The draft of the latest guidelines was recently released by the Obama administration. Full disclosure here, I’ve only read the article, not the guidelines themselves so I haven’t independently verified the details.
The “shocking” inclusions in the recommendations is that we should take into account our “carbon footprint” in what we eat. Here is the type of research that these recommendations are based on. So being a vegan means you are saving the world and eating a steak means you are an environment killing, cigar smoking, fat-cat Republican.
There are so many problems with the thinking in these recommendations that I frankly get tired just thinking about rebutting them. I’m sure Joel Salatin will write a rebuttal when he gets time and I’ll link to it when it comes out. His will be much more thought out than mine I’m sure. However let me hit on some key points here and now.
- Conventional cattle farming, with feedlots and CAFOs is guilty as charged in these recommendations and the research I linked above. Raising corn, harvesting with diesel fuel, then drying it, then hauling it with fuel, distributing it with fuel, then feeding it to cattle, again with fuel, creates a pretty huge carbon footprint.
- Planting soybeans for your tofu burger has its own huge carbon footprint. Everything wrong with cattle farming above is just as guilty for conventional row crop farming. The same inputs, the same diesel needs, the same footprint. Add in the chemical usage (GMO is used so it can be sprayed with Roundup) and soybeans are right there with corn. Vegans can feel better about their diet because nothing with a face died, but that doesn’t make it better for the environment, a distinction that is routinely missed.
- Grazing cattle the way we do is carbon NEGATIVE (you’ll have to read down a bit in this link to get into all the sequestration talk). Properly managed pastures, like Ninja Cow Farm and many other non-conventional farmers, sequester carbon well in excess of any emissions created. The larger our cattle operations, the better off the environment is, period.
So if you want to save the polar bears, or whatever your goal is, the answer is to eat more properly raised beef and pork, and less row crops.