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Newsnight

Is it time to turn vegetarian?

  • Newsnight
  • 3 Jun 08, 12:30 PM

"The best solution would be for us all to become vegetarians".

cow2_203100.jpgSo suggested the head of the UN climate agency, Yvo de Boer, who is attending UN-led climate talks in Germany this week. He was responding to criticism that measures to tackle climate change are partly to blame for the rise in food and energy costs. Carbon-cutting biofuels, for example, use food crops to make alternatives to gasoline.

Meanwhile, Patrick Wall, chairman of the European Food Safety Authority, has questioned whether it is "morally or ethically correct" to be feeding grain to animals while people starve. Speaking to the Times, he argued that it's time to end the EU ban on the use of animal remains to feed pigs and chickens. Lifting the ban would allow grain to be diverted to millions of starving people.

And the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation, hosting a much publicised summit in Rome this week, has warned of global catastrophe unless food reaches parts of the world where it is needed most.

So, does the global food crisis demand a radical rethink of how we distribute food? Should we worry less about feeding our animals and prioritise getting grain to people suffering food shortages - even if that affects the availability of meat?

Is it time for us all to become vegetarian? Leave your comments below.

And remember when Ethical Man went vegan for a month to reduce his carbon footprint? Watch again here:

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Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Sorry, I like my food to have either looked over a fence or through it.
    My wife is a veggie. Can't get into the cupboard or fridge- full of beans and pulses and rabbit food!

    Your programme tonight should be X-rated. Not suitable for adults like me with a nervous disposition. Will watch Voyager instead.

  • Comment number 2.

    No- its time for us to make better use of the land. Cows and sheep eat grass and pigs can eat everything. Rather than worry about foot and mouth which is non fatal to the animals and harmless to humans start using pigswill again. vaccinate against F+M if its such a concern and forget the export problems. We can eat our own meat.

    Encourage growing cattle on floodplains (rather than build houses) at a density where they can live on grass and encourage traditional sheep farming on hilltops. Our meat consumption may drop but we don't have to turn into veggies.

    Ignoring the potential of fish farming (meat!) when people are hungry is extremely stupid too.

  • Comment number 3.

    Giving up eating other species now makes ecological survival sense on top of the economic and moral sense it always has made.

    Arguments to the contrary are just excuses for people who can't bring themselves to challenge ingrained bad habits

  • Comment number 4.

    The human race got to this highly evolved state from years of eating meat. It would be disrespectful to our ancestors right back to the first human if we turned vegetarian.

    Not sure what this has to do with starving populations. Just seems like an opportunity for vegetarians to selfishly press their own agenda through.

    We should focus first on the drug companies preventing non-profit organisations from distributing free medicines for AIDS and other life-threatening diseases.

  • Comment number 5.

    No, it is time for population control. Why should I give up the food I like just because some selfish people have too many kids?

    Food crisis? Oil crisis? Pollution crisis? NO, it is all down to overpopulation.

    What will happen if we find a way to feed the 150 million discussed by the UN? They will have more kids so the next crisis will be bigger. The world is finite. Reality rules, always.

  • Comment number 6.

    So what happened in January to double food prices? Did the population have a post-Christmas explosion? Did half the world's food disappear?

    OR is it the greed of banks dealing in futures?

    This needs an answer....

  • Comment number 7.

    Of course it is. Meat eating is barbaric and unnecessary. I have been a veggie (against my parent's and doctor's wishes since I was 5 in 1970 and I am at least as healthy as most of my carnivorous and omnivorous peers. Meat eaters smell of dead animals and are usually far more aggressive than they need to be. Animal husbandry is one of the pillars of our insane society. Leonardo, Einstein and Spock were all veggies and look at how much they achieved. I would no more put meat in my body than my hand in a fire. Meat, Yuck!

  • Comment number 8.

    "Patrick Wall, chairman of the European Food Safety Authority, has questioned whether it is "morally or ethically correct" to be feeding grain to animals while people starve."

    That question needs to be asked again and again and again. The only possible answer is no.

  • Comment number 9.

    I wish people would refrain from telling me what to and what not to eat.
    They should all go back into their padded cell and stay there.
    I will eat whatever takes my fancy OK!

  • Comment number 10.

    Rubbish. The statement I mean, not the food.

  • Comment number 11.

    We certainly could all do ourselves no harm at all by favouring a more vegetarian eating regime. That's not to say - ditch all meat, etc, but all things in moderation is the key.

  • Comment number 12.

    I can not think of anything more disgusting, unnatural and disease-causing than feeding animal remains to pigs and chickens. The food crisis is the result of disgraceful population control in many third world countries as well as terrible global trade and agricultural policies.

    Humans are omnivores and our bodies have been builit over milions of years to have a need for meat nutrients. Nothing can change this fact. As a strong proponent of organic farming and animal rights I believe that we should remain vigilant in curtailing dangerous measures like those suggested by Mr. Wall.

  • Comment number 13.

    It is about time the UN, the EU, the Government and all those environmental groups that we keep being lectured by started talking about tackling population growth before telling us that we must change our lifestyles, must not use bio-fuels to power vehicles and (now) that we should change our diet to poverty food.

    The problem is that those organisations are too cowardly to take on this fundamental problem - far more serious in the long run than climate change caused by Co2 emissions - because it means attacking the sacred cows of religions and less enlightened cultures that we are supposed to treat as equal to ours.

    It is over population that is leading to destruction of the rain-forests, it is over-population that is causing the spread of desert to previously green areas of Africa, it is over-population that is leading to excessive use of the earth's resources, yet it is simply taken as read that the numbers of people will just keep on rising.

    Those religious teachings and cultures are now simply unsustainable. It is time we started to treat those causes, rather than telling us to deal with symptoms. Otherwise the symptoms will simply get worse and worse.

  • Comment number 14.

    I turned vegetarian after shooting a partridge
    with a bow and arrow (it hadn't done me any harm) in 1947. I just felt that if I wasn't prepared to kill animals myself I shouldn't expect others to do it for me. 61 years later I am expecting my eightieth birthday next week so I dont regret being a vegetarian.

  • Comment number 15.

    Of course it is. Meat eating is barbaric and unnecessary. I have been a veggie (against my parent's and doctor's wishes since I was 5 in 1970 and I am at least as healthy as most of my carnivorous and omnivorous peers. Meat eaters smell of dead animals and are usually far more aggressive than they need to be. Animal husbandry is one of the pillars of our insane society. Leonardo, Einstein and Spock were all veggies and look at how much they achieved. I would no more put meat in my body than my hand in a fire. Meat, Yuck!

    ----------------

    Congratulations, you have convinced me to continue eating meat because if this is what being vegetarian does to you then I'm happy to opt out.

  • Comment number 16.

    Everyday people should be asking this question!

    There is no single reason why there's a global food crisis although I do feel the biggest reason is over-population as has been already stated by another user.

    Animal rights people have been asking this kind of thing for decades and yet whenever you try to put a point across against the eating of animals, often people like myself get berated.

    I only became vegetarian myself a few years ago and I can honestly say I've never felt healthier or happier as a result.

    Never again would I consider eating an animal, it's totally unnecessary and I've come to learn, understand and appreciate that fact.

    There are no nutrients in meat which cannot be obtained in other food sources; I don't think the great Carl Lewis, who is a vegan, would have become one of the greatest athletes and Olympians of all time had this not been true!

    So much of what we're told about eating meat is propaganda to sustain particular industries.

    Just reflecting on the whole climate change link too, this agenda is simply political spin to generate taxation in fresh areas.

  • Comment number 17.

    "Leonardo, Einstein and Spock were all veggies and look at how much they achieved"

    Is that Mr Spock the fictional alien or Dr Spock the baby-care expert? Picking three succesful vegetarians and saying how great they are is no more valid an argument than me saying that as Hitler and Himmler were vegetarian it clearly produces genocidal maniacs.

  • Comment number 18.

    MY TEXT FOR THIS EVENING

    #1 Says it all. In the Andes they feed the vegetable left-overs to guinea pigs and then spit roast the g-pigs. You make a low fence (to look over or through) in the coner of the kitchen - g-pigs need little room. Everyone's happy. If you have a lawn, they make wonderful mowers, even through the winter. In my youth we had the greenest lawn in the county.

  • Comment number 19.

    Yes everybody excluding me I love all the food I eat to make me healthy yes but no thanks will not eat grass and only leaves they are included in my diet will have to mix it with other things

  • Comment number 20.

    Feeding animals with animals is bordering on being evil. I buy local meat and vegetables from local farmers markets. If the governments of the world want to actually DO something they could give Rhodesia back to the white farmers and once again it would become the bread basket of south central Africa. We could also farm the acres which the EU pay farmers not to farm. The government ought to pay the farmers the money they are owed and stop persecuting the food producers. The supermarkets should stop screwing the farmers and stop worrying if the potatos have a little bit of earth on them or the carrots don't look cloned. Organic should mean "Produced without pesticides" instead of yuppfied packaging and high prices. Wall is off his.

  • Comment number 21.

    Hmmm!! I see another "smoking ban" looming. The meat police are coming to take us away.

  • Comment number 22.

    Just be very conscious of what you eat, for your own health and the world's. Let it be produced in the most sustainable, animal and people-friendly manner. It's up to us to save the planet. Especially if you decided to have (many) kids...

  • Comment number 23.

    Why do so many people say meat eating is wrong, barabaric? Are cats barbaric? It is completely natural. It is only when thay attribute some silly supernatural spirituality to animals that they think meat eating is morally wrong. Animals do not have spirits (any more than we do). One of the really perverse things about human intelligence is it allows us to have silly thoughts . Other animals do not have them, they just get on with it.

  • Comment number 24.

    Humans are omnivores - consider our teeth, and our stomach enzymes. Neither meat eating nor vegetarianism are the 'natural' choice - both are viable diets. So why not exercise an ethical choice in favour of less killing? If you have to kill to survive that's one thing - but to kill just because of a taste you like? - well, I wouldn't.

  • Comment number 25.

    Yes it is high time there was more real and live coverage of the advantages --to people, and to planet - of being vegetarian.
    Could it be that too many vested interests have kept this subject from being discussed more hitherto in debates on waste, pollution, environmental degradation, and 'balanced diet'?
    Methane alone is surely a huge issue for the future [with the permafrost melt about to add great amonts to the atmosphere], and in case meat addicts are still worried about effluvia, vegetarians are minuscule emitters in comparison with cattle.

  • Comment number 26.

    I think I have understood this correctly - I am supposed to serevely restrict my alcohol intake, give up smoking, stop driving, find an alternative to flying and stop eating meat.

    Apart from that, I assume I am free to carry on life as normal?

  • Comment number 27.

    What that meant to me is that every position must have been pre-discussed before it is made public. this done by would-be aspirants to possibly securre the support or votes of those who determines people to be in one position or the other. this is my own understanding of the phrase all posts are pre-moderated.

    Tajudeen A EJALONIBU.

  • Comment number 28.

    It seems to me some people here are missing the point. People are dying through lack of food and there are a number of very self minded responses about why some commentors should cling to their habit of eating meat. Perhaps it is this kind of self mindedness and not allowing the reality of millions of starving people to penetrate their consciousness that is the root cause of the problem in the first place.

    If I thought it would help save lives, giving up meat would be a small sacrifice to make. The trouble is it appears, people want the ills of the world to go away so long as they don't have to make any changes to their somnambulant approach to the world.

  • Comment number 29.

    Do we have any mechanisms to direct land use to produce the most nutritious food on the land available, and control where that food goes?
    Other than the market.

    I think the use of vegetarian is a bit misleading, as most veggies think it's wrong to eat any animals (although killing their babies and drinking their milk might be OK). If we stopped growing fodder crops there would still be rabbit and pidgeon etc, seafood, some upland sheep farming and maybe some small-scale pig and chicken keeping. Its a bit Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, but its not vegetarian.

    But can we plough up all the golf courses first?

  • Comment number 30.

    What does the Bible say about vegetarians?
    Romans 14

    1Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.

    2For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.

    3Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.

    4Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

    5One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

  • Comment number 31.

    The level of what I hesitate to describe here as 'debate' on this blog is frighteningly low. It might perhaps be better for everyone if the moderators of this newsnight blog could swim against the popularist tide that is currently swamping the BBC and only publish well-argued and/or thoughtful posts.

    Some brief reflection on the economic, technological and demographic history of this country might cause some of the people on this blog to reconsider some of the views they hold, particularly those that blame over-population in the developing world, rather than over-consumption in the developed world, for the global resource problems we currently face.

  • Comment number 32.

    trust UN to come up with solutions out of the wild!

    the main problem is exploding population, limted oil resources for which everyone is competing

    short term - stop converting food into oil, and ask the charity agencies to work overtime

    but unless people stop "producing like the animals they eat" there isn't any hope

    vegetarian yes, but it helps more if less number eat meat!

    will UN say "stop procreating" ? i dont think so

  • Comment number 33.

    toohardtologin wrote:
    Feeding animals with animals is bordering on being evil

    No its isn't. What do you think Lions do?

    Eating meat is a damn site more natural than farming- we evolved as hunter-gatherers and our teeth and bio-chemistry reflect this. We're meant to get most of our calories, fats and minerals from bonking mammoths on the head and devouring them mostly raw, then eating a handful of berries to stop us getting scurvy.

    If we were designed to be vegan we'd have a mouth full of molars that constantly regrew (like horses or hamsters) and a method of getting non-oxidised iron out of green leaves and across the stomach wall.

  • Comment number 34.

    It is time to stop knee-jerking to an alarmist threat that is NOT materialising.

    How is it possible to tackle global warming when the earth has already been cooling since 1998?

    When the climate, in simple terms, is the thin connecting layer between the variable energy source of the sun interacting with the variable energy store of the Oceans, How on earth is it even possible to beging to tackle climate change.... What do these people expect us to do? fit a dimmer switch to the sun?

    I have never heard a more kanutian response to anything in my life....

    They may as well have "Tackle Sunrises" as a slogan for we shall have as much effect on the sun rising as we will on climate change.

    Grow food to eat and extract oil from the vast great oceans of the stuff that still exists in the earth.

  • Comment number 35.

    Anyone who comes between me and a bacon butty deserves everything that will come to them!

  • Comment number 36.

    Leonardo, Einstein and Spock were all veggies and look at how much they achieved. I would no more put meat in my body than my hand in a fire. Meat, Yuck!

    -------------------------------------------------------

    So was Hitler.

  • Comment number 37.

    Those who say eating animals is wrong, or cruel plainly have no understanding of nature. They have a fuzzy fluffy version of animals being cute and cuddly and not cruel.

    This 5 sense reality in which we inhabit is based ENTIRELY upon living things consuming other living things, or dead things that were once alive, for their survival.

    Even plants as they get their nutrients from the soil, they are exploiting other fallen and dead animals and other plants that have vegetated down into soil. All animals eat other living things, or things that were once alive.

    At least Western diets are based on eating things that are dead. Unlike the vast majority of animals, we do not eat things whilst they are still alive.

    Sorry, vegetarians do when they pick and eat live vegetables, don't they!

    Give me a bacon butty over a lettuce sandwich anyday!

  • Comment number 38.

    @ 36 ..... Spock? come on, really.... SPOCK?

    You should get some meat into you, before you completely lose grip on reality.

  • Comment number 39.

    Is Mr de Boer a nutter? Ho ho.

  • Comment number 40.

    Don`t eat meat. Don`t drink booze. Don`t smoke. C`mon guys; use your imaginations; start with something that doesn`t start with "Don`t".

  • Comment number 41.

    Re 26: "I think I have understood this correctly - I am supposed to serevely restrict my alcohol intake, give up smoking, stop driving, find an alternative to flying and stop eating meat.
    Apart from that, I assume I am free to carry on life as normal?"

    Nobody is actually stopping you doing any of those things. But it might be no harm to think for five minutes of those who don't have enough rice for tomorrow -- let alone alcohol, cigs, or flights. OR meat. That's the serious issue here.

    And yes, I think population control will have to be tackled eventually. China bit the bullet and it can't have been easy imposing a one child policy (and now some parents have lost their only children in the earthquake ...) but the world will have to tackle the subject *sooner or later*. Our over-population is causing extinction of other species, and our great-grandchildren won't thank us. (Assuming they survive global warming, that is.)

    As for comment No 33, all vegetables are not green leaves. And we'd be a lot healthier if we cut down on meat. Not cut out -- cut down.

  • Comment number 42.

    In environmental discussions, Mother Nature, or doing what's 'natural' is often cited, in my view rightly, as a good thing. As one of her creations, it seems odd that our omnivorous design is now deemed by many as a flaw.

    And the meat-banning advocacy might not serve too well some of the poster children of the climate change movement. Polar Bears or Tigers, for instance.

    Whilst seeing the logic in part of what he says, I have to disagree with Mr. de Boer that this option is 'a solution'. At best it is a measure that buys some more time if other factors are not addressed.

    Especially with greater affluence bringing currently already quite carnivorous cultures to the... er... table. In their billions. I kinda think we've been here before, too.

  • Comment number 43.

    Help !

    The world seems full of dictatorial people wanting to tell me how I should live my life !


    Can we quickly invent some relevant way of space travel so I and the handful of other people who believe in personal Liberty and free choice can leave please !

    PS.

    I still wonder how we got out of the ice age without climate change myself. The whole Global Warming thing still sounds like a cover story for the truth , over population !

  • Comment number 44.

    The reason for the EU banning the use of animal remains to be used as animal feed is to stop the spread of BSE (Mad Cow Disease) which had infected hundreds of people with the brain disease. Why on earth would anyone want to reintroduce this lethal practice again?

    From today's Times,
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article1867990.ece

    "Legacy of a crisis
    €1.7m: The amount of EC money being paid to devise tests for animal remains in feed
    12: Scientific institutes across Europe, including two British laboratories, are involved in the research programme
    7: Years since EU legislation banning the use of animal proteins in animal feed, was first introduced
    183,000: BSE cases confirmed in the UK since the epidemic was first identified in 1986
    160: Confirmed deaths from vCJD in Britain since the disease first emerged in 1990. Another five patients thought to have it are still alive

    Source: EESC, Defra, Times Database"

    And just remember that BSE also infected milk, ie, all dairy products and anything containing dairy products.

    If someone wishes to become vegetarian/vegan then it's their personal choice. However, to use a pathetic excuse to use grain for people which was meant for animals is just wrong. How can you let an animal suffer like that, and also the people who end up eating that meat?

  • Comment number 45.

    My cousin's 18thc outside double-seater bog has a pigsty underneath it: crap becomes meat - surely that's the sort of lifestyle we should be returning to (I'm serious!).
    The real issue is population growth, and I know Newsnight dipped its toe into this issue last week, but it was a nervous discussion. It really has to be addressed.

  • Comment number 46.

    "Patrick Wall, chairman of the European Food Safety Authority, has questioned whether it is "morally or ethically correct" to be feeding grain to animals while people starve."

    Well, I don't want to eat grain... my body and teeth are designed to eat meat and two veg.

    I'm sick of the holier than thou veggy brigade - anti-smoking, anti-drinking, anti-porn, anti-anything-that's-fun.... let's all go live in a nunnery....

  • Comment number 47.

    Mmmmm Meat! I regularly go out and get a 5kg Yes 5 Kg joint of Beef for my partner and I to cook to a nice medium rare, then slice and eat with a sprinkling of sea salt. Nothing more, just pure meat feast! Stick that in your rabbit food and smoke it. The way we see it is the more that become veggie, the more for us. The price of veg will go up and up and the price of meat will come down. Cool!

  • Comment number 48.

    It's not ethical that so many people are starving meanwhile banning use of animal remains to feed pigs and chickens is keeping. It's not moral that we are prioritizing animals to starving people who are serving interminable ravenuosness through out. Officials must face facts than sitting in splendid offices and saying moral works. Catastrophe is coming.

  • Comment number 49.

    Wow, a provocative title like - Is it time to turn vegetarian? really does work..
    Well, it gets responses, not all that interesting though.
    My pennies worth is that it would be great for:

    Meat eaters to become more involved in it's production and at least death.

    This will help people to 'enjoy' their meat more by actually appreciating what it is and where it comes from. For those that do not think that animals, let alone humans, have feelings then they can confirm these beliefs.

    For meat eaters to take up some therapy over their paranoia with non-meat eaters. They're like a bunch of children worried about their cherry being taken from their birthday cake.

    Moderation people... and mass production err, not my idea of a happy life.

    All the beast to ya!

  • Comment number 50.

    No. I've tried it and I did not prosper, physiologically. I went into a slow decline. It may suit some metabolisms but it does not suit all.

    I think even died-in-the-wool, fully paid-up, card carrying veggies would credit two years as a worthwhile stab at going without meat. The result was that I became ... not 'ill' but I was clearly not in fully working order and getting worse. As soon as I started eating meat again - I broke my veggie habit from a standing start with 12 oz of steak, straight off the grill, a feat which all my veggie friends are amazed I survived - I soon returned back to what I recognised as my normal operating state.

    I have a friend who has been a veggie ever since becoming one [sensibly enough] whilst spending many months [hippy trail] in India in the early '70s. He has persisted with this habit - and I do mean habit - ever since. I have been at his house when he has returned from the doc waving a prescription and announcing that he is, was, as ever, in a state of chronic anaemia. My friend works as a senior techie in broadcasting, a very high stress job and he periodically 'falls off a cliff' energywise. It is patently obvious that this man should include meat as an element of his diet but he has set his face against it, though I have never been able to discover on what grounds.

    One last thing. vegetarians are also pretty keen on organic produce. The most effective fertiliser for any crop is vegetation that has been partly digested by animals... animal manure! Dairy herds and fleece sheep alone will not provide enough of this brilliant substitute for synthetics. Make mine a large sirloin, 3 mins each side.

    Quoting notable personal success stories at us as examples of heroic and worthy vegetarianism is fatuous. One can counter any number of these with just one name - Adolf Hitler.

  • Comment number 51.

    the strongest argument along these lines is that the methane produced in cattle feedlots is the second-largest source of greenhouse gases...people who insist on driving their car to get a take-away hamburger at McDonalds are doing a double whammy on the climate

  • Comment number 52.

    Mr. Spock, when asked if he was a vegetarian, answered, "Of course". Yes, I know he is a fictional character but his response accurately reflects how I feel about it. [Dr. Spock, on the other hand, was only a veggie till the age of 12 .]

    Actually, I am in the live and let live camp. Whatever you want to eat, sitting next to me in a restaurant is your business. Some of my friends like the bits of Puffer Fish which don't kill you. Some like Calves Heads. Me, I can't imagine why they would even consider putting it in their mouths. But I smoke cigarettes so who am I to criticise anyone about their meat eating. However, I still consider it barbaric!

    However, the comments about human dentition being omnivorous are incorrect. We have FRUGIVORE dentition as proved by our primate cousins. This is reinforced by comparisons of other characteristics, such as length of digestive tract etc.

    Personally, I believe the biggest problem facing mankind is greed. If we in the west weren't so acquisitive, there'd be more than enough of everything 'necessary' to go around. For instance, I forget the figure, but the spending on the Iraq war alone would cover the food, drink, education, housing and health care of everyone on the planet for a considerable period.

    What is needed, in my obviously not-so-humble opinion, is a complete paradigm shift to enable our species to survive more than just another few centuries.

    Thank you.

  • Comment number 53.

    While I'm at it... Hitler was NOT a vegetarian in the true sense of the word. Although he ate mostly vegetables, his doctors, not believing this was healthy, would give him regular injections of meat-derivatives. He was also a serious amphetamine addict which would give turn the meekest of veggies into raving psychotics. I know, I saw it happen to vegan friends in my youth.

    Again, having said that, if anyone grievously hurt my son, I would want to tear them to pieces. I *did* say *more aggressive than they need to be*...

  • Comment number 54.

    Overpopulation - really! The land mass of our planet is 57, 255,000 square miles and 29 million square miles of it can be used to produce food and support over 50 billion people (current population is just over 6 billion).

    23 million square miles of that land is used in the East and 6 million by the West. Cash crop growth reduces the former slightly.

    Given the ZERO population growth in the West against increasing birth rates in the East it is not difficult to understand a mindset of self-presevation against ABORIGINAL people!

    So, really, there is no need to reduce population growth to satisfy a flesh eating diet, just make a sensible decision and look at the health benefits of being a vegetarian.

    (Seen the film Children of Men - 'And the Sons of God, took the Daughters of men, to be Wives). A thought for the wise!

  • Comment number 55.

    Cutting out consumption of meat would mean very little if it just frees up land for growing corn for 'bio-fuel' or sugar beet for use as 'bio-ethanol'. That said, 'every little helps', and if a concerted effort could be made across the spectrum to reduce our carbon footprint, it might be a useful step.

    It is the car which is the real killer at the moment - and the fact that General Motors are having to close FOUR plants producing SUV type vehicles shows that even the motor trade is belatedly waking up to this problem.

    I find it highly amusing the number of people who used to say 'I'd never give up my car' or 'I'd never lower myself to using public transport' or 'I could never think of using a bike for getting around town' are now starting to consider those very options...

  • Comment number 56.

    I've counted 12 responses to this blog - out of 54 so far - that give some kind of common sense, measured response to the original post. Of the remaining 42 a worrying number are disturbingly selfish. Firstly, despite what the title says (and that's written by a journalist - paid to be sensationalist, remember?), I don't think anyone's planning on banning meat. However, we are in the position in the 'developed' world that we consume vast amounts of just about everything per capita compared to everywhere else. Given there's no way the world can sustain everyone consuming at the same rate (and I challenge anyone to suggest that the status quo should remain) then it's perfectly reasonable to suggest cutting down.

    Rearing meat properly, not the inhumane, disease-prone way Mr Wall is suggesting, does consume far more resources than growing crops for our own consumption. Cutting down on meat consumption would, however, go some way towards Mr Wall's aim of ensuring edible crops are eaten by us, not cattle. Not only that, ask any doctor and they're likely to tell you that a healthy diet has a little meat and plenty of everything else - not exactly the diet many of us have at present. Continuing to insist on our current excessive levels of meat consumption given all this is selfish (and frankly a bit stupid given the health considerations).

  • Comment number 57.

    No Shooting
    No Hunting
    No Smoking
    No Alcohol (coming soon)
    No Driving / cars (soon)
    No Meat eating
    No Sex (overpopulation)
    No ... when they've achieved all the above, they will find more to ban.

    We have a very active NO brigade these days.

  • Comment number 58.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 59.

    Become vegetarians? I have a better solution: eat the vegetarians!

  • Comment number 60.

    Given the health benefits, I think it would be acceptable to ration beef and pork. These are the proteins that use the most fuel and vegetable protein to produce them and they are high in saturated fats. Lamb, although fatty, is generally grazed on unplowable (untillable?) land. Chicken is relatively efficient in converting vegatable protein into meat (about 2 veg to 1 meat) as is farmed fish. Meat rationing during the second world war was clearly a privation, but rationing limited to some red meats would be a healthy push in the right direction for our eating habits with no hardship. Rationing is not banning after all.

  • Comment number 61.

    Forgetting the obvious once a hippy always a hippy outlook and ideals..they just wont go away!. My point is if countries run their livestock right down to zilch. Surely that is overlooking the climate change factor!?, i.e forests are being pulled up for money and weather patterns have changed to deluge of downpours and droughts for extended periods are becoming common e.g. Australia. If one or all of these catastrophes should befall a country/ies are they not then being accused of being shortsighted and the potential for a disaster. There has to be a balance in just about everything, otherwise you end up with an extreme.

  • Comment number 62.

    I was very pleased with your reportage tonight on reducing meat consumption - a component of sustainable living that is often overlooked. It is very important to sensibilise viewers on this issue. I invite whoever has an interest in the science and economics behind this argument to read the excellent work by Jeremy Rifkin "Beyond Beef".

  • Comment number 63.


    Here's an old beeb link about microfarming guinea pigs, I wouldn't be squirmish.

    Has anyone ever enjoyed the vegetables more than the fillet, sirloin or lamb ?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3946771.stm

    garrett browne , dublin

  • Comment number 64.

    The matter of the issue is simple: it is time to recognize the failure of western discourse and to accept we cannot have everything. So we must begin to decide what we are prepared to live without. If the whole planet "enjoyed" the western lifestyle it has been argued we would need 6 planets the size of the moon for raw materials and waste dumps. The argument for vegetarianism on a mass scale is a simple way to begin to address these issues. What right does the human animal have to basically enslave every other species at the expense of every ecological relationship? God is dead so we can no longer justify the discourse where the world belongs to Man. Man belongs to the world and it is time Man learnt it's place.

  • Comment number 65.

    Surely this whole debate is missing a very major factor. On Earth there are about 10,000 more human mouths to feed per hour (net polulation growth).

    I have e-mailed the Anglican Church to requesting a sensible guidline maximum that each woman should consider - for the sake of the planet.

    I'm still waiting for an answer!

  • Comment number 66.

    I would eat fillet minyon more often if I could afford it.What would happen to all the cattle if we didn't eat beef?

  • Comment number 67.

    Once again, this item missed a crucial point. Sheep and goats can graze land too poor to grow crops but these are curiously never mentioned by the "go-veggie" brigade. Another thing I find irritating is the idea that meat and fish must be completely eliminated from the diet in order to achieve the desired goal. You might as well argue that, because some people are irresponsible with alcohol, we must all be teetotal.
    Encourage people to eat less meat, by all means, but this is not the same as going vegetarian.
    I agree with the person above who says that we should eat a little meat, but most of our diet should be something else. My father's favourite saying was "Moderation in all things". (note: "moderation", not "abstinence".)

  • Comment number 68.

    The BBC present the views of lots of so called experts but none of them ever address the root cause of the problem. That is that this planet cannot support its current population let alone the projected population for 2050 and beyond.
    Governments around the world need to do as the Chinese are doing and take steps to reduce population. If we don't, the warming planet will do it for us by culling huge numbers of people by drought, storms and flooding rendering much of the planet un-inhabitable.
    One thing is certain. The planet will win, but it will have to cull more than half the human population first.

  • Comment number 69.

    In 1976 Delia Smith wrote

    --"our days of unrestricted choice in eating are numbered. There simply isn't enough food on this planet to feed all the people who live on it;rich nations like our own are just beginning to feel the pinch,while two thirds of the world's population suffer from the grave effects of living below subsistence level.----Our eating habits are out of hand,with obesity and diseases attributable to it having reached epidemic proportions."

    Frugal Food 1976
    Is there anything new in the current discussion and will it make a difference 30 years on?

  • Comment number 70.

    If we all stop eating meat, and become vegetarians, think about the extra problem of all that extra methane speeding up global warming! There are frequent comments made about farm animals producing to much methane, so if we make every human vegie surely there will be an even bigger problem. To grow extra crops such as wheat and vegetables to feed this growing army of vegetarians, will require a massive amount of cultivation work, which will require a huge amount of fossil fuels.
    With a large amount of soil being cultivated, all the bad gases( wait for i'm not exactly sure about this one) Carbon dioxide, will be released in to the atmoshphere.
    No meat eaters will be the end of the countryside looking the way it has done for years. The countryside only looks the way it does because of the way livestock is farmed. No livestock will mean no more cow Sh** so extra man made fert will have to be used! extra costs, bye bye Organic farming. No lush green fields for all the big city folk to look at when they visit the weekend cottage, just very large vehicles running their bmw's of the road. mind you house prices might fall, so the people who belong in the countryside and work in the countryside may actually be able to afford to live in the c side!

    I'm affraid some times these clever people on the telly need to look at the big picture from both sides!

  • Comment number 71.

    As the programme pointed out meat is a status thing just as large 4WD and the like with fuel they are no longer sustainable and people have switched without legislation

    meat is on its way out for the same reason. no one mentioned the waste of energy finding and storing these products whereas beans and grains can be brought in bulk and stored without energy loss or constant trips to supermarkets

    my fuel bills have gone up partly due to wasteful gas guzzlers and now food prices rise due to polluting inefficent animals!

    get fit,have a clear conscience quit meat now

  • Comment number 72.

    I'm not saying anyone should become a veggie, but if you are going to eat meat then at least kill the animal yourself.

    Maybe take your children to see where the meat comes from, observe how it is killed etc.

    If you don't like seeing animals getting killed then don't eat the meat.

    People like to eat meat for the taste, what's all this bull crap about how we need to eat it ?

    And f f s meat eaters, stop trying to tell the world we all need to eat meat !

  • Comment number 73.

    I was most interested in the assertion in your bit about food and vegetarianism, that in order to grow food you need to plow pleas look at perma-culture the best means of officiant and maximising production going and able to be done any where that air,sun light, water and waste matter to make compost exist.

    The assumption that there is only a finite amount of land that is able to be plowed is true. It is how ever only a part of the food production problem maintain fertility along with the need to keep top soil is far more pressing. The need to make and produce compost from what ever we can is now paramount it would be a way of greening the desert to. The stuff that has now clogged and polluted landfill should have been composted and used to maint in fertility.
    We are going to have to dig up land fills or find some way of processing their contents before to long.
    That there is only a finite amount of plow-able land can not be argued we are all living on one small planet however it is possible to grow more food if we stop producing armaments and war stuff turning swords to plow shears etc. The change that is required to save the human race and the planet nis of a different magnitude to the question of vegetarian or not.

    The capitalist and developed nations need to change the way they farm.

    Stop using developing nations the way we did serfs in the UK during the middle ages.

    The way we grow food farming on the macro scale is part of the problem !
    Local food production, perma-culture, using roofs of buildings, community gardens in city's.
    A whole change in life style is what is required. not the over consumption of capitalist system. This is the cause of the problem in the first instance. .
    If we all try to lived like the new discovered tribe of the Brazilian rain forest we may actually have a chance of living on on this planet otherwise we are going to wipe ourselves out. At least as a civilisation and a technological society and I wont be able to write to news night any more.

    Lets have a clear reasoned debate stating all the possibility not just what happens to be fashion at the time please.
    http://www.permaculture.org.uk/default.asp

    plaistowpedro

  • Comment number 74.

    Like many others I see both sies of the equation. There is food and those that eat it. Too little food just meanstoo many eaters. We have all known about this for a long time now and India, China and Africa must stop breeding in such a prolific way.

  • Comment number 75.

    It is very sad that so many people seem to be so very selfish. I can't understand why. It is obvious that we must all do all we can to lessen all unnecessary suffering, especially the suffering of innocent children. So let's try to be a bit less over-consumptive---eat less meat, give more to charity, learn more about our world and how it can best remain good for all.
    Indeed it is true we need a lower world population, but starving millions to death is not the way to go about it. I wouldn't want to ban the things people enjoy, but the ancient wisdom of following moderation in all things is still very good advice.
    So, no, we needn't all immediately become vegetarians----but if all became occasional vegetarians it would have a profound effect on our world.

  • Comment number 76.

    Follow China's lead and restrict families to one child. It is a practical way to reduce the world's population without putting a ban on sex - though vasectomy is an option.

    Let's face it, while most types of animal life in this world seem to be threatened with extinction, the human variety continues to grow in numbers and make demands which the planet is increasingly having problems coping with.

  • Comment number 77.

    Blimey! You'd think half these people's mothers had just been insulted - a lot of strong feelings on show. Methinks a bit of denial is going on.

    Clearly, humans can live perfectly well on a vegetarian diet - even a vegan one - so the diversion of grain to fatten animals instead of feeding hungry humans is unquestionably a moral issue. At the very least, a modest meat tax might be levied in the west, the proceeds of which could be used to augment the dwindling reserves of the UN food program. That way meat-eaters would have a choice: to help hungry people by eating meat and paying into a fund; or to help by not eating meat so that more grain can be produced.

    The humans that are really doing the damage to the environment and climate - which will make food production even harder - are the same ones that speculate on commodity futures to drive up the price of oil and wheat; the same ones that are consuming the resources of the earth at a rate never before seen in human history: those of us living in Europe and America.

    Because our consumption rates are so high, it only takes a tiny percentage increase in our numbers to equal many millions extra in poorer countries, in terms of carbon footprint (see Monbiot on this for references). Economic activity in the west accounts for more than half the world's emissions but only a few percent of the world's population. In other words, we need to put our own house in order before we start telling Africans and Indians to have fewer babies. Besides, a lot of that Chinese pollution would have been British (or American or German...) had our factories not closed and moved to exploit cheap Chinese labour.

    The era of cheap oil is over. And it takes a lot of oil to produce the seven pounds of grain that go into making a pound of beef. Meat is a luxury that we abuse in our culture. Few stone age humans had a diet that consisted of more than 20% meat (wild meat at that), and it seems to me that if we did the same we would be much healthier as a nation.

  • Comment number 78.

    It is very easy for an Indian to be on a life sustaining vegetarian diet, and very difficult for an Eskimo.
    The nuts and fruits which the vegetarian requires for a balanced and varied diet grow quickly in the tropics and subtropics, and only slowly, or not at all, in temperate and arctic regions, north or south. Therefore, it is easier for a Norwegian to or an Patagonian to obtain the necessary proteins from meat or fish than from cereals.
    So talk of universal conversion to vegetarianism is ridiculous. If we could not import products like nuts or soya in this country, vegetarians would have a pretty boring diet I fancy.

  • Comment number 79.

    These are true facts!!! It is time to wake up and see what you do by your food choice. Dont blame it on other things.... just give up the meat and save the planet.

  • Comment number 80.

    Peter_Sym states that Hitler and Himmler were vegetarians. Hitler certainly WAS NOT a vegetarian. From time to time he gave up eating meat for health reasons on the advice of his doctor; he suffered from stomach problems. The myth that he was a vegetarian is just that - a myth.

    However, many famous people, including Greek, Roman, German, and other, philosophers; famous names in literature and the sciences, were, and are, vegetarians. It is interesting that philosophers appear to top the lists of vegetarians. They are people who THINK and CONSIDER serious issues and so many have come to the conclusion that abusing, killing and eating our fellow creatures - who have done us no harm and cannot defend themselves - is morally corrupt.

  • Comment number 81.

    peter_sym states that Hitler and Himmler were vegetarians. Hitler certainly was not a vegetarian. From time to time he gave up eating meat on the advice of his doctor - for health reasons; he had stomach problems.

    However many famous philosophers, thinkers, writers, humanitarians and scientists, from ancient Greece up to today, were, and are, vegetarians. They are people who consider ethical and moral issues and have come to the conclusion that it is morally indefensible to abuse, kill and eat our fellow creatures who have done us no harm and, unlike us, cannot choose how to behave. We can say "no" to cruelty and, thankfully, many do.

  • Comment number 82.

    I used to eat more meat than
    most thinking it was good for the sports training i was doing at the time. after i researched more into the science of health and nutrition i decided to give the veggie diet a go that was over 12 years ago .i can report that becoming a vegetarian was one of the best lifestyle changes i have ever made the difference is increadable every aspect of my health improved I am now in my forties everyone thinks i am in my late twenties my sex life is fantastic and my body is strong and full of energy. now with all the latest scientific reserch conferming it is also the best choice that all of us can make to save our wonderful planet and our health I now no i made the right choice.So Be a Hero Go veggie Be Green and save the planet.

  • Comment number 83.

    I've heard that there are huge number of animals are raised for food (several times more than human population); therefore, overpopulation is not the problem, but overpopulation of animals raised for food is a serious problem. And it really concerns every aspect of the planet; grain fed to these animals while people are starved to die, water pollution, soil pollution(cannot grow any grains here anymore), atmosphere pollution, destruction of forests (30% of amazon was cut down due to these grains to be fed to animals), destruction of human health immune system, etc.

    Above all, I think human needs to develop LOVE. How can we inflict such tremendous sufferings onto these animals? The cruelty involved in this meat industry is beyond our imagine. Should watch "Meet the Meat." You would not be able to open your eyes. I think we miss one thing in this problem-LOVE.

  • Comment number 84.

    How refreshing to read Peter Sym’s point of view. He is quite correct in his suggestions. The problem however is governments don't do what is right or sensible, they do what they need to maintain their popularity. And some actions are deemed as overly risky, in terms of retaining support, so expedience and acceptable actions win the day.

    As a species we can be so brilliant - yet we are blighted by ignorance. Instead of clear thinking we fall back on prejudice and indoctrination and pandering to the uninformed masses.

  • Comment number 85.

    I hope that no one does use animal remains at all, especially in food for
    all animals to include pigs and chickens.

    Shouldn't you make certain that animal waste and refuse is disposed of somewhat proper? And no sneaking into the ground or anywhere else at all including to food?

    That should be kept totally separated from animals to be used in food; like poultry, pork or beef.

    No animal waste should be used at all, not even before a rain or to fertilize some ground and to prepare for planting any crop.

    No animal waste should be included in any fertilizer at all.

    In my view, every nation should make ready a plan to keep a year's supply of some basic food (which could include some seed too) to have in case of all purpose.

  • Comment number 86.

    the main problem we face on the planet is the rise in human population ,we reduce the population and the generations to come can have a green livable world , failing to go back to 3 billions humans and keeping that level is the end of mankind .we can solve most problems in the short time but we need to llok very long term .

  • Comment number 87.

    This programm made so much sense. We never think about how much it takes to raise all these animals, (grain, water, fields, medicines etc) If these resources go toward humans we will be much better off.
    I think in order to feed the world we should forgo the piece of meat on our plate.
    After all, its also healthier for us and less blood and gore for the animals. Or are we hooked on corpses? I'm weaning myself off.

  • Comment number 88.

    The vegetarian article failed to ask the wider question of what our ultimate goal as a species is. Is it to develop a great civilization with outstanding artistic, scientific and technical achievements, as great civilizations have done in the past? Or is it merely to optimise the number of people that crowd on the planet, much like setting the world record for the number of people in a phone box, only on a larger scale?

    Do we want to create a world where everyone lives in a tiny rabbit hutch and just eats a bowl or rice a day? Even if we did, we would still reach the limit that the Earth's resources could support, and what then? Eat Soylent Green?

  • Comment number 89.

    Vegetarianism?

    Well,It is time to go back to creation and see what God intended us to have for our meals.

    AS a christian who reads the Bible,God gave man a prescription on what to eat at eden-see Chapter 1 of Genesis.

    After the flood due to sin,God prescribed animal products as our food as their was no vegetation.

    The seventh-day-Adventists have in their teachings a vegetarian prescription on health grounds.

    Most medical prescriptions advise vegetarian foods in place of animal food products in particular meat.

    If the above is anything to go by,vegetarianism must be our next dish.

    That is not to say that animals have no value-they can be put to domestic uses such as carrying luggage and ploughing etc.

  • Comment number 90.

    The vegetarian article was very accurate in pinpointing the MAIN CAUSE of global warming which is: raising cattle for meat consumption.

    There is enough scientific evidence to prove the harm meat consumption is doing to our Planet and to our bodies.

    The variety of vegetables available is so vast!! All we have to do is to change our old habit of eating meat ( which have led our beautiful Planet to its near destruction) and start a new one by becoming vegetarians and contributing personally to the recovery of the Earth.

    Now is a time where every single habitant in this Planet need to become aware of the imminent danger of global warming. We no longer can afford to sit back and watch the world go by...

    Thank you BBC for bringing the much needed awareness into global warming.

    We need the media to get more involved in this topic.

    Keep up the good work!!

  • Comment number 91.

    well all you vegies, must not like animals at all cuz if you get your way there won't be a cow or a sheep in the world, because all their grazing land will be ploughed up, winter will be a really depressing site for anyone near the c side, everything will be brown, or have the resemblance of post atomic distruction, with all vegeatables that the bloody super markets won't accept on quality grounds will be left to rot in the fields, great for global warming! no farmed animals to feed these too? what a waste!
    rivers will be cloudy and will all silt up due to run off from all the arable fields left exposed, and the extra nitrogen fertilizer having to be put on to grow the crops because of no natural animal manure( all though i suppose you can eat vegetables grown with human sewage if you want , not me) will be in the rivers, and to be frank BUGG*R them and all the aquatic life that live in them!
    it's time to make the full use of the food we buy, and not discard half a chicken or buying to many vegetables that are wasted. buy sensibley, don't buy pre-packaged potatoes that are washed for instance buy them with the soil on direct from farm shops or that dirty bit in the vegetable section as they will last longer and it only takes a minute to wash them.

    education and common sense will go a long way to reducing your weekly shopping bill, and your impact on the world!

  • Comment number 92.

    manxmeateater - well done for advocating a waste limiting lifestyle, but in other respects you've misunderstood the discussion. Yes, I'd rather see fewer cows around if it means the remaining animals are treated correctly and we should need less, not more arable farming if we eat less meat. What do you think the animals we presently grow eat? Much of the meat overproduction is beef - we could very happily live off the land used to grow grain for beef. Sheep? They tend not to enter the argument as I'm fairly sure there's not the level of overproduction in sheep - do McD's sell lambburgers?

    Oldunelm -

    > No Shooting
    Makes sense - what use would 99% of our population possibly have for a gun?

    > No Hunting
    Good - it's cruel

    > No Smoking
    The smoking ban doesn't stop you from smoking - it just makes the air better for the rest of us.

    > No Alcohol (coming soon)
    Might make sense in the UK, but no I don't see any sign of this, just some common sense advice to try and kerb binge drinking

    > No Driving / cars (soon)
    Hahahaha - ban this and loose all that tax?! No way. I'd be the first to ask for a good alternative for those trips when using the car doesn't make much sense (primarily commuting), but I don't think that's going to happen any time soon either.

    > No Meat eating
    No-one is going to take this away from you, just suggest you might moderate your consumption of it.

    > No Sex (overpopulation)
    Don't be stupid. This isn't 1984 and we're not all Catholics - controlling overpopulation means education and contraception, not mass abstinence.

    > We have a very active NO brigade these days.
    and some very selfish and ignorant 'yes pleases'

  • Comment number 93.

    I found it very refreshing to hear this debate on Newsnight last night. I am also astonished at the extreme reactions on here for no logical reason.

    The fact is that humans are omnivores, which means we can eat both plant and animal matter. Some would argue it is unhealthy for us to be vegetarians but I would argue the opposite. I have not eaten meat for 25 years and exercise extensively daily... and, no, I'm not skeletal. I am actually extremely healthy and fit, and doctors have confirmed that view recently. We can easily live without meat. Now, I feed my cats meat because they are carnivores and have to eat meat. That is the difference between felines and humans and it's about time some humans recognised that meat is a luxury, not an essential for health.

    Even back in the "old days" when I was a child and ate meat, (70s/80s) we only ate meat 2 - 3 days a week. It seems to me that these days meat consumption is excessive and is taking up far too much land .

    I, too, would like to invite fervent meat-eaters to visit a slaughter house and participate in the killing of the animals for their eating pleasure. If they can still do it, good for them and maybe they should consider keeping their own animals for eating purposes. I suspect many would not see it through, though.

    Back to the main discussion, though, my belief is that the world population is too big to sustain, given the resources available. In both developed and undeveloped countries this debate needs to be aired.... big time.

  • Comment number 94.

    I have been a vegetarian since 1978. I did not purposely set out to become a vegetarian. I moved into the Hare Krishna Temple on 55th street in Manhattan, New York City and ate the food cooked and served in the temple, which was completely vegetarian. It was delicious, variegated and healthy. It was a natural progression towards a more spiritual, moral, happy and peaceful human life. Not to mention more economical and ecologically sound.
    The human body is not made for animal consumption. Human teeth are made for grinding, not tearing. Our digestive system is
    also not conducive to meat - eating.
    All living beings have souls. We have no right
    to kill defenseless creatures merely for the satisfaction of our tongues.
    There would be an abundance of fruits and vegetables and grains to satisfy all of our needs if we properly utilized the natural
    resources of this planet.
    There is also the karmic reaction which we
    incur from animal slaughter. Karma, simply stated, means every action has a reaction.
    When we slaughter innocents, our innocents
    are slaughtered. I am talking about our planet full of wars. There may be so many external reasons used to explain them - political, religious, tribal, racial, national, economical, etc... - but they are the direct result of the wholesale slaughter of millions of souls in animal bodies everyday.
    What to speak of abortions! But that is a whole other blog.

  • Comment number 95.

    We have eaten animals forever because of our habit, we only wait to have the meat/fish in our plate at dinner time, but we never actually think and look with our eyes what the animals have go through the tortures before they die for our stomach. When we eat them makes us the same as them. We all eat each other in this planet.
    We live in the big world with plenty of green vegetables and trees. All we need to do is to to plant. It`s the same with the poor countries, they can plant alot of vegetables and live healthy, and don`t need to worry about the starvation. And it doesn`t cost much.
    Why don`t we share the same happiness we have with alot blessings from God for our richdom to the naive, innocents animals just want to live happily, and not scared for the day they will get killed because of our dinner? We all going leave this world some day, so why dont we should think about what it is be like for our animals when we see them at our dinner tables every day?
    Do we actually have happines when they have to suffer?

  • Comment number 96.

    to cake walker- i don't know if you know much about animal rearing but not all animals for slaughter require grains to fatten to finish for slaughter. It all ways was the way that you use the most natural way to finish cattle and sheep , off grass, when cattle were allowed to be slaughtered over 30 months of age it was quite the norm for them to easily be finished of grass to a high quality.

    as for missing the point of the discussion, how can there be a pont to the discussion, i believe the whole point of a debate is for all sides of every argurement to be aired. You cannot have a very serious discussion about something that will effect so many people in the world with out everything being discussed! as for there not being enough food for people in the world, why has the entire E U adopted policies that now do not require farmers to actually produce food to recieve their payments from the gov. Every farmer wants to produce high quality food for it's customers, but joe public will still stuff their own faces with crap, imports from other countrys which have little or no welfare regulations. Start supporting your own farmers instead of beating them down with a stick.

    people need to know all the facts before being led down the wrong path by people just shouting about being vegie and killing cows is cruel. both sides have bad sides. People complaining about how much methane produced by cows every day in the video above, but it also stated that a human could produce 1/2 l of methane a day, last time i heard there was a hell of a lot of people in the world so add all them up its pretty bad, let vegetables in our current diet mahybe better, my arguement could be, but i'm not so stupid as to put that in peoples minds like all the vegies shouting on this forum.

    end

  • Comment number 97.

    Instead of more food, and wasting energy transporting it, how about fewer humans?
    There is a reason for starvation and disease, to cull the heard. Yet each time either mechanism tries t do its job, we intervene. The result is an even larger generation of starving humans.
    Any ecosystem dominated by one species is bound to failure, but we persist in saving more humans for the larger catastrophe to come.
    Let Nature take its course.

  • Comment number 98.

    manxmeateater - you're right, I'm not a farmer hence my understanding is based on reading about current farming practices. I'm aware there are better, more natural alternatives to these practices, but they're not pursued extensively yet. As far as I'm aware that's due to the high demand for cheap meat, just as you say. I agree wholeheartedly with you that we should treat livestock with more respect and adopt better farming methods. Do you think the current level of meat production could be maintained if practices improved? Do you think the current level should be maintained? I take it less intensive farming methods are more labour intensive - perhaps this is an over simplification, but if we reared less meat, reared it properly and sold it at a sensible price (ie., higher than at present) I don't see how this would cost farmers their jobs. As you say, the key thing is probably to convince the likes of McDonalds and their clientele that this needs to happen.

    nb., finishing on pasture - surely the animal has to eat something still prior to this stage? How much would that be (in terms of grain etc.) compared to not finishing on pasture?

  • Comment number 99.

    kafkaz wrote : Instead of more food, and wasting energy transporting it, how about fewer humans? Would you be the first volunteer for the starvation and disease mechanism you describe? I think not.
    Overpopulation is a myth. Food scarcity is a man-made problem caused by greed. Farmers are paid by governments not to grow crops so that agribusinesses and their partners in crime in the respective governments and stock market gamblers can profit on the resulting scarcity. There is more than enough land available to produce crops to feed all.
    I am not a "vegie" and you are not a "meatie". That is misidentification with our temporary material bodies. We are all children of God and as such, all of us, including the animals, have a right to live out our natural lives, sharing equally in the facilities God gave us on this planet. There is complete arrangement in nature for everyone's maintenance.
    Modern "civilization" is misdirected towards
    the false gods of economic development and technological advancement. The result has been an easy life for the very few and a harsh existence for the many. The real goal should be love of our neighbor, all of our neighbors. Where is the conscience of our "human" society?
    Even in some of the blogs on this subject I read people so callously talking of slaughtering animals as if they are devoid of compassion. If you kick your pet dog or cat does he not cry? How is it different for cows and pigs, etc...? Animals feel pain just as we feel pain. They are conscious living beings.
    Because we are separated by miles and miles from the slaughterhouse we have become desensitized from the bloody killing.
    The carcass is wrapped in a fancy package
    and sold by a friendly grocer and we pop it in the microwave and in a few minutes there it is - guilt free instant gratification.
    Try going to the forest and with your bare hands capture and kill your favorite animal and eat it right there, fresh and uncooked, like the rest of the predators do and see how much you enjoy your meal.

  • Comment number 100.

    It is obvious to me personally that on every level a person benefits from being a vegetarian..

    Health-wise, environmentally, ethically, morally, emotionally, mentally.
    As more people adopt vegetarianism, society and the world at large also benefit. There is more peace, internally within the individual but also externally in the world.
    The violence that we impose on animals is the same violence that creates war and violence in society.

    But imposing vegetarianism on anyone is also a form of violence, people need to make their own choices, in the light of awareness and wisdom.

 

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