we would consume on eating a kind of meat that has it.

  8. #8 by Shariq on 15th October, 2008 - 5:57 pm

    I’m thinking its more of an ethical argument rather than a moral one?

  9. #9 by Dave S on 17th October, 2008 - 12:54 am

    Gruffy @ 7:

    some kind of meat is essential for people and if we try to get it from say cabbage(assuming it has the mineral) we might end up comsuming more rather than what we would consume on eating a kind of meat that has it.

    I’m afraid that simply isn’t true. Much of the world’s population exists without any problem on a purely vegetarian diet.

    Certainly meat has some good nutritional properties, but it’s far from “essential” for our survival.

    Furthermore, the more mouths there are to feed, the more food is required. I freely admit that cows are a very good converter of grass (which humans can’t really eat) into things which humans can eat, but most livestock is barely even fed in this way!

    Rearing animals for food just creates many more mouths that require feeding, and those mouths require many times more food than if we just ate the same food directly.

    Eating a vegetarian (and especially a vegan) diet always consumes less resources, and there are numerous studies which demonstrate this.

    Eg. see here - especially the bit which says “We have succeeded in industrializing the beef calf, transforming what was once a solar-powered ruminant into the very last thing we need: another fossil-fuel machine.”

  10. #10 by Leon on 17th October, 2008 - 1:48 am

    We may be able to survive without meat but it tastes good dammit! I love a good steak, love proper kebabs, and Caribbean dishes like pudding and souse etc.

    Tried being a vegetarian once for about a year and hated it, really can’t see me going back to that.

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