But what if I just have my own cow, without any implication to the rest of the world?

Where does the food come from to feed the cow… where do the babies go that you must breed to have cow milk… how do you justify the water consumption of the cow… just so you can have a little bit of animal protein when plant protein is just as good?

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But isn’t there some way to raise animals sustainably for consumption?

Not really. The level humans have already messed with ecosystems through animal breeding and care taking is far beyond any other activity that we’ve done so far.

As long as we are depending on animal products, the situation becomes more complicated because we are self managing a system that is largely unnatural– reproducing them more than they likely would otherwise, growth of numbers without natural predation, confined spaces that radically transform contained plant species and soil structure.
If we were to tear down our fences, and boundaries between homes, it might be a better way to raise animals… going with someone who herds them from place to place.. however in India that’s been done and it’s not been working for them, soils are degraded, plant species are few and many places are barren, so they end up feeding goats and cows trash.  It’s also unnatural because we use species outside of their natural habitat.  To me it boils down to, the unnaturalness of managing, breeding and living off of arbitrary species outside of their natural habitats  in confined spaces– especially at the expense of our health, ecosystem health and unnecessary suffering to the animals. No matter how you slice it, over the long term, with our human population it doesn’t fit that well.
Animal sanctuaries are something that I do like to support, because these animal industries do leave behind many sentient victims. In these situations, the animals are not being bred, but allowed to live out their lives free from abuse.  The number of animals in sanctuaries pales compares to animals on farms being bred.  But these living situations are still largely unnatural, they compact the soil, eliminate plant species.. it’s the nature of the game. If you have a large enough plot of land, this can be minimized with something like rotational grazing that allows soils a rest from the constant packing. It’s a common feature that in animal fields, from the weight and movement of these large herbivores they often create hardpans under the soil.  Trees are always a plus, but they also take away from ground space for easily accessible plants, which economically, may not give the same returns for the space in terms of food for the animals. Unless it’s a type of tree that animals are happy to eat, and managers are able to harvest leaves in unreachable places for the animals.  The more space an animal has, the better off the system will be, however large tracts of land, can promote the issue of deforestation, which happens regularly in the US, because of ‘grass-fed’ cattlehttp://www.worldwatch.org/node/549, http://www.pnas.org/content/111/33/11996 . Some large herbivores instinctually won’t enter forests, since it’s harder for them to see and escape threat. Maybe if the animals have no where else to go, they could become accustomed to it. I think pigs are pretty good in forest settings however, they are notorious for digging up roots and overturning soil. Which can be a good thing if you are getting ready for planting, but again, the most natural thing is for them to have access to large tracts of land, enough land that the forest floor can rejuvenate, while they wander around.  For 1 cow you need about 2.5 acres of land.  It comes with the rest of the problems however, water supply– 2,000 gallons of water goes into a gallon of milk. Animals are taxing on the environment, they are because we are breeding them in exceedingly unnatural supply, which they wouldn’t have gotten to that point in the wild.
Of course the smaller the animal, the less impact they will have on vegetation and soil, per amount of space given.
Otherwise to most sustainably consume animal products, if humans could learn how to hunt the weak and the sick from abundant populations of local animals that would probably be the least taxing on the environment– or already dead like roadkill.
But why cause unnecessary suffering when you don’t need to? Or damage your health by consuming animal products when you don’t need to.  There’s just no reason…. experiment more with vegan foods, arbitrary texture is not a good enough reason to  sacrificing our health, the planet and other animals… and those textures can be found in plants!! It’s really only about texture because, meat is typically always prepared with plants for taste.. and minerals, like salt and pepper.

But humans are at the center of the universe

It’s unfortunate but I see this all of the time. People claiming that human beings are the apex of all of creation.

So ultimately we humans believe that animals are resources, how is it then, that most find animal factory farming monstrous then?

Some claim humans have been using animals since the beginning of time, and why should we ever think about changing?

Do you really believe that if we have always used animals for, food, shelter, clothing, that that justifies it as sane or good? In the face currently of ecological collapse on multiple fronts –oceanic and all lands?

Humans have always been at war with one another since as long as we are aware of, does that make war good or sane?

Humans have traditionally had much lower life spans, about half of what we have today, does that make shorter life spans sane or good?

Today, our extent to animal manipulation is much more than it ever has been, are you then against this? Animal testing for pharmaceuticals, make-up, house hold products, random experimental designs for ‘science’.

To what extent do you believe animals more resemble plants or rocks than they do humans? To what extent do you believe that animals have no capacity to care for themselves or others or their life? To what extent are Humans more aware, more conscious, more able than animals?

We just happen to be really good with tools, apart from that, I only actually see animals being often times, much more intelligent than us. We are the only species, who has managed to shift the ecosystem so much, that not only are we annihilating our own species, but we are bringing just about every other species down with us. If that isn’t a huge failure of intelligence, I’m not sure what is.

Just because something is weaker than us, I’m not sure how that justifies us, making full use of it. It’s the patriarchal mindset, use what can be used for your own means. Use other races for slaves, because you can, use woman and children for sex and labor without their permission because you can. Use animals for all of your needs, because you can. Use the world and its resources for your needs in excess because you can, Take from the poor, the sick, the helpless and the weak, because they are vulnerable, and it will keep you in power.

This is the mindset of many of the dominant cultures of the world today, They have hidden the messages so cleverly, yet they are still so bold and vibrant since, these are the actions unfortunately much more common among humans than the choice of compassion on this earth.

Our societies have successfully taught humans that this is the normal way, the only way, to gain strength, to gain fortune.

However, what is true compassion, what does living in an ecosphere mean. What is true connection. We live in a world that hardly anyone dare enter, or attempt to understand. We are trapped in the mundane everyday existence of cleaning, working, driving, using our gadgets, absorbing ourselves in made up stories projected onto screens. We are numb. Yet the mystery of the universe, the divine in all creation is here, waiting to be discovered in the minute occurrences that we too often ignore on a daily basis.

Yet, if we choose to listen, if we choose to be present, we can find this unshakable propensity of wisdom, in nature, we are not limited to the spoken words of humans throughout the ages, of course they would be telling the story with the creature of their choice (their race, gender and religion of human) in the center, but that hardly is anything but a boastful lie, to imagine the world as only full to the extent of that one component. Humans can’t exist without the functions of the ecosystem on planet earth, we are hardly important.

We in fact, are so weak, so fragile, so small in the grand scheme of things. To believe humans are at the center of the stage above and beyond all other life. It’s the same mindset as the belief that the Sun rotated around the Earth, claiming everything is only about us. So arrogant, so boastful, so untrue. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfP-XBUbMvs

But it’s only natural…

“I realize that saying “this is how it has always been” does not constitute an argument in itself.  However, it does support the thesis that it is natural, and it also counters the suggestion that vegetarianism is “more natural.”  I don’t think one or the other is most natural. It looks like humans were mostly vegetarian before 2.5 millions years ago, and there has always been a great deal of diversity in diets worldwide.  I would not argue that humans “need” meat or that a vegan diet is unnatural.  The human body is incredibly adaptive diet-wise.”

The vegan rebuttal:

Sure people have been surviving off it for thousands of years, but again, is it necessary?

but we should be free to live however…

“Every society should be free to live according to its own principles, as long as it does not interfere in the freedom of other societies to do the same.”

Vegan Rebuttal:

Sorry this just isn’t specific enough… especially when there are so many reasons not to.

I guess the choice to eat other species, is it because we can? Is it because they are weaker? Is it because they feel less?  It is because we believe we need to? Is it so we can fully feel like we are participating with all parts of this world, whether they be the dark sides or the light sides?  But in our society why cows, why goats? Why not cats or dogs?  Or people our enemies — I’m thankful we don’t, however this is speciesist of me. To judge a being in this world, based on what body it was born into, makes less sense to me over time.

But what about sustainable, local, organic, and humane animal products?

With our currently population as is, it is actually impossible to eat meat/animal products sustainably unless we drastically reduce the amount of animal products we consume– some say about 2oz per week or something if it were to be sustainable.

And I also don’t believe that any animals being farmed is humane.  I think the word ‘farmed’ is a nice word for forcing animals to live outside of their natural or preferred habitat for human purposes. Which I don’t believe is ethical.  Yes to some extent we have become responsible for all of the animals we have bred into this world, and because of that I do think that things like animal sanctuaries are positive because the intention is that they are made for the animals, and it’s not based on the exploitment of animals for human desires.  And I guess I don’t believe that animal food is healthy for us in the slightest.  Everything about our physiology is more alike herbivores than carnivores. Yes we are relatively omnivores — but most omnivores have something like less than 5% of protein from animal sources in their diets — its not the bulk of it.   However, the amount of meat the average westerner eats, is much more than this percentage and is causing a calamity of health epidemics that all tax payers have to pay into.. even those who choose not to eat meat.  In addition to being the biggest destroyer of the forests and the biggest contributor to global warming.
Hunting may provide for a sustainable source of meat, however the way men hunt typically isn’t.  Especially as it causes a cascade of other environmental issues. Such as hunters ‘claiming’ rights to the deer or the elk, and therefore justifying the killing of wolves, and other top predators, and then when hunting the elk or the deer they typically choose the strongest and the biggest — where wolves and coyotes typically choose the weakest and slowest out of the deer, therefore strengthening the overall community, while humans tend to do the opposite.
But personally, I can’t justify killing an animal, just as I can’t justify killing a person.  I can live without it, so why would i inflict violence and suffering on someone else, if its unnecessary. I believe, that the more,  we are able to come out of these foods, the more we are able to influence society at large, away from unsustainable habits. Because even for those who do believe in organic, and local animal products — they typically don’t veer away when offered animal products which aren’t.  And this only reinforces the deep cultural trenches of our food choices and how they’ve shaped everything from our medical system to our government.
I had a professor who sat in for a year  for his sabbatical, it was either congress or I can’t remember exactly , but his job was to advise them on agriculture and the environment.  Basically his whole being there was a joke, he said the lobbyists ran everything.
I don’t know. that’s where I stand on the issue.  Everyone chooses the life which they want to see perpetuated, and I have just come to the point where I don’t see anything good in perpetuating the suffering of animals for our own sake.