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Two acres to feed a man

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One of the criticisms often levelled at meat eaters by vegetarians is that meat eating is inefficient and requires more land. Aside from the fact that we are not about to run out of land (famine in Africa and the Far East is almost always induced by wars and politics), it turns out that vegetarianism is not the most efficient use of land space:

A low-fat vegetarian diet is very efficient in terms of how much land is needed to support it. But adding some dairy products and a limited amount of meat may actually increase this efficiency, Cornell researchers suggest.

This deduction stems from the findings of their new study, which concludes that if everyone in New York state followed a low-fat vegetarian diet, the state could directly support almost 50 percent more people, or about 32 percent of its population, agriculturally. With today’s high-meat, high-dairy diet, the state is able to support directly only 22 percent of its population, say the researchers.

The study, published in the journal Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, is the first to examine the land requirements of complete diets. The researchers compared 42 diets with the same number of calories and a core of grains, fruits, vegetables and dairy products (using only foods that can be produced in New York state), but with varying amounts of meat (from none to 13.4 ounces daily) and fat (from 20 to 45 percent of calories) to determine each diet’s “agricultural land footprint.”

They found a fivefold difference between the two extremes.

“A person following a low-fat vegetarian diet, for example, will need less than half (0.44) an acre per person per year to produce their food,” said Christian Peters, M.S. ’02, Ph.D. ’07, a Cornell postdoctoral associate in crop and soil sciences and lead author of the research. “A high-fat diet with a lot of meat, on the other hand, needs 2.11 acres.”

“Surprisingly, however, a vegetarian diet is not necessarily the most efficient in terms of land use,” said Peters.

The reason is that fruits, vegetables and grains must be grown on high-quality cropland, he explained. Meat and dairy products from ruminant animals are supported by lower quality, but more widely available, land that can support pasture and hay. A large pool of such land is available in New York state because for sustainable use, most farmland requires a crop rotation with such perennial crops as pasture and hay.

Thus, although vegetarian diets in New York state may require less land per person, they use more high-valued land. “It appears that while meat increases land-use requirements, diets including modest amounts of meat can feed more people than some higher fat vegetarian diets,” said Peters.

“The key to conserving land and other resources with our diets is to limit the amount of meat we eat and for farmers to rely more on grazing and forages to feed their livestock,” said Jennifer Wilkins, senior extension associate in nutritional sciences who specializes in the connection between local food systems and health and co-authored the study with Gary Fick, Cornell professor of crop and soil sciences. “Consumers need to be aware that foods differ not only in their nutrient content but in the amount of resources required to produce, process, package and transport them.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average American ate approximately 5.8 ounces of meat and eggs a day in 2005.

“In order to reach the efficiency in land use of moderate-fat, vegetarian diets, our study suggests that New Yorkers would need to limit their annual meat and egg intake to about 2 cooked ounces a day,” Peters said.

The research was supported in part by the National Research Initiative of the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service. Diet with dairy and a little meat may be best for planet

It’s been thought since Victorian times that it takes about two acres of land to feed a man. The Victorians ate a high quality diet of eggs, meat, dairy and bland starches. Unless we are planning to overpopulate the world to hell, we have plenty of space to feed ourselves properly.

Of course New York State is not Derbyshire. Out here in the wilds there is virtually no crop land at all. The locally produced meat is lamb, and the sheep are grazed on rocky moorland you would never be able to grow crops on. I don’t think there is a flat, rock-free piece of field between Sheffield and Leek. The organic farm local to our house in Matlock has a small field where they are actually able to grow potatoes. Probably the most calorifically efficient use of the land. Green vegetables on the other hand aren’t exactly a calorifically efficient use of land, are they?

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Written by alienrobotgirl

6 May, 2008 at 8:03 pm

Posted in Vegetarianism

Speaking of skin problems

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Just what has happened to Courtney Love?

The singer is a shadow of her former attractive self, and appears to be afflicted with a skin condition which has left her mouth looking sore and scabby.

The widow of dead rocker Kurt Cobain arrived at the Groucho Club in London sans make-up unwittingly revealing her scabbed mouth and spotty skin. […]

Despite the major weightloss, a reported 44-pounds, it appears that her methods may be exacting a heavy toll on her once attractive looks as Love looks far from healthy.

Her straw-coloured hair is almost a perfect match for her deathly pallor, and the low-riding jeans, and cropped shirt she’s wearing do little to flatter her size zero figure.

Love, credits her new figure to visits to a clinic for “colonics and fasting” several times a year and eating a daily diet of two meal replacement shakes and “fish and macrobiotic food.”

Love explained: “Some people think it’s about weight loss, but it’s about detoxing.” Daily Mail: WHAT has happened to Courtney Love’s lips?

Enough with the irony already! Courtney Love detoxes from drugs and wreaks her skin with a macrobiotic diet. Love, as well as developing bad skin, appears to be suffering from a pot belly.

Written by alienrobotgirl

18 September, 2007 at 9:22 am

Posted in Vegetarianism

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Macrobiotic blues

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I read “Sugar Blues” by William Dufty about a year ago. It’s a diatribe against the use of sugar, and was a really groundbreaking book when it was first released back in the mid seventies. Dufty recounts how he gave up sugar and all of his chronic health problems like depression, aches and pains, headaches, skin problems, asthma, repeated infections, etc, etc, all went away. He talks a lot about the classic “diseases of civilisation” and blames them on the consumption of pure white refined carbohydrates, particularly sugar.

I had a bit of a chortle at the time because Dufty gives up sugar and his magical dietary conversion is to macrobiotics. He enthuses about eating brown rice and umeboshi plums, and as anyone who has ever low-carbed knows, this is just “sugar in a different form”, because the glucose index of these nutritionally deficient foods is virtually identical, and the nutritional content not much different. But low-carbers also like to blame sugar for everything, including many things it is not responsible for.

Macrobiotics – with perhaps the exception of vegan/fruitarian/Buddhist/Jainist diets – is one of the worst wholefood diets you can embark on, but any wholefood diet is a real step forward from eating the processed, additive-laden crap I see my coworkers eating every day. The kitchen fridge in the office is full of skimmed milk and Weight Watchers yoghurts with ADHD colourings and flavourings, and of course dreaded banana-and-an-apple combos (“two of your five-a-day“, and the highest carbohydrate vitamin deficient fruits you can choose). Those who don’t eat soy-and-propionate-containing white bread sandwiches eat MSG and other additive-containing wonders like Pot Noodles, Cup-a-Soups, and even delightful-looking tinned hot dogs smeared with tomato ketchup. I mean, given the choice between a bit of brown rice, beans and raw fish, or the above foods of the gods, which do you think makes a healthier individual?

But just because “Dr” Gillian McKeith, Madonna, and Gwyneth Paltrow do macrobiotics, should we jump off the bridge as well? McKeith is a wrinkly dragon with a most unpleasant personality, Madonna’s interpretation of macrobiotics is loose to say the least (her pregnancy diet consisted of lots of eggs and olives), and Paltrow, at 5′ 10″ and 112lbs, is dreadfully underweight. Paltrow also smokes, which is a classic response to the macrobiotic diet. Much as those celebrities who buy into the diet claim some sort of spiritualism from it, the macrobiotic diet is not based on mystical ancient Eastern medicine: it was invented by one man, George Ohsawa, in the 1960s, and it has made him a lot of money.

Despite the carbohydrate content of these diets, they tend to lead to underweight. Lean mass wasting is a typical result of vegan and macrobiotic diets. Study after study has shown such diets result in lower bone density, lower muscle mass, and a comparatively higher body fat for the same weight than meat eaters. I saw my own lean body mass improve considerably since I started low-carbing three years ago. To illustrate the point with a little unscientific fun, compare the body fat and lean body masses of known long-term vegan Drew Barrymore with known long-term Atkinser, Jennifer Aniston. Stats on this page for Demi Moore (recent vegan), and Madonna (recent macrobiotic) are out of date.

Yes, vegans and macrobiotics are more likely to weigh less than meat eaters, because it is hard to eat enough calories on a plant-based diet due to the sheer bulk of the food that has to be ingested. But does that lead to meal-time satisfaction or correct nutrition? Plant-based diets are very energy inefficient and result in animals that must constantly graze in order to live. Unfortunately lower BMI is often misinterpreted by the media as making automatic good-health. But macrobiotic and vegan diets are deficient in several vitamins and minerals, including A, D, E, B6, B12, omega 3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, and calcium. The most extreme form of macrobiotics – zen macrobiotics – resulted in numerous deaths from scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) back in the 1960s. Long-term vitamin A deficiency results in poor bone growth, skin and mucus membrane dryness and keratinisation (hence McKeith’s exceedingly premature wrinkles and the reason that any time you see her in a magazine or advertisement she has been airbrushed beyond recognition). Vitamin D and calcium deficiencies lead to rickets in children, increased cancer risk in adults, and reduced bone mass.

Long-term B12 deficiency (starting at as little as two years’ absence from the diet) leads to neuropathy, the de-myelinisation of nerves, including those within the brain, which leads to the misfiring of neurons. The end result of B12 deficiency is megoblastic anaemia and schizophrenia. Dentist turned nutritional anthropologist, Dr. Weston A. Price never found a single tribe of ‘primitives’ who were successfully vegetarian. Every single vegan I have knowingly met displayed odd or irrational behaviour and reasoning that I suspect may be related to B12 deficiency. Many, but not all, of the vegetarians I know display eccentric behaviour – one who has been vegetarian since being a child is quite odd. As a virtually vegan teenager I myself experienced nocturnal visual and auditory hallucinations sometimes called “Restless Brain Syndrome”, an ‘unexplained’ condition. My hallucinations only ended after I started to include more dairy products in my diet. The one schizophrenic I know in real life also happens to be a vegetarian, who shared her mental ward with a fruitarian and a chronic alcoholic (a condition that also results in B12 deficiency). Coincidence? This lady has several other very obvious signs of B12 deficiency, including goiter (thyroid, B12 deficiency and intrinsic factor deficiency all interact), yet to this day she continues to be treated by unwitting psychologists with emotional therapy and incompetantly high doses of psychoactive drugs which fail to control her condition. My attempts to contact her through friends have failed.

So what about smoking? I hate to publicise that often unscientific website Quackwatch, but here goes:

Macrobiotics was founded by Yukikazu Sakurazawa (1893-1966)-better known as George Ohsawa. His first book in English, Zen Macrobiotics, was published in mimeographed form in 1960. Macrobiotic insider Ronald Kotzsch, Ph.D., who wrote Macrobiotics: Yesterday and Today, portrays Ohsawa as a quixotic Japanese nationalist who, while preaching the “Unique Principle” of yin and yang, smoked heavily and occasionally enjoyed cheesecake, doughnuts, Coca-Cola, coffee, Guinness Stout, and Scotch whiskey. In Kotzsch’s words, “Ohsawa was a man who for forty years taught about health with a cigarette in his hand.” A Kushi Seminar for Professionals

In fact, many of the founding fathers of the macrobiotic diet are heavy smokers, and despite the macrobiotic diet being promoted as an “anti-cancer diet”, two of the Kushi family women have themselves died of cancer. Says Stephen Byrnes, “Anne Louise Gittleman, in her book Your Body Knows Best, commented on these strange practices in macrobiotics (Gittleman used to be an adherent and got very sick in the process) and attributed them to practitioners needing stimulants because of what was lacking in the diet: adequate fat and protein.”

What is not understood by many of the non-smoking majority is that many smokers use cigarettes to suppress their appetite when they are hungry. This leads to weight gain and an inability to control appetite when they try to give up. Cigarettes stimulate serotonin release, which is temporarily calming. Eating carbohydrates also stimulates serotonin release. But your body can only produce so much serotonin (which it does from protein, something deficient in macrobiotic and vegan diets: a genuine Japanese rice-based diet by contrast is extremely high in protein from eggs, pork and seafood), and repeated stimulation and release in this way leads to long-term serotonin depletion and a cyclical dependency in which the subject feels considerably worse when they try to give up their diet or their cigarettes.

The problem with frequent, repeated serotonin release is that the effects of serotonin last for one or two hours at the most. Eat a meal that is heavy in carbohydrates like a bowl of brown rice, and you will have subtle cravings for a little something more in a couple of hours time. Cigarettes fill this gap between meals comfortably for the macrobiotic. However, the resultant fluctuations in serotonin levels can and do lead to depression and other serotonin-disturbance related disorders like erratic behaviour, paranoia, obsession and repetition. Something particularly common with this style of low-protein high-carbohydrate diet is the serotonin-related condition, obsessive-compulsive disorder (which may explain one or two aspects of “Dr” Gillian McKeith’s personality).

What of the claims that macrobiotics cures chronic health conditions like eczema, gastrointestinal disorders, and makes people feel wonderfully calm? Well, this largely depends how the diet that is done. In fact I personally know of an extremely cross and irritable macrobiotic – hardly a surprise there. ‘Correctly’ done, the macrobiotic diet is very low in fruit and vegetables and consists largely of rice, other grains, and beans. This is a diet that is additive-free and extremely low in salicylates and amines, and as grains are pressure-cooked, much of the lectin content is also destroyed.

Additives, salicylates and amines can and frequently do cause skin and gastrointestinal problems, irritability and other emotional problems in people. These are quite coincidentally absent from the macrobiotic diet. “Dr” Gillian McKeith’s and many others’ fabled ‘health recoveries’ when they go macrobiotic are in all probability due to the fact that a macrobiotic diet is 80% failsafe: not because they are actually eating ‘properly’, or even ‘correctly balancing their yin and yang’ or other woolly naturopath nonsense. I would be deeply unsurprised if the conditions which William Dufty blames on sugar were actually caused by additives.

Written by alienrobotgirl

6 July, 2006 at 11:49 am

Posted in Vegetarianism

The assault on meat

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A comment by a priggish vegetarian on Radio 4 a few weeks ago:

Smoking at the moment nobody likes, meat eating will be the next thing.

What this gentleman was saying is that meat eating will eventually be banned in the same way that smoking has been banned. Smoking was banned from public places in the UK less than six months ago for ‘health reasons’, in spite of the fact that when you actually get down and dirty with the passive smoking statistics, they account for all of a whopping two hundred deaths per year.

Let’s ban driving instead, for ‘health reasons’. That might actually be justified. The truth is, this is more about looking for a scapegoat than actual science.

Perhaps when I was sixteen I would have thought the idea of banning meat eating was a wonderful, progressive thing, but then the average sixteen year old vegetarian would make a good fascist dictator, and really wouldn’t give a shit if half the country died of malnutrition (because “animals are nicer than human beings and they deserve to live”). Yeah, sure, ever heard of the saying “never smile at a crocodile”?

The fact is, humans who put the welfare of animals before the welfare of other human beings are sick. Yes, *shock* I’m placing a value judgement. They’re sick, and they need treatment. Frequently they are sick because they have clinical vitamin B12 deficiency due to being vegan for a long time. B12 is essential to the central nervous system, and a B12 deficiency leads to all kinds of messy problems with neurotransmitters. The average vegan lasts two years before they run out of B12 stores. Some vegans, such as those living on communes and fertilising their soil with their own shit and not being too fussy about washing their vegetables, can last as much as twenty years before developing B12 deficiency. But they still develop B12 deficiency. Supplementing with spirulina and other algaes containing B12-like compounds does not help, but in fact increases real B12 requirement. Irony of ironies, they are actually physically sick because they have rejected animal foods.

Here in the UK, we don’t have PETA as such, just a general plethora of highly radicalised totally mental animal rights activists. A while back, some of these animal rights activists targeted the owners of a guinea pig farm who bred guinea pigs for medical research. As part of their ongoing campaign they dug up and stole the remains of the family’s grandmother. Only sick people would that.

It is disturbing that these people would dedicate their lives to liberating guinea pigs (and would be willing to sacrifice their lives and go to prison over it). It’s also very disturbing that they have been allowed to get away with it so far.

As someone who has had to deal with frightening, life-threatening health problems in my closest relatives, who currently take life-saving medications (like epilepsy drugs) whose design relies on rodents or other animals to offer insights into the workings of the human body, I am quite happy to see guinea pigs die for science. In fact, if it should stop the one I love going through any more pain, I will cheerfully do the job myself. Hand me the guinea pig right now! These people have no idea what it is like to watch someone suffer. Or else they have no human feelings of love for other human beings. In fact, I hope every single one of those animal rights activists has a loved one who gets sick and dies because some research wasn’t carried out on guinea pigs due to the terror campaign they have waged on that family.

The Dictatorship of Health

Various journalists have been bemoaning the Dictatorship of Health recently, illustrated with anecdotes of children come home from brainwashing at school and telling off their parents for eating chips because they are “high in fat and salt”.

There have been rumours of adding a “fat tax” to foods high in fat, salt and sugar for at least a couple of years now. Personally, I would be much happier to see an “additive tax” added to foods that contain additives and artificial ingredients like hydrogenated oils. But that will never happen because the industry loves additives too much.

The truth is, it’s none of the state’s goddamned business to be interfering in this kind of stuff. We’ve seen the state interfere with disasterous results before. Nannying over food has created an obesity epidemic. What gives one group the right to perform mass, uncontrolled experiments on the rest of the populace?

Most people are suprised when I tell them I hate the health fascists (to them, on my restricted diet, I appear to be a health fascist). My issue is that so long as capitalism exists, the state will always be under extreme economic pressures to present biased health advice. Therefore, health advice from the state and various independent political and economic interests will always be biased. Therefore, I hate the health fascists.

How about a little personal responsibility here folks? Or perhaps next they’ll have us all eating soylent green?

Written by alienrobotgirl

7 May, 2006 at 11:21 am

Posted in Vegetarianism

Vegans, lies, and the death of Dr. Stephen Byrnes

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Dr. Stephen Byrnes was a naturopath who lived in Honolulu and worked with HIV+ patients and the elderly. He was a member of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a regular contributor to thincs and he wrote a book about heart disease which pointed to links between heart disease and refined carbohydrates, vegetable oils, and trans-fats. Byrnes was an advocate of a low-carbohydrate animal protein diet, and he ran a website called powerhealth.net (now defunct).

Byrnes was an ex-vegetarian, and amongst his prolific writing he composed an article called The Myths of Vegetarianism. After Byrnes wrote the article, which includes a discussion of the importance of animal foods, he became a target for vegetarian and vegan hostility.

And as for your thought that vegetarians like to have the upper hand in nutritional matters, you’re absolutely right. They do NOT like being challenged. Actually, they can’t believe that someone is actually challenging them and their beliefs because they are so used to having it “their way” in the media. Also, don’t forget that the emotional factor enters in, too. 99% of the nasty letters I’ve gotten from vegetarians have simply been emotional outbursts about what an evil person I am, how I’ve been paid off by the meat industry, how I hate animals, how I’m a disgrace to the health profession, etc., etc. Stephen Byrnes

Sadly, Dr. Byrnes died of a stroke at the age of 41.

When the vegetarian and vegan world found out about this, the bile erupted on messageboards everywhere. Examples of the bile spread by these people can be found here, here, here, here, and here. Ha ha ha. Anti-vegetarian doctor dies of stroke. It serves him right, we vegans rule and we never get sick. Byrnes’ age was changed from 41 to 30 in numerous posts, to make the news seem all the more devastating. Said vegans even sought out his books on Amazon and left smirking comments in the reviews section, like this:

The author has no special information about nutrition that mainstream doctors and scientists don’t know about–he is just plain wrong. Sadly, he died of a stroke at a young age in 2004. Ignore his advice and look for books with solid scientific references.

The fatal stroke that poor Dr. Byrnes suffered was undoubtedly the “rupture” type rather than the “clogging/clotting” type which is attributed to animal fat and cholesterol by the morons of mediocre medicine. Clogging/clotting strokes are extremely rare in the young. Even if animal fats could be attributed to clogging/clotting strokes (which they simply haven’t been), they certainly are not attributed to rupture strokes, which are much more common amongst the sushi-loving Japanese. The cause of the stroke had nothing to do with the meat and dairy Byrnes advocated eating.

It had entirely to do with the fact that the poor guy had AIDS. Rupture strokes are very common causes of death in AIDS sufferers. Byrnes knew he had AIDS, and he was busy trying to save his own life, and the lives of fellow sufferers. Medical drugs destroyed his health and made him feel worse, so he opted for naturopathy as a way to make himself better. Sadly, things didn’t work out for him.

Some of the more accurate hearsay that abounds on messageboards includes:

Stephen Byrnes tested positive for HIV after coming down with PCP [Pneumocystis carinii Pneumonia, a common complication of HIV] and that his doctor told him he had only a T-cell count of 54 and would soon die if he didn’t take the anti-retrovirals. Messageboard

Stephen suffered a seizure about six months ago and had numerous health problems following that, many due to all the drugs he was given. He was actually improving, but then had the very serious stroke. Messageboard, attrib. Barry Groves of second-opinions.co.uk

He wrote an essay about his struggle with AIDS, and published it in the final issue of his newsletter in May of this year … SAVING MY LIFE: HOW NOT TO DIE OF AIDS (http://www.powerhealth.net/archives/1May2004.htm), by Stephen Byrnes, PhD, LMT. Messageboard

Have you heard anything about Dr. Stephen Byrnes experience after an HIV+ test despite his knowledge of the subject which included authoring a book on how to naturally overcome AIDS – it took everything he had and knew to prevent the medical practitioners from forcing him onto ARV therapy. He subsequently experienced a period of restoration before finally succumbing to a stroke last June. Messageboard

It’s practically impossible to type Stephen Byrnes’ name into a search engine without coming across another poorly researched piece of vegan bile designed to wreak the poor guy’s name and hold him up as an example of someone who was mean to vegans and died because he ate fat. It’s a shame that these people can get away with this kind of bullsh*t and even use it as a recruitment strategy against Byrnes after all he stood for.

The reason Byrnes’ friends have remained so quiet on the subject of his death is that Byrnes was an AIDS dissident – he didn’t believe that HIV inevitably led to AIDS and death and he wrote a book on the subject. He believed that recreational drugs like amyl nitrates, the very drugs used in the treatment of HIV, and other factors such as benzene, were the ultimate causes of death by AIDS. Byrnes’ death turned into an embarrassment for the AIDS dissident community, because the accusation levelled against them could be “AIDS dissidents don’t use AIDS drugs, so they don’t die of AIDS, right?”

Wrong. Regardless of what you choose to believe about HIV and AIDS, HIV+ AIDS dissidents sometimes catch pathogens that almost kill them. AIDS dissidents sometimes get pumped full of drugs whether they want them or not. AIDS dissidents frequently already have immune systems that are thoroughly destroyed – whether you believe HIV or recreational drugs or HIV drugs are the ultimate cause is up to you.

Written by alienrobotgirl

28 March, 2006 at 2:55 pm

Posted in Vegetarianism

Tagged with

More anti-vegetarian statistics

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Based on yesterday’s anti-vegetarian rant, I thought it would be interesting to find out how many lower life forms I munch my way through during the average year.

Based on my current diet, I eat half a chicken every week (3 days of meals), one serving of beef, one serving of pork, and two servings of lamb. So during a year I eat:

  • 20 chickens (a veritable hen-house massacre) per year
  • 5 ducks per year
  • 1 goose per year
  • 1-2 game birds (partridge, pheasant) per year
  • One half of a lamb (1 lamb in just under 2 years assuming I eat two 4 oz chops per week)
  • Less than one sixth of a pig (1 pig in 6 and a half years assuming I eat a full 6 oz chop or serving of belly)
  • One twenty-ninth of a cow (1 cow in 29 years assuming I eat a full 6 oz steak)

This is rather less than the “several cows, pigs, and sheep” that the vegetarian propaganda pushed on me as a teenager told me I ate every year.

Leather

In fact, I undoubtedly kill more cows to provide leather than to eat. My leather bed head, my leather sofa and chairs, the leather seats in my car, and my leather coats, shoes and boots. I calculate at least four cows have gone into the making of my furniture, and another cow has supplied my suede coat and all of the shoes I have bought over the last few years.

There are many so-called vegetarians out there who regard leather as “just a by-product” of meat eating. Leather is expensive because demand for it outstrips the demand for beef. When I was a vegetarian I never wore leather shoes. Yet most of the other vegetarians I knew at the time wore leather shoes, boots, and even coats! What hypocrites! Eating one cow every five years would just about provide me with enough shoes for that period, it certainly would not also provide a vegetarian with shoes too!

Written by alienrobotgirl

18 March, 2006 at 10:08 am

Posted in Vegetarianism

Us evil meat eaters

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In 1999 the average US citizen allegedly consumed 273 pounds of meat. That’s a lot of meat – around 12 ounces of meat per day. I can’t believe anyone can eat that much meat.

Figures for all industrialised countries add up to 169 pounds of meat per person, or 7.4 oz per day.

When I am on the optimal diet, which is protein-restricted, I eat around 3-4 oz of meat per day on most days as I eat eggs for lunch as well as breakfast. Otherwise I eat up to 6 oz of meat per day. Most of the animal fat I eat comes from butter and dairy products, or beef tallow. Lets be generous and say I get through about 2 lbs of meat a week. That adds up to 108 pounds per year – not even my own body weight.

As a former vegetarian I am interested in finding out exactly how many animals I kill a year. It turns out that as a teenager I was deeply misled by some vegetarian literature that claimed the average meat eater ate several cows, sheep and pigs every year.

“An 1,150 lb. steer doesn’t yield 1,150 lbs. of beef. On the average, that steer yields a 714 lb. carcass. Approximately 146 lbs. of fat and bone are trimmed off
leaving about 568 lbs. of retail beef cuts. Very little of the other 582 lbs. is lost, however. It includes about 27 lbs. of variety meats (liver, heart, tongue, tripe, sweetbreads and brains), plus by-products that are used in a variety of foods, cosmetics, clothing and a host of manufactured items. These by-products are also an important source of life-saving, life-improving medicines such as insulin and heparin.” Kansas Beef

So the average cow yields around 568 lbs of meat. That means:

It would take the average American (eating 273 lbs of meat per year) 2.13 years to eat one cow, and they would eat 37 cows per lifetime if we assumed they each lived to the grand old age of 78.

It would take an average citizen of an industrialised country (eating 169lbs of meat per year) 3.44 years to eat one cow, and they would eat 23 per lifetime.

It would take me (eating 108 lbs of meat per year) 5.39 years to eat one cow, and I would eat 14 cows per lifetime.

If I stuck to eating eggs at lunch which is what I normally do, it would take me (eating just under 80 lbs of meat per year) 7.29 years to eat a cow, and I would eat ten or eleven per lifetime.

It would also take me (eating 108 lbs of meat per year) over a year to eat a pig weighing in at an average of 130 lbs of meat, or just under a year to eat two lambs, weighing in at an average of 45-50 lbs of meat each. See South Dakota State University meat yield statistics for proof.

If I ate all of my meat as chicken, I would get through one chicken every week, so I would eat 52 per year.

If I ate all of my meat as fish I would get through anywhere between 365 small fish, or 20-30 large fish like salmon or cod. I would also contribute to an ecological disaster in the North Sea, and contribute to wiping out wild salmon species due to the parasites that escape from Scottish salmon farms.

At 5.39 years to eat one cow, I could eat anything between 108 to 1,967 fish in the same period. How many fish are worth one cow? I don’t know. I have a friend, Dave, who regards selecting whether an animal should live or die based on its intelligence as a form of racism or fascism.

The relatively small amount of meat I eat every day provides me with 100% of my RDA of B12, which cannot be achieved from any other source than animal foods (even eggs, dairy and white fish are quite low in B12). It also provides me with between 25-30% of my RDA of almost all other B vitamins, as well as copper, zinc, iron, magnesium, selenium, essential fatty acids, and CLA.

I have maintained in the past that one can be quite healthy on a vegetarian diet, the issue is how you carry out that diet (it is rarely done correctly in terms of nutrition) and that you must be aware that you will never be as healthy as an omnivore. By this I mean that at certain periods in your life (such as during pregnancy or old age) you will be more vulnerable to vitamin deficiencies, infections, and the potential for chronic disease. When adjusted for extraneous factors, all-cause death rate for vegetarians is considerably higher than omnivores, and is significantly higher for women than for men. Vegetarian women can expect their average lifespan to be foreshortened by around ten years, which is why vegetarianism per se makes me very nervous.

I do not suggest that there is one ‘true’ diet for everyone. Health problems can be caused by a variety of different factors. Some people can cope with the strains of a vegetarian diet, some people can’t. Some people can’t tolerate wheat, or dairy, or a variety of plant foods. Some people have allergies to fish, or peanuts. Some people can only handle small amounts of carbohydrate, or protein due to diabetes or kidney disorders. If we excluded every potentially harmful food from the diet, there would be very little left to eat. We can however learn from various problems and minimise the chance of harm to our own health by avoiding or minimising the most harmful foods, and ensuring that we get enough of the most useful foods. Within that framework there is a great deal of leeway for individual choice and variety.

Because my moral system places such emphasis on the importance of human life and quality of life, I cannot advocate something that is known to make humans sick, nor approve of it in those who are not completely well.

Vegetarianism and veganism is often justified by naive assumptions about the nature of farming and farm land. Farm land that is used for grazing is rarely able to be ploughed for vegetables, so vegetarian farms are unable to produce the same calorie yield as omnivorous farms. Vegetables require fertilisation by animal manure in order to grow, something lacking on a vegetarian or vegan farm. There is very little pragmatism in a vegan or vegetarian system: purely vegan farms collapse rapidly without support from an ecosystem of animals. On a vegetarian farm, animals kept for dairy, eggs, or wool inevitably die. Should they receive burials? The average lifespan of a dairy cow is between 7 and 25 years, and one dairy cow would feed me for five years, not to mention all of the chickens, ducks, and sheep, which have shorter natural lifespans. It hardly makes vegetarianism worthwhile in the greater scheme of animal life and death.

The reason I don’t wait for farm animals to drop dead before I eat them? Because being a sheep, pig, or cow is a life of monotony. It consists of sun, rain, grass, fields, barns, hay, mud, being bred if you are lucky, giving birth, sun, rain, grass, fields, barns, hay, mud… There is no room in the life of a cow for personal development, education, epiphanies, love, discernment, philosophy, hate, politics, thought, or discovery. The average cow feels two emotions: anxiety and contentment. Does it really matter in this scheme whether a cow lives for two years, or four, or ten? Better to be thankful that the cow lived at all. It would not have lived at all under a vegetarian system. How do vegetarians justify that?

Somehow I can live with the guilt of eating one fifth of a cow, or one pig, or two lambs per year if it means that I and my fellow human descendants can enjoy an extra decade of life, or a life absent of health problems and human suffering.

Written by alienrobotgirl

17 March, 2006 at 9:11 pm

Posted in Vegetarianism