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    The New York Times Company | Jonathan Safran Foer | 5/21/20 | 8 min
    36 reads39 comments
    7.7
    The New York Times Company
    36 reads
    7.7
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    • Pegeen
      Reading streakScoutScribe
      4 months ago

      This IS a very emotional topic, which is where I would like to enter the conversation. When I think about my own journey and experience with diet/food consumption, what I’m remembering is how much love I felt when eating and preparing food for myself and family. Whether I’m vegetarian or not is no longer the issue - more, it’s my feelings about my choices. I agree that any form of animal abuse is not good. There is no doubt that I would be taking in all the horrors and abuse, energy wise, from the food sourced in that environment. Which is why I always endeavor to choose only organic, humanely certified food sources. I do care about the animals, our environment and what’s best for all concerned. I am mindful of love in my choices - of loving myself, my family, my planet, my Source. There is such joy and celebration in food and I want that joy in all areas of the process.

    • turtlebubble
      Scout
      4 months ago

      A moving and lyrical call to action.

      • Plum4 months ago

        Agree we should cook more for so many reasons and I am not a good cook but keep trying. Michael Pollan wrote his most fascinating book on this subject -Cooked. Really fascinating- cooking is how we evolved

    • thorgalle4 months ago

      Wow, what a Readup test! Many strong and problematic points in the article, and a real discussion here.

      In general I think it's good that we're collectively cooking more, whether plant-based or not. This indeed makes us reflect on food more.

      I’ve been eating primarily vegan for about 5 years. It started from the unconventional reason that veggie food was easier to cook & cheaper as a student, then I had this period where I got alarmed over factory farming from a sustainability & ethical perspective (eg. by watching Cowspiracy and reading Peter Singer's Animal Liberation). Now it's more a habit than anything else.

      So I'm inclined by my confirmation bias to agree with most of what the article is recommending. But as pointed out here, the article also makes plain weird statements, including:

      The ultimate dream of the animal-agriculture industrial complex is for “farms” to be fully automated. Transitioning toward plant-based foods and sustainable farming practices would create many more jobs than it would end.

      Heh? Why would plant-based food plants not aim to be automated? The unique problem with automation in animal factory farms is not a loss of jobs. It's that it's an unscrupulous killing machine with as little regard for animal & worker welfare as possible, all for the sake of cold capitalistic efficiency.

      As Jeff & Alexa say I think, we should focus on dealing with the factory farming issue rather than taking extreme positions on meat consumption as a whole. I agree, but it's not trivial to switch to more sustainable meat practices. At the same time, I'm all for positive reinforcement of the veggie/vegan movement and related products. Meat is still dominating the scene, that should change.

    • Alexa
      Scout
      4 months ago

      This opinion piece is a little full on and I'm not totally on board. Its a CTA to switch to plant based foods...but these "plant" based foods (like impossible meat) are made in manufacturing plants that give me pause for how healthy & biologically appropriate they really are. Spon con from the lobbyists perhaps? I'm all in for complementary proteins as part of a healthy plant based diet but I don't see anyone promoting the benefits of a 50lb bag of legumes here.

      It's a little concerning to throw all forms of meat production under the bus like this. I recently bought half a cow with a friend, a happy grass fed bovine who not only lived a biological appropriate life but helped sustain the grasslands that he lives on. Grasslands lock up a ton of carbon, and they don't work without ruminants.

      Good reading on this is "Sowing Seeds in the Desert' by Masanobu Fukuoka. CAFOs are broken, they are horrid and if it came down to factory food or plant based, yes go plant based, but i'd be wary to throw other, soil-building regenerative ag methods under the bus with them.

      And...yes I'm glad the horrors of these processing plants etc are coming to light with Covid. My hope is it drives people who are committed to animal protein to support sustainable methods and help our country make a much needed shift away from subsidies and that nonsense.

      • thorgalle4 months ago

        Good points!

        I'm all in for complementary proteins as part of a healthy plant based diet but I don't see anyone promoting the benefits of a 50lb bag of legumes here.

        100% agree. The "plant-based meats" are a welcome option from an environmental/ethical perspective, but if you care about health primarily it's always better to eat to less processed. I find it sad if debates about plant-based food turn into discussions over plant-based meat. That misses the point.

        I recently bought half a cow with a friend, a happy grass fed bovine who not only lived a biological appropriate life but helped sustain the grasslands that he lives on.

        This is something I often hear as a pro-meat argument. Eating meat is not bad in itself (environmentally, even ethically). And I tend to agree. Because the environmental/ethical arguments against meat are in many ways connected to the vices of factory farming.

        But here's the problem: who's actually doing it? I'm happy you are. The reality of most meat is cheap, subsidized, factory-farmed meat picked up at the supermarket. Stepping away from that reality involves much higher prices, lower quantity, and less convenience.

        My hope is it drives people who are committed to animal protein to support sustainable methods and help our country make a much needed shift away from subsidies and that nonsense.

        Definitely. And in that sense, I agree with the article that factory farming should be severely curtailed politically, if not stopped. The vocal vegetarian/vegan movements deserve some credit there, if they're not pointing out the horrifying reality of factory farms, we probably wouldn't be talking about it.

      • jeff
        Top reader this weekReading streakScribe
        4 months ago

        Well said! I was raised vegetarian but recently developed severe migraines and eventually traced the cause to soy products. Years ago I also stopped consuming dairy due to health and ethical concerns and started eating sustainably caught (whenever possible) seafood. The world is not nearly as black and white as the author makes it out to be. They didn't even mention hunting which is probably as high up on the humane/sustainable scale you can go!

        • Alexa
          Scout
          4 months ago

          Yes, totally. I was reading through your response and thinking the same exact thing. It concerns me when the rhetoric gets too "this or that, no in-between" bc it makes people naturally dig their heels in on their ideals even further when they feel threatened.

          I'm a farm girl at heart and would love to see more conversation around what it takes to create better food systems. I'd definitely like to see more balanced explorations of this topic, but maybe I have to write them myself ha.

    • BetSheWet4 months ago

      These are not my or anyone’s opinions Yes they are. Also, there’s low evidence of red meat having adverse health impacts.

    • turtlebubble
      Scout
      4 months ago

      I had to re-read it after reading all the comments. I found it really interesting as a long time vegan who owns & operates a couple vegan businesses. I really rarely find veg-minded-media that I enjoy & feel comfortable sharing. I hate the shame & extremity that so many authors & creators employ to try to get their message across. I’ve encountered people interested in vegan food but afraid of being judged for not following a strict edict. I would enthusiastically tell them that thinking about what you’re eating & not being afraid of vegan food is all I ever hope for anyone, and my reading of this article was mostly that!

      I’ve known so many people who have decided to refuse to consider any change in diet. Maybe because they’ve been exhausted by so many who lecture & shame that it’s become necessary to be on the defensive. I understand that whole heartedly. I feel like this author was trying to speak to those people directly. And maybe the fact-praising is problematic as Jeff’s car analogy pointed out but I feel this is also out of frustration in trying to appeal to those who have become so turned off to the conversation. My understanding was more like using facts about the negative impacts of car travel to try to help people consider incorporating alternatives. Like as if there was a war going on between drivers and bike riders where the bike riders were so incessantly preachy that some drivers decided they’re never going to go anywhere not in a car. I think the call to action is not to eliminate it altogether but almost to undo some of the damage caused by animal rights zealots who have caused some meat eaters to stop listening to anything on the subject, and even strengthening the ties to diet & identity on both sides. I read this as an attempt to inject some rationale into a dialog that has gone from personal & nuanced to vindictive.

      1. Update (5/23/2020):

        Loling now realizing that this article clearly still came off as preachy & off-putting to some.. I guess the main difference for me was the repeated phrase of rethinking eating meat regularly, and the focus on factory farms, not eliminating meat consumption all together.

      • bill
        Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
        4 months ago

        Turtlebubs! Excellent thoughts. Excellent convo. Just as energizing as my morning coffee! 😎 🌞

        There’s a lot of concern these days about not sounding “preachy” but the downside is that people with passion (who are right) are drowned out by noise and confusion. But sometimes we don’t need to “see all sides.” Sometimes there should be no confusion. This, to me, is one of those cases.

        There are few lifestyle/personal decisions that have such a huge positive impact as going fully plant-based. You vote with your actions, your fork, your money, etc. Vegetarians have every right to preach - it’s a good message! The problem isn’t vegetarians sounding preachy. It’s non-vegetarians thinking that some kind of rebuttal or explanation is necessary. It isn’t. Because there isn’t one.

        That’s why I liked this article. It takes the rebuttals, one after another, and just says “no, no, no.”

        This doesn’t mean that you’re evil if you have a beef burger! It just means that this debate should move from “Is it good/right to be vegetarian?” to “How and why do we make good/right decisions, as individuals?” The second question is so much more fun after we have a solid “yes” to the first question.

        1. Update (5/23/2020):

          The bike/car example is such a great one. It’s a bit different because lots of bikers still hop in cars quite frequently. Bikes aren’t a full replacement for cars the way that veggies and plants can fully replace animal meat. Regardless, can’t stop thinking about this:

          Like as if there was a war going on between drivers and bike riders where the bike riders were so incessantly preachy that some drivers decided they’re never going to go anywhere not in a car.

          Lol, so I guess what I’m saying is just: Don’t be like that, people! Hear the dang preach! Listen. Swallow it whole. Then, if you want, join the team or don’t. But don’t fight shit purely because it’s “over-zealous” or whatever. That’s pointless.

        • jeff
          Top reader this weekReading streakScribe
          4 months ago

          I've never had a hamburger in my life but reading this comment makes me want to eat one.

          The problem isn’t vegetarians sounding preachy. It’s non-vegetarians thinking that some kind of rebuttal or explanation is necessary. It isn’t. Because there isn’t one.

          This is such utter bullshit. I can't imagine anyone but a meat industry lobbyist troll saying such a thing. Do you not realize that such absolutism actively undermines the ability to affect the change that you claim to think is so important? You've either got to be pretty ignorant of human psychology or care more about virtue signalling and being on the right side of an argument than actually having a positive impact.

          • turtlebubble
            Scout
            4 months ago

            But going back to my observational experience in this conversation as a whole - your reaction to Bill’s comment is anticipating the same kind of defensive response to a persons’ personal choice. Why is that inherent to human psychology? I think Bill is saying it shouldn’t be debatable that anyone who is making personal changes that decrease their carbon footprint is a positive thing. For some reason when it comes to a meatless diet people want to dispute the positive impacts, more so I think than someone who chooses to bike more than drive or install solar panels on their roof. I think it’s digested as a threat to ones personal freedoms because the advocates have been so evangelical. It must be having a name and rules for it. Maybe that feels intrinsically elitist and thus aggressive even when idle. But I don’t think it has to be that way and I think I’d be nice if we could work to take that out of the equation. Working towards being less reactionary & more thoughtful, again “on both sides.”

            Maybe it is modern human nature to dismiss something that sounds obnoxious. If someone told me “oh, yea I’d love to go to the beach but I don’t support car driving, I’ll meet you there on my bike because I’m a bike-an.” I’d probably spend the whole drive there talking about what an asshole they were. But hopefully I’d eventually get to a place where I’d say why do I feel the need to attack them? They’re just doing their thing and maybe I should consider biking more in my life, too.

            • jeff
              Top reader this weekReading streakScribe
              4 months ago

              ...your reaction to Bill’s comment is anticipating the same kind of defensive response to a persons’ personal choice. Why is that inherent to human psychology?

              It's not a response to someone's personal choice, but to declaring that "sometimes we don't need to see all sides" and that there isn't a rebuttal to vegetarianism or veganism.

              I can't believe I'm finding myself on this side of the argument, but there are of course rebuttals to being a vegetarian or vegan. The ultimate way to reduce your carbon footprint would be to not exist! I don't think any sane person would advocate for that. So we're all somewhere in between, making choices about what works best for us.

              Which brings us to the preaching. What are you trying to accomplish with it? Do you want to persuade others to make changes in their lives in order to further an agenda that you care about? Or do you just want to let everyone know how right you are about something (which I'd argue accomplishes the exact opposite)?

            • bill
              Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
              4 months ago

              Ten upvotes for these two parts:

              It must be having a name and rules for it. Maybe that feels intrinsically elitist and thus aggressive even when idle. But I don’t think it has to be that way and I think I’d be nice if we could work to take that out of the equation.

              If someone told me “oh, yea I’d love to go to the beach but I don’t support car driving, I’ll meet you there on my bike because I’m a bike-an.” I’d probably spend the whole drive there talking about what an asshole they were.

              Finally, YES, this is exactly what Bill is saying:

              I think Bill is saying it shouldn’t be debatable that anyone who is making personal changes that decrease their carbon footprint is a positive thing.

              Let's literally just say, "You go gurl!" (or the gender-neutral equivalent) to these people, each other, and all smile and high five.

    • jeff
      Top reader this weekReading streakScribe
      4 months ago

      I was ready to be on board with most of this, but assertions like this really put me off:

      These are not my or anyone’s opinions, despite a tendency to publish this information in opinion sections. And the answers to the most common responses raised by any serious questioning of animal agriculture aren’t opinions.

      Maybe I'm overly sensitive because of the pandemic, but I think it should be even more clear now than ever that facts, science and data aren't the be-all and end-all of policy making. I get what the author is trying to say, but if you follow that logic then you can make a really solid case for completely banning cars as well. We'd save tens of thousands of lives every year and radically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These are incontrovertible facts!

      I say we focus instead on the issues related to factory farms and any subsidies and special treatment that they receive (think ag-gag laws). I think plenty of people could have their minds changed if they were aware of the horrors that go on in some of those facilities. Let's also not pretend that there is only one solution to the problem and shut down the possibility of alternative points of view.

      • jackdille
        Scout
        4 months ago

        I think plenty of people could have their minds changed if they were aware of the horrors that go on in some of those facilities.

        I was thinking the same thing! I was kind of imagining a Netflix slaughterhouse documentary that would do the trick.

      • pandemia4 months ago

        Facts and science should not guide policy? If you say so, Trump won. Saaad.

        • jeff
          Top reader this weekReading streakScribe
          4 months ago

          I didn't say that, just that such information alone is not enough, which I think my example of banning cars demonstrates is true.

    • sjwoo4 months ago

      I was a die-hard meat eater until I read Yuval Noah Harari's Sapiens. Since reading that book a couple of years ago, I've eaten very little meat. I eat plenty of fish and if I'm stuck with horrible choices, I'll eat the very occasional chicken or turkey (haven't had beef in a couple of years).

      If you haven't had an Impossible Burger, you're missing out! Very meaty, but without the grease. That's what I miss the least when I come into contact with meat nowadays -- it all tastes super fatty and greasy.

      • jackdille
        Scout
        4 months ago

        I just read that section last night! I was straight up depressed afterward but felt bolstered in our choice to no longer eat any meat. Great book and author.

    • jackdille
      Scout
      4 months ago

      I thoroughly enjoyed and agree with most of the article. At this point I'm a pescetarian, and pretty easily and happily swapped all red meat for mushrooms, beans, and tofu. It wasn't that hard at all. We reached this decisionas a couple after watching "Forks over Knives" and another documentary with compelling evidence regarding heart disease and meat consumption. Also, just last night, I read a section in "Sapiens" that made me never want to eat meat again as he discussed the emotional torture of modern farm animals.

      Also this is the most active comment section I've seen on ReadUp, which just shows how near and dear food is!

    • caleb4 months ago

      can't touch plants, can't touch animals, can't touch the earth. got it. what am i supposed to do?

      • jeff
        Top reader this weekReading streakScribe
        4 months ago

        can't touch plants

        Where are you getting this from?

        • caleb4 months ago

          not the ones we eat, the other ones. his call against human progress for the sake of stopping climate change and stopping industrial complexes probably includes not clearing out natural habitats in favor of more factories.

          • bill
            Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
            4 months ago

            I didn’t get “against human progress” vibes at all here. I kept thinking the opposite: that I was reading and thinking about the future. And some things that are inevitably going to happen.

            We don’t need more factories. We need more natural habitats. They’re literally priceless. We can agree on that right? (Then maybe disagree on how to get there lol)

            An all-knowing alien looking at our planet and way of life right now wouldn’t be like, “Unfortunately, the economy hasn’t quite been moving fast enough recently.” Even now. They’d be like, “Holy moly these people need to protect the web of life all around them. They’re peein’ and poopin’ everywhereeeeee. And it’s not even making them any happier to consume so much.”

            • caleb4 months ago

              he literally says shut it all down and become farmers. so stop doing whatever you're doing, now you have to farm. that's very depressing.

              a pro-human life argument for more nature and less climate change would say to figure out how to make factories and farms differently, not shut everything down.

              • jeff
                Top reader this weekReading streakScribe
                4 months ago

                I think there's plenty to criticize about this article and I think the author's position is a little extreme, but I think your reading into his statements is pretty extreme as well. I don't think a call to end "factory farming" (certainly an unfortunately vague term) should be misconstrued into a call for some sort of Maoist Cultural Revolution 2.0 forced restructuring of the entire economy.

              • bill
                Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
                4 months ago

                Lolol. But it’d be so fun if we were all farmin’ again! But yes, if we’re forced to, that would be dystopian and depressing.

                Agree completely w second paragraph.

      • pandemia4 months ago

        You are kidding, right? If facts and data are not enough to have a fair discussion, I think we can stop to have a conversation about anything. What’s the point?

        • caleb4 months ago

          a suggestion to stop eating meat is not data.

          • bill
            Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
            4 months ago

            No but there is some data for sure. For me, the article brought together a bunch of disconnected thoughts I’ve been having recently. Like:

            Most American adults eat roughly twice the recommended intake of protein — including vegetarians, who consume 70 percent more than they need.

            It’s compelling because it reinforces my existing (deeper, animal) feelings: I eat too much, too much of it is processed, and in so many cases I could do better by just scrapping the meat altogether. As a lifelong practice, I want to lower my ecological footprint. Walk lighter. Not for other people, or to show off, but for me, because I like it more that way.

            I’m so fried on labels these days, but it does feel important in a case like this for us to have and use all the words we can to describe non-meat eaters of all stripes and levels (vegans at the top of the virtue castle) so we can all recognize them for the legit public service their lifestyle entails. This article makes that plain. Right? I mean, we can disagree on whether or not we should all be vegetarians, but there’s no reason to disagree that vegetarians are doing something great for society. Right?

            (Just like, say, people who don’t fly.)

            • jeff
              Top reader this weekReading streakScribe
              4 months ago

              I think the protein stats were one of the weakest parts of the article. Government dietary recommendations are garbage. The history of the USDA food pyramid proves that. In addition, even well-run independent studies on what constitutes adequate nutrition don't map neatly to any individual's personal dietary needs. Telling people they're eating more protein than they need is nuts. People need to listen to their own bodies and make up their own minds.

    • Plum4 months ago

      Wow. Amazing that meat is such an emotional subject. Important to know. I don’t eat meat for many reasons but as a nurse practitioner I try to encourage my patients to cut back or cut out meat. This would drastically reduce heart disease, obesity and cancer. Best thing (except for exercise and sleep) you can do for your health and it would certainly decrease a lot of misery on earth by shutting down factory farms and feed lots.

    • pandemia4 months ago

      If slaughterhouses are covid hotspots and public health can’t do anything to stop them, I am sorry but I would not feel safe in USA right now. You have plenty of smart people in CDC but they are useless if that’s the end result. Facts speak for themselves

    • joanne4 months ago

      Right on.... I’ve been a vegetarian for over forty years. I think we have to seriously reconsider the meat industry in this country.

    • bill
      Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
      4 months ago

      OK. Yes. I needed this. As of now, I'm a vegetarian (again).

      I've been gettin' sloppy (can't even mention some of the things) but there is no doubt that eating meat (these days, in the USA) is out of line with my values/principals. Donezo.

    • Jank4 months ago

      100%