Food author James McWilliams has a problem with those of us who are concerned about the welfare of the animals whose products we eat. According to him, we are hypocritical since we purport to be concerned and conscientious, but are still consuming animal products. He sees a major disconnect between acknowledging that animals have value as living creatures, then to actually eat them. .As you may have guessed he is a vegetarian, or vegan. Are we hypocritical for being ‘conscientious carnivores’ on the Paleo diet?
First, how do conscientious consumers reconcile their rationale for avoiding factory farming with their willingness to tolerate the slaughter of a sentient animal? Logically speaking, it makes no sense. Supporters of alternative meat base their advocacy on the belief that an animal should never be subjected to the pain and suffering endemic to a factory farm. This kernel of compassion is critical. It confirms the fact that conscientious carnivores know full well that an animal has intrinsic value as a living, breathing, and feeling organism. That’s precisely why they want it freed from the factory farm in the first place. Nonetheless, despite the evident presence of this compassion, the conscientious carnivore supports killing that animal for a reason as arbitrary as, for example, some fancy restaurant in Manhattan deciding it’s time for the animal to die because pork bellies are all the rage. How can this sentiment (concern for animal welfare) and this act (killing the animal) coexist? To this question, there is no compassionate answer.
McWilliams operates on the assumption that there is a choice as to whether or not we eat meat. If I wish to be a healthy human being, I must eat the food that is appropriate to my species. That means eating meat, eggs, vegetables, fruits and nuts. We, as Paleo diet followers understand that the best choice for us is animal meat. We choose grass fed beef because it is closer in nutritional value to the animals we used to hunt. We don’t “arbitrarily” choose to slaughter an animal because it is “all the rage”. Perhaps for some rare individuals in the ivory towers of Manhattan this may be so, but for most people, nothing about choosing meat is arbitrary. When I choose what meat to buy I consider how the animal was raised and if it was slaughtered in a truly humane way. I am glad to say that I have a source for meat whose owners are also concerned about these things and their products reflect that. For most humans, meat is essential for a healthy mind and body, indeed, for a healthy life. There may be some who can maybe get by being a vegetarian, but it would be interesting to see how their health fares later in life.
Second, there’s economics. What if we all did “the right thing” and became “conscientious carnivores”? That is, what if enough consumers placed enough demand on humanely raised meat so that producers had to multiply and expand their “humane” operations to meet growing demand? Currently, about 1 percent of all the meat we eat comes from alternative systems. What if the situation was reversed, and only 1 percent of meat was factory farmed?
First, it is unlikely that EVERYONE would be buying grass fed beef or other pastured products. This is exceptionally unlikely in the short term. Maybe in the VERY long term, it might happen. Economically, as the demand increases, more farmers might turn their wheat and corn fields BACK into pasture. This would greatly reduce soil erosion and help purify the water supply. And, if you believe in anthropogenic global warming, they say it reduces the carbon footprint of cows, since cows toot less and don’t have feed raised for them. But also, as demand increases for pastured products, the price would go up. This might make products like grass fed beef an occasional protein choice. While this might an unwelcome development, I’d be willing to put up with the price increase if it meant that more people were going to eat humanly raised animal products.
Finally, if conscientious producers and consumers put their money where their mouth is and get closer to where our food comes from, they’ll confront the act of killing an animal. And as they do so, as more and more consumers get closer to the slaughter, they’ll have no choice but to call into question the justice of commodifying emotionally aware animals. Click here to read the full article…..
It is important to know where our meat comes from and how the animal is slaughtered. Yes, it is uncomfortable, but necessary. We have become too detached from the whole process.The meat in the supermarket comes in nicely wrapped packages, covered in plastic wrap. Consumers really don’t know how it got there or think about the source. There is no connection to the process at all.
We do need to get more involved with how our food gets from the farm to our table. We’ve lost the ability to make proper choices when we don’t know this information. Food is the basis for our health and is also the cause of disease. To prevent disease, knowledge on how food animals are raised and vegetables are grown, is crucial to our continued good health. I hope that Paleo diet followers continue to be conscientious carnivores.
A thought has occurred to me. McWilliams blasts us for being carnivores without a conscience. But I think he is in the same boat, even though he does not eat meat. During the harvesting of plant foods, like wheat, for example, it is probable that animals are killed during the process. I don’t see how that is avoidable, especially if it is organic wheat When harvesting wheat, equipment such as combines are used, which go up and down the wheat field cutting stalks and threshing the wheat. But what about the mice and other critters that live in that field? Do they survive this? Can they survive this? Unless Mr. McWilliams is willing to go out into that field and cut down the wheat using a sickle, I would say, he is in the same place as us. In fact, he maybe responsible for the slaughter of uncounted numbers of rodents and other creatures, all for a loaf of bread. By his own logic, are mice of any less value than a cow? What about the insects? Where does one draw the line? To live on earth is to consume whether it be plant or animal. We have been eating meat for hundreds of thousands of years or much longer. To suddenly stop choosing one of the best foods for us is highly illogical. This is practically a death wish. We cannot thrive on plant foods alone. Perhaps THAT is the secret desire of those who think meat is murder. They put the life of a cow or chicken above the life of a human by saying it’s in humane to consume. They do not want humans to thrive or survive.
What do you think?