Sunday, June 07, 2009

Some Thoughts on Meat and Hunting

A recent conversation with a friend has gotten me thinking about the meat industry again.  Both of us have been vegetarian and/or vegan and different points of our lives (including now) and for mostly the same reasons.  We both disagree with the way that meat in the U.S. is raised for the sake of the environment, our health, and the wellbeing of the animals themselves.  So I have always thought that if I don’t like the meat industry, I just won’t support it.  However, my friend’s argument was that there has to be a better way to change the meat industry than to just take yourself out of it. 

Maybe he’s right.  No matter how many vegetarians there are in Austin or in California, the meat industry isn’t going away, and they’re certainly not going to change their practices in any significant way. 

But I can’t help but think that not eating meat is making a difference.  It may not change the meat industry, but it does make it a tiny bit smaller.  And I know that one person’s meat consumption isn’t going to make a difference, but eventually it does make a difference.  There is a snowball effect because each vegetarian has some potentially vegetarian friends.  And every time someone new decides to quit eating meat, it becomes that much easier for someone else to do the same.

But there will never be enough vegetarians to put an end to the meat industry.  And the way meat is raised and killed NEEDS to change.  So maybe everyone should just hunt for their food.

Right… hunting.  Most “hunting” in the U.S. is a joke.  My dad used to go on “business” “hunting” trips.  Basically some guy with a LOT of money and a LOT of land paid to have deer and elk on his land so he and his buddies could be driven around in Jeeps shooting at animals that were so tame they didn’t even try to run away from the cars and people.  But at least the animals were raised outside instead of in confinement. 

So what if everyone got their meat this way?  Yeah, I think it would be better for the animals, but the amount of land that would be required for that would be ridiculous.  It’s just completely unreasonable unless meat-eaters agree to cut their meat consumption way down, which I don’t see happening (unless their meat consumption were directly related to their hunting skills).  The amount of land that is dedicated to raising animals is already extremely high, which is the reason I choose not to eat meat, but it is also a completely different topic.