"Did the turkey have a happy Christmas?"
To not consume meat means to turn off a whole part of the natural world and to force production of food to move away from regenerative systems and to turn toward a system that creates larger problems for our world.
The problem I have with the historical argument is that there are plenty of things humans have done for thousands of years which, today, are no longer entirely viable. Take burning wood for fuel, for example. We can no longer use wood as a primary source for warmth, light and energy in the industrialized West. When wood became problematic as a fuel source for a growing, urban, industrialized population, we moved on to find other energy sources. By the same token, fullscale factory farming is getting closer and closer to being unsustainable. We need to change the way we acquire and manage food. Appealing to history doesn't help us.
If no one ate meat, there would be a lot less domestic animals such as cows, pigs, chickens, etc, around. Millions of these animals would never come into existence.
Is it better to not exist than to live a short(ish) life and be humanly put to death and butchered?
We have a team working on delivering a milk option where none of the calves or cattle, male or female, are slaughtered at the end of their productive lives. This will be the first farming system of its kind in the western world, and means we are a lot more for our milk. But it’s our pleasure because we’d rather pay with our money than allow the cows to pay with their lives.
What really strikes me about this whole NYtimes exercise is how shitty it is. It effectively ignores decades and decades of academic debate on the subject. It has only two real philosophers on the judging panel. I suppose they think philosophers are boring and everyone things Jonathan Safran Foer is cute and interesting. But reading the essays...
Under the bridge that crosses the small creek is where the first stone work was done at Tassajara. Doing that work Suzuki Roshi crushed his finger. Bob Watkins had a truck and he drove Suzuki Roshi into Monterey to the doctor. After the doctor had seen Suzuki Roshi's finger they drove down the main street in Seaside. (Bob was not macrobiotic, but he had not had any animal products to eat for two years.) As they were driving along Suzuki Roshi said "I'm hungry." All Bob could see were a lot of junk food restaurants. Suzuki Roshi said, "Pull over here." It was a cheap drive-in. The best that Bob could do with a menu choice was to order a grilled cheese sandwich. It was his first animal food in two years and Suzuki Roshi asked Bob about that. Suzuki Roshi ordered a hamburger with double meat. When the food arrived Bob looked at his grilled cheese sandwich like it was a foreign body. Suzuki Roshi took a bite of his double hamburger and said "I don't like this. Let's switch." He picked up Bob's and his sandwiches and exchanged them. From that day on Bob said he couldn't take his food trip seriously anymore. He told me this story over a lamb dinner in Hollywood some years later.
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