When I wrote a recent post disputing Dr. Dean Ornish’s cherry-picked evidence that meat will kill you, I ignored his closing paragraph.  That’s because I wanted to focus on the Meat Kills! nonsense.

Here’s how Ornish finished his essay:

In addition, what’s good for you is good for our planet. Livestock production causes more disruption of the climate than all forms of transportation combined. And because it takes as much as 10 times more grain to produce the same amount of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption, eating a plant-based diet could free up resources for the hungry.

This has become the latest weapon in the arsenal of The Church of the Holy Plant-Based Diet.  They’ve tried convincing us that meat causes heart disease and cancer, but fewer and fewer people are buying that line — because it’s nonsense.  So the thinking seems to be Well, that didn’t work.  Let’s scare them away from meat by insisting that livestock are ruining the planet.  I give it maybe five years before The Anointed float the idea of requiring meatless days in school lunches.

What, you think I’m being paranoid?  Don’t forget who decides which foods can be served in schools.  And they’re apparently on board with the Meat Kills The Planet idea:

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, a federally appointed panel of nutritionists created in 1983, decided for the first time this year to factor in environmental sustainability in its recommendations. They include a finding that a diet lower in animal-based foods is not only healthier, but has less of an environmental impact.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said sustainability is an issue that falls outside the scope of the guidelines.  But members of the committee say they had free reign to discuss food supply in recommending what people should and shouldn’t be eating.
“The scope is ours to fully define,” said Barbara Millen, chairwoman of the advisory committee and a professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.

Translation:  We’re The Anointed.  We can tell you what to do even when it’s not our official mission.  After all, given the wild success of our dietary advice in making Americans leaner and healthier, it’s only natural we should expand our focus and save the worldwide environment too.

This is, of course, exactly the kind of theory The Anointed absolutely love.  The mission is HUGE — after all, what’s more important than saving the entire planet? – which means it will require a Grand Plan, which makes The Anointed feel So Very Important.  Given the opportunity, they will feel justified in imposing the Grand Plan on all of us – for our own sake, of course.  Remember, they’re trying to save the planet!  Just where the heck do you selfish meat-eaters think you’ll live after your livestock causes global warming – uh, I mean climate change – and renders the planet too hot … or too cold … or flooded because of the torrential rains … or barren because of the lack of rain?

Best of all, as with any Grand Plan, there’s no real way to prove The Anointed wrong.  They want us to give up meat so the planet doesn’t boil (or freeze) in 50 years or so.  If the planet isn’t boiling (or freezing) in 50 years, The Anointed who are still alive and remember the Grand Plan can claim it succeeded.  However, if the planet is boiling (or freezing), they can say we didn’t do enough to stop it.  The Grand Plan should have been bigger.

Lierre Keith dealt with the notion that a vegan diet will save the planet in her outstanding book The Vegetarian Myth.  Keep in mind she was a committed vegan for 20 years and used to believe all that stuff.  But then she educated herself.  Here’s an excerpt from my review of the book:

As Keith explains in section two, Political Vegetarians, eating soy burgers won’t save the planet, either.  All those goofy vegetarian arguments about how many more people we could feed per acre if we all ate the crops instead of the animals who eat the crops are based on a flawed idea: that the animals who provide our meat are supposed to eat corn.  They’re not.  They’re supposed to eat grass.  Keith recalculates the calories-per-acre figures assuming we were smart enough to raise our animals on their natural food, and not surprisingly, the disparity shrinks to nearly zero.

And feeding the masses is only part of the equation.  When you raise animals in a pasture, you create topsoil — you literally can’t create topsoil without animals.  But when you raise corn, you destroy topsoil.  It’s mono-crop agriculture that uses extraordinary amounts of water and creates soil runoff.  Then, of course, there’s all that fossil fuel required to keep the crops growing as the topsoil disappears.  (Imagine the fun of explaining to your wild-eyed vegan friends that their “sustainable lifestyle” is enriching the oil industry.)

Since vegans are pushing the idea that going meatless will somehow prevent global warm– er, climate change – I re-read portions of The Vegetarian Myth today.  Here are some quotes:

The vegetarians aren’t looking for truth about sustainability or justice.  They’re looking for the small slice of facts that will shore up their ideology, their identities.  This is where politics becomes religion, psychologically speaking, where the seeker is looking for reaffirmation of her beliefs rather than active knowledge of the world.  I was one such believer.

After quoting one of the vegan zealots who was yammering on (like Ornish) about how many more people we could feed if we didn’t waste grain on cattle, Keith writes:

Yes, it is a waste, but not for the reasons he thinks.  As we have seen in abundance, growing that grain will require the felling of forests, the plowing of prairies, the draining of wetlands and the destruction of topsoil.  In most places on earth, it will never be sustainable, and where it might just possibly be, it will require rotation with animals on pasture.  And it’s ridiculous to the point of insanity to take that world-destroying grain and feed it to a ruminant who could have happily subsisted on those now extinct forests, grasslands and wetlands of our planet, while building topsoil and species diversity.

I can vouch for animals creating topsoil.  The soil in our chicken yards is rich and alive, thanks to all that chicken poop.  For a couple of years now, Chareva has been scooping poop-laden straw from the hen-houses and adding it to her compost pile.  The compost has been going into the garden, because it’s great for growing plants.

Later in her book, Keith writes about the “green revolution” – a misnomer if there ever was one.  There’s nothing green about it, at least not if we’re using green to mean good for the environment:

Between 1963 and 1997, worldwide crop yields doubled.  This doubling came at a cost: fertilizer use increased by 645 percent … the practice of repeatedly plowing the fields, removing the covering of grasses and poisoning the bugs and the weeds robs the soil of its most life-giving characteristics.
We’ve already seen how these crops demand more water from dying rivers, sinking water tables, emptied aquifers, how irrigation creates a wasteland of salt-caked desert.  My point here is that this abundance of grain is no true abundance.  When the vegetarians claim, for instance, that Britain could support a population of 250 million on an all-vegetable diet, they are basing those numbers on the over-inflated production only made possible by fertilizer from fossil fuel.

Anyone who believes eating soybeans and whole grains will somehow save the planet is blissfully ignorant or deluded.  To quote Keith again:

To eat the supposedly earth-friendly diet Motavalli is suggesting would mean that everyone in a cold, hot, wet or dry climate would have to be dependent on the American Midwest, with its devastated prairies and its ever-shrinking soil, rivers and aquifers.  It also means dependence on coal or oil to ship that grain two thousand miles.  So you’re an environmentalist; why are you still eating outside your bioregion?

The logic of the land tells us to eat the animals that can eat the tough cellulose that survives there.  But the logic of vegans leads us away from the local, our only chance of being sustainable, back to the desperate Mississippi and her dying wetlands, her eroding delta.  Yes, eating grain directly is less water-intensive than eating grain-fed beef.  But why eat either?  Animals integrated into appropriate polyculture destroy nothing.
That is the point the political vegetarians need to understand.  In the end, all our calculations don’t matter.  Who cares if more food can be produced by farming when farming is destroying the world?

But .. but … it’s a plant-based diet!!

Keith argues in the book (and I agree) that none of this is sustainable long-term.  Barring some breakthrough in food production (one that doesn’t require even more pollutants), at some point we’ll probably blow through the resources we’re now using to feed 8 billion people.  If anything will destroy the planet, it’s overpopulation.  But I don’t see anyone – vegans included – offering to commit mass suicide to save the environment.

If you want to save the planet, buy grass-fed beef.  Better yet, raise a cow on grass.  Raise chickens in a pasture.  That soy-burger – grown with fossil-fuel fertilizer and shipped halfway across the country — won’t do diddly to help.

I’ve posted this before, but it’s worth seeing again.  Here’s how properly-raised livestock could perhaps save the planet:

122 Responses to “Vegan Zealots And ‘Meat Kills The Planet’ Nonsense”
  1. William Norman says:

    Imagine all the damage that the great buffalo herds must have caused the environment up until the nineteenth century. It must have been tough being a vegan Comanche.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Give ’em enough time, The Anointed will blame the Dust Bowl on buffalo herds — took the effect many decades to manifest, ya see.

      The Comanches were very tough and very scary dudes. I recently read “The Empire of the Summer Moon” about their rise to dominance on the Plains.

    • FrankG says:

      Imagine a World where the almost endless herds of buffalo had not been mindlessly slaughtered in their millions… instead of the dust bowl and subsequent reliance of fossil-fuel fertilizers to support vast sterile fields of monoculture crops, imagine instead the Prairies had an economy based around buffalo

  2. Sharon Burress says:

    Such beautiful logic! Thank you.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      A few local nuts, yes. I’m waiting for the USDA to make it national policy.

    • Walter Bushell says:

      Now wonder why the crime rate in Baltimore is so low, including the murder rate, and you hardly hear about crime problems there.

      Seriously prison guards getting knocked up by the inmates?

  3. If it’s any consolation, nutrition isn’t the only example of entrenched anointed ones clinging onto a bad idea lest they be proven wrong. I just watched part 2 of “Cancer: Emperor Of All Maladies” on PBS. You can watch it here: http://video.pbs.org/video/2365450715/

    Radical mastectomies were routine procedures. One doctor dares to question the orthodoxy. The “empire” strikes back. Eventually a study is done and confirms this barbaric treatment is no better than a simple lumpectomy. Skip to 9:30 to see what I mean.

    It’s like a bad movie that keeps getting remade over and over. The details change, but the plot is the same.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Well, I wouldn’t call it a consolation …

      The mastectomy story sounds exactly like what Dr. Kendrick describes in his book. The North Korean generals with the funny hats moved in to protect the regime. Good thing Fisher won.

      “Cancer: Emperor Of All Maladies” has been on my reading list for awhile.

      • Hi Tom and Gerald – I couldn’t check the clip as I am in the UK but the book by Siddhartha Mukherjee is phenomenal – I couldn’t put it down, yet it is ultimately profoundly depressing. I followed it up by reading Tripping Over the Truth: the metabolic theory of cancer by Travis Christofferson which is a brilliant read (I was so excited when I read it that I turned back to page 1 and started again), also covering the historical story of cancer but certainly more of a hopeful book in terms of developments in the prevention and understanding of cancer – particularly with regards to the Warburg Effect and the therapeutic effects of the ketogenic diet alongside conventional treatments. Both books highly recommended.

    • JillOz says:

      Remember when Dr Semmelweiss discovered that washing one’s hands prevented cross-contamination of pregnant women by doctors?
      His “fellow” physicians fought against it!!

  4. Tate Metlen says:

    We could house a lot more people on this earth and, with modern crops and farming techniques, we are actually allowing more land to go fallow (in the US) than converting to new farm land. Also, in the US, we don’t have a water problem. We have a water distribution problem. If you look at Japan agriculture, we haven’t even begun to be squeezed for space or resources. The rest of the world on the other hand…. Egypt is a good example of how to mismanage your way into dire straits.

    Also, I don’ t know if Keith was being satirical about the Mississippi river, but the problems faced by the Mississippi (minus the algae bloom in the gulf) are not caused by agriculture. Unless the Port of New Orleans, Port of South Louisiana, and Coypu are the result of agriculture. (Port of South Louisiana is critical for grain shipments from the Midwest, handling some 60% of all raw grain exports, so agriculture is still partly to blame.)

    The history of the management of the Mississippi river is fascinating from an engineering perspective. The inventor of the “jetty” system, Captain James Buchanan Eads, is worth reading about; he lived an incredible life. This system basically opened “fly over country” to the rest of the world. However, it does have the drawback of basically shooting the sediment carried by the river into the gulf… which is resulting in the loss of wetlands as they don’t get replenished when they are eroded. Coypu, an invasive species, is accelerating this by feeding on the roots of plants in the wetlands.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      In countries where people have experienced starvation, it was also usually a distribution problem — thanks to inefficient socialist economic systems and/or dictators and warlords who used starvation as a weapon.

    • Nate says:

      “Also, in the US, we don’t have a water problem. We have a water distribution problem.” I disagree. Before I retired, I spent 40 years designing water and wastewater systems. My trade journals would regularly have an article about some city having to install deeper wells or build new treatment facilities to utilize a new but questionable water source or some state having to implement water rights laws to prevent water wars erupting over who has the right to use the limited water resources. These magazine articles became more and more frequent as time went on.

      Years ago, the National Geographic dedicated a whole issue to the water problems in the US. They pointed out that the aquifers in the Midwest were going down. One cause of that slow but steady reduction was the distribution of our water to other countries via grain shipments.

      On the other hand, we have distributed water from the Colorado River to Los Angles. Thus, taking a valuable resource from out neighbor. Like with many nutritional problems, just follow the money.

      In conclusion, I agree with Tom and Lierre. The fact that the average food in the US travels an average of about 1,800 miles is a problem. The same problem should not be created or should I say increased for our water consumption. Local, local, local…

  5. Tom Welsh says:

    Thanks, Tom! What a powerful, fact-filled, compellingly-argued essay! I’m going to save a copy to refresh my memory whenever I need to argue the case. Of course, there is no question of “saving the planet” – a foolishly ignorant phrase. The Earth is a ball of rock and metal with a mass of nearly 6,000 billion billion tons, which has been quietly orbiting the Sun for several billion years. Homo sapiens barely attains the significance of a transient minor skin disease, and people who chatter about “saving the planet” generally mean “not destroying our own habitat”. It would be more honest to say that, and admit openly that our only concern is with our own survival and comfort.

    It struck me a while back that governments have done staggeringly little to limit population growth, and in order to preempt criticism they have generally taken the line that it is nothing to worry about. (Indeed, nations whose population falls have been thought of as risking defeat in war). Hence, one might expect governments to support vegetarianism in the belief that it would allow population to go on growing for longer before disaster strikes. I certainly notice a strong tendency for political leaders and the rich to lecture the poor about the virtues of vegetarianism – while themselves feasting on venison, other game, rare fish, and all the components of what might be called a luxury hunter-gatherer diet.

    “To eat the supposedly earth-friendly diet Motavalli is suggesting would mean that everyone in a cold, hot, wet or dry climate would have to be dependent on the American Midwest…”

    Having recently become aware of the staggering arrogance and callousness of the neocon leaders in Washington, I actually wondered for a moment if that might not be one of the intended effects. Nah, couldn’t be…

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I believe it could well be an intended effect. Governments also don’t like population to drop because it means fewer taxpayers.

      • Wenchypoo says:

        Oh, but lefties are all too willing to pay more per person to a centralized government that tells them when to go to the bathroom! Britain’s demonstrating it now with the collapsing of their precious NHS–they’d willingly pay more taxes just to keep it going than scrap it and have to take some personal responsibility!

        • Stephen Town says:

          It’s not just lefties who care about the NHS in Britain. We spend 9.4% of our GDP on healthcare and everybody is covered for life. The U.S. spends 17.9% of its GDP on healthcare with the limitations in cover that you will be aware of better than me. The analysis I’ve seen describes the U.S. system as wasteful and spending twice the proportion of GDP seems to confirm that.

          The NHS is always under pressure but the reference to its collapse is nonsense. I can see my doctor tomorrow and he or she is much more likely to use their professional judgment, rather than sending me for a battery of unnecessary tests because they’re frightened of being sued if they don’t. Apparently, that’s one reason the U.S. system is so wasteful but I’m sure Americans could cite many others. Two-thirds of doctors here ignore guidelines to prescribe statins, yet I know most American doctors feel obliged to prescribe them because of legal and other concerns.

          My American friends, including libertarians, tell me that Health Insurance and its costs are major worries for many families, particularly for those in less secure or poorly paid employment. This is a worry we never experience. I’m no leftie, and I accept the libertarian argument in some areas, but ideology can often be the enemy of good sense. I’ll take a policy that works from anywhere – left, right or libertarian – if it’s well evidenced and works. Americans who move here speak of the security they feel knowing that no one will ask to see a credit card or insurance policy when they need treatment.

          The NHS isn’t perfect and any failing is loudly criticised, but it’s an organisation more highly valued and appreciated than any other organisation in the country. There are many things I admire about the U.S. but the health system isn’t one of them.

          • Tom Naughton says:

            I don’t admire our health system either. It’s a tangled, confusing mess of private and government systems.

            Government systems account for more than 40% of our total spending on healthcare, by the way.

            • Nate says:

              From Stephen’s argument for the NHS that 40 % of government spending is not enough. Like England, France, Germany, etc, government spending should be near 100% if not a full 100%.

              • Tom Naughton says:

                I don’t comment on the NHS or the Canadian system because I don’t live in Britain or Canada and hear wildly conflicting opinions from people who do. But given the scandals within the VA system, the horrible health advice coming from the USDA, the cozy and corrupt relationship between the FDA and Big Pharma, the “Affordable Care Act” that has doubled or tripled premiums for many people, the wildly overpriced yet totally f@#$ed-up Healthcare.gov website, etc., I wouldn’t trust our federal government to run a three-person dental practice, much less a healthcare system covering 300 million people.

          • eddie watts says:

            the other thing, as a fellow Briton, is that the NHS alleged collapse is a political tool.
            some parties want to undermine the NHS, although they never admit to that, and so cut funding specifically to make it fail.

            I’m not lefty or a fan of the government we have currently in this country (by that I mean either of the main two political parties)

          • Jo says:

            Good summary. Seems to me most of the failings being touted re the NHS are the result of privatisation of part of the system (e.g. carehomes) which select the profitable patients, leaving the costly ones in expensive hospital beds. I’m sick of the private sector failings undermining a damn good public service.

    • JillOz says:

      Er…neocon? Has it escaped your notice that the US govt. since 2008 is severely Marxist?

      Not that the Repubs have been much help at all.

      • Tom Naughton says:

        It’s the red-team, blue-team mentality. No matter what happens, if it’s bad, it’s the other team’s fault. If it’s good, your team was responsible, even if they’re not in power.

  6. armando says:

    From what I learned from experience is that anytime the government gets involved in anything, it is never for the greater good, but for someone’s financial gain and make things worse. The biggest con ever was subsidising corn which only does damage to people, animals, and the planet.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Yup, the grain subsidies are a holdover from the Great Depression — and they weren’t even a good idea then.

  7. Firebird says:

    Here’s a guy who thinks we can save the planet by being vegan. I shouted at the TV throughout the interview then did a face palm when he said Bacos were a favorable alternative to bacon.


  8. Beowulf says:

    I remember buying into the cost-per-calorie myth when I was a vegetarian. Books would show a picture of a cow with many bags of corn next to it to show how much corn it took to built a pound of beef. Of course, then I realized that cows aren’t meant to eat corn. Chickens being birds can do the grain thing better, but they are active little omnivores that would much rather be ranging an area for a varied diet of bugs and plants than eating out of a feeder all day, season permitting.

  9. Firebird says:

    I’m all for clean air, clean water and rich soil for farming, but I do not believe this causes global war…er…climate change. The change in climate, and the past two years have been pretty cool and snowy, is getting cooler, and it is due to the change in the earth’s revolving around the sun. It has gone from circular to elliptical. Frankly, this would be troublesome because this could adversely affect crop growth. Just as important is that more people die from the cold than they do from the heat.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      As professor Robert Carter points out in his book “Global Warming: The counter-consensus,” we’ve had warming and cooling cycles forever. It was the cold periods that killed off the most species. One cold period nearly ended the human species as well.

  10. Armando says:

    Also, lets make ethanol and mix with with gasoline for the good of the environment? A while back(2009-2010) Australia was going through one of its worst drough and coca-cola just kept using the water for pennies: http://www.smh.com.au/news/environment/coke-cleared-to-pump-extra-water-court-rules/2008/10/03/1223013791394.html

    Also they were getting free water. http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/cocacola-amatil-accused-of-draining-springbrook-national-park-on-the-gold-coast/story-fnihsrf2-1226851983630?nk=74d3a35269aa38c79ffc7973516adb39

    So how is this live stock using all this water that they claim? Plastics are the worst thing ever created.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      It takes as much (or more) energy to produce ethanol as we get in return from ethanol. It’s a scam.

    • “So how is this live stock using all this water that they claim?”

      They don’t. The Anointed make the numbers up, then cross-reference each other a couple of thousand times. Then they can say things like “well, everyone knows that it takes 1,000 gallons (or 500, or 6,000 — use whatever number you’d like) to make just ONE pound of beef! Horrors.

      The numbers rely on extrapolating all of the water “used” to generate the food the cows eat. In other words, how much rain fell on the corn crop used to feed the cow, or how much rain fell on the pasture of grass the cow ate? Not that the cornfield doesn’t have other disastrous environmental impacts, but cows weren’t built to eat corn anyway.

      If you look at what a cow actually drinks a day – a high average (YMMV — dairy/beef, lactating/dry, cool/hot temps etc.) guesstimate would be about 1.5 gal/100#, so around 15 gallons for a 1,000# steer. That ends up at somewhere between 5,000 and 8,000 gallons for an 18 month birth-to-butcher period. So, about 5-8 gallons a pound.

      Us humans on the other hand — who, let’s face it, are the ones the vegs REALLY hate — consume around 100 gallons a day in the US. Given a 75 year lifespan and a 175 pound average lifetime bodyweight, that’s over 15,000 gallons just to grow and maintain one pound of a person! No wonder they hate humanity. And that’s before you even count the amount of water that lands on my lawn, and how many gallons it takes to grow the corn for my hamburger.

      Unfortunately, as we all know, all of this water is actually destroyed in the process, also. It doesn’t get excreted, or evaporated and returned. No wonder we’re running out.


  11. LeeAnn says:

    I simply find it interesting…it appears in ALL aspects, if we go back to the way things were (‘mimicking nature’), then everything thrives…….

  12. June says:

    The meat vs grain argument never makes any sense. The plant-based crowd doesn’t factor in all the tending that plants require, or they make it seem like you still have Farmer John hand-tending his crops. You can put cattle out on grasslands that are unsuitable for farming and they just chomp away and do fine without any fuss at all. They also never factor in using the entire animal for food. Organ meats are yummy when you know how to fix them and bone broth is better than any stock. And why don’t we see more pictures of entire islands in the Caribbean that have been clear-cut and planted with soybeans so the plant-based folks can have their veggie burgers? I’m sure that is doing the environment a world of good.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      You hit the nail on the head: they have a vision of Farmer John growing their soybeans in some pastoral paradise. Hell, just look at the labels on their fake-meat foods. That’s the image.

      • Wenchypoo says:

        Yeah–they want us all to think their stuff comes from Ethereal Farms, when the opposite is true.

      • Firebird says:

        They vegans argue that chopping down the rain forest to grow soy isn’t because of veganism. They claim it is used to feed the animals we eat. They have an answer for everything.

  13. Boundless says:

    The re-focus on “you have to get fat, sick and die because Global Hot Air™” is also a terribly convenient distraction.

    The official USDA diet has been a complete and total 40-year-old disaster, and the Anointed just lately blew another opportunity to fix (or abandon) it. The evidence – adverse public health trends and healthcare costs rising faster than GNP – are unmistakable to anyone paying attention, and it’s not due to non-compliance. Rather than acknowledge their consequences, the official posture can become “it no longer matters”.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Yup. The pitch will be “this may not be the best diet for you, but it’s best for the planet.”

      • Walter Bushell says:

        It’s OK if someone wants to kill themselves or live a sub optimal life, but it’s clearly immoral to feed your children a sub optimal diet.

    • Thomas E. says:

      And, sadly, on the backside, it is arguable, there is a financial motive for the drug, food and medical corporations to want lots of sick people. The more money they make, the more money they can donate to the politicians and to fund more “science”.

      I hate the notion, but it comes down to follow the money. Morality be dammed.

  14. Wenchypoo says:

    But .. but … it’s a plant-based diet!!

    Just like the ethanol that goes to partly fueling our cars…and partly polluting our air. the electric car was supposed to be our environmental savior, right? Get us all off foreign oil and such, right? Well, it takes something like 17 barrels of oil to make 1 of these cars! I can’t remember exactly how many barrels of oil and pounds of rare earth minerals it takes to make 1 solar panel–and now they’ve found out that by adding the coloring from the backs of CDs, the efficiency can be boosted by 20%. Good old plastic to the rescue!

    We’re burning bird food to fulfill some environmentalist’s wet dream here. Oh, but grains are SUBSIDIZED, so we can practically throw them away on ANYTHING–the government’s paying for them!

    Ever get the hint that environmentalists are creating ideas and methods just to obtain a slice of that subsidy pie? First, it was corn. Then, it was soy. What next–peanuts? Cotton? I guess they haven’t figured out how to square cattle-rearing with saving the planet, and maybe they don’t want to–after all, demand is what keeps markets afloat. Maybe one side of their face is saying NO while the other is investing in grain futures, Monsanto stock, and rolling in dividend checks (ostensibly to fund future environmentalist activities). Big Pharma does it all the time–consider the cholesterol scandal.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Those electric cars also have to be plugged in … so they can draw electricity provided by a coal-burning plant, nuclear plant, whatever. Some of these goofs seem to think the electricity just magically appears at the outlet.

  15. Susan says:

    I, too, fell for the cost per calorie myth back in my 20s when I read Diet for a Small Planet. But eating all that vegetable matter and trying to balance out the components to make sure I got “complete protein” wasn’t for me. Too much trouble. And I found it made me a prolific contributor to the greenhouse gas problem — before it was even fashionable to worry about such things. It didn’t take me long to realize I REALLY like my beef, preferably medium rare.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Yeah, I had a vegetarian girlfriend back in the day who was all into those complete-protein combinations. If it takes that much work and planning, it’s probably not a natural diet.

      • Walter Bushell says:

        And the problem is getting enough fat, particularly enough saturated fat on a veggie diet. Now if you live where avocados, coconut trees or palm trees grow, it’s possible, but you still need natto. (ugg) and B12 supplements.

  16. tw says:

    I was under the impression that animal husbandry was at the epicenter of human domestication. Farming maybe second.

    Most cattle is grass fed but finished on grain. Perhaps our vegetarian and vegan friends would like to explore why that is. They are fed grain because it makes them fat and provides great marbling.

    They are fed antibiotics probably because the feed eventually makes them susceptible to illness if they have eaten too much of it. Otherwise it’s used to make them fat.

    So grain makes cattle fat and potentially sick, and they are plant eaters. Why does a vegetarian think it’s any better for them?

  17. Thomas E. says:

    One of the more interesting myths is that the worlds population is out of control.

    Hans Rosling has some really interesting talks. He burst into the TED scene is here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sm5xF-UYgdg where he talks about the developing world. And it simply shows as society matures and enters the developed world, birth rates drop. Hinting that the best way to feed the world population is to bring it into the developed world and allow then to naturally reduce birth rates.

    His latest, published last May is here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eA5BM7CE5-8

    My take, entering into the modern industrial world allowed the human population to grow out of control, or at least seemingly. But as all natural systems, there always seem to be natural negative feedback mechanisms. And it would appear that the “experts” “know” that the population should top out at 11 Billion souls on the planet.

    I really feel like banging my head against the wall with this whole global warming thing, it really strike a religious tone with me. I don’t recall anywhere in the scientific method thing that when a sufficient consensus is met, the hypothesis is proven.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Yup, in the developed world, we don’t feel the need to produce extra children as old-age security.

    • World population: 7 billion
      Land area of Texas: 268,820 sq mi
      Sq ft in a sq mile: 27,878,400
      Avg sq ft/single family home, circa 1950’s

      Population density of Texas if the entire world snuck across the Rio Grande:
      7B / 268,820 = 26,039.73 ppl/sq mi

      Living area/person:
      (27,878,400 sq ft/sq mi) / (26,039.73 ppl/sq mi) = 1,070.61 sq ft/person

      So, everyone on the planet could move to Texas and we’d each have to cram ourselves into about the foot print of the average house back in the era Tom & I were born in.

      Not exactly cattle-car conditions for our “crowded planet.”

      But having a ticking population bomb is much more appealing than having to defend a position that you basically just do not like people.


      • Nuts, left out the home size stat —
        Avg sq ft/single family home, circa 1950′s: 983

      • Tom Naughton says:

        It’s not the living space required by 7 billion people that concerns me. It’s what we’re doing to feed them.

        But you’d best be careful, or Texans will think you’re encouraging everyone to walk over the border and find a house.

        • Marion says:

          Ever heard of Joel Salatin? America’s ‘craziest farmer’, who has been doing with his farm for forty, fifty years what the TED talk elephant guy has been doing? Please watch this:


          and for how his farm works (an hour long lecture by him with an introduction before, and a question and answer forty minutes after by Michael Pollan):

          • Tom Naughton says:

            Yup, we’re big fans of Joel Salatin.

            • Marion says:

              Well, as he said so succinctly in the first video I linked, we should not *want* to feed all seven or ten or twelve billion people that are on the planet or will be on the planet in ten, twenty or a hundred years. They are perfectly able to feed themselves. It’s the US flooding Third World countries with cheap grain that’s the problem; the local farmers can’t compete, get in debt, have to sell and move to the Big City where they have to live in a hovel and eek out a living cleaning shoes or something. And so Third World Countries lose their own farmers and are more and more dependant on American ‘goodwill’ (read ‘big corporate dumpage of surplus grain’). Even worse when the US send ‘knowledge’, aka ‘Monsanto seeds’. I saw a video some time ago where that @#! Bill Gates was shown flying to Africa where he met with local farmers, trying to persuade them to use ‘better seeds which would yield three times their currant crop’. What he didn’t tell them was that those seeds were engineered so they could not save some from their crop to use the next year – they would always have to buy new seedstock, which would put them in debt. More over, in order to get those yields, they would have to use fertilizer, which they would also have to buy (well, maybe they would be *given* the fertilizer the first few times, and then, when they were totally dependant on those crops, payment would be demanded and their lives would be written away. Endenture; it’s the new slavery). But everybody is hailing Bill Gates, for being such a Good Person. *spits*

              When will they learn! History shows us again and again that whenever there is mass starvation, be it in Ireland (Potato Famine of 1845-1850) or Ethiopia (1983-1985), it’s never because the local farmers couldn’t grow enough food. It’s always because of some political reason; a civil war, or some despot regime creaming off the top of produce. The only non-political reason (possibly) is drought/desertification, but, as we’ve seen in that excellent video, what causes desertification? Well, forcing nomadic herders to stay at one place would do it (overgrazing), or too intensive monocropping, but both these things are politically pressured unto the local farmers/herders. Even in First World Countries.

              Sorry, I’m ranting and procrastinating (I ought to clean my kitchen but I don’t wanna.. It’s more fun to read your articles – love them and your lectures) but I really ought to stop now



    • JillOz says:

      It’s not about science, it’s about conning most of the world out of their resources and money.

  18. George Wilson says:

    Why does everything have to be a crisis? Why can’t we ever acknowledge the good has been done? Why can’t we ever see the mistakes made? I know, any such action would take the air out of the anointed’s sails. Seems like they are all aiming for a Zardoz or a Logans Run world (where of course THEY will be the Red 7 that gets renewed).

  19. Nads says:

    The trouble is that it makes so much sense that animals destroy the environment and plants help to save it. Just like the fat makes you fat and cholesterol gives you heart disease arguments.

  20. Kim says:

    Whenever I hear a vegetarian going on and on about how eating beef is irresponsible, they use up so much food and water, plus they’re destroying the atmosphere with all that methane … I want to ask, “so you think it’s a good thing then that we humans slaughtered all the bison herds that used to roam our country’s midwest?” Seriously, did those bison fart less than domestic cows? And besides, a herd of beef cattle is turned every 12 months (aside from breeding females) – – so your average animal is about 6 months old. Little different demographics than a herd of wild bison with all those 2000-lb bulls roaming around. Who eats and farts more? A 500-700 lb 6-month old domestic calf or a 1000-2000 lb adult bison ?

    Come to think of it, maybe we should go on over to Africa and start slaughtering all their wildebeest, impala, zebras, elephants, etc. There are an estimated 1.5 million wildebeest alone. That’s a lot of plants being eaten and gas being passed!

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Apparently they believe cow farts are particularly effective at inducing global warm– er, climate change.

    • Arturo says:

      In fairness, though, the majority of those “greenhouse” gas farts are caused by force-feeding cows grains, soy, dessicated cow remains and other assorted crap their GI tracts were never meant to eat. Put them back on pasture and they’ll toot along normally.

      So yes, bison certainly farted a lot less than conventional CAFO cows, but equal to or perhaps more than proper grass-fed cows. We can’t lose sight of the fact that CAFOs serve as a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy to certain people who LOVE telling others what to do; it’s probably why all their statistics rely on CAFO math. 😉

      • Tom Naughton says:

        Regardless of what causes them, I look at it this way: if cow farts can kill the environment, the environment deserves to die.

      • Kim says:

        Oh, well that makes sense. I seem to have the same problem when I eat wheat, barley or beans – – lol.

        However the veggies don’t seem to be any happier when I say that I eat grassfed beef. I brought it up on a couple of occasions when someone was talking about how they don’t eat meat for ethical reasons, specifically because of how cows are treated in feedlots. I was actually naive enough to think that they would be happy to hear about someone spending more to buy beef that lived on beautiful rolling pasture, eating grass, not being given antibiotics and forced to grow unnaturally fast, and overall treated very well (certainly MUCH better than wild animals have it!). Instead, they turned around and attacked me for assorted other reasons. To me this says that they don’t actually care about the animal welfare aspect of feedlots, because if they did they would embrace and encourage farmers who raise organic grassfed beef.

  21. Becky says:

    I am getting heartily sick of The Anointed, and live in hope that light will dawn on the whole (or mostly so) of our country that the emperor is naked. And that we need to think and act for ourselves, and put people in office who are competent leaders. The only thing that keeps me from truly believing this fantasy will take place is the glazed look, obfuscating responses, and refusal to think outside The Narrative that occurs whenever I try to have a real conversation with a believer in The Anointed.

  22. lemoutongris says:

    Ah yes, the climate hysteria. That’s why they now use the newspeak term “climate change” rather than “global warming”: so everything can fit the “narrative”. Too much of ANYTHING is climate change and must therefore be addressed by the God State

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Yup. Because as The Anointed know, the climate never changed until recently.

      • js290 says:

        James Howard Kunstler Forecast 2015 — Life in the Breakdown Lane

        The particular brand of stupidity on display also points to another signal vanity of our time: the conviction that if you measure things [climate/economy/etc] enough, you can control them.

        Only a command and control civilization would lie to itself about being able to predict climate. Being woefully unprepared for an unpredictable climate is not the same as causing it. The scary bureaucrats meeting in Paris 2015 will be doubling down on command and control. You can be certain whatever BS they come up with will not be compatible with people actually trying to build a more resilient society.

      • lemoutongris says:

        funny how they never actually pinpoint at which point in the Earth’s history (4.5 G years) was the climate ideal

        • Tom Naughton says:

          I guess they think it was 100 years ago. Since then, we’ve had a warning about a coming ice age, a warning about an age of runaway heat (1934, the year my dad was born, was one of the hottest on record), another warming about a coming ice age, and now another warning about runaway heat … er, change. Yeah, I think the problem now is just change.

          Here’s one of the warnings of the coming age from the 1970s:

        • js290 says:

          Sort of like cholesterol levels: how low until your risk of heart disease is zero?

          A funny thing that was said by someone on the radio about one of the big earthquakes a few years ago near Indonesia. It was said that it was so big it may have altered the Earth’s orbit. That’s a lot of whoo-and-ahhs until you think of it the other way that perhaps it is the kinematics of the Earth about the Sun that contributed to that particular earthquake. Think turbulence on an airplane. The Earth does not move on fixed rails about the Sun.

          Mark Shepard’s youtube lecture where he talks about Observations vs Concepts is really apt here. Which is the observation and which is our concept, our ideas? What kind of dystopian concept is it to believe we live in an unchanging, sterile world where we can predict and control everything we can measure?

  23. Nate says:

    I want to put in a plug for bugs. And by bugs I mean bacteria and all of their microscopic friends and enemies.

    Cows, bison and the other ruminants are getting all of the attention. Now, I realize that they are absolutely amazing farmers. They mow, plow, water and spread nutrients – all while becoming nutritious and tasty food for us. However, they are also vats, or if you will, homes for the hard working and under appreciated bugs.

    Elaine Ingham gave a great talk about the importance of bugs at Savory’s ‘Putting Grasslands to Work’. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMvpop6BdBA

    As Elaine explains, bugs are needed to turn dirt and rocks into soil. Further, the ‘bugs in the dirt’, also called healthy soil, can feed plants all of the nutrients they need. No fertilizer needed. Also, they can protect the plants from predators. Thus, no herbicides or pesticides needed. Bugs are truly under appreciated.

    In addition, bugs remove about 30% of the waste in your sewage. Wastewater treatment plants use large tanks, or if you will, homes for bugs to eat certain wastes in the sewage. The conditions in the tanks can be varied to grow the right bugs to remove particular wastes, as needed. Yes, bugs have been used even to deal with petroleum and plastic pollution. The flexibility of bugs is so under appreciated.

    Oh, and I cannot not mention the bugs in you. Fortunately, these bugs are beginning to get the attention they deserve. Though, I think for health reasons they deserve more.

    Now, one man that appreciates bugs is Stephen Jay Gould. In his book, Full House, he points out that of our world’s five major extinctions, bugs were the most successful survivors. Thus, they are a significant ‘bank account’ for carbon life on this plant.

    Someone needs to write a book called, Bugs Save the Planet! (And by plant, I mean more than just humans.)

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Three cheers for the bugs!

      Pigs are amazing farmers too. Ours have completely torn up the roots of an area that was once covered with thick, nasty vines and brush.

  24. Firebird says:

    I got to watch the Allan Savory talk last night. So incredibly simple. The way nature intended. Vegans get it wrong…again. It reminds me of this exchange from “MASH”:

    Frank Burns: I was wrong.

    Henry Blake: You’re always wrong, Frank. That’s what’s so right about you.

  25. gerard 150 says:

    Totally off topic…..Just finished reading the book “Harbinger”. The most compelling book I have ever read. Please read if you get a chance. That is all.

  26. Owen says:

    Am I right in saying that grass feeding takes up way less space than grain feeding, if you factor in the space needed to produce the grains? If this is the case how did grain feeding even happen? Thats amazing and concerning.

  27. Elenor says:

    Hey Tom, noty for posting unless you want to (not germane) but:



    Here’s a question that has been puzzling Patrick Doyle, the CEO of Domino’s, for months, as he puts it: “How do we list the calorie content of our pizzas on a menu when we have 34 million different variations of pizza?” The new menu labeling law, a creation of the Affordable Care Act, could require his company to do just that.

    It’s a textbook case of a mindless and arcane regulation, of Washington bureaucrats imposing on businesses costs that will have no effect on public health. “We’ve been voluntarily doing menu labeling for over a decade,” Doyle says. “We even have an online calorie calculator we call the ‘Calo-Meter’ for every possible pizza order, and it tells customers what happens if they substitute, say, sausage for mushrooms, because we strive to be very nutrition-conscious.”

    That isn’t good enough for the feds. The Food and Drug Administration is now insisting that every one of the chain’s 5,000 stores post menu boards on the wall with calorie counts. “It’s crazy and it doesn’t help consumers,” Doyle says, because “90 percent of Domino’s orders arrive by phone or Internet and are for delivery, so fewer than one of 10 customers will ever see these signs.” The signs will cost about $2,000 at every store, and each change of menu will require new ones. That is about $10 million of extraneous costs nationwide for Domino’s. Thank you, Washington.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Hey, as far as the politicians are concerned, if it makes them feel as if they’re DOING SOMETHING, then never mind the cost to businesses … or the fact that it won’t accomplish anything.

  28. Jean Bush says:

    SAVE THE PLANET!! Eat a vegan!

  29. Kristin says:

    Excellent article. I am so glad I figured out that my meat eating (the local sustainable kind) was actually the more sustainable way to eat. And I no longer feel the slightest guilty about not eating grains or munch in the way of rooty things. My only concern now is that the poor of the planet (most of us) can’t afford decent food due to the way our agricultural system has developed over the last few millennia. They can only afford grain and plants. If Alan Savoy’s work could get some traction people could be eating goats and sheep and their milk and cheese.

    And I no longer think that we have any chance of destroying our planet. Plenty of evidence in previous ages of extreme devastation that the Earth just recovers given time. We are fouling our own nest though. It is us that we are destroying.

  30. McDougaller says:

    I’m perfectly happy on a starch-based, vegan diet. I’m saving money, saving the planet, saving my HEALTH and am happily full every day.

    I suggest that meat eaters visit a slaughter house to volunteer one day on the line. Maybe a dairy to scoop poop or cut the throat of an animal. Clean the animal and process the meat yourself. Most say they couldn’t do it.

    ‘Your just asking the question’?/ Your driving a wedge in the science. Your diet of meat, cheese and dairy is fine for you.. but Dr McDougall has changed thousands of lives for the better, SAVED many many lives and is not destroying the planet.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      If you think your diet isn’t destroying the planet, that only proves you’re a complete ignoramus when it comes to agriculture. Raising your soybeans, corn and wheat causes far, far more environmental destruction that raising animals on grass. In fact, raising animals on grass produces topsoil. Your soybeans and corn deplete topsoil and require fossil-fuel fertilizers and tons of lovely chemicals to grow.

      And by the way, ignoramus, I’ve scooped plenty of poop and processed the meat from animals I personally killed for food.

      • MacNAUGHTON says:

        Nice how you resort to name-calling when it’s a vegan you are addressing. You actually informed another respondent above in this thread that cattle are mostly grain fed because it’s subsidized and cheaper than the real estate for grazing on grasses. You’re such a jerk.

        • Tom Naughton says:

          I’ll stop calling vegans names when they stop showing up here getting all self-righteous and preaching at us. I don’t visit vegan blogs and websites and try to convert them — because I’m not a jerk.

          Yes, grains are subsidized (as are the soybeans that go in veggie burgers) and that’s the problem, not the fact that humans eat meat.

  31. Erika says:

    Please watch the following documentaries:

    Also, read these books:
    •The China Study
    •Animal Liberation

    I could include so many more, but these are straight-forward and full of unbiased information. Whether or not you’re vegan or omnivorous, we should all be striving to protect our one planet, live as conscientious in our daily lives and help each other overcome lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and obstructed arteries. 🙂

    • Tom Naughton says:

      “… straight-forward and full of unbiased information.”


      Thanks for one of the biggest laughs I’ve enjoyed in some time.

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