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Article about meat/ grain farming

http://www.startribune.com/opinion/otherviews/119094454.html

Found this recent article on the Minneapolis Star Tribune's website.  I was wondering what kind of reponses are available to destroy the author's argument.  I'm looking for more scientific-y answers.  A co-worker of mine (a big Omnivore's Dilemma fan)  is sure to bring this article up, so I'd like to be prepared.

That's an interesting article, I skimmed it instead of reading the whole thing...He doesn't talk much about the pollution the animals themselves cause, not to mention the pollution etc from slaughtering them. It makes me sick that they think that one of the solutions is to increase use and production of GMO foods. YUCK! And those reasons he lists for continuing to eat meat mention nothing about inhumane treatment of animals being a reason to not eat it!

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I just posted something similar about this type of argument on "Oprah" about this as she aired a vegan segment again yesterday.  I am not a fan of Oprah whatsoever by the way. 
What the article fails to mention is that with a growing worldwide population and growing consumption of meat and fish, the demand for the slaughter of these animals is only going to increase.  Tell me how one is going to keep up with this demand and yet raise more and more animals "humanely" and on grass fed land?  I think people are totally unaware of just how many we slaughter on a daily basis to keep up with how much meat is consumed and how much animal by product is used in our clothing, supplies, supplements etc.  Entire fish populations have been decimated and farmed fish are crowded in tanks and fed unnatural diets to keep fish in our diet and supplement the billions of tons of fish oil supplements that are now so popular.  The cost and energy to produce "humanely" fed and raised animals is still going to be very very high and require a lot of energy which in turn uses up environmental resources.

Oh, and the comments about how America is not responsible for feeding the world burns me.  90% of the luxeries we take for granted in this country are made on the backs of slave labor from China and around the world and many of these are children.  People who make these comments have no clue what has gone into  manufacturing the materials for the SUVs they drive or the gasoline they pump into them or their clothes or supplements.  The untold suffering and misuse of land and animals.  Every single one of us is going to pay eventually, maybe with increased global warming and irradic weather patterns or more and more contamination of food.  Our children and grandchildren will have it worse.  We are all responsible for respecting world we live in and its inhabitants. 

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I found this argument pretty silly. Basically, it lists the following points:

1) People see eggs, dairy and meat as superior. (What? This is actually presented as a valid argument? NOTHING backing this up.)
2) Agrees that meat is calorically and environmentally inefficient but still wraps up at the end that it's extremely important to have (I suppose because of 1).
3) Not eating meat doesn't "make a difference" while grass-fed beef supposedly does? Lolwut?

Grass-fed beef sounds great on the surface, but like others have said, it's impossible to sustain an entire world with it due to the sheer amount of land mass it takes. It may reduce fossil fuels, but it also reduces the amount of yield in the first place. And, of course, this argument ignores the ethical aspects of farming; though grass-feeding may increase the space cows have, it still perpetuates the idea that 'farm animals' are property and means to a human end, and live and die as we see fit.

I don't care that some people think that beef is a "superior and healthy addition to the human diet". Not only is there no scientific justification presented to back up that claim, unless animal products can be proven to be necessary to humans, it cannot trump the ethical side of the argument.

At the very least this article posits that we can have our environmentalism and eat meat too -- but even that is shoddy and fails to address the other consequences of our omnivorism.

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We live in a very abundant universe and, with technologies that are within our grasp, we can feed hundreds of billions of people on this planet alone.

But I agree that the consumer demand for animal products is driven mostly by tradition, aesthetics, psychological associations, and subjective taste - not any rational nutritional benefit.  Animal products do provide a greater percentage of calories from protein, and one needs to eat a lot of legumes and avoid grains and fruits to have a healthy vegan diet, but that's just a matter of habit.

The greatest cause of increased meat consumption are governments, which subsidize all aspects of animal-based farming, including through free marketing in government-controlled schools and by limiting meat producers' environmental liabilities, thereby hiding the true cost from the consumer.  If cow's milk cost 4x more than soy milk, as it probably would in a free market, a lot more people would drink the latter!

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