Being wrong happens to the best of us, and even to me. Yes, I may bluster and complain about how this and that pisses me off and how these and those people are full of crap and should be dipped in warmed-up vegemite, but it will happen from time to time that I change my mind.
Figure 1: A bright graphic to get extra hits
Changing ones mind – a very useful tool for surviving in the modern world. I rate people as being smart if they can change their minds about one of their cherished beliefs when better evidence arrives. Is there really any other method that works? So what if I believed one thing when I was 20 and one thing today – everything that has happened between then and now has contributed to a new understanding and therefore my views have changed.
And, on top of that, I don’t want some fucking 20 year old (that is, me) telling me how I should be living my life today, thank you very much – let that lazy good-for-nothing bollox get a job and a fucking haircut and start pulling his own weight, dammit!
For the uninitiated, the process (otherwise known as the scientific method) generally goes like this:
1) I believe A is true
2) I collect evidence claiming that A is wrong and that B is true
3) I change my belief from A to B
Repeat as often as necessary and – ping! – the world makes sense again. But strangely enough, changing ones mind is often seen as a sign of confusion – observe what happenned to John Kerry two years ago: changing his mind on Iraq lost him the election. But as I like to say to these block-headed people who never alter their views: “I change my mind when better evidence becomes available – what method do you use?”
Anyway, onto my point: I recently saw an article that has caused me to change my mind on an important issue. The article, from the Guardian, discusses vegetarianism.
The major argument for being veggie, for me at least, was the ecological one, and, to a lesser extent, the ethical one. But as this article discusses, growing and harvesting crops kills a good many animals (that live in the fields) and making those field in the first place killed and displaced thousands more. Not to mention the pesticides and water used to grow plants that are often transported far and used to feed an overweight population or else fed directly to animals.
Animals can be used to create food from land that cannot be used for farming (turning grass into meat, for example) and organic waste can be efficiently recycled by feeding it to a pig. You can keep woodland pristine and harvest a great deal more meat from it, in the shape of wild animals, than you can food (trees tend to leave little sunlight for anything else to grow). And there are many wild animal populations (rabbits, deer and others) that are out of control and have to anyway be killed. So if you are talking about being efficient, a certain amount of meat is actually necessary.
There is then the ethical problem, although I think most people will agree that killing a wild animal with a single shot to the head does not cause suffering. Most of the ethical problems come from how the animal lives and not from how it dies.
And there are other points discussed in the article, on both sides of the divide. One conclusion is certain though – modern factory farming is not the way to go. Sustainable meat eating needs to grow and develop and we need to remember that meat should be a luxury, and not the everyday thing it is today, expected on every sandwich and at every meal.
From an ecological standpoint, eating things like rabbits and dogs should be fine – there are lots of them, and so what if they are smart and friendly? Pigs are as smart as dogs, and cows are no slouches either, but we happily gobble them up.
So the best thing for us and the rest of the planet is to eat like our ancestors did – both meat and plants, but many more plants and much less meat. And if we can raise the animals ourselves, and kill them ourselves outside of a stinking meat factory, then so much the better.
/ paddy (93% veggie and still hanging in there)