What is the Environmental Impact of Eating Meat? – Discussion Continues

Source: “The Great Meat Debate” ~Common Ground Kansas

In February, 2012, I wrote an article about my conversion from vegetarian to omnivore: Is Eating Meat Sustainable?. Days before Easter, 2012, I was alerted of the New York Times essay contest, “Calling All Carnivores; Tell Us Why It’s Ethical to Eat Meat: A Contest”. The elite panel of judges compelled me to enter: Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, Jonathan Safran Foer, Peter Singer, and Andrew Light. In June, 2012, I published my submittal through Biocadence: What is Ethical Eating?… Is Eating Meat Ethical?. I have been delighted by this discussion, as it has continued amongst Biocadence followers. Much to my surprise, Google searches have yielded the Biocadence blog as the #1 result for queries such as: Is Eating meat sustainable? and What is the truth about eating meat and sustainability? 

Source: Earth Policy Institute
Credit: Angela Wong / NPR

One especially well-read follower sent me a link to the article: Visualizing A Nation of Meat Eaters : NPR. She prompted the vital question, “Even if animals are raised kindly, they still require so much resource – how does this influence the ethics debate?” I think it is important that every intellect be involved in this curriculum. Please share your thoughts. I include my response below, and ask for the discussion to continue!


I would love for statistics and arguments used in the meat ethics debate to involve many more variables, including but not limited to the following:

~ The soil/ruminant relationship and it’s incredible carbon sequestering capacity!!!! When these (only recently forgotten) techniques are embraced, beef/water ratios can lower from 1 lb/2500-6000 lbs to 1 lb/122 lbs (Source: The Vegetarian Myth).

~ The devastating impact that feed as “food” has on energy-use, the environment AND nutrition.

~ The ENORMOUS disparity between energy-use associated with CAFOs (consider import/export of goods to maintain operation, cesspit emissions, feed as “food”, antibiotics, etc.) vs. polyculture/beyond-organic farms (requiring a tiny sliver of resources necessary for CAFO operations). See Joel Salatin at Tara Firma Farms for a profile of the beyond-organic operation in Petaluma, CA. For more, check out my tour of Tara Firma Farms.

~ The negative impact of grain/gluten/legumes/sugar in many human beings, and resulting energy-use associated with healthcare/pharmaceuticals. There are increasingly convincing arguments that prevelant illnesses may be linked to diets consisting of these foods.

~ The depletion of soil (a carbon sequestering magician) associated with farming of annuals (ex: grains) and mono-crops, and the environmentally destructive potential of farming without ruminants, considering our current population/land ratio.

~ The energy and environmental costs of global relations and global conflict: while soy and corn are subsidized and used as ingredients in artificially inexpensive/low nutrient food-like exports, they are inextricably tied to global relations and global conflict.

~ The disparity between the amount of meat in demand and the amount of meat that is necessary, especially in a diet designed to free the body of the “hunger”-like withdrawals that can be associated with a diet heavy in grain/wheat/gluten/legumes.

In conclusion, I think that it is short-sighted to educate the masses with statistics that include energy-use data from CAFOs, without including data about the above mentioned issues. The quantity of meat, and how the meat is raised are so critical to ethical eating. I’m really excited to see how the curriculum evolves as more compassionate intellect is devoted to it!!!

A few quotes from books I recommend:

“In fact, the cow, or domestic herbivore if you will, is the most efficacious soil-building, hydrology-cycling, carbon-sequestering tool at the planet’s disposal. Yes, the cow has done a tremendous amount of damage. But don’t blame the cow. The managers of the cow have been and continue to be the problem. The same animal mismanaged to abuse the ecology is the greatest hope and salvation to heal the ecology.” ~ Joel Salatin, author of Folks, this ain’t normal

“It is my conviction that growing annual grains is an activity that cannot be redeemed. It requires wholesale extermination of ecosystems–the land has to be cleared of all life. It destroys the soil because the soil is bared–and it has to be bared to grow annuals.” Lierre Keith, author of The Vegetarian Myth

Written by Annie Tichenor, Founder of Biocadence, LLC.


Common Ground Kansas

Visualizing A Nation of Meat Eaters : NPR

The Vegetarian Myth

Joel Salatin at Tara Firma Farms

Folks, this ain’t normal

Quicklinks to Most Popular Biocadence Articles:

“The Hunger Games”… Fiction or Non-Fiction?

What is Ethical Eating?… Is Eating Meat Ethical?

Use Biodegrable Trash Bags!

Embracing the Fulcrum: Reconciling My Belief in the Law of Attraction With My Sustainable Living Transition

Related articles

Tags: , , ,

About Biocadence

Hello! I’m Annie Tichenor, Founder of Biocadence, LLC (www.biocadence.wordpress.com). I hope to ignite a path toward over-consumption recovery, global sibling interconnectedness, and quality-of-life design. A few years ago, I began measuring my impact on the environment. Since then I’ve analyzed my energy-use habits while researching the impact of over-consumption on the global hunger epidemic, global relations and global quality of life. This process has driven me to notice the disparity between my environmental impact in the past and my footprint goal for the future. My drive to change my own habits has evolved into a desire to share my strategies. I crafted the Biocadence Recipe and the Impact/Disturbance (ID) Model, to illustrate the critical role of behavioral sustainability in the sustainable lifestyle transition process. Biocadence is focused on increasing the accessibility of sustainable living and facilitating the rhythm of humanity in harmony with nature. The vision of Biocadence is to build a community of environment-lovers who come together to leverage each other’s knowledge and celebrate sustainable living accomplishments. Learn about the Biocadence Recipe and ID Model: http://www.biocadence.org/biocadence.html

10 responses to “What is the Environmental Impact of Eating Meat? – Discussion Continues”

  1. AtheistExile says :

    Hi Annie,

    I agree that the amount of meat we eat is more than we need. You appear to have a healthy and balanced approach to food production that is mindful of the 7 billiion mouths that need feeding in this world.

    Nice post.

    • Biocadence says :

      Hi! Thank you for visiting and commenting. It’s nice to get an introduction to your blog also. The hunger epidemic demands that we all be contribute to the conversation. It’s an ongoing discussion. I hope that you will subscribe to Biocadence and comment again!


      • Jim Ashby says :

        I tried to subscribe but after entering my email address and pressing the Sbscribe button, I’m told something like the email address isn’t valid and try again.

      • Biocadence says :

        Oh no! Thank you for the heads up! After a subscriber enters email and clicks “subscribe”, he/she should see: “An email was just sent to confirm that you want to follow this blog. Please find the email now and click activate.” Did you happen to receive a confirmation email in your inbox? I am assuming not, but your answer will help me troubleshoot. I just did a trial run to confirm that this widget is working today. Will you try again, and let me know the result?!

        Just a thought- do you have a wordpress account? If so, were you logged in when you tried to subscribe? If your answer to both of these questions is “yes”, perhaps clicking the “follow” button at the top left of your toolbar is the only option? It’s hard to imagine that this would be the case… but it may be. When I am logged in, this is the only option I use, as I prefer it.

        Thanks again for alerting me Jim!

      • Biocadence says :

        Hello! I explored a bit more after writing you this morning. You subscribed successfully via your WordPress Gravatar, one week ago! If your WordPress account is registered with the same email address as the one you tried to subscribe with, I can imagine an error message popping up! I hope that is our answer… and I’m so happy to meet you. Please visit again; I will love to hear your thoughts on other articles!


  2. Jim Ashby says :

    You know, I also thought I had already subscribed . . . but you site was still asking me to subscribe, so I figured I must have remembered incorrectly. I was logged into WordPress when I tried to subscribe, so that just serves to confound the matter further.

    Anyway, I just tried again, and this time it subscribed me . . . even though I subscribed already a week ago!?!

    I’m a veteran at this. I do it all the time. I have no idea why all these strange things have happened.

    Anyway, I love your blog and the way you think.

  3. Tammy says :

    I do still eat meat although not often. I agree with Joe that we shouldn’t blame the cow. The issue is that we let it get so big and then greed set in and it became environmentally devastating. Personally I think it has to do with too much cheap food and that the environmental factors aren’t priced in. If they were, then we’d make much more rational decisions about what to eat.

    • Biocadence says :

      Oh, yes, if (uhum, when) environmental factors are considered, we make very different choices. I find that I need/want very little meat, but do feel best when I have a tad each day. Because I’m fortunate enough to have accesses to sustainable sources, I feel good about it.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting consistently, Agrigirl! I appreciate the support!

  4. Liberal Cabrera Raya says :

    That’s really interesting. Thanks for posting all the great information! Had never thought of it all that way before.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: