Meat: We’re Doing It Wrong

Written by Evan Embree

There are many reasons why someone may convert to a plant-based diet.  Aside from animal welfare, one of the most pressing issues for vegans is the state of our environment.  The book The Meat Crisis: Developing More Sustainable Production and Consumption, edited by John Webster and Joyce D’Silva, highlights the many issues with the foods we are choosing to eat and the way we are attaining them.  It is available for purchase here.  I focused on the content in the first chapter written by Colin Tudge.

Prior to industrialization, livestock was raised and slaughtered for meat in a responsible manner that mirrored hunting in nature before the introduction of farming –  it included a diverse set of animals and relied on renewable resources, meaning all inputs were recycled completely. Then came industrialized or “modern” farming, the beginning of the end for the health of our environment.  Instead of being allowed to graze naturally and being fed leftover foods or items produced in surplus, we have begun feeding livestock staple foods including wheat, maize, and barley. This is dangerous because instead of augmenting their diets from ours, livestock are now competing for the same foods we need to nourish our own populations.  With this competition, we have to grow enough produce not only to feed the humans on Earth, but also to feed the livestock that feeds the humans. With the rapid increase of the meat industry, experts predict that by 2050 we will need to feed livestock enough staple foods to sustain 4 million people. Along with the estimated 9.5 million people that will be alive at this time, that’s a total of 13.5 million hungry mouths to feed – exacerbating the already apparent global food crisis.

However, this “food crisis” inherently assumes that our diet is a meat-based one.  Tudge suggests that if we all consumed plant-based diets there would be no shortage, and a culture change is necessary.  He compares meat-heavy diets to a popular fashion trend because they are very lucrative for those who pilot them, and in a profit-driven economy they will continue despite the damage the world incurs.  If we can manage to eliminate meat from the average meal, or at least make it a side dish, we can take a significant step towards a healthier planet.

Here at Irregardless Cafe and Catering, we pride ourselves in the fact that we have served plant-based cuisine since we were founded in 1975.  Along with the environmental benefits from that, we also show concern for our surroundings by sourcing as much of the restaurant’s produce as possible from the local Well-Fed Community Garden, cutting down on emissions from transportation and ensuring that it is grown responsibly.

Our plant-based dinner specials this week include: Veggie flatbread and our cauliflower steak.