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  • thesaly

    I'm curious what people who think humans should not use animals to meet their needs believe will happen to the thousands of breeds of domestic livestock if we should all suddenly stop?

    • rucio

      It won't be sudden.

      • thesaly

        All right then - what if we *slowly* stopped using domestic livestock to meet human needs. What happens to the thousands of breeds of livestock?

        • rucio

          We let them live out their natural lives, obviously.

          But you're probably more concerned about the ranchers, slaughterhouses, and consumers.

          Humans have managed countless similar economic and cultural transitions.

          • thesaly

            Actually, no - I'm not at all concerned about the ranchers, slaughterhouses or consumers. I'm concerned about genetic diversity and sustainability in a world that will be able to depend less and less on petroleum-based products to substitute for animal based ones.

            If humans stop using animals, humans will stop breeding and sustaining them. They will not keep animals for whom they need to provide food, shelter, and protection out of the goodness of their hearts - at least not in the global numbers needed to maintain a healthy population. There are already hundreds of Heirlooms breeds of livestock that are in decline or on the verge of extinction because they don't conform to the CAFO-based commercial market. I don't like the current commercial animal industry, I think it's wrong and inhumane. But that doesn't mean that the only other option is to let all our livestock go. Small farms raising heirloom breeds for longer and healthier periods of time, living happier lives for the duration, is a reasonable compromise. Less meat will be consumed, bio-diversity and animal welfare will thrive, and humans and livestock will both survive.

            I believe it is an "absolute" to believe that one's own way is not the only possible way, or even the only right way. It can only be the right way for one's self. Other people are free to believe as they wish, but I do hope that people look at all sides of an equation before making judgement.

            • rucio

              Such an artificial situation — maintaining human-bred varieties — has nothing to do with natural genetic diversity. And as you note, it means perpetuating their use as meat, which is what you're really advocating. And if people are free to eat domesticated animals, then CAFOs are a necessary evil to provide meat more cheaply and to a greater number of people.

              • thesaly

                Then I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. I do not make distinctions between human-bred genetic variety and natural genetic diversity. Yes, I am advocating their use as meat. Humans are biologically omnivores. I do not, however, believe that just because people are free to eat domesticated animals that it must follow that CAFOs are a necessary evil. In our *current culture* they are necessary because people demand cheap food. I would like to see people paying much more for meat, and eating much less of it, so that CAFOs are not necessary. I also see value in other animal products that are not meat, but that (for all practical purposes) have meat ("spare animals") as a by-product. Products like eggs, cheese, milk, wool, leather. Not all of them have suitable plant-based substitutes, and in my view, synthetic/petroleum based substitutes are not an acceptable alternative.

                • rucio

                  How exactly would you ensure more conscientious, more expensive, and less use of animals?

                  Also being omnivores doesn't obviate making moral choices. Choosing to eat less meat or only meat from better-fed animals is one such choice. Not eating meat at all is acting more completely on the moral recognition behind the first choice. Because as omnivores, we can thrive without it.

                  • thesaly

                    While I can't "ensure" anything, I would like to see large corporate monoculture farms and CAFOs replaced with smaller, integrated farms, where the farmers use more of a Whole Systems approach to farming. Polyface Farm, while not 100% perfect, is a good example ( Truly "grassfed" beef takes almost two years to come to market weight, and is therefore more expensive. Also, the number of animals per square foot of land that can be raised on pasture is much smaller than at a CAFO. We have now both increased the price of meat and reduced the number of available meat animals, while also increasing their lifespan and their quality of life. If meat is both less available and more expensive, people will have little choice but to eat less of it. This style of farming is also less damaging to the environment, and can make use of land that is not suitable for food crops.

                    Omnivores can certainly thrive without eating meat. I am less convinced that they can remain healthy in the long-term without eating *some* form of animal protein. In terms of animal husbandry, however, keeping animals primarily for milk or egg production will inevitably require culling. Hens stop laying, some chicks will inevitably be roosters, and milk-producing mammals need to give birth at least annually to continue to provide milk. A sustainable farm or homestead can't afford to feed extra mouths or animals who have outlived their usefulness. To my way of thinking, if you are going to need to cull an animal anyway, it is less moral to allow it to go to waste than it is to eat it, even if you do not raise animals for the express purpose of ending up on your dinner plate.

                    • rucio

                      It looks like the only way to make meat less available and more expensive is to make CAFOs illegal or regulatorily impossible. But people would still seek cheaper meat, and farms would provide it — by decreasing the quality of life of their animals to cut costs.

                      You're right that if milk and egg production requires killing the male babies (not to mention adults whose production is starting to fall off long before the natural end of their lives), you might as well eat them if you think it's OK for your health (assuming you're already OK with this type of exploitation, especially the annual forced impregnation of dairy cows and the subsequent taking away of her calf). That's why many people are not just vegetarian, but vegan, because you can't separate, eg, dairy and veal. And people can indeed live long and healthy lives without animal protein. (Your typical meat-eater is hardly a picture of health!)

                      I'm glad to see people who won't give up meat trying to make their choice less cruel to the animals and less harmful to the environment. But there is a trend in recent years to assert that it is actually better in every way (morally, environmentally, nutritionally) to continue to consume animals, which only suggests that it most certainly is not.

  • bardot

    OH PLEASE!! What a scary creep. What creepy students!! What a creepy "College" !! Ever hear of Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple?

  • rucio

    This is all very nice sentiment, but Ackerman-Leist brings his own absolute to the table, namely, his perceived right or need to kill other animals for his sustenance.