(2010-09-10) Monbiot Fairlie Meat Ok

George Monbiot had gone vegan because of meat being un-SustainAble, but has now changed his mind because of Simon Fairlie's book Meat: A Benign Extravagance ISBN:1856230554. There's no doubt that the livestock system has gone horribly wrong. Fairlie describes the feedlot beef industry (in which animals are kept in pens) in the US as "one of the biggest ecological cock-ups in modern history"... But these idiocies, Fairlie shows, are not arguments against all meat eating, but arguments against the current farming model... If pigs are fed on residues and waste, and cattle on straw, stovers and grass (Grass-Fed) from fallows and rangelands – food for which humans don't compete – meat becomes a very efficient means of food production.

Like many greens I have thoughtlessly repeated the claim that it requires 100,000 litres of water to produce every kilogram of beef. Fairlie shows that this figure is wrong by around three orders of magnitude... Similarly daft assumptions underlie the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's famous claim that livestock are responsible for 18% of the world's Greenhouse Gas emissions...Overall, Fairlie estimates that farmed animals produce about 10% of the world's emissions: still too much, but a good deal less than transport.

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