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Chew on this

by Alex in Toulouse Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 08:53:09 PM EST

« Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet. »  ~Albert Einstein



Welcome to a world in which food revolves so much around meat, that when you lack the money to often buy meat, you're considered barely capable of looking after your family. Welcome to a world in which you can't formally invite people for dinner at your house and serve them only peas and carrots, for you may pass off as a penny picker. Welcome to a world in which the carcasses of breast-feeding and caring mothers are chopped and neatly presented in polysterene packages streaked with marketing slogans written in snazzy colours. Welcome to the meat age. Welcome to a world bent on eating more and more meat.

In France alone, people eat 50% more meat than 50 years ago, 200% more meat than 100 years ago, and 500% more meat than 200 years ago (source). But France is no outstanding culprit, as this trend is not specific to developed nations, as you will see below the fold. Follow me inside for a quick review of the reasons why you shouldn't eat as much meat as you (perhaps) do. Or simply why you should stop eating meat altogether.


  • 1) Meat as a cause of global warming

  • ------------------------------------

    a) Deforestation

    For starters, some meat-destined animals require land surfaces to graze on, but land surfaces are required to produce the feed required to grow all animals. Increased meat production thus leads to increased deforestation, as that is the simplest way to create more arable land. Deforestation means less carbon sinks, and means more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

    As the following graph shows, the more meat people eat, the more land surface needs to be attributed to meet meat-production needs:

    Agricultural surface required to feed the entire German population in millions of hectares on left, vs percentage of meat in the average meal on bottom (ps: the dotted line shows all-organic production vs the full line which is regular production, which hints that if you want the world to go all-organic, you'll have to eat less meat ... as organic production rates are lower than industrial ones):

    And this is not going to get any better. As mentioned above the fold, the world is consuming more and more meat. Generally speaking, the multiplication ratio from 1961 and forecast up to 2020 of meat production for the entire world, is 4.42, while the multiplication ratio of the world's population forecast over the same period is only 2.61 (3.081 billion in 1961, 8.050 billion expected in 2020). And this trend is valid even for the less meat-friendly countries. Looking at India, a country known not only for its birdy nam-nam, but also for its tendency to venerate cows, the population multiplication ratio for the past 40 years is 2.73, while the meat production multiplication ratio for the same period is 3.5.

    (nota bene: I will write a seperate diary on dairy cattle and egg-producing chicken later on, when time allows)

    b) Grown animals waste all our crops

    But "wait a minute", you'll say ... "why can't we simply replace surfaces currently destined to us humans with surfaces destined to cattle, instead of requiring deforestation"?

    For the simple reason that animals grown for meat are wasteful in the sense that many more calories of crop are used to produce one single calorie of meat. You cannot thus substitute the former for the latter. In fact, animals consume 40% of the world's crops, this figure however includes dairy cattle but this element doesn't change the impact. This figure anyhow is an average, in the USA cattle consume 80% of all crops grown. These crops being grown with tools (tractors ...) and products (fertilizers ...) that are part of the carbon cycle, growing more calories from crops then the calories we get from meat logically produces more greenhouse gases.

    In this perspective, according to Jean-Marc Jancovici's figures, the "production" of 1 kilogram of veal meat releases more greenhouse gases than driving 100 kilometers in a car. But it's actually far worse, since this is only a "carcass equivalent" as Jancovici calls it. Meaning that this does not include processing, packaging, or transportation gases associated with that kilogram of meat!

    Many other things also come into consideration here, but do not necessarily concern global warming. I'm thinking about cattle excretions that pollute water systems, I'm thinking about water in general etc (for example 3000 liters of water are required to produce 160 grams of steak meat, while the same quantity of wheat requires only 72 liters. And since 160g of ground wheat contains 518 calories while a 160g steak only contains 250, you can imagine how insanely wasteful this is.)

    Anyhow, to sum it all up for you, the food consumed by all the bovines in the world, yes only the bovines, would feed 8.7 billion human beings, which as you will have noticed, is more than the current population on Earth.

  • 2) Meat as a cause of poor health

  • ------------------------------------

    a) Humans may not be designed to eat meat

    This is still very much open to debate. But the very fact that doubts exist means that there is no way to brush vegetarians away with a sweep of the hand while confidently proclaiming: "I have to eat meat, I'm an omnivore".

    Let's look at where the anti-meat camp stands. On the cheap argument side you'll find: "just because you can digest animals does not mean you are supposed to", or "you are not fit to run fast to catch prey, unlike meat-eaters who have fast reflexes ... try catching a chicken to get the idea". On the more serious argument side, you'll find things such as: "our saliva is alkaline and contains ptyalin for predigestion of grains", or that "meat-eating animals have an unlimited capacity to handle saturated fats and cholesterol, unlike us", or on the more behavioural side of things, that "we do not have the instinct to pounce on a bird, nor does the sight of a bird make our mouths water when we are hungry, but we often secrete saliva when we see a bunch of juicy grapes". Etc etc etc

    I doubt that I can get much organised structure out of all the things that have been said over the years on this issue, so for now only retain that there is a possibility that mankind may have evolved from hundreds of thousands of years of eating mainly fruits and roots, and that suddenly increasing meat consumption by 500% can't really be something that human anatomy will have had enough time to plan for .... but then again who knows.

    b) Link between frequent red meat consumption and colo-rectal cancers and cardio-vascular diseases

    The only certain thing for now, is that if you eat meat in unreasonable amounts, you're in for physical trouble. High cholesterol, toxins stored in body fat, a weaker immune system ... the list of grievances is quite long, but not all entries are certified.

    For now, only some correlations are more or less established, and they generally concern red meat (and not poultry for example). The first one is the link between red meat consumption and colo-rectal cancers.

    As you can see from the following graph, it's tempting to conclude that the more meat you eat, the more at risk of getting colon cancer you stand:


    The BBC has often written articles on red meat and health, here is a pair:

    Red meat 'cancer threat'
    Red meat 'linked to cancer risk'

    c) Pandemics

    Ok, you all know this, I'll skip going into detail. Mad cow, foot and mouth, avian flu and what not ... are these caused by the industry's poor standards, or are they unavoidable in farmed animals overfed with anti-biotics?

  • 3) Meat as a tremendous cause of animal suffering

  • ------------------------------------

    a) Is it really that bad for the animals? What about all those cows that seem to lie around doing nothing all day?

    The cows you see roaming around are luckier than some, a good deal of them either belong to small producers and will thus be able to enjoy a longer life outside the pen, or are lucky dairy cows (nota bene: dairy cows in the industrial sector are no better off than their meat-destined counterparts ... they are turned into living contraptions that pour milk, nothing more ... more on this in a seperate diary, later).
    As a general rule, the organic industry is generally more conscientious about its treatment of animals. But you already know this. What you may not know is that the European Union has planned, for 2007, the implementation of various laws meant to reduce animal cruelty by limiting industrial animal production (by banning all sorts of practices, from overcrowding pens to regulations on transport). Which is a good step forward. However, this will not be a miracle solution at all, only a beginning. For one, it will not regulate on calves, or veals if you prefer, any further than it did in 1997. The existing regulation will be used (1997 amendment here). So how bad is it for the veals? Well, veals are commonly afflicted with anemia, their diet being intentionally lacking in iron (in order to maintain their meat as white as possible) and fibers. They suffer from chronic diarrhea and pneumonia and are generally (barely) kept alive with antibotics, and calmed with high doses of tranquilizers. After 5 or 6 months spent immobile and in general darkness, they finally emerge to see the sun ... on the day of their slaughter. Just don't eat veal. If you read the 1997 text you'll see that nothing much is going to change for them, oh yeah sure, they'll be allowed to scratch their ears once every ten days, according to regulation B/Z/3200 or whatever ...

    Chickens, being less demanding in surface, get the worst fate of all. And the EU's 2007 beef-up will do nothing to make their lives less miserable, albeit perhaps add 2 cm2 of living area per chicken. I'm not talking about the egg-producing ones, again this will be dealt with later. For now let's focus on the meat-destined ones. For starters, chickens can live, under "normal" circumstances, up to 12 years. In the industry, they are killed 5-6 weeks after hatching. The average industrial chicken is grown in an A4-sized area, too small for it to spread its wings. Ulcers are very common in industrial chickens. Which is kind of logical when you consider the amount of stress that they go through. And, as stress leads to agression, young chicks have their beak severed off a few hours after hatching, with a hot blade. This beak-removing operation kills a number of chicks on the spot (heart attack). Selective breeding and various other dubious growth-enhancing discoveries have led chickens to grow faster than ever before ... but at the cost of their organs not keeping apace, leading to various types of cardio-pulmonary problems. Fortunately for them, I guess, they are killed before these problems become unbearable. Their bone structure may not always follow the rythm of growth either, leading to twisted, mangled legs.

    In other words, it sucks to be an industrially-grown chicken, or turkey, or canard (duck) or whatever ...

    b) But do we really care about chickens, I mean aren't they kind of dumb? Or haven't we made them dumber over the years?

    Chickens deserve a lot more credit than they get. I'll just give you these two quotes and a link to make up your own mind:


    "Chickens show sophisticated social behavior," Dr. Joy Mench, Professor and Director of the Center for Animal Welfare at the University of California at Davis, "That's what a pecking order is all about. They can recognize more than a hundred other chickens and remember them. They have more than thirty types of vocalizations."

    "In no way can these living conditions meet the demands of a complex nervous system designed to form a multitude of memories and make complex decisions."(1)
    --Lesley Rogers, Ph.D., on battery cages, author of The Development of Brain and Behaviour in the Chicken

    http://www.eggscam.com/cfi/expert/

    c) Hey, I don't kill the animals, they're already dead when they land in my plate

    Throughout his life, the average Frenchmen will be directly responsible for the death of approximately 1,500 animals whose rotting flesh will land in his stomach. Yet this number makes no provisions for animals killed outside of slaughterhouses or that die during transportation or during the growing-up cycle.

    The following pictures here should give you some insight about how ugly it gets. Besides, have you ever walked near a carcass-disposing center? If you have, then you're familiar with the horrible smell of death that floats around them for sometimes miles around. Ok, here come the pictures, close your eyes if you don't want to feel a shiver running down your spine:

    Here is a cow restrained for slaughter:

    And here you can see videos of chickens being "brought up" and slaughtered: http://www.chickenindustry.com/cfi/videogallery/ , or alternately watch this one: http://www.cok.net/camp/inv/perdue/video.php

    Then you can always read this Washington Post article (PDF): http://www.hfa.org/hot_topic/wash_post.pdf

  • Final Conclusion

  • -------------------------------

    Meat is the world's Axis of Evil. Eat less meat! If you don't do it for the animals, then at least do it for the climate. Eat less meat!

    I now have to write 3 follow-up diaries on:

    a) the impact of dairy cattle on the environment, and their treatment in the industry
    b) why it's important to only eat fish from pisciculture
    c) why not eating meat can kill you when you're an eskimo

    In the meantime, in case you're thinking of having a nice & juicy & rotting slice from a cow's muscle: drop that steak and give me twenty! If you can't help it, then you must at least STOP BUYING INDUSTRIAL MEAT! Buy meat from smaller estates, on which chickens roam free and are killed later, on which cows can lie in the grass and go moooooo for a while. At the very least do this. And if you're up to it, try quitting meat, it's really not that hard.

    ps: a text in French on the EU's plan regarding farm animal cruelty

    Display:
    More on chickens here.

    The EU plants to totally phase out battery cages by 2012, but only to replace them with slightly larger cages. Like I said above ironically (with my extra 2cm2), even with an honorouble intention the EU is still far from target.

    And anyhow the problem is mainly that meat demand is too high. Lower the demand, and there will be more space available for cattle and chickens and forests and what nots.

    by Alex in Toulouse on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 09:09:38 PM EST
    This article here from the Independent is also very interesting.
    by Alex in Toulouse on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 09:13:01 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    A link to several pictures, still on chickens:
    http://www.ca4a.org/bbc/photos/?file=C
    by Alex in Toulouse on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 09:14:39 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Here's an interesting figure from one of the videos I linked to, I think it's worth adding here:

    "If we grew as fast as battery cage chickens are forcibly grown, we'd weigh 349 pounds by age 2".

    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 08:34:09 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    That is disingenuous. What is the ratio of adult to newborn weight in chickens v. humans, and at what age is a chicken fully grown v. 16 to 18 years for a human?

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 08:39:14 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I had the same reaction you had, but thought the figure was opportunistic enough for me to use (I know, I'm totally biased), particularly because it came from a source that I would be capable of passing off as serious (University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture).

    Apparently, hens mature at 6 months, so here they would be culled at 1/5th or 1/6th their adult age, which applied to humans being adults at 16-18 would make it, say, 3 years of age, so the age part is passibly accurate. (ps: I wonder whether hens are said to be adults at puberty, in which case the appropriate human age would be, what, 12 years?)

    The average chicken adult body weight is at 1.5 kg, so killing them aged 6 weeks and weighing 2.5 kilos is 1.6x too much weight. (this is just a rough calculation, a quick one too, just to see if the 349 lbs statement is off or not)

    Applied to humans, that would be 2-3 years of age, and 1.6 times the average human weight, and since I don't know that figure, I can't get the correct result, but I'm starting to think that the 349 lbs for 2 years can't be that far off.

    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:06:40 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    In the US, breeding has become so extreme, that most factory-farmed meat chickens (called 'broilers') are a 4x hybrid. The hatcheries sell what they call grandparents. These grandparents in turn produce chicks which are again crossbred to produce the modern broiler chicken.

    The US produces more than eight billion meat chickens each year. The large producers contract out the actual raising of the chickens to small farmers. The small farmers have large sheds and the producers bring them feed, 10 - 20,000 hatchlings for each shed, and then collect the chickens when they are 4-5 weeks for what is called "Rock Cornish Game Hens" or 7-8 weeks for standard broilers. The Rock Cornish Game Hen named product was invented by Tyson Foods in the early 1950s as a way to distribute young, frozen standard meat chickens.

    Spent (old) grandparent and parent broiler hens are sold to canners for soup, or other meat products. In the US, spent factory egg-laying hens, which are much smaller than meat hens, are often destroyed. Canners pay only $.10 to $.16 per chicken delivered, the cost of delivery alone from rural egg-laying areas to more urban canneries is cost-prohibitive.

    by capslock on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 02:00:12 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Take a look at your teeth in a mirror. Those chompers haven't evolved to chew cud. Like the pig, which some would say resembles us in other ways too, we are omnivorous. We can survive on just about anything, but we thrive on variety.

    It was probably our turn to the high fat and protein diet of meat, and not least bone marrow, which both made possible and made necessary the evolution of our larger brains.

    Is it possible to survive on a purely vegetarian diet. Yes. Is it advisable, especially while growing up? A bit more doubtful. We're then moving into the need for dietary supplements and pills.

    And having participated in my share of slaughtering of pigs through my childhood, and smelled what they smell like on the inside, still I'll happily fry up a pork chop.

    Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

    by Alexander G Rubio (alexander.rubio@gmail.com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 09:21:53 PM EST
    You may not have lived in a buddhist country in which few people eat meat, yet everyone is still just as healthy as we westerners.

    Since I have, I tend to be convinced that animal protein is highly overrated.

    But anyhow, what makes you believe that the teeth you mention are a sign? In fact in humans, the incisives are very developed, the canines are reduced, and the molar teeth occupy a large flat area, which generally relates us more to vegetarian animals. Our mandible moves laterally, not up and down like in meat-eaters. We basically have a  lot more chances of being essentially vegetarian than omnivorous.

    by Alex in Toulouse on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 09:33:28 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I'm forgetting the digestive system argument. No carniverous animal has a digestive system as long as ours (on average theirs is 4x times shorter!!). Theirs is basically meant to quickly digest meat and expel toxins. Ours is not, which is why the only palpable thing that increased meat consumption leads to is colon cancer.
    by Alex in Toulouse on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 09:38:19 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Um, Sven didn't say we were carnivores, he said we were omnivores.

    That said, I think you're right that we eat way too much meat.  OTOH, doesn't vegetarianism cause insomnia? ;-)

    Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

    by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 09:51:44 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Yeah, I only stated "carnivorous" and "vegetarian" when describing our teeth, as a scale of two extremes in order to place us very close to the vegetarian edge of that scale, but I know Alexandro said omnivorous. You see it's the meat, the meat ... it's making you see Sven when it's really Alexanddro!!

    I'm totally not tired tonight and I don't know why, which is great as it gave me time to write a diary. But hey, it's 4 am and still not feeling tired, what shall I do ...

    Hey, one thing I forgot to say, Alexandro, is that I still eat fish, eggs, dairy products, which are all animal protein. Not often, but on occasion. And I am convinced from my stay in Sri Lanka that this occasional animal protein is really all that's necessary. I do believe that human beings have evolved close to the sea and to rivers before moving inland and that fish are thus a natural part of our diet. And I have yet to come to terms with fish feelings, like you yourself have yet to do with pigs.

    Talking about minimal animal protein, my best friend's son in Lanka was the best student at the Royal College there (topmost school) and never ate an ounce of meat in his life, even as a toddler! He would only have had an egg here and there when growing up. His brain is perfectly ok, and you have to consider, when reading this, that his father was (is) a vegetarian, his grand-father was a vegetarian, and so on and so forth for possibly centuries. I'm not debating by example here, consider this more like a way for me to examplify an entire nation of people who don't eat meat and who are nevertheless perfectly ok. And they're not 1m50 tall. Both my friend and his son were over 6 feet.

    Like I say, animal protein is highly overrated. I'm ready to debate this until we draw first blood :))

    by Alex in Toulouse on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 10:03:25 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Och, you'll get no argument from me, although I'm fond of the occasional nice, rare steak.  But I was raised, in part, by fanatical Seventh-Day Adventists.  They prefer you to be vegetarian but, if not, you have to follow the food laws of Leviticus.

    As a result of this, although I'm not an Adventist, I never ate a lot of stuff as a kid and didn't develop a taste for it.  Of course, I didn't like the Loma Linda Linkies either, but that's a story for the group. ;-)

    Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

    by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 10:21:06 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    So, where's the beautiful hill that Loma Linda is named after? Do you have any pictures?

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 11:04:46 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I've left a photo and comment in the open thread for you.

    Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
    by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 01:48:55 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Yes, I have been to such countries actually. And one thing about most of them is that they are largely in a climatic zone where there's a year round availability of a dizzying variety of vegetable foods, covering most nutritional bases.

    Sure, those of us living nigh on the arctic could perhaps import all our vegetable needs, or greenhouse them. But there goes the small footprint agriculture argument, as we're then talking some serious use of fuels.

    I think, as is the case in your example, this is more of a faith based issue than it is an economic or health based one. Not that there's anything wrong with that mind you.

    I guess I'm with Denis Leary on this (yes, the smoking too):

    "I love to smoke. I love to smoke and I love to eat red meat. I love to eat raw fucking red meat. Nothing I like better than sucking down a hot steaming cheese burger and a butt at the same time. I love to smoke. I love to eat red meat. I'll only eat red meat that comes from cows who smoke, ok!? Special cows they grow in Virginia with voice boxes in their necks. "[robotic voice box voice] Moo""


    Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.
    by Alexander G Rubio (alexander.rubio@gmail.com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 09:55:27 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    those of us living nigh on the arctic

    Absolutely true, which is why, in my conclusion, I mention that I'll write a diary about why you have to eat meat when you're an eskimo (it's there, at the top of this page).

    Basically, everyone should eat what they want, as they want, but I stand by my opinion that people have to eat less meat because it's, before all, unhealthy for the planet.

    by Alex in Toulouse on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 10:07:02 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Hmmm... Unhealthy for the planet...

    Are there presently some rather suspect practises in our large scale industrial agriculture? You bet'cha!

    Do I believe Europe could produce more than enough food, both vegetable and animal, for its soon to be shrinking population without bringing the world as we know it to an end? Without breaking a sweat, and with enough to spare.

    Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

    by Alexander G Rubio (alexander.rubio@gmail.com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 10:12:27 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    We could sure do that for ourselves, but what would the rest of the world do? Do we only have to worry about ourselves?

    The worldwide meat production increase rate has been nearly twice as high as the increase rate of the world's population (explained above in my diary content) over the past 40 years, so how long do you think the rest of the world can keep this up while we Europeans settle down into a balanced-out system?

    by Alex in Toulouse on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 10:16:50 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    So us engaging in what is sustainable agriculture and animal husbandry here, is wrong, because it may be unsustainable in other parts of the world? Ahh...

    Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.
    by Alexander G Rubio (alexander.rubio@gmail.com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 10:21:23 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    My point is that the insane hike in meat-consumption is worldwide, and that I'm adressing this issue from the world's perspective ... not from as perspective that's ego-centered on Europe.
    by Alex in Toulouse on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 10:29:22 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I hardly think it's "ego-centered" to focus on what's sustainable locally. I'm always a bit sceptical when people start talking in globals and absolutes.

    True, some things need global solutions. But there's a Messianic sub-text that all too often creeps in when there's talk of how everyone, everywhere must act in this or that prescribed way and none other, or it's a one way ticket to the lake of fire, that makes me break out in hives.

    From my point of view, one should focus on sustainable solutions at a local level first and foremost, as solutions that fit the bill one place might not in others. If that's "ego-centered", then I can live with that.

    Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

    by Alexander G Rubio (alexander.rubio@gmail.com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 10:44:16 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The sustainable solution you initially mentioned was happenstance population decline, and there was something about that that made me think of a smoker lighting a cigarette in a tiny, cramped room full of non-smokers, thus my reaction and eventually the ego-centered comment, sorry if this was a bit overblown.

    For the rest, there is nothing particularly messianic about mentioning that current meat outputs are unsustainable. Me arguing that people should eat less meat may be messianic in tone, but the content behind the tone is factual. Maybe you are a little bit eager to see something messianic about the content itself because you feel an urge to be in disagreement with vegetarians (just a suggestion).

    Factual dare I say? Well, let's look at this for a second. The first graph in my diary, representing necessary land surface vs percentage of meat consumption in Germany, shows two lines, one with an all-organic production (the dotted line), the other with regular industry-type production. You will have noticed that the all-organic solution requires as much surface land as is used today (18 million hectares) only if meat consumption is reduced by 39 to 23%. Per german person.

    Now, since oil-base fertilizers are due to disappear together with oil, organic is soon going to be the only way to grow food, right?

    And, Germany is due to lose 4 million (83 to 79) of its population by 2050, according to a recent study by the European Commission which we talked about here on ET.

    So, if it's safe to say that by 2050 oil-based fertilizers will be all but gone, then can we expect that a 16% drop in meat consumption for a 4% population drop simply means that Germans will just have to eat less meat?

    Germans could always use more arable land to maintain their meat consumption level, but deforestation and more land use defeats the purpose, particularly if more land will already be required to grow biofuels and such things that lack of oil will have made more important.

    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 12:05:30 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I don't disagree with you in general, but it's silly to talk about "deforestation" in Europe considering that forests occupy 40% more land than a century ago in Europe (and that trend is true pretty much everywhere).

    In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
    by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:47:09 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Absolutely. The deforestation is happening in Brazil, not in Europe.
    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:54:56 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    And Thailand
    by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 11:05:00 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Mostly to grow soy beans to feed cattle.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 11:06:48 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    It's true that today's deforestation is happening mainly in Brazil (38% of Amazonian mass since 1960), but where would we find the additional 10-11% of German land (visually according to graph at top of page) required to maintain current meat consumption levels when oil-fertilizers will have disappeared and organic crops will be the norm? We'll have to use part of the 30% of land area occupied by forests in Germany, that's for sure.

    And though those 30% of forest are more than what they were a century ago, a century ago they acted as carbon sinks for a world which didn't have the same level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Thus, since today's carbon schema is different, it's today's surface that we should use to measure carbon sink losses, not 1900's, don't you agree?

    Also, you must be careful about what is called forest cover these days. Semi-urban areas can be considered as part of forests, depending on the tree implantation and model used.

    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 11:08:38 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Semi-urban areas can be rich environmentally. I saw a story somewhere around that bees are much better off in suburbia because there's less pesticides than in the country side.
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 11:10:15 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Interesting point, but nevertheless you can't grow much crop in semi-urban areas, can you? Then again, maybe you can. Sorry I'm just tying this to my comment above, but your comment is really not about that, so let's just say I'm talking aloud to myself :)
    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 11:16:33 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    There's a thriving cottage industry around urban agriculture. Makes for a good diary topic, too.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 11:29:46 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Psst!!! you saw it on the European Breakfast. :-)
    by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 11:24:23 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I just couldn't remember. Silly me.
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 11:24:50 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I wasn't arguing in favour of current meat consumption levels, I agree with you on that. But the deforestation argument doesn't really hold for Europe. It does at a global level. I'm dead against Brazil being encouraged (by the Doha Round at the WTO, for example) to go on slashing and burning virgin forest to grow soybeans for cattle feed. (It isn't even going to do anything to help feed Brazil's poor).
    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 11:42:19 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    But the deforestation argument doesn't really hold for Europe.

    Ok, the thing is Jérôme replied to my comment on Germany in an all-organic world at current consumption levels, in which case it's unambiguous that deforestation would be necessary. So this is what I repeated.

    But overall, you're right, deforestation in Europe doesn't hold. Then again, this all depends on what's been going on over the past century.

    Meat production has gone up, crop production has gone up, housings have multiplied (the population has gone up), yet the forest surface has also gone up ... how did we pull this off in Europe?

    Well naturally because progresses have been made in production levels, mainly through the use of better (stronger) fertilizers. Thus I don't think it's fair to say that deforestation is not an issue in Europe. It simply may not have been an issue so far because of the humongous progresses made since WWII in the oil-fertilizer department. Take that away (soon ...) and bam, we'll be just like third-world countries (which à priori do not use/afford as much fertilizer as we do) ...

    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 12:04:20 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Besides, by the late 19th century European forests were in a sorry state, what with the industrial age and all ... so rebuilding a forest that's in a poor state (nota bene: that has not been converted to arable land, but that has only been logged for wood) is bound to increase forest surface areas over a century. What's important is what happens from now on ...
    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 12:08:23 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Spain cut down most of its trees to build ships. Britain cut down its entire stock of yew to make longbows. Deforestation in Europe by and large took place before the industrial revolution, which was fueled by coal and iron, not wood. So I don't know what a fair point of comparison would be, really. But it is clear why the lop point of deforestation should have happened in the 1800's (with cross-country variations of a few couple of decades).

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 12:16:51 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Coal and iron, but then what about charcoal? I'm sure you're totally right about pre-industrial age deforestation, but I still think that the industrial age was particularly nasty to our forests.
    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 12:36:10 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    What about charcoal? Please enlighten me.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 12:37:01 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Wasn't charcoal still used as a cheaper energy source than coal back then?

    Anyhow about the industrial age, I found this on the CIDA forestry advisers network website:

    Meanwhile, back in Europe, the arrival of the Industrial Revolution put tremendous pressure on the remaining forests to supply fuel for the smelters and foundries of the new industries. Before the end of the 19th century, most of the Europe's ancient forests were only distant memories.
    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 12:47:24 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Wikipedia: Charcoal
    Historically the massive production of charcoal (at its height employing hundreds of thousands, mainly in Alpine and neighbouring forrests) has been a major cause of deforestation, especially in Central Europe, but to a lesser extent even before, as in Stuart England. The increasing scarcity of easily harvested wood was a major factor for the switch to the fossil equivalents, mainly coal and brown coal for industrial use.
    This is terrible: the switch to coal happened because we run out of wood...

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 12:39:46 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Ahh I thought coal was more efficient, which is why the main industries shifted to it. But this would also have meant that charcoal would have been used by all the poorer folk/industries, given the expenses surrounding coal extraction (as opposed to the easy way of producing charcoal).

    But this bit you cite from Wikipedia clearly tells me that I was way off!!

    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 12:50:05 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    After you take into account the cost of extraction, I wonder whether coal is really more efficient than charcoal.

    It's like oil: at some point before it's totally depleted it will take more oil to power the extracion operations than is produced. At that point, oil ceases to be an energy source and becomes an expensive input to the chemical industry.

    Remember the plan to build a nuclear power plant in order to get oil out of the Canadian oil sands?

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 12:57:14 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I don't have hard data on this, but I think mountainous regions have been reforested after being abandoned by small peasant farmers. You know, mowers used to tie themselves to a stake on steep slopes so as to be able to lean back on the rope and be at the proper angle to use the scythe. That is a world that disappeared, true, partly with the advent of increasingly industrial farming. We will probably only go back to working such areas in the event of catastrophic environmental/ecomonomic collapse (which is possible). But, in that case, even the big meat-eaters will be forced to reduce their intake... (Let the happy hunter-gatherers get out there and try and catch a wild rabbit with their bare hands ;))

    Don't think I don't agree with you that we produce and consume meat at unsustainable levels, I do. I'm just chipping at some of your arguments I find a bit wilder than others.

    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 12:17:49 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I'm just chipping at some of your arguments I find a bit wilder than others

    This will be my demise, argh.

    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 12:30:36 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    well i'm reclaiming my 5 acre farm fro the creeping reforeststion that is happening to fields all over the area, as the meadows and spaces that humans cleared by hand over the centuries have been abandoned in the exodus to the cities.

    the richer bottom lands are still treeless, whipped by chemicals into growing tobacco, but many of the hill farms are reverting fast.

    when i saw de lang on tv overlooking france from a helicopter, saying that if it were not for the cap, all the farmland would be swallowed by woods quite quickly.

    i have mixed feelings about this, as i imagine the woods would be cut pretty swiftly and unsustainably if heating prices continue to rise exponentially, and the wildlife is very sparse now, due to overhunting and chemicals in the ecosystem.

    more woods would be good for them.

    italy does have a very keen forest police -forestale- who do nothing but patrol looking for illegal cutting, issue permits for tree cutting -3 months to have permission to cut one tree to make a driveway.

    but when you consider it took 2 years to have a landline connected, and i am less that 2k from the nearest phone, this may be proto-italian, in its glacial slowness.

    i must say that the woods are healthy, and there are lots around me, providing sustainable work for families here.

    you NEVER see the kind of nightmare clearcuts like some places; there are strict rules as to how many years between cutting, and how many trees must be left uncut, to minimise runoff and erosion.

    i hear if you run into a tree in your car, the fine for killing the tree can be very steep, though this may be urban legend.

    as fuel prices rise, i expect more will be done by hand, providing more jobs and more incentive not to damage the national patrimony....colour me optimistic on this perhaps!

    maybe someone will come up with a solar panel-powered laser chainsaw, lol.

    "We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

    by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 01:02:33 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    So, how much charcoal could be sustainably harvested from the average forest? And how much food grown organically fron the same land area? (clearly not both at the same time)

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 01:07:57 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The biggest arguement against a meat diet is quiet simply the current population is unsustainable if the quantities of meat currently consumed in the developed world continue.

    Meat production requires roughly 10 times the amount of protein to be fed to an animal for each unit of weight of meat. In other words, you need to grow 10 kilos of plants for every 1 kilo of meat. Soya, wheat and myco-protein based analogues can replace meat in virtally every stew or sauced dish. Some of this (like myco-protein meat substitutes) require things like eggs to make but these can be "free range". Given that it will be necessary to produce some animal proteins, like eggs and milk, there can be animal husbandry techniques that reduce the suffering. This could even involve more advanced techniques like the artificial insemination of female cattle embryos with only a few males for breeding purposes. That would eliminate the source of veal cattle which are usually the unwanted males.

    A purely vegan diet is quite difficult for most in the developed world to cope with. If you include a dairy, pulse and grain protein element into every meal, there is little likelihood of any protein problems.

    The global warming argument is stonger than you suggest. The principle greenhouse gas from meat production is methane, quite simply all those cows and pigs fart and their dung degrades to methane as well.     The same mass of methane has 10 times the "greenhouse effect" as CO2.  

    by Londonbear on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 10:09:58 PM EST
    I seem to be same-minded as you on this issue, so I agree with everything you say.
    by Alex in Toulouse on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 10:34:40 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Besides the big amount of grains used for livestock, what is often overlooked is the water consumption involved in raising livestock. According to Robbins, author of Diet for a new America:

    Livestock use approximately 50% of all the water in the US.

    Livestock produce twenty times the excrement as the human population of the US. This increases the nitrate/nitrite water pollution.

    It requires 60-100 times more water to produce one pound of beef than a pound of wheat.

    Livestock require excessive water usage because the land needed to grow grain for livestock takes up about 80% of the grain produced, and because water is needed for the animals.

    When one considers the water needed for this extra grain and for the care of the livestock, a flesh-food diet creates a need for 4.500 gallons per day per meat-eater as compared to 300 gallons per day for a vegan.  A vegan saves approx. 1'500'000 gallons per year as compared to a flesh- and diary eater.


    by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 01:55:00 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    We're omnivores, but we sure as hell don't need to eat as much meat as we do except in extreme circumstances. And in extreme circumstances we need to eat all the stuff modern rich humans throw away - the fat and the offal.

    Meet should be an occasional luxury, not something we have three times a day to hide the crappy quality of our other food.

    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 02:31:39 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I'm with Colman -- meat is a dietary supplement, not a diet :-)

    one thing that is difficult in dealing with this type of excessive consumer behaviour (heavy meat consumption, SUVs, vulgarisation of air travel, etc) is that in remonstrating with excess we run into deep resistance -- because excess is a signifier of wealth and power and therefore people like excessive behaviours.  excess is inherently desirable and fun.  so of course it's uphill work critiquing excess, even civilisation-threatening excess, because the critic is automatically stuck with being Anti-Fun.

    excessive behaviours that are autopathic as well, are also excellent display mechanisms for youthful rebelliousness and masculine bravado, or (oh boy) both combined (thus the flippant celebration of hard liquor, cigarettes and red meat -- high risk, "daredevil," autopathic habits).  so we end up struggling with all kinds of desires and motivations, issues of ranking and self-image and competitiveness, that have nothing to do with actual food or the enjoyment of food.

    for many people "cutting back on meat" is a signifier of poverty (or wartime rationing which they swore they would never have to endure again).  eating lots of meat every day gives a feeling of wealth, security, "good times," happiness, which all the facts and figures in the world don't make much of a dent in... even if the meat is lousy, tasteless, water-injected, doped with hormones, what have you, it still tickles ancient receptors in the Western wheat/beef cultural mindset.  and eating grotesque amounts of meat, now as in mediaeval times, is a signifier of both wealth and "hearty macho appetite", so we run into self-concepts of manliness and (inevitably) deep gender terror (vegetarians are sissies, real men eat meat and potatoes and hate vegetables, "who do you think you are, my mother," and so on).

    all these gender and ranking associations make it very difficult to have rational discussions about the practicality and sustainability of different dietary choices.  in a way red meat consumption is (socially) a bit like rape or sexual harassment (prior, of course, to the incredibly enlightened times in which we now, ahem, are presumed to live);  critiquing it causes defensiveness, embarrassment, and uneasy jocularity, followed by anger and accusations of spoilsportism or puritanism if the criticism becomes too loud or serious.

    I do occasionally eat salmon, but it's usually line caught and local.

    The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

    by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 03:55:51 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    While I think the rape simile is way out of line, bordering on the Goodwinesque, I'll leave that particular can of worms for another time.

    But what I do think we're seeing here is a bit of the friction that exists between the two wings of the modern left.

    My own political sympathies hark back to the old pre-1968 industrialist social-democrat movement; you know, infrastructure, jobs and housing, and meat in every pot, and a big dollop of scepticism towards New-Agey emotionalism.

    For this wing it's all about lifting the working classes into the affluent middle class, so they can turn right around and vote conservative ;) And if some virgin forest has to go to make that happen, tough cookies!

    Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

    by Alexander G Rubio (alexander.rubio@gmail.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 04:14:49 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    it's all about lifting the working classes into the affluent middle class, so they can turn right around and vote conservative
    That's exactly what the Spanish socialists did in Spain in the 1930's when they gave women the vote, and they knew full well it would cost them the next election, as it did.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 11:01:14 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    While I think the rape simile is way out of line, bordering on the Godwinesque

    strangely enough it was not a random rhetorical flourish, but anecdotal, based in personal experience... my life is long enough that I can remember when male professors routinely made rape jokes as part of lectures, when female employees were considered "troublemakers" if they reported sexual harassment or filed grievances, etc.  I can remember what it was like trying to engage in dialogue with men who sincerely believed there was absolutely no such thing as rape or that if there was, it was the woman's fault and/or funny.  [unless of course it was their own wife or daughter, in which case hanging was too good for the jerk, etc.]

    so I remember the flavour and mood of those conversations, the "aww where's your sense of humour honey" and other "witty" comebacks and dismissals that covered up for, I think, a real sense of threat and disturbance at having deeply-rooted social norms challenged.  and there are certain similarities with conversations I had slightly later in life, in restaurants or at parties, with meat-eating friends. sometimes they would engage in similar joshing and shuffling and sometimes anger or defensiveness if (when asked why I wasn't eating the meat dish) I would recite some of the statistics on meat production -- in the same earnestly informative way I would recite the stats on rape or domestic abuse (or fossil fuel depletion for that matter).

    some information is not welcome, and perhaps we all have the same socially-acceptable mechanisms for deflecting or warding off unwelcome information, information that by tickling our conscience suggests to us that we should act or be or buy or consume differently from our comfortable habits.  any "inconvenient fact" that tickles the conscience perhaps produces the social equivalent of a scratch or a sneeze, a quick irritated reflex to make the itch go away...

    The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

    by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 06:54:15 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I just think that to imply that people who are not sold on the virtues of vegetarianism are somehow related to people who condone rape, is so beyond the pale as to make me seriously question the judgement of the person making such a statement.

    It underlines what I said in another comment, that this is a subject matter that for some borders on the religious, making anyone who differs, somehow immoral.

    I truly hope I'm misunderstanding you here.

    Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

    by Alexander G Rubio (alexander.rubio@gmail.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 07:34:42 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    (sorry) I probably should have stuck with a more isomorphic example like discussions between eco-conscious cyclists and habitual motorists :-)  this  would have offered a more exact similitude, being prima facie a lifestyle/environment/resource question rather than a human rights or crimes-against-persons question.  there was an obvious overlap in my mind for idiosyncratic reasons, as I was thinking of a couple of specific older male friends of 25 years ago and more, whose reactions (on all three subjects, now that I come to think of it) were quite emotionally/tonally similar.  so the similarity in my mind was not the similarity of the issue or the topic, but the similarity of the defensive mechanisms we all (moi aussi) use to deflect unwanted information or perceived "moral judgment" from others.

    what is interesting is that AGR personally, or his generation (I don't know his age so cannot say) or his educational or political demographic or whatever, has clearly internalised the idea that rape is very, very, terribly, seriously Bad -- and that therefore it is insane (or at least wildly over the top) to compare something so awful to the (relatively trivial) lifestyle question of eating meat or not.  but what I was trying to convey was the experience of discussion with older men, from a different time and generational mindset, who found it quite ridiculous to think of rape as a very, very seriously Bad Thing -- to them it was a trivial or unimportant thing, some would even doubt that it was possible or ever happened at all ("did you ever try to thread a moving needle, har har har") ... and they were very resistant to being told that it was a Bad Thing and should be taken seriously.   anyway, enough on that, it appears to be a red herring to a bull or some similarly dangerous mixed metaphor.  let's stick to bikes and cars, it's an easier parallel.

    the bluster and joking and "lighten up" and har-de-har response seemed to me very consistent regardless of the issue, and that seemed kind of interesting to me.  I have had conversations with habitual car drivers who ask me why I ride a bike; and if I say it is "for my health" or "to save money" they are puzzled but accepting.  but if I say it is because I don't like the private automobile transport model, if I mention the numbers of people killed each year by motorist inattention or incompetence, then about half the time I'll get a har-de-har response about painting the score on the car fender or getting extra points for hitting a blind nun on a crosswalk, that kind of thing.  which I would call a defence mechanism against having the conscience tickled by unwanted information.  when we say we do X because it seems immoral to do Y, then how can people who do Y avoid the feeling that some moral criticism has been laid at their door?  and hence the defensiveness, as no one likes to be morally upbraided or preached at and (even implicitly) told to reform.

    and yet how can agitators for social justice agitate, if not by saying that doing Y is harmful in some way and that X is a better alternative?

    yes, the bike riding analogy really is far better.  one could argue similarly that vegetarianism is purely a personal decision for better health or weight loss, which is "harmless" and doesn't arouse much reaction -- other than perhaps a warning about the health risks of not eating meat :-)  but most vegans and vegetarians have motives that are both altruistic/political and personal. even a not-so-pure incidental meat consumer like me could argue that in fact, excessive meat consumption is a human rights issue and a very seriously Bad Thing, with capitals and boldface and sound effects;  because of deforestation, because of the diversion of staple grains and pulses into meat animal fodder when billions of humans go unfed every day;  because of drawdown of that most essential resource, fresh water;  because of manure lagoons and the associated pollution;  because of antibiotic misuse and the associated increased risk of pandemics and resistant bacteria... and so on and so on.  even if we were to skip the animal-rights argument that "Meat is Murder" because we kill animals to get it, a human-rights argument could be (and I think has been) put forth in this thread that argues for the immorality of excessive meat consumption because of the illness or want it inflicts on contemporary peasants and our collective posterity.

    thus there is inevitably a moralistic overtone to the critique of meat consumption, and I think this is why it can, if presented seriously, arouse similar resistance and deflection mechanisms to those that have accompanied previous reform or human rights efforts.  it is different in that it is at present a secessionist movement -- a withdrawal from a perceived harmful norm, like teetotalism, rather than the imposition of a proscriptive norm, like Prohibition or bans on smoking in public places.  but as with all the social-reform efforts I mention -- and this applies from Abolitionism on up -- an argument is being made that a state of affairs that seems perfectly normal and natural and right to a majority of people, is in fact not good for the polity on pragmatic grounds, and may be immoral on Kantian grounds as well.  [now, please, just because I mentioned Abolitionism as another instance of social norm-challenging and uphill reform or justice work, don't be thinking I just said "eating meat is the same thing as owning slaves" :-)]

    the cultural changes that sparked my interest (the same defensive/protective-of-status-quo response applying to different issues in different decades) are fascinating too in that they suggest the flexibility of culture as well as its tenacity.  it is possible that by the time I am near death, the immorality of meat eating may have become as necessary a social constraint for the West as it is in densely populated, overgrazed and deforested Asian bioregions no longer capable of sustaining the wheat/beef habit.  in a generation or so, depending on peak oil and climate outcomes, habitual meat-eating might be considered quaint -- or even disgusting -- reckless, or antisocial...? or it might become an even stronger, enviable marker of class and caste when fewer people can afford the habit;  in which case movies about the gilded elite might focus lovingly on plates of roast beef in the way that they now lens-caress the eye candy of expensive cars, designer clothing and fancy entertainment centres in spacious view apartments and trophy homes :-)  teenagers might hang out after the movie muttering, "Wow man, did you see the size of that charbroiled steak?  I'd do just about anything to eat one of those, dood."

    when you've lived long enough to see conventional social norms alter visibly, it's always fascinating to watch debates over what could be major departures in future social norms -- like the high-meat diet that currently seems so normal, and the low-meat or veggie alternative that still seems rather eccentric or "preachy" to most.

    The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

    by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 08:43:16 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    "an even stronger, enviable marker of class and caste when fewer people can afford the habit"

    Which, of course, it once was. Roast meats served in the medieval hall. Louis XIV dining in public view, making himself ill on meat dish after meat dish after meat dish.

    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jan 27th, 2006 at 02:05:57 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Ironically, I was told  - by a female doctor - to eat red meat precisely because of a female-specific health problem.

    Hmmmm...

    As for the role meat consumption plays regarding gender, you are right that it is a symbol of masculinity.  I've seen it with my own eyes.  But I think it is a symbolic ritual not meant to express masculine bravado in order to oppress women, but a sad longing for the animal inside them that they have killed in order to become civilized human beings.  I think women experience a lot of things, menstruation, childbirth, that gives us that feeling of still being part of nature, of being wild somehow, of the ... gore.  I think it is harder for men to find a safe way to tap into that part of their psyche.

    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

    by p------- on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 02:43:45 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I'm of the not-much-meat persuasion too. And when you mention the crappy quality of the rest of the food, don't let's forget that meat three times a day means crappy industrial meat too (except for the rich). So the "masking" effect is purely symbolic, along the lines DeAnander suggests -- eating lots of meat = wealth, or at least being out of poverty (in which it joins high sugar and refined foods consumption).
    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 08:36:36 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Yup. Though crappy veg without meat is worse than crappy veg with.
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 08:40:24 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    thankyou alex, for a sobering look at reality.

    i have been a vegan for 30 years, and am still blown away about what a powerfully positive life- choice it is.

    knowing wellness to be my natural state, i can now share that freedom with others, and it is a great privilege, for which i'm humbly grateful.

    sure, there are downsides, but when i think about what it means fro the planet, it seems a modest thing to ask, especially when the amount of pain in the world seems overwhelming, and it seems there's so little we can do to affect the situation.

    thankyou for writing the diary i would have loved to write, had i your talent.

    macro-mediterranean......it's the bees knees!

    "We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

    by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 11:34:50 PM EST
    For anyone who might like to eat more purely vegetarian meals, but whose heart does not soar at the thought of nut rissoles, leaden wholemeal pizza, or a lump of dreary cottage cheese on a bed of tired leaves, I would like to put in a word for the best veggie cookbooks I have found so far.  My son turned vegetarian a few years ago, and since then I've collected a lot of good cookery books to make sure that when he visits, his meals are not just an afterthought.  These stand out: The Café Paradiso Cookbook and Paradiso Seasons, both by Denis Cotter, who has a restaurant in Cork.  

    Some of the recipes are a little complicated, some are beautifully simple, but every single one I have tried tastes utterly wonderful, and there are never any complaints from carnivores - no baying for blood.

    This is the very first comment I have ever written and providing a link for either of these books would be quite beyond me, I'm afraid.  Baby steps.

    by ayebut (strauli_at_bluewindotch) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 03:57:08 AM EST
    Thanks and welcome!

    Here's the link on how to embed links:
    http://www.eurotrib.com/special/new_user_guide#linking

    Or you can simply cut and paste the link like I just did here...

    In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

    by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 04:10:16 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Welcome, and thanks for the book recommendations.

    Non-Vegetarians underestimate how delicious it can be. I remember, at the beginning after turning vegetarian 20 years ago, one of the most common comments to me was: "You are vegetarian?......    .....mmmhhhh..... that is interesting..... ....mmmhhh... that would be nothing for.... I like delicious food!!!!" Well, this has changed a little.

    When I still did cook more, I used to invite my friends for fancy 7 course vegetarian meals, most of them were suprised at the variety and taste of the food. For most people a vegetarian diet is just leaving out the meat. Yes, thats boring - however, since I turned vegetarian I am eating with a greater variety of foods and tasts. Today my goal is to it simple and healthy.

    by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 04:17:48 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    And Lankan/Indian food is just ... ahhhhhh. I've had various types of sojas and pea flour balls, and fried jackfruit etc that tasted frankly almost like chicken. Jackfruit is particularly impressive in that domain. Depending on how ripe the fruit is, it can be used to create a main dish or a dessert. The main dish tastes like chicken, the dessert tastes like bananas. The seeds can be roasted and taste like chestnuts, and the fruit's bulbs can be fermented to produce a heavy-duty liquor.
    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 06:26:10 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Do you know Reef, a novel by Romesh Gunesekera? It's set in Sri Lanka, and it talks a lot about food and cooking. Here's an excerpt to tempt you:

    Lucy-amma was cutting onions, Bombay onions. The beards sliced off each onion were heaped on one side. She worked the knife like a stern goddess -- a devatara -- slicing translucid, perfect semicircles. She was always cutting onions. I learned something from that: the omnipresence of the onion, constantly appearing like the heart's throb of our kitchen life. For breakfast, for lunch, for dinner, for every meal it turned up: sliced or chopped.
    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 08:18:45 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Reef is one of the first novels I read when I landed in Sri Lanka, employees at my former office had bought me the book as a parting gift.
    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 08:25:24 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Don't like it?
    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 08:38:25 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    No no, I remember it was a nice read, that settled me nicely into the place. But I hardly remember it.
    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:10:34 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Ahh, jackfruit is lovely, unfortunately I only had it once in Kerala.
    by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:12:52 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Impressive diary, Alex.

    In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
    by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 04:22:50 AM EST
    I now have to write 3 follow-up diaries on:

    a) the impact of dairy cattle on the environment, and their treatment in the industry
    b) why it's important to only eat fish from pisciculture
    c) why not eating meat can kill you when you're an eskimo

    I'm looking forward to your diary on fish, which is a very important issue for me coming from Madrid. Now, how is it better to eat farmed fish than farmed beef? I understand that eating wild fish is like eating game for red meat, but still, the same appalling feeding practices used by the beef industry are used in pisciculture. I'm afraid we should just eat phytoplankton and algae.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 07:02:47 AM EST
    Just a quick reply, we can farm species of fish that like promiscuity (and there are quite a number of those, contrarily to the land animals we eat, that may like to hang out in groups but not to the point of stepping on each other's hooves/claws). We can also focus more on vegetarian fish species, like carps, instead of focusing on fish that need to be fed with wild fish (which is currently a common scenario in aquaculture, to the rate of >1 kg of wild fish per 1 kg of farm fish produced).

    The main argument in favour of pisciculture is that the current rate of trawler fishing is expansionist while edible fish stocks in the oceans, are, well, diminishing.

    Pisciculture may not have to be a permanent feature, but could be construed as a temporary measure, alongside a moratorium on massive fishing that could be implemented to give the ocean some time to replenish itself, after which better fishing regulations could be implemented.

    This is just off the top of my head, I will have to write a diary on this after studying this issue some more. Maybe I'll end up with the conclusion that eating fish is evil too, though for now the issue about whether fish actually feel pain or not has not yet been unambiguously resolved.

    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 07:36:43 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    It seems pisciculture is not without problems either.

    Susan Lark, M.D. writes the following:

    I recently made a disturbing discovery about farm-raised salmon, which is the kind you find at most grocery stores and restaurants. We've all heard that salmon is one of nature's super foods. It's full of wonderful omega-3 fatty acids that keep our hearts, brains, joints, and skin supple and youthful. I eat salmon at least twice a week--my personal favorite is wild-caught sockeye salmon from Alaska.

    But almost all of the salmon sold today is farm-raised. Farm-raised salmon contains about the same amount of omega-3 fats as wild-caught salmon. But it also contains extremely high levels of a highly inflammatory compound called arachidonic acid. In fact, the inflammatory effect of the arachidonic acid in farm-raised salmon more than cancels out the anti-inflammatory benefits of the omega-3 fats it contains. That's right: Unless you are eating wild-caught salmon, you are better off not eating salmon at all.

    I don't know how reliable this source is, the information was send to me in a e-mail a friend.

    by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:10:31 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I think it's accurate, there has been chatter about farmed salmon toxicity over the past few years.

    I think fish farming has lots of problems, and I'll be happy to read on this topic and write a diary soon enough.

    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:15:19 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I seem to recall that, after cattle brains were banned from cattle feed they made their way into farmed fish feed. Because you still have to dispose of the cattle carcasses somehow, don't you?

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:19:57 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    "there has been chatter": watch out, there is a commercial battle between farmed salmon (essentially European) and wild salmon (essentially N. American), in which we may hear allegations of high toxicity levels in one or the other kinds. Specifically, that farmed salmon concentrates toxins because the sea-bottom small fish etc used to make feed are polluted; wild salmon because the N. Pacific is polluted with industrial toxins from Asia. There may be truth in both, but there's probably a certain amount of commercial disinformation going on.
    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:24:10 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Ahhh, there are so many spin-off diaries to be written here that I won't be able to handle it all on my own. Besides, I'm not impartial, so I may not be the best candidate. Maybe you could write something about the salmon wars, afew?
    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:31:00 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Am seconding a call for a diary on wild caught vs. farm raised salmon. In my doctor's office, one of his journals claimed that wild caught carnivorous fish such as salmon, tend to be high in mercury. Pacific salmon have the highest concentrations because of China's coal fired factories and power plants. The same article claimed that farm raised salmon from Northern Europe had a very high PCB level because they were given North Sea feeder fish for food. The magazine suggested Chilean farmed salmon as being the safest.
    I have also heard the rumor of a North American versus European trade war on salmon and am intrigued.
    by northsylvania on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 11:49:27 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I'm switching to phytoplankton, I tell ya...

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 11:51:10 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    By the way, any of us could write such a diary: I hold that the best diaries are often written not by those who know the most but by those most eager to learn about the topic. It's just a matter of finding the time to research and write. Those who already know the most have the advantage of shorter research times, but that's about it.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 11:53:04 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    are you talking exclusively about sea-pisciculture?

    my intuition (as a vegan yet!), is that aquaculture will play a big part in feeding an 'overpopulated' planet, as the fish-shitty water is of value to plants, and can fit into a planned eco-setup, such as people try to do in 'arks', biosphere experiments etc.

    i use inverted commas around 'overpopulated' because especially after reading this, i am reminded that the earth can support many souls, if, as alex mentioned, we redirect the fruits of the land more to humans, without wastefully putting them through livestock first.

    i don't think veganism is for everyone, but the chinese model, where a few thin slices of meat are found in a tumble of other veggie ingredients, often high-protein such as mung sprouts, will probably even out as sustainable, once we in the west downscale our excessive, cancerous habits, more to the ratios employed by our great-grandparents generation.
    tthe chinese do have a lot of experience feeding huge numbers of people, (and starving a lot too).

    interesting comment about veganism and insomnia.

    i had noticed a correlation, but tended to ascribe it to less energy needed for digestion, therefore more available for wakefulness, and linked to the claims of many who practice yoga for need of much less sleep to refresh the cells.

    perhaps a lot of sleep in the torpor created by fatty, rich, uric acid-inducing, over-sugared. alcohol-laced meals which require more downtime for the body to repair equilibrium.

    till my early 20's raised on meat, fish, eggs, and/or dairy at every meal, i was sick a lot of the time, fatigued easily, and took a long time to wake up in the morning, with terrible clogged sinuses needing hospitalisation once, very painful and traumatic.

    i wake up alert and very quickly now, and while i still love to sleep- the best natural high of all!- i am amazed how my energy runs on and on now, stamina wise, especially on the mental plane.

    having eschewed formal education at the tender age of 18, the internet and late night bbc prime are manna to this self-educating polymath.

    blogs like this are beyond my powers to describe in their usefulness to a lonely intellectual, addicted to living in the deep country, though i am born a child of london, in the coke-smoked peasoup winscale'd 50's, so perhaps the rest of my life i will be paying for that by breathing cleaner air.

    cities stress me heavily, 3-4 days tops and i'm gone like a cool breeze, and even when i'm there, i'm always scanning for a green hideway, such as the very lovely cemetary at the bottom of fulham road, going to earl's court.

    if the pollution weren't there, i might return, as getting 90% of one's cultural stimulation from the internet doesn't seem quite right, somehow.

    jeez i'm rambling, sorry guys, this diary cuts deep and brings up a bunch of stuff for me.

    so very stoked to read such a well-presented diary, and see how much attention it's getting.

    there is NO more important issue/solution on the planet.

    your bloodstream is a tiny river, what do you want to throw into it daily?

    leave a bucket of veggies to putrefy, next to a similar one of animal products. visit after a few days of warm weather.

    imagine your nose - perhaps your greatest discriminatory survival organ (no funny jokes here!), - INSIDE your body, instead of outside it.

    nuff said

    "We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

    by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 01:40:58 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    And charts, to boot!

    I'm struggling with the Montignac diet at the moment. It has worked - but I do seem to be eating more meat.

    I try to have sushi as often as possible - avoiding the rice, or making it with full rice. Trying to find something on the menus of downtown lunch places though, is tricky. I've been reduced to ordering the basic fish or meat while begging for "no carb and if possible some extra vegetables, pretty please"

    You can't be me, I'm taken

    by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 08:35:35 AM EST
    I myself belive that humans are omnivores, with a serious tilt towards the vegetarian side.  But I do think that humans are designed to eat a certain amount of meat in conjunction with a large amount of veggies.  For example, the hunters of hunter-gatherer societies would often exert much effort to chase down what little meat was around (let's say a rabbit).

    The difference between now and then was that what small amount of meat was on the rabbit would be shared among the family of the hunter, so everyone got only a little and just enough to satisfy daily protein requirements.  So meat may have it's uses (including using cholesterol as sheathing for our nervous system).

    The problem is industrialized meat and, as is your thesis, the prevalance of meat in many human societies.  Thousands of pigs, cows, etc. in one area is very detrimental to the environment, and the energy required to fatten them is staggering.  I'm not a vegetarian, but I am much more heavily into the veggie side than the meat side because of the damage these activities have done to our planet.

    by DH from MD on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:03:57 AM EST
    Humans are obviously omnivores, just look at out teeth. Chimpanzees are also omnivores. It's just that a hunter-gatherer diet involves a lot of variety of vegetable foods with the ocasional input of animal protein, and we've reversed the proportions.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:21:59 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    That was my point...though obviously I did it in a strange round-about way.
    by DH from MD on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:26:08 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I think humans have come from a carrion-eating background. Eating a dead animal before rigor-mortis has finished is too much for people. Our meat (excepting fish) must be 'aged' to make it tender. I discovered this when I once killed a chicken to eat, but didn't age it. After cooking it was too tough to be palatable.

    In the real world of hunter-gatherers, whan an animal is killed, they eat the organ meats first, and let the muscle tissue age for days before cooking it. The only other alternative is to boil a freshly-killed animal for hours and hours to tenderize it.

    by capslock on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 02:22:19 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I discovered this when I once killed a chicken to eat, but didn't age it. After cooking it was too tough to be palatable.
    Having spent a couple childhood summers on a farm in Poland where it was standard to kill a chicken on Saturday evening and eat it early the next afternoon I have to say that if they need aging it certainly isn't much.
    by MarekNYC on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 03:05:35 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Quite right, it doesn't take any more time than that.

    OTOH, Gypsies have the nomadic habit of eating freshly killed chicken or rabbit, and dislike the taste and texture if the meat has aged even a day. (At least, several I have met have told me this).

    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 03:20:24 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I do agree that we can eat meat, but I am not sure we really need too, unless we live somewhere where there is not enough plant food. Meat is only one source for protein, and some consider it not even a good quality source for protein.  What is more, we do not actually need the animal protein, what we need is its component, the amino acids. These are plentyful in plants too, however not all plants have all of the essential amino acids. Thus the need to pay a little more attention to how the food is combined.
    by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:23:35 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    We also need a diary on the progressive impoverishing of the vegetable side of our diets.

    We basically have to relearn all that we've forgotten about tradiational diets, which were varied, and generally poor in animal protein. Around 1800 the "modern" versions of "traditional" dishes arose, which were highly enriched in their animal content. Where a stew would have had a little meat for flavour, it now consists mainly of meat and so on.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:28:42 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    A good point. A "pot au feu", for example, one of those traditional French dishes with meat and lots of veggies, used to be cooked on Sundays in the countryside. A temptative comment would be: "ah because it took a long time to cook?" (ps: takes over 3 hours), but the most probable answer is because meat was something you wouldn't eat very often, which you'd, for example, keep for church day.

    Hey, maybe I'm on to something here. It would be interesting to note how religion and meat have been entangled in the past. And I'm not thinking about the Cathars, Buddhists, or even Japanese edo-era edicts banning meat, but about bans on meat in some parts of Europe during the Middle-Ages. I think there were some, who knows anything about this? Maybe some catholic ruler of France did this for some time, I have a faint recollection of something along those lines.

    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:39:17 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    And you'll note it's the sort of dish you can make with cheaper cuts of almost any meat.
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:40:30 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Good reminder.
    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:47:59 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    In Spain we eat a lot of fish because of Lent. Well, Lent was the motivation for a thriving fishing industry and a fish-eating culture even deep in the plateau. I have seen claims that Madrid's fish market is second only to Tokyo's.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:41:15 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Madrid and Barna fish markets together go over Tokyo. Or at least that's what I heard.

    No proof

    A pleasure

    I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

    by kcurie on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:23:21 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    But Madrid is 500 km inland!

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 11:10:10 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    There was a fascinating article in Scientific American years ago about the evolution of European diets from the middle ages to the present and the influence that te discovery of distillation had, both technically and philosophically (for instance, it used ot be believed that digestion was fermentation, but then the belief changed to distillation - this also informed the choice of what constituted a healthy meal, and the order of courses). What we now call "french cuisine" originated from this transition.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:44:59 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I read someplace, the more meat a society consumes, the more they are agressive to war. The US today has one of the highest meat consumptions. It would be interesting to compare other countries.

    In Ayurveda meat is considered tamasic, that is dulling to the mind. One of the reasons more why spiritual groups or religions abstain from eating meat. It interferes with meditation.

    by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:48:28 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I read some place that the more yoga a country does the poorer it is. Look at India.
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:49:56 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    What do you mean by yoga?
    by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:52:30 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I see a diary brewing...

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:55:13 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Good, when are you going to post it? :))
    by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:16:31 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    No, no, it's you and my girlfriend that have the necessary knowledge.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:17:30 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I've forgotten the necessary knowledge. Anyway, there's all sorts of religious/spritual beliefs tied up in it that I am not qualified to discuss on the basis that I don't believe a word of it.
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:19:44 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Chakrasespecially drive me up the wall. But even if you are not interested in following the yogi's path of spiritual enlightenment, it does seem that yoga helps a lot with centering, and that is useful.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:25:33 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Absolutely. And it's not bad exercise either.
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:27:55 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I meant the assorted practices associated with the original forms that the modern western forms (DYNAMIC YOGA????) are derived from.
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:57:29 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Well, that is not what is yoga in India as I learned. The physical aspect of yoga is a rather small part. Most Indians are not doing that kind of yoga. That would be like expecting all Muslims to do the Derwish dance. The interesting thing is that yoga seems to be re-introduced to India through the Westerners traveling there. Originaly the physical or Hatha Yoga was a preparation for those seeking the spiritual path and enlightenment, preparing their body to be able to sit quietly for hours. Actually most people here in the West do Yoga for the side effects and not it's original purpose. At least at the beginning.
    by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:07:03 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Those would be the original practices western yoga is based on.
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:15:28 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Yes
    by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:19:05 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    That would be Iyengar yoga.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:19:22 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Charming.
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:20:52 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Iyengar yoga is one form of Hatha yoga named after its 'founder'B.K. There are different schools of Hatha Yoga, though Iyengar is one of the better know in the West.
    by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:24:51 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Really? With straps and props? One of the better known? Eeek.
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:26:04 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    shoot!!! I should have checked your link first. What a silly picture. Thats the stuff that brings disregard to Yoga. Iyengar style uses lots of probs - most others do not.
    by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:28:09 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    It's a wiki, you know? And you're an expert... And you have the copyright of any photographs you may have taken youself... You get my drift? By the way, I'd love to read a diary by you titled "What do you mean by Yoga?", really...

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:30:14 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Ok. I see what I can do, however, it will have to brew a little more.
    by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:35:40 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Please brew... I mean, please do.
    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 11:03:10 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    That's what I thought. Don't confuse me like that.
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:32:45 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I knew this restaurant owner in Toulouse who was once the manager of a small town football club. He explained to me that red meat was banned from the player's diets before matches, as eating any would increase the likelihood of cramps during the match.
    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:54:13 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    So red meat is like sex then?
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:55:06 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    In fact, I'm sure we don't need to eat meat.  Eat a big steak, and a few hours later you're digestive system is thrown into complete chaos.  Eat a salad, and everything is fine.  But, as you note, meat should be a substitute in places where plant sources are lacking in the necessary nutrients.
    by DH from MD on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:30:57 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I wasn't thinking of the meat as the substitute. I was more thinking of combining the different plant foods. For example lentils has many of the amino acids missing in most veggis. However, here lentils and beans for a long time have been considered poor peoples food and thus avoided. Now with the meat scandals, BSF, hormons etc. even chi-chi restaurants start serving fancy lentil dishes again. I would say unless you live way up north, there is no real need for meat as a food source. I do not mind people eating a little meat, if they do it consciously and even with a little gratefulness to the animal that gave its life so that the human can live, or better in most cases just tickle his taste buds.
    by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:41:35 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Beans are also the key to getting all your daily nutrients for cheaper, and to farming without the need for nitrogen-based fertilizers.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:46:34 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Good point, lentils (perhaps beans in general?) are actually very easy to grow, according to a friend here who grows organic ones in the Tarn nearby. Another note: lentils are staple food in Sri Lanka. Most people there eat lentils almost daily.

    I rediscovered lentils over there. I was angry at lentils before that, as I used to find them dry and tasteless in French recipes. But in a curry, wooooooooow! Parippu (lentil curry) has got to be one of the best dishes in the world.

    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:52:38 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Ah.  Well, you sohuld probably know that I'm an idiot, which is why I didn't read it properly.  You still make a good point, though.
    by DH from MD on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:58:49 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    that's why a lot of vegetarians and vegans look like bad pr for the cause; simply dropping the meat and eating the carrots and spuds just don't cut it.

    'diet for a small planet' was a lifesaver for me in understanding this.

    you don't need a calculator!

    all the ancient cultures understood food combining for amino acids.

    try eating beans as a vegan with no grains or viceversa, and you soon get the picture.

    it's complementary, watson!

    "We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

    by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 01:56:30 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    But for this you have to go back from intensive monoculture to extensive crop rotation.

    It is clear what the CAP moneys should be used for, but just like with peak oil, nobody wants to talk about the elephant in the room because we're too focused on me, me, me, and my right to eat what I want when I want, and "our way of life is non-negotiable", yadda, yadda, yadda.

    A little more churning and policy proposals on all areas will be flowing out of this blog like you wouldn't believe.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 02:01:50 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    nailed in one, migeru!

    "We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
    by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 02:22:48 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Yup.
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 02:57:35 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Yes indeedy.

    The other point (after intensive monoculture => extensive rotation) is that organic meat production is of necessity extensive. Intensive animal production with nice organic feed pellets doesn't cut it, since intensive rearing causes ill-health and needs antibiotics etc to prop it up. This means intensive animal rearing => extensive a.r. => we all eat less meat. It means more extensive production on land that is less suited to crop production (hills, mountains, moorlands), that the current productivist model has gradually abandoned to become scrub.

    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 03:40:37 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I think you should add that meat is necessary but not at the present quantities. 500 grams of meat per week is more than enough to get all the basic nutrients (basically one vitamin and a couple of oligoelements difficult to find in vegs).

    Impressive diary... by the way.. One day someone will have to make the numbers and show that 500 gr of meat per person per week can be safely produced in a non-industrial way with no harm to the environment...

    Of course, if you eat 500 gr you have to eat all kind of plants and beans...if you  eat 1 kg per week you are also on safe ground and you can spare some vegs.. If you eat less than 500 gr then you have to take care and eat some secial plants and vegs to compensate...

    Going higher than 1 kg.. well.. all the reports I have read (most of them produced in England and Scotalnd) show that it is not necessary and even, some defend, really harmful.

    Great diary and thread...

    A pleasure

    I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

    by kcurie on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:21:05 AM EST
    Define "no harm to the environment". Without undue harm to the environment might be better.
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:22:56 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    A perturbation small enough so that it not affects sinificatively any other variable in the complex system...

    Difficult to be sure but generally an order of magnitude analysis should be enough...so that, at least, it is just small as hundreds of other variable that already present in nature and can affet the system....
    Not an easy think to compute but some people were trying.. the human footprint and all that stuff

    A pleasure

    I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

    by kcurie on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:32:26 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I'm developing a sensitivity to comments that appear to consider humans to be unnatural or outside of the system, on either side of the debate.

    It's making me crabby.

    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:34:07 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    like crab?

    u r what u eat <snark>

    "We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

    by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 01:58:59 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Here is a follow-up on your comment, this graph is in French but should be understandable with the helpers at the bottom of my comment ...

    Average amount of meat consumed by country (in kg per person and per year), for the EU-15:

    Helpers:

    • "bovins" => beef/veal
    • "ovins" => sheep/lamb
    • "porcs" => pork
    • "volailles" => chicken/duck/goose/turkey
    • "viande bovine / total" => percentage of boving meat in the total amount of meat

    You can see that Spaniards eat an average of 115.3 kg of meat per year. That's 2.217 kg a week.
    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:40:35 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    We eat a lot of pork (about 1/2 of the meat intake), just to demonstrate that we're old Christians (neither Jews nor Muslims). And before anyone accuses me of antisemitism, go read the episode about Lisbon in Voltaire's Candide.

    The Danes are world leaders in pork production and consumption too. There are more pigs than people in Denmark.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:44:48 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Which is roughly four times more than what is needed.. but it would require a complete new way to understand agriculture...and price

    A pleasure

    I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

    by kcurie on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 11:43:47 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I can't really agree that meat is necessary, at least not for all (there are those Eskimos, right?) as my grandchildren have been raised totally without meat and have suffered not harm whatsoever, according to their pediatrician, who is not a vegetarian.  But they get plenty of protein through legumes, tofu, etc.  And they avoid the antibiotics and growth hormones that are so prevalent in US-raised cattle.  

    Anecdotally, when I was at a bed-and-breakfast in Dublin a few years back, I had a chat with a contractor who also ran a family-owned cattle ranch in the USA.  He said he supported my vegetarianism as probably healthy, and said that he kept two cows "out of the herd" at his ranch for his family's yearly meat consumption, since he didn't want his kids exposed to the antibiotics and growth hormones with which all the other cattle were injected.  It was his opinion that the massive meat-eating in the USA was responsible for the increased height of the kids and the earlier and earlier onset of menstruation seen in girls here.  
    I personally try to limit my eating of cheese to that which is imported from Europe, in an effort to avoid the hormones and such that are injected into the cows in the USA.  I recall that Dr. Benjamin Spock, author of the best-selling how-to books for raising babies in America, in his later years said he had decided, based on all the available evidence, that cow milk was not healthy for infants  

    Also, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine [http://www.pcrm.org/ endorses a vegetarian diet all the way.  And sorry for no citation, but I saw a Discovery Channel or some other science show about ten years ago that reexamined the evidence for whether humans were omnivores, and showed that a case could be made that the incisor teeth were needed for breaking into certain roots and such and that early tools were less for animal-hunting weaponry than for preparation and cultivation of other foodstuffs (sorry my memory of this is so sketchy!)
    Anyway, I certainly don't intend offense to any meat-eaters, having been one myself and still occasionally having some (but not after this diary, which has done much to remind me why I became a vegetarian in the first place) but I wanted to share some bits of pieces I'd heard regarding the subject of whether one can be healthy with/without meat.

    (don't know why part of my post is coming out in blue type, not something I did on purpose, but I don't know how to get rid of it!)

    Karen in Austin


    'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher

    by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 07:08:12 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Hi wife..first answer to you!! Great!!

    First, I thought it was clear from my post that meat is not necessary at all...my statement is quite clear...meat is not necessary but is highlty reccomended in low doses. If you do not eat meat there is no problem, you just have to look for special vegs to cover a couple of oligoelements and one vitamin. Tofu is one of the vegs that covers it.

    That said...leaving out fruit or vegs or beans or fish is mucho more problematic (probably in the same order as I write it here)..and a lot of peple leave them out...

    In other words a veg diet without taken care of the extra needed vegs is bad... but not as bas as a diet low in fruit , beans or vegs.

    A pleasure

    I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

    by kcurie on Fri Jan 27th, 2006 at 06:30:53 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Incidentally, how about we get some pictures of humans cut up for surgery so we can all shudder at how gory they are?
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:29:51 AM EST
    And how did Einstein know anything more about this issue than anyone else?
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:30:38 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    He didn't, but he's Einstein. As we descent into the middle ages, he takes on the role vacated by good old aristotle..

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:32:25 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I rather fear that the lay people are going to be very confused when Einstein's work is superseded.
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:53:01 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Oh, c'mon, the press publishes articles about "was Einstein wrong?" year in, year out.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 11:12:19 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Einstein was not a vegetarian for very long, but the man's knowledge on the topic would have been, erm, relative.

    The only reason I put him there is because it kicks ass to quote Einstein. I intented this diary as a means of getting some people to start thinking about how much meat they really need to eat, so I think a quote by Pee-Wee Herman's Cowntess Cow would have had a much cheaper effect to that end.

    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:47:36 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The funniest thing about relativity is that Einstein's theory is about absolutes.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:51:02 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    You know I was initially going to put an artist's photograph at the top of my diary. It was called "slaughterhouse" and showed naked men hanging upside down for slaughter. I found it using google, so may not be able to find it again.
    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:43:33 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    And that would illustrate what?
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:45:54 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Well, naked men hanging in a slaughterhouse? Ahhh I think I know where this is going, you're going to say that it should have been naked women, you dirty dirty dirty man ;))
    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:48:44 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I'm afraid it would have to be pictures of children and adolescents, which is even more disturbing.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:53:07 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Oh damn, you're absolutely right. And extremely obese ones too.
    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:56:02 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Why obese? I agree with your points on industrial production, but the only case where excessive fat is produced is in fat ducks and geese. Chicken, for example, are not reared to be overfat, but to have a lot of meat. BTW, this is mostly done by selecting and crossing breeds -- to a point where cruelty does intervene, imo, because some of the breeds they come up with are not viable in "real" circumstances and some can hardly walk... But your points upthread about weight etc, and this comment on obesity, don't seem to me right.
    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 11:22:39 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    And in the case of beef it's achieved by using growth hormones.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 11:26:28 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Heavy, muscular, dense, meaty, obese, bahhh, what's the difference? I think I should have said "disproportionate" then.

    And while we're at it, come back upthread so I can blaggard you and Jérôme on the deforestation issue ;)))

    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 11:26:54 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    There are two things that will forever prevent some of from being vegetarians, try as we may. They are foie gras and prociutto.

    Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
    Czeslaw Milosz
    by Chris Kulczycki on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:49:06 AM EST
    If I can have a weekly allowance of 500g of prosciutto I'll be a happy vegetarian.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:52:31 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Ahhh foie gras ... the horror, the horror.

    Btw it's funny how one can mentally construct things at will, example: a few years back I would have lifted the foie gras dish at Christmas and run away with it, ducking etc to evade a chasing family. Now I find it somewhat repulsive.

    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:54:32 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    have you tried 'tartex'?
    that stuff rocks, especially the green pepper flavour.

    i make cool beandips with black beans, ground roasted sunseeds, brewers' yeast, garlic, lemon juice etc; well let's call it 'foie maigre'

    "We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

    by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 02:07:23 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    There is a nice organic grocery in Toulouse that I sometimes go to, and they sell all sorts of vegetarian pâtés. Some taste awful, but some are really delicious (particularly the ones with garlic).
    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 02:14:28 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I used to love charcoal-broiled steak.  Really love it:  It was my favorite.  

    I've been (almost totally) vegetarian for a while now, and when I smell someone's charcoal grill, I remember those days vividly.  

    I also find the smell of charring flesh amazingly gross and disgusting.  

    The simultaneous experience of these two things is . . . well, it's just really weird, that's all.  

    The Fates are kind.

    by Gaianne on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 10:10:55 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Actually, I suspect that whatever replaces relativity will just be too crazy to explain to the lay person for ages. But let's take that thought to the open thread if anywhere.
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 11:16:42 AM EST
    Relativity is already too crazy to explain to the lay person, and you can get a physics degree without even taking a course in general relativity, so...

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 11:27:59 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I've been vegetarian.  I've been vegetarian for health reasons and for spiritual reasons and for political reasons.  

    I'm no longer vegetarian.  

    I eat meat in moderation, and began doing so out of necessity.  I apparently become anemic quite easily.  When my doctor first diagnosed me, she told me to eat a steak!  Iron suplements make me nauseous, so I've added a bit of meat back into my diet.  A few times a week.  It works for me.

    (I've also been told Guiness is full of iron. No clue if it is, but I do feel better after drinking one. ;)

    I do out of my way (and sometimes out of my budget) to buy meat that is free-range, not fed antibiotics or inorganic food, not industrially raised, not overly processed.  And along the way I've actually developed a deep respect for the animals I eat.  I believe in creating a symbiotic realtionship among all things where we can both respect and provide for each other.  It's bigger than just the food chain.  It's really about realizing our place in the world.

    I don't think everyone needs to eat meat. And certainly people eat WAY TOO MUCH meat. Way too much.

    Not everyone needs to drink alcohol either, but I don't forsee an alcohol-free future.  So I think the focus should be on striving for a way to make the raising and consumption of meat as healthy and respectful as possible, for both the animals and for us.

    I still eat foie gras.  I know.  Evil...  


    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

    by p------- on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 12:41:29 PM EST
    How about lentils? Or is the abundance of iron in lentils a legend?

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 12:43:06 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Actually, as far as I know, lentils (and other produce like spinach which contains more iron than the average veggie) indeed contain sufficient iron, but its iron is harder to extract/assimilate by our digestive system than the iron found in meat.

    Which is why vegetarians sometimes (this isn't a norm) turn anemic.

    Here, Wikipedia explains this better:
    the amount of iron that can be absorbed from spinach is negligible.

    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 12:56:23 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Actually, as far as I know, lentils (and other produce like spinach which contains more iron than the average veggie) indeed contain sufficient iron, but its iron is harder to extract/assimilate by our digestive system than the iron found in meat.
    Which is presumably why humans are omnivores.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 12:58:39 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Yes, I was about to chip at your spinach argument, Popeye! We don't get much iron from spinach, in fact.

    I'm not going to argue about lentils, though. I love lentils.

    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 02:29:44 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Lentils are very rich in protein, apparently.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 03:50:13 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Some people don't have an easy time being vegetarian, some do. I tried it, and didn't have any cravings or desire to eat meat. Now, when I smell it cooking, the odor is very disagreeable. I still eat eggs and cheese, drink milk. I have a couple of hens in the back yard for eggs and I buy organic milk. Our organic laws in the US are the only method to insure milk cows aren't treated with cruelty. I suspect this is also true in most of the EU.

    I was diagnosed with hypertension when I was 29 years old, but when I stopped eating meat, it went away (nobody knows why).

    by capslock on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 02:32:17 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I thought hypertension was directly related to meat consumpion?  Makes sense to me.  But I have frightenningly low blood pressure (nurses have told me I should be dead) so a little red meat now and then is a very good thing for me.

    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
    by p------- on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 02:51:43 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Oh dear yes. Foie gras, magret, and confit de canard. Those are the meat items I find most succulent and would find hardest to quit, even though I don't eat all that much of them.
    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 02:36:19 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    For those who are interested, here is a follow-up on the EU's "new" legislation regarding battery production of chicken. However, it's in French ... but quite informative. In 2012 industrial egg-producing hens will be somewhat better off (nearly twice the surface, a bit more height etc). At least they'll now be able to stretch their wings, which is a good start. But still ...

    http://www.inra.fr/productions-animales/an2004/num241/guemene/dg241.htm

    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 08:17:59 PM EST
    [whine] ya know, when threads get really long and lively like this one, I really wish there were a button in the thread view page labelled "find next new post" -- scrolling through miles of wiggling indenting and outdenting looking for that wee flash of red that marks a new post is hard on my wrist and my middle-aged eyes... [/whine]

    The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
    by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 08:52:37 PM EST
    Hey DeAnander, I'm off to bed now but I have time for this quick solution that I generally use.

    My browser's search function (type CTRL and F in Firefox or Explorer) can be called to look for "[new]" which is the flash of red you're looking for. This way you can navigate from one to the next much faster.

    Alternately, you could change your account's comment settings (then sub-setting "coment preferences") to have diaries be flat threaded after a while (say when there are more than 150 comments for example).

    Ok g'night, I'm off.

    by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:16:45 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    <grin!>
    excuse me while I sit here for a moment feeling like a voll Idiot.

    ...

    OK, I think my ears have stopped burning now.  call it a mental block but I never thought of that red marker as searchable text... of course it is, of course it is.

    thanks for reminding me of the bloody obvious.  too few neurons left, too many things to read...  I think my brain needs a retread.  I wonder if anyone gives vore trade-ins...

    The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

    by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:25:50 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    see what I mean?  core trade-ins.

    The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
    by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 09:26:24 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    In fact it's sufficient to type just "[n" and the Find function will go to it.
    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jan 27th, 2006 at 02:23:57 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    It's sufficient, efficient, but has chances of being too optimized. You could land on all sorts of other entries on the way:

    [Nikers et al, 1983] , [NH4] etc

    I know, I know, it's unlikely. But being a programmer, I tend to cover my bases. I'd rather waste afew milliseconds typing the extra 2 letters, than having the inconvenience of finding unecessary matches on the way.

    This of course is not perfect, as I could just type [new] as much as I [new] want just to [new] throw all of [new] this off.

    There is [no] ideal solution, but I certainly will [not] settle for a [non]-complete ma[nner] to look for [novel] entries.

    by Alex in Toulouse on Fri Jan 27th, 2006 at 05:28:37 AM EST
    [ Parent ]


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