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Beyond Meat signs global supply deals with McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut (agfundernews.com)
1105 points by adrian_mrd 7 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 910 comments

This is the best news I've heard all week. The more widely vegan "meat" is available, the more likely it is to be adopted by average people and not just dedicated vegans.

Reducing the demand for real beef is probably one of the best things we can do in the short term for the environment, due to the amount of land required for cattle farming, and due to the surprising amount of methane emitted by cattle. (see the documentary "Cowspiricy", or Mark Rober's "Feeding Bill Gates a Fake Burger to save the world: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-k-V3ESHcfA)

I truly don't understand the methane issue. Historically worldwide the # of ungulates is probably well below historical averages. It looks like today we have around 98 million head of cattle in the US. Historically we had bison in excess of conservatively 60 million. This doesn't even begin to count all the animals in Africa. Overall wide life is declining.

https://www.statista.com/statistics/194297/total-number-of-c... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_bison

The point is the amount of large mammal farts, it appears to be burps, going on now is probably not that much higher than it always has been. We have merely swapped out one large untamed mammal for a more domesticated one.

EDIT: I should point out I am not advocating for more cows. I don't think we should be clear cutting forests to raise more of them. Yet I don't think we should be running to get rid of all of them either. Historically beef was quite expensive and was usually reserved for rare occasions or the very wealthy. I can see a path forward where we keep the herd size constant and let prices rise. This would obviously drive people to look for cheaper substitutes.

> large mammal farts going on now is probably not that much higher than it always has been

I believe a big part of it has to do with the feedlot diet— when they're eating a high-calorie diet of mostly corn/grain instead of their natural diet of grass, it puts their digestive system into overdrive.

EDIT: I looked into it a bit more after posting this, and it looks like it's not clear-cut— for example, it takes a cow a lot longer to reach slaughter weight eating grass, so even if they're belching less during that time, it's a long enough time that it may be a wash, or even worse: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/21/climate/beef-cattle-metha...

EDIT 2: Here's a piece which makes the original case, acknowledging greater direct emissions but claiming a savings that makes up for it from soil sequestration due to grazing: http://newzealmeats.com/blog/grain-fed-vs-grass-fed-beef-gre...

The corn consumed by cattle includes the corn stalks which are more or less the same as consuming grass. Corn is after all in the grass family. The actual kernels of corn increase the calories versus grass, but it’s not like cows are just eating corn off the cob all day long. They need to consume tons of roughage to help with their digestion. I think a good argument is that converting grain and grass to beef is inefficient - if you could have consumed the grain yourself, but the nice thing about cows is that they convert very low calorie foods into high calorie meat that we can consume. If we had to eat what cows do, we’d be chewing all day.

It is well documented that once cows are switched to the pure corn diets we now feed them, their health starts immediately declining and they start dying. Factory farms time it so that they grow up on grass and similar, then are switched to grain to fatten them, and are slaughtered before becoming too ill. There are many unhealthy modifications made to their diet and environment to force them to consume corn. This is detailed lots of places including the book The Omnivores Dilemma. The whole book is essentially about corn and what a horror show industrial agriculture/meat is.

Most countries in the world are not all-in on intensive farming like the US though.

Not yet but that's the way the wind is blowing

The same happens when humans switch to a largely corn diet. Corn and wheat (maybe just grains) just don't seam healthy.

If I had to drop meat, I'd primarily eat beans/legumes.

That's why only Europe has its cuisine based on grains. All other regions base their cuisine on either potatoes or rice.

Erm, what? Rice is a grain. What do you think they eat in the rest of the world exactly?

Pretty sure the Americas & Africa & half of Asia are rather fond of Wheat anyway.


Yes. Large parts of North and Central India eat wheat a lot, as chapati, roti, paratha, naan, bhatoora, poori, daliya (broken wheat), rava (semolina), etc. Even in South India a good amount of wheat is eaten as rava (rava upma and rava dosai), chapati, poori, parotta, etc.

Every region in the world that moved beyond the Mesolithic era have a "cuisine based on grains". It's an unfortunate side effect of civilisation.

Those poor Italians, living to 85...

Most of European diets are very potato heavy.

Potatoes are a staple in many European countries, and cuisine varies wildly between various European countries.

Rice is a grain.

Not every farmer feeds their cows corn/grains. Find a local farmer that raises their cattle on pasture and reward them for their efforts.

Ugh, this is worse than a lot of inhuman cattle farming stuff I've come across.

It's also that there's no ecosystem in factory farming. There are methane consuming bacteria in meadows.

Same for monocrop fields of Soy beans, doused in pesticides & chemical fertiliser.

There is a better way all around, with a mixture of animals and crops. And you very much need the animal dung to fertilise if we're talking about doing anything postive for the environment.

They don't get silage unless the farmer makes a point of it. Most of the time the stalks and chaff and spit out the back of the combine and tilled under. Furthermore they'd get penalized for it in weighing if its mixed in with the corn so there's little to no incentive for the extra work of it. If the farmer has a small enough herd though they may let them roam on the field afterward, but the big lots don't do that.

They are constantly feeding the grass with their poo.

Re-generative agriculture using a variety of animal grazing in rotation is more efficient and better for wildlife and the planet than any monocrop vegetable field will every be.

Organic agriculture only works with large amounts of animal dung.

> for example, it takes a cow a lot longer to reach slaughter weight eating grass, so even if they're belching less during that time, it's a long enough time that it may be a wash, or even worse

For that cow, yes. However, the entire herd will reach slaughter faster on a high calorie diet, there's greater turnover in the herd and more methane gets produced for a smaller number of total cows.

If "for a cow" the lifetime emission is the same (say because the daily emission halves but the cow lives twice as much), then the rate of emission "for the entire herd" will also be the same (everyting else being equal). The herd will contain two "low-emissions" cows for each "high-emissions" cow.

You are better at research than I am. I was wondering the same thing once I read your comment.

>It takes a cow a lot longer to reach slaughter weight eating grass, so even if they're belching less during that time, it's a long enough time that it may be a wash, or even worse.

This would still mean the cows live shorter lives and fart more intensely in that time. So that would destroy a headcount comparison with previous levels of wildlife, since basically now you're comparing one life of a bison with hundreds of cows living in it's lifespan.

It's the opposite. The reason cows produce more methane is precisely because they eat grass.

When grass naturally, does it produce methane?

EDIT: it must be part of cow digestion. I just remember that cow burbs are bigger methane problems, but cow farts are fine. Still not sure about methane from grass dying normally, and maybe there’s lots extra grass being grown for cows that wouldn’t grow normally?

Aerobic decomposition, exposed to oxygen like dead grass on the ground, produces mostly CO2 and H2O (plus some other O based stuff like SO4, PO4, NO3). Anaerobic decomposition, like in a cow's stomachs, produces mostly CH4 and CO2 (plus some other H based stuff like NH3, H2S, PH3).

When the herd eat grass it stimulates grass growth and grass is a huge carbon sink. there is a cool ted talk about this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpTHi7O66pI

If you put the grass where nothing grew before, like a desert. The situation in reality is the opposite: people make forests into grassland.

This is so misinformed. Much cattle production is in South America yet you cite only US figures which is less than 10% of headcount.[1] Even the US bison figures you cite predate the massive rise in industrial CO2 emissions, greatly reducing our budget. And you claim “wild life” is declining without sources — commercial cattle still number > 1B worldwide.

> One item worth noting is that the decline in U.S. inventory since 2008 – 3.1 million beef cows – has been met with an opposite expansion in Brazil of almost 4 million beef cows during the same period.

[1] https://www.progressivecattle.com/topics/management/what-us-...

>Even the US bison figures you cite predate the massive rise in industrial CO2 emissions, greatly reducing our budget

"Cows are a major driver of climate change" and "Cows are the part of the CO2 budget that is most expendable" are related, but not quite equivalent arguments.

Don't forget the human race also nicely made extinct a whole bunch of mega fauna around in the world. In South America, for example, toxodons, which were the most common ungulate.


I just clicked through that link and there are several hypotheses for what caused the extinction of these animals. You state it was humans alone as if this were fact.

Every greenhouse gas counts, whether it's part of the preexisting baseline or something recent we started emitting. The goal isn't a return to how things were, the goal is to keep the temperature from climbing too high too quickly.

The point of keeping the climate stable is to _prevent_ biomass loss.

So let's aim to reduce the source that emits the least and get to transport and industry later?

Some problems you can fix in one place and be done with it. Harder problems you gotta work them every place you can make a difference. If livestock accounts for 14% of greenhouse gas, that seems like a viable angle of attack.

Let's aim to do them all. Cows and cars are different businesses which can be managed independently and simultaneously

It’s not just cow farts. Raising and killing a whole cow is an inefficient way to extract calories from plants. Even chicken would be more efficient.

We can't eat grass. In my country cattle eat grass.

Most of the grains we eat are grass so we can technically eat grass.

Also, tomatoes are technically fruits.


Meat has high calories per pound. But a cow must eat 10,000 calories of plants to produce 1,000 calories of beef.

Chickens need as few as 2,000 calories of plant to produce 1,000 calories of chicken.

If they are eating roughage humans can't eat, it's useful. But if we are farming corn to feed cows, we could have been farming something humans (or chickens) can eat instead with less land, fertilizer, etc.

Ok, but the plants a cow is eating are inedible to humans, and they mostly graze on infertile land. Most food they are fed in the finishing stage is farm byproduct that would otherwise get thrown out. Only 7% of a cow's lifetime food intake will be crops that compete with human food demand.

What a cow is really doing is turning inedible sources of food into nutritious human food.

> they mostly graze on infertile land

This is true during the first year of life. After that, most cattle are moved to dense feedlots. Further, the infertile land they're grazing on, in many cases, is infertile precisely because of the way it's grazed. In the scenario where herds graze huge tracts of unbroken native grasslands, the result is increasingly fertile soil.

When grazing animals are confined to small lots, the resulting erosion of topsoil and over-grazing reduce the fertility of the land.

> the plants a cow is eating are inedible to humans > Most food they are fed in the finishing stage is farm byproduct that would otherwise get thrown out.

True in many cases, but missing the larger point. This waste would typically be scattered over huge tracts of land, sequester carbon and re-fertilize the soil over long time horizons. Instead, we turn it into methane and artificially fertilize.

> What a cow is really doing is turning inedible sources of food into nutritious human food.

True, but fails to consider the negative externalities.

There are exceptions where meat makes sense. At higher than 4000 meters, you aren’t going to grow much more than barley, so meat is pretty much it. I’ve never been so sick of meat than during a trip on the Tibetan plateau. Likewise for dry scrub land (Nevada, Wyoming, Arizona, irrigation can only do so much). Then there is the efficiency at which food for livestock can be grown vs for people.

Yes, absolutely. It's difficult to argue for nuance in approach. I really have no idea how to make the general argument effectively.

That's interesting, as on the Nepal side you get only Dahl Bhat (rice and lentils), with maybe some pickles and luxury, a fried egg!

However in Mendoza, Argentina near to Aconcagua, you are inundated with beef steak and red wine, which sounds great, but after a few days of that you're feeling pretty heavy!

Nepal has much more agriculture than Tibet given that much of their land is much lower (Kathmandu is 1,400 meters, Lhasa is 3,655 meters). So most Nepalese are Hindu and can be vegetarians, while vegetarianism simply can’t exist in traditional Tibet (you won’t survive, so even Buddhist monks eat meat, incidentally the one thing Tibetans most like about being apart of China is easy access to agriculture imports).

South America I wonder if it’s more about converting nutrient poor jungles to grazing land?

Field corn is hardly a byproduct. It's inedible to humans, yes, but a different crop could be grown instead.

This entire thread is hijacked by talking about "cow farts". Meat, the way it's farmed today, is far more intensive than what meets the eye. There's the land required to raise the crops that feed the animals, there's transportation of this feed and the raw material to grow the feed, there's the deforestation caused by the land requirement, and on and on.


That's because they shouldn't be fed grains.

Field corn is grown for the starch, which is turned into ethanol. The remaining bits are turned into animal feed. Those bits are the byproduct. The main product is ethanol, which the government has induced a huge demand for under the pretext of environmental protection.

It is not profitable to grow field corn solely for animal feed.

Right, but humans can't live off grass and grass is produced from photosynthesis which is for all practical purposes an unlimited energy source. Not too worried if we waste grass.

Cows need to eat thousands of pounds of plants before they are at a size to get slaughtered and prepared as food.

Humans evolved to eat meat as a way to survive through winter. Early diets relied heavily on gathered foods.

how much of that was human edible callories? free grazing cattle will eat plant humans won't/can't. there is alot of land thats used for grazing that is not suitable for planting crops for a variety of reasons.

The vast majority of cattle are not grazing - instead they are fed farmed grain and soy in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO if you want to search it) where the density of animals is far greater than grazing would ever support.

Essentially most of that soy and corn in the American midwest and the clearcut Amazon are being raised to fatten cattle, not feed people - and it takes a lot of energy to do that.

Except we aren't doing that, the demand for (cheap) beef far, far exceeds the supply of beef that could be made with just grazing land.

Key then to heavily tax beef imports from any country with no agricultural standards, or which are destroying rainforests.

I agree, but I don't know if it necessarily needs to be very good for us to evolve to eating it. We could have either already been adapted to eating it, or it just needs to be the most viable food source among few. If the only thing around to eat is treebark, there's going to be something that eats it, but not us, so we eat that thing.

Are you finding it hard to consume enough calories??

To be honest if it wasn't so good, we wouldn't have evolved to consume so much of it.

Animals bread for slaughter are essentially tools for converting plants we can’t eat into something we can. They’re used when you reach the limit of your usable farmland but still have grasslands.

Yes meat is more caloric than “vegetables” on a per-lb basis but meat gets beat out by oils, nuts and seeds which is why trail mix and unleavened nut breads “lembas bread” exist.

> tools for converting plants we can’t eat into something we can

Yep, but the devil is in the details. How exactly is that conversion happening and what are the side effects? It takes great care to ensure the outcome is a net positive.

You have a very good point!

I has also been shown that under the right conditions grazing lands can actually sequester carbon [1].

So there is no a priori argument against meat from the point of view of climate effects, though there are obviously better and worse practices.

[1] http://www.fao.org/3/i1880e/i1880e00.htm

The area needed for that kind of farming is prohibitively large if we want to sustain current levels of consumption, though. Those bison the parent poster talks about moved over a pretty darn huge area: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_bison_belt

Prior to the industrial revolution the CO2 in the atmosphere was significantly less than today, around or under 250 ppm, so a bit of methane wasn't a problem. Now even the same amount of methane when added to the 410 or so ppm CO2 we have today and it becomes a problem. Of we can reduce atmospheric methane it takes off a bit of the pressure on us to reduce CO2 levels.

I think a lot of what you're saying makes sense. People tend to lump all types of raising cows together, when it's really only the factory farming type or rainforest clearing kind that needs to be stopped. There's a tremendous amount of dry or hilly land that isn't suitable for other types of agriculture, so it really makes sense to raise cattle on these lands in low density. I drive by a lot of these places regularly, and seeing cows on them looks extremely natural and the animals seem very content.

So we should outlaw factory farming and clearing rainforest for cattle, which will drastically cut the supply and allow prices to settle much higher so it's more of a luxury than an every day thing.

It's worth noting that rain forest is also cleared for palm and soy. I have yet to see a concise study comparing CO2 and general environmental impact of large soy plantations and meat farms. And I totally support getting rif of industrial style meat farms and production.

Of course, if most of that soy is going to feed cattle, then maybe it should be counted towards cattle's impact - especially when that soy could feed many more humans than the cattle that eats it does.

Sorry, but there are around 1.5 BILLION cattle in the world, and 300 million are estimated to be slaughtered each year.


If we can reduce any source with little to no consequences we should do it. The point is we're over capacity because we've added petroleum and other sources, namely large container ships that aren't going to be constrained anytime soon.

> I truly don't understand the methane issue. Historically worldwide the # of ungulates is probably well below historical averages.

It's more that this wasn't so much a problem until we added the 80%+ other emissions on top (and the deforestation/water use/transportation/diversion of food crops/human population).

Other problem is forest and jungle clearings to make land for cattle farming. Mostly in Brazil in Amazon but elsewere too.

The best I can figure out there has been a massive increase in global methane levels in the last millenia or so.

I suppose we could argue about the source but livestock is the most obvious candidate.

Edit: Okay turns out fossil fuels are also responsible fro some non-negligible part of the methane emissions, and it's not just livestock but all agriculture and the resulting waste.

Apologies for linking to reddit but the full paper is available, not just the summary. https://reddit.com/r/zerocarb/comments/lz9wj8/incredible_new...

This paper shows that humans are evolutionary carnivores. There are 25 points ranging from various fields in science. Our increased brain sizes and large fat stores in comparison to other primates are just some of the clues. We have different colon/intestine ratios because we spend less time fermenting plants and simply digest meats better. Our higher pH in our stomachs also points to it.

Yes, we can eat plants. But it's not optimal. And we're worse at doing it than our evolutionary cousins.

Burps, not farts, are the primary source of methane: https://climate.nasa.gov/faq/33/which-is-a-bigger-methane-so...

There's already a solution in the works...


For this to scale properly it would need to rely on creating a new market for seaweed farms with the purpose of sending to feedlots. I have a hard time imagining this actually happening.

Pricing it appropriately would be key, and a price on carbon emissions the obvious solution - and the market should respond.

Think about it. Cows release carbon based green house gasses. Where does that carbon originally come from? Plants absorbing carbon based green house gasses. I'm not saying that they cancel out, but there must be some consumption of carbon from the atmosphere in order for cows to produce carbon.

If you're an environmentalist trying to convince people to support your cause, you aren't going to talk about the carbon that raising cows removes from the air. You're only going to mention the carbon that gets put back in the atmosphere. That way, the problem seems like a bigger deal. This is not a slight on environmentalists -- its just politics.

If we were just talking about the CO2 exhaled by cows I would agree. Plants consume CO2 to grow, cows release a lot of that CO2 back into the atmosphere. It's a closed loop (if we ignore all the energy we spent on farming).

The problem is that cows also release a lot of methane. Methane is carbon based (CH4), but it acts very different from CO2. It decays faster, but it a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. It's around 80 times more potent in the first 20 years, or 25 times more potent in the first 100 years. So having plants absorb CO2 only for cows to turn it into methane is pretty bad on the timescales we care about.

It's not necessarily the biggest of the problems with cattle, but it's worth preventing on its own.

Note conversion of C02 into methane.

If methane has bigger effect than the same amount of coal within C02 then your argument fails.

> While CO2 persists in the atmosphere for centuries, or even millennia, methane warms the planet on steroids for a decade or two before decaying to CO2.

> In those short decades, methane warms the planet by 86 times as much as CO2, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.


Do you find it strange that an article about methane does not mention what percentage of the greenhouse gas effect that methane accounts for? I'd ask everyone to read this article, write down what percentage you think methane accounts for and then read the wikipedia page on greenhouse gasses.

This is to say nothing other than that more nuance is needed when discussing the environment. It is important to reduce our emissions.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_effect#Greenhouse_g... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methane_emissions#List_of_emis...

A somewhat surprising corollary: if you have methane and you can burn it, it's better to do that than vent it directly.

(Of course, better still to leave it in the ground, if that's where your methane is coming from...)

@nightski Yes, natural gas is about half as bad as burning oil and one third as bad as coal in terms of energy output per tonne of CO2 emitted.

Although methane is usually the largest component, natural gas is typically a mixture of methane, propane and butane. So not quite the came as cow burps.

Not quite. For a power plant the rate is ~0.059 tons CO2 per MMBtu of natural gas, coal is ~0.105 tons per MMBtu (different for bit, sub, etc.), and oil is around ~0.081 (although, like coal, it varies).

Now, in a power plant context, modern gas plants are going to be more efficient and have better heat rates than their coal and oil equivalents, so you do generally need less total MMBtu input to get an equivalent amount of generation out. But if you’re burning the same amount in terms of energy content, the difference when it comes to only CO2 is not as large as you’re saying.

Natural gas burns cleanly and is very effective at heating homes and water. While there are problems with leakage, it's a huge step up from burning coal & oil.

This is what I don't understand about companies planting trees to offset their fossil fuel CO2. Our problems are heavily caused by carbon being dug out of the ground and released. A tree just means that the carbon will be released at a later date

It's mostly feel-good greenwashing, as far as I can tell.

Bill Gates recommends a company for doing offsetting that actually pulls carbon out of the air and sequesters it underground, removing it from the carbon cycle: https://climeworks.com/subscriptions

It appears to cost ~$1/kg, but I'm guessing that will come down substantially if they're able to scale it up.

Well, a tree removes quite a lot carbon for quite a long time. Just let it grow for a century or so.

Good point. Not sure if they're allowed to grow for that long, I think some options are on timberland. But if they are, it seems like a reasonable short-term help.

In order to be usable, you 10+ years anyway. And in case you don't burn the wood, the CO2 stays out of the CO2 cycle for even more years anyway.

And by planting the right kind of trees, we could even go a long way to repair and safe our forests which are suffering from climate change and monocultures.

I think the assumption is that:

1. the tree will eventually be replaced by another tree, but more trees are being planted overall than are dying, so their numbers go up

2. the time dimension matters a lot. i.e. sequestering lots of CO2 inside trees now is still useful even if it gets released later because by then maybe technology will have improved to be less fossil fuel dependent.

We also need to be restoring all the tree cover that we’ve been removing. Trees do more than just storing carbon. They provide us with oxygen, hold top soil together, provide natural habitat for various wild life, cool an area enough to attract rain clouds, and much more.

Though, replacing the cover isn’t enough and more needs to be done - such as reducing greenhouse gas emission and removal of greenhouse gasses ( by using Carbon Capture Systems, for example).

And the carbon in methane degrades back into water and CO2. It's part of the water cycle.

Fossil fuels are the problem.

I’m gonna guess that wild grazers get predated on by a much more varied species than just carbon polluting humans and their domesticated wolfs. In the wild a bison might get eaten by a pack of wolfs or it might live long and die of old age and be eaten by a host of different scavenges, as well as insects and fungi. All supplying other niches in the ecosystem. I’m guessing that in the wild the methane that gets emitted by grazing herd animals is offset somewhere else in the ecosystem by the niches which these animals create by their behavior.

It might be that allocating all of these grazing animals for just one species destroys most other parts of ecosystems which would otherwise have adjusted for the greenhouse gasses emitted by them.

Or who knows, maybe we fluctuate between warm periods in our ice ages because enough grazing animals have farted enough to start a runaway global warming effects... though I doubt it.

This would only be relevant if all other things were equal. If we can cut methane emissions to below "historical averages" it will at least buy us some time to get CO2 emissions in check.

Today we are not choosing between raising meat animals and restoring land to its pre-industrialization state. So the original GHG emission rate of ancient animals is not important to our decision. We are choosing between raising meat animals and raising crops. Therefore the GHG emissions rate of modern meat animals is important.

From what I read, the contribution of factory farming feed is substantial. Dunno what bison and African wildlife were eating but cows fed a diet that had even a small amount of kelp reduced the methane in their flatus substantially.

Wild life mammals are simply negligible compared to our livestock: https://xkcd.com/1338/

I'm surprised by the number of sheep. At least I thought the number for pig would be larger.

Iirc dinosaur farts caused the ice age [citation needed].

The ecosystem the bison were a part of sequestered carbon. They moved over a huge area and grazed just enough for the soil to store carbon. Intensive farming depletes the soil, actually releasing co2 into the air. I don't know why most people replying to you have failed to point this out. Game meat is generally CO2e neutral.

You can of course still find cow meat that comes from farming that sequester enough co2 to mitigate or offset the emissions, but that kind of production would not sustain current consumption levels.

In my home country, very few areas are suitable for intensive grazing from a sequesterin POW. Only about 10% of the current land used for grazing animals sequester any meaningful amount of CO2.

oh, and I saw someone posted the xkcd comic as a reply to you. That one is pretty telling.

TL;DR: Including land use and crops production, livestock and fisheries account for ~15% of GHG emmissions.

You might want to read this https://ourworldindata.org/environmental-impacts-of-food#whe... and maybe this too https://ourworldindata.org/emissions-by-sector#food-producti...


> there are massive differences in the GHG emissions of different foods: producing a kilogram of beef emits 60 kilograms of greenhouse gases (CO2-equivalents). While peas emits just 1 kilogram per kg.

> For most foods – and particularly the largest emitters – most GHG emissions result from land use change (shown in green), and from processes at the farm stage (brown). Farm-stage emissions include processes such as the application of fertilizers – both organic (“manure management”) and synthetic; and enteric fermentation (the production of methane in the stomachs of cattle). Combined, land use and farm-stage emissions account for more than 80% of the footprint for most foods.

> Food is responsible for approximately 26% of global GHG emissions.

> Livestock & fisheries account for 31% of food emissions ... This 31% of emissions relates to on-farm ‘production’ emissions only: it does not include land use change or supply chain emissions from the production of crops for animal feed: these figures are included separately in the other categories.

> 21% of food’s emissions comes from crop production for direct human consumption, and 6% comes from the production of animal feed.

> Land use accounts for 24% of food emissions. Twice as many emissions result from land use for livestock (16%) as for crops for human consumption (8%).

So including land use and crops production, livestock and fisheries account for ~15% of GHG emmissions

Unfortunately the documentary Cowspiracy is operating with massively exaggerated numbers (it claims meat is responsible for more than 50% of ghg emissions, it's explained on the wikipedia article of the film).

Real numbers from credible sources are that greenhouse gas emissions from the meat and dairy industry are around 15%. Which is large enough to take this problem seriously, but it's still far away from those claims.

I think this is harming the case. The problem is big enough to be passionate about fake meat. No need for exaggeration.

I watched Cowspiracy. It was not convincing. It used numbers that seemed wildly exaggerated on their face, even before doing follow-on research. It also seemed designed to be emotionally manipulative more than informative. Maybe I don't watch enough documentaries, but it had a youtube conspiracy theorist vibe to it, rather than a measured, investigative approach.

Any time there's a vegan angle to a scientific study or a documentary the standard of proof for me is much higher because these causes are often pushed for animal rights reasons.

> Any time there's a vegan angle to a scientific study or a documentary the standard of proof for me is much higher because these causes are often pushed for animal rights reasons.

I think that's a mistake. Or rather, the standard of proof shouldn't be higher for "vegan angle" scientific studies, because most studies have some background reason for existing, so our standard of proof should be high in all cases.

The 15% is globally also. In the US it's as low as 7% (all of agriculture is 10% - directly from the EPA website).

We buy a 1/4 a cow from a local farmer once every six months. It's a pretty low impact way eat meat.

7% isn't necessarily better, it could just mean USA adds more additional unnecessary GHG emissions to their agricultural production.

I can't quite recall from the IPCC reports but isn't logistics, particularly shipping, far bigger a contributor. Not that we can only address the biggest contributors. So perhaps shipped soya/maize/whatever is worse than local meat?

Except for the cow.

The cow wouldn't even exist if it weren't useful to us. Let's treat them as humanely as possible, while not pretending they're something they're not.

If you want to help animals, let's tackle the issue of rewilding and reforestation more seriously.

This is a really strange argument. Even though you wouldn't exist if not for your parents, but you would still probably agree that they shouldn't have you for dinner?

When animal smugglers are caught at the border, the police has to handle the animals. They can't release them into the wild, they can't repossess and sell them because of the unknown health risks and costs, and they can't keep them at the border for all time. The most common result is thus to kill them.

Similar when there is an dangerous pandemic among animals, the most common response is to kill all the sick and those close by. Culling is the most common response to bird flue.

For obvious reason we do not treat humans in the same way, and it would be extremely inhumane to do so.

The argument is that it is also inhumane to kill these animals.

Yes, they kill them, but the meat is burned or otherwise destroyed, it is not going to be eaten.

What makes rewilding / reforestation a better focus for helping animals? I'd have thought the current situation dire enough that one would want to focus on the low-hanging fruit like regulations against the current cruelties and elimination of "Ag-Gag" laws.

I like meat, but this argument is wonky. Domesticated animals displace wild ones, because they take away the habitat.

> The cow wouldn't even exist if it weren't useful to us.

I hate this argument so much.

For a start, animals are perfectly capable of breeding on their own. They don't need you. You are not their god.

Who is pretending they are something they are not? They are sentient beings whether you like it or not. You might think you are superior, but your cat and your dog are certainly not.

And who says that being alive is good? They're born into captivity, without a chance and many of them tortured for their entire life. But that's OK, because at least they got to live?

The problem is that, as far as we can tell, they're not self-aware. They have no concept of "captivity". Their life is their life; they don't have hopes, dreams, or desires. They eat, shit, and fuck. That's all they do in the wild, that's all they do in captivity.

The beauty of being human is that we are not controlled by our instincts. We have meta-cognition, which therefore makes us distinct from all other animals. This is why the vast majority of the earth's population agrees that killing a human and killing an animal are very different things.

It's only 1/4 of a cow. The cow still has 3/4 to work with.

Everyone has to cut back in lean times.

You could say the same thing for plants right? They probably don't want to be eaten.

I actually think this is a legitimate concern. Here's my rationalization: Plants probably don't have a sense of individuality. Personally, I wouldn't care about eating parts of an animal that grew back (like eggs or milk). Plants seem to be no different.

The dairy industry is arguably worse with regard to animal abuse and mistreatment than the meat industry.

I agree, but in theory that is solvable

What about a carrot?

I don't think it's clear why the root of a plant like a carrot should have any special significance except to us. What about onions, turnips, potatoes, etc?

That said, there are some who do think the roots are significant: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jain_vegetarianism

I meant a carrot is something that would probably be more individualized than say a strawberry. So I get your point about eating from plants that grow back, but I guess a carrot wouldn’t fall under that categorization.

Also, what about animals that regrow limbs? Would you eat the arms of a starfish every so often?

I think it's possible combined with ethical farming practices I could be convinced it's not so bad to eat starfish arms (although they don't sound very appetizing).

To be clear I do already eat meat today. I am just not convinced about its necessity and am interested in ways to avoid doing it.

Since they lack thoughts, they couldn't care less.

Respectfully, you and most people have no clue what plants experience. There were those studies published in recent years that suggested plants "scream" when they are being eaten or destroyed, presumably to warn other plants.

We don't know what anything or anyone else experiences internally. But we know enough to make some good guesses.

Plants lack a brain, the organ responsible for thoughts. There's no more reason to think they have thoughts than a cell inside your body, or a computer. All three can process stimuli and communicate.

"Screaming" is editorializing for page views. They found some plants will produce an ultrasonic click every few minutes when dry or when cut. Because it's sound, and because we're looking at it with a human bias, some articles used the term "scream". But it's similar to when plants release chemical signals to communicate. Just because it's sound, it doesn't indicate they subjectively feel pain anymore than chemical signals would. (And chemical signals are used by cells in your body, and that also isn't evidence for consciousness.)

> They found some plants will produce an ultrasonic click every few minutes when dry or when cut.

By the same logic, I suppose rocks "scream" when they are dropped on the ground.

Would anesthetization before killing animals address this issue?

That seems like a bit of a non sequitur. I thought we were discussing whether plants have feelings.

Killing animals painlessly is certainly better than killing them painfully. There are a lot more problems than just the killing though. From the Wikipedia article on slaughterhouses:

> Eiznitz interviewed slaughterhouse workers representing over two million hours of experience, who, without exception, told her that they have beaten, strangled, boiled and dismembered animals alive or have failed to report those who do. The workers described the effects the violence has had on their personal lives, with several admitting to being physically abusive or taking to alcohol and other drugs.

> The HFA alleges that workers are required to kill up to 1,100 hogs an hour and end up taking their frustration out on the animals. Eisnitz interviewed one worker, who had worked in ten slaughterhouses, about pig production. He told her:

> "Hogs get stressed out pretty easy. If you prod them too much, they have heart attacks. If you get a hog in the chute that's had the shit prodded out of him and has a heart attack or refuses to move, you take a meat hook and hook it into his bunghole. You try to do this by clipping the hipbone. Then you drag him backwards. You're dragging these hogs alive, and a lot of times the meat hook rips out of the bunghole. I've seen hams – thighs – completely ripped open. I've also seen intestines come out. If the hog collapses near the front of the chute, you shove the meat hook into his cheek and drag him forward."

Ozzy Osbourne's first job was working in a slaughterhouse. It had a big affect on him! Seriously, check out his book.

Also I have a friend who was vegetarian as a teenager, she wanted to become a vet and one of the things they do is suggest you go to a slaughterhouse and see how it works. She is no longer a vegetarian and loves eating meat, but she didn't become a vet either!

This is ridiculous. Consciousness may be mysterious, but the fact that something emits sound when you break it doesn’t bring it into the same ethical domain as cows and other mammals with brains and an obvious desire and ability to avoid pain and death.

Nice cop out. Plants have feelings too man.

Then why don’t we just anesthetize animals before slaughtering them? Seems like it would take care of your concern.

The same reason anaesthesia doesn’t make it okay to kill humans. There’s lots more on this in chapter 4 (“What's Wrong with Killing?”) of Singer’s Practical Ethics, if you’re interested.

What’s the difference between an anesthetized animal and a plant? We literally call brain dead mammals “vegetables”.

Well, if we are to follow the parent's mention of Peter Singer, you could go check out just about any source of preference utilitarianism. Briefly:

An animal has a conscious will to live on, a preference so to say, and those preferences are the basis of moral consideration.

A plant lacks those kinds of preferences (lacking any brain activity - what we can see are mostly just hormonal cell responses and such; things that all living cells have) and thus the plant in itself is not worthy of moral consideration.

The Arrogant Worms had a good take on this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmK0bZl4ILM

The argument has never been that it's only ok for humans to live if we do zero harm. It's obvious that we can't do that. And that's fine. Human life is worth much more than anything else for us humans, so eating something to survive is necessary and ethical. Same logic applies also to vaccines that need animal products in production. I would prefer if they wouldn't, but I'm not judging anyone for taking it.

What we're talking about here is that simply because steak is s bit tastier than tofu or saitan isn't good enough reason to slaughter 50 billion animals per year and destroying a good amount of environment while doing it.

Maybe we find it tasty for evolutionary reasons. We’ve been doing this for millions of years, is it wise to write off a part of our diet so fast?

I agree that this is important, and less meat consumption is good, but I am kind of upset that the entire American culinary experience is being reduced to "burgers, pizza, and fried chicken."

I say that because most of the articles on meat alternatives are written from the perspective of "if only Americans can stop eating hamburgers!"

First off, in terms of global solutions, that isn't going to fly. Try going to Italy and telling people "we've replaced all your meat, with a ground beef alternative!" and see how pissed people get. Countries around the world have culinary traditions older than America itself. Many of these traditional preparations of various cuts of meat are a huge part of culture and history.

Second off, I, an American, don't even eat hamburgers[1] more than once or twice a year. And I'm not going to switch all my meat eating over to meat alternative hamburgers.

Of course replacing some meat is good, my main complaint is how so many articles reduce American food to just a few categories.

I have the same problem when friends come to visit from overseas, or even friends who've been in America for awhile (sometimes years!) who have no idea that American food is anything other than burgers and pizza.

[1] I eat sausages a bit more frequently, which I could fill with a plant based alternative.

> "we've replaced all your meat, with a ground beef alternative!"

I'm sorry but who ever says anything about replacing all meat? It's more about having a readily available alternative and starting to think of meat as a luxury instead of it being a part of every meal.

> starting to think of meat as a luxury

I remember growing up drinking soda with every meal because the common perception was that you ordered water at a restaurant only if that was all you could afford. Trying to make meat a luxury is the best way to ensure long term increasing demand.

> I remember growing up drinking soda with every meal because the common perception was that you ordered water at a restaurant only if that was all you could afford.

That's really interesting. Where was that?

Probably somewhere where human labour costs less then soda.

The working class doesn’t get to eat luxury food so yeah it’s about replacing all meat with substitutes.

It's all about personal perception. I'm definitely not a vegan nor a vegetarian, but most of my meals don't contain meat. I don't keep track, but I estimate that I eat meat approximately two or three times a month.

Though I wouldn't be opposed to the idea of taxing meat down the line (depending on the implementation), and I'm definitely in favour of cutting back subsidies.

> Second off, I, an American, don't even eat hamburgers[1] more than once or twice a year. And I'm not going to switch all my meat eating over to meat alternative hamburgers.

You're also likely in a privileged class of Americans. Unfortunately the US government indirectly subsidizes meat. Hamburgers and fried meat of sorts are staples of the low-income class. The meat consumption in that class is off the charts, and at extremely unhealthy levels for both the body and the planet.

Ideally, the government should be subsidizing a variety of healthy vegetables for human consumption, not corn (which indirectly subsidizes both meat and HFCS). That policy change alone would fix a lot of nutritional deficiencies, heart disease, obesity, and numerous other problems.

Various cuts of pork, tougher cuts of beef, and until recently, chicken thighs (which can still occasionally be fund on sale for under $2 a pound), are dirt cheap. In college bone in skin on chicken thighs were more my go to than pre-made ground beef.

> Ideally, the government should be subsidizing a variety of healthy vegetables for human consumption

I agree with you in general, but for pure sake of "being alive" the government is going to subsidize something that has calories. Kale may be good for people in the general sense, but even at 25 cents a bunch, it isn't going to fill any bellies.

Starches or protein, one or the other. Getting people to eat vegetables is largely cultural, though $ is certainly part of it, and a part that needs to be addressed.

Cooking at home, going to college. That’s still a privileged life.

Who suggested Kale? Just eating plain baked potatoes would be a massive improvement in health.

You're in the minority though - there appears to be 50 billion hamburgers eating in the US every year which is about 150 per person.

Meat substitutes are a transitionary item - for those used to eating meat. I've been vegan for 35 years and rarely cook with them (tempeh and tofu are the only things that come close). I get plenty of protein from vegetables, beans etc. and the thought of eating a mock meat just doesn't appeal to me (I'll occasionally eat a burger when out but I find Beyond burgers taste like the burgers sold in cheap fast food joints smell like.

> in the US every year which is about 150 per person.

Is the average person in the US really eating 3 hamburgers per week?

I’m American, and I don’t know anyone who eats this much hamburger. A lot of us find them to be pretty heavy, so it’s more like a meal that you have once in a blue moon. However, someone commented below that it might just be the income bracket we’re in. Poorer people might be consuming more of them because they’re cheap and fast to get.

Actually, sorry I picked up that number from the internet it's a USDA figure of the equivalent amount of burgers for all the meat consumed in the US (50 Billion) but is quoted by every bad website and news outlet as the number of burgers sold.

> Countries around the world have culinary traditions older than America itself. Many of these traditional preparations of various cuts of meat are a huge part of culture and history.

Many of these traditions include "new world" ingredients such as tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers, corn, squash, some beans, &c that wouldn't become common in europe or asia until the 16th or 17th century. While still older than the founding of the united states, they're still "newer" than many people realize. These new ingredients were incorporated into older traditions just as new ingredients will be. Noöne will force it on anyone, but people will experiment and find culinary and economic reasons to use new ingredients.

Very good point, for example, I think of dragon fruit as being 100% an Asian food so I was shocked to find out it's indigenous to the Americas.

> Noöne

who is Noöne? never heard of them. Is that Greta Thunberg's more radical twin?

In case this is an actual question, the two dots on the second o are called diaeresis and it's to tell you that letter starts a new syllable. You'll see it in words like naïve, coöperate, and reëlect and names such as Zoë and Chloë.

Somewhat rare to include in today, but stuffy publications such as the New Yorker have a style guide that requires the diaeresis.

> I am kind of upset that the entire American culinary experience is being reduced to "burgers, pizza, and fried chicken."

I think the reason why burgers and other processed foods are the first to be tackled by fake meat start-ups, is that processed foods are easier to imitate, and quite likely burgers have the largest consumption of any processed food on the market. From both a profitability and environmental standpoint, any small win here, has an outsized impact.

As a fellow American, I also just eat a few hamburgers per year. I actually prefer non meat burgers to regular, though I love high quality meat (though I don't it it very often). I like to primary source stuff and can't find a hard, verified number in my limited Googling, but as far as I can tell our consumption is incredibly low compared to the per capita average (over a hundred per year, into the multi hundreds per year depending on region). The key is not to get people who are eating 2 per year down to 0, but to get people eating hundreds per year down to, I dunno, 10? Either way we can picture a sustainable economy in which high quality plant based meals are cheap, and then everyone gets their high quality meat meals less frequently and for an amount of money that is commensurate with their ecological impact.

I'm naively asking this as someone from England, I can easily go to a farm nearby. Even though I live on the outskirts of a city there are numerous options within say 10 miles of me. I go to the farm and the chances are they have a shop selling fresh or frozen in season meat (as well as cheese, eggs, veg or unpasturised milk). I can get advice on cuts and cooking from the butcher there and it will cost 50-100% more than it would in the supermarket. It will also taste twice as good.

I don't do this that often, but it's a good experience, and I'd like to do it more in the future. Of course these places will mail frozen meat to your house too.

Is this kind of thing an option in the US? I'm pretty sure it's common in most of Europe still.

That’s really cool! I’m in the US, and the farms I have seen are so large, I don’t think a normal person could pop in and ask questions. I’ve never seen a building near one of these farms because the rows of vegetation goes on for miles it seems like.

That said, smaller farms and dining experiences are popping up all over. I feel like the local, craft experience has been really popular and is trending us back to seasonal, organic ingredients. I was just saying to a friend the other day that I feel like I don’t know what season anything is in because we can get so much produce all year round. We’ve started little veggie gardens in our yards and were trying to sus out what we could plant.

I don’t think it’s a problem of articles. It’s a problem of reality, of emerging american culture. Majority of people are eating burgers, chicken and pizza plus perhaps some common mexican dishes. If you asked random people in the street: what american dishes are there? would their answer be different from the above?

I also eat few burgers, but Americans average 3 burgers a week- and even more chicken than beef.

So more or less, "burgers, pizza, and fried chicken" is not that far off.

It's not only about American foods. Arguably a bigger impact might happen in China, which has been reacting to a Swine fever that has made pork - a staple - in many cases too expensive or unavailable.



No need to go that far, just try replacing cheese. There's surprisingly few Italian food items left.

Raising cattle can easily become a net negative to carbon emissions if cows are given slightly more space to graze and moved around more often. If all cattle were raised in this way there would be slightly less cattle production but a far more positive environmental impact than if we all switched to vegan "meat".


That study seems to be comparing cropland to pasture. The problem is that the tradeoff is not between cropland and pasture, but pasture and forest. Eg: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/02/revealed...

Due to increasing demand for meat, we have people burning the forest and releasing all the carbon sequestered in the trees, and reducing the efficiency of the land as a carbon sink going forward.

The majority of the worlds meat is raised in areas where forests do not naturally develop.

If all natural meat consumption stopped tomorrow, Brazilians would cut down forests to grow whatever is needed for fake meat. The problem is land is one of the few economically exploitable natural resources the country has to sustain itself.

Case in point: The largest cattle producing station in Australia - Anna Creek - is basically low scrubland.


Australian beef is some of the highest quality in the world, and it's almost solely raised in areas that have very low impact on the environment. (Dairy farming is different, of course, because the location of dairy farms is important to have a close proximity to the dairies and thus the consumers).

But unfortunately a lot of people view the US agriculture system as the be-all and end-all, and don't look to the rest of the world that can actually perform fairly low-impact agriculture.

The Australian system is using the land in that way because the land isn't good for much else. If Australia wasn't largely arid or desert then I suspect we'd have a far higher population and much intensive land use.

Brazilians are currently cutting down forests to grow crops for cattle feed.

Plant based meat uses less resources than beef so I would call that a win in my book.

You seem to have missed the important part of my comment.

If you tell an Iowa corn farmer than he can't grow corn anymore, he doesn't just give up and let his land turn in to prairie. He will grow soy, or raise pigs, or whatever else monetizes the land.

Brazilians will keep cutting down forests because they depend on the land for income. They ultimately don't care what the deforestation is for, only that it feeds their family.

Why would Brazilians cut down more forest if the demand for crops goes down (since a lot of the crops are currently fed to livestock)?

I don't know what they'll do with the areas already cleared but there wouldn't be an economic incentive to cut down more forest.

This study about soy in the US and Brazil that was posted a few weeks ago is quite interesting about the link between deforestation, soy and livestock (https://ourworldindata.org/soy)

Corn is an excellent carbon sink btw.

The trade off is not pasture to forest. Pastureland for most of the world is on arid land too dry to support forests, such as the American West. Before we raised cattle on it, it was tall grassland where Bison grazed. Similarly most forms of cattle culture arose in arid climates that could not support water intensive agriculture such as rice. Forests don't do well in arid climates, as California is finding out after decades of mismanagement.

But there are also places in the world where forests are never gonna grow but are well suited to raising cattle.

And what undeniable value do forest provides?

I live in NZ where which still somewhat recently used to be covered in forests. There’s tons of pastures and forests certainly look nice (and native bush is just something else), but other than that I don’t know why forests so important? Properties with shading are more expensive here, but that also causes more issues with your rain water tanks.

I live in NZ as well - forests provide a myriad of benefits, the ones you'd probably consider most importation is the sequestering of co2 and the production of oxygen (that thing you need to live). Beyond that they are a habitat in which much wildlife finds a more suitable environment (forested areas are protected from birds of prey), act as wind breaks across areas such as the Canterbury plains, help with retaining topsoil and so much more.

The shade they provide your BBQ is literally the least important role forests play.

The o2 production that forests and rainforests provide always seems a bit overstated - your surrounding oceans are even better at that, but algae don't help with regional smog much, do they?

Carbon sequestering, wind breaks, increased biodiversity, topsoil protection, game reserves - they may not seem huge to the average person, but like you say they are crucial for our continuity.

> less cattle production

This idea would lose the interest of anybody with influence over cattle production right here. It's almost impossible to make people simply want less, but it's more feasible to make them want something different than what they want today.

What you are looking for are subsidies. In the EU you can get subsidies for not touching a plot of arable land at all.

The linked research is interesting and may be slightly more nuanced than your summary. From their executive summary:

"The WOP system effectively captures soil carbon, offsetting a majority of the emissions related to beef production. The largest emission sources — from cattle digestion and manure — are highly uncertain. We believe the results shown here are on the conservative side. Accounting for soil carbon capture is not yet standard practice and the results may meet with challenges, such as on ensuring long-term storage. In the best case, the WOP beef production may have a net positive effect on climate. The results show great potential."

It looks like their beef production does produce carbon (and methane) emissions, they just pair that with the carbon sequestration due to their land use. I appreciate that they did this research and published the results. It's an interesting argument.

But I'm unsure how well it scales at a societal level. For one thing there's the opportunity cost of using so much land for a single pound of beef. More significantly it seems like one could use their logic to pair any activity with enough soil-based carbon capture to argue that it's now a carbon neutral activity.

For example, one could argue that dirt biking has "net negative carbon emissions" if you subtract their tailpipe emissions from the carbon capture from thousands of acres of forested trails.

> The 2017 data showed that converting annual cropland to perennial pasture, under holistic and regenerative grazing practices, had the effect of storing more carbon in the soil than cows emit during their lives.

Does this continue storing more carbon, or does it just store a constant amount of carbon? It reads to me like it's a one-off reduction in carbon that's already cancelled out after a couple of years.

I think both solutions work hand in hand. We replace the lower quality meath with vegan alternatives. This allows meat producers to focus on higher value, grass fed products. So we still eat steak but frozen processed meat patties are replaced with plan alternatives.

This is really meat-dependent, ironically - the biggest thing we could do is cut consumption of steak and other prime cuts of beef, since ground beef is made out of what's left after those expensive, sought-after cuts are taken. I would guess that eliminating ground beef consumption doesn't really get us anywhere for the environment.

No, just no. White Oak Pastures has been debunked by real science many times, e.g. here: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ijbd/2014/163431/

There needs to be a proper discussion, debate, to break apart ideologies that are perpetuating misinformation or just simply not taking into account the whole ecosystem; the documentary Sacred Cow seemed to do a good job to explain it.

Not sure why this was downvoted, sacred cow is actually a good unbiased take at regenerative agriculture (including both plants and animals)

The popular crusade against meat is one of the more misguided. Meat provides far more nutritional value than any plant and the environmental impacts have been greatly exaggerated. See below:

Regarding carbon: "removal of livestock in the US would only lead to a net GHG reduction of 2.6% in national emissions. Similarly, removing all dairy would lead to a reduction of just 0.7%. At the same time, both transitions would create domestic deficiencies in critically limiting nutrients [White & Hall 2017; Liebe et al. 2020], which is not unexpected given that Animal Sourced Foods are valuable sources of essential nutrition [see elsewhere].

and methane: "As argued above, this is not wishful thinking as there is still ample potential for mitigation of biogenic methane in global food systems. Moreover, the global cattle population has not been increasing during the last decade, making its contribution to global warming debatable [Shahbandeh 2020]. It is, however, true that methane has nonetheless been suddenly increasing since 2007. Yet, this can be ascribed to a multitude of potential reasons, incl. geological and fossil fuel emissions, wetlands, rice farming, and landfills [Gramling 2016; Nisbet et al. 2016; Alvarez et al. 2018; Rasmussen 2018; Etiope & Schwietzke 2019; Malik 2021], or a decrease in hydroxyl radical levels, the main sink for atmospheric methane [Turner et al. 2017]


I'm less inclined to believe a blog post than I am to believe published & cited articles. Most estimates I've found put overall GHG from diet at about 15-20% of total per capita. And sources like [1] indicate that switching to a plant-based diet cuts that number in half for western countries (the UK in this study). That's 3x your number. Granted, meat substitutes are higher on GHG than eating straight plant-based meals, so it's probably more like a reduction of 3-4% from switching to Beyond or Impossible. But as with any GHG discussion, you have to consider what's actually feasible to do (ex. changing dietary components) vs. really hard (ex. reducing energy inputs to manufacturing) and optimize for the former.

[1] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-014-1169-1

So, animals being alive is the general problem now when it comes to climate? At that, the greenhouse gas problem in livestock fed artificially large amounts of grains has been solved by introducing a small amount of seaweed to their diet. That's been kind of a non-issue for the past few years as more and more commercial feeds have seaweed included already. Just because you're not in the agriculture industry doesn't mean other people aren't doing actual good and change for the better.

From all I have seen (e.f. [1])the seaweed idea was still in small scale trials as of 2018, please provide some evidence for your claim that this is now already mainstream. That said, the focus of this is on methane as one of the GHG produced by cows. This doesn't count CO2 produced by cows or the rest of resource wastage of the meat industry, from the 7:1 grain:beef ratio to the huge industry of the barns and slaughterhouses, packaging, transport, ... All these factors are much lower with vegetables/grains or even plant based options.

And that is not to mention the moral side of animal cruelty in the industry, deforestation for that Argentinian beef, or the human suffering on the processing side.

1 https://e360.yale.edu/features/how-eating-seaweed-can-help-c...

Are they really? I recently heard in a local TV show that farmers were not feeding seaweed to cows at scale because it was more expensive, and the related uncertainties. Was the information in the show outdated? The Netherlands is globally known for its high tech agriculture, so I was surprised they still were not feeding seaweed when the benefit has been known for so long.

Do you happen to have a source for this?

Let me google that for you: "seaweed livestock feed"

But here, Yale, have a blessed day. God speed. https://e360.yale.edu/features/how-eating-seaweed-can-help-c...

That is about "how it can"

That is about a small scale pilot. It says nothing about grazing cattle, about scaled up asparagopsis production necessary to support global beef and dairy cattle populations, or anything.

It would be more helpful if you could find what level of impact that is having, based on the article you linked it is negligible right now.

>> Be kind. Don't be snarky. Have curious conversation; don't cross-examine. Please don't fulminate. Please don't sneer, including at the rest of the community.


One estimate probably includes shipping emissions for food and one doesn’t would be my guess.

Of course, plant based burgers might not reduce total final product shipping emissions but they might reduce a lot of the intermediary shipping emissions since cattle require feed.

Also, there’s that thing where we apparently ship chicken to china to be cleaned and then back sometimes? That seems bad, but I don’t really know any of the numbers. I can only assume it’s on those cargo ships which use very crudely refined fuels with little emission caps.

And the plants used for vegan meat replacements need fertilizer, transportation, processing and so on.

Emission wise, bulk and container shipping are among the most efficient means of transport on a per unit basis. And that is without taking any emission reduction plans into account.

That may be so but it can never be as efficient as not shipping it halfway across the world twice in the first place!

Of course that’s a big change, to bring those jobs back to the States of course with tons of implications and potential outcomes.

The linked blog post contains a couple dozen citations, fwiw.

> The popular crusade against meat is one of the more misguided.

This seems to presume two things:

1) That vegans and vegetarians are primarily doing it for the environment.

2) That vegans and vegetarians can't do basic math.

To the first point, I'd be fully supportive of plant-based diets even if the only reason was concern over the treatment of the animals themselves. The focus on the environmental benefits is really quite new. Vegetarianism has historically been about animal rights/welfare and/or a commitment to non-violence. The environmental benefits are simply the cherry on the cake.

To the second point, you say meat provides "far more" nutritional value than any plant. Maybe, maybe not. (I think "not", but I'm open to being wrong about that.) Nutrition is one of those weird fields in science where there's not a whole lot of agreement about anything. However, the vast majority of nutritionists and doctors are far more concerned with the lack of fruits in vegetables in the popular diet than they are with the lack of meat.

The environmental benefits have probably been exaggerated, but growing, distributing, and consuming vegetables is obviously less resource-intensive and less wasteful than meat. I'm somewhat shocked that this could be a controversial statement. I'm NOT saying the benefits are so high as to, say, "save the world" by going veg. There are plenty of people who make this claim, and I'm very suspicious of it.

But that's very different from thinking the entire movement is misguided. EVERY movement exaggerates their claims. That doesn't make them misguided, simply prone to hyperbole.

(On a side note: I'm not vegetarian. I simply agree with those who are.)

> "On a side note: I'm not vegetarian. I simply agree with those who are."

This was my position for a long time until finally making the jump at the beginning of the pandemic (vegetarian, will rarely eat fish sometimes).

For me, it was mostly about reducing suffering of other animals. I thought this way before but it's hard to change behavior and I liked hamburgers. I think this is the strongest argument and the environmental or nutritional arguments feel like side issues to avoid just tackling this issue directly. The meat substitutes are nice because they're close enough to satisfy the want at a cook out or something.

There's some long reasoning behind it, but basically 'thoughtful local eating of meat' or whatever just felt like a rationalization to me. If an alien came down to earth and loved eating humans, but said they thanked every human they killed and ate or that the humans had a decent 20yrs of life before they killed them (and they only ate local humans), it still wouldn't sit well with me.

In the above example I was basically the alien that understood and agreed with all the human arguments, but still ate human because I liked human burger. Being vegetarian makes my actions more consistent with what I think is the right thing to do.

In theory, you could draw some line at 'well humans and other more intelligent beings are different because they have dreams and a plan for their future'. Even if humans could draw this line perfectly (which I'm skeptical of), you'd still need to kill the 'lesser' animals in a way without suffering or fear. I just don't think that's logistically possible. It's definitely not the way it's done in practice anyway.

>> For me, it was mostly about reducing suffering of other animals.

The way I think of it, pigs are very intelligent, more intelligent than dogs. However, humans are more intelligent. If pigs were more intelligent, pigs would eat humans.

And that's not a figure of speech. Pig would eat us if they could. They wouldn't stop and think, gee, does this little baby human girl cry because it doesn't want to be eaten, maybe I should stop munching on its belly? They wouldn't stop to think, sheesh, this little blond baby boy with piercing blue eyes is so cuuute, how can I eat it? They'd eat us.

And they'd also eat the cows and the chicken and the sheep and the fish and everything else we eat. And they'd kill their babies to keep the cows lactating and to take their stomachs to make cheese with. And so on, and so forth.

So why should I not eat them? What kind of superior morality am I supposed to claim for myself to think I'm morally better than a pig? None. A pig would eat me, so I eat a pig.

I appreciate that's not a common line of reasoning and I'm possibly overestimating the nutritional value of humans, but in any case I don't see any problem with eating meat, given that I'm an animal and some animals eat other animals' meat.

> I don't see any problem with eating meat, given that I'm an animal and some animals eat other animals' meat.

Some animals rape other animals in packs, have territorial wars resulting in killing for nonfood reasons, and torture and/or kill other creatures for sport. Some animals eat their young if possible. Juvenile females are impregnated and give birth as soon as it is biologically possible. Some animals keep slaves.

The fact that other animals do something is no justification for us to do something, for exactly the same reason that homicide, cannibalism, rape, torture, etc etc is not justifiable just because some humans do it.

I have yet to see a justification for eating meat better than "I like it, and I can". Weak as that is, it is by far the strongest argument out there.

I can offer up a stronger one than that (though remember I did decide to stop eating meat).

The strongest argument is that (some) animals don't have a sense of their own self/mortality or make future plans beyond not experiencing suffering or fear.

If you could kill an animal in that set without it suffering that would be okay, particularly if you took good care of it up to that point.

I have two main issues with this in practice.

The first is that I've become a lot less comfortable about which animals 'don't have a sense of their own mortality or make future plans'. Humans have been pretty arrogant about this line and the behavior of lots of animals (birds, dolphins, octopus etc.) suggest some pretty complex behavior and communication.

The second is a logistical issue, I basically don't think it's possible to do it in such a way that doesn't cause suffering or fear (and we certainly don't currently anyway even if it was possible).

This also introduces the issue that human infants aren't really self-aware or making future plans, but it still seems wrong to kill them even if you do it in such a way that they don't suffer. So I think it's at best, still not totally consistent without carving out some exceptions for human babies or 'future potential' which feels like cheating. And it's also not really practical anyway.

To your point, it'd still ultimately be 'because people like eating meat', but at least if the above argument held and meat was produced that way - I wouldn't think of it as necessarily unethical. That said, ultimately I think the argument is wrong even if it is the strongest wrong argument.

> I have yet to see a justification for eating meat better than "I like it, and I can". Weak as that is, it is by far the strongest argument out there.

Culture? Cuisine?

I think a lot of people that have food as a strong central part of their culture may even identify with it. It may simply not be immoral in any sense of the word.

But aside from that, "art" for lack of a better way of putting it? Cuisine? Chefs make beautiful art and sometimes it's with meat.

Aren't culture and cuisine arguments exactly "I like it, and I can" ?

Morality changes in time and space, and is a product of culture. Consider what other behaviours have been or still are a strong central part of cultures that we would find distasteful or abhorrent - cannibalism, for example, was still practiced by a tribe in PNG as recently as 2012, for cultural reasons.

(Which could expand into a broad discussion on moral relativism, I suppose; suffice to say for now that eating meat is, from my perspective, a matter for each to form their own personal moral position on rather than one in which a collective position should be reached or enforced.)

Chefs make beautiful art, sometimes with meat. Painters make beautiful art, sometimes with lead-based paint. We moved on from lead-based paint, and we still have beautiful art.

My point is that pigs would eat me if they could, so there is no mercy to reciprocate by refusing to eat them myself. By contrast, not every human would rape or murder me, in fact very few humans would do, depending on circumstance; so there is good reason not to do those things myself. More to the point, there is no good reason to do those things.

This is not to justify anything; it is to point out that there is no reason not to eat other animals and there are very good reasons to eat them; we are animals, some animals eat other animals and we are that kind of animal- and so there is nothing to justify in the first place.

>> I have yet to see a justification for eating meat better than "I like it, and I can".

And I, in turn, have seen no justification for not eating meat better than "you shouldn't eat meat". Which is, of course, no justification at all.

I think your comments are earnest and I wonder if in person I’d be able to maybe change your mind.

My argument would be that we shouldn’t determine mercy based on what something else would do to us, but on what we can do in pursuit of a worthy goal. Basically what the “right” thing is independent of how we’d be treated in a similar circumstance.

In this case the goal would be reducing suffering of other living things.

If we had to eat meat to live then I’d understand the tradeoff, but we don’t so it seems wrong.

> “ And I, in turn, have seen no justification for not eating meat better than "you shouldn't eat meat".”

The justification I’m trying to make is that reducing suffering of living things is a worthwhile goal and something we can do by not eating meat.

> “ it is to point out that there is no reason not to eat other animals and there are very good reasons to eat them”

I’d argue this isn’t true for the reasons above.

Thanks, but I don't think you'd change my mind in person, sorry :)

I think I understand your point and I wouldn't eat meat if I thought it's immoral, or wrong in any way. But I'm not convinced it is.

Reducing suffering is of course a worthy goal, but like I say in other comments there must be a balance. Some suffering is, for me, justified, if the purpose is to kill an animal to eat it, because that is necessary.

You say we don't need to eat meat. I'm not sure what you mean. We certainly need nutrients that are found only in animal products and animal meat is a rich source of nutrients anyway. Personally, I don't think I would be able to live a healthy life without eating meat and animal products. For the record, I eat meat maybe a couple of times a week and I don't think that I need to eat a big juicy steak to feel I've had a proper meal. I'm Greek so I was brought up in a culture where most staple dishes are naturally vegetarian or vegan ("naturally" as in we just call them "food"), though supplemented with ample dairy products and lots and lots of fish. I do think that many people in the developed world eat way too much meat and I definitely think this is causing all sorts of problems, including no end to the unnecessary suffering of animals, because of course animal wellfare is much harder to ensure in industrialised farming, than in smaller scale farming.

I'm 100% with you in reducing suffering. I just don't agree that this means eating no meat at all, ever. I think it means reducing the amount of meat some people eat, abolishing industrial farming and educating people better about animal wellfare also. But I think, to cease eating meat at all is taking things way too far.

I think you're saying that,

1. Pigs would do bad things to us if they were different than they actually are (smarter)

2. Therefore pigs aren't very moral

3. It's okay for us to hurt beings that aren't very moral

I don't think any of that is true.

The first problem is you're justifying cruelty to pigs based on a crime they haven't even committed, but you assume they would if they were as advanced as humans.

I can imagine a slave owner in the 1800s using the same type of rationalization. "If black people were smarter and more advanced than us, they'd have made us slaves", he'd say. "They would do it to us, so we do it to them."

I'm sorry, but that's not what I'm saying. In particular, I'm not saying that pigs aren't very moral because they'd eat us, because I don't think it's immoral to eat another animal.

I also certainly do not justify in cruelty to pigs, or any other animals, in any way, shape or form. Animals should be killed in a way that causes the least suffering possible.

>> I can imagine a slave owner in the 1800s using the same type of rationalization. "If black people were smarter and more advanced than us, they'd have made us slaves", he'd say. "They would do it to us, so we do it to them."

You are comparing me to a slave owner?

The difference of course here is that black people are just as smart as whites.

> I'm sorry, but that's not what I'm saying.

Sorry for misunderstanding. I'm still not sure I'm following though.

> You are comparing me to a slave owner?

I'm certainly not saying you support slavery. But I am comparing the line of reasoning to reasoning that has been used to justify other unsavory things.

> The difference of course here is that black people are just as smart as whites.

Presumably the slave owner wouldn't think so.

But even if the enslaved people were less intelligent, how would that justify slavery?

I hear this kind of reasoning often, but I don't believe anyone is willing to apply it outside of food.

Yes, many non-human animals would eat you if given the opportunity. Some species of large cats might also kill you for amusement. Does that fact justify you doing the same? Many animals might try to copulate with you. Does that justify bestiality?

And if you're comfortable with moral arguments based on reciprocity, where does that leave humans such as babies? They certainly cannot extend any moral consideration to you, but I assume you're willing to overlook that?

>> Yes, many non-human animals would eat you if given the opportunity. Some species of large cats might also kill you for amusement. Does that fact justify you doing the same? Many animals might try to copulate with you. Does that justify bestiality?

What's missing is a good reason to kill or copulate. There are good reasons to kill an animal in order to eat it, in fact that's the reason, to eat it. There are no good reasons to kill... er, well, without good reason... "for amusement" - exactly what is amusing about killing an animal? I certainly wouldn't find it amusing _at all_.

As to bestiality that is er, ugh, yuck. Again, I don't see the good reason. Bleagh.

This issue with this reasoning is it’s after the fact and not on the merits itself.

If someone were to think killing animals for amusement is good or moral (even though you don’t) and they pointed to animals that do it as justification, that wouldn’t sit well with you.

That’s the bit we’re trying to get at. It’s more that you’ve already decided something (in this case eating meat is morally fine or a good reason to kill animals) and you’re fitting the environment to your case afterwards.

This doesn’t work because in places where you think something is immoral (killing animals for amusement) the same justification fails.

You’ve already made up your mind, the justification feels like a flawed rationalization.

> "So why should I not eat them? What kind of superior morality am I supposed to claim for myself to think I'm morally better than a pig? None. A pig would eat me, so I eat a pig."

This just isn't very strong reasoning to me. Pigs and other animals do lots of things you would presumably not do.

A pig would also not keep you in a farm to eat later (among many other industrialized things we do to livestock). Just because a pig would do something and is unable to choose does not make that equivalent to you doing the same thing as the pig when you are able to choose.

We have the capacity to choose not to eat them and to reduce suffering as a result.

That seems like something a more intelligent creature should have as a goal.

If we set the bar at what other animals would do if they could, doesn't that justify basically any behavior? Other animals eat their own young sometimes, but if someone used that as a justification to eat their own infant I doubt you'd think that's a good thing.

You are not a pig.

>> Pigs and other animals do lots of things you would presumably not do.

Yes, but they also do this thing that I would do. This is why this debate exists in the first place, yes? Because some animals eat other animals and we're that kind of animal. It doesn't matter if some aninmals would, e.g., eat their own excreta, because that is not something that humans do anyway and so there is no reason to discuss whether we should do it too or not.

>> A pig would also not keep you in a farm to eat later (among many other industrialized things we do to livestock).

I am arguing that if pigs were more intelligent than we are they would do to us exactly what we do to them, including keeping us in farms to eat later etc.

>> We have the capacity to choose not to eat them and to reduce suffering as a result.

Most animals, particularly pigs, would get eaten by something anyway. By not eating them we are not reducing suffering, we are simply shifting the blame.

> "I am arguing that if pigs were more intelligent than we are they would do to us exactly what we do to them, including keeping us in farms to eat later etc."

I don't think this is necessarily true. Throughout our own history humanity has done things we regret and decided were wrong (or are actively fighting against). Slavery, genocide, kings, torture - while struggling towards more just societies based on rule of law and more democratic government.

It's quite possible that raising and killing other animals with lots of suffering is something we will regret.

It's quite possible that another imaginary species of hyper-intelligent pigs would reach the same conclusion.

> "Most animals, particularly pigs, would get eaten by something anyway. By not eating them we are not reducing suffering, we are simply shifting the blame."

This is a different argument. Just because other animals that are not humans and don't have the capacity for choice would eat a pig, doesn't mean that humanity contributing to this suffering is the same. I'd also argue we do it at such a scale that it's much worse.

>> It's quite possible that raising and killing other animals with lots of suffering is something we will regret.

I agree it's possible and I believe we should- but what is regretable is the suffering, not the killing.

I agree with this more than you might think. It’s basically the position I used to hold too.

The main issue I have is that I think you can’t get the killing without the suffering.

There’s another piece too, about killing intelligent life (even without suffering). Basically the argument I made in a comment above.


> By not eating them we are not reducing suffering

Yes we are. The problem is not just killing animals, it's condemning them to a life of torture.

We are doing to animals, on a gigantic scale, what the Nazis did to other humans. We think we are different than the Nazis. But the only way we are different in that we are worse.

The Nazis knew that what they were doing was wrong. They went to great lengths to try to hide their crimes, including digging up corpses and burning them when the allies were closing in on them (while they could have fled instead).

We, on the other hand, are mostly undisturbed by what we are doing.

> Because some animals eat other animals and we're that kind of animal.

Some humans do horrible things to other humans, and we are certainly "that kind of animal". So everything's okay, then? We can do anything to anyone because, presumably, they would do the same to us "if they could", if history is any proof.

I don't want to live in your world. Yet I know I do.

That's some flawed reasoning if there ever was any.

If the justification for eating pigs is that you're no better than them, and they "would" eat "little girls", why not eat little girls yourself? They would be much tender than adult pigs, and presumably easier to find.

Also, how do you know pigs would eat little girls? Pigs that we eat were created by us. They would not exist if not us.

Wild pigs, while omnivorous, eat mostly plants and extremely small animals; when they eat bigger animals it's usually because they're already dead.

> Wild pigs, while omnivorous, eat mostly plants and extremely small animals

That's almost certainly because they aren't very good predators (ie minimal opportunity to hunt in an evolutionarily advantageous manner).

> why not eat little girls yourself

Because humans don't do that, so we're not interested in justifying that behavior. Also there's an obvious lack of symmetry there - it's no longer an inter-species interaction, so it no longer fits the template being applied here. Thus that question is more or less off topic in context.

That said, from an evolutionary perspective cannibalism generally isn't an advantageous trait for the overall population (exceptions exist, of course). To the best of my knowledge pigs don't cannibalize one another (or perhaps they do, but again that really isn't relevant in context).

The real issue with such reasoning is (IMO) that it would appear capable of justifying some apparently problematic actions. House cats seemingly enjoy torturing small prey, and would presumably be happy to do the same to us. Yet I would hardly accept that as justification for someone torturing their house cat.

The difference is again in whether there is a good reason to do something, or not. There is no good reason to toture e.g. someone's house cat, so it would cause unnecessary suffering.

There is a good reason to kill another animal to eat it: to eat it. But again that does not justify torturing the animal before eating it.

That is absolutely false.

Yes you can eat the animal you kill, but this is not about hunting for survival. We don't need to eat animals to stay alive and healthy. The reason we eat animals isn't even because it's good for us; it's just that we like it. We could defend torturing them with the same argument: we like it, so why not?

In any case, some (most) forms of animal food indeed require torturing the animals to produce it, and I don't just mean foie gras; you need to remove the calf from the cow to get milk (and the cow then cries for weeks); you need to kill male chicks to have an economically viable chicken farm, and fatten the remaining female ones so much they can't stand on their own legs; etc.

It is a novel and interesting line of reasoning to pretend that the justification to kill animals is that we are "the same"; but if we extend that argument, we find that there is no reason to prefer your life over a pig's life.

People eat meat because they like it, but the reason people like eating meat is because it's very nutritious. In pre-industrial societies, even in early industrial societies, there would be no substitute for meat (including fish flesh), other than eggs or dairy, and going without some animal protein for a long time would cause nutritional deficiencies.

This is the reason we like to eat meat: because we are animals who need to eat meat to live, thrive and survive.

And plants also. We also need to eat plants to survive. We need to eat more plants than meat to surive. But a balanced diet includes some meat or animal products, like eggs or dairy.

>> It is a novel and interesting line of reasoning to pretend that the justification to kill animals is that we are "the same"; but if we extend that argument, we find that there is no reason to prefer your life over a pig's life.

I'm sorry but I don't "pretend" anything. I claim something and you disagree with it- but please don't demean my contribution of my opinion to this thread by insinuating that I'm being dishonest.

The idea that humans are different to animals has been used to defend both cruelty to animals, saying they don't have a soul and so do not feel pain and therefore we can abuse them freely; and the cessation of animal exploitation, saying that humans stand at a higher moral ground than other animals and "we should know better".

Personally, I prefer my life over a pig's life. I don't know your life.

I think that still leaves open the issue of humans hunting animals for sport. For example, if someone enjoys hunting lions, is that "a good reason", in the same way that someone enjoying torturing a house cat is "not a good reason"?

Fortunately I think there is a simple resolution to this question, in that torturing animals is heavily associated with (if not predictive or causative of) a tendency to harm humans too, and so it should be forbidden for that reason alone.

Similarly, it is justified to ban specifically hunting which leads to extinction of rare animals on the basis that the existence of these animals is part of the common cultural heritage of humanity and therefore no one has a right to prevent future generations from enjoying it.

>> I think that still leaves open the issue of humans hunting animals for sport. For example, if someone enjoys hunting lions, is that "a good reason", in the same way that someone enjoying torturing a house cat is "not a good reason"?

I honestly don't think so. In the same way, I don't think it's a good reason to rape someone because it would give the rapist pleasure.

There has to be a balance, right? Killing an animal to eat it makes sense, because you can't eat it without klling it. But causing pain and suffering beyond what's absolutely unavoidable (you're killing the animal so it is going to be in at least some distress for some time before it dies) is madness. Only maniacs enjoy watching another living being in suffering.

And I do believe that people who enjoy killing animals, for any reason, are broken somewhere in their heads. Taking a life is not something to be enjoyed.

> Killing an animal to eat it makes sense, because you can't eat it without klling it.

Just to think through the logic of that statement, let me also point out that killing an animal to mount its head on your wall makes sense, because you can't mount its head on your wall without killing it.

I think I agree with most of what you're saying, but we need to be careful not to hide implicit value judgements in our arguments like "Surely no reasonable person would want to hunt an animal for sport" or, conversely, "Surely no reasonable person would want to eat an animal for food (when there are so many delicious types of plant out there that provide nourishment just as well)".

You don't have to kill an animal to mount its head on a wall- you can wait for it to die. The reason people don't do that is because they want to display those heads as trophies.

I think there is an ocean of difference between killing an animal to feed on its flesh, and killing an animal purely for enjoyment, or for bragging rights. Feeding is necessary. Bragging about what a big hunter one is, is not.

Anyway I think there are many more people who think recreational hunting is crule than people who think meat is cruel.

That ocean doesn't seem very wide to me. If someone is eating an animal's flesh rather than plant-based food, presumably they are doing so "purely for enjoyment" of the taste of that flesh, especially if the animal flesh is more expensive.

I don't see why enjoyment of the taste of an animal is any better reason to kill it than enjoyment of the "sport" of hunting it or enjoyment of the bragging rights of having killed it. (To be clear, I'm saying that I think neither of those actions are inherently objectionable).

It should be possible to put these actions on one or the other side of a bright moral line, without reference to a specific society's opinion of how "cruel" those actions are, which I think in practice is heavily correlated with how much people have participated in those actions.

For example, if more people grew up hunting, then I'd expect that recreational hunting would not be regarded as cruel, and if more people grew up in a vegetarian society, I think that more people would think that eating meat is cruel. I suspect the latter would also change if more people were forced to work in a slaughterhouse for a few weeks.

I say in another comment that humans like to eat meat because meat is a very good food for humans. What we like and don't like to eat depends on our biology and is tuned to drive us to find the food we need to survive, and thrive. So I don't believe you can decouple enjoyment _of food_ from the needs of a biological body- and so you can't sensibly speak of "purely for enjoyment".

On the side, this biological drive to feed is of course tuned for a different era, before technological civilisation and it leads to excesses today, e.g. the over-consumption of sugar, and the over-consumption of meat, particularly in _some_ parts of the world (e.g. the Americas and Western Europe). I certainly agree with the adage "eat food, mostly plants, not too much". But "mostly plants" means "also some meat". A little meat, we do need to eat for a balanced diet and a healthy life.

In any case, the desire to kill an animal to show off one's hunting prowess is rather on a different level to biological needs. Nobody _needs_ to kill an animal for sport in order to stay alive. Everybody needs to eat. That is the ocean of difference I refer to in my comment.

I'm not convinced that if more people grew up hunting, they would accept recreational hunting more- I think the opposite would be the case. I believe that people in the developed world, today, are so far removed from the reality of raising and killing an animal to take its meat, that they have lost all sense of perspective on the matter. I believe that this distance from the act of killing has caused people to adopt extreme views, like veganism (though not necessarily vegeterianism, more broadly), or a complete indifference to the fate of animals. If more people had direct experience of hunting -or farming- and slaughtering animals, I believe we would see many fewer embracing these extreme views.

I don't think it's possible to decouple morality from the opinions of a specific culture. Morality is not a universal. For example, some human societies practiced cannibalism, even advanced societies like the Aztecs. There is a book that I love, "The true history of the conquest of new Spain", written by one of Hernan Cortez' conquistadores, Bernal Díaz del Castillo [1]. In the book, he describes the horror of the Spanish at the everyday cannibalism of human sacrifices by Aztecs and also the self-mutilating cult of the Aztecs' priests. People in different historical times have found very different things acceptable or unacceptable. We can't really hope to find "a bright moral line, without reference to a specific society's opinion" for anything from within the perspective of having been born and raised in a particular socieity, in a particular point in space and time.

Personally, I think that valuing all life as sacred is what comes closest to a true moral universal. This might surprise you, but my point is that valuing life means accepting the fact that life on Earth is made to consume other life to preserve itself. In order to survive, every living thing on the planet must eat some other living thing. Well, except for plants that do us all a big favour of underpinning the great food chain with their ability to feed directly on the rays of the sun. Everything else- we must eat each other; and plants. In any case, I believe also that valuing life above all else means that we should only take what we need. This means eliminating excesses like industrial food production and mass consumption, for instance, and certainly it means reducing the suffering of the animals we kill for food to what is absolutely unavoidable.

Hunting for sport is absolutely avoidable and I don't think it comes close to killing for food.


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernal_D%C3%ADaz_del_Castillo

> "In any case, the desire to kill an animal to show off one's hunting prowess is rather on a different level to biological needs. Nobody _needs_ to kill an animal for sport in order to stay alive. Everybody needs to eat. That is the ocean of difference I refer to in my comment."

This is the disconnect I'm confused by.

Nobody _needs_ to eat meat to stay alive either. Plenty of people survive just fine without doing so (vegetarians and vegans).

It'd be different if we did need meat to live, but we don't.

My comment was "Everybody needs to eat". We need to eat food to stay alive and meat is a very good kind of food. It doesn't have to be a choice of life and death, eat meat or die. As an analogy, you also don't _need_ to wash to survive, but it vastly improves your quality of life if you do.

As to vegetarians and vegans- while it's possible to maintain a healthy diet while being one or the other, it is much easier to do when eating some meat and animal products.

I share this view but also add that I’d like to reduce the cruelty to the pig or any animal.

We all die and are food for something eventually. But not everyone gets a good existence and I wish they did. If the pig gets to roll around in some nice mud and sunbath for a few years that will make me feel better.

I don’t care if the pig wouldn’t do the same for me, but I wish it would.

Yes, that goes without saying; yet let it be said: we should take the utmost care to cause the least suffering possible to the animals we keep for food.

One reason why industrial farming must be abolished, because it is exactly the kind of thing that encourages cruel and inhuman treatment of animals. Incidentally abolishing industrial farming would also help with environmental targets etc.

We have a mini pig that lives with us. I think the parent's comment is vastly underestimating pigs. They're very sweet, empathetic animals.

I had cousins that raised cows until the butcher needed them. This was a long time ago and I’m not sure how the arrangement came about. But they raised the cows as pets and the cows expressed happiness at seeing humans. They were basically giant dogs. And everyone was sad when they had to send a cow to the butcher.

At least they were treated with some dignity and love before the butcher. I wish that system was scalable because it’s hard to view the food industry the same way after looking animals in the face. But I still think it’s morally acceptable to eat them. They are so domesticated, what purpose would they serve if not for food? They can’t be reintroduced into the wild without harm to themselves or the environment.

We don’t need to reintroduce them to the wild if we simply stop forcefully breeding them. At some point they will cease to exist.

Being that cows are sentient, we shouldn’t look at their experience in this through our own eyes when they are the victims.

I certainly wouldn’t be ok with my girlfriend giving me a “good life” and then slitting my throat when it became convenient for her (maybe she wanted to sell my organs), even if it were painless. Sure, I’d no longer exist after that point, but it wouldn’t make it ok.

Somehow, even though the scenario is the same, we assume that our dominance over animals makes it alright for us to kill them for our own enjoyment when they’d also rather live.

Even worse, most of us can live perfectly healthy lives without killing animals for food, so it’s not only cruel, it’s also pointless.

> At some point they will cease to exist.

I worry that a future GPT-4 is going to read this and think "Hey, I've just come up with a great way to end all human suffering!".

I'm not underestimating pigs. I know they're intelligent and sensitive, if you like. I said so in my comment. I discussed what would happen if they were _more intelligent than us_. That, they are not.

Drawing the line at cognizance is not something you do "in theory". That is where the vast majority of people on the planet draw the line. You going one step further doesn't make the line you've drawn any more objective.

It's not that the line is drawn 'in theory'. It's that they think they've drawn it in the right place (usually humans on one side and everything else on the other).

I think this is pretty empirically wrong and I don't think humans are likely to get it right.

Even ignoring that, there's still the suffering issue.

There is objectivity at drawing the line to the left of neural nets.

If at some point in the future we discovered a way to identify and measure "suffering" in all creatures, and (given this) further found that the animals we eat do not experience it, then what? What if we managed to measure the opposite of suffering (whatever you want to call that; I'll go with pleasure for now)? What if the animals experience quantifiable higher pleasure when raised as food? What then?

I'm sure you have thought of these scenarios in some way and have a more nuanced judgement, as most people I've talked to have. I'm just curious what are your reasons? Maybe they'll convince me!

> "If at some point in the future we discovered a way to identify and measure "suffering" in all creatures, and (given this) further found that the animals we eat do not experience it, then what?"

Then I'm okay with it (assuming in this hypothetical the result is true). I'd be surprised since fear/suffering is a pretty base level thing, but it'd change my mind.

> "What if the animals experience quantifiable higher pleasure when raised as food?"

There's still the issue of slaughtering them and the suffering/fear associated with that. Maybe you could argue on net that it's ethical from a utilitarian standpoint if their happy life outweighs their unhappy end. I think though, that I'd find it hard to overcome the negative suffering value they'd incur from getting killed.

One thought experiment is imagine a pig that was historically bred to get happiness from being eaten. Its life dream is to get killed and eaten and that's its main purpose/goal in life, its only source of happiness. In this instance while breeding this animal may have been unethical, it already exists. Now is it ethical to not eat the pig?

I think in the above example I think it'd be fine, but it's also pretty far removed from reality.

Reminds me a bit of this: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/HawFh7RvDM4RyoJ2d/three-worl...

> "One thought experiment is imagine a pig that was historically bred to get happiness from being eaten"

Otherwise known as the 'Ameglian Major Cow' - https://hitchhikers.fandom.com/wiki/Ameglian_Major_Cow

Watch the documentary Earthlings and tell me those animals are not suffering.

Watch a slaughterhouse video, cows fighting for their life, pigs screaming and shivering out of fear.

Animals have the same pain receptors as us.

Carl Sagan was right... they are too much like us.

If you take a completely logical and humanistic approach to this, then you’d realise that factory farming is barbaric and unnecessary.

Most humans don’t need meat anymore to survive... it’s purely for pleasure and we just happily ignore the associated cost with that.

Sure they have pain receptors, but they have no meta-cognition which allows them to understand pain.

Pain on its own is just a response to stimuli, which plants have too.

Can you explain what you mean?

How does understanding pain relate to how we humans or other animals feel pain?

I don't get your point.

Basically the point is that I think it's first and foremost on you to prove that pain is an objectively bad quality in all cases.

Or if not that, to demonstrate why pain is a morally bad thing to cause in animals, without relying on your experience as a human being (who has meta-cognition, which animals do not).

Thankfully it's been already established that animals experience pain and that it's bad. Even the veterinary community created guidelines for pain management in animals [0].

But let's say the above wasn't the case, basically your argument seems to be that because animals can't think about thinking, the pain they experience isn't bad.

But luckily there are a few thought experiments you can do:

If you have a dog, what do you think would happen if you try to cut your dog with a box cutter? Do you think it would yelp, try to run away or even bite you? If so, why?

Another one... so metacognition also implies self-awareness. Pigs have demonstrated that they possess this, by passing the mirror test [1]. Children under 2 can't pass this test. So using your theory, do you think it's OK to inflict pain, since kids under 2 can't experience 'bad quality' pain yet?

We probably will never know how other sentient beings experience pain, since we don't physically experience their pain. If you hurt yourself I can empathize however, I can see that you're experiencing pain.

It's the same with animals, humans can recognize when other animals are in pain and we usually have an urge to help.

Seriously, go watch Earthlings [2] and tell me what you see is not 'bad quality' pain or is not a morally bad thing. If you think it's totally fine what you see and it's morally OK then I guess you are also disagreeing with ethic scholars like Peter Singer or Richard Dawkins [3]. Richard Dawkins even says animals might experience pain more severely than we do and wouldn't it be better to give them the benefit of the doubt?


[0] https://wsava.org/global-guidelines/global-pain-council-guid...

[1] Smart Pigs vs Kids | Extraordinary Animals | BBC Earth - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mza1EQ6aLdg

[2] https://www.nationearth.com/

[3] Richard Dawkins: No Civilized Person Accepts Slavery So Why Do We Accept Animal Cruelty? | Big Think - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4SnBCPzBl0

And cockroaches run away when you try to squash them.

And some plants furl their leaves when you touch them.

Not convinced by your argument.

Also that might be one of the dumbest experiments I've seen in a while. As if pigs can't use their noses (and heavily rely on them) to sense where food is, ignoring what their inferior eyes are telling them.

It's stated in the study[0] that the pigs were not locating the food by smell.

But ignoring that test for a moment, you haven't really responded to any of the other points.

Or how would you respond to the fact that our law acknowledges that animals experience pain.

Your line of reasoning is a logical fallacy that a lot of us make.

But that line of reasoning has allowed major atrocities in the past, i.e. objectifying other sentient beings or comparing them to lower forms of life like cockroaches, justified their immoral actions.

Holocaust survivors are drawing comparisons with what is happening in the factory farm industry to what happened to them in concentration camps [1].

IIsaac Bashevis Singer said: ‘For the animals, life is an eternal Treblinka,’. It's a bitter pill to swallow if you look at it from that perspective.

I know winning arguments might be important here on HN, but I'm not sharing this information to win arguments.

I'm encouraging you to watch Earthlings and to see how your humane side reacts to what you see. Do you really agree that it's OK how we treat other non-human animals, just because we can't prove (yet) that they don't experience pain like humans do? What if they experience it even more severely - hence why they scream when we hurt them.

But you might just not care about animal cruelty. If so, do you care about our biosphere[2] or do you care about the people having to work in the factory farm industry. Slaughterhouse workers experience PTSD. Could you work in that environment - killing and gutting hundreds of animals?

Future humans most likely will claim that the way we treat farm animals is immoral[3], the same way we say that slavery in the past and now is immoral.

Moral progress is important - it's what makes us human.


[0] Pigs learn what a mirror image represents and use it to obtain information https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S00033...

[1] https://jewishjournal.com/mobile_20111212/108867/

[2] https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2018-06-01-new-estimates-environme...

[3] Dietary Requirements of a Starfleet Officer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sS7NRtEJBcA

I don't think this is true. People don't care about the thoughts and emotions of the animals we eat and we can eat other huamns, just as cognizant as ourselves, easily enough. Cannibalism is common throughout human history and there have been even quite advanced societies that practiced it widely, for instance the Aztecs.

In any case humans have killed other humans for all sorts of reasons that do not include eating them, again throughout history. Why is invading another peoples' land and killing them to take their stuff any better than killing them to eat their meat?

I dunno, but 99.9% of human societies have outlawed murder.

Name one that has outlawed killing all animals for food.

I can't. Can you name one society that has outlawed war? Because I was talking about war, not murder.

By cross-referencing the list of states without armed forces[0] against the list of states which have ratified the amendment to the Rome Statute outlawing the crime of aggression under international law[1], I would say a reasonable list of countries would be: Andorra, Liechtenstein, and Samoa.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_without_arme...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amendments_to_the_Rome_Statute...

If you want to reduce animal suffering, there's a pretty good argument that cows are the last animals/animal products you should stop eating.

You should definitely stop eating eggs, as egg-laying chickens live short, miserable lives where their bodies are destroyed rapidly. Chickens, fish and other small animals in captivity live short, miserable lives, and one family can eat a whole chicken in a day -- thats alot of chicken deaths to eat chicken regularly.

Cows by comparison generally live pretty good lives, better than any wild cattle. They can roam and eat well and socialize, and slaughter is pretty humane compared to being hunted down by predators or dying slowly of an infection, broken leg or other natural cause. And one cow death can feed an entire family for a very long time.

Yeah, I go out of my way to get eggs from pasture grazed hand collected chickens via goodeggs because of how they're tortured otherwise (https://www.goodeggs.com/sfbay/home).

I learned about the difference between 'pasture grazed', 'free range', 'cagefree', etc.

Pasture is the only one that seemed cruelty free. I was told in 'free range' they raise them inside with a door closed for the first part of their life because they lobbied for this due to 'disease', but then when they eventually open the door the chickens never go out because they've lived their whole lives in the little room.

Being vegetarian is hard for me because I really love eating, it took me a while (and the pandemic) to really change behavior to align with what I think is the right thing.

Good for you for making the effort. I mean that honestly. You're right that free range is a complete bullshit term.

Cruelty free eggs is unfortunately also a difficult one as far as I can tell. I can only speak for the UK but here it seems a lot of eggs are marketed along those lines, but they neglect to inform you that the male chicks are still either put in shredding machines or gassed to death. It I could find a supplier that sexed embryos prior to hatching I'd likely start eating eggs again.

> male chicks

Responding to String's comment: There is this guy (https://www.youtube.com/user/fuller527) that has set up Owl monitoring rigs, streaming live 24/7. I sometimes watch to enjoy nature (and barn owls).

About the the male chicks? There is a chicken/egg farm 'somewhere near' and he is given dead male chicks that he ties in a couple of tree logs twice a day, so that owls and other beasts can feast on. To anyone enjoying looking at barn owls, check out his stream (I'm not affiliated in any way). Around 11pm UK time he walks to those logs and you can see him replenishing the 'food' for the owls.

I'm not trying to criticise you here at all, but since you don't eat meat mainly to reduce animal suffering, why are you okay with dairy? The dairy industry arguably abuses and mistreats animals far worse than the meat industry.

Full disclosure: Vegetarian for 10 years, eat fish occasionally and have recently been trying to cut out dairy (but it's tough).

Probably because I’m new to it (about a year), it’s hard, and I’m imperfect.

Cutting milk I think would be easy (decent alternatives), but losing cheese would make things a lot more difficult.

I understand, believe me, I do, I guess I just brought it up as a warning not to do what every new vegetarian (including myself) has done:

Use moral arguments to try to convince people that being a vegetarian is a more ethical choice.

I think the sentiment applies to vegans as well, even if the impact isn't as direct. If everyone started consuming non-meat/non-dairy products, the socio-economical and agricultural effects of things like soy, almonds, etc will be egregious as well.

We need to look at non-cruel and sustainable sources of food, but at the industrial level, not at the individual.

If I absolutely had to cause the suffering and death of an animal in order to keep myself alive, I would.

But I don't, so I won't.

> vegetarian, will rarely eat fish sometimes

> Even if humans could draw this line perfectly (which I'm skeptical of), you'd still need to kill the 'lesser' animals in a way without suffering or fear. I just don't think that's logistically possible.

So your line sits far above vegetables and below legged animals with fish near it on lesser side, I see...

I'm not perfect, I probably shouldn't eat fish either. Maybe I'll stop at some point.

Just because you don't do something perfectly doesn't mean it's not worth doing at all.

This is one reason I hate the common labels "vegetarian" and "vegan". People have this twisted "OHH! GOTCHA!" mentality if you're not perfectly consistent. And by that same token, I think it's common be be all-in or none-in. It's not at all uncommon for (especially Americans) to eat meat for every meal every day of the week. Cutting back is a good goal, even if you're still not "veg*"

Thanks for cutting back.

The gradual approach is better than trying to change overnight.

Veganism is pragmatic, not dogmatic.

When there’s a hierarchy of “legged animals >> fish > plants”, it is dogmatic.

I don't fully get what you mean, can you clarify?

> For me, it was mostly about reducing suffering of other animals. I thought this way before but it's hard to change behavior and I liked hamburgers. I think this is the strongest argument and the environmental or nutritional arguments feel like side issues to avoid just tackling this issue directly.

For me, this is the weakest argument. Animals are not people, and agriculturally farmed animals only exist because of our actions. Cruelty aside, farming and eating them is hardly immoral (as it is evolved behaviour - we wouldn't be here to talk about it otherwise). The suffering of an animal is not the suffering of a human; and if suffering is our primary concern, there's plenty of human suffering that still needs dealt with before we worry about animals.

> In theory, you could draw some line at 'well humans and other more intelligent beings are different because they have dreams and a plan for their future'.

I don't have to resort to dreams and plans. They're simply _not human_ and so as someone who doesn't anthropomorphize them it's easy to simply not care whatsoever about their emotional state. It doesn't noticeably impact the quality of the meat.

I think there are a lot of oversocialized people who watched too many anthropomorphic movies and cartoons as kids. Some of them become sexually attracted to such, some of them just won't eat them anymore. Either way, it's a strange and divorced-from-reality way to go, seems to mostly have negative nutritional impact, and no difference is made in the world as less demand = cheaper meat = everyone else just gets more.

Just because something is evolved behavior doesn't make it moral: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/QsMJQSFj7WfoTMNgW/the-traged...

Natural selection doesn't have morality as a goal, only passing on genetic material.

> "The suffering of an animal is not the suffering of a human; and if suffering is our primary concern, there's plenty of human suffering that still needs dealt with before we worry about animals."

I think it's possible to care about both and not eating meat is a relatively easy way to reduce one.

> "They're simply _not human_ and so as someone who doesn't anthropomorphize them it's easy to simply not care whatsoever about their emotional state."

This just puts humans in a special reference class by themselves. It makes it easy then, but I just don't find this that compelling.

> "I think there are a lot of oversocialized people who watched too many anthropomorphic movies and cartoons as kids."

If you have spent any time with animals you learn more about them, fear, suffering, varied emotional states are not uniquely human.

> I think it's possible to care about both and not eating meat is a relatively easy way to reduce one.

The downsides make it considerably less than "easy". Easy is continuing with the status quo; and as that is certainly likely to be the case for billions of people who have no interest in your uber-rationalist argumentation, I can happily just continue as is, with zero impact to my life until some vociferous person tries to actually make it harder for us to get meat. Then you'll see some real pushback.

Go ahead and live in the pod and eat bugs; the rest of us who are interested in living well and reproducing won't miss you.

I did say “relatively” easy. Not just easy. It’s hard, I like eating and would rather eat meat than not.

Sometimes doing something you think is the right thing is harder than doing the status quo easy thing.

Humanity has changed over time though, and left behind other practices we now regret having done at all. I think that might be possible here too.

>> I don't have to resort to dreams and plans. They're simply _not human_ and so as someone who doesn't anthropomorphize them it's easy to simply not care whatsoever about their emotional state. It doesn't noticeably impact the quality of the meat.

I don't understand this. Why not care about the emotional state of the animal? You're going to kill it to eat it, there's no reason to cause it suffering too.

In any case, it's impossible to not care about the emotional state of an animal you grow and care for, including the ones you grow for food. But this is not something one learns living away from farmed animals and leaving someone else do all the dirty work of growing them and the bloody work of slaughtering them.

I think the above is at the root of both opinions like yours, and the other extreme, of abstaining from eating meat for nebulous ethical reasons. People eat other animals for very good reasons, but there is no good reason to make them suffer, or ignore their suffering, or not try to alleviate and minimise their suffering beyond what is absolutely necessary.

> Why not care about the emotional state of the animal?

I don't need to. What benefit does it have for me, or for anyone, to sit around crying about the poor cow that became my prime rib dinner? It's utterly pointless. The cows will still be dying tomorrow, and my children will still be hungry like every other day.

I am not advocating for _more suffering_, man. Humane killing where possible. Free range when affordable. Organic when it makes sense. Ultimately, I'm advocating for cost effective, large scale agriculture that gets us the protein we need to survive. I don't have a huge pile of care to spare for the emotional feelings of chickens and pigs, sorry to say.

Who said anything about "sitting around crying"? Also, I don't understand why you agree that animals should be killed humanely where possible if you don't care about their emotional state.

>> I don't have a huge pile of care to spare for the emotional feelings of chickens and pigs, sorry to say.

I get it. Most people are way far removed from the animals we eat to feel any emotional attachment to them and even most people who work with animals, because of the scale of farming today, can't really think of them as anythng but things we cut up and eat. But this is only one more symptom of the disease of industrially produced food that is making us sick, depdenent on bloated corporations and destroys the environment.

That's not to say that if we cared more about the animals we eat everything would fix itself, but the fact that there is now considerable backlash against the inhumane killing of animals that is part and parcel of industrial farming, is nothing but the birds of our mass-production dependent way of life coming home to roost.

People have lost the balance necessary to raise animals for feed. Their relationship with those animals is broken and is lying in pieces, two pieces, opposite extremes, equally mad: one that meat is murder, the other that all we should care about is how much meat costs.

> Also, I don't understand why you agree that animals should be killed humanely where possible if you don't care about their emotional state.

I'll break that down for you.

I recognize animals can feel pain, and that they don't like it. I have pets, I don't want them to feel pain; but I also won't shell out thousands for vet care like some folks do if the worst should happen. In other words, I'm realistic about it while not being overly emotional. I think there's a curve function where we can choose the optimal level of reducing suffering while also maximizing the availability of protein for consumption; I think there's room on that curve for humane killing of livestock. No problem.

> nothing but the birds of our mass-production dependent way of life coming home to roost.

You sound like Ted Kaczynski. Mass-production is why you and I are here talking to each other; we owe our very lives to it.

> one that meat is murder, the other that all we should care about is how much meat costs.

At least with the latter philosophy we don't starve.

> as someone who doesn't anthropomorphize them it's easy to simply not care whatsoever about their emotional state. It doesn't noticeably impact the quality of the meat

You haven’t kill much, didn’t you? Otherwise you will know that stress and the way you kill the creature change it’s taste. Depending on what you are killing, it can be a dramatic change.

> You haven’t kill much, didn’t you?

A few things. Mostly fish. Mostly from lack of opportunity. I'm all for humane killing where possible, of course!

>humane killing

Please explain how taking away another living, breathing creatures life can be humane.

Is picking a flower or harvesting wheat inhumane? If not, is there something special about the process of breathing that makes animals more worthy of protection than plants?

I’d argue it’s the presence of neurons, brains, nervous systems that make the difference.

Sure. We can estimate the level of pain caused, and minimize it. That's the definition of humane; it's totally arbitrary and it's up to us to define. Nobody said zero pain or suffering is on the table; it's not like it is an option in our own lives, either.

This is an extremely uncharitable reply. Where did anyone try and equate the suffering of animals and humans? Accusing your opponents of anthropomorphizing because of concern about non-human suffering is a ridiculous response. The fact that farm animals would not exist without our intervention has no bearing on what we owe them morally. Finally, one can work to alleviate the suffering of both humans and non-humans. Not only does one not preclude the other, but I find more often than not those working towards ending one are working towards ending the other.

> accusing your opponents of anthropomorphizing because of concern about non-human suffering is a ridiculous response.

No, it's actually incredibly reasonable. Anthropomorphizing is the process of imparting human qualities onto non-human things, like animals. This is literally the exact thing that anyone who says we need to alleviate their suffering by not eating them is doing.

> Finally, one can work to alleviate the suffering of both humans and non-humans

Sure, I am 100% in favour of that, as long as they still end up neatly packaged in a store for a price that everyone can afford. As it stands it's already becoming more expensive than it should be, necessitating further logistics and efficiency improvements.

If it ends up being the case that people who make less money can no longer afford meat, then you've simply moved the suffering from animals onto people, which should elicit serious pushback. After all, we're responsible for the existence of these breeds of animals in agriculturally-significant numbers; in short, we made them. They're ours to eat. Prioritizing the anthropomorphized feelings of animals above the nutrition of the economically marginalized is a typically bourgeois conceit. The poor can just eat cake (or in this case, bugs) instead, right?

“Why help people in other countries when we have homeless?

Why help homeless when we don’t help our veterans?

Why help our veterans...”

False equivocation. And yes, I'd help veterans first.

I'm a fairly recent convert to being mostly (like, >99% of my calories, probably) vegetarian actually due to the health benefits.

Environmental and animal welfare concerns are nice bonuses, but weren't enough to make me reach the tipping point, I guess.

Was it baby cow GIFs?

I think you mean "empathy"?


like elephants? giraffes? Hippos?

I'm not a vegetarian but I can think of lots of large herbivores.

Elephants spend 12-18 hours a day eating,[1] compared to 68 minutes on average for an American human.[2] Is that what you want for me and your children?



Yet vegetarians don’t eat for 12-18 hours a day. You do know they already exist?

How much is that reduced if you cook the vegetables? Or do you eat raw meat? The time spent eating is a function of nutritional density and difficulty to digest. We have plenty of nutritional vegetarian food that doesn't require hours of chewing to extract the nutrition from.

It's an interesting counterpoint but not actually proving the point made. There are large herbivores.

And lions spend 20 hours a day sleeping... what's your point?

They can sleep 20 hours a day because they only eat once every four days. If they had opposable thumbs they might do something else.

>To the second point, you say meat provides "far more" nutritional value than any plant. Maybe, maybe not. (I think "not", but I'm open to being wrong about that.)

Every anthropologist: Human brain development skyrocketed and were able to maintain them when meat became a regular staple to their diet.

Just pick any documentary or book on the evolutionary development of humans. Any! I'm tired of hearing this same bullshit argument that, "Maybe meat isn't good for us. The science isn't there that it's any good." Yes it is! There's millions of years of scientific evidence that shows meat is what made us the technological masters we are today! Where's the science that meat isn't good for us? I want to see that first. And don't give me the epidemiology of a McDonald's junkie and lay that as claim of "all meat eaters". They're as much of a carnivore as a second rate vulture. Then there's that old study that claimed dietary fat is worse than consuming sugar because, dun dun dun, they were paid off by the sugar industry.

Do a fair comparison of some folks that are straight edge (no alcohol, smoking, vices, etc). Some herbivores, some omnivores. It's even better if they grow/raise their own food. That's when you'll see who's right and who's wrong.

The one thing I agree with vegans is the fact they want people to get the processed trash out of their diet. The reliance on ultra processed foods for a majority of our diets has been causing more harm than good. These plant based burgers... yea... fruits right off the branch.

I think this is a strawman.

It can be true that meat provides a lot of good nutrition. It can be true that the human cooking/eating of meat led to better nutrition and development in ancient times (when people ate less of it).

It can also be true that in the modern world you can get that nutrition without meat and there may be other good reasons to do so (animal suffering, environment, ability to feed more people, more easily, potentially fewer heart related diseases).

These things don't have to be in conflict. I don't think the comment you replied to was suggesting they were.

It may be that the extra nutritional benefits of meat can be matched by plant products. But the Beyond Meat offerings do not achieve anything close to that. They are made of highly processed industrial ingredients that are designed to approximate the texture of meat but not the nutritional profile. Pea proteins are not as complete nor bio-available as meat proteins, and the fatty acid profile is very different (and IMHO very inferior). To the extent that your purpose is greater health for yourself rather than less suffering, these products don't provide good value.

The incomplete protein thing is a myth [1]. With anything close to a normal diet with a sufficient quantity of protein, the completeness of that protein has no effect on your physiology. Completeness becomes important only in severely deficient diets, where essential amino acids remain deficient for days or weeks.

Likewise, bioavailability is not an important consideration in any reasonable diet. Your body can use only a finite amount of protein daily, and the vast majority of people in the developed world consume more protein than they can use. Increasing the availability of that protein only requires the body to excrete more "unused" nitrogen.

What makes you think the fats in beef are superior to those in Beyond or Impossible?

1 - https://www.forksoverknives.com/the-latest/the-myth-of-compl...

> The incomplete protein thing is a myth

A vegetarian advocacy site now counts as a source against meat? If that doesn't count as bias, then I don't know what does.

> With anything close to a normal diet with a sufficient quantity of protein, the completeness of that protein has no effect on your physiology. Completeness becomes important only in severely deficient diets, where essential amino acids remain deficient for days or weeks.

Leucine is a key AA in muscle building [1]. Try finding a reasonable plant based diet with enough leucine. Not only this will be incredibly tough, but it would introduce a myriad of plant toxins and pesticides.

> Likewise, bioavailability is not an important consideration in any reasonable diet. Your body can use only a finite amount of protein daily, and the vast majority of people in the developed world consume more protein than they can use.

Let's ignore for a moment this utterly false for protein [2], and just point out the superiority of meat in providing bioavailable vitamins. Let's take a trivial and essential nutrient such as vitamin A as an example. A serving of beef liver contains the an abundant amount of the most active form of vitamin A - retinol. Plants such as carrots, on the other hand, only produce precursors such beta-carotene, that must be converted to retinol. Unfortunately, some people are incredibly poor converters of beta-carotene, and must rely on the complete form of the vitamin [3]

> What makes you think the fats in beef are superior to those in Beyond or Impossible?

That's a separate can of worms. Let's just say that I would much prefer to eat saturated beef fat over seed oil derived slop.

[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10418071/ [2] https://academic.oup.com/af/article/9/4/18/5575466 [3] https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/96/5/1193S/4577160

> A vegetarian advocacy site now counts as a source against meat?

That's an ad-hominem, not an argument. Read the article and let me know if you're able to actually counter its points. Besides, there's nothing "against meat" here. Plenty of vegetarians are tricked into believing they need to carefully compliment their proteins, even if they eat eggs and dairy. Beans & rice and all that nonsense.

> Try finding a reasonable plant based diet with enough leucine.

Plants are generally a better source of Leucine than meat. Pea protein and soy protein, which are used in meat substitutes, have several times more leucine than beef. Even raw legumes have a good amount of leucine, easily enough to meet the daily requirements of athletes.

> Not only this will be incredibly tough, but it would introduce a myriad of plant toxins and pesticides.

And exactly what are the "myriad of plant toxins and pesticides" I'm exposing myself to with my bean-heavy diet?

> Let's ignore for a moment this utterly false for protein [2]

It appears you forgot to read your own citation. That paper is talking about the importance of bioavailability in malnourished people. Reread what I wrote above: in any reasonable diet-- like you and I eat every day-- bioavailability has no significant role in meeting our daily protein needs. In other words, you and I and everyone else in the first world have little trouble getting enough protein without ever having to pay attention to availability.

> Unfortunately, some people are incredibly poor converters of beta-carotene, and must rely on the complete form of the vitamin [3]

And again, you forgot to read your own citation. This paper is talking about the importance of high-carotenoid vegetables to prevent vitamin A deficiency. And like your previous citation, the context is developing countries with widespread malnutrition. To make it easy for you, here's a snippet from the abstract:

> Although the vitamin A equivalency of β-carotene is highly variable, the provision of vegetable and fruit sources of β-carotene has significantly increased vitamin A status in women and children in community settings in developing countries; these results support the inclusion of dietary interventions with plant sources of β-carotene as a strategy for increasing vitamin A status in populations at risk of deficiency.

You should read the rest of the paper. It makes a compelling case for increasing the consumption of vegetables for everyone, not just malnourished people.

> That's a separate can of worms. Let's just say that I would much prefer to eat saturated beef fat over seed oil derived slop.

Right. Just for kicks, give me a quick rundown of why Beyond's coconut and canola fats are so much inferior to beef fat. I'm quite curious.

I don't think being a health food is Beyond Meat's (or Impossible's) goal and it really shouldn't be.

I think they're trying to get the experience of eating meat right, they don't care (much) about the health profile. I think that's the right approach for them.

Some others are trying to grow actual meat (Memphis Meats), in that case you'd get the same nutritional profile without the suffering if they can pull it off.

Just because meat helped develop humnans to have large brain growth does not mean it is the best thing for humans. Evolution prioritized different things. Living longer and healthier past the age of 30 are not things that would have been affected.

You're going to believe what you want, but the meat/dairy industry are truly diabolical in what they produce and how they do it. From the conditions of animals, to how they treat them, to even how they treat their human workers are just bad up and down.

How many people grow and raise their own food? We need comparisons that work on a global scale. I believe some amount of high quality meat and dairy can be good for you, but we as a species consume way to much and it's just been going. Our fish intake is absolutely devastating for our oceans. The amount of cows, chickens and pigs we slaughter is also extremely detrimental.

These plant based burgers are a start. Beyond claims no GMOs where as Impossible openly embraces gmos. Nutrition science is difficult, but hopefully we're progressing, and I think reducing meat consumption will improve peoples diet on average.

I thought the argument was that fire allowed us to process meat and acquire the calories needed to be more productive.

Regardless, your argument seems to be that eating meat is better than starving. That isn’t an argument for eating meat. It’s an argument for food security. Guess what food security depends on. Reduced emissions.

The agricultural revolution - settling, understanding the seasons, plant selection and breeding - are much more important factors to where humans are today and the rise of civilisation and modern population scales than animal husbandry. That was part of the story but I've not seen any researcher arguing that domestication of the cow was more important than grains.

But anyway there is no doubt animal meat is nutritious. The question is not xis it nutritious" or "was it important for humanity in the past," the question is where we go from here. Even if you can make a cogent argument that it was essential to humanity's rise that doesn't provide an argument (or vegans might say a justification) that we still need animal meat in 2050. Arguably constant warfare and burning coal was what drove technological prowess in Europe to bring us a long way to today's world, but would you argue we still need those? Slavery was essential to the rise of America, does that make it right to continue? Colonialism made Britain rich and rose many Brits out of poverty, does that mean Britain should continue exploiting India? Domestic violence and marriage of underage girls was a common and essential feature of human societies every where, does that justify continuing them these today?

Arguments based on past practice hold no moral or scientific sway over our future.

> Every anthropologist: Human brain development skyrocketed and were able to maintain them when meat became a regular staple to their diet. Just pick any documentary or book on the evolutionary development of humans. Any!

Go ahead and cite one of those sources.

It's curious that all the rest of the world's carnivores missed out on that skyrocketing brain development.

I agree with you about the sugar industry though. They're worse than big tobacco.

>The one thing I agree with vegans is the fact they want people to get the processed trash out of their diet.

Except, i don't think i've yet met a vegan that doesn't consume ultra processed soy and or gluten based products.

All these meat alternatives are ultra processed to make them resemble meat. They're made of ultra processed protein and vegetables, spices and additives to improve taste, colour and texture and to allow them to keep whatever shape and form they're pressed into. The creation of alternative meats is highly industrialized process that creates ultra-processed food products.

The single number one thing humans could do to reduce pollution from agricultural production is to stop relying on global imports and exports for so many things and focus on small scale regional production. Reduce the overall amount of mass scale industrial agriculture. Because whatever's being produced, meat, plant or otherwise, the methods being used to produce them and the scale they're being produced on is the problem.

Reduce the waste all along the supply chain, reduce the global footprint, go back to less productive but more sustainable production methods and focus food imports and exports as locally as possible. Rely on regional trade before global.

Here's a perfect example of the ultra processed vegan food: https://www.mccormick.com/spices-and-flavors/other/bacn-piec...

It's not surprising that the ingredients list is similar to Doritos: Textured Soy Flour, Canola Oil, Salt, Caramel Color, Maltodextrin, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Lactic Acid, Yeast Extract, Disodium Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate (Flavor Enhancers), and FD&C Red 40.

It's basically and engineered umami delivery system.

Those are bacon bits and aren’t targeted towards the vegan market. I may have missed the joke, but this isn’t a great example of what vegans usually eat.

> Except, i don't think i've yet met a vegan that doesn't consume ultra processed soy and or gluten based products.

Yea, the term "vegan" is pretty silly and meaningless, since it only describes what you don't eat.

I'm fond of the whole-foods-plant-based diet (which is a vegan diet) and is more in line with what you're describing—eating real food. Avoiding processed junk.

While I think eating local is a decent rule-of-thumb good thing, it's also overly-simplistic. Bananas are often used as an example. They're obviously not local to the U.S., and are shipped from long distances. But the environmental impact of bananas is minuscule (not to downplay the other political and agricultural issues with banana plantations).

Livestock is a real problem. Using US numbers, which has one of the most efficient livestock management in the world make those numbers not too bad at ~4% (that's still a lot, let's be clear), but when you look worldwide the share of GHG attributed to livestock is 14.5%, that's definitely bad [1].

Even if Beyond Meat will have a bigger impact in the US to begin with, this will have a worldwide impact.

[1] https://clear.ucdavis.edu/explainers/using-global-emission-s...

I think you missed the point -- that if you tried to replace meat with plants providing the same nutritional profile, then the impact is far less than anticipated by most calculations.

I'm highly dubious of the statement that growing plants to eat them is lightly less polluting than growing plants, feeding them to cattle and then preparing the cattle to eat the meat. Cattle does not sequester CO2 like plants do and emits greenhouse gases. Also uses way more treated water.

When cattle are raised on well managed pasture, there is zero transportation between the cattle and feed, where as all vegetables requires transportation, and more of it pound-per-pound to reach the nutrient value of beef.

Cattle only contribute GHG when raised on grain as their digestive systems creates excessive methane breaking down corn. If more people understood how cows and ruminants should work vs how they are currently used in the industrialized feed complexes, they'd realize cows are not the problem, it's how we are using them.

There is a big difference is growing plants for human consumption when compared to growing feed for an animals and then consuming the animal meat.

Basic biology says that when cattle eat feed only of portion of that feed ends up as meat.

The farming industry actually measures this using a measure called the Feed Conversion Ratio.


For example the FCR for cattle is over 4 meaning for every unit of animal mass you'll need over 4 times that mass in feed.

This basic biology means it is always be more efficient to grow vegetables for direct consumption than to grow them for animal feed.

Right, but cattle can be raised where growing plants is impossible, and they can be fed by-products of plant agriculture that is not fit for human consumption.

It's really not an either-or, something that I feel is often lost in these discussions. Eating plants and meat is complementary, and has been for all of human history.

What percentage of cattle actually subsists on otherwise barren lands, and what percentage is fed soy and grains explicitly grown for them.

It's also becoming possible to grow plants hydroponically in a highly automated and controlled environment (warehouse/cattle shed), with up to a 98% saving in treated water usage, 60% less nutrients required but with more nutritious crops and no pesticides. This is the case for High Pressure Aeroponics, which is slightly more complex than other hydroponic methods.


That's an interesting point, but isn't it also true that hydroponics are currently just not a very economically feasible option?

Depends on the crop. I know a lot of lettuce is grown Hydroponically. (but its basicly cellulose and water to begin with).

Plus an even larger issue is soil erosion, which reduces the soil's capacity to act as a carbon sink: https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/news/soil-erosion-decreases-soil...

Returning to the most sustainable method of raising cattle, grazing, (such as simply letting cows graze) is pound for pound the most effective way to greatly reduce the carbon footprint left by industrialized livestock production, and restore soil quality.

Grasshoppers are better

How are you comparing nutritional value between meat and plant products? There are literally hundreds of millions (if not billions) of people that have been eating vegetarian diets for their entire lives, and these types of diets have been popular for millennia.

Those arguments always drive me nuts because they're all so bro sciencey, and I'm not even vegan or vegetarian. Sure, meat offers a different set of nutritional value than vegetables - you can most definitely replace it entirely with other sources and remain very healthy. Billions of people have done it for centuries and continue to do so, as you've said.

A counter argument - billions of people subsisted on ok food for centuries, but somehow in the 20th and 21st centuries people got taller, smarter and had earlier puberties because of better nutrition.

Doesn't that mean there is a quality (and quantity) to nutrition and not just subsisting, that we need to examine? And the claim about meat is that it has a quality that is beneficial.

Certainly you have to look at causations for that holistically. People have cooked and eaten meat in the past as well. It needs to be further studied on the qualities that has driven our growth in the industrial age. I think we now have a better understanding of our bodies and how to gamify our growth, through a myriad of ways whether or not eating certain amounts of meat and balancing it with other foods.

Looking it up now I'm surprised to find that the only country with more than 15% of it's population being vegetarian is India. So now I'm somewhat skeptical of this claim. Will definitely need to do more research, but do you have any sources off hand? To be clear I'm looking to vet the claim that a vegetarian diet leads to similar health outcomes compared to a non-vegetarian diet.

There's really no way to answer those outcomes broadly because, for the vast majority of human beings, we don't count our calories or compute the macronutrients in our food. It's very difficult to see this unless you perform the study on twins, since birth, maintaining distinctly separate, perfectly controlled diets. The most consistent take is looking at it from an anthropological perspective - plenty of societies throughout history fed on a vegetarian lifestyle, which continues to persist today.

It would be interesting to see the stats of a country like India though, where you don't have confounders like vegetarianism often being a class signal like in the developed world. Although the more I look into it, the more I find that "vegetarian" is a pretty loose label there.

What societies in the past have mainly been vegetarian? None except India seem to persist to this day. I hear the human race took a pretty big hit in the early agricultural era as far as life expectancy goes.

Buddhist societies and the sects formed around them immediately come to mind.

It’ll be accurate enough to say Buddha argued it unethical to kill until he died from eating generously offered but spoiled pork so...

Does this cover off any of the areas you're interested in?


>Health outcomes associated with vegetarian diets: An umbrella review of systematic reviews and meta-analyses

>Conclusions: Vegetarian diets are associated with beneficial effects on the blood lipid profile and a reduced risk of negative health outcomes, including diabetes, ischemic heart disease, and cancer risk. Among vegetarians, SDA vegetarians could represent a subgroup with a further reduced risk of negative health outcomes. Vegetarian diets have adverse outcomes on one-carbon metabolism. The effect of vegetarian diets among pregnant and lactating women requires specific attention. Well-designed prospective studies are warranted to evaluate the consequences of the prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency during pregnancy and infancy on later life and of trace element deficits on cancer risks.

It's not brosciency, it's called bioavailablity. Ex: Carrots have a lot of a vitamin A precursor in the form of beta carotene, but the rate it's absorbed compared to the form commonly in the liver (retinol), is significantly lower and is reduced even further if you have certain health problems, including common ones like diabetes or insulin resistance.

> How are you comparing nutritional value between meat and plant products?

It's impossible to do this really rigorously, as there are too many unknowns in nutrition still. So this leaves holed you can drive all sorts of sized trucks through, which means a lot of argument but not a lot of resolution.

There's not magic shit in meat, it's mostly water and amino acids and the remaining fraction is mostly bad for you.

(I eat meat all the time, but we know a lot more than barely anything about nutrition. Figure out vitamin RDAs in milligrams if you want an example)

I'm shocked that people seriously believe that the fundamentals of nutritional science are a virtual mystery or has enough "wiggle room" to make ridiculously broad claims about diet necessities. We know almost exact micrograms of iodine we need per day to be healthy. We have a pretty great idea of what the body needs to function optimally and are getting a clearer picture every day.

Is this why GMOs became such a pariah?

If what you were saying were true, we wouldn't have wildly divergent (macro) diet and nutrition claims being made in cycles without clear resolution. Most of them are wrong, it seems, but the science is hard.

You are right we have some pretty good information on deficiency problems with key things like iodine, B12 (topical) etc. We have much less understanding of how even dietary source actually work even with some key nutrients outside of lab conditions, and beyond that dietary nutrition is absolutely full of handwaving. We are nowhere near a clear picture; lot's of people will tell you we are but they still contradict each other regularly. This is not a mature science.

The hard part of modern diet isn't macro composition, it's measuring caloric requirements and sticking close to them over long periods of time. Macro composition can help with that, but eating way too much of the perfect diet is still going to be bad.

Sure, we understand "too many calories is bad" also, but that wasn't my point. A lot of conflicting claims about macro composition are made for example, and it's really hard to definitely dismiss them (or even answer how much it matters) mainly because we don't understand it well enough.

I didn't say we know "barely anything", just that the unknowns are significant enough to allow a lot of wiggle room and arguments. Including, for example, the accuracy of many vitamin RDAs.

Look, this isn't the whole picture and it super misleading. Just because humans survived with a particular diet doesn't mean that they wouldn't have been healthier had they eaten meat. You can't just point to historical populations who didn't have widespread access to animal products and be like "see they lived."

I'm not saying your not correct that vegetarian diets are fine from a health perspective but this isn't evidence of it.

Don’t you have the burden of proof exactly reversed?

It's not just that vegetarian diets are "fine" - there's actually a wealth of evidence that a meat-free diet is far healthier - in terms of risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, and various forms of cancer, for example.


Fyi, the creator of that website (Dr. Gregor) can be pretty biased. If you google reviews of his books (from other doctors) you'll see that he sometimes leaves out important details from the studies he cites.

Thhere's also evidence for the contrary. If you care about any dieting at all and watch your micros and macros, you will invariably be above average in health.

Really? There's a body of evidence that a meat-containing diet is protective against heart disease, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer, versus a plant-based diet?

I'd genuinely be very interested for those sources to be shared, please...

That first study compares to meat-containing diets with each other, see the methods section.

edit: I also have some doubts on the care taken in this study and it's peer-review. As there is an easy to spot mistake in table 2 (the dietary fat section).

Studies on human nutrition are extremely limited. If you'd like to see a case reports about keto eating putting Diabetes Type 2 in remission see below:




I meant it as trial results that don't show meaningful gains from vegan diets.

I'm a vegetarian, I think this is true when comparing meat with whole plant foods. But to be fair the the GP comment, meat substitute products are almost certainly considerably less nutritious (micronutrient wise) than actual meat.

for generations we have been vegetarians and many of my carnivorous friends have told me the opposite. That is they feel better nourished with plant based meals.

Exactly how certain is it?

I'm comparing it by ... comparing the nutrients in each. There are lots of examples of nutrients in meat that aren't found in plants (carnitine, b12 etc) and even more where the type found in plants must be consumed in far greater quantities and converted to a form we can use (retinol vs beta-carotene, DHA vs EPA/ALA etc)

Millions of vegetarians doesn't mean meat is suddenly less nutritious.

The B12 in off the shelf beef , chicken is from it being injected by farmers (along with all manner of other stuff such as antibiotics).

The truth is that every living being is low on B12 due to soil erosion / over farming. So in a way a meat eater is supplementing B12 by proxy of an animal, where as a vegan is buying a pot off amazon (and in turn able to get a much more specific dose).

But hundreds of millions of vegetarians does mean that eliminating that meat from our diet is extremely realistic and much more widely affordable.

By all means, feel free to eliminate meat from _your_ diet. But "Our" diet is a different issue.

We all live on this planet together, what we do affects others and while I think meat should remain part of our diets I think it needs to become a much less central part of it.

I enjoy meat myself, but I use it more sparingly in combination with other central meal components.

I'm not sure how the comparison is made, however Vitamin B12 can only be found in meat and eggs.

If you do not have supplements or eat this type of vitamin containing protein, you risk paralysis and death with a 2+ year absence of the vitamin.

I wouldn't be surprised if there are other missing nutrients as well.

> however Vitamin B12 can only be found in meat and eggs.

That's not quite right. B12 is mostly produced by bacteria on the surface of plants. We can't synthesize it an neither can the animals we eat. So if you eat products of animals that have been eating such plants (or these days, maybe supplements), there is a source, and especially in developed countries is often the easiest one.

It's an important vitamin, deficiency wise, and for humans there are 3 practical approaches: eat products from animals that consume B12 on plants, eat those plants, or fortify another food more directly.

The 2nd one sounds like an easy win, but is made harder by the fact that most processing (e.g. even vigorous washing ) will remove all the B12 as it is superficial and water soluble.

It's also worth noting we don't need much B12, and we don't need it every day, so managing this isn't very difficult.

There's a lot of vegan sources for B12, mostly fermented stuff like tempeh or powdered yeast leftovers from making beer. Some plants also have it. They are cheap and plentiful and usually used in a lot of vegan foods like "substitute cheese" or people blend them shakes because they are also rich in other aminoacids.

You can get all the B12 you need and even more from this while still being balanced in macro and micro-nutrients. Also B12 deficiency will usually make you psychotic or very very tired and to die from it you have to be completely depleted, if you live in the modern world and eat products made with fortifried grains, like white bread, pasta or some breakfast cereals, you will probably never go below the threshold were you cause damage.

There's also multiple protein shakes or meal replacement shakes that sell for like 2 dollars that have enough B12 for the daily recommended intake which is far far more than what you actually need as it's based on the old 2000 calorie diet thing.

I've read this before, and yet weirdly, there're literally hundreds of millions of people on this planet[0] who've never eaten meat once in their lives, and somehow they're not all paralyzed and dead before the age of two.

I'm not a vegetarian, but maybe we can avoid obviously-false statements like this. Please?

0. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vegetarianism_by_country

Meat and eggs. So you need eggs. It’s also present in dairy.

So the parent’s claim is an argument against unsupplemented veganism, and your counter of vegetarianism doesn’t address that. Massive difference between the two diets in terms of needing to supplement or not.

Oh, you didn't click through, maybe. Or missed that the linked page included millions of vegans, too, in the same chart.

You can sort by any column, and see that the U.S., Brazil, and Japan have the highest number of Vegans, while Mexico and Poland purportedly lead by percentage, though those two are disputed.

Strict vegans are the only ones that typically have the B12 issue. Most vegetarians still eat a lot of dairy and eggs so still get B12 in their diet. Also a lot of foods are 'fortified' by government regulation to avoid common nutritional deficiencies that would arise with their standard diets, so it's hard to take certain things at face value.

Yes sorry. You are right I wasn't very clear and also I didn't realize that B12 actually comes from bacteria and archaea.

The organisms that provide us vitamin B12 tend to host said bacteria and archaea within their GI.

Alternatively supplements are provided (as I mentioned). Nutritional yeast, dairy, and vitamin pills are some of the ways in which vegetarians survive. Apparently certain beans are high in B12 as well!

Beans are often a staple for vegetarian and vegan diets, so that makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the follow-up!

Most omnivores get their B12 from supplements given to livestock.

It's the same supplements but with extra steps.

There is plenty of B12 in seaweed and mushrooms and I eat quite a bit of those - wonder if that's what's keeping me afloat.

Interesting. Turns out I just misunderstood the source of B12. Seems it comes from certain bacteria and archaea.

Vitamin B12 can only be found naturally in the amounts we need in meat and eggs. With the advent of culturing there are now vegan sources at nearly every grocery store.

It's ok you can just drink beer (!1l a day) to get B12


(Of course, this study is from Czech Republic where average beer consumption is something like 0.7l per capita)

I was under the impression alcohol impacted B vitamin absorption though, so this may not work?

I looked it up and it seems to be suggested that it does but I didn’t look long enough to find a study.

That is incorrect, B12 is abundant in nutritional yeast

Because nutritional yeast is fortified. Hence a supplement.


All purpose flour is fortified, doesn’t make it a supplement. Did you even read your own source. It literally says that nutritionally yeast can be unfortified and it have b12

I did read it indeed, did you?

> "Yeast cannot produce B12, which is naturally produced only by some bacteria.[8] Some brands of nutritional yeast, though not all, are fortified with vitamin B12. When it is fortified, the vitamin B12 (commonly cyanocobalamin) is produced separately and then added to the yeast."

Furthermore, fortified all purpose flour is not the same as fortified nutritional yeast. In fact, what you are referring to is likely _enriched_ all purpose flour. This has vitamin B1, B2, B3, B9 and iron added to it. There is no addition of vitamin B12.


> Regarding carbon: "removal of livestock in the US would only lead to a net GHG reduction of 2.6% in national emissions. Similarly, removing all dairy would lead to a reduction of just 0.7%.

Methane (molecule for molecule) contributes far more to the greenhouse effect than CO2 so without knowing how much of those gases are from transportation versus digestion, it's hard to tell how much actual impact it has. Focusing on the GHG statistic also ignores the many other ecological effects of animal agriculture like runoff and forest clearing that has significant effects on our carbon stores and oxygen producers like plankton and trees.

At the same time, both transitions would create domestic deficiencies in critically limiting nutrients [White & Hall 2017; Liebe et al. 2020], which is not unexpected given that Animal Sourced Foods are valuable sources of essential nutrition [see elsewhere].

Cows need more essential amino acids from their diets than humans do and the overlap between the two needs is almost 100%. They can't synthesize atomic minerals so they're just a delivery device for nutrients we'd get from other sources anyway. Obviously I'm not suggesting we all switch to a diet of alfa alfa but the whole point of the climate crisis is that our way of life is unsustainable; something has to change and I think most people rather it be diet, even if we lean more on synthetic alternatives, than the total population. This argument made sense a hundred years ago when overwintering was a real concern and transportation wasn't fast enough to deliver unspoiled fresh food so people had to convert inedible plants to edible food.

(I'm ignoring the difficulty of getting a large group of people to switch away from culturally important or locally available staples, which is what that nutrition argument hinges on, because that seems to be the weakest link in the face of an existential threat)

> Meat provides far more nutritional value than any plant

Bullshit, the kind of lies that the meat industry loves to spin.

Nutritional value is not one single measurable thing. And even protein contents (meat's most common nutrient) when measured per gram can be higher in soy and derivatives than in some meats (e.g: pork but and shoulder). When measured by calories other legumes (beans, chickpeas, lupini) beat most meats.

The only nutrient not often found in plants is B12 vitamin. But it can be bought cheap as a nutritional supplement.

The protein you get from meat is a different collection of amino acids than the protein you can get from plants or soy.

True, but you can combine plants to get the same collection (e.g: beans with bread).

Also, the overwhelming majority of amino acids is not important. For nutrition only the 7 essential amino acids matter (the ones not made by our metabolism).

Not all plants have complete proteins. Also there are other nutrients that are hard to get on a vegan diet like EPA and DHA.

I'm no biologist, but even assuming all of that blog post's sources are reliable - it is still cherry-picking findings:

* Not counting livestock contribution to GHG, but rather an estimate of how much removing it would reduce GHG (which is room for a lot of speculation that is very hard to support).

* Preferring a figure taken from a single paper by two individual researchers over the United Nations' official FAO statistic, which is 14.5% of emissions due to livestock lifecycle.

* Focusing on how forestation is challenging, while the source acknowledge that the de-forestation is very damaging.

* Ignoring the huge amounts of land necessary for growing livestock (Example: ~55 times the area for peas for same amount of protein [1])

* Ignoring the question of the distribution of meat consumption among people in the world today, and the feasibility of a meat-rich diet for everyone.

I'm sure there's more, but this is enough not to be very receptive to the claim of misguidedness.

PS - Due disclosure: I eat poultry and occasionally other meat. But I am still worried about the environmental impact of its production, with the foremost aspect being de-forestation.

[1] : https://en.wikipedia.org/?curid=15588468

This isn't a crusade against meat, it's a crusade between Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods as to who will capture the (niche) alt-beef market.

McDonald's signed an agreement making BM their preferred supplier of fake beef, so Impossible is put at a disadvantage. Absolutely none of this replaces any real beef with fake beef, or even results in less real beef eaten or sold.

Here's the flip side -

Beyond meat makes basic veggie burgers. There's nothing special about them you couldn't make without the recipe.

Impossible foods has the yeast sourced heme thats supposed to make it taste and cook more like meat. That's patented, and not easy to replace.

So BM can be in every McDonalds for a year and then be replaced by a McFakeMeat Burger and there's nothing they can do. Impossible actually has a product you can't make.

In the long run I think Impossible is better food. The question is always one of price.

There's also the question of taste. I've tried both Beyond and Impossible, and the latter is simply much more delicious.

I've tried Burger King's Double Whopper and Impossible Whopper side by side, and even though the Impossible doesn't taste like real meat, I was surprised how good it tasted. So much so that I would have no problem forgoing real beef and going with the Impossible Whopper. (I have since returned to BK many times and have just gotten the Impossible Whopper)

Beyond doesn't inspire that kind of reaction. It's just like any old veggie burger.

Yup, we don't know what price concessions McDonald's obtained. Really these press releases don't provide a lot of info and are not very good news sources.

I also think there is a good chance MCD will announce their own fake beef product in the future. At least that's what I'd do if I were them -- they probably know a lot more about food science and also know their requirements well.

Obviously I'm a sample size of one here, but i've stopped eating beef in the last year and have only been eating Beyond and Impossible. Long term i'd be shocked if some amount of the real beef market isn't taken by plant based.

> removal of livestock in the US would only lead to a net GHG reduction of 2.6% in national emissions.

100% can be split in so many small sums. Each percent is worth taking.

Once we remove that 2.6% though, we'll have a whole new 100% to fight against.

Did you know that while HEPA filters might remove well over 99% of air particulates once that's done you've still got 100% of the remaining particulates in the air?

Did you know that if I steal half of your money you've still got 100% of your remaining money?

That is a really weird argument.

I know hacker news isn't exactly the place for sarcasm (not to mention sarcasm loss over text) but I couldn't resist.

I thought you made a good point, actually.

I believe its common to just give up a fight like this because it's really never over, and no single step leads directly to perfection. Why recycle when some recycling still ends up in a landfill in India ? Why help a homeless person when there still will be homeless tomorrow?

OTOH, most of us are still getting up every morning and go to work.

Just chiming in to say that I personally found this really funny. Similar sense of sarcasm, I guess.

Offering alternatives to people who prefer to eat plant based meals rather than meat based ones is hardly a "crusade against meat". I understand you would feel attacked if these corporations were going out and saying "no more meat" in reality, they are just putting 1 or 2 options on the menu which allows people who don't want to eat meat to still eat unhealthy takeaway. No one is trying to force you to not eat meat. But the status Que you are trying to desperately defend has people choosing a vegans or vegetarian diet completely unwelcome at mainstream fastfood restaurants because there is nothing for them on the menu, not even the french fries are vegetarian. And for what purpose? KFC and McDonald is just as happy taking your money and slinging over a burger without a patty as one with one. So why shouldn't they offer plant based alternatives?

As I understand, there are places where you can just put cows and they feed themselves off the land. But there is also a tremendous amount of deforestation happening because those lands are then used to grow food for cows that are in other locations.

I find it amazing how well avoiding eating meat aligns good things:

- less animal suffering

- less pollution of air, water, and land

- less waste (inefficient way to get calories)

- better health (assuming you substitute meat with vegetables and not highly-processed food)

Vegetables probably don’t have enough calories to replace meat, unless by vegetables you mean grains and legumes.

> making its contribution to global warming debatable

The problem is not only rising emissions in the Last decade, our emissions in 2010 was already way over the climate budgets.

> Regarding carbon: "removal of livestock in the US would only lead to a net GHG reduction of 2.6% in national emissions. Similarly, removing all dairy would lead to a reduction of just 0.7%.

ONLY? That's a pretty damn big percentage for such a small piece of the economy.

It feels a bit like saying "removal of Ford vehicles from the road would only lead to a net GHG reduction of 2.6%" .. or whatever it'd be. Of course you can make it sound small if you compere a portion (livestock) of a portion (farming) of the national economy, to all emissions from the entire nation.

Plant alternatives would have their own emissions of course, but I think there's a more realistic path to zero emissions. There's some interesting work on reducing methane emissions from livestock themselves (additives to the feed and such), but the path is more challenging.

May be anecdotal, but four generations prior to me and myself have all be vegetarians with no sign of deficiencies. and many lived 90 yrs + . and I know many families who ate meat only once a month or approx '10 meals a year'. meat is over hyped.

Those items just address the carbon issue (and 2.6% is still quite a bit), they don't address the issue of the massive land footprint that livestock requires.

Where's the evidence that meat provides far more nutritional value than any plant?

And there have been a lot of studies showing that high consumption of red meat and processed meats are not helpful to health.

I'm a meat eater and I'd love to feel better about my love of steak and burgers, but sadly I just don't see the evidence.

YMMV, but it's much more than 2.6% in the US. Livestock is 40% of of ag's GHG emissions.


And ag is ~10% of US emissions


So eliminating livestock would reduce emissions by 4%.

With that said, 4% is still low, but it doesn't account for all the GHG emissions needed to grow feed for livestock, nor does it account for other things like transportation of that feed, energy used in processing by the industrial sector, and so on.

You're conflating domestically produced GHG emissions with domestically consumed products' emissions. As a toy example, suppose we grew no animal products in the US and imported all our meat. Your method would conclude that switching to plant-based diets would have no effect on GHG emissions since livestock represents 0% any of our agricultural GHG emissions.

Did you mean to reply to another post?

Yes, and much of the non-livestock emissions from agriculture is from growing plants to feed to livestock!

And process it, and transport it, and process and transport the meat after we've slaughtered the livestock.

Part of meat's increased GHG emissions are because their are so many more steps in bringing it to market and because it doesn't last as long. Most plants are harvested, cleaned/processed, and transported to market. Livestock generally needs feed, which is harvested, cleaned/processed, and transported to the livestock, and after livestock is slaughtered, it needs to be cleaned/processed, and transported to market, and on top of that it tends to go bad faster.

A bit of meat is probably a valuable part of a balanced diet. But the average American eats nearly 100kg per year. That's a lot. You don't need to become a Vegan to cut that in half. You can eat a quarter pounder with cheese every day and still only consume 40kg of meat per year.

Aside from the questionable source laid out here, the statement that:

> Meat provides far more nutritional value than any plant...

...is pure nonsense. Vitamins, minerals, fiber. Considering you can't get any fiber from meat is just the start of how biased some have been influenced by misinformation.

Fibre isn't a nutrient though. It's waste. We have a very low capability to ferment it verses other apes.

Please stop spreading misinformation and maybe educate yourself on the need for fiber in a healthy diet [0].

[0] "Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet - Mayo Clinic" https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-h...

There are people who are strict carnivores and are perfectly healthy, just like there are people that are strict vegans and are perfectly healthy. Calling fiber essential seems wrong on its face.

If you wouldn't mind providing some research to support your agenda that would be great. Here's a list of reference research done at Harvard Medical around the health benefits of fiber and in other cases where it showed no positive improvement [0].

A statement like:

> Calling fiber essential seems wrong on it's face.

...to me seems rather ignorant given your prior claims.

[0] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/f...

What prior claims? Are you mistaking me for somebody else?

I'm always kinda confused when people argue that 3.3% of literally all emissions produced by every activity we as humans engage in seem like it's a small thing. There's not gonna be some magic bullet that will reduce our national emissions by 45% or anything. It's all the result of a bunch of small things added together. And we're at the point where plant based meats and dairy substitutes are good enough in a lot of different use-cases.

If we cut our use of animal products to just the dishes that really demand it then we're already way better off. Use milk for your baking, not your cereal. Don't feel bad about having a steak but maybe try the veggie chicken nuggets when you get fast food.

Here in France, a relatively small country, people often say "yes but China" to reject changes. But China is just the sum of a handful of provinces that make up for the same number of inhabitants than France. Each of these provinces could say "yes but the USA".

I'll leave to the other comments to combat the factual inaccuracies here but - there is an inherent and substantial efficiency loss in consuming secondary consumers.

There's no getting around that.

Artificial meat doesn't have to be plant based. It's entirely possible that we could grow synthetic meat at scale with the same nutritional profile as the real thing.

TLDR: There is no "popular crusade" telling people to end all meat consumption which will somehow leave you nutritionally deficient. Hundreds of millions of people eat vegetarian diets around the world and numerous studies show the benefits of reducing red + processed meat consumption. Replacing fast food burgers with plant based alternatives could be a good option for people with decreased availability of plant based alternatives to meat.

> The popular crusade against meat is one of the more misguided.

The only "popular crusade" is the universal dietary guidance against the excessively high consumption of red meat in the western diet. There are mountains of evidence showing links between higher red meat consumption and increased risk of the top killers in many western societies (heart disease, colon cancer, etc.). [1] [2] [3]

There's a quick summary from the Harvard School of Public Health for those who don't want to pour through the published studies: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/whats-the-bee...

You cite many studies here about the environmental effects of meat production and exactly 0 citing the nutritional or health aspects of meat consumption. Meat can contain valuable nutrients but hundreds of millions eat vegetarian diets around the world and many other sources (nuts, legumes, fish, etc.) can provide these nutrients in better forms. All major health organizations recommend limiting red and processed meat consumption below what the average American diets currently consist of.

Replacing fast foods with plant based alternatives doesn't seem like a bad thing at all when you consider that meats and grains are the only things Americans are consuming over and above the dietary guidelines – at 140% of the recommendations [4]. Given that Heart Disease is the number one leading cause of death in the United States, shouldn't we be prioritizing alternatives which reduce the intake of high-glycemic carbohydrates? There have been many studies covering plant-based alternatives which back this up. [5]

[1] Battaglia Richi E, Baumer B, Conrad B, Darioli R, Schmid A, Keller U. Health Risks Associated with Meat Consumption: A Review of Epidemiological Studies. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2015;85(1-2):70-8. doi: 10.1024/0300-9831/a000224. PMID: 26780279.

[2] Salter AM. The effects of meat consumption on global health. Rev Sci Tech. 2018 Apr;37(1):47-55. doi: 10.20506/rst.37.1.2739. PMID: 30209430.

[3] Abete I, Romaguera D, Vieira AR, Lopez de Munain A, Norat T. Association between total, processed, red and white meat consumption and all-cause, CVD and IHD mortality: a meta-analysis of cohort studies. Br J Nutr. 2014 Sep 14;112(5):762-75. doi: 10.1017/S000711451400124X. Epub 2014 Jun 16. PMID: 24932617.

[4] https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/chart-gallery/gallery...

[5] Vatanparast H, Islam N, Shafiee M, Ramdath DD. Increasing Plant-Based Meat Alternatives and Decreasing Red and Processed Meat in the Diet Differentially Affect the Diet Quality and Nutrient Intakes of Canadians. Nutrients. 2020 Jul 9;12(7):2034. doi: 10.3390/nu12072034. PMID: 32659917; PMCID: PMC7400918.

Real climate change can only happen with the cooperation of the worlds biggest polluters: China and India.

So the rest of the world should do nothing until they do something instead of setting an example or starting somewhere? What's the point of this statement? Just keep pointing fingers to the black sheep, and the black sheep will defend itself by saying that it is only fair that it gets to do what the other countries got to do before environmentalism was a thing.

Yeah, that'll solve problems.

It's defeatist standpoint, and as a statement it only serves to undermine any green initiative not taken in China or India. You could pose it as a question: “But how can we get China and India on board?”, and you might provoke more meaningful responses.

China's one / two child policy is doing a lot more for the environment than what we are doing in most western countries.

That's a sacrifice I can't image us ever making in our democracies.

You should flip through some pages of "How Not To Die" by Michael Greger some time...

I know it’s McDonald’s but if this is a healthier option cholesterol wise that’d be good.. I mean maybe that’s impossible at McDonald’s but -shrug-

It only takes a little bit of bromoform to poison methanogenesis in rumen. It would actually improve feed conversion as well.


Probably exaggerated and imponderable, as it really depends on how you would rank such a thing. But it is really nutritious in that it packs a great density of protein and micronutrients.

Lentils, tofu, peanuts, and seitan are 25%, 20%, 28%, and 80% protein by weight. Meat is about 26%, according to WolframAlpha. Not that you actually need very many grams of protein each day to be healthy.

I find seitan and tofu completely unpalatable, and I can’t rely on eating hundreds of grams of peanuts to fill my protein needs. Lentils are fine...

I lift heavy, which I believe is integral to my good health (the evidence on the health benefits of strength training is overwhelming). You do need significant amounts of protein if you lift - this is backed by both research and empirical evidence. Designing 3000-4000kcal diets high in protein without meat is entirely possible, but highly impractical.

Most serious weightlifters in my experience supplement their diet with protein shakes or similar, many vegan formulations exist. It's not super tasty, but I wouldn't call it "highly impractical".

Beyond that in my experience "lifter diet" is not exactly gourmet stuff, unless you really, really like chicken breasts.

I drink about 2-3 day. It leaves anywhere between 2-3.5k calories of real food to fill. It is highly impractical compared to brown rice, chicken and veggies, which is one of the reasons why they will be about the last population segment to ever adopt a diet without meat.

> You do need significant amounts of protein if you lift - this is backed by both research and empirical evidence.

Specialized athletic hobbies like powerlifting are sort of irrelevant to discussions involving reducing GHG emissions by scaling up plant based meat substitutes. Niches like that aren't the target market.

I am for plant-based substitutes anyway. It’s a natural vegetarian diet that I would struggle with.

I have no doubt that many would struggle with it for many valid reasons.

For a whole lot of people (even people who eat meat), plant based vegetarian food still forms the foundation of their diet, and it's been that way since the dawn of agriculture.

For example, a dish made of legumes, grains, and vegetables flavored with a little bit of meat, while not vegetarian, is still fundamentally plant based. That describes a whole lot of traditional foods the planet over.

The diet you’re describing also has a significantly higher calorie intake than most people’s exercise level can balance. If I ate that much, I would be fat not fit.

(Also: I just picked four ingredients I just happen to have; there are others).

It actually matters which proteins are in there. Plants in general, and seitan in particular, are pretty bad in that regard and so much (to most, for seitan) of that protein can’t actually be used by your body unless you find ways to supplement the missing essential amino acids.

It’s very easy to get protein diversity in a vegetarian or a vegan diet, though I grant it isn’t automatic like it would be in a meat diet.

About 10% of calorie intake is the protein sweet spot. Incidentally about the average you would get from a divers whole foods plant based diet. Meat diets will struggle to get that low. In fact, the Norwegian government has stated that it would in fact recommend 10% because it would be the best nutritional advise, were it not for the fact that it would be hard to fit into the common meat based diets of Norwegians. I wish I could provide a source but have since been unable to locate the official document Were it was discussed.

"Far more" value than "any" plant. I fail to see how this meat-fetishist point of view is anything but completely wrong. Yes it's hard to tank such things, absolutely.

But to be 100% sure that this one food is beating every single other food is just stupid.

What is one plant that contains menaquinone or eicosapentaenoate?

Sauerkraut, buckwheat, fermented soy

Are you eating a lot of liver? Because if not, you're not getting that much of menaquinone anyway. And there's plenty of it in plant-based foods, as pointed out by the other commenter.

As for omega-3, I believe it's been a few decades since we found it in a ton of different seeds, nuts and oils.

Do you have something more substantial to add? I do imagine that to match meat on a value per gram measurement, you'd have to have either spend way more or be lucky with where you live, but something to check would be great.

Meat already is one of the most overpriced foods out there if we're talking about nutritional value. If you're not buying complete trash meat that is of course.

Take for example potatoes. Dense in calories, has almost all of the nutrient groups you need and is dirt-cheap. Nutrition is a very unclear science for now, but the fact that meat has this godlike status of an apex food is definitely a product of lobbying and marketing, not facts.

It costs me about $3-7 for a single cheaper cut of steak at my local store, which according to a cursory search, probably yields 30-70g of protein. 1 potato, while very cheap, is only going to contain 2g of protein, and at most I could probably eat 3 in one go. Certainly, I'd get other vitamins and minerals from both, which is why I'd have both in the same meal. How much are you spending on meat? An occasional indulgence in that area for me would maybe be a $20 steak, or a big burger.

Sure, if you're chasing protein then potatoes aren't the best choice. Tofu is close in protein content to meat though (about 17%) and is also cheaper, if you don't go for the overpriced hippy tofu.

I don't spend anything on meat, stopped eating it a while ago. But when I did, it still wasn't breaking the bank of course, not like I was spending hundreds of dollars monthly on meat.

While meat is definitely one of the most delicious foods out there, I don't really miss it that much. The cognitive dissonance wasn't worth it.

I don't feel like you need to be chasing protein to occasionally include a cheap steak in your meal, I just picked one of the most obvious attributes of food that you need. Seems pretty reasonable if the argument was about density of value. You'd also want to get fats and proteins from nuts and so on, but preferably from things you enjoy eating and can afford so it's personally sustainable, so tofu might be off the table.

Pound for pound, it cannot be denied meat provides more nutrition than the same amount of plants.

Are we also considering the pounds of plants that the animal had to eat to grow to such a size? I should imagine it takes quite a lot of food to raise a one ton cow for slaughter. At least one ton of plant material as food, right? To produce how many pounds of meat? 750lbs seems reasonable.

So if you had 2750lbs of plant food for yourself, vs just the 750 lbs of meat -- which has more nutrients?

(I do not know the answer myself, but I can see where it could be argued that meat is not more nutritious, pound for pound)

Humans can't digest grass. While we do feed cows corn for at least a portion of their life, it doesn't need to be as prolific as it is.

But we also feed them things like beet pulp pellets and molasses - both of which are by products of sugar production. Unless we are going to stop eating sugar what else would you do with this waste?

Humans eat molasses too...

Cane molasses. Sorry I wasn't clear - I was primarily talking about sugar beet molasses which is used for animal feed.

Why is nutrition per pound your metric? Doctors don’t advise that we eat x pounds of food a day. Also this is easily disprovable. A vegan multivitamin is thousands of times more nutritionally dense than meat, but i don’t eat 2 pounds of multivitamins a day.

Not OP but as someone who lifts heavy weights and often needs 3-4000kcal a day, but doesn’t have a huge appetite, I do care about nutrient density. To me vegetarian diets are not practical because of how much food I would need to eat to hit my macros compared to an omnivore diet.

Pound for pound of CO2 (or water, or other resources) it can not be denied that plants provide more nutrition than meat.

This is like saying pound for pound lead is more dense than iron. It's a useless comparison. Meats have some nutritional content that plants have less of, and plants have some nutritional content that meats have less of. Look up comparisons between beef and broccoli, for example.

Do your beliefs forbid you from having more than 250g of food in your plate at a given time? If not that's not quite relevant.

This really is a vague statement without defining what you mean by 'nutrition'. If you're referring protein, well sort of, however some non meat based products carry plenty, nuts, black beans (15g of protein per cup).. At the same time there are plenty of vitamins / minerals in vegetables that you cannot get from meat. Vitamin C being a key one.

It definitely can and should be denied. Not that it matters, your point is useless anyway.

You can't just say "completely wrong" when it's clearly not.

You literally just did the exact same thing

Exactly how?

"That's completely wrong"

"You can't just say somethings completely wrong especially since you're completely wrong"

Or how about not commenting to statements that aren't completely wrong by saying "completely wrong" when that is clearly debatable.


> Meat provides far more nutritional value than any plant

Meat provides far less nutritional value than was collectively contained in the plants used to produce it.

Humans can't eat livestock feed or grass though.

Sorry stopped reading at “ Meat provides far more nutritional value than any plant”

Edit: Vote it down all you want. The statement isn’t getting any less idiotic

>> This is the best news I've heard all week.

Not meaning to snark, but I don't see the good news. A manufacturer of mass-produced, low-quality, highly procesed food has struck a deal with large companies that specialise in selling exactly that kind of food. That the food in question is plant-based makes no difference at all. Companies like McDonalds, KFC and PizzaHut are responsible for the normalisation of industrial food production that is causing widespread environmental destruction and they have no incentive to solve the problems it creates. Switching to plant-based alternatives will simply change where the damage is done. This is just typical greenwash.

As a for instance of how companies like McDonalds encourage industrial farming and agriculuture tactics that are detrimental to the environment:

A Mongabay investigation, prompted by a report done earlier this year by the NGO Mighty Earth, suggests that customers buying chicken from some of Britain’s largest supermarkets and fast food chains may unwittingly be fuelling rampant deforestation in the Bolivian Amazon and Brazilian savanna.

Tesco, Morrisons and McDonald’s buy their chicken from Cargill, the biggest private company in the world, which feeds its poultry with imported soy. The U.S. food distributor purchases its soy from large-scale agribusiness operations that often burn and clear large swathes of native forest to make way for their plantations.


> Companies like McDonalds, KFC and PizzaHut are responsible for the normalisation of industrial food production that is causing widespread environmental destruction and they have no incentive to solve the problems it creates. Switching to plant-based alternatives will simply change where the damage is done.

This seems like a reasonable prior, if you had no evidence about the specific harms of meat production vs. Beyond Meat. But given the widely documented harms of beef production (devastation of the Amazon for soy feedstock/grazing, GHG emissions, water usage, etc) and the lack of evidence of similar levels of harm from potential replacements like Beyond, I'm curious as to why you're indifferent to potential improvements in the worst parts of the food supply chain.

It seems like a non-sequitur; "McDonalds' current practices do harm, McDonalds is considering a new product, therefore new product must do equal harm."

It sounds like you do care about the harms; do you have specific evidence/comparisons that indicate Beyond actually is as bad as beef for the environment?

My model here is that companies like McDonalds are completely indifferent to the negative externalities they impose on the environment, except inasmuch as they become financial/reputational liabilities. I see no reason to assume that a plant-based alternative must, a priori, be bad, just because McDonalds are rolling them out.

As a thought experiment, consider if they had vat-grown beef, produced in each store. This might have the side-effect of halting environmental devastation and reducing CO2 emissions from transportation. Would McDonalds pay extra for this? Probably not. But if it's significantly cheaper than farmed beef, then I think obviously yes, they would use it. I don't think you could make the generic statement "switching to vat-grown alternatives will simply change where the damage is done" without providing a more rigorous analysis of the specific processes involved.

But that's exactly the point. People eat 5 million head of cattle at McDonalds annually. Beyond Meat will hopefully need a lot less soy feedstock than cattle ranching for the same burger, so it should be a strong improvement.

The agreement isn't to make vegan meat more available, but to make Beyond Meat the "preferred supplier" of vegan meat when they do sell it (so that they don't choose an alternate vegan beef supplier for their patties but buy all their alt-beef from BM).

E.g. this is an industry press release akin to saying "We were chosen to supply the rubber for the new Toyota Tacoma". People reading this as McDonald's promising to stop using beef or replacing beef with the fake beef or even putting the alt-beef into new dishes are misinterpreting this press release.

I've spent the last year vegan (only eating meat again this week because I'm in quarantine and can't get vegan food) and I:

- Firmly believe that lab grown and plant-based imitation meats will be the thing that makes the world vegan, not somehow convincing everybody to stop eating meat and dairy

- Would invest in lab-grown meat for profit if I had money to invest - it just makes sense to me that it will eventually become cheaper to manufacture than traditional meat for obvious reasons, and when it does, the McDonald's marketing machine will be out in full force to convince everyone that lab-grown meat is the manly masculine option (completely different to being one of those 'pussy vegans', right!?) and will succeed massively

Beyond is a plant-based imitation meat, not a lab grown meat (which I think will make more of a splash due to their variety and authenticity), but I still think it has its place and wish them success.

Even if you don't are about the animal cruelty, animal agriculture is a huge contributor to climate change - far bigger than international flights - and not eating meat is usually the best thing an individual can do to lower their contribution.

> The more widely vegan "meat" is available, the more likely it is to be adopted by average people

This argument always reminds me of Margarine, which was promoted for years as having great health benefits, and then we later find out that it is loaded with trans fats and actually terrible for you.

That argument makes no sense. If I said that the more unleaded petrol is available, the more likely it is to be adopted by average people, would it remind you of margarine too? Should we go back to leaded petrol? Or coca-cola with cocaine in it?

> Reducing the demand for real beef is probably one of the best things we can do in the short term for the environment,

And reducing the amount of food we eat in general! If the 66% of the U.S. population who are obese or overweight just started eating no more food than they needed, we'd go a long way to reducing greenhouse emissions.

Source: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/oby.22657

Are there stats to back up that non-vegans begin consuming more vegan based meals if they have the option? And I mean more than once. A consumer might try it but then go back to normal. At there good stats on repeat buying on a large scale?

I'm also interested in any stats people can bring up, but the proliferation of realistic fake meat has absolutely led to me eating less meat

I don't have any statistics to share with you, but in the last couple of years pretty much every mainstream restaurant chain in the UK has added at least one vegan option and few vegetarian options. And I frequently hear non-vegetarians saying that they sometimes choose those options (either because they feel like it's a more ethical choice, or simply because they like that particular menu option).

Some people seem to consider meat a necessary part of every meal. But that number of a relatively small percentage in my experience.

I'd like to know that too. I've never tried fake meat, and have no desire to. If I want to eat meat, I want real meat. I don't trust industrially processed synthetic foods, and I'd think we'd have learned by now that they are not worthy of our trust.

Impossible burgers are ridiculously close to meat and worth a try. Beyond Burgers are more noticeably different than meat.

"Conversions" and other voluntary consumption where people specifically pick the beef they want doesn't really matter to the bigger picture.

Plant based meat is a rounding error until it gets good enough (at an equivalent or better price to ground beef) that McDonalds and Walmart can cut their low end products without anyone noticing or caring. People don't understand just much low end beef sells compared to the mid range products people might replace with plants (at present). In my experience at the foodservice level it's easily 50:1, maybe even 100:1.

It’s ambiguous what you mean by “cut,” but Taco Bell has cut their ground beef with soy based product for years. The biggest question is how far can meat preparations be diluted with fillers... I don’t think we have to eliminate meat to have a meaningful impact (e.g. a 50% reduction in meat consumption would cut about 3% of US greenhouse gas emissions.)

That's exactly what I mean by cut. As the filler gets better (which is certainly the long game for synthetic meats) you can keep upping the amount as long as the end user can't tell. You're very right about diminishing returns and not needing to eliminate meat fully though.

It's like boiling a frog with the intention of eating it before it jumps out of the pot.

I’m just a single data point... But I’m not vegan, but I eat fake meats multiple times a week. In fact I haven’t eaten any real meat in 3 weeks.

My personal anecdote is that I've shifted most of my meat consumption away from red meat to Beyond Meat burgers, chicken, and fish. I only eat steak as a special occasion now where I used to have steak regularly.

If there are more meat substitutes out there that taste good and aren't exorbitantly priced I'll absolutely eat more of them.

There will certainly be people who are indifferent and eat whatever, and be lead/manipulated via the propaganda that "vegan is healthier" - which arguably isn't true - but eating high-quality, fatty, red meat is healthy; it's the other junk people also eat with red meat that causes problems.

Anecdotally, environmental concerns led me to consume less beef and to try the Impossible burger. I liked it better than beef and now I'll order it rather than a burger.

There's an assumption here that, at scale, non-meat options will be cheaper than raising cows. If the vegan option is $1 and the meat option is $2, many consumers will choose vegan. These are big ifs, of course, but it seems possible to me.

I have friends that prefer the Impossible breakfast sandwiches at Starbucks to their meat versions so that's what they order.

Your friends probably don't like the fillers they use. The turkey bacon for example uses ground up cherry pits to bulk it out and reduce cost.

I think you must be wrong. Here's the ingredient list for Starbuck's turkey bacon:

Turkey Bacon [Turkey, Vinegar And Lemon Juice Concentrate, Water, Brown Sugar, Honey, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Seasoning (Natural Flavorings, Sea Salt), Cherry Powder, Evaporated Cane Sugar]


First, they are using "cherry powder", which I'm almost sure is ground cherry flesh, not pits. At least, all the examples I can find online are the fruit (https://www.google.com/search?q=%22cherry+powder%22), and I'm doubtful that they would be legally allowed to call pits "powder", since most cherry pits are often considered to be poisonous.

Second, the ingredients need to be order of weight. There is more salt, potassium chloride and seasoning than "cherry powder". While I'm sure their bacon is really seasoned and salty, this doesn't leave much room for a "bulking agent". And I'd be really surprised that "cherry powder" is cheaper than "turkey", as I recently bought an after-thanksgiving turkey for well less than $1/lb.

I'd be betting that the "cherry powder" is either being used as a flavoring, for the color, or to justify some spurious nutritional claim. But if you have more in-depth knowledge that would support your position that it's just cheap bulking agent, I'm happy to be wrong!

This sounds like a testimony to a quality (or actually absence of it) of starbucks food

I’ll eat fake meat from time to time but I still eat real meat the vast majority of time. The main reasons are that it’s only distributed in restaurants where I live, it is less protein-dense (I lift heavy) and I’m not 100% sure about its safety. But I would be willing to eat more of it as these issues are solved.

Every meal without meat is a win in my book. I could be wrong - I assume most Americans have meat at least twice a day if not all three meals and also snack on jerky and other meat/dairy products. So any change will be a win.

I would think most Americans diet looks something like:

Breakfast is vegetarian but not vegan, a bowl of cereal with milk, bagel with cream cheese, coffee with milk, toast and butter. Even the more involved breakfasts like eggs or waffles don't necessarily need to have meat, just because making bacon or sausages is time consuming and most breakfasts are on the go.

Lunch usually has meat but maybe not a lot. A few slices of turkey on a sandwich, a salad with a few strips of chicken, a bowl of soup with chunks of chicken or beef.

Dinner has meat almost always, unless you are actively avoiding it or are eating one of the rare vegetarian dinners Americans will eat, like cheese pizza. Most dinners will be something like chicken with mashed potatoes, pasta with meatballs, stir fry, burgers and fries.. meat is a centerpiece.

Snacks are usually unhealthy but vegetarian. Chips, cookies, ice cream. Jerky is expensive and more of a road trip/camping food.

What you’re referring to are sometimes called “flexitarians” - people who will often choose a vegetarian option if it is available, but who will eat meat if no suitable vegetarian option is available.

If you fly over the country, you will see a bunch of green circles from center pivot irrigation systems mining "fossil" groundwater. All the brown spots outside of those circles are vegetated, but the only way to get human food out of them is grazing. By necessity there will always be a large amount of cattle grazing area. Feedlots should be ended as a practice- wasteful of feedstock and poor quality and nutrition of the output.

Cattle drink a lot of water, and the plants they consume require a lot of water. If we want to produce as much food as possible, as well as free up water for human consumption and irrigation, we should probably cut back on raising cattle for food.

Unless there is a health benefit, why would normal people adopt vegan meat? Impossible meat has just as much fat and other bad things compared to real meat, I’m not sure why would be interested in it.

If we replace cattle grazing by more plant growing, what are we going to do with the marginal land that is arable enough for grazing but not for growing things? It’s not like neveda is going to be able to switch from cattle to soy.

Which ingredients are you referring to exactly - the lack of antibiotics normally used when raising cattle? Plant-based meat has much less cholesterol, but the main reason should be animal welfare. Why choose to be responsible for the death of a living being, especially if there are healthy and tasty alternative.

Unused land should not be a problem, it was not always used for grazing after all.

Right m, we could just leave the land to nature. But some people like to make some use out of their (or in the case of the west the BLM’s) land.

People who care for animals but don't want to give up the taste of meat come to mind

I'm a vegetarian, but Cowspiracy is not something I would use in an argument, the thing is full of shortcuts and misleading facts...

Don’t be fooled, not all plant based foods are good for the planet. Nestle makes them in Israel & sends them with refrigerated air freight around the world. That’s more harmful than a cow...

When it comes to the climate I have two primary problems:

1: We use fossil fuels (natural gas) to create artificial fertilizers. We use manure from cattle to create organic fertilizers. The production of artificial fertilizers is seen as positive for the environment while the production of organic fertilizers is seen as an negative.

2: When we use artificial fertilizers to grow crops which get used to produce bio fuel we call it carbon neutral. Cattle eating grass is in contrast seen as a major if the largest contributor to climate change.

I always assumed the inefficient grain and water requirements alone would make it worthwhile.

I eat less meat because I think quality has declined; as meat is seen as the default-superior option, quality is less scrutinised, and has thus lowered.

As such, either I buy expensive, from a trusted location, I I stick to something else; Vegan options has been good quality so far, not that I don't expect this to change in the future.

Right now highly processed & shaped pink slime (with added salt + sugar) is sold at unreasonable prices, partly because people don't know what they are eating (or what it's really worth, often masquerading at other things), and partly because the main factor in consumer choice is PR budget - the low cost cheap meat therefore gets the higher marketing budget.

My one hope in this space is grocery delivery services becoming the norm will make it easier for people to scrutinise products from the comfort of home, with the convenience of a search engine.

Don't think it's just marketing though. People always reject change at first - and they are right to do so. This reaction is coded in us. I just hope vegan food items will not go the path of electric vehicles where they are forced on us without choice. (Saying this as a plant-based eater).

Well, it might be forced upon us if the market changes such that meat becomes a luxury item again.

To be fair, it's currently heavily subsidized, and isn't taxed in proportion to the resources (land/water/carbon) it uses, so we're kinda living outside our means already - the exact same is true of fossil-fuel based vehicles..

Marketing-wise, I remember reading about the Oil industry heavily advertising on the benefits of plastic RECYCLING, which helped remove the guilt on oil extraction and plastic production, thus helping the large growth in the business[0]. (APOLOGIES for the below sporadic CAPS - I really have to learn how to write bold/italics in HN)

I see the ethical and environmental benefits of eating meat without killing an animal. This makes me wonder the following:

-is this to ensure meat-eaters continue to eat meat (for their benefit) without the suffering of animals?

-is this to ensure that we eat cleaner/healthier/disease-free meat? [1]

-is this to industrialise meat production further with a smaller harmful footprint?

-is this to SELL TO VEGANS? (expand the customer base?). If I can break down the vegetarians/vegans into two categories: a) Those who don't want to eat meat because they prefer a plant-based diet (by choice, medical reasons, etc.) and b) Those who do it for ethical reasons - 'meat is murder'.

-is this to SELL TO various RELIGIONS FOLLOWERS? I am thinking that around 2-3-4bn people do NOT eat a certain type of meat (or another)(pork, beef) for religious reasons. Imagine selling 'non-beef beef burgers' to 1.5bn people in India, 'non-pork bacon' to 2-3bn Muslims, etc.

-how will 'permissible' (halal) meat consumers be affected by this? The 'halal' process defines a ritual that is not possile. Will religion follow/adapt?

[0]: https://www.npr.org/2020/09/11/897692090/how-big-oil-misled-... [1]: https://www.motherjones.com/food/2015/08/poop-ground-beef-su... (I was trying to remember the movie.. but I couldn't..)

Maybe. As someone who isn't a fan of the meat production process and accidentally bought some vegan "meat" due to Amazon pushing it on everyone it's not the same. I threw it out because I couldn't eat it.

Similar! I can immediately and clearly tell the difference, like water and vodka!

A similar texture, colour and presentation does not the same thing make.

It may have been due to the spelling, but I found it utterly fascinating that a dead comment below stated even their toddler was able to differentiate!

I didn’t throw it out. I donated it to a friend. I have a basically never throw food out policy.

My toddler did the same thing! Just threw it off their high chair trey!

Beef is a net positive for the environment while "vegan" mass-produced cash crops are a net negative.

Beef can (and does) graze on natural pastures that would have been otherwise ruined and turned into something useless.

Cash crops such as soy that are a mainstay in vegan diets? What do you think most of the cows eat before they're slaughtered for your lunch? A five year Oxford University study done on 38,700 farms showed that if everyone in the world switched to a plant based diet, we would be able to reduce agricultural land by 76% [1].

[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29853680/

If only we ate grass fed beef exclusively. Unfortunately this is not the case.

Seems a heck of a lot easier to motivate people to feed their cows on land nobody wants anyways than to invent "vegetarian meat".

Unfortunately not. There is simply not enough land to replace all beef with grass-fed beef.

Citation needed, because there is a lot of unused land in the world.

The real game changer will be when they price it cheaper than meat.

That will require government subsidisation, just like how meat and dairy is subsidised.

> and not just dedicated vegans.

Are vegans actually adopting these? I would have assumed non vegetarians eating fake meat more. A significant part of the world is vegetarian/vegan, so we don't have dearth of just plant based food preparations from there. Isn't it easier to adopt those things for dedicated vegans?

Agriculture accounts for 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, of which livestock is only a portion (soil and crops are lumped in with agriculture). Focussing on the smallest denominator in reducing emissions is nonsensical (https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emis...).

I understand there is a morality aspect at play but it's frustrating hearing the vegan vitriol dolled out without thought for consequence. Meat is by far the most nutrient dense food available to humans. The vegan diet (as in strict vegan, not vegetarian) is incredibly unhealthy. Have you considered the land use required to grow the crops necessary to deliver the same amount of nutrients to a global populace?

There's a burgeoning industry growing which conflates health and veganism and snidely appeals to the morality aspect of the vegan diet while dangerously touting non-existent health benefits. The list of ingredients ina a beyond burger is longer than my arm.

My advice? Stay away from fast food (vegan or otherwise), eat whole, unprocessed foods much as possible, eat 'mindfully', make your own decisions regarding your health and diet and don't buy into anyone's snake oil/capitalistic agenda.

I'm not vegan, but I always pick the Beyond/impossible options when they are available. I hardly taste the difference and one less cow had to die for me having a tasty meal. And greenhouse gasses I guess, but for me animal cruelty is the most important.

You are one cool person

I am not very cool at all, I just like animals.

As a beef “fan” i was amazed by the taste of beyond meat. I am trying to reduce meat (due to practical moral considerations) so dont be harsh. Happy to try such alternatives.

Is it healthy?

When you see this as the top comment on HN, you realize how good of a job Big Oil has done deflecting their sins onto animal husbandry.

After reading some of the comments, I am increasingly thinking that People who eat beef/meat regularly will still seek Original/Farm grown/actual cattle beef. And Beyond meat style beef will be used for turning vegetarian people to get taste of beef, so that they can graduate to real beef later. Non Vegetarian people will never accept climate impact their eating habits have on environment.

I’m not a vegetarian, but I eat a lot less meat now than two years ago primarily because of climate change, but also because it now feels easy because I’ve found meat alternatives like this that I enjoy the taste of.

I share the same take with you! Reading some of the discussions going on in the comments, I'm surprised anyone thinks this is anything but good news. Like you said, it means:

1. non-vegetarians & non-vegans have more options. This is great for so many reasons! 2. Demand for beef will go down, which has a positive effect on the environment.

You should research on German Ökotest and beyond meat test. I don't get why things like beyond meat is not more tested. Why is mineral oil in their patties ???

there is no mineral oil in beyond meat: https://www.beyondmeat.com/products/beyond-beef/ click 'ingredients'

not on purpose. Just google for words:

beyond meat mineral oil Öko-Test

or see my other comment https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26320898

That doesn't taste as good as meat.

The myth about beef and methane has been debunked many times. If you want a detailed accord please read the Sacred Cow or watch the doc.

I don't think you can call it vegan.

Millenia of meat eating went into the making of this "meat".

i don't believe cow farts are a bigger problem than cars.

Pardon me for hijacking the top comment, but I see so much wrong information here that I want to address:

1) Direct emissions from livestock

Yes, direct emissions from livestock are around 15% of all GHG emissions globally, and less than that in the US or most developed countries. That's because a lot of developed countries "import" emissions by buying cheap meat from livestock agriculture intensive coutries

2) Direct emissions are just the tip of the iceberg, though

The bigger threats from livestock agriculture are land use and loss of biodiversity.

Today, around 45% of usable land is used for or by livestock [1]. That's nuts. That land has something called the "opportunity cost of carbon" - meaning how much carbon could be sequestrated there by natural vegetation if it wasn't used for livestock. And that's a lot. One study that was published in Nature estimated that: "[...] finding that shifts in global food production to plant-based diets by 2050 could lead to sequestration of 332–547 GtCO2, equivalent to 99–163% of the CO2 emissions budget consistent with a 66% chance of limiting warming to 1.5 °C [2]

Biodiversity is a separate issue than climate change (mostly), but if we start fucking it up more its consequences will be more dire, and it's not on the public's mind currently. Today, 60% of all mammals are cows. Only 4% of all mammals are wild life [3]. Let that sink in. Disturbing habitats of species, planting monocultures and changing the balance of biodiversity leads to the extinction of a lot of species. Humans are at the top of the food chain, and starting to erase species further downstream will lead to non-linear events that will endanger us. And don't get me started about zoonotic diseases.

3) Holistic grazing

One comment mentioned that it's better to have cattle on land that's considered "marginal" than not having cattle, arguing that having cattle actually sequestrates more carbon than it emits. Of course, this is total bullshit or we would have some sort of cow pertuum mobile. This sort of livestock agriculture is often referred to "holistic grazing" and is more a cult movement than something rooted in science. Their "research" is often debunked by scientific studies [4].

It's always better to eat plants directly than to process it through a cow or chicken or goat. That's just basics physics.

Sources: https://ourworldindata.org/environmental-impacts-of-food




I don't understand this vegan processed food propaganda to push people not eat meat. What would be much more efficient is making laws for more quality meat. US is very weirdly regulated(drugs, healthcare, doctors compared to food quality) Reduce the steroid meat. The prices would go up, the consumption down. If you want to eat meat, you would pay more. I would. I love meat, all types. You don't also have to eat beef every day. Chicken, pork and other types of meat are pretty much equal in quality if you avoid fat cuts for example of pork. I also love bread and vegetables. And I also think it is much better to eat fresh meat and fresh vegetables then heavily processed vegetables, grains and industrially processed oils. There are much more efficient ways to curb down emissions than fighting holy war against meat(coal anyone? trans oceanic shipping).

> I don't understand this vegan processed food propaganda to push people not eat meat.

What's the propaganda angle?

This is working the problem from a different end. Yes, we need to increase quality and reduce the amount of steroids/antibiotics used in meat production. Yes, we should stop subsidizing it and let the prices go up. But at the same time, lots of people love meat, so providing a similarly tasting alternative will reduce the demand for meat without forcing people to alter their tastes too much.

Mid-term, it helps mitigate a climate problem. Meat production is very energy-inefficient and emission-intensive to such a large degree, that it is a good problem to attack early.

Long-term, it also solves an ethical problem. Ever since homo sapiens started to settle down and domesticate animals, we've been very cruel to farm animals[0]. I don't want to push any moralizing propaganda here - it's a touchy topic for everyone now, as way too many groups use it as a weapon, but I think everyone knows there's something to it. It's uncomfortable to touch. But! If we can develop enough meat substitutes, we can just sidestep this problem entirely, and eventually stop farming animals[1].

> There are much more efficient ways to curb down emissions than fighting holy war against meat(coal anyone? trans oceanic shipping).

I think a better way than fighting a holy war is to make options available. Which is what Beyond Meat is doing. They're not telling you, "stop eating meat!" - they're saying, "if you'd like to stop eating meat but can't because it's so tasty, try our alternative, maybe you'll like it enough".


[0] - Factory farming is just extreme end of it, but even the old-school small farms are just animal abuse and torture.

[1] - At least for meat. I'm not sure what the story for milk and eggs are, both of which are crucial ingredient to a wide range of foods and chemistry.

Right, and until they solve all those problems and implement these efficiencies, a very easy way to make an impact on an individual level right now, is to not eat meat. But I understand it's easier still to just propose solutions that offset the responsibility.

The EU are actively trying to make it more difficult for consumers to identify vegan alternatives (amendment 171). Governments are not going to make laws that significantly increase meat prices, we are nowhere near that kind of policymaking.

IMO this is the better solution to methane...


Headline is "Adding Red Seaweed To Cow Feed Could Cut Bovine Flatulence"

That methane emission meme is not accurate, as simple logic reveals. The methane produced by cows is not going to be significantly more than the equivalent produced by the same amount of plant material left to rot/decompose. One would even have to reasonably theorize and possibly could even conclude that the energy the cow takes out of the plant material to produce milk and meat and heat, actually captures energy that rotting plant material would have converted into methane.

An interesting side story about this issue is that it has been shown a long time ago that ruminants actually enrich the environment (assuming non-industrial practices) through both processing the plant material and both converting it into compost and also seeding it with bacteria, while also trampling the plant material into the ground and thereby facilitating the breakdown. That lesson came out of the discovery of Allan Savory a Rhodesian/Zimbabwean ecologist that desertification only accelerated once huge herds were culled in an assumption that the grazing was causing the desertification, rather than that they were part of the system.

I encourage you to reassess what you surely are convinced about.

I've commented to the same effect in the past[0], but we grow food for animals. It's not like we have a giant pile of rotting soy/corn, so we might as well have some cattle eat it. We grow a lot more soy/corn than would otherwise be necessary, so that we can grow more cows.

> The methane produced by cows is not going to be significantly more than the equivalent produced by the same amount of plant material left to rot/decompose.

This is also not true, but even in a world where cows don't produce more methane, it's just inaccurate for people to look at the current feed production in America and to say that we'd be producing that much food if we weren't raising an outsized amount of cattle.

Sure, cattle can be raised on otherwise unusable land. But that is just not the direction that factory farming in the US is going.

[0]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26056871

> ruminants actually enrich the environment (assuming non-industrial practices)

Wink wink. What’s the ratio of non industrially farmed beef vs industrially farmed beef anecdotes non withstanding?

> That lesson came out of the discovery of Allan Savory a Rhodesian/Zimbabwean ecologist that desertification only accelerated once huge herds were culled in an assumption that the grazing was causing the desertification, rather than that they were part of the system.

The only reason I came to this thread was to see if someone would pull the Allan Savory card, and here it is.

There is no reputable, working scientist in the relevant field who cites Savory as a reliable source.

> According to a 2016 study published by the University of Uppsala, the actual rate at which improved grazing management could contribute to carbon sequestration is seven times lower than the claims made by Savory. The study concludes that Holistic Management cannot reverse climate change. A study by the Food and Climate Research Network in 2017 has concluded that Savory's claims about carbon sequestration are "unrealistic" and very different from those issued by peer-reviewed studies.

Follow the foodchain, though— the "plant material" that industrially farmed cows are eating is almost entirely grown-for-purpose corn for which there are substantial inputs in terms of petroleum-based fertilizers. And even if there weren't, those same fields left fallow would be capturing the same atmospheric carbon for plant/tree growth and holding it for much longer than a crop which is being harvested every season.

It's not like the cows are eating exclusively grass clippings which were just going to be left to rot otherwise.

This post is disingenuous at best. Want to cite some credible sources that back it up?

Methane is produced by decomposition in oxygen deprived anerobic environments. Like a cows gut or a tidal bog. Grass rotting in a field will not produce the same levels of methane as grass digested by cows.

And that's not even touching on the rate at which it's released. Are you going to say burning the field is just as bad as letting it decompose because they both release CO2?

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