Posting in Cancer
MELBOURNE -- Should animals be off the menu? This was the proposition recently put forward for debate in Melbourne.
MELBOURNE -- At the Melbourne Town Hall, two teams were recently asked to argue for or against the sharply formed motion: “Animals should be off the menu.”
The affirmative side (animals should be off the menu) comprised of controversial philosopher Peter Singer, Citibank vice president and philanthropist Philip Wollen, and newspaper editor Veronica Ridge.
What follows is a report of the key points from the live event. Please watch the Wheeler Centre’s video (approx. 1.50 mins) for the full debate.
Opening up the debate, Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation (1975), asserted, “We can live a healthy life with animals off the menu.”
Citing a recent Harvard paper on red meat, he argued that even the smallest amount of red meat could increase your chances of dying a variety of causes including cardiovascular disease and cancer.
“...People who do have animals off their menu are likely to live healthier and longer life than those who have animals on their menu,” Singer contended.
In contrast, Adrian Richardson, chef of La Luna Bistro and author of Meat (2009), said eating meat was a natural thing, putting forward the view that you can live a long, healthy life if you follow a balanced diet that includes eating meat responsibly.
“You know what kills you? Eating too much meat, too many chips, donuts, hotdogs, pies, and all of the processed stuff that’s offered today,” he argued. “That’s the stuff that will kill you.”
But Philip Wollen, on the affirmative team, posed this challenge to the negative team: “Can you name one disease caused by a vegetarian diet?”
Impact on the environment
“We’re increasingly aware that animal production is a major factor in climate change,” Singer stated.
Referring to the recent report Livestock’s long shadow he argued that “animal (livestock) production is a bigger contributor to climate change than all of transport.”
Singer went far as to say that this report was an underestimation.
“It doesn’t really include the full weight of the damage that methane does to the environment," he said. "Methane is 25 times more damaging to global warming than carbon dioxide.”
Singer also claimed: “there is no way of having ecologically sustainable beef”, and despite being the more ‘humane’ option, grass-fed cattle made the situation even worse for the environment.
“Per kilo of beef produced, cattle on grass produce at least 50% more methane than cattle fed grain because they need more grass," he said, "and it’s the digestion by the ruminant digestive system that produces the methane."
Singer's argument was counteracted by organic pig farmer Fiona Chambers, who explained that the environment was well equipped to deal with this.
“In a single gram of soil, there are a billion of bacteria, most of them are yet to be named, some of those bacteria are nitrogen lovers, and they make that nitrogen available to plants...others are methane lovers and they take methane from the atmosphere,” she said.
In contrast, Phillip Wollen stated passionately, “If everyone ate a Western diet, we would need two planet Earths to feed us, we’ve only got one and she is dying.”
But Chambers argued that it simply comes back to the management of our soil, our environment and the eco system including our animals.
“A skilled farmer works in harmony with the eco system so that the environment truly stays in balance”, she said.
Peter Singer argued that we waste “most of the food value” of the grains and soybeans we feed to animals.
“Depending on the species, the animals may return to us somewhere between one-tenth and one-third of the food value of the grains and soybeans that we put into them,” he said.
In contrast Bruce McGregor, the third member of the negative team, said that removing animals off the menu threatens our food security and the livelihood of at least two billion people.
McGregor made several ecological points but the essence of his argument was this: “If all markets were to remove meat…food production would decline, food prices would increase and two million people would head to starvation.”
Fiona Chambers also agreed that taking animals off the menu would pose “an ecological and food security disaster.”
She argued that "animal welfare isn’t the center of this debate", ecology is, and that animals are a fundamental part of cultural biodiversity
“Firstly, animals are a vital link in the global ecological and, as such, are inextricably linked to the environment and the future of our food. Secondly, because they serve many important social, culture as well as biological functions,” she said.
Chambers asserted that ironically to save these breeds and species we had to eat them. This was due to a paradox that exists because of symbiosis –- an interaction that occurs when different organisms live in close proximity and association and typically to mutual advantage.
Ethics of eating
Not surprisingly, the discussion on ethics generated the most passionate responses.
Philip Wollen, second speaker on the affirmative team, delivered this strong statement: “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, we wouldn’t be having this debate in the first place."
His arguments were unashamedly emotive.
“When we suffer we suffer as equals, and in their capacity to suffer, a dog is a pig is a bear is a boy. Meat today is the new asbestos, more murderous than tobacco,” he said.
Singer also argued, “I don’t think we are justified in treating other sentient beings as things for us to use for our pleasure and …We are ethically obliged to give equal consideration to the interest of all sentient beings.”
On the negative team, Adrian Richardson said that it should all come down to choice. “If you don’t eat meat, good. If you do eat meat, which is most of the world’s population, it’s how you choose that meat that’s important, and that’s what the debate should be about.”
As good as the 'real' thing?
Richardson made no secret of his love for eating meat, saying it was a natural thing to do.
“I love meat, I love cooking meat, I like eating meat, and I love serving meat to other people,” he declared. “If it has a pulse I can cook it.”
On the affirmative team, ex-food writer and journalist Veronica Ridge validated her argument with mouth-watering descriptions of vegetarian and vegan recipes.
She contended that taking animals off the menu encouraged innovation and creativity.
“At the world’s top restaurant today, you can have a wonderfully entertaining, inventive and delicious meal made for you without slaughter,” she said.
“There has been a revolution in vegetarian and vegan cooking and eating in the past decade,” Ridge declared. “A new generation of cooks are using vegetable, spices, nuts, seeds herbs in incredible ways. Gone are the mung beans and bland wholemeal pies that accompanied the whiff of 1970s hippydom.”
Using Yotam Ottlenghi as an example, Ridge claimed that much of the pleasures of eating today can be attributed, in part, to the new wave of vegan and vegetarian chefs who have been inspired by an ingredient- and locavore-led agenda.
She also said that meat substitutes can be just as good as the real thing, and used New York columnist Mark Bittman’s blind chicken taste test to support her point that, “you can eat brilliantly without slaughtering animals.”
Join the debate
According to the Wheeler Centre, 65% of the Melbourne audience supported the proposition, while 22.5% were against and 12.5% were undecided.
To our SmartPlanet readers: Do you have a view on the debate? Are you for? against? or undecided on the proposition: Animals should be off the menu.
Photo: thskyt, Flickr; Wheeler Centre.
May 29, 2012
What more do you need? Besides, how much land would it take to feed the billions of people on the planet if there were no meat in any of our diets? How much fertilizer would be needed, organic or otherwise? Where would we put all of the the meat animals that we currently have if we no longer needed them for food?
7 years ago we got involved in animal welfare campaigning. Until that point we were quite happy meat eaters. Since we became involved in animal welfare we have come to learn what goes on in much of the "animal farming" world, and came to realise that much of what goes on, the industry wants to keep out of sight and behind closed doors. Thank heavans for Animals Australia!. We became vegetarians. Our "line in the sand" was that if we can personally kill it, we can eat it. I can catch a fish, I can pull a mussel off a rock, but nothing else. Since we stopped eating bird and meat, we have become healthier as we have uncovered all the amazing non-need -to-be-killed vegetarian foods available. We don't need it,, we don't miss it. Livestock are not an efficient means of protein capture, and most of the vast amounts of meat people are encouraged to eat are simply the results of the vast sums of money spent on marketing by the meat industry. "Don't eat lamb? That's un-Australian!"...give us a break. Call me cynical, but now we are seeing all these happy,smiley organic farmers sitting alongside their happy smiley saddleback pigs and chooks - you don't see the same farmer with a knife in their hand beside a neatly cut throat - why not??? Bottom line: you don't need to eat meat - something has had it's life ended because of you. I think all children should be taken and shown what happens at the abbatoir, don;t you? That would be fair would it not, so they get the chance to make their own choices on what they get to eat in life. Why not? Well, we know we know why that won't happn in a hurry don't we. At the end of the day, there are plenty of alternatives that actually taste better. So why do it, and ehy be part of it? Just my pov.
1. One more example of govenment dictating what we can and cannot eat... what kind of car we buy, what kind of clothes we were, what temperature we keep our home, what kind of health care we want. 2. Tell lions, tigers, bears, dingos, and sharks that they can't eat meat.
It is just specious to say that the human species needs meet to survive, and the apologists for the torture and slaughter of billions of anmals, day in, day out, year in, year out will always find fatuous websites which support what is essentially a matter of taste. I never want to be a part of this animal abuse on a mass international scale again so I choose not to eat meat. I am perfectly healthy, as are my like-minded friends. At the end of the day, the meat-eating position is indefensible. As for 'what would happen to the animals - don't breed animals just to butcher them. Problem solved.
As a 63 year old vegan for the past 22 years I have heard all the pro and con arguments above as well as hundreds of others. This is not an issue for me; having made the decision years ago to no longer use and abuse any other animal for my personal pleasure. My choice is to walk a compassionate path through life that sees all living creatures having value in their own personal journeys. Suffering and compassion are the yin and yang of progressive as well as conservative thought regarding the treatment of all animals on earth; remembering that humans are animals too. There is a mindset that develops from education over a period of time that includes personal experiences and relationships with both people and our non-human companions. It would be nice to see a larger number of people adopting a meat-free diet for whatever reason that befits their personal plan. But the long history of a culture that worships a meat centric meal is a lot to overcome in a short period of time. Perhaps one day, before we have destroyed our ability to sustain human life on this planet, there will become a realization that meat is not only unnecessary for our survival, but rather a significant motivation to move toward a plant-based diet. For those who have already made up their minds on the matter of consuming flesh, the issue has been settled. For those who have retained an open mind to the concept, I invite you to do some basic research on the vegan lifestyle and learn what it means to live sustainably without harming other sentient life. There is another world of possibilities awaiting those who chose to take the road less traveled. The contrariant is often rewarded when armed with knowledge.
If everyone stops eating meat, what happens to the animals? Do we kill them because they are producing methane? Or put them in zoos? My husband does not eat meat, and he has not for several years now, he is heart healthy, but his brain is deteriorating. Does being a vegetarian prevent Alzheimers???
Our bodies, are designed as OMNIVORES. Meat, and veggies. Our teeth are designed for both, our bodies are designed for both. Our bodies are designed to get nutrients from both, primarily because we get different nutrients from each. Playing to emotions for how we eat our food, and what we eat as our food is idiotic. The debate in and of itself, is idiotic.
I think what these farmers fail to take into account is that current meat consumption levels would have to drop drastically for "sustainable" farms to be able to meet the demand. It's a matter of numbers - the higher the level of demand, ethical and ecological concerns go out the window.
Not a dietitian or doctor in the bunch. An evolutionary archeologist would be better when you are talking how long man has been eating meat. That stone tools for butchering meat, and animal bones with corresponding cut marks on them, first appear in the fossil record about 2.5 million years ago. Who cares what such a diet change does to a body that has evolved to eat meat. Who cares that the children of vegans suffer from rickets and other growth problems because of malnutrition brought on by uneducated parents forcing a politically correct fad diet on a baby. http://www.news-medical.net/news/2008/06/09/39038.aspx http://naturalhygienesociety.org/diet-veganbaby.html The problem of sick vegan children hit a peak in the US a few years ago before the CDC, AMA and others convinced major vegan advocacy groups to join a joint effort to educate vegan parents of the dangers of a strict vegan diet on a growing child. The recommendation was not to raise the child vegan, but if you must there is a special vegan diet and supplement regimen that must be followed by the mother during pregnancy and by the child until they are an adult. Many vegan parents had no clue of the damage they were doing to their kids. Sure. Let the all knowing elitists of society, a philosopher, a banker and a newspaper editor, tell you what to do.
However, too much of a good thing can and will be unhealthy--that includes eliminating meats entirely. Moderation is the important thing. Back in the pre-industrial days meat was as much a luxury as a necessity; you ate what you hunted or grew yourself. Today's economy of 'meat manufacture' not only eliminates the healthy aspects of free-range animals but also injects them with drugs and antibiotics that make that meat unhealthy in the long run. Add to this the Western society's propensity to eat far more meat and fewer vegetables is merely a part of the obesity epidemic. Add to this certain artificially-processed grains used as sweeteners and fillers and we have industry killing their own customers. Can we change this? Maybe. But outlawing the use of meat in entirety is in the long run going to exacerbate the issue, not eliminate it.
Isn't this the same Peter Singer who advocates putting to death the mentally and physically handicapped? We clearly eat too much meat but we live in a world where animals eat other animals to survive because they evolved that way. Some misguided individuals try to convert their cats and dogs, both carnivores, into vegetarians and their pets suffer poor health and early death. I find it ironic that someone like Singer can be so empathetic to animals and so callous toward humans who do not meet his standard of human perfection. Somewhere Aldous Huxley is smiling.
??????People who do have animals off their menu are likely to live healthier and longer life than those who have animals on their menu,??? Singer contended. ... but will they live any happier?
"the meat-eating position is indefensible" People like it. It isn't illegal. :o) Okay, so I'm being facetious. I enjoy eating meat, but I respect your opinion and like most meat eaters would probably baulk at having to slaughter the animals for consumption myself. That said, before many of the proclaimed anti-meat protesters berate us meat-eaters, they should first do the following: Check their wardrobe for leather belts and shoes and discard or at least don't buy any non-vegan ones in the future. Ensure their bike or car tyres aren't manufactured with the animal-based stearic acid, Stop using off-the-shelf fabric softener as they invariably all contain Dihydrogenated tallow dimethyl ammonium chloride, which comes from the cattle, sheep and horse industry. Stop using shampoo and conditioner as PETA, reckon they might be made with as many as 20 or more components that come from animals Stop using toothpaste unless you're sure that the Glycerin being used is plant based Stop eating ANYTHING with sugar in it that you didn't make yourself or buy with the explicit condition that it's sugar manufactured without purified ash from animal bones as is used in filters to refine sugar by many brands The moral of the story is ...people in glass houses ........
... but as of yet there is very little proof that the animals most humans use for meat come close to sentience. In fact, the most sentient species on Earth seem to all be meat eaters, whether they be the fox and the wolf, bobcat, mountain lion or tiger while the grass eaters seem to lack even the most basic levels of common 'horse' sense. Oh, I don't deny there are exceptions on both sides of the bar, but those exceptions are really quite rare. As humans mature, maybe they don't need as much meat as when they are younger, but meat they still need, or some means of offering the same minerals and vitamins, proteins and amino acids that meats provide. Oh, and if you're taking dietary supplements? You might take a closer look at that bottle's list of ingredients. Quite often the binder used to hold all those different ingredients together is animal-based.
You are an adult. Your body has different needs than a growing infant or child. You had the proper nutrition you needed growing up. Malnutrition among the children of vegetarians and vegans was a growing epidemic in the US until the CDC, AMA and others finally got some cooperation from major national vegan and vegetarian advocacy groups to get the word out on the need for a proper diet or supplements for infants and children put on restrictive diets. It has also been shown by recent studies that problems like lactose intolerance can be passed on to unborn children from vegan mothers who never had a problem drinking milk because they grew up drinking milk.
This is a common misconception. It is true that our species and ancestral species have probably eaten 'occasional' meat for at least a million years, but that pales in comparison to the long evolutionary history of our genus, which has been predominantly or completely vegetarian. As a clue to this, it is only necessary to look at the structure of a herbivore vs that of a carnivore. Herbivores have well developed facial muscles with a jaw joint above the plane of the molars. These allow good side to side and back to front chewing movements. The muscles used are the Masseter and pterygoids. The jaw has an expanded angle compared to carnivores, and tellingly the mouth opening is normally small compared to the head size. The teeth are broad, flattened and spade shaped. The canines are dull and short (with a few exceptions where they are long and straight for defence). Food requires extensive chewing, and the saliva provides carbohydrate digesting enzymes. The stomach can be simple of complex (multiple chambers) but always has a pH of about 4-5 (i.e. mild acidity) with food in it. The stomach capacity is always less than about 30% of the total volume of the digestive tract and the small intestine is generally longer than 10 times the body length of the animal. The colon is long and complex, and may be sacculated (that is, divided into sacs or sections). The liver in herbivores cannot detoxify Vitamin A and the kidney provides moderate concentration of the urine. The nails of herbivores are flattened or blunt (like hooves). Carnivores on the other hand have reduced facial muscles to allow 'gaping', and a reduced angle on the jaw. The jaw is jointed on the same plane as the molars, the major jaw muscle is the Temporalis, and this allows the jaw to 'shear' (meat) with minimal side to side movement. The mouth opening is often large. The incisors are short and pointed, and the canines are long, sharp and curved. Even the molars are sharp, jagged and blade-like. Carnivores tend not to chew, but swallow their food whole, and their saliva does not contain digestive enzymes. Their stomach is short, simple and extremely acid (pH 1 or so). It comprises 60% or more of the total digestive tract, and the small intestine is only 3-6 times the body length. The colon is simple, short and smooth. The liver can detoxify Vitamin A. They often have extremely concentrated urine, and their claws are long and sharp. In every regard, without exception, homo sapiens has the bodily make up of a herbivore. This probably explains why those on a predominantly or entirely plant-based diet live longer. The idea that we get 'special nutrients' from flesh, or that we need 'complete proteins' is simply not true, as I'm sure every one of the hundreds of millions of vegetarians living today can probably attest.
No, meat is not necessary for a healthy life. The many healthy vegans in society are a simple enough proof against that statement. More to the essential point, and it is a common one, that there is an 'optimal' amount of meat, which is less than what 'most people' currently eat, but is non-zero. The recent long-running harvard study showed that this is not the case. This study provided clear evidence that regular consumption of red meat, especially processed meat, contributes substantially to premature death. The ideal amount of meat to eat for health reasons is zero.
Meat is a lot of consumable energy per ounce compared to most vegetables. The plus is that meat has all the proteins in one source. Meat can be preserved in many ways to make it last a long winter. Those should be good pro-meat arguments that you want. I consider myself as an accidental vegetarian. I started by skipping red meat and eating chicken and turkey, then I limited meat as a side dish instead of the main course, then I ate meat occasionally and then realized that I had not eaten any meat in months. At the same time, I lost weight and gained energy. I do not think that meat should be off of everyone's menu, but I think that people should be aware of how much misery they eat when they eat something that was raised in cramped conditions and treated badly until it was ready to be slaughtered. Humans are ominvores, we can eat nearly anything and thrive. There is no dietary requirement for meat with every meal, every day for a lifetime.
What more do you need? Besides, how much land would it take to feed the billions of people on the planet if there were no meat in any of our diets? How much fertilizer would be needed, organic or otherwise? Where would we put all of the the meat animals that we currently have if we no longer needed them for food? Salad is what food eats to me.
The same Peter Singer who said killing an infant is not the same as killing an adult because the infant has no capability for reason. Killing babies is ok with old Pete, yet he defends animals right to live.
People like eating meat Peter Singer is emphatic towards animals Peter Singer hates people People are meat Therefore ........ :oD How'dya like those axioms!
A study reported in Nutrition Journal in June 2010 surprisingly (to the study authors) showed that vegetarians have lower incidence of depression, anxiety, and other mood problems than their meat-eating neighbours.
Seen a loved one die slowly from cancer, heart disease, stroke? Make you happy does it? Multiple studies show those three illnesses go down 90% in vegetarians. Go see a slaughter house at work and tell me how happy you feel then. Cheer up.
vegetarians. At no time in the history of mankind through any research I have ever studied has mankind as a whole been a vegetarian species. I won't deny there have been times of famine where foods of any kind have been scarce, but Man as a species has never gone without meat for even one lifetime, much less any socialogically significant period of time. Also, Bruce from Melbourne, please show me a census of any nation or group of nations that counts hundreds of millions of vegetarians as a significant part of their population. Yes, I'll admit I'm aware of some, but with a population of some 8 billion people on Earth, you imply that fully 10% of them (still far from a majority) are not omnivorous.
Humans have been eating meat closer to 2.5 million years. There is strong evidence that humans mental evolution happened faster once their diet improved to include more animal products. There is emerging evidence that the surge in attention deficit disorders in the late 1980s and 1990s along with increases in other chemical imbalance issues in growing children mirrors the trend toward low fat diets. As much as people hate to admit it, our bodies have built dependencies on a steady supply of small amounts of animal protein and fat. While not a cure, simply drinking whole milk daily has been found to ease ADD symptoms in some young children as well as drugs without the side effects. The older the kid the less effective whole milk is because the damage has already been done. Adult vegans or vegetarians who have already completed their growth curves are a different story as their bodies needs are different. To deny that difference is folly. The problem with most peoples diets is not the fat or meat content, but the quantity. The roots of the obesity epidemic is another discussion for another time.
... than just RED meats. Or do you count chicken, pork and the many kinds of seafood as RED meats as well? As I said before, too much of anything is bad for you, no matter what it is. Meats include the kinds of proteins and amino acids needed to aid intelligence. Meats include materials that enhance the body's abilities to process other foods. Humans are Omnivores--not herbivores. To eliminate meat from our diet is to eliminate half of what makes us what we are. But please note that I'm not arguing that we should all eat a 100% carnivorous diet, either. Just as our bodies need meat, our bodies need the minerals and vitamins obtained through grains and leafy foods as well. Our bodies can use the proteins gained from legumes and beans and other plant foods as well. The ideal diet is a balanced one that should include roughly equal amounts of each of the different kinds of foods. Please stop believing that there is a "one food does all" solution; there simply isn't one.
I personally know a young man who lived vegan for years; only to have a doctor tell him he [i]NEEDED[/i] meat protein if he wanted to regain his health. Too little meat is just as bad as too much meat. Live with it.
... and other illnesses rise due to the lack of certain necessary meat proteins. You have to look at the whole, and eliminating either side is bad for human health.
3.2 percent vegitarians in USA. 0.5 percent vegans. Both are far below 10 percent. They do claim 10 percent follow a vegitarian leaning diet. Which means they eat a modest amount of meat. As any good diet should. As I have said, too much of a good thing can be bad. No better proof is the fact you can die drinking too much water. http://www.vegetariantimes.com/article/vegetarianism-in-america/
American Dietetic Society? How about the American Dietetic Association which is now the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. - The order in which you introduce solid foods doesn't matter for most babies. The traditional progression has been single-grain cereals followed by vegetables, fruits and meats. While there is nothing wrong with this pattern, pureed meat or poultry actually may be the best first food to provide sources of iron and zinc. http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=8049 Other little bits of honesty about the benefits of meat are sprinkled throughout their site. They mention on their site as I have said here. It is all about how much you eat. And much of the developed world is spoiled by prosperity and eats too much meat. But some meat is good for you. Early hunters likely did not catch food daily. That was followed by modest times when people did not have the means to eat meat daily. Even into the mid 20th century most people did not have access to meat on a daily basis. Modern refridgeration changed that. Mankind now has meat available at the corner market or the fast food joint down the block. So he eats too much. Society got ahead of evolution.
No, there is not strong evidence that humans mental evolution is related to animal products. The very theory that it is based on has been completely debunked (http://paleovegan.blogspot.com.au/2011/11/its-curtains-for-expensive-tissue.html). Doesn't stop the meat industry saying it, but it should. The American Dietetic Society is clear that a plant based diet is suitable for humans through every phase of their life, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes. If you have additional information that they are not familiar with, can you provide links please?