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A compassionate carnivore’s manifesto For farming to survive, we must rediscover our long-lost appreciation of livestock

Kids should have to watch their dinner being killed. Credit: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

Kids should have to watch their dinner being killed. Credit: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images


June 10, 2020   8 mins

Katabasis was the Greek term for a descent into the underworld and I had mine that day. The ditch was about eight feet deep — you get a lot of rain on the hills of the Welsh borders — a shadow world of ferns, moss, slime, serpent ivy, slinking water. And at the bottom was an ewe, broken, puppet-sprawled. She needed killing, humanely. I did it myself, rather than wait hours for the vet. I put the 12 bore against the back of her head, pulled the trigger. The blast detached her head. Blood, strangely scarlet and fluorescent, seeped slowly into the water. 

I believed I had distracted the rest of the flock with a bucket of sheep nuts. Not so. In the moment of execution, I realised that curious, they were on the edge of the ditch looking at me. 

They then ran in fear to the far end of the field.

Sometimes the hardest thing in life is to acknowledge reality. I had not exactly been a hard-hearted, inorganic farmer before that moment but, upon clambering out of the ditch, I was obliged to drop my cognitive dissonance, my objectification of sheep. In a kaleidoscopic moment, I saw that the flock was not a monolithic unit but composed of sub-groups based on friendship and family bonds. One old ewe, Sooty, had movingly gathered her daughter and grand-daughter about her. 

The flock did not come near me for weeks. But then sheep have excellent memories, and remember faces — ovine and human — for years. Do they feel pain? They do. I know because I look into their golden eyes as they die. And I have seen a lot of sheep die. 

For the avoidance of doubt, it is certainly the case that farm animals possess the capability of intelligence, and the capacity of emotion. You do not have to take my word for it. Sheep, as well as being one of the most farmed animals on the globe, are one of the most researched. A recent academic study of ‘Intelligence, complexity, and individuality in sheep’ concluded:

“Sheep show competence in many cognitive domains including memory and discrimination capacity. They excel especially in executive function and face perception, performing on par with some primates. These are both high-level abilities based on a number of different neocortical functions, the prefrontal cortex for executive function and the temporal cortex for face perception within and across species.”

Maybe I should file that incident in the Black Mountains as my Damascene moment, rather than my trip into Hellenic underworld. Because of that day, and my sheep’s reaction, I realised that I wanted a relationship of compassionate companionship with my flock. My views have since evolved into principles of meat-rearing that can be briefly stated under these three principles. 

  1. We should eat less meat;
  2. The meat we do eat should be sustainable and organic, and nothing less;
  3. Farm livestock are not Descartian flesh-robots but sentient creatures deserving of a good life and a good death — which should come only near the end of a natural lifespan

Yes, I hold attitudes one would expect from a shrub-drinking hipster outta East London, rather than a 50-something farmer from the West of England, with a wind-worked face, who has raised livestock for 25 years, and whose family have farmed for 800. I even occasionally wear tweed. 

And yes, I have a beef with the intensive end of my industry, with its beak-clipping, tail-docking, permanent ‘in-housing’, zero-grazing, nitrogen-spewing, Frankenstein cattle-making, prophylactic antibiotic-dosing ways. Raising of livestock in this fashion is not farming, because it abjures any sense of husbandry. It is senseless, inhumane Fordian food-production of ‘units’. Also, the produce from such factory systems, be it milk, meat or eggs, is tasteless, in every sense. I do, however, have sympathy for the managers — not farmers — of  these agri-factories. There is little money, and they are desperate. 

But if intensive, industrialised farming gets my goat, I have no sympathy for #MeatFreeMonday, vegetarianism, veganism or variants thereof. I tore my remaining hair out when I read that the London School of Economics and Political Science voted to implement a beef ban across campus — joining Cambridge, Goldsmiths and Portugal’s University of Coimbra. The LSE student activist who proposed the ban, pronounced: “More students than ever are looking to limit their environmental footprint – and cutting out meat, eggs and dairy is the best and easiest way to do that.”

This is literally pig-ignorant. The meat-free/vegan ethical/ecological objections to meat-eating are familiar, and religiously rehearsed :

  • Increasing global population increasingly demands animal protein. The consequence is increased pressure on our natural resources, notably in South America, where the Amazon rainforest is being hacked down to create beef farms and ranches or grow soy for livestock feed. Removing the Amazon’s trees removes carbon sinks and traps, aggravates global warming. 
  • Ruminants are claimed to be the biggest human-induced source of methane.
  • In Britain itself, according to Guardian columnist George Monbiot: Overwhelmingly the reason [for ecological holocaust] is farming: grazing which prevents woods from regenerating and destroys the places where animals and plants might live. The British countryside is ‘sheep-wrecked.’ 

I could go on. 

It is not just university bien pensants who are turning away from meat. A Mintel consumer affairs survey, published in 2018, found that in the previous six months, 28% of the British public had reduced or limited their meat consumption. Almost one in every ten people (9%) now eat no meat or poultry, but this rises to one in five (19%) for those under 25 and one in four (25%) for women in this age group.

Let’s get the steak-knife out, and carve up the vegan-type objections to farmed meat just a little. First, agriculture contributes just 10% of the UK’s carbon emissions, whereas transport contributes (26%) and energy (25%). Ruminants also only recycle carbon recently photosynthesised from the atmosphere by the plants they eat.

Second, 71% of UK farmland is under grass, most of this for sound agronomic and environmental reasons in that it is either too steep, too acid, too stony for crop production, or is to be kept as permanent pasture due to its botanical diversity and benisons for pollinators and small mammals. If this land were not grazed, most of it would not produce food in future. And grassland stores more carbon than trees.

I used to be weary from farming livestock. Now I am wearied by mad-dog political attacks on livestock farming. People can be very cavalier about farmed animals, and to rid the British uplands of sheep and ‘re-wild’ with trees would entail the extinction of native ovine breeds hundreds, sometimes, thousands of years old.

My own personal extinction rebellion is on behalf of the farm breeds, such as the Scottish Dunface that have disappeared off the face of Earth as decidedly as the Dodo. Did they not have worth, those farm animals? Is there a hierarchy of virtue, whereby Wild=Good and Farmed=Bad? On top of this, foresting the uplands would, I suggest, be a rude surprise to the curlews and skylarks and wildlife dependent on these open spaces.

Ultimately, #Meatfree is ludicrously anti-ecological: Woodland that is managed — rather than running ‘wild’ —  by allowing pigs in for pannage (nut gathering) and cattle for browse increases biodiversity. I managed a wood in this way for four years, during which time the tawny owl clutch size increased by 400% and the wood warbler population by 200%, to name just two species.

The vegans’ freedom to politicise farm animals sits ill with our history. We have a debt of honour to our farm animals: it was wool off the sheep’s back that gave Britain its wealth — symbolised to this day by the woolsack on which the Lord High Chancellor sits in the House of Lords. Farm animals are also, as Rudolph Steiner noted, ‘the soul of the landscape’. To shun this aside is to radically transform our landscape for the worse, and turn our back on our history.

Farm animals bring countless other benefits to the wider environment. Their manure is an altogether more environmentally-friendly fertilizer than artificial competitors, just as wool and leather are sustainable and natural, whereas plastic-polluting clothes are not. Many other forms of life depend on them, too; cow dung, just for example, contains up to 250 insect species, and of the 56 British Red Data Book species of beetle associated with dung, 16 live in cattle excrement. These invertebrates are the beginning of a food chain.

On top of this, conservation grazing by livestock prevents grassland turning to shrub, and promotes biodiversity in the sward. With lifestock grazing of downland turf we would see fewer or no utterly beautiful Adonis blue butterflies.

So what is to be done? I propose a Medievalist ethical carnivorism, whereby we can have our meat and eat it. This commences with the understanding that the eating of meat from correct sources is a private good. Pasture fed sheep-meat, for example, is a significant source of protein, omega-3 fats, valuable amounts of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), vitamin B12, selenium and niacin, zinc and phosphorus.

Beyond this, the public good of eating such meat enables livestock breeds to exist, aids the rural economy, benefits biodiversity, manures the land for the growing of crops. If passenger pigeons had been a farmed bird and delicious roasted with thyme, they would still exist.

The consumer, though, has obligations as well as sensuous pleasures and moral satisfactions under Medievalist ethical carnivorism. To appreciate the value of correctly-farmed livestock all school children at the age of 16 should visit an organic mixed farm (livestock and crops, the two must go together), then witness the slaughter of a cow or a pig or a sheep. An animal’s life can only be truly appreciated when its death is witnessed.

Meat is more, so much more, than entrecote or chops wrapped in plastic on a Tesco shelf. Sadly in the UK, the days are gone when we ate an animal, nose to tail. When nothing went to waste. When bones went to soup. When brains went to a ‘rissole’ with breadcrumbs and eggs.

According to the recipe book The Accomplisht Cook, writtenby Robert May in 1680, the traditional ‘Bride’s Pye’, the precursor of today’s tottering towering wedding cake, contained a filling of oysters, pine kernels, cockscombs, lambstones, sweetbreads, and spices. Sweetbreads are either the thymus  or the pancreas; lambstones are testicles. Bring it back,  the whole eating of the animal, and nothing but — something the French manage. Not a bit of animal should be wasted. Their lives are too valuable for our wastefulness. 

The farmer has grave and great responsibilities. Farmers must go back to the future, to a holistic and considerate view of  farm animals such as existed before the 18th Century when the commodification of livestock, its keeping primarily for meat, began. Henceforth I propose all farm livestock is kept for multiple purposes and killed for its meat only at the end of a working life, which is very near its natural lifespan. (As was the case before Bakewellian ‘improvements’ in the 1700s). Thus sheep for wool and milk (and derivatives), cows for motive power and milk (and derivatives), both as walking muck-spreaders. Yes, let us eat the meat of mature sheep, not lamb. Let us eat mutton.

Inevitably, the dispatch of livestock late in life will decrease the amount of meat entering the market — not wholly a bad thing — and realign consumption with historic levels, when it was not the centre of every meal 24/7 and subsidised by EU and government agency. To partially offset decreased meat supply, we could, in addition to ‘nose to tail’ cookery, add horse to our diet, rather than to the knacker’s incinerator. (As practical research for this piece, I today ate an equine rump steak. Delicious, like strong beef meat.)

The livestock necessary for Medievalist ethical carnivorism are our native breeds, developed for our climate and habitats, able to thrive without shiploads of imported soya or the vet’s constant administrations. Modern ‘commercial’ breeds, usually imported, are constitutionally weaker, commercially more expensive to raise. Bring back the old breeds. Slower to grow, perhaps. Less meat perhaps, but better meat absolutely.

And give them a decent death. Part of the new consideration towards livestock is its death. No more long-distance stressful transport to a fear-reeking abattoir. I propose ‘on-spot slaughtering’ by high velocity rifle, as successfully demanded by animal welfare association Four Paws Switzerland (Vier Pfoten Schweiz). This method is already used in UK for ‘farmed’ deer. It’s more humane, but cattle slaughtered by slaughter in the field also show improved meat quality, with lower lactate (stress induced) values and higher tenderness.

The watchwords of Medievalist ethical carnivorism: quality of meat, quality of livestock life, quality of environment. With this new/old respect we will end the objectification of livestock. Recently, I read the ‘how to’ manual of a 14th century French shepherd, Jean de Brie’, and it contained much lost wisdom. Here is de Brie on the right attitude to ovines:

“First of all, the lambs, young and tender, should be treated kindly and without violence and should not be struck or corrected with switches, sticks or whips nor any other kind of beating that could hurt or bruise them, for they would fall off and become thin and weak. Rather one should lead them gently and kindly by leadership and correction.”

Compare, contrast to the ‘modern’ intensive farming of sheep. Where is the kindness today, where is the love, the respect? It seems to me it’s either back to the future, or no future at all for farmers of livestock. 

 

 


John Lewis-Stempel is a farmer and writer on nature and history. His most recent books are The Sheep’s Tale and Nightwalking.

JLewisStempel

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Laurence Morris
Laurence Morris
3 years ago

I live in Mexico where it would be impossible to grow vegetables during the long dry season. Some 70% of the land will require bush clearing and irrigation. That takes power by pumping, building channels and dams. Bush clearing would destroy natural habitats. The crops that grow best and maize and beans, and support pigs, chicken and cattle, and the manure is needed for the maize and bean crops. The cattle are allowed to roam freely. People would starve without animals, and a vegetarian here is as rare as rainfall on the moon. People understand the reality.

Michael Reilly
Michael Reilly
3 years ago

Your underlying point that it is naive of vegans, like myself, to assume that these beautiful creatures could have a dignified fulfilling life without farmers, like yourself, is very well argued. I for one would gladly contribute as a consumer to this model of realistic though compassionate farming, though not necessarily by eating meat. I worry that trendy humans – who often behave more like an unthinking herd than animals – will stifle your reasoned manifesto. One way to avoid this is by enlightening vegans, while tolerating their ignorance, well-meaning or otherwise. Work with the grain, if you pardon the pun.

John Ellis
John Ellis
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Reilly

Michael, how refreshing to hear a Vegan who has the openness of mind to think of things this way.

Jon Goldhill
Jon Goldhill
3 years ago

Strangely, as a life-long vegetarian, I largely agree with you.
It’s the way the animals are mistreated and killed that bothers me – which is why I don’t want them killed on my behalf. The animal should have a happy life, and a death without fear.

Mad Mockingbird
Mad Mockingbird
3 years ago

Amen and amen. Beautifully written. Though I leave the harvesting of our cows and pigs to the professionals at our local abattoir. It is always a sad day. The cows all have names and are led, not driven. Anyone who has been around animals at length can speak to their intelligence, perception, family ties, and other qualities some would like to reserve only for humans. I prefer the company of animals. We recently lost a cow after she calved and we stayed to comfort her as she died. The other cows came to the fence as she was buried. I hope they know how much we loved her.

Chris Smith
Chris Smith
3 years ago

I hope you don’t love your dog as much as you love your cows.

Orson Carte
Orson Carte
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Smith

Oh, no delete, just the option to edit. I’m guessing you don’t expect him to leave the harvesting of his dog to the professionals at the local abattoir. No response necessary, I tried to delete my original comment!

Mods: happy for this to be entirely deleted.

Ian Pigott
Ian Pigott
3 years ago

Oh how I wish I could write like I John. I farm in the now trendy regenerative agriculture way. We have done so for a number of years. The premise being ‘no dig’, catch and cover crops whenever possible and livestock. Not Organic, but without insecticides and as little inorganic fertiliser and herbicide as possible. The soil is our canvas on which we paint. We treasure it. Planting multi-species cover crops between each cash crop. Never leaving the soil bare and grazing when possible. Our canvas is improving fast. Quicker indeed than scientist thought possible. Worm numbers and organic matter are on the rise. It is exciting. Farmers around the world are using social media to help and teach one another. This has sped up and extended the reach of our knowledge. Uptake and results are increasing exponentially. John can articulate this much better than I.
We also extend this excitement with school students through our charity called The Farmschool. Our focus is on the age group that John suggests we should share the rearing and slaughter experience with. I disagree. Not because the gore of death should not be witnessed. Moreover, through the hundreds of young people that we have the pleasure to host, the disconnect between their lives and what happens on our farms is far greater than many appreciate. Many make no link between the food on the shelves at Tescos and the produce we grow on our farms. It’s not just that they think milk comes from a supermarket. We have them turn wheat into flour, yet they presume the flour on the shelves is a synthetic version. Our farm, its habitats and methods is in their eyes a museum of yesteryear. Today’s food comes from factories. We need to take baby steps. In the first instance giving young people the opportunity to appreciate how we as farmers are relevant to their lives. Not vice versa. Farmers, food producers and retailers are infatuated with preaching about ‘Farm to Fork’. The disconnect is too great. If you were cycling from lands end to John o groats you need to do so in manageable steps. The same is true of connecting young people with food and farming. You would be staggered how many young people have never worn a pair of wellington boots or been for a walk in the countryside. We must speak of ‘Fork to Farm.’ Engage them with their foods and work backwards. Finally, we must not disrespect the intellect and inquisitive aptitude of young people. They will join the dots between a magnificent grass fed beef animal and the lairage at an abbatoir. Let’s not fast feed their minds as well.

Katy Randle
Katy Randle
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Pigott

Sounds like you’re doing a great job. Thank you!

L H
L H
3 years ago

Great article. The idea of robot-like animals was a wonderful way for humans to be cruel and selfish. Thanks to the internet we can all see the intelligence and relational interaction between animals for ourselves. Watch a YouTube video of an elephant matriarch racing to rescue a drowning baby while the distressed mother paces, an elephant will never be ‘just a dumb animal’ ever again.
We must be caretakers, not just takers. After all this earth is their home, they evolved here and have a right to it.

Monica Mee
Monica Mee
3 years ago

I am neither a carnivore nor a vegetarian. I am an omnivore. The human digestion system is capable of digesting meat and plants, so I eat both. However I am concerned that the meat I eat is both kind to the environment and kind to the animal. As the author shows so well our current landscape and much of our wild life is the result of the symbiotic relationship between man and animal. The people we are now, would struggle to survive in the environment humankind lived in 5,000 10,000, 20,000 years ago and the same applies to both domesticated animals and much wildlife. We too are part of the animal kingdom and all of us shaped the landscape we all now live in

We need to return to environment and animal friendly rearing systems – and that means more extensive animal rearing systems with cattle being pasture fed and only having their diet supplemented with hay, not grain or crops like soya, to which their digestions are not attuned. This will result in much lower emissions as well as and lower yields and we need to eat less meat.per person. I have not found that move to lower meat consumption difficult. I have always enjoyed cheaper cuts, casseroled and stewed, and it is easy to add extra vegtables and pulses to these so that a lb of meat will feed 6-8 people.

Over the last 30 years I have moved from buying meat from a good butcher to buying organic meat to, now, buying ‘pasture for life’ meat only. Meat from cattle and sheep reared on land unsuitable for arable crops without major chemical enhancement but entirely suitable for raising animals on natural grasslands and with no input from grain or soya.

My biggest concern about the Free Trade talks with the USA is that it is all about human welfare and safety and that nowhere is the welfare and safety of the animals even mentioned.

Paul Theato
Paul Theato
3 years ago

John, I loved this article. Wonderfully written with deep insight and compassion. Nothing you said I disagreed with. This is where we should all be heading. Thank you.

twynog
twynog
3 years ago

I strongly support almost everything Mr Lewis-Stempel says here. He does however mis-represent the concept of re-wilding. Grazing by native cattle, horses and sheep is seen as an essential element in restoring a more natural landscape. Even in the Scottish Highlands where the reduction of deer numbers is considered the first priority, the total exclusion of animals from areas of natural forest is not advocated. Unfortunately I dare not post this article on facebook for fear of abuse both from the vegan/vegetarian lobby and from the local (Wales) farming community.

joao.castro.jc
joao.castro.jc
3 years ago

Lame article. Again the typical denial of a carnist. There is no way of giving animals a more “decent death” or a more “humane death”. That is simply not possible. The meaning of “humane” is to show compassion or benevolence towards a being. There is no compassion at all when killing a being that does not want and does not have to die, no matter how good you treated them. That is an abuse and an abuse is morally wrong. If our choices are driven by compassion rather then our tastebuds, we can always find sustainable alternatives.

Paul Theato
Paul Theato
3 years ago
Reply to  joao.castro.jc

Hey Joao. Out of interest, does your concern spread as far as the Naro, Glui, Tsoa or Tuu people of the Kalahari, for instance, or the indigenous hunters and killers of other regions such as the Inuit or the Australian aborigines, Cree or Algonquin, or is it just peoples that have tarmac roads, cars and Universities that should be Vegans?

Chris Smith
Chris Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Theato

Hi Paul. If you are reading this article, you almost certainly belong to none of the groups mentioned. Just because some groups of people NEED to kill animals to survive, that doesn’t justify your WANT to kill animals for taste.

Paul Theato
Paul Theato
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Smith

Hi Chris. Not a want. I’m omnivorous. So are you. You do not need incisors for eating nut cutlet.

Chris Smith
Chris Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Theato

Hi Paul, when last did you bite into a dead animal with your teeth and rip off a chunk of raw flesh to eat?

Paul Theato
Paul Theato
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Smith

Hi Chris

I’ve never done that, but I find incisors and canine teeth good for eating cooked steaks, chops and that kind of thing.

Julian Bowman
Julian Bowman
1 year ago
Reply to  joao.castro.jc

You lament the death of individual farmed animals, yet you are advocating the elimination of all farmed animals.
My cows would not thank you for a life “in the wild”, subject to predation, extreme weather and unreliable food supply!

Gonzalez Girl
Gonzalez Girl
3 years ago

Really grateful that someone put all these arguments together, in a way that is compelling and leads the way to a kind and sustainable future for farming. For me, it is the fake ‘virtual signalling’ of the anti-meat ideologues that is dangerous. Reiterating superficially attractive arguments such as veganism is ‘good for the planet’ or being vegetarian reduces a person’s carbon contribution, the young, the ‘woke’, and the cosmopolitan urbanites have dominated the media. The absence of a sensible debate, addressing the themes so well identified here, is worrying. Sure, you can trawl the internet and find informed and eloquent commentators such as Frederic Leroy and Joanna Blythman who point out the dietary insufficiency of veganism, and many fad forms of vegetarianism, who calculate the carbon requirements of growing and flying around the globe, cashew nuts, soy products and almond milk. They rightly observe the ‘big money’ that’s behind many of the meatless alternatives such as the food processing industries pushing chemical alternatives to the simple egg for example. Unfortunately, the simplistic view that abandoning grazers leads to a better diet and is a solution to climate change is going to take a lot of unpicking. But I think this is a really good place to start.

wanda.biorecherche
wanda.biorecherche
3 years ago

compassionate / carnivore
the ultimate oxymoron
those two words cannot rationally co exist

Hugh Marcus
Hugh Marcus
2 years ago

Perhaps in your mind. But then I’m guessing you’ve never been a farmer & your food is just stuff you buy

E Wilde
E Wilde
3 years ago

Where does class come in to this? How, in your utopic vision, are the poorest in our society going to afford this organic, low-supply (therefore high demand, therefore expensive) meat, without resorting to – god forbid – vegetarianism?

Daniela Edelmann
Daniela Edelmann
3 years ago

The author has forgotten the other end of the story- human species is the only one that breeds other species than itself …- a very apalling act, wrong alltogether and an ethical issue worth taking up. Before destroying a child’s innocence and desentizing it, the parents should pay a thought to this. Look, my child, how the act of concieving an animal is done by human hand …

Pauline Wooding
Pauline Wooding
3 years ago

I don’t understand some of the statements in this piece. “We have a debt of honour to our farm animals”Š ” So, over time, we have exploited and killed them, so we should exploit and kill them some more. We don’t need to “turn our back on our history” to realise there are plenty of things we have done throughout it (including sending children up chimneys and a long list of other such things), which we decide to revise. It’s called development and progress.

As for the fact that some deliberately-bred species could go extinct, I’m sure it matters not a jot to the individual animals that there might not be generations to follow them. It’s funny how some people either worry about farm animals overrunning the earth or conversely that they would go extinct if people stopped farming them. These are animals who have been selectively bred and engineered for domination and have not existed in their current form in the wild. Animal agriculture is not a conservation effort (although some delude themselves that it is); it is a business for making money from the bodies of slaughtered animals.

There is also the common misconception that many communities which live in arid climates, for example, are more suited to farming animals than to growing crops to feed themselves. In fact, dependence on animal farming frequently imperils malnourished communities and families. For example, Dr. Richard Oppenlander writes in Food Choice and Sustainability:

“In Ethiopia, over 40 percent of the population is considered hungry or starving, yet the country has 50 million cattle (one of the largest herds in the world), as well as almost 50 million sheep and goats, and 35 million chickens, unnecessarily consuming the food, land and water”Š Cattle grazing has caused severe overgrazing, deforestation, and then subsequent erosion and eventual desertification.

Much of their resource use must be focused on these cattle. Instead of using their food, water, topsoil, and massive amounts of land and energy to raise livestock, Ethiopia, for instance, could grow teff, an ancient and quite nutritious grain grown in that country for the past 20,000 to 30,000 years. Teff”Šis high in protein, with an excellent amino acid profile, is high in fiber and calcium, (1 cup of teff provides more calcium than a cup of milk), and is a rich source of boron, copper, phosphorus, zinc, and iron. Seventy percent of all Ethiopia’s cattle are raised pastorally in the highlands of their country, where less than 100 pounds of meat and a few gallons of milk are produced per acre of land used. Researchers have found that teff can be grown in those same areas by the same farmers at a yield of 2,000 to 3,000 pounds per acre, with more sustainable growing techniques employed and no water irrigation ” teff has been shown to grow well in water-stressed areas and it is pest resistant.”

Similar things can be said about other places in the world. For example, indigenous Mexicans ate a more plant-based diet prior to colonisation when the Spanish brought over cows and pigs. https://www.motherjones.com….

The fact is that all animals are unique individuals”Š sentient beings, with feelings and emotions, wants, desires, pleasures, frustrations, social bonds, and a will to live. They want to live and have lives worth living, to them, even if to no one else. The fact that they do not possess human-like intelligence is not of itself a reason to think they should be killed in order to give us five minutes of pleasure, when we have other choices, choices that millions avail themselves of and have done in the past.

We have got to a point in history whereby we could collectively find a way of surviving without deliberately breeding and killing billions of other sentient beings, if we had the will. Most rationalisation of this breeding and killing is just that, post-hoc rationalisation of the desire to continue with a practice from which selfish pleasures are derived.

John Ellis
John Ellis
3 years ago

Pauline, leaving aside the arguments for and against Veganism and Vegetarianism for a moment, I suspect the reasons the Ethiopians (and others) farm cattle rather than grow only grains has more to do with their culture, and what they value as people, than worries about protein-per-gram.

I think the article sums up well what it is to be ethical towards animals. In your future, where the world is made of humans, insects and plants, many of us would not choose to live.

Chris Smith
Chris Smith
3 years ago

If you don’t need to eat animals to survive, there is no way to ethically justify killing them. If you – like the author – live in modern Western society, you do not need to kill animals to survive, and therefore there is no moral justification. You can’t compassionately kill someone who doesn’t want to die.