Eating Meat Conscientiously is good for the Environment
EatingMeat Conscientiously is good for the Environment
Environmentalconservation has been an issue of great concern in the contemporaryworld. Countries are trying to come up with efficient ways that willensure that they minimize pollution and thus preserve theenvironment. One of the factors that has been an issue of concern ishow livestock rearing contributes to environmental degradation.Clearly, a large proportion of the United States consumes meat andrelated products. Also, it is true that some form of rearinglivestock may contribute to climate change. Many articles haveaddressed the issue of how eating meat may be a contributor to theenvironmental degradation, either directly or indirectly. NicoletteNiman’s article “The Carnivore’s Dilemma” is one of sucharticles. Together with Jonathan Foer’s article “Let Them EatDog” Niman’s article will be helpful in understanding whyconscientious eating of meat is good for the environment.
Foodproduction is one of the main contributors to environmentaldegradation. However, what is clear is that the magnitude ofenvironmental degradation varies with different methods of foodproduction. In the case of livestock production, it has been agreedthat the industrialization of the processes causes the greatest harmto the environment. In this sense, one can argue that small farmsthat use traditional methods of livestock rearing have minimalcontribution to environmental degradation. To find out the connectionbetween meat and climate change, Niman examines the greenhouse gassesthat are involved in the process. These are carbon dioxide, methane,and nutritious oxides. By looking at how these gasses are produced inrelation to livestock farming, Niman is able to offer strong pointson how traditional methods of farming are more efficient and good forthe environment.
Itis clear that the main greenhouse gas that comes from agriculturalprocesses is carbon dioxide. In America, the main source of thiscarbon dioxide is the extensive use of machinery in farming. However,worldwide, agriculture-related carbon dioxide emission mainly resultsfrom the extensive deforestation to get land for agriculturalproduction. Since the extensive use of machinery in agriculturalprocesses in the United States is the main contributor to climatechange, it means that small traditions farms produce very smallamounts of carbon dioxide hence have negligible effects on theenvironment. Thus, to help in minimizing the amount of agriculturalrelated carbon dioxide in the environment, people need to consumemeat and dairy products that are produced with traditional processesrather than the machine intensive, energy consuming industrialprocesses.
Thesecond largest agricultural related greenhouse gas is methane. Justas carbon dioxide, much of this gas comes from the processes inindustrial facilities. Thus, Niman argues that consumers cancontribute to methane reduction by seeking out animal products fromtraditional farmers. Nonetheless, cattle are the animals that producea lot of methane. This fact is true, but there are already certainmethods that can be used to reduce the amount of methane produced bycattle. This is mainly by improving the quality of forages. Thus, itis evident that just like carbon dioxide, agricultural relatedmethane gas is mainly as a result of using industrial processes infood production.
Finally,modern methods of farming have resulted in an increase in theproduction of nitrous oxide emissions. Niman supports this claim byoffering some useful statistic on the issue: “More thanthree-quarters of farming’s nitrous oxide emissions result frommanmade fertilizers.” Thus, it is clear that traditional farmingpractices result in the production of lower amount of nitrous oxidesand greenhouse gasses in general. Therefore, one solution to theissue of environmental degradation as a result of eating animalproducts is to get the products from animals that are raised usingtraditional farming practices.
Theproblems associated with livestock farming, especially the use ofindustrial processes in the practice indeed show that something needsto be done to improve the situation. Foer offers a solution to thisproblem in his article “Let Them Eat Dog.” Different parts of theworld eat different types of food hence different types of meat. Thetype of meat eaten in one area might seem uneatable in another. Forinstance, while beef is among the main meat products consumed in theUnited States, India does see cattle as a food source. Suchdifference in countries’ consumption behavior can be attributed thetaboos of the respective countries. This implies that certain meatproducts may be fully edible, but people in some countries may notconsume them because of their taboo.
Oneof the animals which are not eaten as a consequence of the taboo insome countries is the dog. While it is a good source of protein anddoes not have any adverse health implications more than any othermeat that is currently being consumed, people in the United Statesstill believe that dogs are only pets and thus are not fit to behuman food. While this is the case in the United States, othercountries see dogs as human food and consume it without anyconsequential effects on their health or beliefs whatsoever. Despitedog meat being fit for human consumption, changing the mindset ofAmericans may be difficult. However, traditions, ethics, and culturehave changed in the past making it a possibility that it can happenagain.
Withregards to environmental preservation, dog meat has several benefitswhen compared with the traditional meat products consumed in theUnited States. Foer asserts that unlike farmed meat, which use a lotof resources to create and maintain the animals, dogs are readilyavailable. In fact, rather than euthanizing millions of dogs everyyear, Americans can use them as sources of meat. In turn, this wouldboth result in both economic and environmental benefits. Anotherbenefit of eating dogs is that the local meat supply will be boostedwithout using much energy and factory related processes in the meatproduction. It might take time, and even a change of the entiresystem for Americans to consider dogs as a source of meat. However,if everyone sits down and look at dog meat just as they do to beef,chicken, and pork, then the nation will have taken a step in reducingenvironmental degradation as a result of using industrial processesin the production of meat.
Clearly,the use of industrial processes in food production has resulted inincreased greenhouse gas emissions. Though traditional farmingpractices are more environmentally friendly, they may not immediatelyserve the many Americans who demand meat at their tables in most oftheir meals. A solution to this problem may be to use bothtraditional farming practices and also consume dog meat which isreadily available and does not require a lot of processes to be atthe table when demanded. Although it may take time for Americans toaccept dog meat as a source of protein, and may even involve changingthe entire system, everyone needs to sit down and think about why dogmeat is both good for human consumption and the environment as awhole.
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