Zorindha's Place in the Sun

me, myself and my words

Flatulent cows and silly arguments

I know that a lot of people who have chosen to be vegetarians have had to defend themselves against people not being vegetarians. I’m not entirely sure why, where is the need to criticize other people’s eating habits. I suppose the reason must be a feeling of being judged by the vegetarians. I have never encountered one vegetarian who openly criticized the non-vegetarians for their choice of food; however they would be the ones with the right to do so.

Vegetarianism has an old tradition. Hinduism and Buddhism, for example, promotes vegetarianism. Even in ancient Greece there were vegetarians; Pythagoras was one of them as was his students. Another one was Socrates, who only selected vegetarian food to be eaten in his ideal republic.

Many non-vegetarians claim that eating meat is natural because we are carnivores, and therefore it is nothing to be ashamed of. I won’t argue with that, we as humans are one of not so many omnivores. That is all fine; if you think the only counter-argument by vegetarians is the one about animals suffering at the slaughterhouse. As we all know, however, this is not the only argument.

There is the one argument about saving the planet as well. The animal agriculture massively contributes to air and water pollution. Yes, here some will have a little giggle at the fact that cows farts methane gas. This isn’t just a little fart, however. The animal agriculture is responsible for 18 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalents. Compare it to world transportation that emits 13.5 per cent of the CO2.

Not only that, but the farting cows need to be fed as well. The crops that feed the animals require nearly half of the United States’ water supply and 80 per cent of its agricultural land. In the US, the animals consume 90 per cent of the soy crop, 80 per cent of the corn crop and 70 per cent of the grain. We are of course not getting this back on a 1.1 ratio as the animal uses much of what it eats for heating and such. Of the food eaten by beef cattle, only about 10 per cent is converted to body substance. According to a professor in ecology at Cornell University 800 million people could be fed with the grain currently being used in the animal agriculture. Surely, wasting less of the land that is currently used for farms could reduce the amount of new farmland thus saving our precious nature.

Of course, many people will not become vegetarians simply for the fact that they love their steak too much. Many people will not become vegans because (like me) they like their cheese too much. I’m sure there will be a cheese out there tasting just like normal cheese or better but made out of soy, just as the soy milk tastes better than normal milk (according to me, who also has to drink it as I’m lactose intolerant). A person who likes their steak, however, should perhaps think twice before using the so-worn-out argument about us being carnivores. Yes, we were, but if we want to feed the ever growing population in this world and prevent our fellow human beings from starving we could do better as herbivores. Just admit it as it is; if you like your steak, say so and stop criticizing those who don’t find it to be an all that important part of their diet.


4 comments on “Flatulent cows and silly arguments

  1. savethekales
    February 19, 2010

    Great, great post. Love it. Thanks for checking out my site!

  2. a_pericly
    September 9, 2010

    Well, for all vegetarians that drink milk, eat cheese, yogurt or any other diary product the methane argument is not a valid one. You need to have cows to produce the milk, and they do eat grass and fart, whether they produce milk or meat does not make a difference.


    • Hege
      September 9, 2010

      I think a reduction in consumption still counts; it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

  3. savethekales
    September 9, 2010

    a_pericly, that’s true, but if we weren’t essentially mass-producing cows for consumption, the number of cows would be drastically reduced. Cars aren’t inherently BAD and may contribute to environmental problems, but it’s because we have SO MANY that makes the issue more severe.

    “It doesn’t have to be all or nothing” – yes, absolutely. 🙂

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This entry was posted on February 19, 2010 by in Climate, Environment, Life.
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