14 votes

Envirocidal: The best solution to the compound crises of climate, biodiversity and soil depletion is to simply stop eating animals

21 comments

  1. [10]
    Heichou
    Link
    As long as they can churn out lab meat/synthetic meat that tastes the same and is around the same price, I would certainly stop eating animals. However, it just isn't viable right now without...

    As long as they can churn out lab meat/synthetic meat that tastes the same and is around the same price, I would certainly stop eating animals. However, it just isn't viable right now without going full vegetarian, which would be extremely hard for me to commit to. I wonder how close we are to making lab meat commercially available? I know some Burger Kings have the Impossible Burger, but I haven't had the chance to try it yet

    6 votes
    1. [6]
      bbvnvlt
      Link Parent
      The good thing is, you don't need to. Every pound of meat less is worth the effort. Meat-free mondays, or just trying some veg recipes or take-out would already be a huge deal if enough people do...

      going full vegetarian, which would be extremely hard for me to commit to

      The good thing is, you don't need to. Every pound of meat less is worth the effort. Meat-free mondays, or just trying some veg recipes or take-out would already be a huge deal if enough people do it.

      Where I live, 'flexitarian' is a popular diet. Which means pretty much just trying to eat a little to a lot less meat, depending on taste and habit. It turns out not trying to quit meat cold turkey (ha!) works super well. Lots of people dial down their percentage of meat-meals much quicker than they expected.

      I've been eating vegetarian for years (started via a similar route) and I'm now taking the same strategy to phasing out other animal products (eggs, cheese, milk, ...). Going full vegan "would be extremely hard for me to commit to" but vegan breakfast and lunch has been easy. Percentage of vegan meals is also going up. But when I get presented with a big piece of buttery cake at a birthday, I don't even think about it and dig in :).

      18 votes
      1. [5]
        Micycle_the_Bichael
        Link Parent
        Agreed on the 'flexitarian' point, though I have never heard that term before and I love it XD But I completely agree! I still eat meat and I know I'll have a really hard time completely cutting...

        Agreed on the 'flexitarian' point, though I have never heard that term before and I love it XD

        But I completely agree! I still eat meat and I know I'll have a really hard time completely cutting out meat but I'm getting there slowly. A year ago I ate meat at every meal (I skipped breakfast so 2/2 meals a day). Then I cut fish out of my diet because while environmentalism is something I care about, I super care about the oceans (using my salary as a software engineer to save up money to study marine biology). Then I flexibly cut out beef. I'll still eat a burger if there are literally no other options, but I stay away from it. Then I cut out pork, which really was cheating because I hate pork and ate it maybe once a month, but it is important to give yourself little victories when you're trying to build new habits. I still eat chicken but way less often. Completely changing your diet is really hard! It takes time to find meals and new foods you like to replace the meat-based meals you use to eat regularly and if you cut it out cold-turkey you're more likely to be miserable during that transition period and more likely to give up. Definitely support the flexitarian life.

        (ps: in case anyone ever needs a capitalistic reason to give up meat, I personally am saving about $30 a week by not buying meat anymore because all the replacements are cheaper even at high quality.)

        8 votes
        1. bbvnvlt
          Link Parent
          That is an important point. Training yourself is hard enough without berating yourself for not being perfect.

          it is important to give yourself little victories when you're trying to build new habits

          That is an important point. Training yourself is hard enough without berating yourself for not being perfect.

          2 votes
        2. [3]
          acdw
          Link Parent
          I'm sorry, but as a vegan (and maybe I'm just in this phase of my veganism, so I do apologize if I come off as a dick, it's just really important to me), I don't understand that there are...

          I'll still eat a burger if there are literally no other options, but I stay away from it.

          I'm sorry, but as a vegan (and maybe I'm just in this phase of my veganism, so I do apologize if I come off as a dick, it's just really important to me), I don't understand that there are "literally no other options" to a burger. I was just at my fiancee's birthday dinner yesterday in a pizza place, that had no vegan items on the menu, but I got a salad with no cheese and ate that. I mean, there are usually fries at a burger place, right? Or you could probably ask the kitchen for a grilled cheese instead of a burger.

          I understand if you're not in a place to ask the kitchen for different items (hell, I'm a committed vegan and I wasn't in that place until a couple of weeks ago!), but asking for things is a great way to let the people who prepare your food that they need to start thinking of plant-based options.

          That being said, this comment is already coming off as combative, and I don't want to end like that. I'm really proud of you, I really am, for taking steps toward solving the environmental crisis we're in. Thank you! If you'd like any plant-based recipes or recommendations, please don't hesitate to ask. Good job on lowering your meat intake!

          PS. I haven't had BK's impossible burger, but I've had it other places and it's really good!

          2 votes
          1. [2]
            Micycle_the_Bichael
            Link Parent
            You're totally fine! I don't see it as combative at all :) So the problem is really rare, it is definitely partially personal, and it is a long sequence of things having to go wrong. Background: I...

            You're totally fine! I don't see it as combative at all :)

            So the problem is really rare, it is definitely partially personal, and it is a long sequence of things having to go wrong. Background: I have extreme anxiety that asking people for things is going to make them hate me. Here's the most recent example.

            I got invited to a cookout of a friend of a friend. I got invited to the cookout by my friend via text message but since I don't have a facebook I didn't see the events page asking people for their dietary restrictions, and my friend didn't think of it because, as I mentioned in my first comment, its a pretty new thing for me. I came right from work in a Lyft and didn't have a chance to eat before heading over. Apparently no one else invited (~6 other people) didn't have dietary restrictions so the food options were burgers, hot dogs, and chips with some pasta salad. I ate almost all the pasta salad at first. Then we smoked some weed and I got fucking. starving. I didn't really know the host very well, and I have had one experience where people acted like I killed their dog when I asked if they had a non-meat option so I got anxious and decided I'd rather eat meat than upset someone. Yeah, I definitely could have asked for not-meat food, but normal anxiety + weed anxiety made me feel like the only option was to shut up and eat a burger. Was there "literally" no other options? I mean technically no. I definitely incorrectly used the word "literally". But in that moment, there didn't feel like there was because the risk of upsetting the host felt worse than death.

            Side note: I later told that story once we sobered up and the host was mortified that I didn't say anything and apologized endlessly for not having options around for me. Happy ending and proof that asking doesn't always hurt.

            1 vote
            1. acdw
              Link Parent
              Hey, thanks for sharing your story. I completely understand your anxiety story -- in fact, I'll share one of my own, since I'm nowhere near perfect either: We (my fiancee and I) went to our new...

              Hey, thanks for sharing your story. I completely understand your anxiety story -- in fact, I'll share one of my own, since I'm nowhere near perfect either:

              We (my fiancee and I) went to our new friends' house to play a card game. We hadn't even talked about food, but of course they, being good hosts, had made chocolate chip cookies and little spinach-cheese cups with, like, filo dough around them? Anyway we ate those too -- didn't even say anything about it until like this past weekend, when I very awkwardly apologized slash explained why later, when we were hanging out, we mentioned that we were vegan. And I wasn't even that hungry; I just really like cookies!

              Since then, I've "doubled down" on being vegan, which I think is part of where I was coming from with my previous comment -- I judge myself really harshly for not advocating for myself, and maybe that was bleeding over a little bit. That's why I was apologizing. And I want to apologize now for being a little hypocritical with my earlier stance, since I've definitely done the same thing as you in a situation that sounds even less stressful, at least to me.

              Also, thank you for reminding me that we are all coming at these things from different places, and while something is physically possible, that doesn't mean it's psychologically possible. For you, in that moment when you were high + anxious + really hungry, there was "literally" no other option. And that's okay. I think the media I've been consuming (i.e., the Internet) tends to be pretty black-and-white and uncompromising, and the fact of the matter is, life isn't like that.

              As for the hosts' response, I'm always part-terrified that I'm going to get a really bad reaction too when I ask for a change to the menu to accommodate my lifestyle. I don't know if it's because I've been lucky or if the culture around veganism is changing, but I haven't really gotten any hard pushback from anyone about it lately. Or maybe, for all my worrying about it, I don't actually realize when someone is being backhanded about my choices...who knows?

              1 vote
    2. [2]
      rogue_cricket
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      For any fellow Canadians, there's some good options. A&W was the first do to the Beyond Meat burger earlier this year. They also have a sausage patty which is entirely vegetarian, used for their...

      For any fellow Canadians, there's some good options. A&W was the first do to the Beyond Meat burger earlier this year. They also have a sausage patty which is entirely vegetarian, used for their breakfast sandwiches. Harvey's, another Canadian chain... they don't have Beyond Meat, but their veggie patty was so good even when I wasn't vegetarian I would regularly order it. Every time I ordered beef I regretted it because the vegetarian burger was so much better. President's Choice brand also has some frozen options.

      Not to evangelize, but I used to order beef jerky literally in bulk from the internet & I got my start by thinking "maybe I'll try it for a month". Mostly I was concerned about the WHO's classification of my favourite thing - cured red meat - as a potential carcinogen, and I don't particularly care for chicken or fish anyway. By the end of the month I just kind of kept going.

      It really didn't feel like as dramatic a change as I thought it would, although everyone's circumstances are of course different. It certainly helps that my partner was previously vegetarian and re-committed with me.

      4 votes
      1. Deimos
        Link Parent
        I haven't tried the A&W Beyond sausage patty yet, but a couple of weeks ago I got a regular Mozza Burger and one with the patty replaced with a Beyond one so that my wife and I could try both and...

        I haven't tried the A&W Beyond sausage patty yet, but a couple of weeks ago I got a regular Mozza Burger and one with the patty replaced with a Beyond one so that my wife and I could try both and compare them directly. It was quite good—I think if I just had that Beyond burger without anyone telling me, I would have thought that it tasted a little different, but wouldn't have jumped to the conclusion that it wasn't meat.

        I think fast food is a great application for these plant-protein patties, and I really hope they keep pushing on it. The major fast food chains represent a huge amount of the market for meat, but their burgers really aren't very good anyway, so they're a perfect target for replacement. Huge impact on the industry, low impact on the taste.

        1 vote
    3. alyaza
      Link Parent
      probably not that far, but the issue is most likely with scaling that up in the case of the proposal here more than things like commercial availability. barring incredible advancements in things...

      I wonder how close we are to making lab meat commercially available? I know some Burger Kings have the Impossible Burger, but I haven't had the chance to try it yet

      probably not that far, but the issue is most likely with scaling that up in the case of the proposal here more than things like commercial availability. barring incredible advancements in things like labgrown meat i doubt we'll see even a plurality of people in the west take up a vegan or vegetarian diet, or convert to a diet where most or all of their meat doesn't come from slaughtered animals in the next 50 or so years.

      2 votes
  2. [8]
    Akir
    Link
    I'm really tired of seeing these vegetarian / animal rights articles that pretend the only way to save the environment is to stop eating meat. This article is literally only the forward to a whole...

    I'm really tired of seeing these vegetarian / animal rights articles that pretend the only way to save the environment is to stop eating meat. This article is literally only the forward to a whole report that has the tendency to misrepresent data.

    " A 2017 landmark study found that the top three meat firms – JBS, Cargill and Tyson – emitted more greenhouse gases in 2016 than all of France (GRAIN et al., 2017)."

    Yes, it is perfectly understandable that three giant corporations who provide meat to much of the world would produce more greenhouse gasses than a single tiny country.

    And that is just an obvious distortion caught by someone who just woke up. That is before actually checking sources.

    Honestly, when you see one of the graphics on the report is a photo of a lemur on fire it's hard to take it completely seriously.

    3 votes
    1. Sahasrahla
      Link Parent
      There are two clear messages about climate change that most people agree with: it's a major problem that will cause untold misery and destruction, and it's our fault. People feel guilty, they feel...

      There are two clear messages about climate change that most people agree with: it's a major problem that will cause untold misery and destruction, and it's our fault. People feel guilty, they feel responsible, and they want to do something about it. The problem, though, is that climate change is caused by structural issues with how our society is built and making the necessary changes to address that mostly falls under the purview of a small, wealthy elite. The best thing anyone can do to fix climate change is to push for political change in the form of regulations and green tech, not to mention breaking the power of those who benefit from and push for the status quo when it comes to energy.

      That's hard though. My own personal involvement is limited to voting every few years and shouting my thoughts into the void on social media, and that's about all any of us do. And, as important as voting is, it doesn't really feel like it makes a difference. That's where vegetarianism comes in: personal action is a drop in the bucket, and even everyone cutting out meat wouldn't come close to stopping climate change, but it still feels like you're something. Not only that, but it's hard enough for most people that it can help balance out the feelings of guilt at our modern lifestyle. Vegetarianism is the perfect mix of being difficult but not too difficult. It provides a sense of atonement, a sense of power over the fate of the Earth, and a sense of taking responsibility and making sacrifices to do the right thing.

      Many changes in one's life can provide the same effect but the articles in favour of vegetarianism have an advantage that, say, advocating for giving up driving doesn't. There are many people who already support vegetarian/veganism for moral reasons and let's face it, if you view all animals as being morally coequal to humans then society's treatment of animals is horrifying. Those pushing for vegetarianism have never had much luck before because people like eating meat enough that they're deaf to the usual moral arguments about animal suffering, but if the issue is framed in terms of stopping climate change then people are more amenable. This leads to a natural wellspring of support that helps spread and produce articles like the one in the OP and which can help to push the issue into every social media thread on climate change.

      It all feels a bit hollow to me though. Sure, go vegetarian if you want. There are lots of benefits to it and I personally cut enough meat out of my diet (depending on family situation) that coworkers have assumed I was vegetarian myself. But I feel like I'm a passenger on the Titanic being told that I should start bailing water out with a thimble because the ship sinking is a very serious problem and every little bit of action helps, no matter how small.

      This might all seem a bit pointless because it isn't an either-or situation and we can make personal changes while still pushing for larger changes but I think there is a problem with focusing on the personal. If I think personal solutions matter then I'll spend my limited time pushing for them, and if I'm sacrificing enough in my personal life then maybe I'll feel like something is being done and that I'm doing my part. It distracts from the larger issue that change has to come from the top and about the only way that will happen is if we force them from below. Letting the ultra-wealthy profit while we debate stop-gap solutions like "the proles should stop eating meat" feels obscene.

      4 votes
    2. [6]
      acdw
      Link Parent
      They don't say the only way to save the environment is to stop eating meat, the report says: You're misrepresenting their point, which is a general solution ("change the way we eat") to a specific...

      They don't say the only way to save the environment is to stop eating meat, the report says:

      As food production expands to meet the world’s growing appetite for meat, emissions from livestock farming continue to rise. The only way to stop this is to change the way we eat, drastically reducing animal food production.

      You're misrepresenting their point, which is a general solution ("change the way we eat") to a specific problem ("emissions from livestock farming continues to rise"), as a specific solution "stop eating meat" for a general problem ("save the environment"). I don't think anyone in their right mind would say that not eating meat is the only way to combat climate change, but it's the easiest way for most people, especially in developed countries with exploitative and environmentally-destructive supply chains. Not eating meat is a simple choice that anyone can make three times a day, which is far easier than trying to lobby the government to regulate industry or than cutting harmful products completely out of the global supply chain.

      I also take issue with your assertion that France is a "tiny country" -- according to Wikipedia, which sources the IMF, World Bank, and CIA Factbook, France has the world's 10th largest GDP. So it is a little surprising that 3 firms emit more greenhouse gasses than the entire nation of France. (I do agree with you that these kinds of statistics are, if not misleading, then ineffective to convince anyone, simply because they're so big they lose all sense of scale.)

      Lastly, I want to point out that the photo of the lemur you mention isn't a lemur on fire -- it's a photo of a burning forest superimposed on the shape of a lemur, which is obviously an artistic take on the problem as Viva! sees it. We can argue about the aesthetic and rhetorical value of including such an image in a report, but just saying it's a "lemur on fire" misrepresents the image completely.

      So if you're going to complain about "misrepresenting data," please don't misrepresent the report you're trying to critique.

      1 vote
      1. [5]
        Akir
        Link Parent
        I honestly think you are the one misrepresenting what I am trying to say. For one, the very title submitted here says "The best solution to the compound crises of climate, biodiversity and soil...

        I honestly think you are the one misrepresenting what I am trying to say. For one, the very title submitted here says "The best solution to the compound crises of climate, biodiversity and soil depletion is to simply stop eating animals". And that is a direct quote from the report.

        When I said France was a tiny country, I wasn't referring to GDP or population. I was referring to it being a physically tiny country.

        I can't describe how exasperating it is to hear you complain about my description of a burning lemur. If you superimpose flames over a lemur, is it not supposed to give you the impression of a burning lemur? In any case, my point is that the graphic was specifically designed to be alarming and provide an emotional response - a criticism that actually describes most of the images in the report.

        Lastly, my comment was not a critique. It was an early morning observation. I will admit it may have not been well communicated, but that will teach me to not post things before completely waking up.

        As an aside, I actually agree that not eating excessive amounts of meat is a good idea. Like I said, I just don't like it when animal rights organizations misrepresent the data, which it seems is becoming more and more common.

        2 votes
        1. [2]
          alyaza
          Link Parent
          small point but that's... not really true either though? france is 42nd (metropolitan france would be 50th) in total land area out of 194 recognized countries in the world, which puts it in the...

          When I said France was a tiny country, I wasn't referring to GDP or population. I was referring to it being a physically tiny country.

          small point but that's... not really true either though? france is 42nd (metropolitan france would be 50th) in total land area out of 194 recognized countries in the world, which puts it in the upper fourth of countries (and dependencies) in the world by land area.

          2 votes
          1. Akir
            Link Parent
            Well, thats fair enough. But from my perspective as a 'murican, every other country is tiny. /s

            Well, thats fair enough. But from my perspective as a 'murican, every other country is tiny. /s

        2. [2]
          acdw
          Link Parent
          You're right -- and my comment was given after a frustrating, and very wet, morning myself. So I wasn't coming from the best place and feeling a little combative. I apologize about that. I'm going...

          Lastly, my comment was not a critique. It was an early morning observation.

          You're right -- and my comment was given after a frustrating, and very wet, morning myself. So I wasn't coming from the best place and feeling a little combative. I apologize about that.

          I'm going to push back a little, still: the paper says that not eating meat is "the best," not "the only" way to solve the climate crisis. Which I agree with, for the individual consumer stuck in a vastly exploitative system.

          I admit I was mistaken in my assumption that you meant physical area for France -- it's been my understanding that when articles compare carbon emissions, they use metrics like GDP, since that's usually the most important variable in how much carbon a country/entity emits. Could you explain the importance of physical size?

          As to the lemur, I pointed it out because I thought that the report included a literal image of a lemur on fire -- and I was surprised to see the superimposition instead. I agree with you that images like that do little to forward the rhetorical bent of the piece, but I understand why it's done -- many times, emotional appeals are the only way to reach people, or at least that's the common wisdom. I don't know how true it is.

          Lastly, I completely agree that misrepresenting the data is really frustrating, and doesn't help anything. I especially get frustrated at Peta for the stuff they do! But I do understand where it's coming from -- I think for many people, me included, it's a crisis -- it's literal life or death. And all around, it seems like nobody really cares or even questions the status quo that constantly messages BUY BUY BUY and eat and consume and just have a good time and it'll all be okay. And I know that me, at least, I'm sitting in the corner and I'm just shaking my head because it's not going to be okay. It's like I'm in the backseat of the car in Thelma and Louise, and I can't jump out. It's terrifying. So I think emotionally it's easy to rationalize misrepresentation, since it's such a big deal. Or maybe people don't question everything like they should, since it's the narrative they want to hear. I don't know. I'm not trying to excuse it; it's just where people are coming from, I think.

          1. Akir
            Link Parent
            I really appreciate where you are coming from, and I really appreciate your understanding. Heck, @alyaza pointed out that France isn't actually as small as I figured already. I don't mind being...

            I really appreciate where you are coming from, and I really appreciate your understanding. Heck, @alyaza pointed out that France isn't actually as small as I figured already. I don't mind being corrected.

            1 vote
  3. joelthelion
    Link
    While eating less or no meat is definitely an important part of fighting climate change, it's certainly not a "solution" by itself. Reducing emissions to an acceptable level requires major changes...

    While eating less or no meat is definitely an important part of fighting climate change, it's certainly not a "solution" by itself. Reducing emissions to an acceptable level requires major changes to most areas of the economy: industry, transportation, energy, and of course agriculture.

    2 votes
  4. [2]
    Somebody
    Link
    You want to promote famine? Because that'll do it.

    You want to promote famine? Because that'll do it.