Monday, July 4, 2016

Real World Consequences

You couldn't go anywhere on social media last week without seeing the Washington Post article "Meat Is Horrible" in everyone's feed.

Obviously, anyone concerned with animals is eager to promote something that says "meat is horrible," especially when it comes from an "unbiased" source such as the Washington Post. We want and need everyone to realize just how horrible meat really is!

However, as we've discussed before, it is important to dispassionately analyze how a story will actually play out in the real world. We've pointed out here many times that Bad News for Red Meat Is Bad News for Chickens. We've run the numbers, and put it in graph form (and again).

This new article is an absolutely textbook case of unintended consequences. The clarification is right in the article's first sentence (emphasis added): "evidence is accumulating that meat, particularly red meat, is just a disaster for the environment."

Here is their main graph (click for larger):

So yes, eating cows and sheep is bad, but eating nuts is just as bad! Pulses (beans) are way worse than milk and eggs, and basically equal to chicken.

If we aren't blinded by the headline saying that [red] meat is horrible, we would see that the general, meat-eating public is receiving yet another argument to eat eggs and chickens, which are the "food" products that cause the most suffering.

Yet you would be hard pressed to find an "animal advocate" who hasn't been touting this anti-bean-and-nuts / pro-chicken article. Plenty of utilitarians have promoted it, even when, in their Facebook comment section about this article, they receive notes such as:

The bewildering thing is that this is the norm. Every time I speak, I ask the crowd if they've ever been told, "Oh, I don't eat much meat. Just chicken [and fish]." Every single person raises their hand.

And yet we continually spend our limited time and resources promoting articles that provide meat eaters "scientific proof" that red meat is terrible, and chicken is way way better.

If you have read this and seen two graphics below, you know that the consequences for chicken are the main ballgame. We should try to keep this in mind when deciding what to promote to the general public.



Joseph T. Espinosa said...

As Dumbledore pointed out, it takes a special courage to disagree with friends. While peer pressure from other vegans likely invites us to betray sound thinking and drink of the vegan bubble kool aid, I try to keep in mind the far far greater number of animals who are counting on us to be honest in our assessments, even though chickens rarely use Facebook.

MaryF said...

It should be noted that, while the number of farmed fish may be relatively small in comparison to the number of chickens, the number of wild-caught fishes used to feed farmed fishes (and farmed shrimps, pigs and chickens) is astronomical. "We use more than 5.6 billion pounds of wild-caught fish to feed the animals we eat." See (and note especially table 3):

This doesn't take into account the immense numbers of other animals who are incidentally caught and harmed/killed by the fishing industry (bycatch) while capturing the animals used as farmed animal feed.

This is a critical point in determining the numbers of animals who are harmfully exploited for food, the resultant environmental harm, etc.

Matt Ball said...

Thanks for your comment, Mary. See point 3 here: