Get a FREE Issue of Earth Island Journal
Sign up for our no-risk offer today.

Go Back: Home > Earth Island Journal > Issues > Spring 2010 > +/-

+/-

There’s No Reason to Eat Animals

A vegetarian since her teenage years, Lindsay Rajt manages grassroots campaigns at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Rajt has coordinated campaigns targeting KFC’s “torture” of chickens as well as the treatment of horses at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby.

If we care about the environment and believe that kindness is a virtue – as we all say that we do – a vegan diet is the only sensible option. The question becomes: Why eat animals at all?

Animals are made of flesh, bone, and blood, just as you and I are. They form friendships, feel pain and joy, grieve for lost loved ones, and are afraid to die. One cannot profess to care about animals while tearing them away from their friends and families and cutting their throats – or paying someone else to do it – simply to satisfy a fleeting taste for flesh.

What does it say about us that we’re willing to give animals a safe pasture and freedom from suffering only to betray them by killing and eating them in the end? Nicolette Hahn Niman argues in her recent book that it’s acceptable to raise animals for food as long as they are treated humanely and killed quickly. But we wouldn’t extend that philosophy to dogs, cats, or children. The inconsistency means that eating animals simply cannot be justified.

Ms. Niman assures consumers that the animals at the ranch that she manages with her husband, Bill Niman, have a “good life and an easy death.” This likely conjures up images of pigs frolicking together, getting belly rubs and playing in mud puddles while turkeys strut about, gobbling along to music and eating fresh corncobs, melons, and grapes until they’re peacefully euthanized at a ripe old age. Think again. While the animals at BN Ranch may have a better life and may face an easier death than the animals killed for Smithfield or Butterball, “good” is not an accurate description. What kind of good life ends at age 12, which is the human equivalent of the oldest non-breeding animals on farms such as hers? Niman’s arguments are similar to those of slaveholders who advocated treating slaves more kindly but did not actually want to abolish slavery.

Ultimately, it’s not our farming practices that need to change – it’s our diets. As Niman knows, we cannot use only pastureland to produce the amount of meat that is currently consumed in this country. Approximately 10 billion cows, pigs, chickens, and turkeys are killed for food each year in the United States alone. The sheer number of animals killed to satisfy people’s taste for flesh makes it impossible to raise and slaughter them all on small family farms.

CafoGrossTW_BW.jpgPETA photoEveryone agrees: Industrial livestock operations, where cattle live amid
their own manure, are horrible.

Claiming that meat eating can be ethical or eco-friendly tends to pacify people who want to feel as if they are doing the right thing but don’t want to stop eating meat. Yet raising and killing animals is neither moral nor green. As Niman knows, meat production is resource-intensive and plays a role in nearly every major environmental problem, including climate change.

Animal agriculture is one of the world’s largest sources of CO2 and the largest source of methane, which is more than 23 times more powerful than CO2 when it comes to trapping heat in the atmosphere. Research by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang, the authors of Livestock and Climate Change, indicates that raising animals for food produces 51 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions each year. Of course, animals on feedlots produce more greenhouse gasses than pasture-raised animals, but all farmed animals produce methane while digesting food, and their feces also emit methane.

One of the world’s leading authorities on climate change – Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and himself a vegetarian – believes that everyone in the developed world should consume a vegetarian diet for environmental reasons. According to Pachauri, “In terms of immediacy of action and the feasibility of bringing about reductions in a short period of time, it clearly is the most attractive opportunity.” The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency has reported that climate change mitigation costs could be reduced by 80 percent if everyone around the globe went vegan.

Meat consumption is also a major contributor to food shortages. There would be more food to go around if more people went vegan because many staple crops are fed to farmed animals instead of to hungry people. This is especially wasteful considering that animals can only turn a small fraction of that food into flesh. It takes about 700 calories worth of feed to produce just one piece of 100-calorie beef.

More food can be grown on a given parcel of land when we aren’t funneling crops through animals. Vegfam, which funds sustainable plant-food projects, estimates that a 10-acre farm can support 60 people by growing soy, 24 people by growing wheat, or 10 people by growing corn – but only two by raising cattle.

Bo Ranch_BW.jpgphoto courtesy bn ranchHappy cows? Rajt argues that sustainable ranching is like “treating slaves
more kindly” without actually abolishing slavery.

The United Nations’ special envoy on food says that it’s a “crime against humanity” to funnel 100 million tons of grain and corn into ethanol while nearly 1 billion people are starving. So how much more of a crime is it to divert 756 million tons of grain and corn per year – plus 98 percent of the 225-million-ton global soy crop – to farmed animals? With 1.4 billion people living in dire poverty, reserving these harvests for animal forage is tantamount to stealing food out of people’s mouths.

Meat production is inefficiency at its worst. When you factor in all the water squandered on animal agriculture and all the fossil fuels needed to operate slaughterhouses and processing plants and to transport meat from the plants to the stores – not to mention the air and water pollution that results from it all – you’ll understand why it just makes sense not to eat animals. As Ms. Niman – who herself has been a vegetarian for years – can tell you, one can live quite healthily and happily without eating animals.

   

Email this article to a friend.

Write to the editor about this article.

Subscribe Today
cover thumbnail EIJ cover thumbnail EIJ cover thumbnail EIJ cover thumbnail EIJFour issues of the award-winning
Earth Island Journal for only $10

 

Comments

So you denying that 4 canine you have there?
Meat “inefficient”? Let me tell you, in several parts of the world plants are hard to grow and have small amount of nutrient. Only certain grass eater can eat them and when winter strikes it would banish their entire tribe if they don’t have life stock. Our ability to eat meat are necessary for out survival. We have been pampered by electric heater that we forgetting that there’s still other people who DEPENDS ON MEAT FOR SURVIVAL.

Other thing: every place in the world have their unique food culture, AND THAT INCLUDING MEAT DISHES. Once human became vegetarian this UNIQUE CULTURE COULD BE IN DANGER OF EXTINCTION. So you think all the world uniformly being vegans are more beutiful than world with diversity? talking about “BEING HUMAN”. You think culture don’t need to be preserved?

I don’t say we should eat only meat; I say meat is still necessary, just consume it in moderate amount. Stop being naive and just accept who you are, and where your culture belong.

By Checkyourteeth on Tue, October 08, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Excellent read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing some research on that. And he just bought me lunch since I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch!
PoIuYt

By Olin Dickirson on Fri, June 29, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Why do you interchange the term “vegan” with “vegetarian” so easily? They are quite separate concepts.

By DD on Thu, April 14, 2011 at 6:03 am

Dear Lindsay

I really enjoyed reading your article and would love to use it as a comprehension text for secondary school pupils. I am hoping to start a website with worksheets and notes for English learners and your article would be an ideal starting point for reading and discussion if you might be willing for me to reproduce it?
Kind regards
Lyn.

By Lyn on Tue, April 12, 2011 at 2:31 am

Subsequently, after spending many hours on the internet at last We\‘ve uncovered an individual that definitely does know what they are discussing many thanks a great deal wonderful post.

By dates london on Thu, August 12, 2010 at 4:02 am

Cheryl,
If your best argument is that someone who disagrees with your world view must lazy and lacking intellect, you surely have been too long in the sun with your trowel.

I have a small, sustainable farm where I raise a portion of our own food and we are able to contribute to the diet of several other families, as well. Our meat consumption is very low.

With that experience, I know how incredibly difficult it is to grow enough food a family, year after year, even in the best of years. Bad weather, drought, and other losses are inevitable.  Once the food is harvested there is still the issue of storing it safely for the off season, keeping it fresh, preventing rodent and insect infestation etc. 

The idea that most people could provide for themselves on 1/2 an acre with minimal tools is absurd. If they had the knowledge to grow it and store it,  access to good land/soil, root cellars and enough space for a year’s worth of food,    reasonable growing seasons, local and sufficient water, good health and/or youth, and the LUCK that comes with a good growing year…
then they will may need a freezer (which requires energy to run, and manufacturing plants which displace wildlife both where they are located and where the raw materials are acquired - ditto with canning supplies…) 

Being alive means you take resources from other life. It could be argued that if you really want to be kind to animals, you have to die… but that won’t work either - because nature’s plan is that another life form will just fill in the space you vacate….

As for your hysteria about “dead flesh”. We are all made of the dead flesh and excrement that came before us. 
Water contains the molecules of dead flesh and exrement. We are all destined to be dead flesh that will become the soil that sustains the plants. 
Life is banquet. We all have to eat, we’re all eventually on the menu. Except on your cloud, of course.

By Smy on Sat, June 26, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Gee Cheryl, in between the hyperbolic zombie movie rhetoric about dead flesh eaters, you also managed to say that anyone who disagrees with you is intellectually challenged, lazy, ill-informed, and illogically consumed with blood lust. Since the list of people who disagree with you reads like a who’s who of sustainability experts such as Elliott Coleman, the Sustainability Institute, and the vast majority of permaculture farmers, that’s some statement. Funny that you rely on some of Elliott Coleman’s wisdom, but you think he is intellectually challenged. And you really wonder why it is so hard to take histrionic vegangelical extremists like you seriously?

I did not make a “glaring error in logic,” but you certainly did. The plants that sustainably pastured ruminants eat are not even bioavailable to humans, so your contention that they are in competition for “the same plant matter” is complete and utter nonsense.

The extra plants required for an all-plant diet will require space that will destroy animal habitat, and replace deep rooted perennials that distribute hard to reach nutrients throughout the ecosystem with shallow-rooted annuals that leach the soil and add to water runoff and soil erosion, hand tilled or not. As a matter of fact, a mountain of research shows that sustainable pastureland massively increases biodiversity, exponentially increases soil vitality, and significantly increases wildlife. Most recently, a study of 43 sustainable ranches found a 72% increase in wildlife. Conversely, a vegetable farm that had half the creatures that were supposed to be living on it still there would be completely wiped out. All agriculture, from conventional to veganic, displaces animal habitat. A million creatures can occupy a single acre of prairie. When it is plowed, it is virtually lifeless, and even if it is low plowed for veganic gardening, the number of creatures living on it and the biodiversity of the plant matter will be a miniscule fraction of what would be found on the same land if it were sustainable pastureland.

Best of luck with your venture to veganic gardening. I really do think there are some great things about it, but certainly don’t think it is a replacement for sustainable meat, which is the most environmentally sustainable protein choice during much of the year in most parts of the country. Try not to let the humanure get too out of hand.

By g english on Fri, June 18, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Smy, your assumption that vegans must grow food and sustain life exactly the same flawed way that dead flesh eaters do is the clear sign that you don’t have the intellect to see the big picture.  Vegans realize that factory farming is the problem, whether for the production of the grain used to bulk up feedlot cows for your lustful meat consumption, or for filling up a portion of your gas tank.  I’m personally farming 1/2 an acre of land that will provide what we need for the coming year.  I didn’t use a combine or a mechanical device.  I used a hoe, a spade, and a trowel.  An extra band of veggies is growing to feed the bunnies and discourage them from getting into my garden.  If you were not lazy or ill-informed then you could do the same.  Why not take the time to become informed by logic instead of by a clear lust for the blood of animals?  Think with your head and not with your base desires.

By Cherryl on Fri, June 18, 2010 at 3:45 am

G.English has made another glaring error in logic.  Something along the lines of falsly claiming that “extra” plant matter is needed to feed vegetarians, when it is clearly the opposite.  The amount of plant matter a vegan uses is less than 1/16th of the same plant matter used to support the diet of dead cow flesh eaters. 

When dead animal flesh is labelled accurately it really clarifies the situation in a way that prissy terms like “hamburger” and “steak” cannot.  I understand that the current crop of dead animal flesh eaters are used to seeing pretty packages of e. coli infested flesh labelled other than what it really is, and that they understand how important it is to treat this putrifying flesh with great care.  Keeping it refrigerated and frozen, not allowing it to touch the good food (like vegetables), and using excess amounts of energy to heat it to high enough temperatures to render the e. coli less dangerous, while creating cancer causing substances in the dead flesh.  How can anyone in their right mind claim that these practices are somehow, magically, “sustainable”?

By Cherryl on Fri, June 18, 2010 at 3:39 am

Good posts Cheryl,

The grain use in “grass fed” is often overlooked by people desperately trying to rationalize their meat consumption.

Over here in northern California it’s common for the “grass fed” ranches to supplement the feed, and always “finish” them with a grain feed.  In fact in some cases they send them to conventional feed lots for slaughter, and still sell it as organic.

By Gary on Wed, May 19, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Sorry Wade, but when your use terms like rape to describe things like the artificial insemination of cows, you make it absolutely impossible to take you seriously.

I should let the Nimans defend the specifics of their own ranch, because I am no expert on how they run things, but a couple things must be pointed out. The reason that they weren’t using anesthesia to neuter the animals, according to the quote that you cited, was for the welfare of the animal.

Their animals live a far more comfortable existence than their wild counterparts. They certainly die a far, far more humane and painless death than the vast quantities of small animals that are needlessly torn apart at the seams by combines and other farm equipment to grow all of the extra plant matter needed to make up for the fact that you don’t eat meat.

You can keep wrapping yourself up in a protective veganic blanket of ignorance while you pat yourself on the back and imagine that eating only vegetables takes you out of the cycle of life and death or makes you more humane, but you are willfully deceiving yourself. Your choice makes you responsible for far more animals dying vastly more horrible deaths, and displacing far more animal habitat than those of us who choose to eat sustainable animal products along with vegetables, so don’t kid yourself.

By g english on Wed, May 19, 2010 at 2:20 pm

That’s a very informative and thoughtful post Cheryl (“Here is some info on the Niman Ranch”), and you refer to a very telling article on Niman Ranch (http://articles.sfgate.com/2009-02-22/news/17190118_1_niman-ranch-feedlot-humane-society). Both definitely worth re-reading.

While one can attribute some good intentions to the so-called “humane” meat movement, it’s quite an indictment that it’s poster child isn’t even happy with the results. I have long felt that the profit motive is largely incompatible with any reasonable standards of animal welfare. Unfortunately, such standards of compassion for animals have no real market value, thus they are always the first to be sacrificed when profits margins go down. I wonder why the purveyors of these allegedly humane products never update their marketing materials to reflect their new lower standards? (ha ha!)

Here is a posting confirming that Niman Ranch castrates their animals without anesthesia:
(http://www.slate.com/discuss/forums/thread/2953591.aspx)

From the posting:
“Niman Ranch protocols also allow for castration, without the use of anesthesia. If you don’t castrate hogs, you get boar meat, and there’s no U.S. market for boar meat, with its distinctive (and to some, unpleasant) taste. We don’t use anesthesia when we castrate, because pigs are very sensitive to it and using it could pose a significant health risk to the animal”

The logic in the preceding excerpt says it all. It’s not about the animal’s welfare at all, it’s about the taste of the meat and cost of producing it. Saying they don’t use anesthesia because pigs are “sensitive to it” is absurd, but it shows the lengths they’ll go to justify a protocol which most people would consider quite cruel.

It’s origins aside, Niman Ranch is now a large company that makes it’s profit at the expense of animals who don’t volunteer for the job. There may be some heart to a few of their policies, but it sounds like, increasingly, they are engaging in the very same practices that factory farms do. They certainly castrate and rape (artificially inseminate) their animals and slaughter them at a fraction of their natural lifespan.

I think most people value kindness and see themselves as compassionate towards animals. Purveyors of these “humane” animal products may sometimes treat animals a little less cruelly, but they also make the purchase of an inherently inhumane product more palatable to the consumer. The true benefit of this to the animals is not clear to me. Animals are offered the promise of better conditions, but consumers also get a free pass on all the ethical problems of animal exploitation. More animals may actually be exploited as a result, and more people miss the opportunity to live a life that really is as humane as it can be.

I confess to not having read all the posts on this topic, there are just to many of them and there is a little too much heat around here for me. Heat is not necessarily bad, people feel passionate about the issues and want to speak their minds. For me though, there’s a fine line between passionate discourse and the outright venting of hostility. I feel good about what I’ve tried to say here but don’t feel there’s much point in continuing. I do apologize if my words have offended anyone.

Best wishes to all, may the truth set you free.

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”
—Albert Einstein

By Wade on Wed, May 19, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Sorry Wade, but you are a hypocrite:

“The world you dream of is simply impossible with the current global population. I have to admit though, your argument that eating animals is actually more humane than eating plants is novel! I hadn’t heard that one before!”

And you think I am the only one that can be condescending? Along with your insinuations about your moral superiority and the immorality of meat eaters such as myself, not tho mention your most recent personal attacks and twisted pop psychology, you really are astoundingly hypocritical. At least I have the integrity to admit that I can be a bit pointy-elbowed when people start calling me immoral because I choose to eat meat. On this blog alone, I have been called a murderer, a rapist, and a slave owner. And you think I am the one with anger issues? That’s rich.

“I stand by the statement that there isn’t enough grassland on the planet for us to all eat grass-fed beef at the rate that Americans now consume beef.”

I disagree, but that is an issue that is certainly open for debate. You probably couldn’t grow enough avocados to feed everyone on the planet either, but that is not a reason not to grow avocados, so your convoluted argument for not eating meat is completely specious.

Whatever the case, I think there is absolutely no question that there is not enough arable land on this planet to feed everyone an all plant diet, nor would that be desirable. Shipping grain from halfway across the planet is not a sustainable or effective solution. Developing sustainable food systems adapted to the systemic complexities of regional environments, mirroring the natural balance of microorganisms, plants, and animals is.

“In any case, if this is the kind of language you are going to use, I will simply give you the last word and bow out of this discussion.”

Again, you are a hypocrite, and I have little interest in protecting your feelings, so that is fine with me. I’ve been called a murderer, slave owner, and rapist here, and here you are whining about being told that the cloistered discourse of veganism has sheltered you from the truth, while telling me how much angrier I am than vegans. Too, too funny.

“To me, what you call ‘the truth’ seems intuitively wrong, and on closer inspection, I find that it is also actually full of holes and un-acknowledged realities.”

Poppycock. I have backed up everything that I have said, but you haven’t been able to remotely back up your claims.

“So, ya’ got a first name?”

Sorry, I have absolutely no interest in encouraging even more vegangelical stalkers, so I am not going to indulge all of your personal questions. I actually don’t eat a lot of red meat. I do eat some (mostly local) red meat and local trout, local catfish, and eggs from my chickens, which eat mostly bugs and plants, as well as vegetables that I grow and buy locally when possible.

As mentioned, I live on a small organic vegetable farm, and animal products such as manure have worked quite well here over the years. Apparently you are completely oblivious to the fact that the vast majority of vegetables that vegans enjoy are grown with animal products such as manure, blood, and bonemeal. Ignorance is veganic bliss.

“If you actually disagree with that statement, I can’t see how we have any meaningful basis for further discussion. I would just suggest you do a little more research.”

And I would suggest that YOU do a lot more research. Parroting fallacious vegan propaganda doesn’t impress me. If you simply took the time to actually watch the Allan Savory talk that I linked to, you would have a much greater understanding of the issues, and you would see that there are actually extremely intelligent, extremely informed arguments for vastly increasing intensive sustainable grazing on perennial grasslands, to fill the void left in the absence of the vast herds of wild ruminants that those lands coevolved with. Allan Savory has done more to solve hunger, especially in Africa, than you can imagine, and he has a mountain of evidence documenting sustainable pasturing that has massively increased the health and vitality of the soil, as well as amazing accomplishments of reversing desertification.

“Concocting a hypothetical sustainability comparison between a cross-country shipped soy burger and a neighbor’s grass-fed cow is pretty meaningless if we are talking about actually feeding the whole world.”

Absolutely nothing hypothetical about it whatsoever. On a daily basis I literally choose to eat sustainable, local animal products instead of a processed soy burger shipped in from hundreds of miles away. And there is nothing hypothetical about the fact that the carbon footprint of eating locally pastured meat is vastly better than if I ate that soy burger instead. And the land that the beef that I eat is raised on is thriving with wildlife, as opposed to fields of shallow-rooted annuals that form the basis of most vegan diets, such as soy and corn, which massively reduce biodiversity, displace animal habitat, deplete the soil, increase water runoff and soil erosion, and wipe out entire ecosystems.

By g english on Wed, May 19, 2010 at 10:54 am

I stand by the statement that there isn’t enough grassland on the planet for us to all eat grass-fed beef at the rate that Americans now consume beef.

I’m quite aware of Michael Pollan’s admiration for grass-fed beef, to the extent that it displaces factory farmed varieties, I’m for it too. I’m also quite sure that Mr. Pollan would agree with my opening statement. If you actually disagree with that statement, I can’t see how we have any meaningful basis for further discussion. I would just suggest you do a little more research. Concocting a hypothetical sustainability comparison between a cross-country shipped soy burger and a neighbor’s grass-fed cow is pretty meaningless if we are talking about actually feeding the whole world. And we really need to talk about that because we are failing so miserably.

I’m frankly offended by your statement: “But you should get used to hearing the truth more often, because it is good for you”. What an incredibly condescending comment. You seem to be quite an angry person. (and I thought we vegans were supposed to be the angry ones!) In any case, if this is the kind of language you are going to use, I will simply give you the last word and bow out of this discussion. To me, what you call ‘the truth’ seems intuitively wrong, and on closer inspection, I find that it is also actually full of holes and un-acknowledged realities. I could debate you on these matters, but not if you’re going to make mean spirited comments while hiding behind the anonymity of the internet.

So, ya’ got a first name? Or at least an alias that sounds like one? And what do you do for a living if I might ask? (I’m a machinist). And since were talking about it, and you know I’m a vegan, how often do you eat meat, eggs and dairy products? It seems kind of relevant and I’m just curious too.

By Wade on Wed, May 19, 2010 at 3:09 am

What are ones thoughts on my post about this?
(about the 6th post down from the top)

“Here is some info on the Niman Ranch”

By Cheryl Devine on Tue, May 18, 2010 at 8:10 pm

“I’m sorry g english, but there just isn’t enough land on the planet for us to all eat grass fed beef in anywhere near the quantity Amercans now consume beef.”

I think you are wrong Wade, but whatever the case is, there is certainly room for a lot of sustainably pastured ruminants. There is definitely not enough room on the planet for agriculture without animals.

“This is supported by the research of Micheal Pollan and many others. “

Sorry, but Michael Pollan is a HUGE supporter of grassfed beef.

“The world you dream of is simply impossible with the current global population.”

No the world you dream of is impossible with the current population. A grassfed steak from down the road is vastly more sustainable than a processed soy burger from 700 miles away. I am not against vegetables. I grow many of my own, and animal products have worked quite well on the organic vegetable that I live on. I hope you do at least understand that the vast majority of vegetables that vegans enjoy are grown with animal products such as manure, blood, and bonemeal.

“I have to admit though, your argument that eating animals is actually more humane than eating plants is novel! I hadn’t heard that one before!”

That is probably because veganism is by and large an extremely cloistered discourse that draws facts from conclusions rather than the other way around, because it is more religion than science. But you should get used to hearing the truth more often, because it is good for you.

Again, this powerful talk by Allan Savory might turn some of your common misconceptions on their head:
http://vimeo.com/8239427

By g english on Tue, May 18, 2010 at 12:52 pm

I’m sorry g english, but there just isn’t enough land on the planet for us to all eat grass fed beef in anywhere near the quantity Amercans now consume beef. This is supported by the research of Micheal Pollan and many others. The world you dream of is simply impossible with the current global population. I have to admit though, your argument that eating animals is actually more humane than eating plants is novel! I hadn’t heard that one before!

By Wade on Tue, May 18, 2010 at 12:01 pm

“But far more animals are killed to grow the much larger quantity of feed crops required for meat production”

Actually Wade, no feed crops at all are grown for grassfed meat, so your argument doesn’t even apply. In fact, sustainably pasturing land massively increases biodiversity. As opposed to agriculture, it doesn’t take away animal habitats, it increases them.

“It just adds a deliberate act of violence on to what was already a much greater amount of unintended violence.”

That is a very apt description of an all vegetable diet, which causes the needless deaths of, and lack of habitat for countless animals. Choosing to use up far more animal habitat and needlessly kill many small animals in the agricultural process to support an all plant diet is a deliberate choice. And choosing to save the lives of many small animals and increase biodiversity and the health of the soil by eating sustainably pastured meat as part of your diet is a deliberate act of kindness.

“It only makes sense to eliminate these morally problematic foods if we want to cause less violence and more fully savor the simple sweetness of our own compassionate nature.”

It only makes sense to respect the natural balance of microorganisms, plants, and animals in nature, and that means that animals serve a very important role in any sustainable system of food production. An all-plant diet may be well-intentioned, but it is not compassionate, because it needlessly wipes out entire ecosystems, needlessly killing immeasurable numbers of animals.

By g english on Tue, May 18, 2010 at 10:03 am

At the Spring 2009 National Organic Staff Board Meeting, National Organic Program staff admitted that Genetically Modified Vaccines were being widely used on organic animals!

By Cheryl Devine on Tue, May 18, 2010 at 9:32 am

Here is some info on the Niman Ranch:

http://articles.sfgate.com/2009-02-22/news/17190118_1_niman-ranch-feedlot-humane-society

Although standard beef cattle are most often slaughtered between 12 and 14 months, Niman didn’t slaughter them until 20 to 24 months, moving them at 14 months to his own feedlot where they were fattened on a vegetarian diet of grain for four or five more months.

20-14=6 and 24-14=10, where did they come up with 4 or 5 months? For 6 to 10 months he fed them GRAIN not grass.

But by 2006, when Chicago’s Natural Food Holdings came in as chief investor, taking four of the seven seats on the board of directors, Niman Ranch was losing somewhere close to $3 million, said CEO Swain.

Showing that its is economically either extremely hard or impossible.

After Natural Food came on the scene, they sold the Niman Ranch feedlot and began finishing the cattle in commercial lots.

Showing again it can’t work economically.

But Swain disagrees. “It is our opinion and the opinion of leading experts, that it is better animal husbandry to use them (antimicrobials), than not to use them.”

They use antimicrobials, the USDA does not list these as anti-biotics, so they can use them in “natural” beef

Swain not only swears by the integrity of the program, but says that since Natural Food took over the company, it’s making $7,000 a week, rather than losing $10,000.

Now that its so called “stream-lined” meaning shipping the cows 1300 miles, using microbials, and working with commercial feedlots

Niman’s faith in the company that will still bear his name is gone, but his faith in raising food sustainably, and for profit, has never been stronger.

Raising FOOD for profit? Interesting choice of words. It shows how these type of people view a living creature such as a cow. As FOOD for PROFIT. Although, I wonder if the people buying the beef with Nimans name on it realize its NOT raised humanely, it is NOT local, and is NOT truly natural.

The website is very misleading. They make it sound like the meat IS humane, IS local, and IS natural. But even Niman himself disagrees! They dont even guarantee that the feed is GMO-free! They also dont use organic feed either!

So, now there is a new market where people will pay more for “beef” that is not what it claims to be. It is not even 50% grass-fed when it is called “grass-fed.” It is called “natural” but they still inject the cows with medications. It is called “humane” but it is usually finished at commercial feedlots. It is called “local” but it is shipped all over the place.

I’ll definately stick to my plants thank you.

By Cheryl Devine on Tue, May 18, 2010 at 9:23 am

Responding to an earlier post, it’s true that some animals are unintentionally killed by farm machinery when growing the crops a vegan consumes. But far more animals are killed to grow the much larger quantity of feed crops required for meat production. Killing an animal “humanely” does not alter this formula. It just adds a deliberate act of violence on to what was already a much greater amount of unintended violence.

We have to eat something, but we certainly don’t need animal products to be happy or healthy! It only makes sense to eliminate these morally problematic foods if we want to cause less violence and more fully savor the simple sweetness of our own compassionate nature.

By Wade on Mon, May 17, 2010 at 10:48 pm

“Nobody caught the people who pied Lierre so nobody knows who it was. For you to assume it was vegans shows your bias against them.”

You really do have absolutely know idea of how outlandishly dishonest that statement is, do you? She was there speaking about the wrong-headedness of veganism, not croquet. You think they were just protesting her haircut? She was attacked by vegan activists. Get over it. Since then, countless vegan activists have chimed in to support their actions. Your dishonesty is unconscionable.

It may be natural for you to cheer on three young men in masks attacking a small middle-aged woman that is handicapped with spinal degeneration (which she attributes to 20 years of veganism) but it sure as heck isn’t the way that I would have responded.

By g english on Mon, May 17, 2010 at 1:21 pm

“If apx 100,000 cows are killed each day, how are you going to have enough room to graze this many of them, if already 70% of the west alone is used for grazing cows?”

That question is wrong on so many levels. Again, in most cases, the problem is that there are not enough animals to mimic the natural herding patterns, not too many. As I cited, holistic ranchers such as Clarence Mortenson actually have a much higher number of cattle per acre, and that is why their land has massively increased in biodiversity and soil vitality. Did you even bother to watch Allan Savory’s talk? He explains all this quite well.

“Cows cannot mimic natural herding patterns. That is why even in your article it says the ranchers have to move the cows manually daily. Wild cattle change locations daily on their own. Do you not realize how much fencing there would have to be built to do this? Do you not realize the taxpayers would be the one footing the bill whether they eat animals or not?”

Seriously, you don’t know what you are talking about, and it is very counterproductive for you to keeping spewing disinformation as if it was fact. Cows need help to mimic the natural herding patterns of indigenous ruminants because conditions have changed. And that’s what holistic management does; it periodically moves the animals to mirror natural herding patterns, and it works amazingly well. Instead of just rambling about fencing issues that you clearly know nothing about, why not simply look at Holistic Land Management’s research to understand how and why it works so well? As I mentioned in the huge study of 43 ranches in 3 states, it works great, it is easily doable, and it is of great benefit to the environment. The alternative to not using sustainably pastured ruminants to manage the land, is to let the land erode and die, which has been shown to be the case over and over.

“Do you actually think cows trampling all over a stream would not widen the stream and make it shallow? This makes it impossible for fish to survive, and would also lead to quicker evaporation in drought conditions of the west. It would also contaminate the streams horribly. Do you not see this?”

Again, why don’t you just bother to take a moment to actually study the issue? I don’t think that sustainable managed ruminants can massively increase the health of streams in the Southwest, I know for a fact that they can because there is a mountain of evidence to prove it. HLMI has been doing it for decades. You think Clarence Mortenson won awards for it from environmental groups because of faery dust?

“Do you really think a cow and wild cattle are equivalent? Are poodles and wolves the same then? Are pit-bulls and coyotes?”

Your argument is completely asinine. I don’t think all ruminants are the same, but study after study has proven, with a mountain of incontrovertible evidence, that in the absence of the wild ruminants that once roamed this continent in vast herds, the only feasible solution is sustainably pasturing ruminants. When they are managed properly, they reverse desertification and massively increase biodiversity. That’s not a subjective opinion. It’s a well established fact.

“A picture speaks a thousand words, I have seen the HLM photos and they look amazing. I’ve also seen photos from areas where they stopped grazing completely, and the photos show the same results. So, we both can’t use those as proof.”

Again, if you bothered to take the time to actually learn about the issue, you would know that if the land rests for a while, it does indeed come back for a while, but after it sits for too long without the intensive grazing that it coevolved with, it starts to die. And you can see pictures of it doing just that; coming back for a while with rest, than starting to turn to desert over the years if it is not grazed. So no, you can not use pictures as “proof” of your entirely fallacious argument. Again, you can see this documented in the Allan Savory talk, and it was also discussed in the article I last linked to. Without intensive grazing, grasslands that depend on herds of ruminants (which no longer exist in nature) turn to desert.

“Shannon Hayes is level headed? Purchasing animals from a breeder, that is problem one. There are animals waiting to be rescued. Problem two, thinking an animal owes you something for you treating it nice. Problem three, thinking what the animal owes you for treating it nice, is its LIFE! Problem four, thinking it is sweet and loving to kill! Do you see the problem here?”

Yes, I do think that Shannon Hayes is extremely level-headed, and yes, I do see a problem with your claims. Your vegangelical hyperbole here is completely insane. You are clearly blinded with the religious zeal of your convictions, despite the facts.


“Does this not bother you?”

No it doesn’t bother me that in a large scale study of sustainable pasturing, predator populations went up by a whopping 75%, and it is very telling that you are trying to spin it into a bad thing. As a matter of fact, the entire wildlife populations in that study of 43 holistically managed ranches in 3 states, went up by an amazing 72%!!!

“From what it sounds like Clarence Mortesons ranch is on the south eastern end of SD. This area is not considered arid.”

More disinformation.

“Why kill thousands of native species to protect one? (Which we kill in the end also) Does this make sense?”

No, it doesn’t make sense, because your argument has absolutely no basis in reality whatsoever. Exactly what part of a “72% increase in all wildlife” don’t you understand? That proves your argument to be complete poppycock. Exactly what part of “massive increases in biodiversity” don’t you understand? You have it exactly backwards. It is an incontrovertible fact that sustainable pasturing massively increases wildlife populations!

“It is proven the worlds resources are dwindling because we use so much of it to feed cows rather than feeding the people of the world.”

Again, you are conflating CAFO’s with sustainable pasturing, which is either extremely dishonest, or extremely misguided. Your argument doesn’t apply to sustainable pasturing in any way whatsoever.

In fact, the fields of plants that are necessary to sustain an all vegetable diet displace outlandishly huge amounts of animal habitats and wipe out entire ecosystems, killing trillions of animals. Conversely, sustainable pasturing actually increases biodiversity and animal habitats! The meat from one cow could probably last you for an entire year, and the amount of animal habitat and number of lives that you would save by not eating an all vegetable diet would be enormous. There is nothing sustainable about veganism.

“This doesnt include a lot of factors but you can see the huge difference. Eating cows needs 262.5 million more acres. Why again is eating cows more sustainable then eating plants?”

Again, the truth is actually obvious, but you can’t seem to see through the vegan smokescreen of disinformation that clouds your view. Cows convert inedible grasses into food. You are literally comparing apples and cows. The land used for farming, veganic or otherwise, massively decreases biodiversity and wipes out animal habitats and entire ecosystems. In fact, the lower yields of veganic farming wipe out substantially more animal habitat than conventional farming. Not only does sustainable pasturing not wipe out animal habitats like agriculture does, it massively increases increases biodiversity. And that is one of the many reasons why an all plant diet is extremely unsustainable, and why sustainably pasturing ruminants is absolutely essentially to the survival of our planet.

By g english on Mon, May 17, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Nobody caught the people who pied Lierre so nobody knows who it was. For you to assume it was vegans shows your bias against them. Lierre said the audience was cheering it on, she didn’t say vegans only. When people were laughing, they didnt know it was cayenne laced, one would assume it was just a pie. They teach people on tv to laugh when one gets pied in the face. They also teach people to laugh when someone gets hurt in general. That’s one of the reasons I do not watch television.

By Cheryl Devine on Mon, May 17, 2010 at 11:41 am

If apx 100,000 cows are killed each day, how are you going to have enough room to graze this many of them, if already 70% of the west alone is used for grazing cows?

Cows cannot mimic natural herding patterns. That is why even in your article it says the ranchers have to move the cows manually daily. Wild cattle change locations daily on their own. Do you not realize how much fencing there would have to be built to do this? Do you not realize the taxpayers would be the one footing the bill whether they eat animals or not?

Do you actually think cows trampling all over a stream would not widen the stream and make it shallow? This makes it impossible for fish to survive, and would also lead to quicker evaporation in drought conditions of the west. It would also contaminate the streams horribly. Do you not see this?

Do you not see how other animals, fish, birds, frogs, snails, etc, have little chance to survive if a huge herd of cattle are in place taking up all their forage, and resources?

Do you really think a cow and wild cattle are equivalent? Are poodles and wolves the same then? Are pit-bulls and coyotes?

A picture speaks a thousand words, I have seen the HLM photos and they look amazing. I’ve also seen photos from areas where they stopped grazing completely, and the photos show the same results. So, we both can’t use those as proof.

Cows need water, and lots of it. They evolved from an animal who lived in Eurasia. It is moist there. It is not like that here. Water is wasted by having to give it to the cows rather than the people. Do you not see this?

Shannon Hayes is level headed? Purchasing animals from a breeder, that is problem one. There are animals waiting to be rescued. Problem two, thinking an animal owes you something for you treating it nice. Problem three, thinking what the animal owes you for treating it nice, is its LIFE! Problem four, thinking it is sweet and loving to kill! Do you see the problem here?

You state that predator populations have gone up. What you fail to mention is what type of predators. If ranchers kill one type of predator, say coyotes (apx 85,000 a year) of course a different predator is going to thrive because they have less competition. Also, did you know that many predators have started breeding at younger ages because they have no other way to survive?
Does this not bother you?

From what it sounds like Clarence Mortesons ranch is on the south eastern end of SD. This area is not considered arid.

When grasslands sit without being grazed by cows, they thrive. Here are some areas in the arid west that do not allow grazing by domestic cows. AZ - Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, CA - Henry Coe SP, CO - Brows Park National Wildlife Refuge, ID - Little Blue Table BLM, MT - Glacier NP, NV - Jarbridge Wilderness, NM - Gila Wilderness, OR - Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, TX - Big Bend NP, UT - Canyon Lands NP, WA - Hanford Reach NM, WY - Yellowstone NP.

There is a list of 64 pieces of land that are not cow grazed that are thriving. This shows further proof that cow grazing is not the answer. Why kill thousands of native species to protect one? (Which we kill in the end also) Does this make sense?

We can spend all this time and all this effort to make sure we “time” the grazing perfectly in order to see if this theory works, just to kill millions of cows in the end, or we can stop this nonsense all together. It is proven that land which is not grazed by cows thrives. It is proven we don’t need to eat cows to live healthy lives. It is proven the worlds resources are dwindling because we use so much of it to feed cows rather than feeding the people of the world.

Here is what I found: On the average, 1 person dies every second as a result, either directly or indirectly, of hunger - 4000 every hour - 100 000 each day - 36 million each year.

Raising an animal to feed a person is not practical. Growing fruits and vegetables sustainably is.

Using veganic methods it has been proven you can feed one person with an 1/8 acre. There are apx 300,000 people in the US. This would take about 37,500,000 acres to feed everybody.

Most people agree that you should have about 1 cow per acre. It is estimated a cow can feed apx 350 people, so that would be the same as feeding one person an entire year. So one acre each for 300,000,000 people = 300,000,000 acres.

This doesnt include a lot of factors but you can see the huge difference. Eating cows needs 262.5 million more acres. Why again is eating cows more sustainable then eating plants?

By Cheryl Devine on Mon, May 17, 2010 at 11:34 am

“The point of my last statement is that the majority of the western states’ land area is already used for the production of cattle.  It’s not possible to increase the number of cattle to these areas, because the places that have cattle are already extremely cow-damaged.”

You are absolutely wrong Gary, and there is a mountain of evidence to prove it. If had watched the Allan Savory talk that I linked to, you would know that in most cases, the problem is actually that there are far too few ruminants to keep the land healthy. Before we wiped them out, vast, dense herds of ruminants, often stretching as far as the eye could see over the horizon, symbiotically evolved with the perennial grasslands that are essential to our planet’s survival. As I mentioned, many people, such as Clarence Mortenson, have vastly increased the health and biodiversity of the land by using much more dense numbers of ruminants on the land, which more closely mirrors the natural balance. The key to sustainable pasturing is to move the herd, to mimic natural grazing patterns.

“What you are saying here is actually opposite the truth.  Livestock are extremely harmful to riparian areas.”

No, what you are saying is the opposite of the truth. I cite an example of someone who won awards for restoring wildlife habitat in riparian areas from both the Society for Ecological Restoration and the Environmental Protection agency, using intensive, holistic grazing techniques to do it, and that is your response?!? Once again, you are conflating sustainable pasturing with factory farming. It is not just an opinion that sustainable pasturing increases the health of riparian areas, it is well documented with incontrovertible research, as previously cited.

“what you don’t understand is the system you described happens naturally when the indigenous animals graze the land; except, when this process occurs naturally the grass that’s lost to cattle in your idea, is instead used for the animals that are natural to the land.”

I understand just fine. Once again, the vast herds of millions and millions of pasturing ruminants that symbiotically evolved with the perennial grasslands that are essential to our planet’s survival do not exist anymore, and it would be literally impossible to bring them back for multiple reasons. There are no naturally occurring ruminants that could even remotely fill their essential role. Sustainably pasturing ruminants such as cows and sheep is the only even remotely feasible way to maintain that essential balance.

“Can you explain to me how predator populations rise in HM areas?  Are you saying that its part of HM to lose a certain part of the heard to predators?  Because your claim isn’t consistent with the national statistics on trapping.”

It’s not actually that complicated. Holistic management encourages biodiversity. It is a central premise. Some holistic managers do indeed allow for losses to predators, and some take measures to keep both their herds and the predators in their areas safe.

The proof is in the pudding. In a study of 43 holistically managed ranches in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, there was a whopping 75% increase in predators.

“The herding patterns that you’re referring to are not natural to the western United States.  The ruminants that you want to introduce are not indigenous and are harmful to the land.”

You are wrong. In fact, in many parts of the West, resting the land has been repeatedly shown to be an environmental nightmare, because perennial grasses depend on heavy grazing and hoof trampling for their survival. Intensive, sustainable pasturing is the only feasible tool for keeping much of the Western US from eroding to desert. Perhaps this link about holistic management will help:
http://www.context.org/ICLIB/IC25/Wood.htm

“Are you attending the debate between Niman and Lyman on the 20th?”

Nope, I wish. I live in Western NC. I really hope that Nicolette Niman brings some sort of bodyguards with her, after what happened to Lierre Keith recently. While speaking about the ills of factory farming and the importance of animals in sustainability, vegan activists came up behind her and smashed cream pies laced with cayenne pepper into her eyes, while vegans in the audience laughed and cheered them on.

By g english on Mon, May 17, 2010 at 11:09 am

“Rubbish. There isn’t enough room not to graze ruminants. What is needed is more sustainable, holistic grazing, and in many cases that actually means much higher amounts of ruminants on the land”

-  The point of my last statement is that the majority of the western states’ land area is already used for the production of cattle.  It’s not possible to increase the number of cattle to these areas, because the places that have cattle are already extremely cow-damaged. 

“As a matter of fact, sustainable pasturing is an amazingly powerful tool for saving riparian areas on arid land. That’s not just an opinion; it has been proved over and over again. One example is the indigenous American, sustainable rancher named Clarence Mortenson actually won awards for restoring wildlife habitat in riparian areas from both the Society for Ecological Restoration and the Environmental Protection agency. He used intensive, holistic grazing techniques to do it. He actually pastures far more than the usual amount of animals per acre, moving them around between riparian areas and highlands to mirror natural herding patterns. The increases in the biodiversity and soil vitality of his land has been astonishing, and he is but one of many, many examples.”

-What you are saying here is actually opposite the truth.  Livestock are extremely harmful to riparian areas.

“That is absolutely false. You don’t understand the science behind grasslands. When a pasturing ruminant grazes on the plant, it takes away energy from the plant, which responds by sloughing off roots which become decaying matter that massively increases the microbial activity, and the plant then responds by sending down deeper and deeper roots, tapping into hard to reach nutrients that are then distributed throughout the ecosystem”

-what you don’t understand is the system you described happens naturally when the indigenous animals graze the land; except, when this process occurs naturally the grass that’s lost to cattle in your idea, is instead used for the animals that are natural to the land.  Then those animals are eaten by the predators there.  Can’t you see how taking animals that graze natural grasslands are taking resources from the animals that are supposed to be there?

“You really shouldn’t make such overconfident pronouncements about something that you clearly know very little about. Your claim is absolute nonsense. Because of agriculture, we have long since wiped out any ruminants that would be even remotely capable of symbiotically maintaining grasslands. For millions of years, the grasslands were maintained by vast herds of millions and millions of ruminants. When grasslands sit without the intensive grazing that is essential for their survival, they eventually die. That’s largely how we wound up with the dust bowl. Holistic management’s claims that grasslands die without intensive grazing are not just opinions, they are backed by considerable research. The photos that they have documented that research with speak volumes.”

- I don’t agree

“Predator populations have actually gone up in many holistically managed areas, and that’s a fact. The whole point of holistic management is to appreciate the whole environment and foster biodiversity, which creates the most balanced and sustainable practices, healing the land, rather than harming it.”

- Can you explain to me how predator populations rise in HM areas?  Are you saying that its part of HM to lose a certain part of the heard to predators?  Because your claim isn’t consistent with the national statistics on trapping.


“because the only feasible way to maintain the grasslands that our planet depends on is through intensive grazing that mimics natural herding patterns.”

- The herding patterns that you’re referring to are not natural to the western United States.  The ruminants that you want to introduce are not indigenous and are harmful to the land.

Are you attending the debate between Niman and Lyman on the 20th?  I feel that a lot of the weight of our conversation is lost in this form of communication, and it would be a little more productive in person.

By Gary on Sun, May 16, 2010 at 12:02 pm

“There are a few things wrong with grazing large ruminants in grasslands in the west that no one can deny.”

Watch me.


“First, there isn’t enough room.  525 million acres out of 750 million acres are already grazing lands in the west 11 states.  This doesn’t even count grass that’s grown for ruminants like hay fields.”

Rubbish. There isn’t enough room not to graze ruminants. What is needed is more sustainable, holistic grazing, and in many cases that actually means much higher amounts of ruminants on the land.

“Second, grazing live stock does a tremendous amount of damage to riparian areas.  They trample down the river banks, and shallow them out, making them inhospitable to fish, and aquatic plaint life.”

As a matter of fact, sustainable pasturing is an amazingly powerful tool for saving riparian areas on arid land. That’s not just an opinion; it has been proved over and over again. One example is the indigenous American, sustainable rancher named Clarence Mortenson actually won awards for restoring wildlife habitat in riparian areas from both the Society for Ecological Restoration and the Environmental Protection agency. He used intensive, holistic grazing techniques to do it. He actually pastures far more than the usual amount of animals per acre, moving them around between riparian areas and highlands to mirror natural herding patterns. The increases in the biodiversity and soil vitality of his land has been astonishing, and he is but one of many, many examples.

“Third, the live stock grazing take the grasses from that area from the wild animals that would normally use it; in fact, since the meat is taking from that area for human consumption it equals a net loss of energy for that ecosystem.”

That is absolutely false. You don’t understand the science behind grasslands. When a pasturing ruminant grazes on the plant, it takes away energy from the plant, which responds by sloughing off roots which become decaying matter that massively increases the microbial activity, and the plant then responds by sending down deeper and deeper roots, tapping into hard to reach nutrients that are then distributed throughout the ecosystem.

There is a mountain of evidence that in reality, sustainable pasturing massively increases biodiversity. Conversely, veganic agriculture is more hospitable than conventional agriculture to biodiversity in some cases, and far less in others because the yields are considerably lower, but it is virtually always lower than sustainably pastured land.

“Fourth, the idea of over rest in HM is completely ridiculous, because grasslands vegetation is never “over mature” because it is always grazed by other animals.”

You really shouldn’t make such overconfident pronouncements about something that you clearly know very little about. Your claim is absolute nonsense. Because of agriculture, we have long since wiped out any ruminants that would be even remotely capable of symbiotically maintaining grasslands. For millions of years, the grasslands were maintained by vast herds of millions and millions of ruminants. When grasslands sit without the intensive grazing that is essential for their survival, they eventually die. That’s largely how we wound up with the dust bowl. Holistic management’s claims that grasslands die without intensive grazing are not just opinions, they are backed by considerable research. The photos that they have documented that research with speak volumes.

“Fifth, grazing live stock in our grasslands is horrific to the predators in our area.  Every year the federal government uses 10 million dollars to kill predators, and approximately 100,000 predators are killed.”

Predator populations have actually gone up in many holistically managed areas, and that’s a fact. The whole point of holistic management is to appreciate the whole environment and foster biodiversity, which creates the most balanced and sustainable practices, healing the land, rather than harming it.

“It is ridiculous to think that raising cattle everywhere is going to promote biodiversity, because it will only diminish it.”

Yes, it is ridiculous to think that raising cattle will promote biodiversity “everywhere,” and it is even more ridiculous to claim that raising cattle doesn’t massively increase biodiversity in many places, including much of the Southwest. It is also ridiculous to think that agriculture without animals would be anything less than an environmental nightmare of unparalleled proportions, because the only feasible way to maintain the grasslands that our planet depends on is through intensive grazing that mimics natural herding patterns.

By g english on Sat, May 15, 2010 at 12:48 pm

There are a few things wrong with grazing large ruminants in grasslands in the west that no one can deny. 

First, there isn’t enough room.  525 million acres out of 750 million acres are already grazing lands in the west 11 states.  This doesn’t even count grass that’s grown for ruminants like hay fields. 

Second, grazing live stock does a tremendous amount of damage to riparian areas.  They trample down the river banks, and shallow them out, making them inhospitable to fish, and aquatic plaint life. 

Third, the live stock grazing take the grasses from that area from the wild animals that would normally use it; in fact, since the meat is taking from that area for human consumption it equals a net loss of energy for that ecosystem. 

Fourth, the idea of over rest in HM is completely ridiculous, because grasslands vegetation is never “over mature” because it is always grazed by other animals.  Since I am from this area I can attest to the wonderful cattle free meadows and grasslands in Northern California’s National forests.  At the same time I have also witnessed grasslands that have been abused by BLM and its use of live stock on publicly owned land, hiking in the woods it is easy to identify areas where live stock are frequent due to the lack of vegetation and overabundance of cow manure.

Fifth, grazing live stock in our grasslands is horrific to the predators in our area.  Every year the federal government uses 10 million dollars to kill predators, and approximately 100,000 predators are killed.

It is ridiculous to think that raising cattle everywhere is going to promote biodiversity, because it will only diminish it.

By Gary on Fri, May 14, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Cheryl, Holistic Land Management is based out of New Mexico! Their work has largely been focused on reversing desertification by massively increasing biodiversity and soil vitality through sustainable intensive grazing techniques that mirror natural herding patterns. Desertification is certainly an issue in Africa as well as the Southwest. As a matter of fact, HLMI has had amazing, well documented success in increasing biodiversity, saving water tables, increasing soil vitality, and reversing desertification in the arid West.

Here is another helpful article on the amazing environmental benefits of sustainable pasturing:
http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/008338.html

By g english on Fri, May 14, 2010 at 12:40 pm

WH, thank you for the info and website. I read a lot of things on the site, and I see that they are not entirely against grazing, just against it in the arid west. It is the land owners who live it first hand who are trying to stop the grazing in the area. I also see that there was a whole book written against the Hollistic Land Management technique. It does seem very odd to compare the African deserts to our dry states. I will research the site and the information further, thank you.

By Cheryl Devine on Fri, May 14, 2010 at 11:24 am

I just came across a wonderful, level-headed article in Yes! Magazine that is relevant to this conversation on the case for sustainable meat by Shannon Hayes, a feminist homesteader with a Ph.D. in sustainable agriculture and community development:
http://www.yesmagazine.org/blogs/shannon-hayes/the-case-for-sustainable-meat

By g english on Fri, May 14, 2010 at 10:52 am

Gary, I agree that we should return the planet to as natural a state as possible, and live as compassionately as possible. I just disagree with what you perceive to be the best way to do that. I believe that any sustainable system of food production mirrors the natural balance of microorganisms, plants, and animals within the complex web of particular ecosystems. Taking animals out of that essential balance results in environmental catastrophe.

By g english on Thu, May 13, 2010 at 2:47 pm

W.H., your claim that that article “is not on one side or the other” is so amazingly wrong that it is actually pretty funny. The National Public Lands Grazing Campaign, which published that article, is an anti-pasturing advocacy group! On virtually every count, study after study has debunked the central claims of that article. In actuality, their claims are largely belief, not science. Contrary to the claims in that article, studies have incontrovertibly demonstrated massive increases in biodiversity (an impressive 72% increase in a recent study) and exponential increases in soil vitality. And contrary to the goals of the article that you posted, in grasslands that are left to sit without sustainably pasturing ruminants to fulfill the important symbiotic relationship between ruminants and grasslands, HLMI has documented major losses of biodiversity and soil vitality, leading to soil erosion and desertification. Grasslands evolved with vast herds of ruminants that we wiped out because of agriculture. Without ruminants, they eventually die. Sustainable pasturing is far and away the most powerful tool to preserve the grasslands that are essential to our survival, despite the fallacious claims in that skewed article. You don’t have to take my word for it. For a very different opinion, which is backed up by an extraordinary amount of research and irrefutable data, check out Holistic Land Management International:
http://www.holisticmanagement.org/

By g english on Thu, May 13, 2010 at 2:43 pm

I found an interesting article for the both of you, it is not on one side or the other.

“Grass-Fed” Beef—Green or Green Wash?

Recently there has been a spate of articles celebrating the supposed ecological virtues of free-ranging, “grass-fed” beef as opposed to grain-fed cattle.

Consumers are being told that grass-fed beef is ecologically and ethically superior to livestock fattened in feedlots.

Who is to say whether beef cattle that are castrated, branded with a hot iron, and forced to search for scraps of grass under a blazing sun or survive the wind and snow of a winter blizzard are “happier” than cows standing shoulder to shoulder at a feeding trough? We will allow others to debate the ethics of beef production.

However, there is no denying that grass-fed beef has numerous unavoidable ecological impacts, rendering suspect the claim that grass-fed beef is somehow a desirable alternative to other production methods.

Most of the public mistakenly believes that grass-fed cattle are fed their whole lives by grazing rolling hills of grassy pastureland.

In fact, grass-fed cattle typically rely on hay and other feed in winter and other times of the year, and especially during periods of drought. Hay production usually requires the conversion of entire valleys into fields of exotic grasses with an equal and simultaneous loss of native vegetation.

In Montana, for example, hay fields make up more than 5.5 million acres or 6 percent of the state, a sizeable commitment to supplemental forage production.

Hay fields must be irrigated, which is typically done by dewatering streams or through ground water pumping. Both reduce the flow of surface water, negatively affecting aquatic ecosystems.

Sometimes entire streams and rivers are completely dewatered, leaving fish and other aquatic species high and dry.

Often small fish will attempt to escape dwindling streams in (or are otherwise “sucked” into) irrigation canals where they are trapped and die, frequently killing most of the annual recruitment into the population.

Whether on private or public lands, grass-fed livestock cause widespread damage to western ecosystems:
•  Grass-fed cattle pollute our streams and foul springs through trampling and deposition of their feces and urine. Livestock production is the number one source of non-point water pollution in the West.
•  Grass-fed cattle trample riparian vegetation and break down streambanks, often altering or destroying a stream’s hydrological system. Livestock are the number one cause of riparian damage in the West, and these riparian areas are home to 70-80 percent of all western wildlife.
•  Grass-fed cattle trample and compact soils, reducing water infiltration and hastening overflow from precipition that contributes to flooding and soil erosion.
•  Grass-fed cattle are a primary vector for the spread of exotic weeds by transporting weed seeds on their coats and in their feces. Also, by consuming more desirable “ice cream” plants, livestock alter vegetative communities and give a competitive edge to invasive weed species.
•  Grass-fed cattle consume forage that would otherwise feed other native herbivores, from grasshoppers to sage grouse to pronghorn and elk. The removal of grasses by livestock also leaves many small mammals and birds more vulnerable to predators by reducing hiding cover.
•  Grass-fed cattle are vulnerable to predators, and livestock are the primary (if not the only) reason for predator control in the West. Thousands of wolves, grizzly bears, black bears, coyotes, mountain lions and other wildlife are destroyed each year to protect livestock on public and private lands—at taxpayer expense!
•  Grass-fed cattle transmit disease to wildlife, including buffalo, elk and deer.
•  Grass-fed cattle interrupt ecological processes like wildfire.

Anyone who suggests grass-fed beef is superior to grain-fed beef is only considering a fraction of the real costs of beef production. Whether grain-fed or grass-fed, beef production is an ecological disaster for the American West.

Finally, most “grass-fed” cattle are “finished” at feedlots on “grain” (mainly corn and chemical supplements), as mosts consumers do not actually favor the flavor of grass-fed beef

Here is the website: http://www.publiclandsranching.org/

By W.H. on Thu, May 13, 2010 at 1:35 pm

I agree with Cheryl, we should return the planet to as natural a state as possible, and live as compassionatly as possible.

By Gary on Wed, May 12, 2010 at 4:35 pm

“Lady, I searched for Allan Savoy, and Allan Savory ONLY. I have never searched for you PERIOD.”

Than why the bleep do you keep linking to posts of mine from completely unrelated sites and going on and on about how many posts you have read of mine on completely unrelated sites that you find disturbingly similar to my posts right here?!? You lie worse than a little child.

You may have started out looking for Allan Savory, but it is perfectly clear that you quickly veered off into cyberstalker territory. Did all of that stuff of mine that you claim to have read just come to you in a dream? Did veganic faeries whisper it in your ear? ..No you don’t have to answer those questions, because they are rhetorical. We both know perfectly well what you have been doing.

“We are BOTH talking about the facts, and then going off topic. I agree, lets just stay on topic here.”

I haven’t been the one cyberstalking you and pasting links from completely irrelevant unrelated sites, like your Huffington Post profile here. That’s been 100% you. I was the one trying to discuss the actual issues all along. Your lack of ability to recognize your own hypocrisy truly is mind-boggling.

“We cannot allow the non-human animals to be slaves anymore. We cannot allow them to be raped and killed anymore. The world will never be at peace if we continue the killing.”

More hyberbolic ridiculousness. Great. The fact that you refer to meat eaters and sustainable farmers as murderers, slave owners, and rapists, and then have the hypocritical audacity to turn around and complain about name calling and anger truly is ludicrous to the point of insanity.

Since you asked, a quote from Nicolette Niman’s thoughtful, informed side of the debate here seems apt:

“Environmentalists are rightly angry about the industrialized livestock sector. But eliminating all animal husbandry is like taking axes to apple trees – it wouldn’t work. Worse still, it would make the most environmentally appropriate farming impossible.”

By g english on Wed, May 12, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Lady, I searched for Allan Savoy, and Allan Savory ONLY. I have never searched for you PERIOD.

We are BOTH talking about the facts, and then going off topic. I agree, lets just stay on topic here.

So here is my final on topic reply,

...veganic farming is the only truly sustainable and ethical farming method there is. I believe in bringing the world “back to nature”. We can do this by bringing back natural numbers of wild animals to their native land. We need to put an end to hunting, and bring back the predators as well. We cannot allow the non-human animals to be slaves anymore. We cannot allow them to be raped and killed anymore. The world will never be at peace if we continue the killing. Death is a natural thing, slaughtering and killing humans or non-humans is not. Eating meat and/or dairy is not necessary for humans to live healthy lives. Therefore, we should live at peace with our fellow creatures, treat them well, respect them. Be one with nature, rather then be at war with nature.

I welcome you to make your final comment on sustainability as well….

By Cheryl Devine on Wed, May 12, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Wow is right. Your hypocrisy is surreal.

“I never said the 850 comments were about Allan, read it again.”

Oh please, you said:

“Type in Allan Savoy at Ask.com. Yours is the first one right after the sponsor ads. It says you have made 850 comments, and it shows every single one of them there on that page.”

“Stalking would mean I was searching for you..”

Yep. And again, your cyberstalking is getting to be more than a bit creepy. You even linked to something I said on my home town’s local weekly, and now you are linking to my Huffington Post account here, in a discussion about sustainable farming, because apparently you can’t just discuss the issue based on the merits of what is said right here. Extremely, extremely creepy.

“I wouldnt want you to get a brain hemorrhage, but what is YOUR definition of a murderer?”

Someone who kills people. Take a look at how many farmers have been convicted of murder for raising animals for meat. Your vegangelical hyperbole really is completely insane.

“I am not a liar, veganic farming methods work.”

There are some great methods in veganic farming, but I disagree that veganic farming is sustainable by itself. It is certainly an issue that is up for debate. But as for your claim that you are not a liar, that is not up for debate, because you have irrefutably proved yourself to be a liar on multiple counts at this point. Perhaps the most absurd example was your ridiculous confabulation that every single word that I have written to you is the exact (“and I mean exact!”) same that I wrote to other people on similar topics, on totally different websites under different monikers. That is absolute poppycock, and you know it.

It would be extremely, extremely easy to prove that you lied. In fact, since it is such an easily testable supposition, let’s do it. Simply show me where else every single word of this random example of my writing to you is exactly found somewhere else. And as you said, “and I meant exact!” You will not be able supply your proof, because you are indeed somewhat of a pathological liar:

“It really is absolutely hilarious that after you call me a murderer, a slave owner, accuse me of plagiarizing myself, tell me to get a thesaurus, accuse me of lying, and on and on… you still have the outlandishly hypocritical to actually say that. Absolutely ludicrous, and truly amazing.

“I just found out about Alan Savory a couple of days ago, so your claim that I have been referring people to him on all of the sites that I interact on is yet another completely ridiculous, flat-out lie from you.  The cyberstalking really is getting a little creepy though. Is your life really that empty that you have nothing better to do?”

And again, the fact that you have been cyberstalking me, searching for and reading my posts on different websites under different monikers, and dragging them in here in some kind of desperate attempt to discredit my arguments here, rather than just discussing the facts on hand, is beyond creepy.

“What do YOU call someone who breeds cows, raises them and then kills them?”

A farmer.

By g english on Wed, May 12, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Wow! That’s all I can say about most of that last post you’ve made. Please actually read what I say before you burst out the seams!

I never said the 850 comments were about Allan, read it again.

Read your comments on that page, and read your comments on this page. They ARE the same. Ill make it easy, here is the link when you search for ALLAN SAVOY at Ask. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/entopticon?action=comments

Stalking would mean I was searching for you, as I said, I searched for both Allan Savoy and Allan Savory only.

Im a little afraid to ask you anything else, I wouldnt want you to get a brain hemorrhage, but what is YOUR definition of a murderer? What do YOU call someone who breeds cows, raises them and then kills them?

I am not a liar, veganic farming methods work.

Oh, and I bought a mirror!!!! Wow! I am absolutely gorgeous!! Thanks for the suggestion!

By Cheryl Devine on Wed, May 12, 2010 at 11:10 am

“It is SO pointless to keep using OTHER farming methods over and over to try and prove that VEGANIC farming doesnt work.”

It is so pointless to keep lying. You said that concerns over low yields were a joke, and I proved you wrong. It is hardly a secret that veganic methods don’t work very well to achieve productive yields with crops such as wheat, but by all means, keep confabulating. You have quite a knack for it.

“Type in Allan Savoy at Ask.com. Yours is the first one right after the sponsor ads. It says you have made 850 comments, and it shows every single one of them there on that page.”

You are either astonishingly ignorant, or astonishingly dishonest. Either way, shame on you. Your claim that I made 850 comments about “Allan Savoy” is a completely absurd flat-out lie. Again, your cyberstalking is getting to be extremely creepy. Please, get a life.

“Im pretty sure we are the only ones reading these, with the exception of Gary there of course (hello) but I just cant help but wonder why every single word you have written me is the exact (and I mean exact!) words you wrote to other people on similar topics?”

You are a disgraceful liar. That is absolutely false, and it is extremely creepy that you are stalking me around the internet. Of course my comments are virtually the same on different sites on the identical topic, because I am the same person, but your claim that every single word that I have written to you is the exact same is a flat-out, bald faced, absolutely disgraceful lie, and you should be ashamed of yourself.

“Also, there is so much rage and anger in your comments. You just insult and put peoples thoughts and ideas down so quickly.”

Oh my god!!! Your hypocrisy is absolutely outlandish! You called me some of the worst things imaginable. You even called me a murderer, and insist that you stand by it! Your vegangelical rage is absolutely off-the-wall. Seriously, buy a mirror. And you think you have been open-minded to other people’s ideas?!? You are open to the importance of animals in agriculture? Absolutely unbelievable.

“How would you know? You only learned about him 2 days ago, and obviously didnt even search his name to see how I found all your comments, or how to spell his name.”

Again, you didn’t find 850 comments of mine on him. You are an insane (yes, if you get to call me a murderer and a slave owner, I get to call you insane) cyberstalker that clearly has absolutely no understanding of how search engines work. I made a few comments on a few different websites over the course of a few days. Your lies are truly disgraceful. The Director of the Buckminster Fuller Institute sent me the link to Savory’s talk a few days ago, because he knew from our discussions that I was very interested in carbon farming, and that was the first that I had heard of Savory.

And how would I know that his work has not been debunked even though I just learned who he is? Because although I just learned about him, I am actually very familiar with his organization, Holistic Land Management International, and they have amassed a mountain of incontrovertible evidence to support their claims.

“My husband and I are actually starting a veganic farm,”

Good luck with that. I hope that works out for you. Maybe you will be one of the few that doesn’t give up on it after a few years. I am well aware of who O’Brien was. By the way, the surface hoes that many veganic farmers employ were developed by Eliot Coleman, who staunchly believes in the essential importance of animals in sustainable agriculture.

Of course there are some veganic farms, but here are far more successful permaculture farms that use animal products out there. And whether you believe it or not, it is absolutely true that I have encountered a remarkable number of former vegan, former veganic farmers who said that they learned the importance of animals in agriculture the hard way.

By g english on Wed, May 12, 2010 at 10:11 am

Im pretty sure we are the only ones reading these, with the exception of Gary there of course (hello) but I just cant help but wonder why every single word you have written me is the exact (and I mean exact!) words you wrote to other people on similar topics?

If you do that search for Allan Savoy on Ask like I said, it shows all of your comments. But the funny thing is, I didnt even have to go past the first page to find every word you wrote to me, written to someone else in the exact same way! I just find this strange.

Also, there is so much rage and anger in your comments. You just insult and put peoples thoughts and ideas down so quickly. You get so defensive and try to just turn it around on people.

My intention is not, and never was to make you upset. I am sharing information with you that I know through years of research.

The murderer comment, I will stand by. If you look up synonyms of murderer, you will find both butcher and slaughterer. (That is what happens when you kill cows, right?) Or how about accomplice to murder because you are just buying the meat and eating it, rather then doing the killing yourself.

By Cheryl Devine on Tue, May 11, 2010 at 7:58 pm

I tried posting these links above, but it wouldnt allow me to. You can search for them manually though.
gentleworld
lalibelafarm
sunizonafamilyfarms
reverencegardens
growbiointensive
bountifulgardens

By Cheryl Devine on Tue, May 11, 2010 at 7:30 pm

“Even organic methods don’t work as well for productive wheat yields. Your contention is complete poppycock:”

It is SO pointless to keep using OTHER farming methods over and over to try and prove that VEGANIC farming doesnt work.

(and do you always have to end each response with an insult?)

“The cyberstalking really is getting a little creepy though. Is your life really that empty that you have nothing better to do?”

Type in Allan Savoy at Ask.com. Yours is the first one right after the sponsor ads. It says you have made 850 comments, and it shows every single one of them there on that page.

(again, another insult after your response?)

“Alan Savory’s work certainly has not been “debunked.””

How would you know? You only learned about him 2 days ago, and obviously didnt even search his name to see how I found all your comments, or how to spell his name.

“I’m glad you get to decide who the “true” veganic farmers are.”

I am not deciding who the true veganic farmers are. Every farmer who does not use animal products is farming vegnically. I am simply advocating the most tested and original form of the veganic farming method. This method was pioneered and used extensively by Dalziel O’Brien with help from Maye Bruce’s earlier information from the 30’s.

My husband and I are actually starting a veganic farm, as I stated before that I have researched this and sustainability issues for over 7 years. It is not new information to me.

The best book I can suggest on veganic farming is “Veganic Gardening” by Kenneth Dalziel O’Brien. It is very hard to find, it is from the UK.

There are several very successful vegan farms you can find online. Im sure they all have their own methods, but they are all veganic.
(This is my favorite, watch the video its hilarious!)
http://www.flyingbeet.com/

By Cheryl Devine on Tue, May 11, 2010 at 7:23 pm

“I am not attacking you. I never heard anyone use the words you do in everyday conversations, so I thought maybe you were using a thesaurus. Its not an insult.”

Actually, it is an insult for you to expect me to believe that.

Yes, I do think your ridiculous comparisons of meat eaters and sustainable farmers to murderers and slave owners are crazy. Sorry, but it’s true. And if you still fail to see how insanely insulting your rhetoric is, I can’t help you with that.

“What a joke! You can through wheat on the ground anywhere and it will grow! You can grow lugumes just fine veganically, if the soil is nutrient poor in an area, thats what cover crops are for.”

You clearly have absolutely no idea of what you are talking about. Are you a veganic farmer, or do you live in an apartment in the city? I understand what cover crops are for, and I understand how legumes are used to fix nitrogen in the soil. Again, that does not work for productive wheat yields. Even organic methods don’t work as well for productive wheat yields. Your contention is complete poppycock:
http://www.leeds.ac.uk/news/article/802/organic_farming_shows_limited_benefit_to_wildlife


“Please let me know if there is something you want me to reply to, stop the insults and attacks.”

It really is absolutely hilarious that after you call me a murderer, a slave owner, accuse me of plagiarizing myself, tell me to get a thesaurus, accuse me of lying, and on and on… you still have the outlandishly hypocritical to actually say that. Absolutely ludicrous, and truly amazing.

I just found out about Alan Savory a couple of days ago, so your claim that I have been referring people to him on all of the sites that I interact on is yet another completely ridiculous, flat-out lie from you.  The cyberstalking really is getting a little creepy though. Is your life really that empty that you have nothing better to do?

Alan Savory’s work certainly has not been “debunked.” There is a mountain of incontrovertible research data to support it. The proof is in the pudding. He has repeatedly reversed desertification and exponentially increased the measurable vitality of the soil.

This is obviously going nowhere. I’m glad you get to decide who the “true” veganic farmers are. There are just so many of them after all. You believe that veganic agriculture is a reasonable replacement for sustainable agriculture that includes animals, and I do not, nor do virtually all of the experts that I have ever encountered, but time will tell. Sorry, but I think the evidence is overwhelming that veganic agriculture without animals would be an environmental nightmare of unprecedented proportions.

By g english on Tue, May 11, 2010 at 11:12 am

I will respond to your comments, I am happy to answer all of your questions, I do not intentionally skip any of them, these comments are just very long so I may miss something.

“Your attacks are getting to be a bit desperate.”

I am not attacking you. I never heard anyone use the words you do in everyday conversations, so I thought maybe you were using a thesaurus. Its not an insult.

However, you continue to insult me. Here is the lastest one “I am certainly not unleashing some crazy vegan on them.” or the one below

“when I busted you on your fallacious claim that there is no plowing in veganic farming, instead of owning up to it, you chose to just spew more nonsense.”

Im sorry, you did not prove me wrong. There is no plowing in the true veganic farming method. It is purely surface cultivation only. No disturbance of the soil at any deeper then 3-4”. Plowing is when you disturb 8” or more. When there is surface cultivation only, you will have very little to no weeds within just a few seasons, its great!

Lots of farming could be considered veganic if no animal products are used. However, the TRUE (and best) veganic farming method created before the 30’s and coined in 1961 used NO digging, NO plowing, and NO humanure. They use vegan compost and cover crops.

Humanure is not used because they are desparate to replace animal manure, it is used so that people do not add to the already HUGE problem of getting rid of human waste. Some people choose to use composting toilets, because of the sustainability factor. As a advocate of sustainability, you should be an advocate of composting toilets.

“I didn’t even send you the study! You did not email me!” Golly, you think I might already be pretty familiar with most of the research on the subject?”

Again, my study is not about the vegan diet. It is about diets vs. sustainability (how the foods we eat effect the planet) Email me, so you can read it (I wont email you anything else ever, I promise)

“It is used because some key crops, such as wheat, have very low yields with veganic methods because legumes can’t effectively fix enough nitrogen for them to achieve productive yields”

What a joke! You can through wheat on the ground anywhere and it will grow! You can grow lugumes just fine veganically, if the soil is nutrient poor in an area, thats what cover crops are for.

“they try to make up the difference with humanure, which isn’t a real solution.”

Why is that? What is the difference? Is it more sustainable to use human waste which already exists, or breed more cows for people to buy and then use their waste instead? If you’re gonna use manure, you might as well use what you already have right? Either that, or use no manure at all!THAT makes sense!

“the vast herds of wild, unmanaged ruminants, that would be necessary to preserve the planet’s soil in the age of agriculture is not remotely feasible.”

Then his theory is debunked. You cant put non-native animals where they do not belong. It is not NATURAL. Would we put domestic cats and dogs out into the wild? No, its not natural. How about giraffes in California? No, not natural. Domesticated cows into the wild? No, not natural!

The only reason for putting domestic cows everywhere is that there is money to be made. Someone will own them, someone will kill them, someone will sell them, and someone will eat them. (In these situations, cow = property, therefore cow = slave)

There is no end to the death and destruction of our planet, if we continue to kill the creatures in it. This will die, of course, that is natural. But breeding animals to kill and eat them is wrong on ALL levels.

Please let me know if there is something you want me to reply to, stop the insults and attacks.

And for the millionth time, you keep posting everywhere with the same thing, I have found countless posts with your other username everywhere and its all the same information. Those sites do not have “experts” on them, just regular people. The person you keep referring them (and me)to on all those sites is Allan Savoy, But NO! Its actually Allan Savory you should be referring them to.

Please, please stop comparing veganic farming to organic or bio-dynamic, or sustainable farming, they are not the same. Thanks!

By Cheryl Devine on Tue, May 11, 2010 at 9:12 am

Gary, you can doubt it all you want, but you will still be wrong. I am not and have never been a veganic farmer, so I am no expert, but I have researched the literature quite a bit, and conversed with quite a few former veganic farmers on the issue, as well as a number of sustainable farmers who are familiar with veganic practices.

Your claim that I was relying on one source is absolutely absurd. In fact, I linked to more than one source right here in this thread. My opinions are literally based on hundreds, if not thousands of sources. And certainly, many of the nation’s most successful sustainable farmers, such as Elliott Coleman, strongly agree with me.

Apparently you missed the fact, which was discussed in the talk, that Allan Savoy has worked extensively in numerous countries, particularly the US, for several decades. And the results of his research are incontrovertible. In numerous locations in the US, his organization, Holistic Land Management International, based out of New Mexico, has demonstrated astonishing reversal of desertification by massively increasing biodiversity, exponentially increasing the vitality of the soil, and controlling water runoff by sustainably pasturing ruminants.

Your claim that it has nothing to do with pollution means that you didn’t actually watch the talk, or you didn’t understand it. Savoy is a prominent proponent of carbon farming, which uses sustainable pasturing to create vast carbon sinks to sequester greenhouse gasses.

The whole point of his “brown revolution” is that we have been looking at the problem the wrong way. He argues that we have to think more systemically, and that means improving the health of the planet’s soil with intensive grazing by sustainably pastured ruminants, because the loss of soil vitality is the foremost factor in climate change. Savoy’s argument is the exact opposite of yours; he believes that vastly more sustainably pastured ruminants are necessary, and if you watch the talk you will see that he debunks several myths about overgrazing.

Other organizations, such as the Sustainability Institute, have researched the importance of pasturing ruminants as well. In fact, several of the people who run it live at Cobb Hill, a sustainable alternative community that grows food and sustainably pastures ruminants.
http://www.sustainer.org/

I think you need to take your own advice and expand your horizons a bit. I was a vegetarian for years. I live on an organic vegetable farm, I grow much of my own food, and I have worked with the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project to help raise awareness. I disagree with you, as do many people who are concerned about sustainable food production.

By g english on Mon, May 10, 2010 at 11:24 am

“The yields are not lower! AND you still claim to know about veganic farming?!!!”

Says you. I think you are way off base. I have researched veganic farming quite a bit, but I am no expert on the subject, because I am not a veganic farmer. I do know enough to know that plowing under is a common practice on most veganic farms, and when I busted you on your fallacious claim that there is no plowing in veganic farming, instead of owning up to it, you chose to just spew more nonsense.

“You cannot even come up with new information, so you copy and paste instead? Too lazy to break out the thesaurus again, are we?”

This is clearly getting to be somewhat personal for you. If I repeated myself on some point in some other post on another site, there is nothing wrong with that. Your attacks are getting to be a bit desperate.

“I didn’t even send you the study! You did not email me!”

Golly, you think I might already be pretty familiar with most of the research on the subject? I could post studies about the dangers of vegan diets till we both turned blue in the face, such as those showing shockingly high rates of neurodegenerative diseases among vegans, 92% of all vegans tested have serious B12 deficiencies, and vitamin D deficiencies in vegan children have been shown to cause rickets in astonishing numbers, etc, etc, etc, but I don’t expect to convince you. I have read countless studies from both sides, and I find

“You did not answer any of my questions about which veganic farmers you know, since you claim SO many have told you what a mistake they made, and which key crops you claim cannot be grown veganically.”

Believe it or not, I don’t live in a bubble. This here internet is a great contraption, with all sorts of discussion forums, and as I have said, I have encountered many former vegan farmers over the years who changed their ways when the realities of sustainable agriculture set in. I live on a farm, and the farmers that I know personally are permaculture farmers, organic farmers, biodynamic farmers, and conventional farmers, not veganic farmers, or at least not any more. Some of them have websites, but I am certainly not unleashing some crazy vegan on them.

Have you heard of humanure? It is manure made from human excrement. Do you understand why it is used in veganic agriculture? It is used because some key crops, such as wheat, have very low yields with veganic methods because legumes can’t effectively fix enough nitrogen for them to achieve productive yields, so they try to make up the difference with humanure, which isn’t a real solution. Ultimately it is just a convoluted form of denial about the effectiveness of cow manure.

If you learn more about what Allan Savoy was talking about, you will find that the vast herds of wild, unmanaged ruminants, that would be necessary to preserve the planet’s soil in the age of agriculture is not remotely feasible. The only hope for our planet is sustainably pasturing ruminants.

By g on Mon, May 10, 2010 at 10:46 am

G english, I doubt that you have done any research on veganic farming; in fact, all you do is site an irrelevant source.  Allan Savoy’s talk only shows that you can use ruminants to maintain grasslands IN AFRICA.  It has nothing to do with air or water pollution that comes from raising animals for food.  Just because Savoy argues that there should be ruminants in Africa doesn’t mean you should eat those ruminants, and this is simply because the demand for the meat would push the number of ruminants to an unsustainable level.  You seem like an intelligent person, but you shouldn’t rely on only one source for your information especially when it is not relevant.

By Gary on Mon, May 10, 2010 at 9:47 am

Similar style here:

“Lower yields means more land, no matter how you slice it.”

The yields are not lower! AND you still claim to know about veganic farming?!!!

“Your claim that I parrot my own rhetoric, because you found a comment by me on another site, is just plain bizarre.”

You cannot even come up with new information, so you copy and paste instead? Too lazy to break out the thesaurus again, are we?

““I have a fantastic study…”
Fantastic is a very good choice of words there”

I didn’t even send you the study! You did not email me! So, for you to make a comment like that is a joke! Email me, or give me your email so I can send it!

“Your cherry-picking of Lierre Keith of all people, to try to support your point is almost as funny as it is outlandish”

I am not using her as a person supporting MY claims! I am telling you that a person who claims grass-fed beef is sustainable, states it is ONLY possible if the population of the world was 300 million max!

You did not answer any of my questions about which veganic farmers you know, since you claim SO many have told you what a mistake they made, and which key crops you claim cannot be grown veganically. There is absolutely NO way you can tell me that you know more about veganic farming if you would even claim these things! Thats rediculous!

I forgot to fill in the comment of Allan Savory’s video in my last post! It was a very interesting point he was making. However, we need to bring the native animals back to the land (here in N Cal it would be deer, elk, bears, etc) NOT stick domesticated cows everywhere! He even said in the last part that they brought back elephants, buffalo (which are wild cattle), and domestic cattle. It would have had the same effect with just the elephants and buffalo. The buffalo are wild cattle! Why would he put domestic cattle too? That makes no sense! (Well, it does, when we talk monetary reasons)

Here is some info I found on WILD cattle:
There are 12 species of wild cattle in the world but several have either been entirely domesticated or else hunted to extinction. Domestic cows exist in the billions but their wild ancestors died out by 1627.

I agree with bringing back wild cattle but to where they are native only! (These include the American buffalo, Asian buffalo species, the Yak, etc. NOT Jersey cows, Holstein cows, etc. These are NOT wild, and not native to anywhere!) The most important part though, is that he never mentioned that we have to KILL them or EAT them! So, I agree on that too.

We also need to bring back the native predators, like wolves, bears, etc.

I agree, we need to end hunting of our wild animals, so that we can bring the wild native animals back to the land! Great point!

By Cheryl Devine on Mon, May 10, 2010 at 9:31 am

As I said, I don’t expect to convince the die-hard vegans here, because it seems to be more of a religion than a dietary choice.

Cheryl, your claim that there is no plowing in veganic agriculture is patently false. Either you are just making things up, or you have been seriously misinformed. There is certainly less plowing on the whole, and none at all in some cases, but your claim is fallacious. Strange for you to assert that I know nothing about veganic farming, when I clearly know more about it than you do.

Your claim that it would not take more land to grow crops veganically is patently false as well. Lower yields means more land, no matter how you slice it.

Your claim that I parrot my own rhetoric, because you found a comment by me on another site, is just plain bizarre.

“I have a fantastic study…”

Fantastic is a very good choice of words there.

Your cherry-picking of Lierre Keith of all people, to try to support your point is almost as funny as it is outlandish. Lierre Keith does indeed believe that the world’s population needs to shrink massively to be truly sustainable, but she also believes that animals are absolutely essential to any conceivable model of sustainable agriculture.

Gary, believe it or not, I have actually done quite a bit of research on veganic agriculture, and I came to the exact opposite conclusions that you did. The only sustainable methods of food production mirror the natural balance of nature, and that includes animals. As Allan Savoy eloquently argued in the video of the talk that I linked to, it would be an environmental nightmare to eliminate sustainably pastured ruminants from the land. I hope that *you* can get past *your* bias long enough to find truth in life.

By g on Sun, May 09, 2010 at 3:31 pm

It is obvious in the way that g english comments on veganic farming that they have absolutely no idea what the term veganic farming means.  Every point they make on veganic farming is nothing more than a fallacy.  G English, I would recommend that you do some research on veganic farming, or if it helps look up “bio-intensive” they are synonymous.  You will find that the exclusion of animal products is the most efficient way to sustainability.  I hope that you can get past your bias long enough to find truth in life.

Gary

By Gary on Sun, May 09, 2010 at 12:50 am

I will reply to some of your comments:

“Agriculture, even veganic agriculture, and in some cases especially veganic agriculture, wipes out entire ecosystems. The water runoff of a plowed field is not much better than a parking lot”

In veganic farming, there is no plowing

“I can’t even count how many former veganic farmers I have encountered who learned the importance of animals in sustainable agriculture the hard way.”

I highly doubt that you know even ONE veganic farmer. If you do, please tell me who it is.

“Environmental journalist Richard Manning put it well in his informative article, The Amazing Benefits of Grassfed Beef when he said: “Over the years, organic farmers have told me they relearned this important point:”

He is talking about ORGANIC farmers, not VEGANIC farmers. Organic farming is NOT sustainable either.

“I don’t believe that veganic farming is sustainable. Many key crops cannot be grown with anything close to productive yeilds with veganic methods. We would need several more Earths to successfully feed all the people on the planet with veganic methods.”

This is simply not true and it is obvious you know nothing of veganic farming if you would say this. Which “key crops” would we not be able to grow exactly?

It would not take MORE land to grow veganic plants for humans to eat, it would take more land to raise grass-fed cows for humans to eat.

“It may actually open your eyes and help you to realize just how extremely wrong you are”

It is not wrong to eat plants. It IS however, extremely wrong to kill our fellow creatures and eat them. It is very wrong to rape them and steal their babies and steal their milk.

Also, I did watch the video you posted. I think it is funny you talk about parroting and rhetoric, but guess what I found? A comment posted by someone else that is exactly the same as what you wrote to me!

Here is the link! http://www.mountainx.com/opinion/2008/test_your_behavior_using_your_own_ethics_not_those_of_animal-right_activist

I have a fantastic study that was done in 2007 that shows that a vegan diet, whether conventional or organic is less destructive to the environment in EVERY WAY then a organic animal based diet. They did not do a veganic diet, but it would be even more environmentally friendly. There is no plowing of the land or damage to the top soil or micro-organisms in veganic farming.

I cannot post the link of the article, but I am aloud to email it. It is a great article if anyone is interested please email me at cazthedesigner at hotmail dot com, I would be happy to share it. The article also talks about desertification as does your video.

Lierre Keith (well known advocate of eating grass-fed cows and hunting and eating wild animals) stated that although she believes it is the ONLY way to sustainably live, said that it would only be possible to live this way sustainably if there was a maximum world population of 300 million!

You may email me if you’d like to discuss this further

By Cheryl Devine on Sat, May 08, 2010 at 7:44 pm

Really Cheryl, you can’t see how calling meat eaters and sustainable farmers slave owners and killers is offensive? It is truly remarkable that you are so wrapped up in the cloistered discourse of veganism that you actually fail to see that.

Again, your rhetoric is eerily similar to the right-to-lifers, whether you recognize it or not.

I do not feel guilty about eating sustainably pastured meat. Perhaps you are projecting.

We agree on the fact that CAFO’s are a real problem, as is much of industrial agriculture, but to conflate CAFO’s with sustainable pasturing as you are doing is a huge mistake. Sustainably pastured animals eat grass, not grain.

Agriculture, even veganic agriculture, and in some cases especially veganic agriculture, wipes out entire ecosystems. The water runoff of a plowed field is not much better than a parking lot. Conversely, sustainable pastureland is extremely effective at preventing water runoff, and replenishing water tables. Agriculture, veganic or not, severely decreases biodiversity and depletes the soil of its essential vitality over time. Conversely, sustainable pasturing massively increases biodiversity, and exponentially increases the vitality of the soil, to the tune of billions of microorganisms in a single handful.

Nature works in complex webs of systemic relationships, not oversimplified binary polemics like “meat bad, vegetables good.” In fact, it is exactly that sort of linear, mechanistic thinking that pushed us so far out of balance with nature in the first place. Any sustainable method of food production mirrors the natural balance of microorganisms, plants, and animals in a particular environment.

I can’t even count how many former veganic farmers I have encountered who learned the importance of animals in sustainable agriculture the hard way. Environmental journalist Richard Manning put it well in his informative article, The Amazing Benefits of Grassfed Beef when he said:

“Over the years, organic farmers have told me they relearned this important point: Many found out the hard way that they could not make their operations balance out — both biologically and economically (they’re the same in the end) — without bringing animals back into the equation. Handled right, animals control weeds and insects, cycle nutrients, and provide a use for waste and failed crops. Healthy ecosystems — wild and domestic — must include animals. Now there’s a chance we may realize how very important this idea is to the life of the planet.”

Again, if you do just one thing, please, please watch the video of the talk by Allan Savoy that I linked to. It may actually open your eyes and help you to realize just how extremely wrong you are. The grasslands that foster the vitality of the soil that is essential for the survival of our planet coevolved with ruminants, which were wiped out because of agriculture, and now sustainably pastured ruminants is the best and only effective way to maintain them in order to protect our planet from desertification.

For what it’s worth, animal products such as manure have worked quite well over the years on the organic vegetable farm that I live on.

By g english on Fri, May 07, 2010 at 4:44 pm

I know that the majority of produce grown in this country is not grown sustainably, that is obvious. I am one of the people trying to change that. Most people also know that it IS sustainable to feed everyone with veganic crops, most (in fact 70%) of corn for instance is grown to feed animals not humans. Actually only 2% of US corn is fed to humans. (The 18% is for other products) Humans could never consume the amount of produce we grow to feed the animals for people to eat. I don’t believe anything I have said is offensive. Saying someone feels guilty about their food choices is not offensive. I am also not misguided, and I believe you are the only one who ever mentioned or even thought of blowing something up, where did that thought come from? I dont see why you would find it extreme to eat plants, it is easier to find killing a fellow creature and eating it as extreme. I have researched this subject for the past 7 1/2 years, I continue to do so everyday. I read several different sources of information, and I can honestly say: there are no cons about eating only plants, it is healthy for me, the planet, the people, and of course the animals.

By Cheryl Devine on Thu, May 06, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Cheryl Devine, I wish you could see how eerily similar that sort of extremist hyperbole is to that of the far right extremists blowing up abortion clinics. Sustainable farmers are not killers or slave owners, any more than veganic farmers are.

Are you really under the impression that the vast majority of the vegetables that most vegans enjoy are grown without animal products? I don’t believe that veganic farming is sustainable. Many key crops cannot be grown with anything close to productive yeilds with veganic methods. We would need several more Earths to successfully feed all the people on the planet with veganic methods.

And along with that, sustainably pasturing ruminants is absolutely essential for the vitality of the soil and life of the grasslands that are necessary for our planet’s survival.

I don’t expect to convince you, but if you want to be taken seriously, you can learn some more about sustainable farming, and stop using such offensive, misguided language about meat eaters, because yours is not the only valid opinion.

I strongly recommend that you watch this profoundly important talk by Allan Savoy, which might help to disabuse you of some of the disinformation that you have been parroting from well-intentioned, but extremely misguided sources

http://vimeo.com/8239427

By g english on Thu, May 06, 2010 at 9:34 am

Great article Lindsay! It was very well written despite what these two have said. I have been vegan over 7 years, and it is sad that people still are in denial about the brutality of eating meat and dairy. Vegans do not want mono crops, vegans want locally grown Veganic crops. There are no animals used for any purpose in a veganic system. Animals of all kinds including human should be able to live out their entire lives freely, not murdered before they reach adulthood. It is EXACTLY like the days of slavery, and the people who are contributing to this killing are guilty. Killing is still killing, no matter if you put a pretty little bow on it!

By Cheryl Devine on Thu, May 06, 2010 at 8:32 am

Sorry, but I found Niman’s arguments to be vastly more cogent in every way. Rajt’s criticisms of Niman’s ranch weren’t remotely compelling, and her hyperbolic claims were more than a bit silly at times, if not offensive, as when she said, “Niman’s arguments are similar to those of slaveholders who advocated treating slaves more kindly but did not actually want to abolish slavery.”

The deeper issue is that none of Rajt’s environmental claims applied to the sustainable farming practices advocated by Niman at all. Rajt seems to be so used to parroting rhetoric about factory farms, that she has no cogent argument to make on the issue of sustainable farming whatsoever. In reality, Niman has been a huge critic of factory farms.

Clearly it was easier for Rajt to hide behind a smokescreen of rhetoric that didn’t even apply to Niman’s position, than it was for her to make a compelling argument against the importance of animals in sustainability. Conversely, the arguments that Niman made for the importance of animals in any sustainable model, were exceptionally compelling.

It also seems that Rajt is quite myopic in her criticisms of factory farming, because as opposed to Niman’s nuanced arguments, she completely fails to acknowledge the very serious problems of factory farmed monocrops, which wipe out entire ecosystems, turn our topsoil into a desert wasteland, and release massive amounts of carbon, methane, and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere.

By g english on Sat, March 13, 2010 at 9:39 am

Crop farming, which is imperative to feed a planet of humans, even if they are all vegan.

Crop farming machinery maims multitudes of animals, from bunnies to fawns, and leaves them die a slow agonizing death in the field.

Crop farming displaces wildlife - while a silvopasture grows both meat animals and allows wildlife to flourish and prosper. 

Simply being alive on this planet makes you party to the death and displacement of animals.  Each time I eat a serving of meat that has been killed humanely, I am not contributing to the horrendous but invisible mutilations that take place in every crop field. 

The complex natural cycles of this beautiful blue planet we call home hinge upon the concept that life is recycled.  I don’t understand why it has to be so that nature seems so cruel.  But I do understand that simply be alive forces me to be a part.  Life is a banquet, all must eat, and all are eventually on the menu.

The idea that eating vegan takes you out of this loop is a fallacy. 

I hope the writer can come to peace with the inevitability of death,  and someday sees there is great beauty in nature’s remarkable systems.

By Smy on Wed, March 10, 2010 at 6:52 am

Leave a comment

Comments Policy

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

Subscribe
Today

Four issues for just
$10 a year.

cover thumbnail EIJ

Join Now!

 

0.2931