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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Showing 3 of 14 comments
Sep 8, 2010 4:31 AM CDT
Hats off to George Monbiot, thinker and genuine human being. How many people are this gracious? Especially when his first stance is still very valid in 99% of cases. Would that we would all THINK - and THEN talk.
Sep 7, 2010 3:43 PM CDT
Then there are those of us who really can't bear the idea of killing and eating the flesh of higher order animals. I just can't bring myself to eat mammals. These are creatures who nurture and rear their young. They know fear and feel pain. On top of that, grazing animals in large numbers produce gases, destroy land and water sources, cause pollution and crowd out native wildlife. While I intellectually understand that grass pastured and natural fed animals are less of a problem from many points of view, it's expensive to produce and capitalism demands low prices and high profits, so the cruel factory farms will continue to be the norm.
Sep 7, 2010 3:09 PM CDT
Best solution: go vegan.