Meat eating and the flexitarianism

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This topic contains 156 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  alanjjohnstone 4 days, 11 hours ago.

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    Dave Chesham

    “Dave, you should appreciate your good fortune but realise that most of us are not in the same circumstances.”

    Really? I was under the impression you lived in a forest! 🙂

    In any case, Alan, you’re over-egging the pudding – any combustion of fuel produces CO2 and other substances, some more than others admittedly. However, the carbon dioxide released when burning wood (about 1.9kg CO2 for each 1kg of wood burnt) is balanced by the fact that this carbon was taken up by the tree from the atmosphere when it was growing. So this part of the emission is carbon-neutral.

    And virtually all my wood for burning comes from fallen or already dead trees and branches. Hence the expression – “provided largely, so to speak, by the forces of nature.”



    Another new report to consider.

    We Can Feed the World and Halve Emissions—but There’s a Catch

    The report says the 10 billion people expected to be living by 2050 could enjoy sustainable food supplies – while emissions of the greenhouse gases that are warming the Earth fall by more than 50%. But what was required was a drastic switch away from meat and dairy products, developed countries cutting their consumption of beef by 90% and eating five times more beans and pulses than they do today to stave off hunger.

    They found that climate change can be checked enough only if diets change to include more plant-based food and reductions in meat and dairy products. Adopting more of these plant-based “flexitarian” diets globally could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than half and cut fertiliser application and the use of cropland and freshwater by between a tenth and a quarter.

    But dietary changes alone will not be enough, the researchers say. They argue that improved agricultural management and technology will be essential too. Increasing yields from existing cropland, balancing fertiliser application and recycling and improving water management could, with other changes, reduce those impacts by around half.

    By one calculation, a third of the world’s arable land has been lost to erosion or pollution over the last 40 years. Restoring lost soil quality helps to increase harvests and slow warming.

    The report says the world will have to halve wasted food to keep within environmental limits. If that happened worldwide, it would reduce environmental impacts by up to 16%.



    I think this bit of news might be of interest for the ale-swilling members of the Party

    The cost of beer could soar due to the effects of global warming. The price of a six-pack of beer could go up by an extra £15 in some parts of the world.

    It is likely to lead to a sharp fall in worldwide crop yields of barley – an essential ingredient.

    Scientists predict droughts and heatwaves could cause barley declines of up to 17 per cent in parts of Europe, Australia, Asia and the US where the grain is grown most.

    Dabo Guan, professor of climate change economics at UEA’s School of International Development, said climate change may undermine the availability of “luxury” goods like beer more than staple foods.

    “Although some attention has been paid to the potential impacts of climate change on luxury crops such as wine and coffee, the impacts on beer have not been carefully evaluated,” said Professor Guan.


    Bijou Drains

    “They found that climate change can be checked enough only if diets change to include more plant-based food and reductions in meat and dairy products.”

    The problem with that formulation is that it is based on a capitalist model of production. A Socialist model of production would cut greenhouse gases dramatically.

    Consider all of the greenhouse gases that won’t be produced by the estimated 1/2 of the jobs currently being undertaken that won’t need to be undertaken any more. Just think about the amount of greenhouse gases produced keeping the insurance, banking, finance, accountancy, stock exchange, etc. etc. businesses going.

    Think how much greenhouse gases are produced transporting these workers to their place of employment, keeping them warm or cool when they are there, making desks for them to sit behind, producing computers for them to check their emails on, producing printers to print off whatever it is they have been doing, the postal staff employed taking post to and from them, producing water coolers for them to gather around, producing pin stripe suits for them to go to meetings in, etc. etc. etc. You can add to that the greenhouse gases produced flying executives around the world to meaningless conference generating even more hot air!

    I’m sure the loss of all of those useless jobs would more than offset the gases created by the production of a few sausages.



    Don’t forget the greenhouse gases released by the military which I hadn’t realised till recently were explicitly excluded from agreements like Kyoto.

    The title of this article is misleading as although the military’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions will no longer be exempted automatically, it still will be in practice.

    Anyway, all this will go in socialism too.


    Bijou Drains

    Yes clearly the future is red, red meat under socialism!



    But first we’ve got to give a resounding NO to this outrageous suggestion to be disccussed at Autumn Delegate Meeting this weekend: “Should Summer School go vegetarian?”


    Bijou Drains

    Couldn’t agree more. There is a danger that we could end up being seen as some kind or moralistic sect, this has never been the party case and to me shows an illiberal attitude which is completely at odds with the party case. I have absolutely no objection to the lentil stew mob having options for dining but to have a vegetarian only party function would be outrageous to me.



    Bijou I dont the Party’s case is relevant either way in this instance and shouldn’t be invoked for that reason, Its more a question of the Party’s culture than the Party’s case

    I’m not a vegetarian myself although I have some sympathy for vegetarianism and the thinking behind it. A lot of people I know who are vegetarian are motivated by learning of the barbaric practices of factory farming. I understand their feelings and it does trouble me. I’m trying to reduce my meat intake as a consequence. Its difficult – a bit like trying to smoke one less cigarette a day. The health aspect is also an issue and it is a while since I’ve had red meat

    But yes you are right. Vegetarianism shouldn’t be effectively imposed on people but by the same token the Party should ensure that a vegetarian option is always be available at Party functions. There really is no need for the meat eating and vegetarian factions of the Party applying the hostility clause to each other!



    Perhaps it went unnoticed but i did raise the issues that have been subsequently mentioned.

    I posted “Can we expect a future socialist society not to initiate changes in consumption, commencing with what we eat? Maybe the optimists believe that the disappearance of the armament industry will suffice? Perhaps the ending of all the auxiliary businesses to the buying and selling will be enough. I don’t know for sure. Nobody does until it is studied and researched but we should be honest and not exclude the possibility that we will have to adapt our everyday lives and adopt a change of diet.”

    As you also see i also raised the question that presently we have no reliable data to back this up. I recall there was once a Production For Use committee that had a remit to provide sources supporting our case. I think perhaps a climate change committee should be formed to seek out the information necessary to postulate what may well be necessary. I’m not sure we can convince our fellow workers all will be well when socialism is established but until then we all keep your fingrrs crossed

    We risk not being associated with the lentil stew mob but linked to climate change denialists, that everything will be alright, the market will fix it but in our arguement we simpl refer to once we get socialism an decline recognising scientific opinion as the climate change deniers do by not offering our own detailed response to their recommendations. I would be very happy if we had the facts and figures to present our approach to climate change, alas, we don’t, just generalised opinions.

    Our SOYMB blog has touched on the topic of the military, btw

    I think i made it clear and no-one has questioned me that there is a great possibility that before we have an opportunity to implement socialist climate change policies with the establishment of socialism, that we there is a very good chance that the crisis hits runaway tipping points where no remedial action can reverse the momentum of climate change ie we won’t be around as a civilisation to build socialism and that some other form of society which won’t be capitalism and not socialism prevails insteaad. We already witness the fracturing of any world-wide coordination to counter-act global warming. Nevertheless, we might have optimists amongs us who believe capitalism will be the leopard that does change its spots and will do it inside the timescale required to avert a catalysm.

    BTW,I refer people to Pieter Lawrence book the Last Conflict for a similar analogy of a pending catastrophe with unintended consequences

    I also referred to the temporary initial stage of socialism where we will require to increase the environmental impact of production to end the misery and squalor that most of our fellow-workers live in. To permit this we need to perhaps take a lot more action to mitigate this expansion than what will be required at a later period.



    The low prices found on supermarket shelves mask meat’s hidden costs. Research has revealed that meat is being sold to consumers at just a fraction of what it would cost if it accurately reflected the true value of the environmental damage it inflicts. Supermarket prices for meat are misleading and hide the huge secondary costs arising from the environmental impact of meat production. Upon quantifying and monetizing the environmental impact of meat production in Germany, researchers found that conventionally farmed meat would cost three times the price the consumer actually pays. That’s an additional cost of 196 percent. When the meat is organically farmed, those hidden costs amount to 82 percent more than the price advertised on the shelves.

    “The problem is that these environmental costs currently don’t have a market price,” Tobias Gaugler, one of the study’s authors, told DW. From a purely economic perspective, this amounts to a “market distortion,” he added.

    “Environmental costs, and pollution and the corresponding damage to human health, have a cost of zero,” said Gaugler. These prices “don’t reflect the reality.”

    The meat and dairy industry is on track to becoming the biggest contributor to climate change, outpacing even the fossil fuel industry.

    According to an analysis by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and the non-profit GRAIN, the world’s livestock sector could be responsible for 80 percent of the allowable greenhouse gas budget by 2050.

    So some capitalists suggest a meat tax as tobacco taxes are used to reduce consumption.

    As i said in earlier message i think our current approach might make us unwelcome bed-fellows with the climte change deniers and i have seen more than one member defend fracking, for instance, suggesting it is a special case of a fossil fuel, allying ourselves with the likes of the Koch brothers



    Robbo, a bit news for those who think meat-eating is a form of animal abuse.

    A food company in San Francisco produces chicken nuggets grown from the cells of a chicken feather. They want to stop the slaughter of animals and protect the environment from the degradation of industrial factory farming.

    They say they are solving the problem of how to feed a crowded earth without destroying the planet, pointing out that their meat is not genetically-modified and does not require antibiotics to grow.

    This is actual meat grown from animal cells and variously described as cultured, synthetic, in-vitro, lab-grown or even “clean” meat. It takes about two days to produce a chicken nugget in a small bioreactor, using a protein to encourage the cells to multiply, some type of scaffold to give structure to the product and a culture, or growth, medium to feed the meat as it develops.
    The skin was crisp and the meat flavoursome although its internal texture was slightly softer than you would expect from a nugget at, say, KFC.

    We slaughter 70 billion animals each year to feed seven billion people. The global demand for meat is doubling as more people rise out of poverty and that humanity won’t be able to raise enough cattle and chicken to sate the appetite of nine billion people by 2050. Tyson is the biggest meat processor in the US, processing around 424,000 pigs, 130,000 cows and 35 million chickens every week.

    So we could just literally grow any meat, poultry or seafood directly from those animal cells,” Dr Valeti says.

    Dutch scientist Mark Post created the first lab-grown hamburger in 2013

    No company has yet scaled-up production to serve a cell-based patty commercially but Post estimates that if he started mass producing his burgers, he could get the cost of making them down to about $10 each. “That’s of course still way too high,” he said. [But not in socialism]



    I did a very quick google search on the military and its effects on climate change to get some scale of the problem.

    Every year, America’s armed forces consume more than 100 million barrels of oil to power ships, vehicles, aircraft, and ground operations—enough for over 4 million trips around the Earth, assuming 25 mpg.

    DOD retains one of the largest real estate portfolios in the U.S. government, encompassing 562,000 buildings and structures distributed across 4,800 sites worldwide. This includes 293 active installations across the Army, Navy, and Air Force, in addition to numerous Coast Guard installations under the Department of Homeland Security.
    The US military is the largest single consumer of energy in the world.

    If it were a country, the Department of Defense  would rank 34th in the world in average daily oil use, coming in just ahead of Sweden.
    Government spending on the military is 28 times more than spent on climate change policies.

    The US military consumes as much as one million barrels of oil per day and contributes 5 percent of current global warming emissions. Keep in mind that the military has 1.4 million active duty people, or .0002 percent of the world’s population, generating 5 percent of climate pollution.

    This comparison understates the extreme military impact on climate change. Military fuel is more polluting because of the fuel type used for aviation. CO2 emissions from jet fuel are larger – possibly triple – per gallon than those from diesel and oil. Further, aircraft exhaust has unique polluting effects that result in greater warming effect by per unit of fuel used. Radiative effects from jet exhaust, including nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide, soot and water vapor exacerbate the warming effect of the CO2 exhaust emissions.

    The Military Assault on Global Climate

    The DoD uses 4.6 billion US gallons of fuel annually, an average of 12.6 million gallons of fuel per day.

    Electricity usage by the military, which accounts for even more greenhouse gas emissions, is also gargantuan. In FY 2006, the DoD used almost 30,000 gigawatt hours of electricity at a cost of almost $2.2 billion. The DoD’s electricity use would supply enough electricity to power more than 2.6 million average American homes.

    In fiscal year 2012, the DoD consumed about a billion gigawatt hours of site delivered energy at a cost of 20.4 billion dollars. While consuming that amount of energy, DoD emitted 70 million metric tons of CO2. And yet, total DoD energy use and costs are even higher simply because the energy use and costs arising from the contractors to support military operations both domestically and abroad are not included in DoD’s data.

    At the outset of the Iraq war in March 2003, the Army estimated it would need more than 40 million gallons of gasoline for three weeks of combat, exceeding the total quantity used by all Allied forces in the four years of World War 1. Among the Army’s armamentarium were 2,000 staunch M-1 Abrams tanks fired up for the war and burning 250 gallons of fuel per hour.

    The US Air Force is the single largest consumer of jet fuel in the world. Fathom, if you can, the astronomical fuel usage of USAF fighter planes: the F-4 Phantom Fighter burns more than 1,600 gallons of jet fuel per hour and peaks at 14,400 gallons per hour at supersonic speeds.

    The B-52 Stratocruiser, with eight jet engines, guzzles 500 gallons per minute; ten minutes of flight uses as much fuel as the average driver does in one year of driving! A quarter of the world’s jet fuel feeds the USAF fleet of flying killing machines; in 2006, they consumed as much fuel as US planes did during the Second World War  – an astounding 2.6 billion gallons.




    Scientists recently did  experiments and found that when people feel poor, they want to eat more meat.

    The researchers’ conclusion that people treat meat as a status symbol does match up with previous studies that find people lower down the socioeconomic food chain are more likely to buy big status items, like flashy cars.

    <section id=”skip-nav” class=”engage-article__main”>

    It’s now pretty widely accepted that lots of meat eating (especially red meat) is bad for our health and our environment. Sicker people and a sicker planet have knock-on effects on our economy. Ill people are unhappier, and work less. Lots more ill and out-of-work people requires lots more government money to be spent on healthcare and welfare. Animal farmland destroys the habitats of wild species. Climate change (partly caused by burping cows) causes weather that damages property and hurts people: flooding, stronger hurricanes, droughts, etc.

    From here

    The poorer we feel, the more meat we eat





    Localism is presented as an environmentally friendly way of eating. But is it a solution?

    When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), it might not make such a huge difference, particularly for certain foods. According the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, “Differences in agricultural production and the realities of transportation impacts may favor sourcing from other regions from an environmental impact perspective.”

    A 2008 study conducted by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that by buying food locally, the average American could only reduce their greenhouse gas emissions a maximum of 4-5 percent.

    In general, the contribution of food transportation relative to the total greenhouse gas emissions of a given food product represents a small percentage of the carbon footprint for many foods. Fresh foods transported by air freight can have significant distribution-related carbon impacts, but on average, distribution of finished foods (from farm or factory to retail stores) contributes less than 4 percent, on average, of the greenhouse gas emissions of foods consumed in the US.

    The health benefits of fresh, seasonal produce are accessible only to those who can access and afford them, which is not always the case. One issue is the lack of healthy food options in “food deserts” across the country, most of them in poor neighborhoods, where the only options are unhealthy, processed foods and industrial farm produce coated in pesticides. And produce sold at farmers’ markets can often be more expensive than the pesticide-covered fruits and vegetables that are shipped in from Mexico and Costa Rica, where farming operations can lower their prices simply because of their massive scale.

    In a 2014 lecture at Bowdoin College, Matt Booker, an associate professor of history at North Carolina State University, asked the question, “Why did Americans stop eating locally?” Part of the problem, he says, is one of abundance, at least for those who can afford it: There’s simply “too much food, too much of a ‘muchness’ in our food supply.”

    It’s important to note that for many people living in developing countries, buying locally and in season simply isn’t a realistic option. In fact, the dependence on staple agricultural imports like wheat, rice and corn could — if export bans were enacted by major producing regions — create a food crisis that, according to a 2016 study, “would put up to 200 million people below the poverty line at risk.” The study’s lead author, Christopher Bren d’Amour, cited one example: “If Thailand, the biggest exporter of rice worldwide, were to halt its exports, 136 million people from Mauritania to Nigeria would be affected.”

    While the transportation of food does contribute to emissions, the production of that food is much more environmentally damaging and GHG-intensive.

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