Animal Agriculture & Factory Farms

What's your stance?

Vegan - I love animals!
2
13%
Carnivore - and don't tell me what to eat!
10
67%
Not sure/undecided
3
20%
 
Total votes : 15

Re: Animal Agriculture & Factory Farms

Postby Carl » November 27th, 2016, 7:09 am

Tbh I don't want animals to suffer unnecesarily or anything like that, but I'm not very educated on the subject and don't really have the desire/willpower to become educated on it atm, though the posts here are interesting to read. Humans are omnivores, and I become very letharhic and weak if I don't eat meat, so I'm going to eat meat. Not to mention it's expensive not to here and I'm very broke. Other people can be vegan or vegetarian or whatever if they want, but as with anything, the minute they try to forcibly convert me is the minute I'm done with them. I'll do me and you do you.

I haven't actually met any vegans to my knowledge, though, and most of the vegetarians I've met have been cool and don't care what other people eat.
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Re: Animal Agriculture & Factory Farms

Postby Gemini » November 27th, 2016, 10:50 am

Wow, looks like I got quite a bit of responses on this thread already! :) I think that's great. Will try to address some of the more salient points that were brought up to continue the discussion.

Kops wrote:
"I buy cage-free eggs because the chickens can roam around and it's better for them"


Huh, what's the reason for this bullcrap by the way? If you listed it already in your post I must have missed it.


I didn't elaborate on this because my post was already a book, lol. But I'll explain it now.

In short, I'm not entirely certain why people think this. I think it's just in the nature of the name that says "cage-free" so people think that the chickens are roaming around and scratching and they feel more comfortable about that than about having hens in battery cages, which is the predominant method of raising chickens at the moment. However, I do find this misleading and troublesome for a variety of reasons. My professor actually helped contribute to a very large study on chicken housing and its effects so he told us quite a bit about this, but a few points in particular stuck out to me:

- The "cage-free" or aviary system does give the birds perches and they do have some more space to roam around in. However, this can lead to some problems as these aviaries house very large numbers of birds. So you get something that looks a bit like this.

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- Chickens have more room to move, but this can also lead to more injuries. Chickens in aviary systems have a higher incidence of broken bones (specifically the keel bone) when they try to fly but run into other objects or each other.

- Chickens are also naturally aggressive if there is no clear hierarchy present (this is also why they are debeaked, though personally I'm against this practice as it's very painful and I hope that we can find some way to phase it out). In a smaller system, or one where chickens form small flocks, they can usually figure out a "pecking order", so to speak, but if you put a hen in amongst thousands of others, they essentially fight all the time. There is no way for them to establish a clear hierarchy when they probably will never see the other chicken again. Birds will sometimes go as far as pecking the other individual to death and cannibalizing them.

- It's pretty hard to keep a system like this clean. I think that's pretty self-explanatory from the picture. In a normal system, the manure can fall through and be collected and processed elsewhere, while the eggs fall down a chute and go their own separate route. There isn't much in the way of that for "cage-free". This leads to higher levels of ammonia (which is concerning for human workers). There's also a much higher risk of eggs coming into contact with manure or other contaminants. Since eggs are porous, this is a health risk.

- There's no real nutritional difference between the two types of eggs, as far as I am aware. In fact, cage-free eggs are at a higher risk of contamination from pathogens because of the last point.

Again, this isn't to say that battery cages are 100% perfect and I can definitely see why it is concerning that chickens are often put into cages that are too small for them to turn around in. However, I don't think that people should be so quick to assume that cage-free is the best alternative. I frankly don't think that it is from an economic or an animal welfare standpoint. More research needs to be done on this topic, in the meantime.

Azdgari wrote:Great post, interesting topic! I am monstrously unqualified compared to you, but sometimes fresh perspective can yield fresh insight. At least, that’s what I like to tell myself… Anyway, I had some knee-jerk responses to your paragraph there in the middle about necessity.


Great post, and you do bring up some interesting questions. I will try my best to address them. :)

Azdgari wrote:
And I think it is important for us to remember, as well - farming is not like making cars, or TVs, or fancy handbags. It's not a luxury, it's literally a necessity.

So my thought is this; is it really not a luxury? Let’s not conflate agriculture as a whole with farming of meat here. For many in the developed world, it’s completely feasible logistically, nutritionally, and economically to survive on a vegetarian diet. In that context, eating meat is by definition a luxury.

Even in America and other developed nations, there are plenty who go hungry...

I find this rather specious. People don’t go hungry in the developed world because we’re rationing scarce food-resources. Hunger in the developed world is 99.9% (made up statistic, but you take my point) based off of economic hardship, not a lack of food on the macro scale. I think (or hope) very few vegetarians are saying "damn those sub-Saharan African meat-eating murderers!", it's more about people in the developed world who have a choice and choose meat.


Good point. I will admit that I was mostly referring to the agricultural industry as a whole. While I may have perhaps overdramatized a bit, I did want to emphasize the importance that food plays in many aspects of life (including the economy, the environment, and the overall welfare of people). Of course it goes without saying that staple crops are the most important and the most vitally necessary, but I do think that animal agriculture also fits into our overall food supply in a major way as well - livestock products do play a large part in the diets of many people. There are some vegans, of course, but I'm not sure that I'm convinced that that lifestyle would be as affordable or feasible as it is now if everybody in America simultaneously decided to stop eating meat, seeing as there are 300 million of us and we have a pretty high meat consumption rate per capita. There are a lot more "omnivores" than vegans out there, from what I have seen (and as the poll on this topic seems to suggest).

And I think a lot of the reason that I am alright with the farming of meat to continue is that that is the most efficient use of a lot of our land and resources. It's important to remember that, while the overall world population is growing, our amount of arable land is not. If anything, it's decreasing. Protecting and preserving the land we use, and using it in an efficient manner, is important. We actually don't have that much to really work with when you compare it to the total landmass of the Earth, and if you look at the statistics it's actually quite interesting:

Image

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Worldwide, there's actually about twice as much pastureland as cropland, and most of that land simply can't be used for farming on a large scale.

And if you think about it, this makes sense. The conditions necessary for the systematic growing of crops (good soil, a ready source of water, sunlight, fair weather, not forested, etc.) are fairly hard to come by and often tend to be localized in a few major places (India, the Midwest, eastern Europe - I'm looking at you guys :p). It also often gets lost to erosion if we aren't careful.

(Of course, you can clear forest to make more farmland but that's a whole different issue right there around deforestation, which can lead to a lot of different consequences - that's not really something I'm super knowledgeable about, however).

There are many places in the world that are arid steppeland or grassland. They can be readily converted to pasture, but not to cropland. Thus, raising animals is an easy way to convert something that people cannot eat (grass, hay, other fibrous plants) into something that we can utilize (meat, milk, leather, etc.). Additionally, an interesting fact that I learned recently while visiting a dairy is that, in addition to using mostly hay and roughage - plant materials with cellulose that we can't use - much of the rest of what dairy cows eat is actually agricultural waste, such as distiller's grains, grape skins, cottonseed fluff (not sure the technical term for it, lol) and other such byproducts that would ultimately otherwise end up in a landfill. The cows can eat it just fine, but you would have a hard time trying to get people to buy and eat these same products.

The waste from these animals (as long as it is handled and disposed of appropriately) also makes good natural fertilizers, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers that are expensive and energy-intensive to synthesize.

So I guess the tl;dr takeaway from this is that the farming of animals (or at the very least ruminants) is actually a fairly sustainable way to use the land, as long as it's done responsibly. I think that it forms an important part of the agriculture industry as a whole. So while it may not be as wholly necessary as growing crops obviously is, I still wouldn't classify it as a luxury in the same vein as, say, manufacturing electronics or cars, even in the developed world.

[I think it's also interesting to note that, on the topic of how much of our food supply comes from animals - I'm not seeing aquaculture on this list, though that increasingly is also forming a part of what we eat... hm. It'd be interesting to do more research on that, however, as I'm not super-knowledgeable about that industry]

Azdgari wrote:So perhaps a good question is this: in a developed country, for those of us with the resources to sustain ourselves on non-meat diets, is there an ethical impetus to do so? Because I think (and I welcome your input here) that many livestock, especially in large-scale (industrial as you refer to it) farming, live pretty ‘net-negative’ lives, per the perspectives of many exposés you’ve mentioned. I would be curious if you think that conditions where animals never see light, can’t turn around, etc. are in fact ‘unethical’ or ‘inhumane’ if we're only doing it to satisfy a 'luxury' need for meat. Indeed, is it ethical even regardless of the conditions to kill animals unnecessarily?


I left this one for a bit and came back to it since I wanted to gather my thoughts, but I ended up addressing some of this below in my thoughts to Alicia/FireAndSun as well (at least in regards to sustainability and efficiency in the livestock industry). In any case, I'll leave a little blurb right here to kind of sum up my thoughts on this.

As mentioned above, I'm not entirely convinced that animals are unnecessary for our society to function. Even aside from meat, they still provide a lot of other products. While they may not be as important as in the past, I think that phasing them out as a whole is much easier said than done.

Of course, if you do have the resources to live without meat, I think that's an admirable thing to do. I certainly see nothing ethically wrong with not using animals. However, I don't think that people should feel intensely guilted into it since (for now anyway) it's simply a fact of life for many people. That is the role that livestock play in our society. It's what they were bred and raised to do, ultimately.

Personally, for me, as I may have said before, I have no issue with the livestock industry as long as they make the commitment to try to raise animals as consciously and humanely as possible. I think we should continue in our current direction, which is to try and minimize the impact of agriculture on the environment and on the livestock themselves. We should also continue to advance science so that we can get the most that we can out of the least amount of animals while ensuring that their needs are still being met. I don't think that these goals are mutually exclusive. Rather, it's a matter of balancing many different demands, including the economy, the environment, and the needs of animals and workers involved in the industry.

(You can see my bit about the farrowing crate below for an example of why this isn't always straightforward. Is the welfare of the mother or the welfare of her piglets more important when these two are at odds with each other? What are we willing, and what should be sacrificed? I think these are interesting points to think about. A lot of the time practices that are considered stressful to animals are done because of similar dilemmas - it's often a matter of putting the animals through some amount of stress because it will be better for them/other animals/human and animal safety in the long run.)

FireAndSun wrote:However, I do think the current way modern developed nations consume meat, the U.S. especially, is both unsustainable and largely unethical. People don't need to eat so much meat, too many animals are being treated horribly, and it's contributing to other issues like antibiotic resistance. How we create and consume our food is important. More care needs to go into it for the benefit of all.


While I would agree that people might not need to eat nearly as much meat as they do from a health/nutrition standpoint (we have a very high meat consumption rate per capita), I would actually argue and say that the American system of livestock production is one of the most sustainable in the world from a variety of measures, both in terms of environmental impact and efficiency.

[Linked article cites my current professor, actually, if you're curious - I consider him a trustworthy source since he's done a lot of research on this exact field. It also reiterates a lot of the figures that I mentioned earlier.]

Also, when I say efficiency - I'm referring to the amount of product produced from each animal, as we are a head and shoulders above most of the rest of the world in this measure. However, as I said above, I don't necessarily think that animal welfare and efficiency are mutually exclusive goals. In fact, I think that we have a higher standard of animal care in most industries than those in other countries, our even compared to our own in the past.

Some of the following figures are mentioned in the paper, but just for reference:

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More productivity means less animals need to be used to satisfy demand. I think most people would agree that this is a good thing, for a wide variety of reasons (lower environmental impact, less cost, less need for animal welfare to be sacrificed by overcrowding animals or subjecting them to inhumane conditions, etc.).

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We demand a lot more of our animals compared to other places in terms of productivity, but there are far, far less of them, and they tend to live in healthier, cleaner conditions.

[Also the units are a bit odd but I happen to know that current average output of a cow in India is about 1,000 lbs/milk/year, which is much less than ours - the US is at about 20,000 lbs/milk/year]

This is also consistent in the hog industry. In China there are over 1 billion hogs made every year - however, 400 million of these piglets die before weaning. This is larger than the entire pig crop in the United States (possibly even the rest of the world, if I remember correctly). Most of these piglets die by being crushed to death by their own mothers, who will simply lie down wherever and don't really care very much if their weight is crushing any of their offspring.

In America, a farrowing crate is used to help prevent this. The mother doesn't get very much space to move around (at least for the duration of nursing), and while some would consider this a step back in terms of welfare - the numbers show that we lose only about 2% of our piglets to mortality, if I recall correctly. So when you consider the welfare of the thousands of piglets that get to nurse and grow in this manner without the possibility of being crushed to death, it suddenly seems like a more reasonable sacrifice to make. We don't need to make as many piglets, or keep as many sows, because not as many of them die. The sow also only gets subjected to this while the piglets are growing - keeping them in the crate during gestation is actually illegal (at least in California).

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Yep. We make the exact same amount of beef as we did in the past, with less than two-thirds of the animals. We also make far more milk, with about a third of the animals. Reasons? Technological advancements, better genetics, and good nutrition and veterinary care. Here's another point to illustrate this.

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Around here, in California (which produces the most dairy in the country), it's not uncommon for a Holstein to put out 25,000 pounds a year. And this is only going to increase. Dairy especially is a very competitive industry and producers are often at the very cutting edge of the science. This also increases animal welfare. For example, new breakthroughs in the ability to sex semen mean that it's actually possible for farmers to inseminate their cows in such a way that they are far more likely to give birth to heifers. This reduces the amount of unwanted steer calves that end up being sold off for veal (which, understandably, is something that people feel is controversial). Another new advancement that many dairies use is a monitor on each cow, which can be linked to a computer, that monitors rumination, heart rate, physical activity, and etc. The dairyman that used this on his cows said that his staff had already learned to use it and that it was often now possible to locate a sick cow and treat it on the same day that it fell ill, long before they would have noticed anything amiss otherwise. This is a lot different from how things were run in the past.

In 1950, for instance, it was the norm for cows to be milked by hand - a long process that is hard on workers. The cows would frequently be tied up in barns and not allowed to really go anywhere. There were also more animals needed to produce the same amount of product. So from a number of standpoints - economic feasibility, worker and animal safety, efficiency, environmental impact - our production systems are actually far superior to what they were even 60 years ago.

Nowadays most cattle are milked by a milking machine. The process (as I know, because I've seen it firsthand) takes about 5-10 minutes tops, even for a high producing Holstein. This is repeated twice in one day. In many facilities the cattle are basically free to roam around for the rest of the day. They're only really restrained during milking or if they need shots or other treatment.

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This model of barn, which is common, is basically called a freestall. Each animal gets a bit of space, but they're also allowed to move around quite a bit (the dairy I went to also had pens outside where they could roam in groups). The footing is nonslip and deeply bedded in many places. It's also kept extremely clean to improve food safety.

Of course, there are some issues that still arise, like mastitis, or low conception rates via AI. However, I don't think that the industry is headed in the wrong direction overall.

This being said - I cited dairy and beef since I know the most about them, but I wouldn't be surprised if other industries showed similar improvements. Just food for thought. More intensive systems are not always a bad thing.

Sadiki wrote:this is a topic I've thought about and read about a LOT in my life - not quite as often as I used to, but it does still come up quite a bit for me. I'm just going to say my thoughts on the issue as they come to me, without providing sources because I'm tired rn and these words are the product of lots of thought and research I can't necessarily remember all the origins of, but I'm always open to revisiting sources or being given new material to read!


It's fine, I kinda did the same thing. It's also late here. lol But I appreciate your input. Here are my thoughts on it.

Sadiki wrote:I'm not interested in going around and making other people in similar positions feel bad or feel pressured to 'change their ways,' but I can't help but find it irritating when people literally refuse to show any empathy to animals or question the morality of their actions.

for the most part, I'm in support of "angry vegans." reading their words has broadened my mind quite a bit. generally, anyone who is deemed "angry" when passionately advocating for something they believe in is almost instantly discredited. I find that unfair


Sadiki wrote:so generally I find it extremely irritating how often vegan activism is regarded as 'crazy' or irrational. veganism is the result of empathy....


To clarify, since I'm assuming this is in response to my last post - the issue I had with the vegan video was not the viewpoint that she expressed, since I have no issue with vegans on a personal level and can understand their thinking, but rather how she presented it.

If she had just been honest and said "hey, I don't really feel comfortable with the idea of producing animals just so I can eat them, so I decided not to eat meat/milk/whatever other animal product" I would have taken no issue with that. I can respect that. I cannot respect someone who deliberately spreads false thinking and information. I don't think that this is acceptable, I will not condone it and I don't think that other people should, either. I think this applies regardless of which side you are on.

If you don't want to be perceived as crazy and irrational, then you shouldn't make statements that are needlessly emotive and don't have any clear footing in science. There's not really any other way around it. If this person wanted me to take them seriously then they would have made a serious effort. In the meantime, I can't exactly lend much to her opinion since it's clear that she knows very little, if anything, about what she's talking about.

Unfortunately for the movement as a whole, though, there are a lot of videos out there that are almost exactly like that. In fact, since watching that one video my "Suggested" feed has been flooded with them. I also stumbled upon several misleading and very manipulative graphics while looking up the statistics that I used in this post. They're honestly all easily debunked and I don't waste any time on them, but unfortunately many other people believe this kind of thing.

Just my two cents. If you're a vegan and you're not like the woman in the video, then I have no issue with you or your opinion (regardless of whether I agree with it). :P

Sadiki wrote:it does seem to me, though, that some non-vegans are way too eager to point these things out so as to discredit vegan activists. not because they care about all the people who are in situations where they can't stop eating animal products, but because they don't want to feel guilt for their dietary choices. why is the typical response to completely shut down the idea of veganism, rather than exploring ways that veganism could be made more accessible? the second option seems more productive to me. as I mentioned, many vegans I know and respect a lot are poor and come from poor families, so a lot of the time it is possible to have productive discussions on how to make veganism accessible to someone who doesn't have a lot of money.


I don't have any issue with veganism and I'm alright with people who want to pursue it if they have their own reasons that they want to do so. I just don't think it's as vitally important as people make it out to be. Personally, I don't really feel any guilt about my dietary choices since being educated on it and actually visiting farms and learning about how animals are raised and processed. But that's just me, I think.

Sadiki wrote:I generally dislike talking about "agendas" because pretty much any viewpoint on any topic could be seen as an "agenda." sure, you could say a vegan person has an agenda, but why can't someone who is very invested in the wellbeing of agricultural industries have an agenda too?


You have a point here, and I did think about that after I made my last post. I've seen a lot of different political viewpoints in my life and grew up around a lot of people who had very different thoughts on things. It's not exactly fair to discredit something completely as "an agenda", since we are all technically products of our own experiences. I recognize and own up to that, and apologize for the misleading wording. However, I don't think that this means that all sources are 100% equal in terms of being fair. If you refuse to acknowledge the other side of the argument (and when I say this, I mean to genuinely acknowledge their concerns, not the strawmen of those concerns), or to recognize why other people might think differently - that, to me, is bias.

I guess you could technically say that I have an "agenda", too, then, in the very strictest sense of the word, since this is related to my future career and it's something I'm passionate about. However, my intent is really only to show people a perspective they might not have seen before. I want to help show people the facts so that they can decide for themselves whether going vegan is the right choice for them. I don't have any issue with people who are vegan and I understand why they would make this decision (because c'mon, it's kind of hard to argue that it's unethical NOT to eat meat, lol). I recognize this and I recognize that there are legitimate concerns. And I've tried to be as fair as possible in this thread so far.

Sadiki wrote:I find that I have to really sit for a second and deeply think about the implications of factory farming to fully immerse myself in how awful and evil it is, because it's just SO normalized that it is difficult to be shocked by it. it always takes some reflection to get to the point of shock.
I assume that must be a big part of how one becomes vegan and stays vegan. I guess you must really need to internalize these things, to get to a point where you can't even eat animal products because you're too repulsed by them. the same way most people wouldn't eat a plate of human meat set before them, or wouldn't be able to calmly sit by an allow another human to be physically abused. given the way we get our food and have gotten our food for so long, I can only assume how extremely difficult it must be to truly internalize the idea that factory farming (or the consumption of animal products as a whole) is repulsive.


And I think this is mainly where our opinions diverge about this, because honestly, I don't really find the industry to be evil or repulsive, really. That's not to say that all farmers are innocent angels and that there's nothing wrong with livestock farming at all but ultimately I think it plays an important role in our society and that it gets a lot of undeserved hatred, mostly from people who don't actually understand much about how it works or who only want to complain about it without offering any real solutions (this is not aimed at anyone here).

To be fair, I think most people do really mean well and might not know why certain things that they have been told are misleading. I know that I once lent a lot of credence to the idea that the agriculture industry was some giant horrible thing that was abusive and harmful, as I've cared a lot about animals throughout my life and it seemed wrong to me to farm them the way I thought they were. It's very easy to jump on the bandwagon for this sort of thing, but again, I'd encourage people to do their own research and make the decision for themselves. I know that it changed my perspective almost 180.

-----

Anyway, just wanted to cap this off by saying that I really appreciate everyone who posted, even if I didn't quote and respond to what you said (because then I'd be here all day lol). I definitely read it and thought about it. :) Keep it up, guys!
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Re: Animal Agriculture & Factory Farms

Postby Squeely » November 27th, 2016, 11:33 am

Isn't veal usually made from keeping young cows very weak? If so, I think veal should be illegal everywhere, as that is unethical. This is the only meat I would argue we need to stop the production of.
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Re: Animal Agriculture & Factory Farms

Postby Gemini » November 27th, 2016, 11:51 am

Squeely wrote:Isn't veal usually made from keeping young cows very weak? If so, I think veal should be illegal everywhere, as that is unethical. This is the only meat I would argue we need to stop the production of.


Veal is basically made from any dairy calves that are not wanted (usually male, as there aren't many bulls that make it as seedstock in the industry). I'm not sure what you mean by keeping them weak - but given that it is part of the beef/feedlot business there is no real incentive not to grow them out to some extent, like any other animal raised for meat.

I could go into a little more detail about how veal is raised but it's really late here right now, lol.
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Re: Animal Agriculture & Factory Farms

Postby Squeely » November 27th, 2016, 1:10 pm

I recall hearing about veal calves not being able to walk due to how they were kept. Could have been misinformation.
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Re: Animal Agriculture & Factory Farms

Postby Gaze » November 27th, 2016, 8:14 pm

Carl Skywalker wrote:Not to mention it's expensive not to here and I'm very broke.

out of curiosity, would you mind explaining a little more about food costs in your area? that question also goes out to anyone else who lives somewhere where plant-based diets aren't affordable!
where I live, I would say things like vegetables, pasta, beans et cetera are definitely the cheapest foods. I normally shop at a discount grocery store and still find that meat and dairy are what I end up dropping the most money on. but I realize it can be different depending on the area, and I have little exposure to very differing food costs so I'm just interested to hear more about how it can vary.

@Gemini I'm getting ready for work and unfortunately don't have time to read your post right now, but I will be back later for sure!
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Re: Animal Agriculture & Factory Farms

Postby Azdgari » November 28th, 2016, 2:44 am

GeminiGemelo wrote:Livestock products do play a large part in the diets of many people. There are some vegans, of course, but I'm not sure that I'm convinced that that lifestyle would be as affordable or feasible as it is now if everybody in America simultaneously decided to stop eating meat, seeing as there are 300 million of us and we have a pretty high meat consumption rate per capita. There are a lot more "omnivores" than vegans out there, from what I have seen (and as the poll on this topic seems to suggest).

Well, yeah, I don't think that many people are arguing it would be sustainable for the world to become vegetarian overnight. But I'm nitpicking a fantastic post.


And I think a lot of the reason that I am alright with the farming of meat to continue is that that is the most efficient use of a lot of our land and resources. It's important to remember that, while the overall world population is growing, our amount of arable land is not. If anything, it's decreasing. Protecting and preserving the land we use, and using it in an efficient manner, is important. We actually don't have that much to really work with when you compare it to the total landmass of the Earth, and if you look at the statistics it's actually quite interesting:

[dope graphs with citations, oh GG you're just lovely]

Worldwide, there's actually about twice as much pastureland as cropland, and most of that land simply can't be used for farming on a large scale.

And if you think about it, this makes sense. The conditions necessary for the systematic growing of crops (good soil, a ready source of water, sunlight, fair weather, not forested, etc.) are fairly hard to come by and often tend to be localized in a few major places (India, the Midwest, eastern Europe - I'm looking at you guys :p). It also often gets lost to erosion if we aren't careful.

(Of course, you can clear forest to make more farmland but that's a whole different issue right there around deforestation, which can lead to a lot of different consequences - that's not really something I'm super knowledgeable about, however).

There are many places in the world that are arid steppeland or grassland. They can be readily converted to pasture, but not to cropland. Thus, raising animals is an easy way to convert something that people cannot eat (grass, hay, other fibrous plants) into something that we can utilize (meat, milk, leather, etc.). Additionally, an interesting fact that I learned recently while visiting a dairy is that, in addition to using mostly hay and roughage - plant materials with cellulose that we can't use - much of the rest of what dairy cows eat is actually agricultural waste, such as distiller's grains, grape skins, cottonseed fluff (not sure the technical term for it, lol) and other such byproducts that would ultimately otherwise end up in a landfill. The cows can eat it just fine, but you would have a hard time trying to get people to buy and eat these same products.

This is awesome and something I never thought about; how the amount of arable land affects the feasibility of a global vegetarian diet. I appreciate you taking the time write such a well-thought out, detailed answer. So I'm going to ask for even more... could you point us in the direction of some good resources to learn about what determines the arability of land, and exactly how much is and isn't arable? I love those graphs but I'm curious about how feasible it is to convert that 'permanent meadow/pasture' or other land to cropland. You went over it in broad strokes, but if you have the time or inclination to either help me understand or point me to resources that might help, that would be awesome!

I would also be curious, as a moderate student of genetics and molecular bio, about how you think genetic engineering might counteract the contracting arable land area. I think that there's definitely hope in terms of both increased yield and increased nutritional content (I'm thinking the principle of golden rice, and in general our increasingly precise gene-editing abilities and the possibilities those entail... especially since China is just absolutely wild-wild-westing it in terms of genetic development these days but that's another story).

Another broad question: you've said many times you have no problem with the meat production industry as long as conditions are humane. On the aggregate level, confined to the US let's say, how do you think our conditions measure up?

Awesome thought on the sustainability of dairy in terms of converting cellulose and other un-useful compounds into useful products for humans too... definitely supports a cool 'circle of life' (see what I did there?) perspective.
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Re: Animal Agriculture & Factory Farms

Postby Carl » November 28th, 2016, 6:02 am

Sadiki wrote:
Carl Skywalker wrote:Not to mention it's expensive not to here and I'm very broke.

out of curiosity, would you mind explaining a little more about food costs in your area? that question also goes out to anyone else who lives somewhere where plant-based diets aren't affordable!
where I live, I would say things like vegetables, pasta, beans et cetera are definitely the cheapest foods. I normally shop at a discount grocery store and still find that meat and dairy are what I end up dropping the most money on. but I realize it can be different depending on the area, and I have little exposure to very differing food costs so I'm just interested to hear more about how it can vary.

Well, I don't know about elsewhere, but here the cheapest foods (excluding ramen noodles which also contain some amount of animal product in the seasoning packets) are eggs, canned soups, so-called "mystery meat" products (such as hot dogs, bologna, salami), canned meats (such as Vienna sausages), frozen foods like fish sticks, pizza rolls, frozen turkey loafs, and other things of that nature—my family can't really afford to buy pasta and vegetables and etc. to make our own meals out of most of the time. In fact I tend to buy most of my family's groceries each week with my check that varies from ~$90-$150 generally speaking, and there are five adults, our pets, and occasionally an 8 year old here. So we have lots of ramen, eggs, and hot dogs. We don't even buy buns for the hot dogs, instead eating them with sandwich bread, because the buns are too costly.
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Re: Animal Agriculture & Factory Farms

Postby Tora » November 28th, 2016, 8:31 am

Ok now to sound like an arrogant Image.


If you're a vegan great. If you're a vegetarian great. If you just don't want to eat meat great. However you can not tell me that eating meat is "morally" wrong. These "animals" are nothing more than our food. Their lives are solely to be our food. All these activists who go around preaching about how animals have "feelings and thoughts" contribute to nothing more than anthropomorphism. These animals wouldn't even have lives if not for us farming them for their meat. Literally almost all of these "poor" animals are a product of our farming. These animals who are so precious to some wouldn't even be alive if not for the meat industry.

Now before you all get your panties in a wad.
Image

I think that these animals however should be treated as humanely as possible. They shouldn't be beaten to death or unnecessarily abused. They should atleast be allowed to live somewhat comfortably as much as economically possible. After all they aren't a piece of trash. They are living beings and deserve to at least have some form of comfortability. That being said they are still a possession to be bought and sold. Humans and animals just aren't equal and they never will be. An animal is just that. An animal; nothing more nothing less. I imagine there will be strong disagreement with what I said and to those of you who do congrats and I hope to see compelling arguments.
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Re: Animal Agriculture & Factory Farms

Postby Azdgari » November 29th, 2016, 4:44 am

Tora wrote:All these activists who go around preaching about how animals have "feelings and thoughts" contribute to nothing more than anthropomorphism.

Definitely a few bits in your post I would have to disagree with--firstly, well, animals certainly do have "feelings and thoughts." While obviously not as intelligent as humans, animals experience emotions and are perfectly capable of fear, panic, sadness, confusion, etc.

These animals wouldn't even have lives if not for us farming them for their meat. Literally almost all of these "poor" animals are a product of our farming. These animals who are so precious to some wouldn't even be alive if not for the meat industry.

To the second point, I just don't find your logic compelling. If placed in human context, your logic would suggest that children who are born to warlords for use as child-soldiers, and wouldn't be alive if not for being bred pretty much specifically for war, are therefor ethically fine to use as seen fit. 'We bred them for this purpose so that justifies our actions' doesn't do it for me.

An animal is just that. An animal.

People are animals, just more developed examples. You draw a very hard line between humans and non-humans, and obviously there's lots of merit to that in many ways. But I would be cautious of being so callous with other living creatures; as I said above they're not sacks of meat, they're capable of emotion and thought.

I'm sure GG would be better equipped than I on this subject.
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