Eating Meat OK if It's Farmed Right

New book changes George Monbiot's mind
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2010 12:33 PM CDT
This photo taken Aug. 3, 2001 near Holdredge, Neb., shows cattle in a feedlot.   (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

(Newser) – In 2002, Guardian columnist George Monbiot wrote a piece called "Why Vegans Were Right All Along"—but eight years later, he's changing his mind. He originally concluded that, after considering the vast divide between land used to feed people and land used to feed livestock, veganism "is the only ethical response to what is arguably the world's most urgent social justice issue." But after reading Simon Fairlie's Meat: A Benign Extravagance, he's no longer convinced. Though the book "starts by attacking me and often returns to this sport," he writes in the Guardian, "it has persuaded me that I was wrong."

"There's no doubt that the livestock system has gone horribly wrong," which Fairlie acknowledges. Our current farming model is wasteful, but Fairlie shows that if livestock are fed "food for which humans don't compete, meat becomes a very efficient means of food production," Monbiot writes. "The meat-producing system Fairlie advocates differs sharply from the one now practiced in the rich world: low energy, low waste, just, diverse, small-scale." Were we to follow his guidelines, "we could eat meat, milk, and eggs with a clean conscience."

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