I found a quote in a recent New Food Economy article really interesting. The article quoted a vegetarian rancher as saying, “We need far more intelligent conversations about climate change’s connection to food, agriculture and health”. While I agree with this statement, I challenge it to extend further.
We need more intelligent conversations about the disconnect between individual choices and their consequences beyond the self.
This article uses language that encourages cognitive dissonance; such as, eat less meat rather than eat less animals. It talks about raising meat, which removes a direct connection to where the meat comes from and that is animals. Regardless of being pasture raised or coming from a factory farm, animals are animals they are not exclusively meat; a term implying they are a food source, an inanimate object akin to an apple or some peanut butter.
You do not raise meat, you raise living, breathing, conscious, animals for the express purpose of slaughtering them for human consumption. Labeling veganism an anti-meat movement minimizes a large facet of plant-based and vegan motivation, that is the animals themselves. I’m not anti-meat, if anything I am anti-exploitation of animals. If labeling is necessary then a more accurate term to describe the movement is to be pro-plant food sources in order to benefit animal welfare and the environment. Just as catchy, right?!
So on to the article’s repetition of eating less meat for the environment. While environmental sustainability and science are absolutely important to focus on, why exclude health science research from the discussion? There is so much pertinent research linking elements of a whole-foods plant-based diet to improved health outcomes. I understand this is controversial and isn’t a unanimous conclusion across the board; however, it is a recurring theme. The stereotypical American diet, largely dependent upon animal ingredients, is not sustainable for long term human or environmental health.
This “anti-meat” movement is not as singular or elementary as the article makes it seem. Abstaining from animal products may be very trendy now, but it is not a brand new concept. There are many reasons the movement is so popular today and instead of dissecting it for trendy clickbait let’s expand the conversation to make the movement more inclusive, well-researched, and well-reported.