argument top image

Should we stop eating meat for the environment? Show more Show less
Back to question

Several forms of pollution - e.g. deforestation, eutrophication of water, leaching of nitrates, antibacterial resistance, release of ammonia, nitrous oxides and methane in the atmosphere - are associated to livestock production. Should we stop eating meat to prevent major environmental pollution?

No - livestock production is not a truly significant cause of pollution Show more Show less

The putative environmental benefits associated to ending meat and dairy consumption are not significative when compared to other forms of pollution such as the one from the transportation or the chemical processing sectors
< (3 of 4) Next position >

Companies should change, not individuals

It shouldn't be up to the individuals to change their lifestyle but rather big companies that cause vast amounts of pollution should be held accountable.

The Argument

To address the issue of pollution from meat production, targeting companies instead of individuals is more effective. Change must occur in companies, not in the lifestyles of individuals. Individual diet changes are not significant enough to make a difference in pollution output. Companies could change many aspects of their meat production to reduce pollution, such as localizing meat production to avoid transportation pollution or using more environmentally friendly methods of feeding livestock, such as grass feeding. If companies can change their practices to reduce pollution output, then individuals can continue to consume meat without worrying about the environmental impact. The owner of Blue Hill, a popular locally-sourced restaurant in NYC, proposed that the pollution issue is a result of what meat we eat, not how much meat we eat. Eating meat that comes from cows that were fed with soy and grain creates much more carbon emissions than a cow on a grass-fed diet. Barber also points out that convincing people to cut out a key component of their diet is quite a hard sell, whereas convincing people to make a switch to a healthier alternative of the same food can be much easier. [1] Companies must change their practices to reduce environmental pollution. If some meat companies make changes to reduce their pollution output, this could lead to a "domino effect." For instance, if Meat Producer A changes their business model to reduce pollution, they may become more popular with consumers who are looking to reduce their carbon footprint. Meat Producers B and C might see how successful Meat Producer A has been after making changes to their pollution output and consequently follow suit, reducing their own pollution outputs.

Counter arguments

Even though changing company practices would have a greater effect on the environment than changing individual diets, that doesn't mean that cutting down on individual meat consumption has no effect on the future of our environment. Financial support, in large amounts, puts pressure on corporations to change their practices. Even if someone wants to continue to eat meat, they can buy their meat from more sustainable sources than factory farms. Cutting down on factory farm meat consumption in particular puts pressure on companies to move away from their most environmentally harmful practices. Factory farms make massive amounts of pollution. Family farms and other small scale meat productions don't even come close to factory farms when it comes to harming the environment. In particular, sustainable agriculture, practiced by many family farms and other small scale meat farms, is much safer for the environment. Sustainable agriculture recognizes the importance of raising only the amount of livestock that an area of land can handle. For instance, a sustainable farm will only raise a certain amount of livestock so that the amount of manure is not overwhelming. Factory farms are terrible at handling the storage and disposal of manure, leading to it releasing noxious, harmful odors in storage and contaminating water sources. The sustainable farm uses all of the manure that is produced as fertilizer for the farm's crops. Thus, the manure is constantly being recycled in a completely environmentally friendly way. Financially supporting sustainable agriculture would allow someone to continue to eat meat while reducing their individual contributions to climate change.[2] Organizations like Beyond Factory Farming and Farm Aid explain exactly how this is possible.[3]

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://www.fastcompany.com/90252474/maybe-we-dont-need-to-stop-eating-meat-to-save-the-environment
  2. https://www.beyondfactoryfarming.org/get-informed/industrial-vs-family-farms-comparison
  3. https://www.farmaid.org/issues/industrial-agriculture/what-exactly-is-a-family-farm/
This page was last edited on Monday, 29 Jun 2020 at 06:46 UTC

Explore related arguments