I've got news for you vegans -- a new meat missionary is out to convert you all. Simon Fairlie, author of Meat, a Benign Extravagance, has already turned George Monbiot, a high-profile English vegan activist. George's vegan retraction "I was wrong about veganism" is a delicious read for carnivores.
I've had plenty of arguments with vegan activists who think soy burgers are more environmentally friendly than grass-fed beef, and frankly, I'm sick of this nonsense. Soy-based foods and other fake meat products are incredibly processed and come from environmentally unfriendly monoculture farms. They're a disaster.
But fine, you vegans have a point about most meat, milk, and egg production being cruel to animals and inefficient. So how did Fairlie turn George the Vegan?
It's all about which meat you eat and how it's raised. Fairlie says that small-scale, holistic-minded farms that raise animals on pastures can actually be very efficient and earth-friendly -- especially when those animals are eating foods humans don't eat. Let me count the ways.
1. Pasture-raised pigs can eat whey (a dairy byproduct), leftovers, and agriculture waste. They turn waste into food!
2. Cows eat grass and other "weeds" and they aerate the ground, which helps produce more grass, which puts more clean oxygen into the atmosphere.
3. Many vegetable oils have a larger carbon footprint than animal fats.
4. Farm animals on a well-managed farm can help fertilize crops.
5. Raising livestock the "slow" way helps us all value our food and farmers more, and encourages us to eat more carefully.
And by the way, that famous UN claim that livestock generates 18% of global carbon emissions is wrong; the report lumped in deforestation from logging and development (not farm-related) and included other errors.
Keep in mind, Fairlie isn't advocating a big, fat, carnivore meatfest every day. He only eats meat twice a week and thinks we could all stand to reduce our consumption. Eating meat less often is actually how I make eating more expensive pasture-raised meat affordable. Buying direct from farmers is another way -- yes, you can even do that in Brooklyn!
And so, I raise my bug-fed chicken leg in a toast to carnivores everywhere. Let us eat meat -- but thoughtfully and in moderation.
Image via Jere-me/Flickr