The Null Device

Wheat is murder

An article claiming that vegetarianism kills more animals than meat-eating; according to this article, intensive agriculture causes more animal deaths (i.e., field animals run over by combine harvesters, crushed in their burrows by ploughs or picked off by predators once their cover is removed) than meat consumption, and that, following the Least Harm Principle of utilitarianism, anyone who cares about animal welfare would eat meat. (Via this rant linked from David Gerard's LiveJournal)

There are 6 comments on "Wheat is murder":

Posted by: richard Sun Dec 28 00:09:43 2003

[half-arsed rebuttal follows - sorry, not enough time to finish it ;)]

Hey, what a surprise, living on this planet has impact. Anyone who believes otherwise is a nutcase.

And of course, *all* vegetarians whole-heartedly believe that "meat is murder" line. Yeah. We're all freakin' whackos. Uhuh.

And the logic presented in the linked article is so flawed, it's astounding. From the article, "According to LHP, we must choose the food products that, overall, cause the least harm to the least number of animals."

Even if the grain we're eating was fed to animals and then we ate that meat instead, we'd be killing more animals. That completely ignores the amount of grain that the animals eat in their inefficient production of meat.

[was going to go on to look at food production having animals grazing on currently grain-producing land, etc etc]

Posted by: msg http:// Sun Dec 28 04:13:39 2003

It is of the utmost importance that all species units be recognized only as sub-categories, all further distinctions being blasphemous. All individual organisms are equal and equally replaceable. Only the hive is unique, only the hive matters. Media Commandment 17a. That it matters which animals, just as it matters which humans, is too frightening, too morally demanding, and too contrary to the currently dominant paradigm. It's probably the most subversive thought-crime around. It matters which animals. It matters who dies and when and how and why. Animal vegetable or human. The Neanderthal paleontology keeps creeping toward the Cain and Abel myth. Anybody else noticing that? We're there, dude.

Posted by: Andrew http:// Mon Dec 29 07:40:49 2003

Not buying it. If we were talking low impact foraging by animals then maybe, but the reality is (at least in the USA) factory agriculture, which includes growing crops solely to feed the chickens, cows, pigs, etc.

As noted above, it's more efficient (though perhaps less tasty) to eat the crops ourselves instead of feeding them to animals, which we then eat. We could feed as many people using less crop land if we cut out the middle man (er, middle cow), so to speak.

Posted by: gjw Mon Dec 29 11:29:12 2003

Indeed, although I'm not a vegetarian, if I were (and I wish I could be sometimes) it would not be the killing of animals that would turn me off meat. I couldn't care less, really. It would be the inefficient agricultural production practices of animal farming. Given limited water and land resources, you can feed a lot more people from an acre of wheat than an acre of cattle grazing (especially if you grow another acre of grain to feed the cattle with to begin with).

Posted by: Graham Mon Dec 29 13:31:55 2003

Which is great, except that animals graze a lot of land that just isn't arable. (i.e. land pocked with granite outcrops, steep hills) Not to mention the monocultural nature of broadacre cropping, whereas, strangely enough, grazing is more amenable to biodiversity. What are trees usually grubbed out of fields for? To facilitate more "efficient" cropping, though that was before salinity became an issue. And it doesn't matter which approach you take, land is changed so that humans may benefit from it, not necessarily in a sustainable fashion.

And cropping to provide feed to animals in feedlots in order to feed people strikes me as being particularly dumb.

Mind you, with the industrial farming practices carried out, particularly in North America, in particular, it's almost a wonder that more incidences of Mad Cow Disease haven't shown up there.

In terms of risk of that sort of thing and other dubious practices, lamb and chevon are probably the safest meats, since sheep and goats are rarely feedlotted (th

Posted by: Graham Mon Dec 29 13:33:02 2003

[Stupid word limit... Ahem.]

In terms of risk of that sort of thing and other dubious practices, lamb and chevon are probably the safest meats, since sheep and goats are rarely feedlotted (though it is done), followed by grass-fed beef, then a fair margin to grain-fed beef, pork and chicken. Fish sort of varies depending on pollution, also bearing in mind that many fishing grounds, particularly in the North Atlantic, are looking somewhat bare.

And of course, because "least harm" is dependent on many factors, some objective, some very much due to subjective judgements, anyone trying to broach the concept rationally is on a hiding to nothing.