Cows at Jackson Ranch. | Madelyn MacMullen

My beef with killing the meat industry

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Eliminating the meat industry would do more harm than good to our planet. The idea that animal agriculture is completely unethical and impractical is false.

The media does a fine job of antagonizing the meat industry, and we all know about the documentaries that reveal the ugly truth behind factory farming, such as Food, Inc. But have you ever thought about what would happen if we put an end to animal agriculture all together?

“Agriculture cannot be sustainable without animal agriculture,” said Dr. Frank Mitloehner, Animal Science professor at UC Davis. “That is something I’m sure of.”

For instance, livestock grazing is used as a tool to stimulate soil production, which in turn removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. When herds trample through pastures, they oxygenate soil while pushing down seeds that ultimately promote healthy land restoration. Also, excrement produced along the way fertilizes soil. If managed correctly, livestock distribution can be beneficial to the environment.

“Soils of the world must be part of any agenda to address climate change, as well as food and water security,” said Dr. Rattan Lal, professor of Soil Science at The Ohio State University.

Animal parts that are not consumed, such as bones or fat, do not get wasted in the Netherlands. Renewable products from soaps to heart valve replacements are sourced from slaughtered pigs.

The Dutch eat about a third of the pig “and the rest is exported to all kinds of countries in Europe and the rest of the world,” said Christien Meindertsma, a Dutch artist who is known for using raw materials in her work.

The truth is that we need to reduce our inherited carbon footprint habits: transportation, dieting and consumerism. The global food production and consumption, namely beef, produce more greenhouse emissions than all of transportation combined. In addition, eating less meat could reduce the risk of heart disease and other health-related issues.

In extreme cases of either a world full of meat eaters or vegetarians, moderation is the middle ground. Following one extreme over the other will not reduce global warming. We can start by agreeing that livestock is a crucial part of the agricultural system.

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