Cattle And The Planet

      46 Comments on Cattle And The Planet

One of the silliest arguments against eating meat offered by vegan zealots is that cattle cause global warming.  Their argument boils down to two (incorrect or meaningless) points:

1. Trees are cut down to produce the crops required to feed cattle.

2. Cow farts add so much methane to the atmosphere, the greenhouse effect is amplified.

Trees may indeed be cut down to produce crops, but of course vegans consume crops – where do they think their whole-wheat pastas and soybean burgers come from, anyway?  As Lierre Keith argued so eloquently in The Vegetarian Myth, it’s monocrop farming that’s damaging the environment, and vegetarians regularly consume the products of monocrop farming:  corn, wheat, soybeans, etc.

I once responded to a vegetrollian who accused me of ruining the planet with my carnivorous diet by spelling out two scenarios:

1.  A local farmer raises cattle on grass.  During their lives, the cattle produce new topsoil by pooping on the ground.  They require no fertilizer to grow, and they fertilize the soil naturally.  When it’s time to turn the cattle into burgers and steaks, they’re driven a short distance to a local slaughterhouse, then the meat is driven a short distance to a local store, where I buy some of it and take it home to my freezer.

2.  A farmer somewhere in Iowa grows soybeans, which requires massive amounts of fertilizers made from oil shipped in from the Middle East.  The soybeans also require pesticides.  The fertilizers and pesticides run off into local streams and rivers, poisoning the water and killing the marine life.  The soybeans are then piled onto a gas-guzzling truck and shipped a long distance to an Archer Daniels Midland plant, where they’re processed into soy burgers.  The soy burgers are then placed on another gas-guzzling truck and shipped to a grocery store in California, where our vegan buys them and convinces himself he’s saving the planet by eating them.

The vegetrollian never responded to my two scenarios.

The cow-fart issue is, of course, simply ridiculous.  In response to yet another vegetrollian who raised that issue, I mentioned two points:

1. The Great Plains were once home to millions of buffalo, yet their methane production somehow failed to push the planet into a permanent warming cycle.

2. Given that vegetarians live on grains and beans, they’re probably major methane producers themselves.  I certainly was during my vegetarian days … although it never occurred to me that I might be warming the planet.

Once again, no response from the vegetrollian.

As illogical as these beliefs are (especially the cow-fart issue), I’m not surprised that so many vegans have adopted them.  As I’ve said before, many vegans are akin to religious zealots, and their beliefs are essentially religious.  Raising cattle for the purpose of eating them is evil, so there must be evil consequences. The only problem is that those beliefs don’t hold up to science.

Here are some quotes from a recent U.K. Telegraph article titled Cows absolved of causing global warming with nitrous oxide:

In the past environmentalists, from Lord Stern to Sir Paul McCartney, have urged people to stop eating meat because the methane produced by cattle causes global warming.

Sir Paul has written some fantastic songs, so enjoy those.  Just don’t take his advice on diet.

However a new study found that cattle grazed on the grasslands of China actually reduce another greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide.

Authors of the paper, published in Nature, say the research does not mean that producing livestock to eat is good for the environment in all countries. However in certain circumstances, it can be better for global warming to let animals graze on grassland.

I’d say it’s a lot better for the planet to let animals graze on grassland.  More on that later.

Klaus Butterbach-Bahl, of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, carried out the study in Inner Mongolia in China. He found that grassland produced more nitrous oxide during the spring thaw when sheep or cattle have not been grazing. This is because the greenhouse gas, also known as laughing gas, is released by microbes in the soil. When the grass is long snow settles keeping the microbes warm and providing water, however when the grass is cut short by animals the ground freezes and the microbes die.
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Dr Butterbach-Bahl said the study overturned assumptions about grazing goats and cattle.

“It’s been generally assumed that if you increase livestock numbers you get a rise in emissions of nitrous oxide. This is not the case,” he said.

Here are some quotes from an article about another study of food consumption and its (supposed) effects on the planet:

Plant-based diets are generally seen as healthy – but they are not necessarily the healthiest diets for the environment, according to new French research.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, examined the nutritional value of the self-reported diets of nearly 2,000 French adults and compared dietary composition with estimates of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated by the ingredients’ production.

Per 100 grams, the researchers found that animal products like meat, poultry, dairy, fish and eggs were indeed associated with much higher GHG emissions than fruits, vegetables and starchy foods. However, despite containing larger amounts of plant-based foods, diets of the highest nutritional quality were not necessarily the lowest in GHG emissions.

Due to ease of transportation and storage, and relative lack of waste, the least healthy foods, like sweets and salted snacks, were associated with some of the lowest emissions on an energy basis.

The researchers used a database to estimate GHG emissions per 100 grams of each food for the 400 most commonly consumed foods within the sample population. But when they looked at what people ate to meet their energy needs, they found the ‘healthiest’ diets – defined as those high in fruit, vegetables and fish – were associated with about the same level of emissions as the least healthy diets.

They explained that it was necessary to eat far more low-energy food in order to meet daily energy needs.

“Altogether, our results therefore seem to contradict the widely accepted view that diets that are good for health are also good for the planet,” they wrote.

I disagree with their belief that plant-based diets are the healthiest, but you get the idea:  100 grams of broccoli may require less energy to produce than 100 grams of chicken, but the 100 grams of chicken will provide a lot more energy.  (Good luck eating enough broccoli to feel full.)

The researchers noted that red meat requires the most energy to produce and therefore has the greatest impact on the environment.  Well, that depends on how it’s raised, doesn’t it?  There’s a lot more to environmental impact that just energy use.  Below I’ve embedded a TED talk that several readers recommended.  Look at what this scientist (who has enough integrity to admit his previous beliefs were wrong) has to say about the effects of livestock on the planet:

I recommended that speech to yet another vegetrollian who showed up on the blog this week to lecture me about how eating meat will ruin the planet.  (She also assured me she’s a “happy vegan,” then expressed her hope that John Nicholson, author of The Meat Fix, dies of a coronary soon.  Yeah, that’s the kind of wish a happy person makes.)

No reply from the vegetrollian on the TED talk so far.


46 thoughts on “Cattle And The Planet

  1. Walter Bushell

    Also see Polyface Farm and Joel Salatin. Lots of material there.

    Yup, Chareva read one of his books.

  2. The Older Brother

    Savory is credited by Joel Salatin and others as one of the main inspirations of the mob grazing/management intensive grazing/rotational grazing techniques.

    There’s some minor variances, but all tend to recognize that the best results in meat production come when the philosophy is that you’re really in the soil-building business.

    Salatin says that with his integrated, permaculture approach,his per acre harvest is 400 lbs of beef, 300 lbs of pork, 250 doz eggs, 200 chickens, 10 turkeys and 10 rabbits. That’s without ever importing any feed or chemicals. He’s literally added FEET of topsoil to his land (over several decades).

    As Savory and Salatin both point out, putting even a significant portion of the current industrially farmed land back into pastured ground would offset the entire carbon load that the tree-huggers lay awake at night worrying about.

    Wow, that’s quite a lot of production per acre. We hope to eventually do at least a scaled-down version of that. Of course, if we add feet of topsoil, I’ll need to raise my disc-golf baskets.

  3. Lori

    I’ve found that even native plants take a fair amount of work to grow–at least, to get them started. But goats? There are people who rent out their goats to solve other people’s weed problems.

    We talked to a couple who raise sheep for meat. They told us you’ve got grass and water, you’re set.

  4. js290

    People like Savory and Salatin have figured out how to work with nature rather than trying to conquer her. Ultimately, nature will win.

  5. Thomas Plummer

    Wow that was a very good video. I was thinking that this would be a way to produce a LOT of grass fed livestock for the food supply as well. One of the biggest barriers to people obtaining organic meats is cost and availability. I might have to move to Arizona and buy up some “worthless” desert land. 🙂

    If this method of reclaiming desert land becomes more popular, the cost of grass-raised meats will go down, which would be good for everyone.

  6. Nowhereman

    “I recommended that speech to yet another vegetrollian who showed up on the blog this week to lecture me about how eating meat will ruin the planet. (She also assured me she’s a “happy vegan,” then expressed her hope that John Nicholson, author of The Meat Fix, dies of a coronary soon. Yeah, that’s the kind of wish a happy person makes.)”

    Yeah, it’s pretty scary, and they’re like that on Yahoo or any other site (like YouTube or Amazon) where there’s a commentary section. I strongly suspect, based on the “style”, that this is the same individuals’ sock puppets.

    Ranting and dogma didn’t work? File off your anon name, stick another one on, attempt to change your tone, and try to pretend you’re someone else. Try and pad your numbers to drive off the opposition. But no matter what they try, they still wind up falling back into the same hatred and zealotry, and it becomes obvious whom you’re dealing with.

    So I have to thank you for linking in to Dave Evans’ blog site, that’s a fantastic reference to counter their BS with.

    Oh and speaking of which, I recall you referencing a study showing meat and dairy consumption overall has declined significantly over a 100 year period of time. I tried looking it up, but could not find anything except an NYTimes article, and there are thousands of entries about that one on Google, but not the other.

    If you can recall that, it’d be greatly appreciated.


    I’ll see if I can dig those up.

  7. Jan's Sushi Bar

    Our meat never even makes it to the store. We simply call our farmer (“Hi, Jon – we’re down to a couple of rump roasts and that brisket we’ve been hoarding and need a side of beef. Pick out a nice steer for us!”) who then takes our steer to our local abattoir. Our butchers, with whom we’re friends, slaughter our cow, hang it for two weeks and then cut it by hand to order. How do I know this? I’ve watched them do it. I then take all the nice boxes with my hand cut, grass fed beef home and store it in my 24-cubic-foot standing freezer right next to my pastured pork and chickens (they’re all raised by Doug), the goat (he was raised by Aimee) and the venison we were gifted by those same butchers who are all avid hunters. All of this meat travels less than 50 miles between our farmer and our kitchen.

    I wonder how many vegans exchange Christmas gifts with their soybean farmers.

    My guess would be zero.

  8. eddie watts

    “Yeah, that’s the kind of wish a happy person makes”

    brilliant! not a good week for vegans/vegetarians with a lot of blog posts based on science i’ve been reading last few days.

  9. Tom Welsh

    “Klaus Butterbach-Bahl, of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany…”

    I find it enchanting that Butterbach, literally translated, means “butterstream”. Now isn’t that a wonderful name? A delicious, sustaining brook of delicious creamy butter…

  10. NM

    Many people are coming to the conclusion that restoring our “grassland” cycle is the only way we’ll be able to sustain ourselves. People in Britain are beginning to realise this. For example, here’s an excerpt from this site ( ) which I think expresses it best:

    “Most of all we’re interested in grass. Down the ages human beings have produced some of their finest foods from animals kept on herb-rich pasture. Sadly we’ve now taken many of our food animals off pasture. By abandoning grassland we have damaged our planet, our animals and our own health. It’s time to reclaim our world’s greatest and most neglected resource – grassland”

    I think this is the beginning of a movement.

  11. Ed Terry

    I’m still amazed at how quickly supposedly intelligent people forgot about the Dust Bowl in the 1930’s. The cause of it was very simple. Massive areas of prairie grass were dug up and replaced with wheat. The resulting ecological disaster in five states was the direct result of a monocrop. Top soil from Oklahoma ended up in Washington, DC and Atlantic ocean. Most of the cattle in those areas of Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico died as a result.

    Uttering the phrase hearthealthywholegrains would have got you shot back then.

    And now it’ll get you a job as a nutritionist.

  12. Firebird

    “1. Trees are cut down to produce the crops required to feed cattle.”

    They’re chopping down the rain forests of Central America to create soy farms to help “feed the planet”, while destroying a delicate ecosystem.

    Crickets from the vegans.

    Of course. They apparently believe soybeans grow wild.

  13. Julie

    That video changed my life. Ok, not really, but it did impact me deeply! After watching it, I turned to my husband and said, “I wish we lived in an arid area so we could do that to our land!” Unfortunately, we live in a constantly soggy region where it’s nearly impossible to have bare earth.

    Still, it’s a wonderful idea and I hope it spreads like wildfire throughout those dry desertous parts of the world. And even people in wet, green areas can benefit from that idea. You could totally start a farm, have a large herd of cattle or goats or whatnot roam through most of your land, and then put your vegetable plot on different parts of the farm every year. To heck with digging three inches of well rotted manure into your vegetable plot every year (or worse, spraying chemical fertilizers). Just let the animals do the work for you.

    Our plan exactly, but with a small herd of sheep.

  14. Thai

    Thanks for the video link. After watching the entire speech, it looks like I will have to try to go for more free range foods. Eating animals from free range farms is much more environmentally friendly than eating animals that were fed soy, wheat, and corn.

    BTW, I’m back at school to get my M.D. and I cringe every time the professors say “Fat will make you fat” and “If you love your heart, don’t got to In-N-Out”. It’s even funny when the professors say that “We humans are not a closed system”, but will gladly state we need 2000 calories in our diet to function… Sigh… On the other hand, I smile when they smackdown a vegan’s statement that we can live without meat with a rhetorical question: “How do you get the remaining amino acids that are essential for the human body that we simply cannot self-produce without eating meat?”

    One last note, I have been low-carbing ever since I watched your film back in 2009, and now paleo for the past two years now. I can definitely say that I have never felt better in my life. I’ve lost over 30 pounds then and have maintained my weight ever since. Your movie changed how I critically think about food and health. I would like to personally thank you for taking me down this road to not only a better lifestyle for myself and my family, but going back to school to one day change the system of how we eat in society. It’s my hope that we can one day reverse all of the metabolic diseases with good eating habits rather than taking medications every day. Imagine how much money we can save on healthcare cost. Maybe then, we don’t need Obamacare! Thank you, Tom for everything. If you ever return to California, let me be the first one to by you a delicious “saturated-fat-clogging” In-N-Out burger, without the bun, of course!

    I’m delighted to hear Fat Head was a positive influence, and equally delighted you’re pursuing your M.D. We need more doctors like you.

  15. John

    Good post, Tom. It mirrors my experience growing up on a small mixed farm in Canada. We had a small herd of cattle. In the spring we would haul the beef cattle to a nearby community pasture which was in a forested area. Fences had been erected to divide off the bush in to several pastures. During the course of the summer the herd would be moved several times to prevent over grazing. On the farm almost all the trees had been cleared years earlier to grow hearthealtywholegrains. The areas that hadn’t been cleared were used as pasture for the few cattle that we kept for milk and cream production. These cattle were usually fed from grass cut from wet grassy areas that had never been plowed up for grain production.

  16. Keith

    A vegetarian diet can be grown on a few thousand square feet. A carnivorous diet including large animals takes much more. Optimally u would eat small animals with minimal impact on the land, and only eat plants too small irndifficult for humans to harvest, but really all u need is their manure, or u could just compost your own manure and use green manure/vermiconpost. Certain vegetarians might be ignorant but it doesnt change the fact that a vegetarian can have far less inpact on the land than a carnivore or probably even an omnivore. Surenif you could take a wild deer etc thats the best way to not impact the land but with population density of humans thats rarely a good option. Plus i am vegetarian or octopescavegan or whatever really inprimarily dont eat mamals but i almost never fart and my poop dont stink unless i eat something odd that i probably shouldnt have.

    Pick on someone your own size. Vegetarianism is noble but not for everyone. Sustainable farming is, get your priorities straight.

    Disclaimer i have not read the above article or comments. Lol

    So you haven’t read the article or comments, but you’re convinced a vegetarian diet has less impact on the land and showed up here to tell us so. Thank you proving my contention (stated in the article you didn’t read) that vegan and vegetarian zealots are akin to religious zealots who can’t be bothered with facts. Here’s one comment you should have read:

    “Salatin says that with his integrated, permaculture approach, his per acre harvest is 400 lbs of beef, 300 lbs of pork, 250 doz eggs, 200 chickens, 10 turkeys and 10 rabbits. That’s without ever importing any feed or chemicals. He’s literally added FEET of topsoil to his land (over several decades).”

    That’s a helluva lot of food per acre, and he’s ADDING topsoil in the process. Growing soybeans on the same acreage year after year depletes topsoil.

  17. Justin B

    You know what? You’re totally right about the “happy vegan”‘s comments. I’ve personally never wished harm or worse, death, on anyone that didn’t personally harm me. I’ve dealt with people having seen your movie, or having been paleo or LCHF, but then turning around and going vegan, and all I did was hope for the best if they do stay that way, or hope that they come around so that they have a better chance of nothing horrible happening to them. I get a little saddened when they gloat about switching to agave nectar, or steel-cut oats, or something like that, but that’s about as far as it goes.

    I don’t wish ill health or death on people who choose not to adopt my dietary recommendations either. I hope whatever diet they choose, it works for them.

  18. Eta Huinya

    Your post would be more meaningful if you actually had facts. Sure many vegans and vegetarians are misguided in their facts, but then again so are most omnivore humans.
    First off Tom, beef cattle are not raised on grazing. No misguided one, they are raised through feeding them such things as hay, alfalfa, grains, and corn grown in other locations solely for the purpose of feeding cattle. Of course much of the processed grains and corn have such wonderful additives as bovine growth hormones and other additives to speed up their growth and profitability.
    There are many reasons one chooses to become a vegan/vegetarian, some are based solely on religion, some on reasoned logic, and many out of health concerns. The educated person studies and learns that red meat is one of the hardest things for our bodies to process, in fact meat will rot in our bodies before it is fully digested.
    Soybeans are just as hard for the body to digest as red meat in their natural form, which is why the truly educated vegan stays as far away from tofu as they do a steak. however, unlike red meat, soybeans can be naturally modified to become extremely healthy and good for us. That process is fermentation, which changes the molecular structure of the soybean.

    This educated person did indeed study the effects of red meat on the body and found that the notion that red meat is hard to process is a vegetarian myth. This educated person also knows that several local farmers in his area do indeed raise their cattle on grass, not corn or grains.

  19. Marilyn

    @John. When I was growing up, our pasture in Nebraska was native prairie — big enough for one or two dozen cattle to roam wherever they wished. It hadn’t been cleared because there were no trees on it to begin with. In those years, every farm had such a pasture — usually some land on either side of a draw, so the livestock would have water.

  20. TonyNZ

    New Zealand research indicates that, at least for New Zealand dairy cattle, methane emissions from grass fed cows are as low as one third that of largely ration and grain fed cows. Principally methane emission by cows is an inefficiency of the rumen, much like smoke from a combustion engine.

    Whether or not you believe in anthropogenic climate change, it is interesting.

  21. Carole Sampson

    Vegetrollian! I love it. And I’ve always suspected that they produce just as much methane as cows. Plus they produce big clouds of SMUG. (I am a South Park fan.)

    (BTW Please note the R at the end of my email address and my blog name 🙂 )


  22. Becky

    Gee, when the mask falls off it really falls, huh? It reminds me of the vegans who attacked Lierre Keith. According to their mission they want to avoid causing harm to animals at all costs but they apparently have no problem harming a fellow human being. Is that what lack of animal fats does to your brain? That’s terrifying!

    Those guys were cowards and should have had their asses kicked. I was disgusted to see that nobody in the crowd went after them.

    By contrast, when I was at the Liberty Film Festival some years ago, a group of looney-left types tried to attack a speaker on the stage. They never made it to the podium and ended up on the sidewalk outside, sporting some well-deserved bruises.

  23. Mary D.

    Allan Savory’s tedtalk was riveting! He has learned from his mistakes and is a powerful speaker. Thanks for that link, I am sending it to everyone.

  24. Kristin

    I’ve seen a lot of lectures over the last year, including your work, Tom, that has turned my dietary world upside down in good way. When people look sometimes a little startled at some of my food choices I just say “Oh, I am so over that whole low fat thing.”

    I guess I thought all those old paradigms had fallen but right now I’m sitting at my computer just stunned. I was willing to accept that meat animals weren’t as destructive to the planet as popular opinion (factory farmed animals notwithstanding.) But to consider that it has been our misguided idea that eating plants instead of animals that is hastening the destruction of our planet…oh my. I think I need to just sit here for awhile.

    This is kind of like the feeling I had when I realized that it wasn’t the fault of my horrible discipline that I was still getting fatter and taking blood pressure meds. It was a feeling of hope for my own health in the future. Right now I feel a similar glimmer of hope for the restored health of our planet; that by abandoning tired old ideas that weren’t working we really will find solutions.

    I’m optimistic as well.

  25. Christopoll

    On Coast To Coast AM (3/11/2013) they talked about the truth of Cholesterol (at like 40-45 minutes).

    By the way, why do people care so much about methane. I mean, what’s next, killing all cows so they don’t produce methane anymore? Gimme a break, even if we don’t eat meat, cows won’t disappear.

    It’s just another red-herring issue raised by the anti-meat crowd.

  26. Wolverine

    Great piece. During the American revolution, when North America had millions of buffalo and other large ruminants, such as elk and moose in far greater numbers than presently, the world was also in the throws of a mini ice-age.

    How could that be? All that methane and yet the winter at Valley Forge was one of the coldest since before the Middle Ages. C02 levels tend to lag behind warming trends, by quite a few years, suggesting that high carbon levels are an effect, rather than the cause.

    Science and history are not strong subjects of interest for vegans. Political science and propaganda seem to be the required courses.

    When Al Gore made a big deal of showing the correlation between global temperatures and CO2 levels, there was a reason he showed them on glass slides several feet apart: put them together on one slide, you see that temperature goes up first, then is followed by a rise in CO2.

  27. Rae F.

    I hope this catches on and really takes the wind out of the sails of the “Meatless Mondays” trend.

    Let’s switch to Tofuless Thursdays.

  28. Miri

    Hey Tom, just wanted to say thanks for all the great work you’re doing in exposing the big food con. I loved the film and recommend it to everyone (someone recommended it to me after I said I’d quite liked Supersize Me – suffice to say I have been disabused of that notion since…).

    I think Fathead is the only example I have ever seen of anyone tackling the food debate with – heaven forfend – humour. It seems in general diet has become the new religion and dietary advisers our new evangelicals, so it was great to see someone actually have fun with the subject.

    It’s been exhaustively proven that ‘scare-tactics’ don’t work (if they did, nobody would smoke), so all the “heart attack in a bun” nonsense wouldn’t impact on people’s eating habits anyway, even if did have, well, a ‘grain’ of truth it in. I liked how your documentary approached people and their appetites as they actually are, rather than how utopian government (or Morgan Spurlock) would like them to be.

    The best thing about it though, was that it took on and dismantled all the confusion and fear that currently saturates the whole food/health/weight debate. People are basically tyrannised by Big Government and the like to make sure they eat a tasteless, cardboard diet literally not fit for human consumption or they’re going to DIE! PAINFULLY! TOMORROW!

    The last thing food should invoke in people is fear, but now we’ve got millions of people constantly at war with their appetites because they’re afraid of food and don’t trust what it’s going to do to their bodies. The government propels this fear by giving people wrong, conflicting and often downright dangerous information. Whereas if people ate the correct human diet, as identified by your documentary, this fear and disorientation would evaporate. Their weight and mood would stabilise and they could enjoy food freely without constantly fearing it’s out to “get” them.

    Anyway, not sure if this is the right place to post my “review”, but just wanted to say a big thanks for your great and much-needed contribution to the diet debate.

    It’s as good a place as any for a review, and I appreciate the compliments on the film.

  29. Linda R

    Tom, did you see this piece regarding hog factory farming here in Iowa. It made me sick. Wonder what I am really drinking when I turn on the tap water…………….

    The more I read about what really goes on here in Iowa, the more disgusted I become with the entire state.

    It won’t be long before the farmers here hit the tractors to start the corn/soy planting again, fence to fence, border to border. We’ll be smelling that crappy fertilizer and weed killers, even with windows closed.

    How I would love to see these thousands of acres turned back to grassland.

    I grew up in Iowa and Illinois and used to have warm, fuzzy feelings about those farms. Not anymore.

  30. Bill C.

    Great post Tom! I have found local sources for grass fed beef, pigs, chickens, eggs and also found a CSA I will be joining as soon as I can. All of these products are raised and grown locally.

    Since going paleo my wife has lost over 30 pounds and I have lost over 20. No calorie restriction or counting calories, no extra exercise, (our only exercise is at work) just real food! We are healthier and happier than we’ve ever been!

    @Keith: “Vegetarianism is noble” Seriously? Please do tell what is noble about it.

    @Eta Huinya: “Meat will rot in our bodies before it is fully digested” Again, seriously? Where do you get your information? You really need to read something other than “The Vegan Handbook”. You would be amazed at how much you can learn. The human body is designed to digest meat. We can get by on vegetables as well but grains, on the other hand, not so much. If it needs to be processed so our bodies can digest it, that is a hint that our bodies weren’t designed to eat it in the first place.

    I think too many people these days are suffering from nutritional lobotomies caused by their low fat diets. I hope some day they wake up and smell the bacon and eggs before it’s too late.

    BTW, I wore my “Wheat is Murder” t-shirt for the first time last Friday. I love the quizzical looks I get.

    We hoped that shirt would draw some sideways glances.

  31. kem

    Carbon cannot be created from nothing. cattle eat pasture that removed carbon from the atmosphere. Some of that carbon was belched or shat, some stored as meat or prodigy… that leads to a net gain in carbon sequestration. At least that’s how this NZ cattle farmer seees it. BTW, the best beef isn’t “grass fed”, they do much better on a herbal ley, clovers, plantain, chickory, weeds and maybe a couple species of grass.

  32. Christopoll

    France has one of the lowest rates of Heart Disease in the world. Cholesterol isn’t even listed on Nutrition Labels.

    When I think about it, here we get taught about how saturated fat is bad for us and how starches are very important, but not about cholesterol.

  33. Marilyn

    CO2, like cholesterol, is not an evil substance.

    I read a very interesting editorial recently, in which the author noted that if we get CO2 levels too far down, there will be a food shortage, and it will be real.

    Same would happen if we went into a cooling cycle, which, as Professor Robert Carter noted in a speech about the history of the earth’s cyclical climate, is a real possibility.

  34. sten bj

    Great article, thanks, we need more like it, soon!
    Regarding methane, claimed to be a major contributor to green house effect: Is it any worse than vegetarians farting instead of cattle? Since I adjusted to a low carb menu I am pleased to note that I am never in potentially embarrassing situations any more…

    But disregarding the outcome of who is worst, although methane is a much stronger green house gas than CO2, it has no long term impact like CO2 has as it does not accumulate. In the high atmosphere where Methane has its effect it breaks down in less than 15 years or less! That simple means that a static population of livestock makes NIL contribution to green house effect ! Still agricultural departments across the world are fighting this non-issue, instead of the real problems!
    But the annual increase of top soil thickness from sensible “Savory-style” livestock management reverses green house effect year on year as clarified in the article. It also means that even poor land soon will be able to contain and use up all manure from the livestock it feeds all around the year, without pollution into streams rivers, lakes and sea!
    Add that all CO2 “Savory-style” livestock produce is taken from the air via the grass. Greener creatures than ecologically grass fed livestock managed like this doesn’t exist on this planet!
    Feed-lot livestock on the other hand generates major pollution. The food comes from (usually) GMO grain or corn grown on land which is reseeded annually and therefore exposed to erosion every time nothing grows there. It requires nitrogen fertilizers produced from fossil fuels and/or from slurries from the feed-lot factories. Very thin top soil means very little micro-organisms to bind the fertilizers mean large leakages.
    Often up to 30% of this can leak back into streams, rivers, lakes and sea, causing pollution from the slurry and awful algae growth like one often come across today, also on sea beaches. What is produced by rotting algae on beaches and in lakes and seas? As soon as oxygen is consumed, methane is formed. Because density of methane is about half that of air it escapes quickly up into the air and can often only be measured or detected when escaping from “closed containers” under pressure. Like through cracks in arctic sea ice from rotting algae under the ice as recently, or from back or front of livestock, which also is easy to measure. But as mentioned above methane is not an accumulating contributor. But lesser usage of nitrogen fertilizers and no run off from fields would be a once off mega reduction, I believe.

    The more rain during a year, the more of the nitrogen fertilizer and the slurries run-off. And this is not happening at all with properly “Savory-style” livestock management. The polluting feed lots should be closed as soon as possible or at least have to pay environmental penalty points so owners awake and realize the mismanagement and the alternatives most of them are unaware of. Many of them still believe in that feed-lot animals are greener than grazed animals due to faster growth or shorter life. Considering the factors just outlined above, feed-lot livestock deserves to be let out on green fields both for themselves and for our sake, our future. That Savory has recovered deserts through the methods is due to that once the top-soil is restored to be thick enough, it is able to hold not only carbon but also most of the rain waters even when rain falls infrequently. And in places like Ireland and UK thicker top-soil through the methods could mean vastly reduced run-off with same or increased annual rain falls, and reduced annual flooding which is becoming an alarming problem.

    Good points. I hope this is an area where consumer demand ends up coinciding with what’s best for the planet — and it could happen.

  35. hausfrau

    Vegans ignore important all the many important differences between grassfed and grain fed meat on purpose. It’s just another exercise in disingenuous argument…… So if cattle belching and farting methane from eating grass is so bad for the environment, shouldn’t we be killing as many herbivores as humanly possible? One could easily turn this into a moral duty to slaughter all those millions of herbivores on the Seringeti that I always see on discovery channel. The Boy scouts should add a special patch for killing an endangered species. An empty planet for the sake of the environment. Do they think that wild herbivores somehow have fundamentally different digestive tracts than domestic livestock?

    They want to ignore the benefits to the plant of pastured animals because the planet is really their concern; that issue is a stalking horse for their belief that eating animals is immoral.

  36. Wolverine

    @Bill C. and @Ed,

    J. Stanton also linked his fine article with my article entitled, “Can Human’s Digest Meat?”. Which was based on my own experience as a sufferer of short bowel syndrome. After losing all but six inches of my intestines, I was left with a jejunostomy, meaning that what was excreted from the ostomy was what was left in the chyme directly following the duodenum. Surprise – no meat was found, but plenty of undigested vegetables were constantly clogging up the stoma.

    This left the argument no longer debatable, so much so, that the only argument that the vegans could counter was to now deny that they ever made the claim that meat rots on the colon in the first place – other than one brilliant vegan who left the thought provoking comment, “you sir, are a f#$&ing idiot!” – you know you have them reeling when this is their best counter point.

    I’m not sure where you and I ever got the idea that any vegan ever made the claim that meat rots and becomes rancid in the colon, when they now claim that we are making a straw man fallacy, because no vegan ever made that claim. My article can be found here:

    The strangest thing is that according to my stat server, I get at least 10 to 12 refers a day from search engines, based on the query “can humans digest meat” or “does meat rot in the colon”, so there are a lot of people searching for an answer to something that vegans claim they have never said.

    PETA used to boldly make this claim from their website, but I notice that they have since removed it. I know that I’m not the only one to ever hear this claim. How many other people have heard this? Maybe my tragedy has at least put that particular pseudoscience to rest once and for all. Even pieces of meat that I swallowed without chewing were reduced to liquid before exiting the stomach – I’d say that humans are very adapted to meat digestion – if only we could digest vegetable half as well.

  37. David

    I keep having this fantasy: All the cornfields and wheat fields in the midwest are cut down, and beef cattle are placed there, followed by egg laying chickens. Grass fed ribeyes become as cheap as chicken breast. Heaven has come to earth.


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