I spend a lot of time scouring anti-industry, pro-vegetarian websites and blogs. I do it so you don’t have to.
The constant refrain voice by virtually all veggie activists, of course, is that meat production is cruel to animals, dangerous to human health and ecologically unsustainable. All three are minority viewpoints,and all three are fairly easily refuted.
Lately, however, the argument goes further. A more radical segment of the veggie coalition—the vegan purists—has begun to complain that Meatless Mondays doesn’t go far enough, that switching from red meat to poultry isn’t a positive change and that raising concerns about the excessive consumption of soy protein is a false and foolish detour distracting true believers from the cause.
The cause being a vegan world, one in which animals have but one role: To roam freely through untrammeled wilderness (killing and eating each other), while we humans turn to our bowls of cornmeal mush and tofu as our daily fare.
It’s a nice fantasy, one completely and utterly impossible to achieve, even if humanity did suddenly decide that beans-and-rice was the ultimate gourmet meal. Heck, such a transition wouldn’t have been possible a thousand years ago, much less today, when seven billion people need sustenance.
Of course, we could try to transform what’s left of the planet’s prairies and forests into farmland, and for a time we’d probably be able to grow enough food crops to replace the world’s supply of animal protein, but ultimately, that would represent an ecological disaster of epic proportions, certainly not a scenario any born-again vegan would ever entertain.
Yet there are millions of people who buy into the notion that if only they shop hard enough at Whole Foods, if only they order religiously from the vegetarian choices on the menu, if only they spend lavishly enough on soy-based entrées and out-of-season produce jet-freighted from elsewhere in the world, then one day the world’s livestock will wander away from their barns and corrals, and we’ll all join hands around a communal pot of vegetable soup, rejoicing in the triumph of enlightened activism.
Or something like that.
The impact of affluence
It’s easy (and tempting) to simply dismiss such thinking as deranged and move on. But the thought process shared by so many activists doesn’t arise from delusions, but from disconnections. A majority of people who have decided to forego animal foods do so in the belief they’re doing something noble and good, that switching one’s dietary choices will trigger a profound revolution in the way the world feeds itself.