1. The world's best reading app

    Great articles, no ads. Get started for free.

    NoahpinionNoah Smith8/30/219 min
    16 reads18 comments
    7.1
    Noahpinion
    16 reads
    7.1
    You must read the article before you can post or reply.
    • coljac
      Scout
      2 months ago

      Regarding factory farming, he's not wrong on the moral and environmental costs. But it's hard to respect someone who says "I am a monster" but dismisses the relatively simple expedient of eating less meat in favour of a decades-off technological solution from the lab. Something about this makes me think of "carbon capture" spruikers; technology will fix things so we don't have to change our lifestyles. Whew.

      Yes, most people won't become vegetarians, but if you're motivated enough to write this article, why dismiss vegetarianism for the few who can and will manage it? I wasn't a vegetarian for most of my life, then I became one. I knew everything about the costs of meat, and eventually I just decided to face that little voice in the back of my head. It was an interesting experience, because once I stopped a whole lot of empathy for the animals appeared as if out of nowhere. I must have been suppressing it - cognitive dissonance. Smith conjures up the empathy and then sets it aside as something for the next generation to deal with.

    • Alexa2 months ago

      Man I'm late to the party on this one.

      This statement needs a major correction:

      And here is another thing that’s true: Animal farming is a barbaric, morally hideous practice.

      Concentrated, confinement animal farming is barbaric, yes sirree. I do agree there, but other forms of animal husbandry are not only kind to the animals but a cornerstone of regenerative agriculture.

      I raise my own meat, my chickens have at least a half acre of fresh pasture they're rotated through, the turkeys even more. The cows we buy have acres of grass.

      Sure, all of them have one bad day (when they die) but this is moral outrage and spon con for lab meat dressed up as the truth.

      It takes a metric crapton of fossil fuels to power that fake meat lab, so it's hard to agree cow flatulence is that much worse. And while I am all for digging into it if you are really opposed to killing an animal, but this can't be dressed up as the only truth.

      I'm learning a lot about solutions journalism lately. It's a form of journalism that looks at a problem, like CAFOs being fucked, and explores the different solutions and what's working, and isn't. It's not always black and white, but it allows people to explore and understand the nuances of problematic parts of the world.

      This is not solutions journalism. This is a rant. If we put this much energy into convincing people they could have their cow (and eat it too) by supporting and better understanding sustainable, ethical animal husbandry I'd argue there'd be a lot more progress towards changing peoples minds.

      (Solutions Journalism if you're curious, here: https://www.solutionsjournalism.org/ )

      • jeff
        Scout
        2 months ago

        Great comment! I was hoping you'd have something to say about this one.

        This is not solutions journalism. This is a rant.

        100%. I am curious about Solutions Journalism and will check out that site.

        If we put this much energy into convincing people they could have their cow (and eat it too) by supporting and better understanding sustainable, ethical animal husbandry I'd argue there'd be a lot more progress towards changing peoples minds.

        But if you attempt to change someone's mind they might unsubscribe from your Substack!

        • Alexa2 months ago

          But if you attempt to change someone's mind they might unsubscribe from your Substack!

          hahahahahah, TRUE. Just here for the echo chamber...

          It's funny they called for pouring government money at the problem. As a seething not-fan of ag subsidies that ruffled me. Isn't lab meat in stores? If anything the market has just shown it's got a PR problem, people aren't buying it.

          If you want your lab meat, eat yo lab meat. Be my guest. Just don't make me pay for it. I'm raising Narragansett turkeys at the mo, a breed that got down to less than ten breeders in the world in the early 2000s when consumer's taste had shifted to double breasted frankenturkeys. If you don't eat them, hardy heritage breeds disappear.

          That's the most interesting part of the related ethics convo to me. Do you want them to not suffer? We can agree on that entirely...but do you want them to exist? Because that requires eating the livestock we love. No one is going to raise them otherwise (ok, maybe a handful of pets but still) A world without meat from the bone is a world without cows, turkeys, chickens etc...No thanks.

          I was really pleased to find that Solutions Journalism was a thing, and that it was being pushed about some. There is 100% a space for writing articles that make people feel seen and have their beliefs validated. TBH, I love articles like that for certain reasons. But it's not going to make change, lets be honest about that!

          There's this book called Think Again, by Adam Grant or something. It's about what it takes to change minds, and to change our own mind. It's typically showing people you respect them, and then showing them alternatives (and other tactics).

          I'm a monster, you're monster...that sort of thing just slams your brain (and it's ability to rewrite beliefs) shut like a shy clam. I want better for the world of written debate & arguments!

    • jeff
      Scout
      3 months ago

      Say countenance again

      Seriously though, I found this guy's tone really off-putting which is unfortunate because lab-grown meat is a really interesting topic. He's a monster, all humans are monsters, but at the same time he's enlightened because he would eat lab-grown meat exclusively, unlike those horrible iconoclasts and contrarians? C'mon.

      As many other readers have already pointed out, some farming methods are much worse than others. There's a lot of nuance missing here. Also, it's absurd to equate those who would be hesitant to consume lab-grown tissue with the people who revel in spewing diesel particulates into the air.

      Humans have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to eat naturally-grown plants and animals. Just recently in the past 150 years or so we've seen that technologically-advanced food processing does not necessarily yield more nutritious food. Often it's quite the opposite. It seems perfectly reasonable to me to be excited but also skeptical of the idea of lab-grown meat.

      That future is still quite a ways away. In the mean time this dude should take a chill pill and do some reading on regenerative agriculture.

      • Karenz
        Scribe
        2 months ago

        Jeff, thanks SO much for nuance!! This article was focused mainly on factory farming which is abhorrent. Alexa’s approach IS much more humane and certainly a happier life for the animals. Having read Temple Grandin on more humane slaughter there is such a thing.

        • jeff
          Scout
          2 months ago

          Totally agree! I hadn't heard of Temple Grandin before. I'll have to check out her work. Thanks!

    • vunderkind3 months ago

      I'd back tissue-grown meat. Would you?

      • Florian
        Reading streak
        3 months ago

        To try as a gimmick, yes. As regular diet, no.

        I’d rather keep having my organically grown and ethically farmed piece of cow. I guess I’m part of that minority that the author thinks will eventually dwindle away. I’m not so sure about that tbh

        • bill
          Top reader of all time
          3 months ago

          Yep. I've been going back and forth all day on this, but I think I'm with Florian. I'm not quite against the tissue-grown meat. But I'm also not totally comfortable with it.

          • Karenz
            Scribe
            3 months ago

            What gives me hope that we could eventually end animal farming is the beginning of the end of dog meat farms in Thailand, Korea and other countries. Because we value dogs in our culture, many activists are horrified by farming dogs for their meat and the Soi Dog Foundation and other international groups are rescuing the dogs, shutting down the farms and helping the farmers learn other types of farming. It goes back to a respect for nature and all creatures. I do think there’s value in the meantime of treating farm animals and slaughtering them more humanely.

      • KapteinB
        Top reader this weekScoutScribe
        3 months ago

        Absolutely. If they manage to make it as tasty as "real" meat, I'd even be willing to pay extra for the knowledge that no animals had to suffer for my dinner.

    • Florian
      Reading streak
      3 months ago

      I love meat, and I’m eager to switch to the tissue-cultured variety. After tissue-culture meat becomes cheaper than animal-farmed meat, there will be holdouts who insist that they won’t eat “fake” meat, just as there are now people who refuse Covid vaccines and insist on blasting diesel smoke into the air

      Wow... there is a lot in this section that I’m super uncomfortable with

      • SEnkey3 months ago

        What makes me uncomfortable about that statement is that it leaves no room for reasonable disagreement. If I keep my own chickens, pig, and cow is that really the same as the industrial meat industry/ vaccine skeptics, and diesel smoke blowers?

        • KapteinB
          Top reader this weekScoutScribe
          3 months ago

          This article is about factory farming specifically. It would have been nice if the author took the time to write about backyard farming (as well as organic farming, fish farms, fishing/hunting, and production of non-meat animal products (like milk , cheese, and eggs)), but he seems to have deemed it outside the scope of this article.

          If I keep my own chickens, pig, and cow is that really the same as the industrial meat industry/ vaccine skeptics, and diesel smoke blowers?

          While it's definitely not the same, many would argue it's still unethical. Even if you treat them well, you're still keeping animals in captivity, with the intention of eventually killing them. I can definitely see some moral objections to that.

        • Florian
          Reading streak
          3 months ago

          Yes!! 💯

        • bill
          Top reader of all time
          3 months ago

          Exactly.

    • Pegeen
      Top reader this weekScoutScribe
      3 months ago

      This is such an important article. I remember reading Diet for a New America by John Robbins back in 1987. I was in college studying nutrition. This book really shook me up, so much so, that I became a vegetarian. Something I adhered to from the age of 19 up until age 50. I even raised both of my children as lacto-ovo vegetarians. However, once I was menopausal, I felt my diet was not sustainable any more. Back then there were a lot of soy alternatives but little did I know that the estrogen like affect of it was what was making me ill. I cut out all of the alternative mass produced products and added some fish, chicken and turkey once those options were available in the organic, humanely raised form. Animal farming is as horrific as this article proclaims. I do think it’s important to educate oneself as to what the practices are - it’s hair raising! And the damage to the environment is a huge factor in the desire for alternatives.