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  • Posted October 15th, 2017
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    Is it ethical to eat meat, or to keep animals for meat or dairy?

    Is it ethical to eat meat, or to keep animals for meat or dairy?

    This is a very important question for us here at Lowimpact.org, because we have courses, books, magazines, links etc on keeping animals and on game. We also have vegetarianism and veganism as topics – because we recognise the environmental benefits of eating less meat. We have occasional emails and comments saying that it’s unethical to eat meat, and even to keep animals, even if they’re not going to end up as food (e.g. horses or bees), and questioning why we have information on keeping animals at all. We’re all opposed to factory farming, of course – that’s a given. But is it wrong to keep or eat animals at all? At the moment, the vast majority of the world eats meat, but will there come a time when humans look back on meat-eating in the same way that we now look back at the slave trade or witch burning – with abhorrence?

    So we’d be very interested to know what you think about this. The stance we take generally is that people do eat meat, and so we’d like that to happen in the most environmentally-friendly and humane way possible. In the same way, it would be better environmentally if people didn’t use cars, but we accept that they do, and so we have biodiesel and electric vehicles amongst our topics.

    But driving a car, even though it may not be good for the environment, doesn’t carry the extra ethical burden of meat-eating – having to kill animals (apart from roadkill, which is accidental). So, is it ethical? Let’s examine the arguments.

    From an environmental perspective, there are four distinct positions that I can think of (although you may know more) – two pro-meat and two anti-meat. I’ve called the pro-meat positions the ‘smallholding’ position and the ‘hunting’ position, and the anti-meat positions the ‘land’ position and the ‘compassion’ position.

    Pro: the smallholding position

    Smallholding is a good thing, as it’s the opposite of factory farming – and smallholding is much easier with animals, because:

    • meat is a high-value product, and so can provide vital income
    • some animals (pigs and chickens especially) can eat waste – damaged fruit and veg, leaves and roots that are not eaten by humans, and waste food, or food that is slightly past its human-eat-by date
    • animal manure is very good for the soil
    • grazing animals can keep down weeds underneath fruit trees
    • running sheep or chickens under fruit trees can provide an extra income from the same amount of land, that smallholders wouldn’t have otherwise
    • chickens, and especially ducks, eat pests like slugs
    • some smallholders can only really make a living from animals – e.g. Welsh hill farmers or Scottish crofters. You can run sheep in the hills, but you can’t grow crops
    • pigs can be raised in woodland – so there is no need to remove natural habitat to produce farmland

    Now smallholding can be a hard business, so anything that makes it easier or more profitable is to be welcomed. The more organic smallholders there are the better as far as the environment is concerned, because they reduce food miles, don’t poison the land with pesticides, produce more food per acre, support more trees, wild flowers and animals than large monoculture farms and they allow people to live closer to nature. Organic smallholding can be done without cruelty as long as they ensure that animals are free-range and slaughter is swift and painless.

    The counter-argument: it’s not impossible to have a smallholding without animals, and even in hill regions, maybe it would be better ecologically to plant forests, and eventually smallholders could make money from firewood, timber and charcoal.

    Anti: the land position

    It takes much more land to feed a given human population with a meat-based diet than it does with a plant-based diet. The meat industry uses a lot of the world’s surface to grow crops, especially grains, that are then fed to animals – but it would be much more efficient, and take less land, to feed humans with the plant crops.

    Every step up the food chain means wasted nutrients – animals will use a lot of the energy they get from plants to move around, breathe, digest their food etc. All this energy could have been made available directly to humans if we’d eaten the plant crop instead.

    Therefore it can’t possibly be ethical to use more land than necessary to produce food, when some people don’t have access to land or money to feed themselves and their children properly. We could use the land saved by not eating meat for feeding more humans, or allowing it to revert to natural habitat.

    The counter-argument: Simon Fairlie, in his book Meat: a Benign Extravagance (and see this article) suggests that we eat less meat rather than no meat at all. We should stop running animals on land that could grow plant food for humans, and stop growing grain to feed to animals. Just run animals on marginal land unsuitable for growing grains, and feed waste food to pigs and chickens (plus pigs and chickens can be kept in woodland, and animals can graze under orchard trees, which requires no extra land), and we could actually extract more nutrition from agricultural land than from a solely plant-based diet.

    Pro: the hunting position

    We’re animals – omnivorous animals, with canine teeth and long intestines to cope with a diet that includes meat. The best diet for humans and for the planet is the stone-age diet, the hunter-gatherer diet – the one hominids have evolved with over the last 2 million years. In other words – fresh, local, organic fruit, vegetables and nuts, supplemented with lean, organic meat and fish caught from the wild.

    The reason it’s good for the environment is that we don’t have to remove natural habitat to create farmland. We keep the natural habitat and harvest food from it. It’s organic, it’s natural, there are no issues around how animals are kept, and you have to work hard for your food. It’s a tradition stretching back to Australopithecus and beyond that involves respect for both animals and nature. Obviously, endangered animals are off-limits. But if you think about, if you were sentenced to death, and through some bizarre judgement, you could choose between being shot or being chased to exhaustion and torn apart by wolves, which would you choose, honestly?

    Also, could we really tell traditional hunter-gatherers that they can’t eat meat? That would mean spending an awful lot of time collecting plants, when there are wild animals that could be harvested that contain large amounts of protein, that will allow much more leisure / productive time to do other things; and if those hunter-gatherers don’t harvest them, then wild predators will – it’s not as though they will be spared if humans don’t hunt them. Plus in some environments (the Inuit in the Arctic, the Bushmen of the Kalahari), people couldn’t exist at all without eating meat, so we’d be condemning their cultures to extinction.

    The counter-argument: there are too many of us now for hunting and fishing to provide a significant part of our diet – it wouldn’t be long before there were no wild animals left. Only a tiny proportion of us could do it.

    Anti: the compassion position

    Animals have personalities – anyone who’s had a pet cat or dog knows that. It’s philosophically / ethically wrong to keep something with a personality, that can experience joy, fear and pain, with the intention of killing it and eating it. Yes humans are part of nature, and we’ve always been omnivorous. But we’ve always been violent too, and surely we should try to stop being violent (plus – maybe there’s a connection between our violence and killing animals). We’re not tied to the laws of nature like other animals. We have anaesthetics to numb pain, we have glasses and contact lenses to help us see, we drive cars and fly. Let’s not pretend we’re controlled by nature. We can rise above cruelty and viciousness. Killing animals is bad for us spiritually and in terms of compassion. We’ve come a long way – we’re better parents, more tolerant, more understanding than a generation ago. We should start to have a dispassionate debate about whether it’s right to eat animals at all. Mammals, at least, are too sentient. Killing them makes us cruel, and humanity would improve by becoming vegetarian. Also, if we eat eggs and dairy, then a lot of male babies have to be killed, because they don’t produce eggs or milk, and we’d be overrun with unproductive animals that we’d have to look after. If killing animals is the issue, then veganism is the only logical path.

    The counter-argument: whatever humans do, we can’t stop animal suffering, or we’d have to stop nature. Virtually all wild animals suffer a gruesome death – either from starvation, disease or being torn apart by other animals. If it’s done ethically, then farm animals can suffer much less than animals in the wild. Plus, is there a line? Is it OK to eat fish, because they don’t have personalities in the way that mammals do? And what about prawns or shellfish – or even insects? Surely they are no more ‘sentient’ than plants? And philosophically, is it possible to draw the conclusion that it’s wrong for anyone to eat meat, or is it ultimately down to individuals?

    I don’t know the answer to these questions. Maybe there aren’t any definitive answers, only opinions. My own position is that it would be better for our health and for the environment to eat less meat. Whether it’s wrong to eat animals at all, I don’t know – but as long as people do it, we’d like them to do it a) in the most environmentally-friendly way possible, and b) without cruelty.


    The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact.org's


    289 Comments

    • 1Peter Green October 15th, 2017

      I have been mulling an idea that may (or may not) resonate with others here… ‘Hugging’ or, Hunter Gatherer Grower,.

      This would be, ideally, a balance. Eat meat, but less of it and preferably road kill (it can be excellent food!) as well as hunting and gathering from the natural world and grow what you may need that isn’t available in your landscape.

      I would love to hear if this idea does resonate with others!

    • 2lloyd October 15th, 2017

      This is exactly where I seem to be heading at the moment, Peter. Many people use a health argument for meat eating, but the reality is that we eat far too much meat that is also of low quality. Infrequent (once every 2-4 weeks) and high quality is my preference, plus roadkill also has the added bonus of being violence-free. I now seem to be hugger, although I would say that if you’ve seen an animal shot through the heart, it’s pretty brutal, therefore small game that is head-shot would be my preference over large game that is heart-shot.

    • 3Rosewood Farm's Robbert Rose October 15th, 2017

      I’d say that individually we don’t need to eat meat if we don’t feel it’s right, but as a society we do for a number of reasons, as stated in this blog.

      More of my own thoughts are summarised in my own blog; http://www.rosewood.farm/blog/4590880622/Ditching-the-plough-not-the-cow…/10499630

    • 4Dave Darby October 15th, 2017

      That’s a very interesting blog you have there. And I think you’re right about GM crops – they might turn out to be damaging to humans and to the environment – we’ll have to wait and see. But that’s not the point. We’re concerned about our food supply coming under the control of the corporate sector, and that’s never mentioned (and maybe not understood) by proponents of GM.

    • 5John Harrison October 16th, 2017

      As an ethical stance, vegetarians don’t have a leg to stand on. Bulls, billy-goats and cockerels being the point. And, if you won’t eat meat then don’t eat fish who feel pain and want to survive.
      Vegans at least are consistent and I can respect their position.
      BUT – we are omnivorous animals. It is natural for us to eat some meat, although in the west at least we eat far too much. In nature plants and animals are part of one ecosystem. Animals eat plants, then they return the nutrients to the soil and this grows more plants and that feeds more animals etc.
      Unlike most if not all other species, we have (at our best) empathy for our ‘prey’ and so can and should raise and kill our animals kindly.
      I have killed chickens and think we should be willing to kill our meat. It really brings it home to you. The value of a chicken is not £3.00 or £5.00 or £10.00 even. It is a life that you take. It’s not pleasant or easy to kill another creature but you value the life you have taken and show your respect by not wasting an iota. Even if it is a much reduced item from the supermarket bargain bin.
      As for us all living off road-kill… LOL

    • 6Dave Darby October 16th, 2017

      I think you’re right that there are inconsistencies in vegetarians’ position, but it does help reduce overall meat consumption, which is a good thing (vegetarians don’t eat fish, btw).

      I’m not sure that ‘it is natural for us to……’ works as an argument. It’s not natural for humans to fly or drive, but they do. Anaesthetic, spectacles and dentistry aren’t natural, but thank god we have them, etc. We don’t live according to nature’s dictates any more (although if we don’t wise up to the fact that we need to live within nature’s limiits, that’s going to be very dangerous for us).

      Agree with the rest, but not sure anyone said we could all live off roadkill.

      I’ve had the debate before about whether you should kill your own animals if you want to eat meat. I don’t think you should, any more than you should build your own house if you want to live in one (we can’t all do everything). But you said ‘willing to’, and I think I agree with that. If you say that you could never, under any circumstances, kill an animal, then maybe you shouldn’t eat meat.

    • 7Peter Green October 16th, 2017

      What’s so funny or unreasonable about eating roadkill? And I didn’t say we should all live off roadkill if that implies that I see it as a sole source of meat for everyone.
      However, there is a lot of roadkill out there and for me, I find it a very plentiful supply of meat. On the occasions that I come across a deer, I have good meat for quite some time, not to mention a skin, or part of, for use in many items and there’s not many days you would struggle to find a pheasant in the UK countryside, thanks to the gamekeepers that bread them for fools with more money that sense to shoot!
      If you find the idea of eating and using roadkill, you’re blinkered and missing out!

    • 8Dave Darby October 16th, 2017

      John’s not saying that eating roadkill is unreasonable – he’s saying it won’t feed many of us.
      However, he implied that you were saying that we could all be sustained by roadkill, which you weren’t.
      So maybe start again. Clearly, neither of you are against eating meat.

      I prefer the philosophical questions though – what does eating meat do to us? It doesn’t really change much for the cattle, sheep and goats – they’ve always been meat, and they still are. Their purpose in the food chain is to provide meat for animals higher up the food chain – in fact they’d become extinct if they weren’t part of that chain. They need their weakest preyed upon, to maintain the genetic strength of the species. So is it worse for them to fulfill that function on a farm, or in the wild? Their wild cousins suffer terribly – watching their kids torn apart, then waiting, in constant terror, for it to inevitably happen to them. The way we treat them on farms is quite benign compared to that – or at least it is on the right kind of farms.

      But what does it do to us? It’s often said that only people who are willing to kill animals should eat meat. But a lot of people are, perfectly prepared to kill a large, sentient being for its meat, even though we don’t need to – we could live perfectly well without doing that. What does killing sentient beings unnecessarily do to us?

    • 9John Harrison October 16th, 2017

      Sorry Peter – I should have put that much better. I don’t believe roadkill can make a significant contribution in a national context. Strangely we see very little here anyway and what we do see tends to be 2 dimensional.

    • 10Peter Green October 16th, 2017

      To add to this, regarding the Hugging idea, I see roadkill as part of eating meat, as I said, hunting (and fishing) is also an option for a lot of people.
      I also agree that eating a small amount of meat is a good idea too.
      My idea of hugging is to incorporate many ways of acquiring food, including more modern ways (roadkill) as well as ‘native’ ways too. The latter being the core of my thinking.
      I’m not sure hugging would work for the ridiculously large population we currently have, but it may play a part in the bigger picture, particularly for those that are drawn to a primitive lifestyle and don’t feel the need or desire to live a modern life.
      My thinking is also to set seeds of ideas, not to suggest that Hugging is a great idea and everyone should jump on board. We can take a small part of an idea and incorporate the part(s) we feel drawn to, Hugging included.

    • 11John Harrison October 16th, 2017

      It’s not so much actually doing it as accepting and knowing what is involved. People are so divorced from their food. I was told this once “I don’t want those home grown vegetables, they’re dirty. I’ll stick to proper clean stuff from Asda”
      If you look into regenerative agriculture, that’s very dependent on the animal contribution. Even allotment holders and back garden growers are depending on manures – or chemical fertilisers – supplementing the compost input to produce decent yields.
      Natural – I take your point as I made mine poorly. We are part of the eco-system and not outside it. We ignore and abuse the ecology at our peril. Man has the wonderful gift of intelligence and reason. Sadly we don’t use it enough and when predictable results bite us in the backside we’re surprised.When the topsoil is depleted and climate change really hits, it will be too late to change.

    • 12John Harrison October 16th, 2017

      It’s that ‘ridiculously large population’ that’s the real problem. I’m actually quite anti-foraging. Hordes of Londoners stripping Epping Forest of every mushroom for the benefit of people who pay mad prices in restaurants. Blackberry picking is one thing but leave some for the wild. Hunting I’ve no problem with responsible hunters. As for moron lampers who managed to kill 2 of my cats. My Norwegian pal is allowed to take 2 elk? (not sure, his English misses at times) a year. They control their hunting which seems a good idea.

    • 13Joshua Msika October 16th, 2017

      We should all think more about everything we pass through our digestive tracts for sustenance. The meat/non-meat distinction is a false dichotomy.

    • 14Dave Darby October 16th, 2017

      … others think that taking the life of a sentient being when you don’t have to – or not – is a very important dichotomy (in terms of its impact on our continued evolution). I don’t feel in a position to tell them that it’s not, and I’m not sure how anyone else could be. It’s just opinion and persuasion, in the end.

    • 15Rosewood Farm's Robbert Rose October 16th, 2017

      In a country that is considering re introducing large predators to control deer it would seem that there is lots of potential to increase the amount of hunting that happens here – one might even say that it is our moral duty to eat meat, particularly that of invasive species like the Grey Squirrel or problem species such as Roe Deer that threaten our non-meat foods.

      As regards health, I don’t think there’s much evidence of us eating too much for our health. Yes there are correlations between high meat diets and unhealthy people but equally there are very healthy high-meat consumers, too.

      As well as eating more meat we are also eating significantly more vegetables, the trouble is that we are, relatively speaking, spending less money on food, which impacts upon buying choices and overall diet quality.

      There is a huge drive now to get people paying more for meat by eating less of it – the trouble with this approach is that it doesn’t address either diet quality (eating less meat doesn’t mean you’re eating a better diet) or the food economy. It assumes that your meat is a) being produced on land suitable for conversion to human edible crops and b) that the farmer can easily switch from animals to crops. Rarely is this the case and even if it were, you’re putting no more money into the food economy. Farmers selling ‘less’ have higher costs as a result so what actually gets back to providing more income or improvements in animal welfare are negligible.

      I believe that we need to eat more sustainably produced meat, not less, to really give the sector a boost and make it seem attractive to other farmers. If people can be encouraged to eat as much meat as they like, but only eat sustainably produced then eventually supply will naturally be restricted, forcing up prices and driving down consumption. This avoids the short term negative effects of people eating less, effects that have a long term negative effect on production and therefore overall consumption.

    • 16Rosewood Farm's Robbert Rose October 16th, 2017

      Making the decision based purely upon whether the food being eaten once had a beating heart is totally false – it’s a perfectly legitimate personal choice, of course, but it tells you nothing about the other aspects of food production. It may be that the non-animal food was responsible for near to zero deaths because it was grown in an environment with near to zero-life, likewise for meat.

      I see it as a total sum – I may have to kill my animals to produce meat, but in being alive they create an environment that contains more life than if I converted the pasture to cropland. Overall there are far greater numbers of living beings present (both wild and domestic, that I don’t kill) than if the land was either cropped or un-managed. And I am totally happy with that.

    • 17Dave Darby October 16th, 2017

      Personally, I agree with all of you – John, Pete, Joshua, Robb – but there will be those who want to bring into the conversation (and I’m surprised they’re not here already) the question as to whether it is damaging to us to kill sentient beings – and they deserve a place in the conversation, I think.

    • 18John Harrison October 16th, 2017

      Killing animals (I’ve not killed any people.. although I’ve felt like it!) is something that gets easier. That tells me I’m becoming desensitised. However, I still apologise and state why. Which is something many ‘primitive peoples’ do. I’m an agnostic, but I figure if we have souls then so do other lifeforms. Oddly, perhaps, I’ve found mercy killing mice and baby rabbits the cats have brought in just as distressing as a chicken for the pot.

    • 19Rosewood Farm's Robbert Rose October 16th, 2017

      I personally feel less damaged now than when I was vegetarian as I realised that I wasn’t not killing sentient beings, I was just not eating any – there is a huge difference there. It’s very human-centric to deny life on the basis that it is better than killing life that already exists, as we are not taking the animal into consideration at all, we are only considering our own feelings.

    • 20Sus Scrofa October 17th, 2017

      I think it is an inconsistency to believe in unalienable human rights, but not in animal rights. Do we not give rights to humans because we recognize their will to live, and their capacities for joy and suffering? If we recognize these same qualities in animals, we need to either extend some of these rights to them, or be able to point to a difference that, if it applied to humans, would justify refusing them these rights as well. Species is not a good dividing line for this, as it is basically another form of in-group preference, and if we accept that for assigning and denying beings moral value, we run into all kinds of problems.

    • 21Dave Darby October 17th, 2017

      A couple of things though:
      1. who decides what those inalienable animal rights are? Some people think that animals shouldn’t be killed, some think they’re fair game – how do we decide who’s right?
      2. if we do decide that animals have an inalienable right not to be killed, how do we explain that to carnivorous animals? If a right is inalienable, it’s inalienable. Can you imagine if we could explain those rights to an animal – ‘great news, you have the inalienable right not to be killed by being shot though the brain by humans – but you have no such right not to be chased to exhaustion and torn apart by wolves’. I’m not sure the animal would be overjoyed.
      Herbivorous animals are part of a food chain. Every single one of them will end up being eaten, unless their predators have been removed, in which case they’ll die of starvation, which is almost definitely worse. Does it really matter to them whether they’re killed by wolves, bears or humans (apart from the fact that it will be far less painful if it’s by humans)?

    • 22Andrew Rollinson October 17th, 2017

      I don’t eat meat or dairy; the latter for medical reasons, the former through choice. If I could digest lactose, I would not consume it however, knowing what I do about how it is produced by modern farming practices. I’ve not commented so far because I didn’t have anything new to say in addition to that which I had already written on the Smiling Tree Farm post. I have been interested to read these additional comments.
      If I were starving, or more to the point if my wife and children were starving, I believe that I would kill and eat an animal. If I had a large small-holding and found that a few animals were necessary to help keep my family in fertiliser and protein, then I would probably keep animals too. But it is not necessary for most people to do this.
      I do agree with John, that 21st Century western living is too detached from death and suffering (if you exclude mental stress). It is barbarism how animals are killed for meat such as featherless chickens strapped by their feet upside-down on a moving track in an automated factory where their throats are cut by a rotating blame at a rate of about one chicken per second. And, I think that it is also barbarism by operating a dairy in the way that Smiling Tree farm does. While this occurs, unnecessarily, civilisation will not progress I don’t think. And really by considering nature as being brutal, human civilisation should endeavour to rise above such brutality
      Just a final thing to mention, about John’s cats. Would you eat them John? I cannot understand why there are double standards about which mammals are worthy of cruelty and death, and why one can go to jail for kicking a cat.

    • 23John Harrison October 17th, 2017

      I wouldn’t eat my cats – their job is to be a pet and control rodents. I suspect they would eat me if it came down to it. No animal should be treated with cruelty.

    • 24Sus Scrofa October 17th, 2017

      1. I think if we accept that animal rights can be derived from human rights, and that one needs to be able to point to relevant differences in capabilities or needs to strip animals of rights humans have, there can be a consensus on lot of things. If a human had the capabilities and needs of let’s say a pig, would we accept stripping them off their right not to be killed (unless in cases like self-defence), or their right not to be experimented on without consent? I don’t think so. On the other hand, would we need to grant them the right to vote? Probably not, as most people would accept stripping humans with no intellectual capability to grasp what a political system is of this right.

      2. We do not expect predators to respect human rights (which is a sub-category of animal rights), so why would we expect them to respect other animal rights? Animals, for the most part, are not moral agents. We try to prevent bears or other large animals from killing and eating humans, but if it happens, the bear cannot be held morally accountable because it has no adequate concept of morality. It cannot be compared to a human doing the same thing.

      I would want to highlight that your argument is an argument for hunting, and hunting alone. No form of domestication would fit the justification that wildlife population needs to be controlled. I agree that a wild animal’s life is no joke, and there is certainly nothing better about being torn apart by wolves than being shot from the subjective point of view of the prey, and it’s certainly true that we cannot maintain a stable eco system without predation… yet. There are other forms of population control that involve less harm to sentient life, but we’re not nearly there yet, and it is questionable if we would be able to build a stable eco system around such mechanisms.

      Wild animal suffering remains a necessary evil in our day and age. We accept that as price for a stable eco system, just as we accept that people die in car accidents every year as the price for transportation.

      As for hunting vs natural predators: I think an eco system with natural predators is a more self-regulating, more stable system, and is therefore preferable, but I’m not an ecologist and I’m not a hunter, so this is a belief rather than a strong opinion. I still see the old conflict between the normative ethical theories of deontology and consequentialism here though. Is the action itself (killing) the defining factor to judge an action by, or the consequence? And if the latter, do all ends justify all means, and if not, which ends do justify which means?

      It’s almost never a black or white scenario when rights conflict, but I think animal rights would help in finding more sensible solutions to problems, even if the exact solutions will have to be judged case-by-case. As it is now, mankind dominates where it can, degrading the rest of the animal kingdom to mere objects.

    • 25Dave Darby October 17th, 2017

      1. ‘I think if we accept that animal rights can be derived from human rights, and that one needs to be able to point to relevant differences in capabilities or needs to strip animals of rights humans have, there can be a consensus on lot of things.’
      But we don’t accept that, which is why we don’t have consensus. Most people believe that it’s fine to keep animals for food, and some don’t – how do we decide who’s right? Or do we leave that decision to individuals?

      2. But if we did accept it – that animals have inalienable rights derived from human rights, and one of those rights is not to be killed, let’s examine what that would mean. If humans were being killed by wild animals anywhere in the world, measures would be taken to stop it happening – either the wild animals would be killed, or a barrier would be built between the humans and the wild animals. But that could never be the case with animals. Nature dictates that herbivorous animals in the wild will be eaten by carnivorous animals, and no-one is saying that that’s a problem.
      This makes an inalienable right not to be killed impossible for animals – only an inalienable right not to be killed by humans. This is the important point. it means that a belief that humans should not kill animals must be about humans, not animals. They can’t possibly have an inalinable right not to be killed, but we could have an inalienable duty not to be killers – but because of the effect it would have on us, not on the animals (who are going to be killed anyway).

      Do you see what I mean?

      But something jumped out at me from your comment – you were beginning to explore the possibility of ecosystems without predators, and I’d like to hear more about what you’re thinking.

    • 26Dave Darby October 17th, 2017

      ‘considering nature as being brutal, human civilisation should endeavour to rise above such brutality’
      This is what I’m trying to say in my reply to Sus Scrofa, above.
      For me, for a belief that humans should stop killing animals to be consistent, it has to be about human welfare, not animal welfare, because nature is extremely brutal to animals in the wild, even if we stop killing them. They can’t escape brutality, but we can stop being brutal.
      I think that we have to be honest, and say that it is about our development (spiritual or otherwise), and not about animal welfare.

    • 27Rosewood Farm's Robbert Rose October 17th, 2017

      It is commonly suggested that killing animals is the result of domestication and/or hunting for food. What this fails to acknowledge is that, if we accept the right of the animal not to be killed for human purposes then we must also accept the right for the animal not to be killed or otherwise restricted from feeding itself on our crops. Predators may have been removed to protect our livestock but it therefore follows that far more herbivores have been removed to protect crops.

    • 28Rosewood Farm's Robbert Rose October 17th, 2017

      Yes, it is totally human-centric, nothing to do with the needs or desires of the animal but those of the human. The needs or desires of the animal are not considered, or if they are those needs and desires are coming from the perspective of the human, not the animal.

    • 29Andrew Wright October 17th, 2017

      Bringing a creature into the world doesn’t give you the right to take them out of, even if their life was a net positive. I would not exist if not for my parents’ decision to have me, but this doesn’t give them the right to turn me into a product and harm me in various ways. Likewise, if I decided to breed my dog and then devour her young pups, I could plausibly claim that I had created life where it would otherwise not have existed, and that it was better for the dogs to live for a short while that to have never lived at all, but this wouldn’t get me off the hook. Once a creature has been brought into existence, he or she has a claim and desire to continue existing. We cannot just dismiss that on the grounds that the animal owes its existence to us. An animal bred for fur farming, dog fighting, bull fighting or canned hunting owes his/her existence to those practices, but it doesn’t justify them, even though the animals may in fact have net positive lives.

    • 30Rosewood Farm's Robbert Rose October 17th, 2017

      If an animal has rights that are exclusive from the human then you don’t ‘breed’ them – they breed themselves, unless you exercise your right to stop them breeding, which in itself is an infringements of their rights. If you have no right to end their life then neither do you have a right to prevent them from creating new life.

    • 31Peter Green October 17th, 2017

      I’m not sure if we need to define ‘rights’ here..?
      As I see it, no one or thing has any rights, other than those granted by another, which logic dictates has to be a human and is usually a body of people – a government.
      I’m wondering if people are talking here about rights in more than one sense. We have a kind of wishy washy natural birth right (more of a feeling than a right in a legal sense), or rights as given by other humans – legal rights. As well as a perceived ‘moral correctness’.

    • 32The Big Garden and Croft October 19th, 2017

      J & D > Ethics are relative. Anyone who wants to pass judgement on the way we keep ourselves fed and clothed and fulfilled should first come and live with us for five years or more. Then they might just understand what is possible, practicable and acceptable in our environment and circumstances. A lot of what is said by the anti-meat people about what can be done with a croft in the Highlands and (especially) the islands is simply fanciful. Well meant, but fanciful. We treat our livestock as humanely as possible – far better than the best standards required by law. It is simply not possible to grow here enough vegetable protein using a proportionate amount of labour.

    • 33Sus Scrofa October 22nd, 2017

      Sorry for the late answer. Crazy weak. Anyway…


      1. ‘I think if we accept that animal rights can be derived from human rights, and that one needs to be able to point to relevant differences in capabilities or needs to strip animals of rights humans have, there can be a consensus on lot of things.’
      But we don’t accept that, which is why we don’t have consensus. Most people believe that it’s fine to keep animals for food, and some don’t – how do we decide who’s right? Or do we leave that decision to individuals?

      Well, at some point in time, people didn’t accept black people had the same rights as whites. Argumentation wasn’t enough to convince people… wars were fought about it. Does that mean there was no right or wrong answer to that? I don’t think so. That our society does not question some instances of oppression is nothing new.

      Now, before you jump down my throat and say my words imply that blacks equal animals, or some other offensive thing my words weren’t meant to express (you wouldn’t believe how often I’ve been called a racist during discussions about animal rights), my words were just meant to highlight that there may be societal consensus or a majority that’s blatantly wrong. (Now is usually the time people start arguing meta ethics with me… feel free to bring this up in an eventual response if you’re interested).


      2. But if we did accept it – that animals have inalienable rights derived from human rights, and one of those rights is not to be killed, let’s examine what that would mean. If humans were being killed by wild animals anywhere in the world, measures would be taken to stop it happening – either the wild animals would be killed, or a barrier would be built between the humans and the wild animals. But that could never be the case with animals. Nature dictates that herbivorous animals in the wild will be eaten by carnivorous animals, and no-one is saying that that’s a problem.
      This makes an inalienable right not to be killed impossible for animals – only an inalienable right not to be killed by humans. This is the important point. it means that a belief that humans should not kill animals must be about humans, not animals. They can’t possibly have an inalinable right not to be killed, but we could have an inalienable duty not to be killers – but because of the effect it would have on us, not on the animals (who are going to be killed anyway).

      Do you see what I mean?

      I see your point, but there are some things that aren’t really that straightforward IMO. When you say “if humans were being killed by wild animals anywhere in the world, measures would be taken to stop it happening”, is that really true?

      If we look at indigenous people in South America or Africa, how many of them get killed by local wildlife? Do we even know? Nobody would be calling this a human rights violation, and take measures to intervene on an international level to eradicate poisonous snakes in the Amazon, or build a lion-proof barrier around some Maasai village. If a stronger faction of humans invaded these territories and enslaved or eradicated the locals though, that would be a human rights violation. I therefore think that human rights have ALWAYS been about humans respecting human rights, and acknowledging and respecting non-human animal rights would not necessitate policing other animals for violation of these.

      The other way to see this is that protecting human rights from violation by non-human animals is just not feasible without
      a) disrupting the prefered way of living of the humans involved (which would violate their right to freedom), or
      b) destroying the local eco system by making a certain class of predators go extinct.

      a) Is a conflict of rights. Are we allowed to strip people of freedom to protect their right to life? I don’t think we do in that context. The same would apply to herbivorous animals. We could offer them shelter if they prefered to stay, but the possibility of them having their rights violated by other animals outside does not give us the right to violate their rights ourselves by incarcerating them.

      b) Is a conflict of rights vs other worthwhile endeavors. Sometimes, we have to do these things. Are not prison inmates humans, too? Yet we take their right to freedom to maintain order in our society, which benefits a lot of people. If we deem upholding eco systems and biodiversity worthwhile goals, violations of rights such as herbivores being killed and eaten may be a necessary evil that we will have to put up with, while still acknowledging that we would be wrong to contribute in the ongoing violation of rights ourselves.


      But something jumped out at me from your comment – you were beginning to explore the possibility of ecosystems without predators, and I’d like to hear more about what you’re thinking.

      As I said, I’m not an ecologist… but what is predation good for, really? IMO It’s
      1. Population control.
      2. Evolutionary pressure.

      1. Why do we need population control? I think we only need it because most herbivores have such short gestation periods that they manage to outbreed the reproductive capabilities of the plants they eat. If this happens, the relevant plants die out (because all of them are eaten), after which the herbivore that was reliant on them dies out as well. This is undesirable… therefore, we have predators that increase in population if the herbivores’ population increases as a regulatory mechanism to prevent that.

      Now, a stable eco system without predation would need to keep populations in check without killing… that is to say, through some kind of birth control. We’re far from it, and far from understanding all the implications that would arise from that, but I don’t think it is impossible to genetically re-engineer herbivorous mammals to have longer gestation periods. That can’t be the final solution though, because that’d only increase the time the system would need to get out of balance… what IMO would be needed is a regulatory link between plant and herbivore population.

      In bacteria, there is a mechanism called quorum sensing. In short, it’s a mechanism that allows bacteria to assess their population density and make physiological decisions based on the result. My knowledge of plant physiology is limited, so I cannot assess if this would be doable on a completely biological basis, but if we imagine a decentralized system of plants fused with information technology (yes, I’m thinking about cyborg plants), such a mechanism would be possible.

      If the plant population density decreased beyond a certain threwshold, this could trigger a genetic switch in the plant that causes it to produce certain signaling molecules. These could be some kind of birth control as we already know it, putting deer on the pill so to say, but could also increase gestation periods. (I haven’t thought about the best setscrew, and my thoughts would be based on insufficient knowledge of mammal reproductive biology anyway.) Of course, the plants would need to stop producing said signalling molecule as soon as their population density surpasses a certain threwshold again. This way, we’d have a self-regulating system without the need for predation for population control.

      2. Why do we need evolutionary pressure? Evolution has been vital in adapting to changing circumstances, but if we dictate the circumstances, do we still need it? I think if we get close to the capabilities that would be needed to even think about implementing solutions like the ones I’ve outlined in 1, we’d be close to dictating the circumstances like climate etc. as well. If we got rid of the genetic mechanism for adaptation, and got rid of the need to adapt, there’d be no need to ‘weed out’ unfit individuals, since no such would be born.

      Anyway, even if these ideas are possible, I think neither you nor I will be around to see our science and technology progress to that level. There’s also the question “should we do it if we could?”. I think you’d probably say ‘no’, as it’s the opposite of low impact… this is maximum impact thinking. Some people would say we’d be playing god. From an altruistic POV though, I wonder if we wouldn’t have an obligation to do it, as it would get rid of such a cruel system involving a lot of suffering.

      Now that I’ve convinced you I’m a nutcase, let me say thank you for our little back-and-forth, Dave. Meeting well-spoken opposition to ideas is a welcome chance to grow, and putting some of my utopian (or dystopian?) ideas into writing was helpful as well. Maybe I should write a novel, hah!

    • 34Dave Darby October 23rd, 2017

      1. No – absolutely nothing racist about what you said.
      But, I don’t believe that anything is ‘blatantly wrong’ – when it comes to ethics, we can only discuss and debate until we come up with rules that just about work, and then build a legal system around it to punish people who transgress. Did you know that the Romans believed that slavery was voluntary? After wars, enemy combatants and civilians were captured and given two options – death or slavery. Most chose slavery, and voila, their ethical problem was removed – slavery was voluntary. They didn’t question whether the wars should have happened in the first place – they saw them as inevitable, as tribes had battled each other for territory in every part of the world, way back into prehistory. As I’ve said before, I’m not at all sure that eating meat is wrong (blatantly or otherwise), but if debate results in the majority believing that it is, then we’ll stop doing it. We’re nowhere near that though.

      2. I’ll try to put it another way.
      if you were in the wild, and saw a bear in the process of killing a deer, and you had a gun, would you shoot the bear? I’m guessing you wouldn’t. But if the bear was killing a human, I’m guessing (and really hoping) that you’d shoot the bear. (if you wouldn’t, then we’re on different planets, philosophically speaking, and we’re never going to understand each other).
      So, if you’re happy to allow a bear to kill a deer, even though you could prevent it, what would be the difference (for the deer) if it were killed by a hunter? This can’t possibly be about animal rights, because for the deer, it really doesn’t matter if it’s killed by a bear or a hunter. Most ‘animal rights’ activists would (I’m guessing) be happy for the deer to be killed by any animal at all – apart from a human. So I’m saying that this question is all about humans, not animal rights – i.e. what effect does killing animals have on us, rather than on animals? The animals are going to be killed anyway – either in abbatoirs or in the wild (or if farming animals is abolished, then just in the wild) – but nothing we do is going to save animals from violent, painful deaths.

      PS I don’t think you’re a nutcase. Who knows what will happen in future? Actually, the future looks a little bleak for nature (and therefore humans), so we may not even be around for much longer. But right now, with a capitalist economic system and low-quality political leaders, I really wouldn’t encourage any genetic manipulation of ecosystems.

      Thank you too – nice for opposing viewpoints to be able to meet without hysteria or insults.

    • 35Sus Scrofa October 25th, 2017

      1.”
      But, I don’t believe that anything is ‘blatantly wrong’ – when it comes to ethics, we can only discuss and debate until we come up with rules that just about work, and then build a legal system around it to punish people who transgress. Did you know that the Romans believed that slavery was voluntary? After wars, enemy combatants and civilians were captured and given two options – death or slavery. Most chose slavery, and voila, their ethical problem was removed – slavery was voluntary. They didn’t question whether the wars should have happened in the first place – they saw them as inevitable, as tribes had battled each other for territory in every part of the world, way back into prehistory. As I’ve said before, I’m not at all sure that eating meat is wrong (blatantly or otherwise), but if debate results in the majority believing that it is, then we’ll stop doing it. We’re nowhere near that though.

      I think there are ethical truths, and we’re moving closer to them as our ethics evolve. There may be more than one right answer to some questions (as e.g. described in Sam Harris’ “The Moral Landscape”), but I think abolishing animal agriculture will be a necessity. I don’t think eating is per se wrong, by the way; I see no problem in eating roadkill or other carrion. It’s harming sentient life that’s wrong.

      2.

      A) Would I kill a bear to save a deer? No.
      B) Would I kill a bear to save a human? Generally, yes.
      C) Would I kill a shrimp to save a deer? Absolutely.

      You see, the deciding factor for me is not about whether I have to choose between a human and an animal, but about sentience hierarchy.
      In A), there’s little difference in sentience between the bear and the deer… or maybe the bear is even higher up the hierarchy. Either way, I’d see little to gain by interfering.
      In B), I realize that the human’s life is higher up the sentience hierarchy, so I’d cause a net loss of potential well-being or cause increased suffering by not interfering. The mere fact that one party is classified as human is of no importance, though: If I knew the human being attacked was below the bear in a sentience hierarchy due to mental retardation of some kind, I might decide differently. I might still save the human because I or other people might be emotionally attached, and the second degree suffering his/her death might cause, but not because of their inherent moral value.
      In C), we have a similar situation as in B. Although it is unlikely a single shrimp could kill a deer, I would interfere in such a scenario due to the difference in sentience between the two. I also think a lot of people would react similarly, although they might not have rationalized the basis for this decision.


      This can’t possibly be about animal rights, because for the deer, it really doesn’t matter if it’s killed by a bear or a hunter.

      Let me phrase it like this: Since we established that we cannot get rid of predation in the foreseeable future without sacrificing our eco system and thereby ending possibly all life on the planet, “death by bear” is a cause of death beyond our control. There are other causes of death beyond or control, like certain types of cancer, stroke, heart attack… for a human victim of a heart attack, it doesn’t really matter if he/she dies having it or if I poison them in their sleep. It might even be less painful… I’ve heard heart attacks are quite unpleasant. Does that somehow invalidate the human right not to be killed? Do we get to choose someone’s time and cause of death for them, just because their death by some cause at some point in time is inevitable? I don’t think so.

      Also, if we hunt herbivores that would otherwise be eaten by predators, the predators will kill and eat some other animal they would otherwise have spared, or perish… either way, to say that there is no added harm by humans hunting for food when they don’t need to in order to feed themselves is just not true.

      I’d call myself an animal rights activist, and I’m certainly not happy for animals to be violently killed by anyone, but I realize that there are certain deaths I cannot prevent, but I’m sure that there are those that would call me a human supremacist by suggesting we should intervene (if we had the means to do so positively) in animal lives at all, putting animal’s right to self-determination above my notions of altruism. Animal rights advocacy is hardly a united front.

    • 36Rosewood Farm's Robbert Rose October 25th, 2017

      “Also, if we hunt herbivores that would otherwise be eaten by predators, the predators will kill and eat some other animal they would otherwise have spared, or perish… either way, to say that there is no added harm by humans hunting for food when they don’t need to in order to feed themselves is just not true.”

      You do realise that if you eat plants that would have otherwise been eaten by herbivores then you have created exactly the same scenario? The herbivore would have to eat some other plant or perish. Further up the food chain the predator would also perish because you’ve eaten the food it’s prey could have eaten…

    • 37Sus Scrofa October 26th, 2017


      “Also, if we hunt herbivores that would otherwise be eaten by predators, the predators will kill and eat some other animal they would otherwise have spared, or perish… either way, to say that there is no added harm by humans hunting for food when they don’t need to in order to feed themselves is just not true.”

      You do realise that if you eat plants that would have otherwise been eaten by herbivores then you have created exactly the same scenario? The herbivore would have to eat some other plant or perish. Further up the food chain the predator would also perish because you’ve eaten the food it’s prey could have eaten…

      True, but that would only be relevant to ethics if I grant plant lives moral value, which I don’t. I’m arguing for animal rights, not plant rights. AFAIK plants aren’t conscious/sentient, and although my knowledge of plant physiology doesn’t go beyond 2 courses at university, I think it’s highly unlikely that hard evidence for such a phenomenon will be found in future research.

      I don’t know if some of your other comments were directed at me as well (I find the way replies to comments are handled here a bit confusing to be honest), but I’d like to address some anyway:


      It is commonly suggested that killing animals is the result of domestication and/or hunting for food. What this fails to acknowledge is that, if we accept the right of the animal not to be killed for human purposes then we must also accept the right for the animal not to be killed or otherwise restricted from feeding itself on our crops. Predators may have been removed to protect our livestock but it therefore follows that far more herbivores have been removed to protect crops.

      I think that’s a bit of a straw man argument. All countries that accept human rights also accept infringing on them for human purposes… what else is prison than an infringement on the human freedom of movement? We also accept that we may infringe on the human right to life for people like the fighters for the islamic state to protect other human interests. Also, “right for the animal not be be restricted from feeding itself on our crops”? Since when did human rights mean we are not allowed to protect our property or livelihood? That’s a very unrealistic sentiment you’re expressing here, and I doubt you’ll find anyone but the most idiotic animal rights advocates support such a position.


      It’s very human-centric to deny life on the basis that it is better than killing life that already exists, as we are not taking the animal into consideration at all, we are only considering our own feelings.

      So are you actually saying you see no moral difference between birth control and murder?

    • 38Rosewood Farm's Rob October 26th, 2017

      ““Also, if we hunt herbivores that would otherwise be eaten by predators, the predators will kill and eat some other animal they would otherwise have spared, or perish… either way, to say that there is no added harm by humans hunting for food when they don’t need to in order to feed themselves is just not true.”

      You do realise that if you eat plants that would have otherwise been eaten by herbivores then you have created exactly the same scenario? The herbivore would have to eat some other plant or perish. Further up the food chain the predator would also perish because you’ve eaten the food it’s prey could have eaten…

      True, but that would only be relevant to ethics if I grant plant lives moral value, which I don’t. I’m arguing for animal rights, not plant rights. AFAIK plants aren’t conscious/sentient, and although my knowledge of plant physiology doesn’t go beyond 2 courses at university, I think it’s highly unlikely that hard evidence for such a phenomenon will be found in future research.”

      Nope, you’re wrong, it has absolutely *nothing* to do with plant sentience at all – it’s about the animals which eat the plants. If you’re eating the plant then another animal isn’t. The herbivore has to eat, and something eats the herbivore. Just because you’ve taken your nutritive value before the animal can get to it doesn’t mean that you’re outside of that particular food chain – you’re in competition with the herbivore whether you eat it or not. Your food choices have an impact on other species, no matter what you choose to eat, ‘added harm’ is not the preserve of the hunter.

    • 39Rosewood Farm's Rob October 26th, 2017

      “”
      It’s very human-centric to deny life on the basis that it is better than killing life that already exists, as we are not taking the animal into consideration at all, we are only considering our own feelings.

      So are you actually saying you see no moral difference between birth control and murder?”

      No, had I said that I would have said that. I’m saying that it is not taking the animal into consideration, only our own feelings.

    • 40Rosewood Farm's Rob October 26th, 2017


      It is commonly suggested that killing animals is the result of domestication and/or hunting for food. What this fails to acknowledge is that, if we accept the right of the animal not to be killed for human purposes then we must also accept the right for the animal not to be killed or otherwise restricted from feeding itself on our crops. Predators may have been removed to protect our livestock but it therefore follows that far more herbivores have been removed to protect crops.

      I think that’s a bit of a straw man argument. All countries that accept human rights also accept infringing on them for human purposes… what else is prison than an infringement on the human freedom of movement? We also accept that we may infringe on the human right to life for people like the fighters for the islamic state to protect other human interests. Also, “right for the animal not be be restricted from feeding itself on our crops”? Since when did human rights mean we are not allowed to protect our property or livelihood? That’s a very unrealistic sentiment you’re expressing here, and I doubt you’ll find anyone but the most idiotic animal rights advocates support such a position.

      Animals don’t have a concept of prison – retribution is a little more immediate in the animal-world. My point was that herbivores have been removed to protect crops as much as (or more than) predators have been removed to protect livestock, and this is an inconsistency in logic to highlight one and not the other, out of the convenience of maintaining an ethical position.

    • 41Sus Scrofa October 26th, 2017

      “”
      It’s very human-centric to deny life on the basis that it is better than killing life that already exists, as we are not taking the animal into consideration at all, we are only considering our own feelings.

      So are you actually saying you see no moral difference between birth control and murder?”

      No, had I said that I would have said that. I’m saying that it is not taking the animal into consideration, only our own feelings.

      Okay, so morality aside, on a subjective level, you believe that it makes no difference to a being if it is murdered or if it never existed?

    • 42Dave Darby October 26th, 2017

      Sus Scrofa

      1. About moral certainty: bizarre that you should mention Sam Harris. I’ve just been following his debate with Noam Chomsky about Western intervention in the Middle East. Chomsky gave him a bit of an intellectual kicking (although Harris didn’t realise it). He demonstrated that he knows very little about the nature of power in capitalism. Anyway, what I’m getting round to is that you say that you think that abolishing animal agriculture will come to be seen as a moral necessity, but give no reason as to why that might be, apart from the fact that it’s what you believe. And this is my point – there is nothing for you to point to to show that animal agriculture is wrong, because there is no moral certainty, only opinion – and if enough people can be persuaded that animal agriculture is morally wrong, it will eventually stop. But we are so far from that point, if it ever comes, that we’ll continue to promote the type of animal agriculture that is sustainable and as humane as it’s possible to be (and there’s a case to be made that an animal’s life on an organic smallholding can be better than it might be in the wild – although of course we can’t ask them).

      2. About hierarchy of sentience: I find this argument strange. You’d then have to intervene to stop a python killing a deer – and from that I guess you’d want to stop all mammals being killed by reptiles if you could, in which case snakes would likely become extinct. Not a good thing from an ecological point of view.

      3. About predation / hunting: I don’t think your sums are correct. If we don’t keep animals, they will all be wild, and will die (barring a miracle) from predation, starvation or disease; and if we don’t hunt animals, this will still be the case. Whether we hunt them or bears hunt them does nothing to the numbers – it just means that some animals will have a quick and relatively painless death from a bullet, rather than being chased and torn apart. Therefore, as I said, there can’t possibly be any additional harm from humans hunting animals.

    • 43Rosewood Farm's Rob October 26th, 2017

      Again, it is not taking the animal into consideration. The ‘no difference’ argument is a moot point. If an animal has never lived it cannot die, and cannot suffer – it’s not ‘better’ for the animal, because there is no animal. Clearly animals have a desire to continue their species, whether conciously or not, otherwise they would not breed, even though they may suffer in the process. So, from the animal’s POV it must be better to live and be killed than never to live at all, otherwise life would not exist, or would have remained non-sentient.

    • 44Dave Darby October 27th, 2017

      This has been a very interesting exchange. The most important point for me, that has crystallised out of this discussion, is that herbivores are part of a food chain. They all get eaten in the end – mainly by carnivores (if they’re present, and if they’re not, it causes problems for ecosystems, and ultimately for the herbivores themselves), but even if they die from disease, starvation or accident, they still get eaten by scavengers, maggots or bacteria. The only possible exceptions are if they die in a fire that turns them to ash, or they’re preserved in a peat bog – extremely rare occurrences. So I think that from an ecological perspective, the important thing is to eat less meat overall, to run animals on land that can’t be used to grow crops, or better still, to run animals in woodland (pigs), orchards (sheep or cattle) or bushy scrubland (goats), to maintain habitat or to make farmland more productive. Because in the end, it can’t possibly matter to the herbivore which other species in the food chain ends up eating them.

    • 45Rosewood Farm's Rob October 27th, 2017

      I’d agree with all of your summary, Dave, aside from the immediate assumption that “the important thing is to eat less meat overall” – why say that? It may be true, or it may not, but the amount we eat does not change what we eat. If we’re eating unsustainably produced food then it doesn’t matter how much we eat or what it is, it remains unsustainable. Equally, if we are eating sustainably produced food, eating more of it doesn’t make it less sustainable, and eating less doesn’t make it more sustainable. The biggest folly in sustainability is that reducing consumption improves sustainability, when in many cases it has the opposite effect, as investment goes down when we spend less and impacts upon sustainability through cost. The important thing is to eat more sustainably produced food overall and allow investment in sustainable production systems.

    • 46Dave Darby October 28th, 2017

      The argument that we eat less meat is covered in the ‘land’ position in the main article.

      ‘if we are eating sustainably produced food, eating more of it doesn’t make it less sustainable’
      – this seems self-evidently untrue. If every human doubled the amount of food they ate, obviously it would have a massive environmental impact.

      ‘The biggest folly in sustainability is that reducing consumption improves sustainability’
      – then we are guilty of that folly. One of the main things we stand for at Lowimpact.org is reducing personal consumption (https://www.lowimpact.org/lowimpact-topic/downshifting/) and stopping the insane quest for perpetual economic growth https://www.lowimpact.org/lowimpact-topic/steady-state-economics/).

    • 47Rosewood Farm's Rob October 28th, 2017

      Thanks Dave, the ‘Steady-state economics’ article demonstrated my point beautifully, which leaves me even more perplexed why you would say specifically that it is important that we eat less meat.

      As the article says in explanation point 3 –

      “It’s not possible to ring-fence that increase in spending power so that it’s never spent on material things. If people have more money, they buy more cars, TVs, clothes, foreign holidays, second homes etc.”

      This is the whole point of the ‘eat less’ idea – real food is not a material good, it is highly perishable and expensive to produce because of this. Sucessive governments and global corporations have driven down the cost of food and also driven us to believe that the high carb diet is ‘good’ for us because the ingredients are cheap, and therefore the manufactured goods created from these ingredients are more profitable, at least for the manufacturing industry, while the overall spend on food has declined massively. This leaves more wealth available for buying those consumer goods.

      It may seem untrue that if every human doubled the amount of sustainably produced food they ate they would have a larger impact but that contradicts your point made about spending-power. If they doubled their food bills they would not be able to afford those consumer goods, and therefore the impact would reduce. Also there are other limitations upon sustainable food production than demand – if we physically can’t produce enough then the price rises and consumption naturally falls – it is not a sustainable solution to simply continue to tell people to eat less food.

      Agriculture represents a proportion of our greenhouse gas environmental impact, but it is by no means the largest. 14.5% according to UN figures, reducing our emissions to 85.5% which also claims that we could feed 30% more people. 30% more people would therefore produce 11.15% *more* emissions even before you take into account the extra emissions from the food they eat instead. With the money they save they’d also be spending more on consumer goods, increasing the impact yet further.

    • 48Dave Darby October 29th, 2017

      Crossed wire I think – increasing the proportion of our food that is produced sustainably – yes; increasing the amount of food we eat overall – no. I agree with your argument that food is too cheap, and that we should pay more for sustainably produced food and less on consumer tat. See https://www.lowimpact.org/how-much-should-a-loaf-of-bread-cost/. But I disagree with your point that eating less meat isn’t the sustainable option, because of the ‘land’ argument in the main article.

    • 49Rosewood Farm's Rob October 29th, 2017

      Yet you’ve just advocated a system whereby consumers spend less on the most expensive food (by eating less) and the article implies that you cannot ring-fence that saving to prevent it being spent on tat. The land argument is equally fallicious for the same reason. This is why, in my local area, a reduction in the consumption of meat has led to the growth of crops for biofuels and amenity turf, not reverted to the biodiverse grasslands that once supported many more meat-producing & draught animals.

      I agree that we should pay more for sustainably produced food, but by eating less you also increase the cost, which doesn’t necessarily go back to the producer or be invested in the environment.

    • 50Dave Darby October 29th, 2017

      No, the (steady-state) article says that you can’t ring-fence the increased spending power delivered by economic growth – not the extra-spending power that you have by buying cheaper food! That’s related to downshifting, which involves earning less, as well as spending less on consumer tat.
      With the land argument, you seem to imply that instead of minimising the amount of land we use to produce food, so that natural habitat can be preserved, we should maximise it so that it isn’t used for biofuel crops or golf courses etc.
      If food system A uses twice the amount of land as food system B, then you’re going to find it hard to persuade people that we should lean towards food system A to protect that land from more unsustainable use. Most people would suggest that we use system B, and plant trees on the land taken out of production – and I’d agree with them.

    • 51Rosewood Farm's Rob October 29th, 2017

      As a downshifter who has never really upshifted I know how important meat is to such a lifestyle, especially if you wish to move away from a system that relies upon fossil fuels. The concept of eating less meat only works if you are investing more (to account for the loss of efficiencies) money in the meat you do eat, which doesn’t happen because you can’t ring-fence that spending, whether it comes from economic growth or savings made through cutting back.

      This simplistic ideal of ‘land use’ assumes that we are talking about unsustainable food production – we’re talking about encouraging people to eat more sustainably produced food. The idea that land can only perform a single ‘use’ is also related to this reductionist theory. I support a holistic theory in which land can be used for food production alongside a multitude of different uses including fresh water storage, wildlife habitat creation, carbon storage, etc. We need to maximise the area under sustainable management which may, but not necessarily, produce less food per acre but when combined with setting aside area A for food, area B for a water resevoir, area C for woodland, area D for migratory birds, area E for human housing, area F for botanical species, area G for amphibians, etc. it becomes a far more efficient land use both in terms of food production, environmental protection and other resource preservation.

    • 52Dave Darby October 29th, 2017

      I’ve read that through several times, but really can’t extract what you’re trying to say. Simon Fairlie’s extensive research to come to the conclusion that we devote too much land to livestock, and especially in growing human-edible plants to feed to livestock, is anything but simplistic. Yes, of course, let’s have sheep, chickens and bees in orchards, and pigs in woodland – let’s get more yields from the land – but if I were to boil it down to say that if we can feed ourselves using less land, then we should, I don’t know how anyone could really argue against that.

    • 53Rosewood Farm's Rob October 29th, 2017

      You’re saying ‘eat less meat’ and I have to deal every day with the consequences of people doing just that. I say ‘eat more sustainably produced meat’ and supply and demand will redress the balance of both cost and production without the negative aspects.

      Read more here; http://rosewood.farm/blog/4590880622/Meat-Us-Halfway—Supermarkets-Need-To-Stop-Telling-Porkies/11071739

    • 54Dave Darby October 29th, 2017

      Nice blog. We’re completely on the same page when it comes to supermarkets, and it’s great that you’re supplying food directly to the public, avoiding the corporate middle man. We’re getting together with some other orgs to launch a new website soon to promote the non-corporate supply of everything – including food. We’ll be promoting local, sustainable production, including community-supported agriculture, veg boxes, farmers’ markets, growing your own and even fish boxes.
      What I’m getting from you, I think, is that if all meat was raised organically, grass-fed, free-range and sold locally, the price would go up and consumption would fall – in which case I agree. But globally, meat consumption is rising – especially in Asia, which will mean bringing more land into use, mainly to grow the plants to feed them, which is extremely wasteful. Most meat isn’t produced as sustainably as yours, more’s the pity.

    • 55Rosewood Farm's Robbert Rose October 29th, 2017

      Yes, I’m sure we’re both hoping for the same outcome, but unfortunately I’ve seen the effects of the eat less meat message develop over the past ten years and it has done far more harm than good. Asians aren’t reading your blog, nor mine, so there isn’t really a lot of point giving that message here. The people who are reading it are those who are already interested in sustainable food production – my customers, hence why not all meat is produced like ours. It costs more to produce and market smaller amounts to more people, which requires far greater investment than the production side so as a farmer it is not at all attractive for others to follow our lead.

      Red meat in particular has received the greatest prejudice, with chicken, fruit & veg increasing rapidly. Because neither of these ‘crops’ can be produced from biodiverse grasslands, and because most farmers sell into conventional markets, there has been a vast reduction in the management of these grasslands for wildlife in the years since the ‘eat less meat’ message came into being. It’s a well-intentioned message, as is veganism, but we need more than good intentions to create positive outcomes.

    • 56Dave Darby October 29th, 2017

      OK, this is my final word on this one. My ‘thing’ is more the money system. I’ve just finished a MOOC on the history of money and banking, and it’s blown my mind quite a bit. I’ve met people who’ve devoted their lives to it, and I’m spending a lot of my time reading up. I’m also on the board of the Ecological Land Co-op as well, and I’ve met people who’ve more or less devoted their lives to co-operative structures, the planning system and how to get the land back. I really respect them, but I’m not about to climb that learning curve. I know who to turn to for their opinions on money, food, energy, technology, media, planning etc, and when it comes to land, I listen to Simon Fairlie. He’s the editor of ‘the Land’ – the best magazine in the world – it’s worth reading every word – https://www.lowimpact.org/magazine/magazines_land/, and he wrote ‘Meat: a benign extravagance’. He says we should eat less meat as a species, and that will do for me.

    • 57Rosewood Farm's Robbert Rose October 29th, 2017

      I have asked many ‘eat less meat’ advocates this very same question and am yet to receive an answer. As there is a clear downside that halts progress towards a more sustainable food system, which isn’t replicated in my alternative message (to eat more sustainably produced food) I cannot fathom why anyone would resist it. I’ve read many articles by Simon but I’ve not yet found one addressing this point.

      I have analysed the message, identified the problem, and offered a solution to which not one advocate has been able to take issue with, yet still we revert to the simplistic but flawed message that damages producers and halts progress. The message, as it stands, benefits some very big businesses over small, sustainable farmers, yet everyone seems to defend it so strongly.

      If I’m right, we get more food, a better cared for environment and better paid food producers; if I’m wrong we get more food, a better cared for environment, better paid food producers and we eat less meat. If we continue with the message as it stands we get fewer food producers, a more challenging marketplace for sustainable produce, we eat less meat and rely increasingly on large producers and retailers. I’m happy with either of the first two scenarios but not the latter.

    • 58Dave Darby October 30th, 2017

      OK, so it wasn’t my final word. I suppose this is too important. Of course eat more sustainably-produced food – but you don’t think that plant foods can be produced sustainably? Are you saying that your land couldn’t feed more people if it were used to produce plant crops? Because from everything I’ve ever read on the subject, I don’t think that’s true.

      Can you put your argument again in a concise, clear way, because I’m really not following you.

      My basic argument is that if you grew plant crops instead of keeping livestock, you could feed a lot more people from the same amount of land (I don’t know if you bring in plant foods for your animals from elsewhere, but most livestock farmers do, so that means even more land being used to produce meat).

      In which case, it’s better to grow more plant crops and reduce the number of animals, because then you can feed more people from the same amount of land. I’m talking globally, of course. However, animals are a very useful addition to a mixed, organic smallholding (the type of farming we’re trying to promote), because they can provide manure, pest control, they can keep the grass down between orchard trees, pigs can be kept in woodland, they can provide vital additional income and (if the law wasn’t so ridiculous) they could eat waste food etc.

      I don’t think that the philosophical argument that we shouldn’t eat meat has been won, but from an ecological perspective, it would be better to get rid of the huge battery sheds and the giant cattle ranches and stop removing rainforest to grow food crops for livestock, and just have a few animals on mixed smallholdings – in which case the number of animals farmed and the amount of meat we eat would go down.

      Which part of that do you object to? And how does it follow that the production of plant foods can be controlled by corporate supermarkets and requires giant farms, but meat production can’t and doesn’t? I’m completely open to be swayed by your argument, but I have to understand it first.

    • 59Rosewood Farm's Rob October 30th, 2017

      “Of course eat more sustainably-produced food – but you don’t think that plant foods can be produced sustainably?”

      They can, if consumed in moderation, something which the consumption figures show is not happening, and the general public are not being encouraged to consume plants in moderation – quite the opposite. Our current plant crop production model would be impossible without fossil fuels or a major way in which society was organised. It is likely that animals would need to be employed, as they once were, as draught animals to provide the motive power that is necessary to cultivate the land.

      “Are you saying that your land couldn’t feed more people if it were used to produce plant crops?”

      It certainly could, but as a landscape that is protected by national, European and global designations for wildlife, this would come at a severe cost to the environment, as it already has in places that were more favourable to cultivation and didn’t have the designations placed upon them, eg the fens. However, as we could see from the figures placed upon GHG emissions from the UN, the net effect of feeding more people, without animals, was an increase in GHG of 11.15%, even before you take into account the efficiencies that livestock bring, as outlined in Simon Fairlie’s book. I don’t think that is sustainable because we are merely delaying the effect of unsustainable consumption to a point in the future when the problem is even bigger, and population growth is largest in those low-meat consumption areas such as China.

      Even discounting these effects, changing away from pasture to human edible crops would reduce biodiversity, increase soil loss (eg again, the effect in the fens), and lead to food waste. Some of our land was used to grow food for people during WWII and although it was subsequently reverted to pasture, those changes have long lasting effects. Today we have such a small percentage of traditional species rich meadows left and despite being designated against such destruction in the future, they remain vulnerable to loss through underutilisation.

      “Which part of that do you object to? And how does it follow that the production of plant foods can be controlled by corporate supermarkets and requires giant farms, but meat production can’t and doesn’t? I’m completely open to be swayed by your argument, but I have to understand it first.”

      Experience has taught me that the vast majority of downshifting smallholders rely upon meat sales for additional income – I can understand why this is – vegetables are hard work to produce, they are static and require large inputs of outside energy to produce. They also require well drained, fertile soils that are already under great pressure. [Grazing] Livestock are much more forgiving – you can move them around, graze seasonally available land.

      The figures shown in https://www.nationalgeographic.com/what-the-world-eats/ (I was given this link by a vegan, btw) show that over a half century beef, the meat that has declined so much in these grasslands, has actually remained static at a world level (26g) while it has dropped by 23.6% in the UK. Over a longer time period grazing animals have also declined due to mechanisation.

      Consumption patterns have also changed as people eat less – they want it packaging in smaller amounts, which takes me more time and packaging. 20 years ago carcass balance was fairly good (nose to tail eating was all the rage) but today that has changed – everyone wants steaks and mince, which is more work still. Mince also commands a lower price than joints, so the returns also decline. These patterns are reflected in butchers and supermarkets alike, but supermarkets have the economies of scale to do it more cheaply. The beauty of the supermarket model is logistics, not food.

      In financial terms, people are eating and buying less meat, and more fruit, veg and carbs. For me that means higher costs as I need more customers to make up for the smaller individual spend. It’s great that more people want to understand about sustainable food, but it also means I am spending more time educating the consumer for a lower income. The economies of scale suit the supermarket style of food distribution for lower consumption diets – it costs me a lot more to sell one steak to someone than it does a supermarket, and for the consumer it costs more to buy one steak from me.

      By eating less and paying more the consumer is being lulled into a false sense of security that they are achieving harmony in the food system, but in reality they are paying more and achieving less. Don’t get me wrong, I love the amount of moral support I receive for what we do, but it is utterly frustrating that it isn’t matched by the equivalent level of financial support – and that is the reason why there aren’t more farms like Rosewood.

    • 60Dave Darby October 30th, 2017

      Why would plants be eaten with less moderation than meat? I don’t understand that point at all.

      Yes, let’s have draught animals. The benefits of using them instead of fossil fuels would be much greater than the amount of land required to support them (imo). But that still doesn’t take away from the fact that the global meat industry requires far more land to feed the same amount of people than if the land were under plants. You still haven’t addressed that point.

      Could you point directly to any figures that show that feeding x number of people with plants generates more ghg emissions than a similar number of people with meat? I’ve never come across anything like that before (although this is a separate argument from the land argument).

      A lot of the fens, and anywhere producing plant crops, will be doing so to produce food for livestock. That land could be used to produce food for humans, or allowed to revert to natural habitat / amenity woodland.

      Yes, Simon’s book points out the efficiencies that keeping livestock can bring, but only on a small scale. But he also recommends a reduction in meat production globally, which is my point.

      You talk about preserving ‘species-rich meadows’, but you know that most meat isn’t produced in species-rich meadows, it’s produced in giant ranches or battery sheds, with equally enormous areas of land used to produce food for those animals rather than for humans. I’m not saying that we should reduce species-rich meadows – yes, let’s keep animals in species-rich meadows – but only in species-rich meadows (or species-rich woodland, in the case of pigs), which would require an enormous reduction in overall meat consumption.

      As I’ve said, smallholders keeping animals to supplement income, provide manure etc – fine. Giant sheds / ranches / plantations, no – surely?

      I don’t believe that plant crops require more resources than livestock (and especially, they don’t need vast areas of land elsewhere to feed said livestock). Growing organic fruit and veg is labour-intensive, doesn’t require pesticides or synthetic fertilisers, and as you say, can use draught animals when fossil fuels start to become too expensive – which is a good thing, surely, if we want a sustainable agriculture with plenty of employment? Community-supported agriculture is the ideal model for this, with a guaranteed local customer base (including for meat).

      ‘Consumption patterns have also changed as people eat less’. Where are people eating less? Per capita food consumption is increasing remorselessly, in every part of the world – see http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/ac911e/ac911e05.htm – which means that your arguments that follow from that don’t really follow.

      Maybe we’re getting a crossed wire because I’m talking about global meat production, and you’re talking about your circumstances. So my main question would be: do you want the world to keep the giant ranches, the soy bean plantations and the huge battery farms? If not, then surely meat production has to go down, globally?

    • 61Andrew Rollinson October 30th, 2017

      To consider which is more (or less) sustainable and efficient, one has to use thermodynamics. After reading all these posts, this is what is missing I think. Despite Dave’s paraphrasing, I also cannot get to the crux of what you mean Robbert (sorry). Although efficiency is mentioned a couple of times, one comment in particular stood out to me:

      “The biggest folly in sustainability is that reducing consumption improves sustainability, when in many cases it has the opposite effect, as investment goes down when we spend less and impacts upon sustainability through cost.”

      By the second law of thermodynamics, every time there is an energy transfer, some energy is wasted. So, to eat an animal higher up the trophic scale is less sustainable than eating vegetables. For each time that one animal consumes a plant or consumes another animal, there is energy wastage. It is a long time since I studied ecology, but I think something like only 10% of the energy is passed on between trophic levels. Eating a tiger for example would be the most unsustainable of all acts.
      Reducing consumption MUST be the best form of sustainability. Everytime you consume you are increasing disorder and wastage.
      The biggest folly is to misunderstand efficiency.

    • 62Rosewood Farm's Rob October 30th, 2017

      “By the second law of thermodynamics, every time there is an energy transfer, some energy is wasted. So, to eat an animal higher up the trophic scale is less sustainable than eating vegetables. For each time that one animal consumes a plant or consumes another animal, there is energy wastage. It is a long time since I studied ecology, but I think something like only 10% of the energy is passed on between trophic levels. Eating a tiger for example would be the most unsustainable of all acts.
      Reducing consumption MUST be the best form of sustainability. Everytime you consume you are increasing disorder and wastage.
      The biggest folly is to misunderstand efficiency.”

      The problem is that you’re talking about efficiency in a single, reductionist goal ie feeding people. If that is our only goal that we need to consider then you’re correct. But when we talk about feeding people sustainably we’re not just talking about feeding ourselves but a multitude of other factors which includes feeding the soil and wildlife too. It may appear like you are only getting 10% back but for me, as a farmer, I am investing that energy, not wasting it – we shouldn’t view the world’s resources in terms of getting the maximum out of it for ourselves, that attitude has led to the terrible state we find ourselves in now. Take a little for ourselves but leave enough for everything else that share this world with us.

    • 63Rosewood Farm's Rob October 30th, 2017

      “Could you point directly to any figures that show that feeding x number of people with plants generates more ghg emissions than a similar number of people with meat? I’ve never come across anything like that before (although this is a separate argument from the land argument).”

      I didn’t say that – the problem is that you *can* feed more people with plants. I went through the figures in one of my earlier comments, specifically that more people create more GHG emissions (and other consumption) no matter how you feed them. Population is rising, and while a move towards feeding people with plants would, theoretically at least, allow us to feed more people, it does not address the fundamental issue that we’re going to hit the same problem again in the future, and eating a less varied diet is merely putting this off a bit longer.

    • 64Andrew Rollinson October 30th, 2017

      No, I am talking about holistic efficiency at the “universal” level, with in this case the boundary set at the “global” or “national” scale. The wider the boundary is set the more inefficient things become, because you include more energy transfers.

    • 65Rosewood Farm's Robbert Rose October 30th, 2017

      You only mentioned energy transfer and feeding humans, though.

    • 66Rosewood Farm's Robbert Rose October 30th, 2017

      “A lot of the fens, and anywhere producing plant crops, will be doing so to produce food for livestock. That land could be used to produce food for humans, or allowed to revert to natural habitat / amenity woodland.”

      The fens account for 37% of the UK veg acreage, 24% potatoes, 17% sugar beet, all of which are only possible due to extensive drainage. Prior to this it was only possible to grow livestock for food, and wildfowl, of course. If we revert the fens to natural habitat (which I would absolutely *love* to do, btw) that would be a lot of acreage to find elsewhere. I don’t think there are many farmers in the fens intending to grow feed crops, except as by-products from the human food chain. The land is just too expensive and fertile, but it relies on drainage, as does extensive vegetable growing in the Yorkshire Ings, where I live, which is replacing traditional pasture.

    • 67Rosewood Farm's Robbert Rose October 30th, 2017

      “You talk about preserving ‘species-rich meadows’, but you know that most meat isn’t produced in species-rich meadows, it’s produced in giant ranches or battery sheds, with equally enormous areas of land used to produce food for those animals rather than for humans. I’m not saying that we should reduce species-rich meadows – yes, let’s keep animals in species-rich meadows – but only in species-rich meadows (or species-rich woodland, in the case of pigs), which would require an enormous reduction in overall meat consumption.”

      I don’t just wish to preserve species rich meadows, I want to restore them, but the trouble is that this will only happen if they are financially viable. The reduction in (grazed) meat consumption has made them less viable because the price has dropped. You can’t and shouldn’t artificially reduce demand where supply isn’t the limiting factor or this is what you end up with. Most farmers who used to tend these grasslands used to sell into conventional markets, not the niche I do, and the loss of these is happening more quickly than the corresponding rise in demand for specifically species-rich grazed meat.

      We can theorise until the cows don’t come home about how wonderful it would be if everyone were to switch to species-rich grazed meat but we also have to face the harsh reality that this isn’t the outcome we’re getting.

    • 68Rosewood Farm's Robbert Rose October 30th, 2017

      “Yes, Simon’s book points out the efficiencies that keeping livestock can bring, but only on a small scale. But he also recommends a reduction in meat production globally, which is my point…

      …As I’ve said, smallholders keeping animals to supplement income, provide manure etc – fine. Giant sheds / ranches / plantations, no – surely?”

      I don’t think small scale is important – if you’re doing something sustainable on a large scale that’s far better than doing something unsustainable on a small scale.

      We’re currently running 150 cattle over 600+ acres, and being asked to graze more all the time. Our primary aims are to create habitat for vulnerable wild species, but it is funded by the food production, so the more people eat, the more we can do.

    • 69Dave Darby October 30th, 2017

      Robbert, if I’m understanding you correctly, you’re saying that we shouldn’t attempt to maximise the calorific output to input ratio of our food system, because another problem – i.e. population growth – is going to threaten our survival in the future?
      I agree that it is. UN projections have the human population stabilising at around 11 billion – but that may already be too high for the earth to support with so much of our diet consisting of meat, and rising. So this ‘putting this off a bit longer’ is essential to prevent the starvation of millions and possibly billions of people.

      Apologies for mentioning the Fens – again, I was speaking in global terms. One-third of all cropland globally is used to produce food for animals rather than for humans, and an awful lot of calorific value is wasted in the process. If your animals are grass-fed, and you don’t import food for them, then that’s exactly how animals should be kept. But one-third of cropland represents almost 2 million square miles – twenty times the size of the UK – that could be allowed to revert to nature or held in reserve to prevent the starvation mentioned above, before the population stabilises.

      But as I said, let’s move away from your situation and talk globally. I’m all for you doubling your grazing area. But I want to ask my main question again: do you want the world to keep the giant ranches, the huge battery farms and the 2 million square miles producing animal feeds – many of them replacing rainforest? If not, then surely meat production has to go down, globally?

    • 70Rosewood Farm's Robbert Rose October 30th, 2017

      “I don’t believe that plant crops require more resources than livestock (and especially, they don’t need vast areas of land elsewhere to feed said livestock). Growing organic fruit and veg is labour-intensive, doesn’t require pesticides or synthetic fertilisers, and as you say, can use draught animals when fossil fuels start to become too expensive – which is a good thing, surely, if we want a sustainable agriculture with plenty of employment? Community-supported agriculture is the ideal model for this, with a guaranteed local customer base (including for meat).”

      Crops are extremely resource intensive, especially in terms of labour and even more so if we eliminate fossil fuels. That’s why it’s concentrated on the best land – the worse the land gets, the more resources it requires to maintain a viable crop. The drainage of the fens created more ‘good’ land, but it is also destroying it, too…

      I grow organic beef with the bare minimum of resources I can get away with, out of necessity. The animals are my workforce, harvesting, fertilising, controlling weeds, managing vegetation, building topsoil and creating habitat. If we were to switch to much lower consumption patterns I’d need more labour than would ever be financially viable. We have community support in the form of volunteers in the nature reserve, but with 10 spread across an area of ~2000 acres it leaves a lot of work left to do, even with cows. If each of those ten people had a herd/flock of sheep, goats, ponies and/or cattle, imagine what could be achieved. We could cut fossil fuel use and produce more food, but only if enough people can be encouraged to eat it. Some of the volunteers even listened to our issues and asked “what can we do to help?” – we replied ‘just eat more beef’.

    • 71Rosewood Farm's Robbert Rose October 30th, 2017

      “But as I said, let’s move away from your situation and talk globally. I’m all for you doubling your grazing area. But I want to ask my main question again: do you want the world to keep the giant ranches, the huge battery farms and the 2 million square miles producing animal feeds – many of them replacing rainforest? If not, then surely meat production has to go down, globally?”

      The thing is, talking globally is all very well, but it’s of little consequence to address global issues when the people you are expecting to take action must act locally. China is increasing it’s consumption of meat and the UK is increasing consumption of fruit & veg. On a global level it makes sense to export our meat to China (most UK offal now goes to China, although an awful lot is also incinerated, as it isn’t worth removing) and import veg from Spain, but surely it’s better if we tell everyone, whereever they may be in the world, to eat local, sustainable produce? For some this may mean more veg, for others, more meat, depending more on location than personal choice.

    • 72Rosewood Farm's Robbert Rose October 30th, 2017

      “‘Consumption patterns have also changed as people eat less’. Where are people eating less? Per capita food consumption is increasing remorselessly, in every part of the world – see http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/ac911e/ac911e05.htm – which means that your arguments that follow from that don’t really follow.

      Maybe we’re getting a crossed wire because I’m talking about global meat production, and you’re talking about your circumstances. So my main question would be: do you want the world to keep the giant ranches, the soy bean plantations and the huge battery farms? If not, then surely meat production has to go down, globally?”

      People are eating less throughout the world, or rather they are eating more, less nutritional food, because it’s cheaper. The kcals go up, as the FAO figures show, but without those human food crops, a huge percentage of livestock fed by-products would not be viable to grow for livestock alone. Soy is a case in point – we’ve doubled it’s production to supply the burgeoning demand for vegetable oils, which were seen as the healthy alternative to animal fats (all backed up by data at the time), but when do you hear of calls to cut back on veg oils?

      I want to see a reduction in intensive farming; if meat consumption goes down as a result of that, that’s fine, but as a mechanism to drive a move over to organic farming, it simply doesn’t work that way, due to the economics of farming and human behaviour..

    • 73Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose October 31st, 2017

      The FAO figures state that we eat 3380kcal per day in industrialised nations – I don’t know about you, but I don’t as much as that, and I eat a lot of meat and dairy, far more than most people. I had two meals containing more than usual meat today 1942kcal from animal products, 1001 from veg, that’s 2943kcal, and that includes a bit of over estimation of the dairy. I also just checked my demands, which came in at 2950. The big difference is that I rarely eat pudding.

    • 74Dave Darby October 31st, 2017

      This – ‘I want to see a reduction in intensive farming; if meat consumption goes down as a result of that, that’s fine’ – is exactly it. I want to see more than a reduction – I want to see the back of it altogether. Only free-range, grass-fed, organic animals on mixed smallholdings with the meat sold locally (definitely not shipped around the world, for obvious reasons), and without a third of our cropland used to feed animals (this is something I’ve learnt from this exchange, and I’m horrified) – in which case the number of animals kept and the amount of meat eaten will have to be reduced dramatically.

      But, you’re right, if this is to happen globally, then people’s diets have to change – eating meat less or not at all – which will impact on your business. However, I’d lean towards outlawing (or dissuading people from consuming) intensively-farmed meat from animals fed from cropland that can feed humans, for both compassionate and ecological reasons. I think there’s a strong case for that, and people are ready to hear it. In which case money will be diverted from supermarkets to community-supported agriculture and the like, and ultimately to farms like yours.

      But my main point stands – a reduction in intensive, unsustainable livestock farming has to be accompanied by a reduction in meat-eating globally.

    • 75Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose October 31st, 2017

      I think the problem we have here is that you are talking about the philosophical, world-view and I am on the ‘lets get this done’ approach. 1/3 of cropland seems smaller than I would expect. Crops are extremely inefficient in feeding people unless we, as a species, learn to accept lower quality food and reduce the amount we ‘waste’ by feeding to animals. This is far more important than reducing the amount of meat we eat, as the latter only creates another problem.

      I find your ideals worthy, but I think we need a reality check. Food production isn’t heading the way of lots of small holdings, whether we eat meat or not. The global corporations that control our food system are already several steps ahead – they know that animals are inefficient and expensive. Earlier in this debate you discussed the problems with the concept of continued economic growth – but that’s exactly what eating less meat is about, an opportunity for the global food manufacturers to maintain profit margin growth above and beyond what can be achieved with animals. That’s why dairy companies invest in plant “milks” – however they know that plant crops are inefficient so processing plant milks and selling at a high ‘ethical’ margin and then processing the by-product as feed for dairy cattle makes the most economic sense, as people will not eat the by-products. It’s also why many prominent vegans (like the dentist guy behind cowspiracy) have invested heavily in food manufacturing companies, not in smallholdings.

    • 76Dave Darby October 31st, 2017

      Rob, I like what you’re doing at Rosewood – in fact I’m going to put you in our directory to help promote you (I’ll send you an email). And you’re right, I am talking globally/philosophically, and I absolutely will never accept that the future is corporate – in food or in any other sector. In fact, the future can’t be corporate, because their trajectory, involving the quest for perpetual growth, increasing concentration of wealth and an overflow of corporate money into our political system can only result in catastrophic collapse at some point – and that collapse may be terminal for humans. A group of organisations, including Lowimpact, are launching a new website soon that will help the public to disengage from the corporate sector for all the essentials of life. I’m also on the board of the Ecological Land Co-op, setting up organic smallholdings on previously degraded agricultural land. The future of food production will be based on organic smallholdings or there will be no future for us. The current system is too damaging.

      I’m still genuinely confused by some of your positions – for example why you think that there’s more profit in plants than meat for global corporations (then why would they produce meat?); why you think we have to learn to accept lower-quality food; or why you think that we should reduce intensive farming and the use of cropland to produce food for animals, but that we shouldn’t reduce the amount of meat that we eat – when it’s not a question of opinion but of mathematics that overall meat consumption will have to fall. But I agree with you that a lot of vegan foods are corporate, highly processed and packaged and are transported huge distances.

    • 77Rosewood Farm's Rob October 31st, 2017

      Thank you – we need to spread this message far and wide, because many people have misconception about the effect that changing eating habits are having on our landscape. People often say to me that the meadows aren’t being grazed because the cows are being kept indoors, but in reality the cows, and farms, have just gone.

      Regarding the points I haven’t been clear on;

      1. There’s more profit in plants because plants are cheaper to produce, store and distribute around the world. If a company can buy wheat and sell it as an ethical alternative to meat they’re going to make more profit than feeding the wheat to chickens and selling the meat. We still have industrial farmed animals but they’ve screwed down the retail price so much that there’s barely any profit in it. Plant based alternatives are the next logical step.

      2. We’d need to accept lower quality food because a lot of wheat, potato waste, sugar beet pulp, soy bean meal etc. doesn’t make the grade for human food products and so goes into the animal feed market. Animals aren’t so fussy. When someone who says they don’t eat meat so that it saves food for people, they’re not talking about themselves eating the feed but other, less fortunate people. They will still buy the best quality human-grade bread that we all buy.

      3. Reducing the meat we eat has a negative effect on the market price – this is felt as much by sustainable grass feeders as the most intensive farms. While organic wheat (or meat) has a slight premium over non-organic, if the price of conventional wheat goes down, it drags down the price of organic with it. More people tend to buy organic when the difference in price is smaller – that’s just economics.

      If we reduce consumption it drives down the price which is felt more acutely by sustainable producers because their costs are higher. BUT if we maintain demand but change the method of production we are demanding, this sends a much stronger message to ‘the industry’ that sustainable production is the way to go. Noone is going to copy my methods if I’m seen to be doing more work for less money, and rightly so.

    • 78Dave Darby October 31st, 2017

      Thanks for the explanations. We’ll continue to promote organic smallholdings and allotments, non-corporate trade, craft skills, natural building, renewable energy installation etc, regardless of the likelihood of success. I don’t see any alternative, really.
      Regarding your position that addressing the fact that meat requires more land per calorie produced won’t require a reduction in meat-eating globally – you say that you haven’t been able to get people to agree. That still includes me, I’m afraid. I’m still baffled by that position, but support your efforts locally.
      Until and unless we achieve systemic change, it’s going to be difficult to make a living from the types of activity I mention above – but people still do it, even though they could make more money in the corporate sector, often even on the lowest rungs of the ladder. The non-corporate economy exists in the cracks, but we (and you, I suspect), and lots of people like us are determined that it will take over at some point. It must, in fact.

    • 79Rosewood Farm's Rob October 31st, 2017

      “Regarding your position that addressing the fact that meat requires more land per calorie produced won’t require a reduction in meat-eating globally – you say that you haven’t been able to get people to agree. Me neither, I’m afraid. I’m still baffled by that position, but support your efforts locally.”

      That’s because I must not be explaining very well as that isn’t my position. It’s not that I don’t think meat production, globally, will reduce (it will, because the companies who control our food system are driving it, and they are far more influential than you or I) but that encouraging people to eat less meat in order to increase the sustainability of meat production is majorly flawed.

      As a producer I am not encouraged to increase sustainability by the promise of people eating less if I do. I’m actually thinking;

      ‘How do I survive the rising fixed costs? Is it worth it? Should I not just give up if people don’t actually want what I produce?’

      “Until and unless we achieve systemic change, it’s going to be difficult to make a living from the types of activity I mention above – but people still do it, even though they could make more money in the corporate sector, often even on the lowest rungs of the ladder. The non-corporate economy exists in the cracks, but we (and you, I suspect), and lots of people like us are determined that it will take over at some point. It must, in fact.”

      Yes, so why make it harder? That’s what I don’t understand about the eat less meat message. It doesn’t make it any easier to make a living so it’s not going to encourage anyone but the most diehard. We must not and cannot rely upon those people as it just adds to the pressure to continue.

      Let’s think about it another way – assuming I was running a charity, taking donations for my work. It costs me 10p to process each donation. The average donation is £1, so the charity gets 90p for each benefactor, of which there are 500,000 collectively spending £500k.

      Then someone suggests that the way to increase charitable funds is if everyone could be encouraged to donates to charity by giving a bit less. The original half a million supporters cut their donation to 50p, but are joined by another half million matching those funds. Originally we receive (90p x 500,000) £450,000 for charity but under the new scheme everyone involved feels better that we’ve got more people supporting the charity but the total is only (40p x 1,000,000) £400,000 – £50k revenue has been lost for the same total amount spent by the supporters.

      That’s the situation in sustainable meat production right now – we have more customers and although total donations are up, we’re having to work much harder for the same amount of money.

    • 80Dave Darby October 31st, 2017

      I’m determined to uncross these wires. Let’s just focus on one thing at a time.

      ‘It’s not that I don’t think meat production, globally, will reduce (it will, because the companies who control our food system are driving it, and they are far more influential than you or I)’

      Forget the corporate sector for a while. What I’m saying is:

      If we start to reduce the number of battery sheds, intensive farms and millions of acres producing food for animals, that would be a good thing – don’t you agree? And for that to happen, the amount of meat eaten globally has to go down – doesn’t it?

    • 81Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose October 31st, 2017

      I’m determined to uncross these wires. Let’s just focus on one thing at a time.

      ‘It’s not that I don’t think meat production, globally, will reduce (it will, because the companies who control our food system are driving it, and they are far more influential than you or I)’

      Forget the corporate sector for a while. What I’m saying is:

      If we start to reduce the number of battery sheds, intensive farms and millions of acres producing food for animals, that would be a good thing – don’t you agree? And for that to happen, the amount of meat eaten globally has to go down – doesn’t it?

      Well *if* we start to reduce the number of battery sheds, then yes, but issue is that we aren’t reducing them. If it were the case that farmers were switching to indoor chickens because they can’t produce enough sustainably grazed meat to satisfy the market then yes, cutting demand would help, but that isn’t the situation we’re faced with. The grasslands are either being ploughed up for vegetables or non-food crops, or they’re being left to grow thick with rank vegetation because that makes more economic sense than farming them for food. While people eat more chicken and vegetables, farmers are going to produce them.

    • 82Dave Darby November 1st, 2017

      OK, let’s call the combination of giant ranches, battery sheds, land growing animal feed using chemical fertilisers and pesticides, hormone treatments, production for export etc. ‘industrial meat production’ for short. The vast majority of meat is produced industrially, isn’t it? And it’s totally unsustainable. So to dismantle industrial meat production, overall meat consumption has to go down – isn’t that the case? At the same time, we can take steps to move to more sustainable meat production – partly by persuading consumers, which will be difficult, as most people don’t care enough to pay a bit extra. But the move to sustainability is a separate issue (and in a world dominated by money and the corporate sector, I’m not sure that legislation will be forthcoming) – in the meantime, it’s essential that we start to dismantle industrial meat production, which will only be possible in the context of a massive global reduction in meat consumption.
      You say that grasslands are being left to go rank, or ploughed to grow vegetables, but again, that’s an entirely separate conversation. They could just as well be turned into woodland, become wildlife reserves or be subsidised for sustainable grazing (and veg could be grown on the land that was formerly used to grow animal feed – it can be improved – the land that the ELC inherits is pretty bleak in terms of fertility or biodiversity, but that soon changes). Those are political decisions. I know you’ll say that in the real world, that won’t happen – but we want to change the real world, don’t we – or industrial meat production (as well as industrial agriculture generally) will continue to grow. And so the first step – to bring down industrial meat production, will require a reduction in global meat consumption, which in turn will require a huge education campaign as well as political campaigning and individual lifestyle change – no?

    • 83Malcolm Ramsay November 1st, 2017

      Thanks for this very interesting discussion.

      Dave said “the first step – to bring down industrial meat production, will require a reduction in global meat consumption, which in turn will require a huge education campaign as well as political campaigning and individual lifestyle change ”

      But aren’t there different options for the huge education campaign? If “eat more sustainable meat” and “eat less meat” both lead to similar reductions in total meat consumption but the first message benefits sustainable producers and the second makes life harder for them, isn’t it better to focus on the ‘more sustainable’ message?

      The question of who’s actually seeing the message is important here: if your audience is primarily people who are already pre-disposed to favour sustainable production, and relatively few ‘industrial meat production’ customers are likely to be influenced by your message, then “eat less meat” risks misleading the ones who are buying from people like Robert, while not influencing the others at all.

    • 84Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 2nd, 2017

      OK, I think I’ve identified why we’re not understanding eachother;

      Yes, industrial meat predominates (as do industrial crops) but surely we agree that this isn’t desirable because it cannot be sustained in the long term?

      When I say that we can continue to eat a similar amount of meat, I don’t mean exactly the same as is being produced now. There will have to be a major changes to the way we both produce and consume food. Where industrial farming does most damage is not in the environmental damage but the financial. It doesn’t produce more food, it produces it at a lower cost by concentrating resources on the most productive land using the most productive methods. Less productive land is therefore ‘wasted’ and doesn’it produce anything.

      The crux of the eat less meat message is that we enable people to afford sustainable meat by maintaining the amount they spend but cutting the amount they consume. This works for the consumer because they don’t have to spend any more money, and it works for the activists who believe we should kill few or no animals, and it also works for the food manufacturing industry because we generally switch to consumption of more processed foods to replace the nutrition lost in eating less meat.

      This doesn’t work for the farmer, the land or the animals because the lack of land isn’t the reason why industrial farming continues (if it was, every acre would be fully utilised by the industrial system, including the abandoned land I graze, rather than just the most productive bits). It doesn’t benefit employment because, with fewer animals there is less work available or, more importantly, less money to pay for the work.

      Farming is more productive in a mixed crops and livestock landscape because each complements the other, with animals replacing fossil fuel fertilisers and pesticides, the system produces more food for longer. If animals can be used to eat weeds and waste products, you’re getting more food back than if you sprayed the weeds with glyphosate, as well as saving on the cost of the fertilisers and herbicides, etc. But those cost savings aren’t enough to make up for the loss of revenue in selling less meat.

      I have just read this blog that explains why the land limitation argument against meat is a myth; http://bovinepracticum.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/the-beef-vs-vegetable-land-use-argument.html?m=1

      I’d like to see sustainable meat become the norm but I fear that will never happen under the ‘eat less meat’ mantra because it’s ignoring the real problems and creating new ones to solve. The key, I believe, to encouraging more people to eat better quality meat is not to create the conditions whereby it isn’t vastly more expensive in the first place. Think about the industrial chicken here – farmers get about 20p per bird in profit, which is next to nothing, but they keep on producing them because demand is high and they can sell enough to make it worthwhile. The consumer, meanwhile, likes chicken and it’s going to be a hard sell to even get them to switch to sustainably grazed beef, even if it is the same price. But it isn’t – beef costs more to produce now, so making beef more expensive is even less of an incentive for the consumer to change.

      However, releasing the chickens on to the land used to produce the feed for the chickens isn’t going to bring about the benefits of grazing to production, so you need fewer chickens but more cows, producing the same amount of meat but in a different way. If consumption has dropped so will the price, but without the numbers over which to spread the costs, then costs will go up – a double whammy for farmers.

      “You say that grasslands are being left to go rank, or ploughed to grow vegetables, but again, that’s an entirely separate conversation. They could just as well be turned into woodland, become wildlife reserves or be subsidised for sustainable grazing (and veg could be grown on the land that was formerly used to grow animal feed ”

      The grasslands I’m talking about *are* our nature reserves – although you can’t plough up designated sites, you can plough the non-designated bits that surround & support them which means that the wildlife is further restricted onto the nature reserve. The nature reserve also depends upon grazing to maintain it’s condition (as explained in the blog I linked to) so then the habitat for the wildlife degrades further and the variety of both plants and animals also drop.

      We were drafted in by Natural England to graze both the nature reserves and arable land that needed livestock reintroducing to boost biodiversity. The results are nothing short of amazing, both in terms of the amounts of useful fodder produced for the animals and the numbers of plants and animals that have returned to the sites. You can never quite replicate grazing animals, but the next best thing would be to cut and remove the vegetation either by hand or with tractors, but noone can afford to do that on a large scale, and it’s not exactly sustainable either.

      We need the landscape to be both productive and full of wildlife – the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, but you can’t sell wildlife or flood resilience so it’s important that we can produce and sell enough food to keep paying for the other benefits.

    • 85Dave Darby November 2nd, 2017

      Malcolm

      Yes, our message would focus on sustainability, but I think the overall ‘eat less meat’ message will be more to do with health and a desire, especially amongst the younger generation, not to keep animals for meat at all. I’d like to see sustainable meat production double, but overall meat consumption halve. I think most people (although not Rob) believe that it’s healthier to eat meat once a week rather than every day, and vegetarianism / veganism is on the rise (although I think it might have stalled a bit). Vegan role models like Serena Williams and a trend for vegan cage fighters is showing that a vegan diet isn’t unhealthy.
      So our role in this, as you say, is to spread the ‘eat sustainably-produced meat’ message. I think that might work in the West, but global meat consumption is rising rapidly as Asia discovers industrial meat, with far higher populations.

    • 86Dave Darby November 2nd, 2017

      Rob

      ‘Yes, industrial meat predominates (as do industrial crops) but surely we agree that this isn’t desirable because it cannot be sustained in the long term?’

      Agreed.

      ‘The crux of the eat less meat message is that we enable people to afford sustainable meat by maintaining the amount they spend but cutting the amount they consume.’

      Of meat, yes.

      ‘it also works for the food manufacturing industry because we generally switch to consumption of more processed foods to replace the nutrition lost in eating less meat.’

      No – why would anyone who switches to sustainable meat then fill the nutrition gap with pringles and cheese string? We’re advocating a move to community-supported agriculture (including meat), fish, bread etc. This will cost more, yes, but we’re also suggesting that people get involved in this new economy themselves – smallholding, natural building, craft skills, renewables installation. They will be ‘prosumers’, spending more on quality food and goods, but receiving more for the quality food and goods that they produce. What gets dumped is corporate tat.

      ‘This doesn’t work for the farmer, the land’

      Yes, it works for the land, because less meat consumed / produced overall means less land required to feed the same number of people – and this goes for industrial or sustainable meat production, because, as Andrew pointed out above, the second law of thermodynamics means that calorific value is lost at every step up the food chain. If we use land to grow food for humans instead of animals, we need less land.

      And it works for the farmer because of the rise in community-supported agriculture – of all kinds, not just meat.

      ‘It doesn’t benefit employment because, with fewer animals there is less work available or, more importantly, less money to pay for the work.’

      Agriculture is about more than just animals, and as we’ve discussed above, fruit and veg production is labour intensive, and small shops, bakeries, breweries, market gardens, smallholdings etc etc generate far more jobs than industrial farms and supermarkets.

      ‘Farming is more productive in a mixed crops and livestock landscape because each complements the other, with animals replacing fossil fuel fertilisers and pesticides, the system produces more food for longer. If animals can be used to eat weeds and waste products, you’re getting more food back than if you sprayed the weeds with glyphosate, as well as saving on the cost of the fertilisers and herbicides, etc.’

      Absolutely.

      ‘But those cost savings aren’t enough to make up for the loss of revenue in selling less meat.’

      Then we have to find a way to save more costs or increase revenue, or to remove the advantages of industrial agriculture. But we can’t maintain current global meat consumption because it uses too much land per calorie delivered. Surely you’re not suggesting that we can move all the current industrial animals outdoors, on to mixed smallholdings to maintain the same levels of meat consumption.

      ‘I have just read this blog that explains why the land limitation argument against meat is a myth’

      Interesting – my undergraduate dissertation was on the difference in calorific input and output in organic and non-organic agriculture, and Pimintel’s work featured heavily (organic wins hands-down, naturally). But the article you linked to is talking about industrial cropping, not mixed organic smallholdings, which we are advocating. Of course we don’t want industrial agriculture, of any kind. But whether the agriculture is of the sustainable or the suicidal type, you can’t avoid the fact that it takes more land to feed the same number of people if you’re producing meat. So our diet should be mainly plant-based.

      However, the debate we’re having doesn’t make sense unless we inject some politics and economics. We don’t live in an ideal world – we live in a world of competing countries and corporations, and the the competition is for money, and therefore power (as money buys power in capitalism. I’m guessing that I don’t have to go into the details of this). This applies to agriculture just as much as it does to every other sector. Environmental costs are externalised, production costs are minimised at the expense of personal, social and ecological well-being, and in the case of agriculture, the damaging agrochemical industry is subsidised in the quest for profit. This profit is used to bombard a largely oblivious public with advertising of corporate brands of processed, unsustainable and unhealthy foods. In a context like this, the kind of agriculture we’d like to see is virtually impossible. We have to do what we can to try to erode and eventually replace the corporate system. I admire what you’re doing. My particular niche is trying to persuade people that there are better ways to get the essentials of life than from the corporate sector, and to point them in the direction of ways to do it. But doing the right thing isn’t very lucrative – in capitalism, it’s the unnecessary, damaging and exploitative work that gets remunerated most. But that’s not a reason to stop doing the right thing, and I’m guessing you won’t, whatever the circumstances.

      The soil / no-till argument is an interesting one, but it falls over due to the fact that one third of our cropland is used to feed animals. Regenerative agriculture, yes, but not with the sheer numbers of farmed animals that we have now. I think that ultimately, the ideal way to feed humans is via perennial crops, especially trees (i.e. forest gardening), with animals grazing between them, complemented by food harvested from woodlands, rivers and the sea. But the route to that scenario, I maintain, has to be a huge reduction in meat consumption from current unsustainable levels.

    • 87Rosewood Farm's Rob November 2nd, 2017

      Thank you Malcolm, you have succinctly summarised my main point. We can be as idealistic as we like, but we can’t control people so we need to find the best solution to bring about the change we need.

    • 88Rosewood Farm's Rob November 2nd, 2017

      “‘The crux of the eat less meat message is that we enable people to afford sustainable meat by maintaining the amount they spend but cutting the amount they consume.’

      Of meat, yes.”

      I was under the impression that we want people to eat sustainable vegetables, too. If this system worked we would be calling upon people to cut the amount of vegetables they eat to afford organic instead. According to the FAO figures we’re each consuming 11% more meat and 52% more fruit & veg (over the time period 1961-2011). We’re also eating the same amount of beef overall, despite a rising population, so individually we’re eating about 25% less.

    • 89Rosewood Farm's Rob November 2nd, 2017

      “‘it also works for the food manufacturing industry because we generally switch to consumption of more processed foods to replace the nutrition lost in eating less meat.’

      No – why would anyone who switches to sustainable meat then fill the nutrition gap with pringles and cheese string? We’re advocating a move to community-supported agriculture (including meat), fish, bread etc. This will cost more, yes, but we’re also suggesting that people get involved in this new economy themselves – smallholding, natural building, craft skills, renewables installation. They will be ‘prosumers’, spending more on quality food and goods, but receiving more for the quality food and goods that they produce. What gets dumped is corporate tat. ”

      If corporate tat is what gets dumped then we don’t need to eat less meat! Dump the tat and pay a bit more for the meat (and non-meat) you eat so that it can be produced sustainably. That’s what I do.

      Unfortunately you only need to look at the dairy market to see what actually happens – plant juices are on the rise as alternatives to milk. They are basically more expensive, less nutritious substitutes for milk that make a lot more profit for the processors than milk does.

      Palm oil is another good example – cheaper and supposedly healthier than animal fats, yet it’s hugely profitable and more destructive and the by-product is fed to industrial livestock anyway.

    • 90Rosewood Farm's Rob November 2nd, 2017

      “‘But those cost savings aren’t enough to make up for the loss of revenue in selling less meat.’

      Then we have to find a way to save more costs or increase revenue, or to remove the advantages of industrial agriculture. But we can’t maintain current global meat consumption because it uses too much land per calorie delivered. Surely you’re not suggesting that we can move all the current industrial animals outdoors, on to mixed smallholdings to maintain the same levels of meat consumption. ”

      Well, yes. Calories can be produced cheaply from grains – feeding grains to animals is inefficient if those grains could be fed directly to humans, so if you’re gaining 90% of the calories back by eating the grains yourself, you don’t need to produce all your calories from meat.

      However, you’re still referring to meat production in the reductionist, single-use theory for land management, which relies upon a constant supply of land to exploit for (relatively) short periods of time before it turns to desert and/or a much less biodiverse habitat. As the blog I shared points out, this isn’t exclusive to crops – grazing animals that are mis-managed can be equally as wasteful.

      At Rosewood we are utilising land that is already set aside for ‘wildlife habitat’, but the beauty of it is that, because of the short-term nature of the cattle grazing, the land can be used for multiple purposes throughout the year. The cattle produce more food and more habitat, and while the cattle only occupy the land for a matter of days every year, for the majority of the time it is left to the wildlife and/or floodwater storage. By comparison vegetables don’t do that – you can’t let wild animals graze the veg crop while you’re growing it and you certainly can’t let it flood and maintain a viable crop, so it needs to be on a smaller acreage to minimise it’s impact.

    • 91Rosewood Farm's Rob November 2nd, 2017

      “The soil / no-till argument is an interesting one, but it falls over due to the fact that one third of our cropland is used to feed animals. Regenerative agriculture, yes, but not with the sheer numbers of farmed animals that we have now. I think that ultimately, the ideal way to feed humans is via perennial crops, especially trees (i.e. forest gardening), with animals grazing between them, complemented by food harvested from woodlands, rivers and the sea. But the route to that scenario, I maintain, has to be a huge reduction in meat consumption from current unsustainable levels.”

      Why do you maintain that position? You’ve just described a multi-layered system that produces meat within the cropland. You’ve just gained an extra third of cropland for humans, but you’ve also gained 2/3rds for animals. Add into that nature reserves, amenity crops such as biofuels, turf and recreation and you’ve ‘created’ a lot more land for food production.

      The only way your position would be the case is if we transplanted the current intensive indoor animal systems and put the animals outside without changing anything else.

      Regardless of the final numbers – I’m not 100% sure we could maintain the current levels of meat production (although I have a hunch that we could) but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we make the transition from industrial produced food to sustainably produced food as quickly and as painlessly as possible (humans, like animals, don’t respond well to pain). So lets ditch the ‘eat less’ message and instead concentrate on ‘eat better’. People will makes their own minds up whether they can afford to feed themselves – they might even cut down on some consumer tat to maintain it, and those who are already making positive changes will not be guilt-tripped into slashing their support for producers like me.

      I absolutely have seriously considered giving up what I do over the past 2 years, most recently a couple of weeks ago. I feel a massive amount of pressure to carry on, because I know that without me there is noone willing & able to take on the grazing of the nature reserve, and the land I manage outside of it would be turned back to conventional farming. We shouldn’t have to rely upon this massive social pressure to keep us farming, as that is not going to encourage anyone else to.

      The farming bit is relatively easy compared to the selling and the eat less meat message itself has literally wasted hours of my personal time explaining & writing articles about why it doesn’t apply and why we need to eat more. That time could have been much better spent outside improving the habitat and the farming.

    • 92Malcolm Ramsay November 2nd, 2017

      Thanks, Dave. If your focus is the argument that less meat is healthier, then yes, the ‘eat less’ message might fit your goal better (though I don’t know why you think ‘most people believe that it’s healthier to eat meat once a week rather than every day’ – I’d have thought ‘once a week’ is very much a minority position). But that’s a quite different argument from the ecological one, which is Rob’s focus, so perhaps that’s where the wires have got crossed. I’d assumed from your reference above to Simon Fairlie’s book that your position was primarily ecological. It’s several years since I read it but wasn’t his core argument that, although a certain level of meat consumption is positively benign, consumption at current western levels is unsustainable and environmentally damaging? I don’t remember the health aspect coming into it (though the ethics side certainly did). And I don’t remember that his advocacy of eating less meat was offered as a solution; I thought it was more of a ‘this is the only way it’s feasible long term’ position (though he didn’t go into the population question – deliberately, I think).

      But which message is actually more likely to lead to lower meat consumption in practice, in the absence of broader political and economic changes? Bearing in mind that any success either message has will reverberate through the supply/demand mechanism, what will the effects be?

      Rob suggests that ‘eat more sustainable meat’ will increase demand for high-quality, ecologically-sensitive meat and will therefore encourage more farmers to adopt those methods. That will reduce overall supply, pushing prices up – thereby encouraging people to eat less meat overall, without squeezing the high-quality producers. That makes sense to me.

      The ‘eat less’ message, on the hand, is likely to have the opposite effect. By reducing demand among current meat eaters it will tend to reduce prices, particularly at the top of the market, thereby squeezing ecologically-sensitive producers like Rob who already have tight margins. However, as long there is a huge amount of latent demand at the bottom of the market, among people who can’t currently afford to eat as much meat as they would like, it will have very little effect on industrial producers – it will simply expand their market. So overall consumption is unlikely to fall, more people will become accustomed to eating more meat and the industrial producers will be strengthened – but, as Rob has pointed out, the barriers to sustainable production will rise. As far as I can see, the only way the ‘eat less’ message can actually work better than ‘eat more sustainable’ (whether the focus is health or environment) is if you can get through to all the very poor potential meat-eaters more effectively than the industrial meat producers can. What are the chances?

      That’s the short run. In the long run, if Simon’s analysis is right, a continuing trend towards more ecologically-sensitive production (hopefully accompanied by sensible political, economic and monetary reforms) will massively reduce the total amount of meat that the world can produce to a level where our current population can all eat a reasonable amount of meat, while also enhancing the environment and supporting continuing production. The other way will also, eventually, massively reduce the total amount of meat – but only by destroying the environment and hugely compromising future production.

    • 93Dave Darby November 2nd, 2017

      Hi Malcolm (and Rob)

      Malcolm – I’m not saying our message is about health – ours is about sustainability. But I think that the reason people eat less (or no) meat is more to do with health or not killing animals. And most of those people know that it’s healthier to eat meat less often (and I think that maybe a majority of all people believes that now – although most still don’t do it, any more than they drink less).

      ‘Simon Fairlie’s book that your position was primarily ecological. It’s several years since I read it but wasn’t his core argument that, although a certain level of meat consumption is positively benign, consumption at current western levels is unsustainable and environmentally damaging?’
      Yes – that’s exactly what I’m saying.

      The ‘eat more sustainable meat’ message is exactly what we’re saying – if you’re going to eat meat, make sure it’s sustainable, yes – but in the context of a reduction in overall meat consumption / production.

      I think that the usual kind of person who is going to be motivated enough to find and purchase sustainable meat is not going to be the kind of person who eats meat every day. I could be wrong (and I’m definitely wrong in the case of Rob), but I don’t think so.

      But in the end, are we talking about what is the best message to broadcast, or what we’d like to see happen? Do we want meat consumption to go down globally? I’d say we definitely do, because of the land issue. I suppose the questions for me, which I’m not going to get answered without looking at a farmer’s accounts, are – 1. why can’t a higher number of people be persuaded to eat sustainable meat within a context of an overall reduction in meat consumption? 2. how can a farmer not make a living from beef, when ELC tenants are making a living from 5 or 6 acres of mixed veg, ducks, goats, herbs etc? 3. why can’t beef farmers diversify?

      But it’s an inescapable fact that overall meat consumption has to go down, surely. And so if we’re not allowed to say that, what are we supposed to say. Switching to sustainable meat consumption is not going to be enough, because even if meat is produced sustainably, we can’t maintain current consumption levels.

      I’m pretty sure that legislation is on the way that will end battery chickens, and pigs, and so chicken and pork will go up in price and consumption will fall. With the increase in interest in animal welfare, I can see legislation in Europe and the UK moving towards encouraging sustainable meat production, reducing competition (in the UK at least), from industrial ag. There might even be legislation (it might be a vote winner) to prevent the import of industrial meat. Or am I dreaming?

      Ultimately, why not a combination of ‘eat less meat’ and ‘the meat you do eat, make it sustainable’? You’re right, I think that sustainable meat production will require more land to produce the same amount of meat, because you can get more animal feed nutrients per acre than is provided by grass (I think), but then you still have the land issue – less nutrition from the same amount of land, so more land has to be brought into cultivation to make up the deficit.

      Rob – I think I might have pinpointed the problem I have with what you’re saying (I know, I’ve thought that before). But, Andrew pointed out the energy losses as you go up the food chain, and you said that he was just focusing on humans – what we can get from the land, and not thinking of other plants, animals and the soil. But even grass-fed animals take a lot more land to feed the same number of people. A lot. So if we reduce the area of land we farm (and remember that 2 million square miles are used to grow animal feed), then the rest can be natural habitat – climax vegetation – woodland, rather than grass. So massively more carbon storage, oxygen production, timber, firewood, habitat and amenity than grass. I know that the land might not be allowed to go back to woodland, but if it’s used to graze animals or grow food for animals, it definitely won’t.

      A few other bits:

      ‘cut the amount of vegetables they eat to afford organic instead.’

      I was thinking more cut the corporate tat rather than cut the veg – which might be the case with people who are interested in organic food.

      ‘Palm oil…..’

      But where have I advocated palm oil. I agree with you. I was talking about CSA, not palm oil.

      ‘Calories can be produced cheaply from grains – feeding grains to animals is inefficient if those grains could be fed directly to humans, so if you’re gaining 90% of the calories back by eating the grains yourself, you don’t need to produce all your calories from meat.’

      Surely that’s going to reduce meat consumption?

      ‘which relies upon a constant supply of land to exploit for (relatively) short periods of time before it turns to desert and/or a much less biodiverse habitat.’

      But what I’m advocating is a move towards CSA / mixed smallholdings / market gardens / allotments / forest gardens / permaculture / land reform. It’s really popular – of all our topics, only compost toilets (for some reason) comes close to land reform to promote mixed smallholdings. So many people I’ve talked with about the ELC have expressed a desire to have a mixed smallholding and build a home – from bankers to builders, and it’s by far the most popular blog topic. It’s a vote winner, and things like CSA are on the rise.

      ‘I’m not 100% sure we could maintain the current levels of meat production (although I have a hunch that we could)’

      How on earth could we do that, if we were only having a few animals on mixed smallholdings grazing between tree and bush crops? How could there be anywhere near as many animals as we have now in giant sheds with 2 million square miles to grow feed for them with pesticides and fertilisers?

      But I’m still thinking that I’m not getting through. How about this. I’m king of the world. I get rid of all industrially-farmed animals, and feed the grain that’s grown for them directly to humans – but not 2 million square miles, because we wouldn’t need that much. Let’s say 1 million square miles, and we plant trees on the other million. We end the cruelty of industrial meat production, as well as all the trucks required to transport them around, the hormones that are pumped into them, no more foot-and-mouth, mad cow disease and other food scares, no methane emissions from industrial animals, and massive environmental benefit and carbon capture. Plus a 99.9% reduction in meat production and of necessity, consumption. If I were king of the world, would you salute me for doing that?

      I’m right behind you and what you’re doing by the way – so much so that I’ve just ordered forty quid’s worth of meat from you, and I’ll try to make it a regular thing (but I only eat meat about once a fortnight and my mrs. is vegetarian – so not good role models from your perspective), and I’ll tell other people about it. But I can’t agree with you that we don’t need to reduce meat consumption overall, just because I like what you’re doing, because I think you’re wrong – what can I say? You haven’t convinced me.

    • 94Rosewood Farm's Rob November 3rd, 2017

      “The ‘eat more sustainable meat’ message is exactly what we’re saying – if you’re going to eat meat, make sure it’s sustainable, yes – but in the context of a reduction in overall meat consumption / production.

      I think that the usual kind of person who is going to be motivated enough to find and purchase sustainable meat is not going to be the kind of person who eats meat every day. I could be wrong (and I’m definitely wrong in the case of Rob), but I don’t think so. ”

      The problem with ‘eat less meat but make sure it’s sustainable’ is that humans are lazy, particularly on social media, so we only read/take notice of the first three words. Many people don’t even bother with the words beyond the first three. Also, less is negative – we’re hard wired to desire progress so we’d rather do more, or aspire to, at least.

      When I started farming the nose-to-tail eating trend was just starting, and this really helped to get my direct sales going. Since then we’ve seen both the ‘eat less meat’ and the ‘eat more meat’ (paleo-primal/grassfed diets) come through, and it is the latter that have kept us going. Without the paleo diet I don’t think we would have grown much beyond a smallholding, we certainly wouldn’t have been able to take on grazing of the nature reserve.

    • 95Malcolm Ramsay November 3rd, 2017

      Dave said above: “But it’s an inescapable fact that overall meat consumption has to go down, surely. And so if we’re not allowed to say that, what are we supposed to say. Switching to sustainable meat consumption is not going to be enough, because even if meat is produced sustainably, we can’t maintain current consumption levels. “

      I’d say it’s an inescapable fact that overall meat consumption will go down – precisely because, if meat is produced sustainably, we can’t maintain current overall consumption levels (at current/projected global population levels).

      The problem, I think, is that most people don’t appreciate the context you’re talking in. If the message is ‘we must eat less meat’, most people are going to take that as ‘we must, as individuals, eat less meat’. But that’s actually counter-productive if the only people heeding it are the ones who are most inclined to buy sustainably-produced meat.

      “I think that the usual kind of person who is going to be motivated enough to find and purchase sustainable meat is not going to be the kind of person who eats meat every day.”

      I think you’ve got that the wrong way round: the kind of people who like to eat meat several times a week (who, I suspect, still greatly outnumber the once-a-week or never) are likely to be resistant to the message of sustainability if it means they’ll have to change their diet significantly. And I mean the whole message of sustainability; if we’re told we have to change our diet, and give up foods we love, in order to be virtuous, many people will instinctively distrust both the message and the messenger.

      And, in this case, I’d say they’re right. As far as I can see, a better message is “eat as much sustainably-produced meat as you like, but avoid the industrial stuff”. That would automatically lead to a reduction in overall meat consumption, for the reasons I outlined in my last comment, without putting people off the whole sustainability argument.

      The point about population is important here: from the sustainability perspective, there is no maximum level of individual meat consumption, there is only a maximum overall level. That does admittedly open up all sorts of issues over distribution (‘how much meat is it fair for me to eat when some can’t eat any?’) but that’s part of the broader inequality problem; it’s not something we should try and solve through individual sacrifice.

    • 96Dave Darby November 3rd, 2017

      I wish you luck, and I’ll point people your way. I see my role as pointing out both things – that we need to buy sustainably-produced meat if we’re going to buy it at all, but that the devastating effect of industrial meat production requires an overall reduction. So, eat meat once a week, but make sure it’s sustainable. I’ll try lots of different ways to get that through. Looking forward to my beef and lamb.

    • 97Rosewood Farm's Rob November 3rd, 2017

      To address your questions;

      1. why can’t a higher number of people be persuaded to eat sustainable meat within a context of an overall reduction in meat consumption?

      They can, if we say ‘eat more sustainable meat’ there is no negative angle. They can eat as much sustainable meat as they like and if we can’t produce it, consumption will go down but most importantly, without discouraging sustainable production. If we stick to ‘eat less meat’ the majority of people will be more inclined to a) eat less and save money for tat b) eat less but keep it unsustainable or b) eat none.

      2. how can a farmer not make a living from beef, when ELC tenants are making a living from 5 or 6 acres of mixed veg, ducks, goats, herbs etc?

      Demand, which is dropping overall. But also supply; it’s easier to produce beef sustainably compared to chicken, so there is also a lot of supply of sustainable beef but more demand for sustainable chicken (which doesn’t really exist because if it was as sustainable as beef, it would cost more than beef).

      I can make a good margin on my beef, sold direct, the issue is selling enough of it to cover the fixed costs of both living and selling. It’s a hard sell because a) it’s more expensive (than pretty much any other food) and b) it’s been villified, wrongly if you trully look at the evidence. Neither would be as much of a problem without the other but that’s the situation we’re dealing with.

      3. why can’t beef farmers diversify?

      To what, non-beef farmers? Well yes, that is exactly what they are doing, diversifying or retiring, and that’s why we have so much grazing land.
      Selling direct is diversifying, as is conservation grazing, but it all takes a lot of time, effort and money, and looking after cattle in a sustainable way (as per the blog I posted) is much more involved than chucking them out in a field.

    • 98Dave Darby November 3rd, 2017

      – If you’re going to eat meat at all, make sure it’s sustainable –
      works for me because a move towards sustainable meat and a rejection of industrial meat will naturally result in an overall reduction, because if you’re not using those 2 million acres to feed tortured animals in sheds, you can’t possibly have so many farmed animals (imho).
      We’ll continue to point out the horrors of industrial ag, and pushing people towards farms like yours.
      Vegetarianism and veganism are amongst our topics, yes – but we’ve also got a whole section devoted to keeping animals sustainably.
      Some people see that as contradictory, but I don’t.

    • 99Rosewood Farm's Rob November 3rd, 2017

      “‘cut the amount of vegetables they eat to afford organic instead.’

      I was thinking more cut the corporate tat rather than cut the veg – which might be the case with people who are interested in organic food. ”

      Exactly! That’s how I feel about meat, and all our food, too, though.

    • 100Rosewood Farm's Rob November 3rd, 2017

      “‘Calories can be produced cheaply from grains – feeding grains to animals is inefficient if those grains could be fed directly to humans, so if you’re gaining 90% of the calories back by eating the grains yourself, you don’t need to produce all your calories from meat.’

      Surely that’s going to reduce meat consumption?”

      I don’t think people eat meat to gain calories. I think the calorie comparison is used to discredit meat, as calories alone are not nutrition.

    • 101Dave Darby November 3rd, 2017

      I think this post more or less nails it.

    • 102Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 3rd, 2017

      “‘I’m not 100% sure we could maintain the current levels of meat production (although I have a hunch that we could)’

      How on earth could we do that, if we were only having a few animals on mixed smallholdings grazing between tree and bush crops? How could there be anywhere near as many animals as we have now in giant sheds with 2 million square miles to grow feed for them with pesticides and fertilisers?”

      Not if we only had a few animals here and there, but I’d say we need to first start grazing the vast acres of wasted traditional grasslands with more than a mere token gesture of animals, then start to reverse some of the devastating drainage, at which point much of the cropland becomes unsuitable for cropping. We have this quaint idea of natural habitat being just trees, but when you look at the landscape from a historical perspective you being to see that much of it was a rich resource of grasslands and wetlands that offer us things we have, today, replaced with oil.

      However, I’m not saying we will, because people are quite wedded to their grain based world, but we have to work on the premise that we should eat only what we can produce sustainably, and eat that first and foremost.

    • 103Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 3rd, 2017

      I agree Malcolm – eat as much as you like because, for the time being at least, it’s pretty hard to eat too much, because there isn’t much being produced. I find that I am greatly restricted when eating anywhere away from home. And I make no assumption that the veggie option is going to be any better.

      The greatest, and most damaging, legacy of the anti-red meat movement is not the number of people who will turn vegan but the public perception of cattle, the species to which we owe civilisation and agriculture, and the good it will do for industrial chicken and crops.

    • 104Kent Bentley November 5th, 2017

      There are only 2 status of live, live or die. If we don’t eat them they will die as well. So why not eat them let tehem make contribution to us

    • 105Kent Bentley November 5th, 2017

      There are only 2 status of live, live or die. If we don’t eat them they will die as well. So why not eat them let tehem make contribution to us

    • 106John November 13th, 2017

      Nobody needs meat to survive.
      There is everything the body needs in plants.

    • 107Nigel Berman November 13th, 2017

      Interesting and topical question, that we’ve also tried to explore recently through an experiential workshop – How to Skin a Rabbit with gratitude and respect for the animal. It got shut down by a vegan protest! Here’s my blog about it http://www.schoolofthewild.com/blog/is-this-the-end-of-the-road-for-our-rabbit-class

    • 108Dave Darby November 13th, 2017

      Wow – powerful stuff

    • 109Dave Darby November 13th, 2017

      Yes, we can live without eating meat, but we can also live without eating root crops, or soft fruit. The question is not ‘can we live without eating meat?’, it’s ‘is it ethical to eat meat?’

    • 110John November 13th, 2017

      The act of killing an animal was long a as a necessary evil. These days we know it is not necessary. Eating animals is wasteful in comparison to eating plants, as much is wasted by the animal.
      We could have orchards covering the county yet instead we have grass and cows, producing huge amounts of methane and cholesterol rather than fruits and nuts and soil.

    • 111John November 13th, 2017

      It is not respectful to disregard am animals life and use it as a commodity.
      That said it is a far cry better than most animal misuse/abuse.
      They should better attend their time protesting the gassing of pigs or the dehorning of cows.

    • 112John November 13th, 2017

      If we do not breed them in the first place then they need not suffer and be killed.

    • 113John November 13th, 2017

      Cholesterol is the main cause of the leading case of death, heat disease.
      Meat putrifies rather than ferments, causing colon cancer.

    • 114John November 13th, 2017

      It takes 28 times more land to get X amount of calories from beef as it does from beans.
      Sustainable farming including cows might be silvopasture or an oxen that works the farm alongside you, but cattle farming as a whole is far far less sustainable than plant crops, not to mention perennials.

    • 115Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 13th, 2017

      Funny that, you’d think that the leading cause of death among vegans would be something other than heart disease, if meat was the cause.

    • 116Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 13th, 2017

      Plants crops are mainly annuals, requiring cultivation but cattle can be raised 100% on perennials that have a mutlitude of uses. While plants crops take up a smaller amount of land for most of the growing season, cattle can be rotated so that they use much larger areas for much shorter periods of time. Therefore the land use for plants may be 5% of the area of cattle, the land use for cattle can be 3.8% or less. Other uses include, but are not restricted to, carbon sequestration, tree crop production, wildlife habitat and floodwater storage.

    • 117Bonce November 14th, 2017

      No one ever seems to talk about nutrition and food miles/carbon footprint. Where I live, up high, in Northern England I can’t grow protein except beans in a good summer. Veg is the basic Sprouts, Swedes & Kale & Celery. I try hard to only eat what I can grow. I can grow Rhubarb and Currants but not Avocados. I can grow grass, animals convert grass into protein. Their waste is recycled. Responsible management of everything is essential. I take my role in the cycle of life extremely seriously. In Northern climes it is not possible to be a vegetarian unless you eat imported foods, and by vitamins. I don’t find this environmentally ethical.

    • 118Rosewood Farm's Rob November 14th, 2017

      That’s right – it doesn’t really matter what you eat but how possible and sustainable it is to produce in the local area. This world view of nutrition and environmental issues is exactly what causes most damage to the environment IMO.

    • 119john November 14th, 2017

      All plants have enough protein.
      Are you saying you can’t grow potatoes?

    • 120Annie Leymarie November 14th, 2017

      It didn’t ‘get shut down by a vegan protest’ – as far as I could see it very much went ahead! I would have loved to provide much more information for the arguments against the workshop, but you told me a short paragraph was all you could publish! Nigel, I don’t want to be antagonistic here. The kind of conversation Dave Derby is promoting, and that to some extent you promoted too, is very useful and if/when I meet you in the flesh – or in writing – I hope we can continue a dialogue!

    • 121Annie Leymarie November 14th, 2017

      OOOPs! Apologies Nigel, I wrote my previous comment too fast without reading your blog. Am so sorry, and I can’t see a way of deleting it. I’ll now read your blog and see what happened on the day. Sorry if fundamentalists vegans did indeed interfere. I would not have agreed with their actions. Although I have been on a plant-based diet for a very long time, I often avoid calling myself a vegan because I do not agree with some actions and writings from fellow vegans.

    • 122Nigel Berman November 14th, 2017

      Annie, it very much didn’t go ahead. Feathers and a couple of us spent about half an hour listening and talking to the protestors, to try to get them to listen to us in return and yes hopefully to leave us alone, whilst the rest of us did an exercise to connect to the place where the workshop was being held. Then we spent about half an hour trying to have a discussion about what was happening and whether we could go ahead – with all the shouting we could barely hear each other. So we stopped. I wouldn’t call that going ahead. The reason I would only let you write a paragraph is partly because that’s all everyone got – see all the comments here: http://www.schoolofthewild.com/blog/how-to-skin-a-wild-rabbit-part-3-this-is-what-you-said. The key I think is listening to each other, and to accept other people’s viewpoints. In that vein, did you read the comments there because there were a lot of thoughtful and considered points from all sides. And the people who came to the workshop had all spent time thinking about the issues beforehand, including the kinds of things you said. Whatever the ethics, the rights and wrongs, an ‘I’m right, you’re wrong’ attitude is only likely to push people away. As someone wrote afterwards in response: “It’s hard not to be fundamentalist when you feel passionately about something, but we’re going to have to learn how to combine passion with respect for people with contrary views if we’re going to build a united society rather than descending further into division.” We’re planning to have a follow up event sometime to look at this, so perhaps see you there.

    • 123Rosewood Farm's Rob November 14th, 2017

      No they don’t – some plants have lots of low quality protein, some have small amounts of relatively high quality protein but most are limited by protein quality. Potatoes have decent quality protein in very small amounts, so you would need to grow a lot of potatoes and process them to get a meaningful amount of protein. You’d need to eat more than 3kg of potatoes a day otherwise.

    • 124Rosewood Farm's Rob November 14th, 2017

      Animals tend to breed themselves without human intervention – farming is more about preventing animals from breeding, which of course has a moral welfare aspect itself.

    • 125Annie Leymarie November 14th, 2017

      It’s been shown again and again that in the West we eat far too much protein (and more importantly, the wrong kind)! So for instance Dr Neal Barnard (president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which has 1200 professional medical members) writes that “it’s almost impossible not to get all the protein you need” (http://www.pcrm.org/about/about/about-pcrm), and another nutrition expert, Dr Garth Davis, writes that “protein is not the answer. In fact it’s the problem” (http://proteinaholic.com/). For more in-depth information on protein, you might read (or listen to) Dr McGreger: https://nutritionfacts.org/audio/how-much-is-enough-protein/.

    • 126Annie Leymarie November 14th, 2017

      It’s good you mention the rising human population problem, but rising faster still is our livestock population, which overshadows human population (and of course wildlife) by its sheer mass, and has huge environmental impacts. See for instance George Monbiot (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/19/population-crisis-farm-animals-laying-waste-to-planet) or Vaclav Smil (http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/environment/planet-of-the-cows). The lead author of a declaration published today and signed by 15,000 scientists, warning humanity of the urgent need to change our habits, including the need to quickly adopt diets that are at least 90% plant-based, has devoted much of his career writing about the gigantic problems caused by our carnivory, including on our own health. Read any of his many writings! http://www.truehealthinitiative.org/councils/william-ripple/

    • 127Annie Leymarie November 14th, 2017

      “Animals tend to breed themselves without human intervention”??? Who are you kidding? For instance turkeys (and 40 million of them are eaten just in the US just for Thanksgiving) have been bred in such a way, with huge breasts and thighs, that they are now quite incapable of mating (see https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/11/22/humans-have-changed-industrial-turkeys-so-much-they-cant-even-mate-without-our-help/?utm_term=.58fb567f8d6e).

      Of course at least 95% of dairy cows are also artificially inseminated (i.e. raped – with a farmer inserting his or her arm in the anus of the cow whilst also inserting a syringe in her vagina) – because farmers want to make sure they are pregnant for much of their short lives whilst also lactating, and they also want to go against their natural cycles of giving birth in the warm season so that they produce most milk when humans want it most – in the winter. To obtain the semen, the bull is also ‘raped’ through the use of an artificial vagina and hand ‘massage’. Etc, etc.

      For use of artiifical insemination, see for instance http://freakonomics.com/2011/11/22/artificial-insemination-what-about-the-other-animals/.

      Even when ‘livestock’ can indeed mate, farmers dictate who with, when, where, how often, which progeny (if any) is kept, etc. etc

    • 128Annie Leymarie November 14th, 2017

      Nigel, I have now read and appreciated your blog. Thank you! I’ll just respond to one thing: you quote a participant who wrote that “Vegans extend the terms of who is a sentient being to animals but not to plants. They make a clear divide and are comfortable with that.” I disagree! I eat only a plant-based diet but I believe plants have forms of sentience, or consciousness (in fact I would argue that everything does – rocks, water, even plastic!). Yet there are major differences between plants and animals. Many plants gladly give away the parts that we eat – such as nuts, fruit and seeds and probably even some flowers and leaves. Fruit and nut trees rely on their ‘seeds’ being eaten for their reproduction cycle : it helps them and certainly doesn’t kill them. That is true of most edible perennial plants – the ones that I feel we should be focusing on as much as possible. It’s very different from eating a rabbit, who indeed doesn’t want to be killed. I don’t think anyone can argue with that…

      ‘Vegans’ tend to be lumped into one single narrow group even though we have a wide range of perspectives. Imagine if all omnivores were accused of some belief or action – say, for instance, of electing Trump (since indeed the majority of people who elected Trump were probably omnivores).

      So, as much as we can, let’s try and avoid black-and-white reasoning (and of course I’m giving myself this advice!)

    • 129John November 14th, 2017

      Please explain what you mean by quality protein. As far as I have found amino acids are amino acids.

    • 130Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 14th, 2017

      Proteins are made up of amino acids in specific proportions. If you have lots of one amino acid but less of another the one you have less of is said to be limiting protein synthesis because proteins cannot be built in it’s absense, no matter how many of the others you have. Some AAs are ‘essential’ in the diet because the body cannot synthesize them itself, whereas others can be produced by the body and are not essential in the diet. Potatoes and soya beans have more of a balanced amino acid profile which makes them high quality. Animal protein is the most complete because it contains large amounts of the essential amino acids in the proportions we require them.

    • 131Annie Leymarie November 14th, 2017

      Here is the latest and biggest study comparing plant and animal protein for our health:

      Song M, Fung T, Hu F, Willett W, Longo V, Chan A, Giovannucci E (2016) Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality. JAMA Internal Medicine. http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2540540

      “The biggest study to date – with over 130,000 participants – of effects of plant and animal protein on human health produced clear result: Animal protein was associated with higher mortality, especially from heart disease, whilst plant protein was associated with lower mortality. Animal foods that gave the highest risk of premature death were processed and unprocessed red meat and eggs. Plant protein offered protection against a range of diseases, promoting a longer, healthier life. Every three percent increase in calories from plant protein reduces risk of death by 10 percent.

      Also: http://edition.cnn.com/2016/08/01/health/meat-eaters-risk-of-death-plant-protein/index.html

      A 10% increase in animal protein intake was linked to a 2% increase in overall mortality and 8% increase in risk of cardiovascular-related death, whereas a 3% increase in plant protein intake was linked to a 10% decrease in overall mortality and a 12% decrease in cardiovascular mortality.

      “The findings confirm what we have been observing from studies using different research approaches,” stated Dr Kim Robien. “People who consume their dietary protein primarily from plant foods would be expected to be better able to maintain a healthy weight and have lower risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancers”.

      I could supply more such information on the benefits of plant protein versus animal protein!

    • 132Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 14th, 2017

      Yes, and if you look at the figures provided in the sources you will see that the number of people, just like the number of livestock is in decline in developed countries. The problem with world population studies is that you find authors tend to flip from one to the other when they wish to make a different point. Going back to the source from Monbiot’s article you can see that livestock numbers have risen while cattle numbers have declined alongside people eating more chicken (which are much smaller than cattle) they are also eating more vegetables. On a world wide scale there were 1.29 people for every cow in 1961, and 3.55 in 2015 – that is a relative decline, not an increase. The problem of population growth in developing countries is the result of the efficiency of plant based diets in increasing population. Meat consumption limits our population so the bigger worry is that developed nations transfer back towards plant based diets and again trigger a rise in population. Transitioning to a plant based diet buys us more time but it does not solve the problem of population or species decline – quite the opposite.

    • 133Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 14th, 2017

      Your sources are all over the place – on the previous thread you have highlighted the issue of population growth, following it up with the author of ‘How Not To Die’ (in other words, how to increase population). Aside from the fact that you cannot cheat death (the desire not to die seems to be behind so many health problems), neither is it desirable. Fortunately we can get enough protein in the modern world, largely due to intensive farming and fossil fuels. I don’t believe that is sustainable in the long term, though.

    • 134Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 15th, 2017

      “Even when ‘livestock’ can indeed mate, farmers dictate who with, when, where, how often, which progeny (if any) is kept, etc. etc” – yes, that was the point I was making, farming is mostly about *stopping* animals from mating, not increasing the rate at which they can!

      Farming is bound by the physical capabilities of animals and seasons – even if you artificially inseminate an animal you have not speeded up the rate at which it can breed. Indeed, AI allows you to draw out the breeding interval of cattle to 365 days rather than it creeping forward to periods of less than one year. You can AI a cow without her needing contact with the bull but other than that it is no different, physically, from a naturally occurring pregnancy. Put down the vegan propoganda and think about it. We are constrained by the female reproductive system and no amount of tech can overcome that basic fundamental natural biological law.

    • 135Bonce November 15th, 2017

      In reply to the person who asked if I could grow potatoes up high in Northern England, the fact is no I can’t, I live on what is classified as severely disadvantaged land and potatoes get Blight. Even if I could they wouldn’t provide me with enough protein and I’d have to use a great deal of space in which to grown them. Much is made of a balanced and varied diet. To do this most people eat imported foods. Try restricting yourself to what can be grown local to you, in season. Would you really eat this diet? Then remember, if you do live in say the ‘the Garden of England’ – Kent then most people don’t, and all these people have to be fed. So the point here is how to feed all the people we have, with numbers rising (on the whole population isn’t controlled) To feed people in a sustainable way. If animals are killed for food then I believe it is our duty to use the whole animal, meat, skin etc which in fact I do. We talk about sustainability a great deal in connection with animals and farming but how often do we apply these arguments to ourselves? In fact reading the comments most people seem to only look at this from their own perspective rather than how to solve the fundamental problems of feeding the nation. Land is finite and there are many calls on it. Food is a basic requirement. Not all land is suitable for the growing of top quality digestible protein (we can’t metabolize grass)

    • 136Annie Leymarie November 15th, 2017

      Dear Nigel, I hope you saw my other messages where I apologised for having written too fast, before seeing the link to your blog. I fully agree with you about showing respect for people with different views and I certainly hope I don’t stray away from that principle. I repeat that I would not have joined the vegan protest since you had offered space for a conversation before the event and I am very sorry you had a negative experience of vegans on this occasion. I repeat also that there are all kinds of vegans, just as there are all kinds of carnists, and many people these days fit somewhere on the continuum between the two. I wasn’t critical about the fact you allowed only a short space to write arguments – I can understand your point of view – but nonetheless feel frustrated as there is so much evidence that I would love to be able to present for discussions of this type to be better informed.

      For instance many studies, including a very big one recently, have shown very clearly that animal protein – all animal protein – is harmful to our health whereas a whole plant-based diet is the healthiest. But because our cultural habits around meat, dairy and other food from animal source run very deep, and because there is a lot at stake for the powerful meat, dairy and egg industries (who are still commissioning and funding – and vetoing – a lot of the relevant nutritional and environmental studies) the facts are still not made very clear to the public. Admittedly wild rabbit will be among the healthiest meat but still not as healthy as eating plants directly. So for instance on this video (with a transcript) Dr McGreger concludes that “reaching for a serving of [wild] kangaroo may be better than a cheese danish—but, foraging for an apple might prove to be the most therapeutic of all” (https://nutritionfacts.org/video/paleo-diet-studies-show-benefits/).

      I will make a point of coming to one of your events when I can, to shake your hand (or give you a hug!) and hopefully clear the air so that, as you suggest, civilised discussions can take place. And hopefully we can also celebrate all the things that we do hold dear in common!

    • 137Annie Leymarie November 15th, 2017

      You write: “The number of people is in decline in developed countries” : only in some countries, and it is certainly not the case in the UK (https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/22/uk-population-shows-sharpest-rise-almost-70-years), nor in the EU as whole, nor in most European countries, nor in the US nor Canada nor Australia nor New Zealand, etc. In any case, as climate change and other problems hit poorer countries hardest, there will soon be a gigantic mass migration problem to address. And countries with population decline have often (sadly) put in place strong measures to increase their population (e.g. http://mentalfloss.com/article/33485/6-creative-ways-countries-have-tried-their-birth-rates).

      “The problem with world population studies is that you find authors tend to flip from one to the other” – from one to the other of what? I don’t understand.

      “livestock numbers have risen while cattle numbers have declined” : cattle inventory seems to have recently increased in three out of the four countries with the largest cattle population: India (https://qz.com/643433/all-you-wanted-to-know-about-cows-in-india-in-charts/ ), China (https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/overview-of-the-beef-cattle-industry-in-china-the-widening-deficitbetween-demand-and-output-in-a-vicious-circle-2332-2608-1000190.php?aid=76300) and the US (https://www.wsj.com/articles/usda-shows-first-increase-in-size-of-u-s-cattle-herd-in-8-years-1422661283) but yes, I agree that there is generally a shift happening away from cattle towards chicken, but the size of cattle, in both meat and dairy breeds, has vastly increased over recent years (e.g. http://www.beefmagazine.com/genetics/0201-increased-beef-cows) so that the environmental impact per animal is far bigger than it used to be. And the main point is that, just as with human population, we are way above the planet’s carrying capacity. I could list many dozens of studies that come up with the same conclusion that it is absolutely crucial to shift away from animal-based food and towards plant-based diets, both for human and planetary health.

      I am utterly baffled by the reasoning in the rest of your comment, where you seem to blame population growth on plant-based diets??… then write that “Transitioning to a plant based diet buys us more time but it does not solve the problem of population decline”. Decline of what population? What problem?

    • 138Annie Leymarie November 15th, 2017

      “Top quality digestible protein” has been shown to be plant protein, not animal protein. The biggest study on this (backed by many others) is very clear: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/vegan-meat-life-expectancy-eggs-dairy-research-a7168036.html.

      Eating local food whenever possible is ideal, but many studies have shown that in terms of environmental impact, including climate impact, as well as health, the type of food chosen is overall much more important than its provenance – and the best food is plant-based. Here are some examples from recent studies: “There is no scientific evidence that local food production is universally superior to non-local food in terms of its impact on either climate or health” ; (https://biblio.ugent.be/publication/8521128/file/8521129 ); “Localisation does not improve sustainability much. What matters most is reducing meat and dairy consumption” (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170621082745.htm ); A review of evidence does not offer any support for claims that local food is universally superior to non-local food in terms of its impact on the climate or the health of consumers. Indeed several examples demonstrate that local food can be inferior to non-local food. A qualitative assessment suggests the emissions per item of food would probably be greater under a scenario of self-sufficiency in the UK than under the current food system. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20696093). “You are better off eating vegetables from Argentina than red beef from the local farm (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/12/03/upshot/what-you-can-do-about-climate-change.html).

      You write about the need to address “the fundamental problems of feeding the nation”. I’d go further and be concerned about the need of feeding all of humanity, as well as all the other species we have the privilege of sharing this planet with. Study after study has shown that to do that, we need to shift as much and as fast as possible towards plant-based diets.

      One highly respected scientist who focuses much of his work on how best to feed the UK is professor Tim Lang (here writing about Brexit: https://theconversation.com/how-brexit-threatens-britains-food-security-61716) . He has been a strong voice in advocating a shift away from meat and towards more horticulture – the growing of more vegetables and fruit – in the UK. Here is a short piece about this: https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/yvxjjw/what-would-happen-if-everyone-in-the-uk-stopped-eating-meat.

      Reports from the New Economic Foundation and the Vegan Society have recently been published to help UK farmers transition away from animal agriculture and into more plant crops. See https://www.vegansociety.com/take-action/campaigns/grow-green.

    • 139john November 15th, 2017

      Plants are more sustainable than meat. This is very basic.

    • 140john November 15th, 2017

      The cause is cholesterol and saturated fat.
      A lot of vegans eat junk food, so may be asking for it, yet there isn;t a study yet.
      You are talking about vegetarians, who eat lots of cheese.

    • 141john November 15th, 2017

      “Farming is about stopping animals from breeding”
      That is an out and out lie.
      Farm animals are bred to, and then forced to produce far more offspring than they would naturally.

    • 142Rosewood Farm's Rob November 15th, 2017

      No, I’m talking about vegans, although if you have alternative information I’d like to hear what *is* the leading cause of death among vegans. The EPIC Oxford study found a higher death rate than vegetarians iirc.

    • 143Rosewood Farm's Rob November 15th, 2017

      Basic. Simple. Wrong. All good words to describe that statement.

    • 144Annie Leymarie November 15th, 2017

      You were writing that farm animals “tend to breed themselves without human intervention” but now confirming something quite different, whilst asking me to “put down the vegan propaganda”. Whose propaganda? You explain that farmers can’t “overcome basic fundamental natural biological laws”. It sounds like you might really enjoy the “natural biological” life of a typical dairy cow: abducted soon after birth, jailed for life, having to sleep in her urine and excrements, dehorned, branded with a hot iron or ear-tagged or tattooed, any surplus teat cut off – all without anaesthetic – then artificially inseminated (i.e. raped) when still a teenager and thereafter every year until slaughter, spending her life almost constantly both pregnant and lactating, being forced to produce 10 times more milk than would be natural to feed her calf, the enormous udders and sedentary lifestyle contributing to a high risk of painful lameness, being hooked to a milking machine twice a day and very prone to painful mastitis, prone to many other diseases such as tuberculosis (for which thousands of innocent badgers are killed), having all progeny taken away soon after birth, not ever meeting any male other than sons who are often killed at birth, sometimes in front of the mother, becoming infertile through exhaustion and thus sent to slaughter when still only a few years into adulthood…

    • 145Annie Leymarie November 15th, 2017

      With your reasoning, if we don’t kill humans they will die anyway, so hey! whey don’t we kill a few billion humans so that we solve the problems of climate change, pollution, etc.

    • 146Annie Leymarie November 15th, 2017

      Rob, you have accused me of sending references ‘all over the place’ but I back my statements with evidence (or can do, if asked). I can send you masses of evidence – literally hundreds of studies – to support John’s statement (even if he has kept it a bit simplified) and he has mentioned the very basic rule that getting our food from a lower trophic level is far more efficient than high up on the food chain.

    • 147Rosewood Farm's Rob November 15th, 2017

      No John, reproduction is limited by the natural biology of animals. It is not possible to breed mammals at a faster rate than their gestation period (chickens are a different matter, although there is still a limit, as no chicken can lay more than an egg a day or continually without moulting). Large farm animals tend to reproduce annually, just like their wild counterparts, to coincide with the seasons. Although it’s possible to breed cattle earlier each year a month or two earlier, it’s usual to prevent them from breeding in order to maintain the annual cycle. Farm animals also tend to either be castrated or separated to prevent them breeding indiscriminately, including keeping young females away from their own fathers.

      The reason farming is more productive than nature is the protection we give both plants and animals. By preventing either from being eaten before they reach breeding age (as usually happens in nature) we increase their abundance so we can reliably take the excess.

    • 148Rosewood Farm's Rob November 15th, 2017

      You cannot attribute migration, as per your Guardian link, to meat consumption – I’m not sure what point you are trying to make there. You appear to be arguing that migration adds to population – it doesn’t because the population must reduce elsewhere in the world to offset the migration. However, despite our rising population, we are experiencing a decline in meat consumption from grasslands with people’s diets shifting towards both chicken and vegetables.

      Do I ‘seem to blame population growth on plant-based diets’? As I understand it eating plants instead of animals means that the planet can support a greater number of people. I don’t think more people is what the world really needs so constant efforts to produce more food in order to feed more people is surely going to lead to population growth even further beyond the carrying capacity of the Earth.

      If you study population growth you tend to find that traditionally low-meat consumption countries are the ones increasing most rapidly. That stands to reason as, in nature, herbivores tend to breed more rapidly and are restricted in number by predators, rather than food supply (although this does tend to kick in when there aren’t enough predators, such as the peaks and troughs you find in vole populations). Meanwhile predators tend to follow the sucess of their prey in terms of numbers (eg the barn owl in the vole analogy). However predator numbers can never exceed prey species in number.

    • 149Rosewood Farm's Rob November 15th, 2017

      You’re doing that ranting again. Let me address your first point as the rest of your post seems to be repeating that vegan propoganda.

      “You were writing that farm animals “tend to breed themselves without human intervention” but now confirming something quite different,”

      No, you’ve misunderstood. What I meant was that *without* intervention, most animals (and plants, incidentally) will breed themselves, willingly.

      When we intervene in animal breeding it is usually in an effort to control the outcome. AI is a prime example – if you simply leave a bull with a cow she will cycle every 21 days until she becomes either pregnant or too fat to conceive. The bull(s) will attempt to mate with any cycling cow and fight with eachother for the right to do so. If you leave a son with his mother, unless she is already pregnant, he will attempt to serve her from 6-10 months of age, depending upon the breed. By using AI instead of a bull you are not increasing conception rate (which is acutally low in AI than by natural service) but you are controlling on which cycle the cow gets the opportunity to breed (if at all). This is desirable in a dairy herd which contains many different cows at different stages of their lactation. To simply turn a bull into a herd like this would mean that all cows would be served regardless of their stage of life and lactation, which obviously would bring about a whole host of practical but also welfare implications.

    • 150Rosewood Farm's Rob November 15th, 2017

      You’ve used the word ‘efficient’ – he used the word ‘sustainable’. I was replying to his statement.

      I could show you any number of crops that are not sustainable, along with meat that is sustainable, so the statement is fundamentally incorrect.

      As far as ‘efficiency’ goes, increased efficiency can allow us to extract resources much more quickly. If you extract those resources more quickly than they can replenish then it is not sustainable. If you must destroy a resource in order for it to be more efficient (most plant crops are grown the way they are to make them more efficient to grow and harvest, not more nutritious).

    • 151Annie Leymarie November 16th, 2017

      Here are the first and last sentences of the conclusion of the relevant EPIC Oxford study:

      “The amount of data available is not large, but the results so far suggest that the long-term health of vegetarians is good, and may be better than that of comparable non-vegetarians for some conditions and diseases such as obesity and IHD.
      FOR VEGANS THE CURRENT DATA ARE INSUFFFICIENT TO DRAW ANY STRONG CONCLUSION AND MUCH MORE RESEARCH IS REQUIRED”.

      Here are key conclusions from some other recent studies:

      Dinu M, Abbate R, Gensini GF, Casini A, Sofi F. (2016) Vegetarian, vegan diets and multiple health outcomes: a systematic review with meta-analysis of observational studies. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26853923

      This comprehensive meta-analysis reports a significant protective effect of a vegetarian diet versus the incidence and/or mortality from ischemic heart disease (-25%) and incidence from total cancer (-8%). Vegan diet conferred a significant reduced risk (-15%) of incidence from total cancer.

      Harland J, Garton L (2016). An update of the evidence relating to plant-based diets and cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and overweight. Nutr Bull. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/nbu.12235/abstract

      Researchers pooled data from studies that assessed plant-based eating patterns and disease risk. Results showed an approximate 20 to 25 % reduction in heart disease and type 2 diabetes risks as well as lower cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and inflammatory markers for those who consumed plant-based diets. Long-term adherence to these diets resulted in better weight management, too.

      Song M, Fung TT, Hu FB, Willett WC, Longo VD, Chan AT, Giovannucci EL. (2016) Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality. JAMA Intern Med. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.4182. http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2540540

      High animal protein intake was positively associated with cardiovascular mortality and high plant protein intake was inversely associated with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. Substitution of plant protein for animal protein, especially that from processed red meat, was associated with lower mortality, suggesting the importance of protein source.

      Le LT and Sabate J (2014) Beyond meatless, the health effects of vegan diets: Finding from the Adventist Cohort. Nutrients. http://doi.org/10.3390/nu6062131

      Vegetarian diets confer protection against cardiovascular diseases, cardiometabolic risk factors, some cancers and total mortality. Vegan diets seem to offer additional protection for obesity, hypertension, type-2 diabetes, and cardiovascular mortality.

      Hana Kahleova, Susan Levin and Neal Barnard (2017). Cardio-Metabolic Benefits of Plant-Based Diets. Nutrients. http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/9/8/848

      Almost one half of cardio-metabolic deaths in the U.S. might be prevented through proper nutrition. Plant-based (vegetarian and vegan) diets are an effective strategy for improving nutrient intake. At the same time, they are associated with decreased all-cause mortality and decreased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and coronary heart disease. Evidence suggests that plant-based diets may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease events by an estimated 40% and the risk of cerebral vascular disease events by 29%. These diets also reduce the risk of developing metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes by about one half. Properly planned vegetarian diets are healthful, effective for weight and glycemic control, and provide metabolic and cardiovascular benefits, including reversing atherosclerosis and decreasing blood lipids and blood pressure. The use of plant-based diets as a means of prevention and treatment of cardio-metabolic disease should be promoted through dietary guidelines and recommendations.

      Forum for the Future, 2016. What is the role of plant-based diets for the future?
      https://www.forumforthefuture.org/sites/default/files/files/Role_of_plant_based_diets_Oct16_FINAL_2(1).pdf

      A variety of different studies (experimental & observational) have provided evidence for a link between plant-based eating and healthier blood pressure, healthier blood cholesterol, lower body weight, better blood glucose management, lower incidence of coronary heart disease and a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, among other benefits.

      Massera D , Graf L , Barba S , Ostfeld R (2016) Letter to the Editor: Angina rapidly improved with a plant-based diet and returned after resuming a Western diet Geriatr Cardiol http://www.jgc301.com/ch/reader/create_pdf.aspx?file_no=20151014001&flag=1

      A growing body of evidence suggests that animal-based foods may be harmful for health, while plant-based diets can halt and even improve both coronary atherosclerotic disease and survival. Large population-based studies found consumption of animal products to be associated with both increased mortality and incidence of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

      Wright N, Wilson L, Smith M, Duncan B, McHugh P. (2017) The BROAD study: A randomised controlled trial using a whole food plant-based diet in the community for obesity, ischaemic heart disease or diabetes. Nutr Diabetes.

      A whole food plant-based (WFPB) diet led to significant improvements in body mass index (BMI), cholesterol, chronic disease risk factors and quality of life – which were largely maintained to 12 months. To the best of our knowledge, this research has achieved greater weight loss at 6 and 12 months than any other trial that does not limit energy intake or mandate regular exercise.

      Plant-based diet is solution to ending America’s Health care crisis, by Dr Staton Awtrey. MTR, Oct 2015 http://www.mrt.com/news/health/article/Plant-based-diet-is-solution-to-ending-7414519.php

      Literally hundreds of scientific studies published in peer reviewed journals have proven that diet is often the key to health or disease. These studies demonstrate that a “whole food plant-based diet” will lead the way to less cancer, less heart disease, less diabetes, fewer strokes, less osteoporosis, less Alzheimer’s disease and less obesity.
      Cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes and hypertension, for example, are virtually unknown among Central Africans, the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico, the peoples of rural China and the highland tribes of New Guinea. What these peoples all have in common is their diet. They all consume an unprocessed, or “whole food plant-based “diet with no dairy or animal products. When they immigrate to the west and adopt the standard American diet, however, they come to be afflicted with the same chronic diseases we suffer from.

      Turner-McGrievy G M et al (2015) Comparative effectiveness of plant-based diets for weight loss: a randomized controlled trial of five different diets. Nutrition. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25592014

      Vegan diets may result in greater weight loss than more modest recommendations.

      Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Gina Gendy, Jonathan Doyle (2014) A way to reverse CAD? J Fam Pract. http://www.mdedge.com/jfponline/article/83345/cardiology/way-reverse-cad

      Plant-based nutrition has the potential for a large effect on the CVD epidemic.

      Haghighatdoost F, Bellissimo N, de Zepetnek JOT, Rouhani MH (2017) Association of vegetarian diet with inflammatory biomarkers: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Public Health Nutr. Also: http://www.pcrm.org/health/medNews/vegetarian-diets-reduce-inflammation

      Researchers reviewed 18 studies, finding that individuals who followed a vegetarian diet for at least two years lowered their serum levels of C-reactive protein, a biomarker of inflammation, compared with those who did not.

      Ipes Food (2017) Unravelling the Food-Health Nexus. Global Alliance for the Future of Food. https://futureoffood.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/FoodHealthNexus_Full-Report_FINAL.pdf

      Overconsumption of animal products has been connected with heart disease, diabetes, and various cancers (Feskens et al., 2013; Green et al., 2016; Melnik, 2012; Oggioni et al., 2015; Tilman and Clark, 2014). Some studies have identified excess insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) as a driver of cancer cell proliferation in humans, e.g., in breast cancer, and have linked high IGF-1 levels to animal protein regardless of total protein intake levels (Endogenous Hormones and Breast Cancer Collaborative Group et al., 2010; Rowlands et al., 2009; Y. Zhang et al., 2010). Specific types of meat have also been associated with increased NCD risks. Following reclassification in 2015, the WHO considers that processed meats (such as hot dogs, ham, sausages, corned beef, canned meat, and meat-based sauces) may cause colorectal cancer and are associated with stomach cancer (IARC/WHO, 2015).11 It also considers that red meat (i.e., all muscle meat, such as beef, veal, pork, and lamb) is linked to colorectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancers (IARC/WHO, 2015).

    • 152Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 16th, 2017

      By heck, you don’t half waffle on, all that copy and pasting and not managing to answer my question (yes, I read through it all). What are the leading causes of death among vegans?

    • 153Annie Leymarie November 16th, 2017

      “By heck, you don’t half waffle on”! The waffle I quoted said: “For vegans, the current data are insufficient “. You keep deflecting the conversation away from inconvenient truths, not adding any meaningful input.

      21 health experts recently confirmed that, together with moderate exercise and anti-stress practices where relevant, the adoption of a whole food plant-based diet could remove 80% of the biggest health burden – that of non-communicable diseases (http://www.thepermanentejournal.org/issues/2018/6536-lifestyle-medicine-a-brief-review-of-its-dramatic-impact-on-health-and-survival.html ) .

      The situation we have now, as it was with tobacco some decades ago, is that the powerful meat, dairy, egg and fish industries, together with the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, who fund a great deal of studies on nutrition, are clearly not going to fund studies that would jeopardise their existence – so there are currently not enough large-scale long-term studies done. It would be hard to conclude ‘what vegans are dying from’ without following for a very long time a lot of people who have been vegan for a long time and then analyse all the other factors at play, etc. Sadly doing this is expensive! But I have listed many studies (and there are plenty more) showing clear statistics about all the health problems vegans are much less likely to die from than meat-eaters, including cardio-vascular problems, cancers, strokes, diabetes, Alzheimer, etc. – i.e. all the main killers.

      More info on ‘How not do die’ (hint: adopt a vegan diet): https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-not-to-die-an-animated-summary/.

    • 154Annie Leymarie November 16th, 2017

      Rob you are again contradicting yourself and going off on a tangent. From “farm animals tend to breed themselves without human intervention” to “we intervene in animal breeding usually in an effort to control the outcome” – there is quite a jump! The rest was, using your own word, “waffle”.

      You are also again accusing me of “vegan propaganda”. I have no material interest in these issues. I feel passionate about the fate of life on Earth but am not attached to any business nor any group. I rarely call myself a vegan precisely because I long to remain agnostic and able to consider issues from a range of perspectives.

      You are in the business of raising livestock and selling meat. I acknowledge that you are putting a lot of dedication in trying to do this as best as possible – yet it is no wonder that you might have blind spots if your whole livelihood is put under question. We still live in a ‘carnist’ culture where you represent the norm and I the freak (https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=8&v=o0VrZPBskpg), but things are changing very fast as the urgent need to shift our diets keeps being stressed by scientists, for different but converging reasons: the climate, our health, air pollution, water pollution, water availability, deforestation, soil health, loss of biodiversity, resistance to antibiotics, animal welfare, etc.

      The argument that grass-fed livestock can provide ‘sustainable meat’ has not held up to scrutiny (http://www.fcrn.org.uk/fcrn-blogs/tara-garnett/blog-post-tara-garnett-why-eating-grass-fed-beef-isn%E2%80%99t-going-help-fight).

      Worldwide, there is a growing number of livestock farmers who are making a transition – and support for such a transition is becoming increasingly available, including now from the New Economics Foundation (https://www.vegansociety.com/take-action/campaigns/grow-green). Experts such as professor Tim Lang are examining what can be done (e.g. https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/yvxjjw/what-would-happen-if-everyone-in-the-uk-stopped-eating-meat). Much more support is required, to change the subsidy and tax system, among others. But the most important thing to do right now, it to examine all the evidence we have – and not turn away from it.

    • 155Rosewood Farm's Rob November 16th, 2017

      Right, just so we’re absolutely clear here – you are happy to say that [paraphrasing]; ‘the results are inconclusive for vegan diets, therefore while we cannot draw a conclusion’ followed by ‘I am happy to draw a conslusion when it suits my opinion about a vegan diet’.

      You are right, the research is not clear about the link between meat consumption and health. Some studies report positive health benefits, others report no benefit while others show negative effects of both vegan and omnivorous diets. The fact that you have cherry-picked the data to support your conclusion is no more convincing than if I did it. Incidentally, ‘plant-based’ is a commonly used term with absolutely no relevance to vegan diets, although it is commonly used. The standard omnivorous diet is ‘plant-based’ whereas veganism is a ‘plant only’ diet.

      You also draw inconsistent conclusions about the funding of research by claiming that the ‘meat industry’ funds research, yet conveniently ignoring that the meat industry is part of the food industry with close associations with the fossil fuel industry. As an industry we all grow food, whether you eat dairy, meat or vegetables the vast majority comes from farms. It’s also important to note that arable, and particularly vegetable crop production is a high-value sector, requiring more inputs but giving more profit, hence the cost of high-grade arable land being considerably more than low grade livestock grazing.

      Of course fossil fuel industry has two reasons to support research & the media – one the one hand climate change was very much focussed on fossil fuels in the 1990’s but is now shifting to diets. The study you referred to about it being more environmentally friendly to ship food around the world than grow it locally is a prime example. Without fossil fuels that would not even be possible, never mind sustainable. On the other hand the fossil fuel industry supplies both the fuel for cultivation without animals and the fertiliser industry – a massive incentive to either remove animals from the land or remove them from agriculture completely.

      A prime example of your misleading statements;

      “More info on ‘How not do die’ (hint: adopt a vegan diet)”

      1. I fully intend to die
      2. The author has not managed to achieve not dying
      3. There are so many people not dying on an omnivorous diet that it is causing problematic population growth, so this is not a solution, even if it were possible, but a part of the problem

    • 156Rosewood Farm's Rob November 16th, 2017

      “Rob you are again contradicting yourself and going off on a tangent. From “farm animals tend to breed themselves without human intervention” to “we intervene in animal breeding usually in an effort to control the outcome” – there is quite a jump! The rest was, using your own word, “waffle”. ”

      Annie, how rude and dishonest of you to make that statement. Neither of my quoted statements are contradictory, you just seem to be failing to appreciate that animals do not need humans to enable them to breed. I have tried to explain to you in simple terms that AI is not a technique that increases the rate of breeding. I’ve also explained the lengths farmers go to prevent indiscriminate breeding. Choose to ignore that if you will, but that just makes you wilfully ignorant.

      You are proceeding to discredit my input on the basis that I am ‘in the business of raising livestock and selling meat’ – a very poor rebuttal given that you wouldn’t say that if I were a vegetable grower giving an anti-meat bias.

      I accused you of using “vegan propaganda” because you have quoted great chunks of it in your summary of dairy cattle, which I have no material interest in either, I’m just giving you the facts. Using the word ‘rape’ in relation to AI is a prime example of someone who is either repeating something they don’t understand or being deliberately obtuse in order to influence the reader.

      “But the most important thing to do right now, it to examine all the evidence we have – and not turn away from it.”

      Couldn’t agree more, but I’m not the one failing to appreciate the evidence that doesn’t fit my worldview.

    • 157Annie Leymarie November 19th, 2017

      I’ll be answering you in different places – perhaps not the correct ones – as I don’t want to spend much longer on this… Here’s the start:
      You write: “you are happy to say that [paraphrasing]; ‘the results are inconclusive for vegan diets, therefore while we cannot draw a conclusion’ followed by ‘I am happy to draw a conslusion when it suits my opinion about a vegan diet’.” I was both answering and correcting you. You had asked about the leading cause of death among vegans and written that “the EPIC Oxford study found a higher death rate [for vegans] than vegetarians”. There was indeed one such report in the study but it was followed by the sentence “SUBSEQUENT ANALYSES of mortality data from the EPIC-Oxford and AHS-2 studies, based on 1513 and 2570 deaths, respectively, PRODUCED CONTRASTING RESULTS” – and the study ended with: “For vegans, the current data are insufficient to draw any strong conclusions”. It also said: “Many studies have assessed the nutritional adequacy of vegetarian diets. Overall, these have shown that a well-planned vegetarian or vegan diet can supply all the nutrients required for good health”.

      Since this study was inconclusive in respect of your question, I sent you solid data to help answer it. These are not my opinions, as you claim, but scientific facts. You accuse me of cherry picking: I sent many references precisely because I was pre-empting your accusation, and would be happy to send many more (though you call this “waffle”, even though there wasn’t a single word from me!). Perhaps you could answer my points with evidence-based facts rather than your personal opinions?

      You are absolutely right that the term ‘plant-based’ is becoming rather ‘elastic’ (though most studies clarify what definition they use). I believe the first wide use of the term was in the ground-breaking 2005 China Study, as the author T Colin Campbell wanted to highlight the health benefits of a vegan diet independently from environmental and ethical aspects usually associated with the term ‘vegan’.
      But this week we learnt that the Irish Dairy Board has been promoting its milk, from cows, as ‘plant-based’ (http://www.thejournal.ie/complaints-national-diary-council-plant-based-milk-ad-3696831-Nov2017/ )! As an increasing number of people are choosing plant alternatives to dairy milk, the dairy industry is becoming desperate. From the number of complaints received, their attempt in this case seems to be backfiring. The dairy industry in the UK is so desperate it is trying very hard to pay people – anyone – who would be willing to claim that dairy is nice (https://www.redtractor.org.uk/media/news/-dreaming-of-dairy-these-new-jobs-are-the-cream-of-the-crop- )

      You then write “You also draw inconsistent conclusions about the funding of research by claiming that the ‘meat industry’ funds research, yet conveniently ignoring that the meat industry is part of the food industry with close associations with the fossil fuel industry”. I did not draw any inconsistent conclusions. Yes, industry funding is a murky, complex business with many tentacles, but some conclusions can be drawn quite clearly. Let’s look at dairy again (which produces more than half of beef meat, both in the EU and worldwide) – so that looking at the dairy sector is also looking at the meat sector).

      This industry has been particularly active in using as many means as possible to paint a benign picture of their harmful activities. Professor Marion Nestle (no link with the company) of Food Politics recently looked at all the nutritional studies published and found that the vast majority of studies funded by Dairy, as indeed many were, came out with results in favour of the industry (e.g. https://www.foodpolitics.com/2016/03/five-more-industry-positive-studies-the-score-15012/). I could list many such studies but here is just a very recent one claiming that “29 prospective cohort studies demonstrated neutral associations between dairy products and cardiovascular and all-cause mortality”. Who funded the study – both directly and indirectly? The Global Dairy Platform, the Dairy Research Institute, Dairy Australia, the Dutch Dairy Association, Arla Foods, the Danish Dairy Research Foundation, the Global Dairy Platform; Danish Agriculture and Food Council, GEIE European Milk Forum; IKEA, Lucozade Ribena, McCain Foods Limited, McDonald’s, Weight Watchers, Nestlé, Nongfu Spring Water, ‘Unnamed corporate sponsors’, ‘Unnamed dairy organizations’, Global Dairy Platform, The Dairy Council and HDB Dairy.

      Here is an interview of Dr Neil Barnard, highly respected for his integrity and scientific acumen, where he discusses conflicts of interests from about 4.0. With respect to another of your criticisms, you might hear him at 26.40 making a joke: “ I don’t want to have a legacy, because as a vegan I’m going to live forever (I’m kidding!)” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJr3MUNc14Y&t=1s) I felt very sad that you didn’t see Dr McGreger’s title of ‘How not to die’ as equally humorous.

    • 158Annie Leymarie November 19th, 2017

      Part 2 of my response:

      I don’t understand the next point you make: “As an industry we all grow food, whether you eat dairy, meat or vegetables the vast majority comes from farms.” What are you trying to say? Something relevant in this context is that the UK National Farmers Union is not a union but an agribusiness lobbying group, often using its power to distort facts about farming and working against consumers and environmental interests (see for instance http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/commentanalysis/corporatewatch/thenfureport.aspx ).

      You then tell me that “arable, and particularly vegetable crop production is a high-value sector, requiring more inputs but giving more profit [than livestock farming]”. I don’t disagree (though extra inputs are just or mostly for labour) but why on earth aren’t more farmers switching, then, since we have such a huge deficit and the demand can only keep growing, with Brexit threatening our imports and dietary guidelines regularly updated in favour of plant-based over animal-based food?

      A recent briefing on Horticulture in the UK states that “between 1985 and 2014 the area growing vegetables in the UK has declined by 26% and the area growing fruit by 35%. Only 3.5% of UK croppable land is down to horticulture, yet producing £3.7 billion worth of produce. But for every one hectare of land under fruit and vegetables, 4.5 hectares are used for wheat for animal feed – with the inevitably slower and less efficient energy conversion rates”. (https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Tim_Lang/publication/299445494_Horticulture_in_the_UK/links/56f971c308ae81582bf439dc/Horticulture-in-the-UK.pdf).

      Surely the reason livestock famers continue is that they are propped up by various subsidies?

      You then write “climate change was very much focussed [sic] on fossil fuels in the 1990’s but is now shifting to diets”. Do you mean climate change science? Policies? Activism?

      The science has been stressing the role of both fossil fuel combustion (CO2) and other greenhouse gases from agriculture for quite a long time – certainly since I have taken an active interest in this some 14 years ago.

      Already in 1985 scientists were warning us of the impacts of the two main greenhouse gases emitted by farming, and more particularly livestock farming – methane and nitrous oxide – writing : “The amounts of some trace gases in the troposphere, notably carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4), ozone (O3) and chloro-fluorocarbons (CFCs) are increasing. The role of greenhouse gases other than CO2 in changing the climate is already about as important as that of CO2. If present trends continue, the combined concentrations of atmospheric CO2 and other greenhouse gases would be radiatively equivalent to a doubling of CO2 from pre-industrial levels possibly as early as the 2030’s.” (https://web.archive.org/web/20131121040937/http://www.scopenvironment.org/downloadpubs/scope29/statement.html)

      Their prediction is coming true, especially since there have been recent reductions in CO2 emissions but big increases in methane emissions – which will be getting much worse as we are reaching dangerous tipping points.

      You mention “THE study you referred to about it being more environmentally friendly to ship food around the world than grow it locally”. I didn’t mention one but four studies, including one which was a review of many more. And here are more, all reaching similar conclusions. One says that “A clear result that emerges from these analyses is that what you eat matters at least as much as how far it travels, and agriculture’s overwhelming “hotspots” are red meat and dairy production”. (Is local food better? http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6064). Another one explains that “dietary shift can be a more effective means of lowering an average household’s food-related climate footprint than ‘buying local.’ Shifting less than one day per week’s worth of calories from red meat and dairy products to chicken, fish, eggs, or a vegetable-based diet achieves more greenhouse gas reduction than buying all locally sourced food!. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es702969f. Here another one is mentioned: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/local-organic-carbon-footprint-1.4389910. Zero Carbon Britain, which compared many diets in relation to various impacts and ranked the vegan one best overall, came to similar conclusions (http://foodresearch.org.uk/2014/07/people-plate-planet-a-report-from-zero-carbon-britain/).
      There is a clear graph, together with explanations, in ‘Shrink that footprint’ (http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/food-miles) .

      I could continue listing more studies – and the arguments making choice of food other than meat and dairy overall more important than food miles keep growing in strength because 1) most previous studies have been based on outdated – and too low – global warming potentials for methane and 2) transport is moving away from fossil fuels and into renewables, with a growing fleet of electric vehicles (e.g. the new Tesla truck http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-42021713), various sailing cargo ships (e.g. http://www.nextgeneration-cargo.com/) and other similar initiatives. Of course in the UK (and other countries too) farming benefits from cheap diesel through the Red Diesel scheme, so the incentive to switch is low. And of course agricultural greenhouse gas emissions – which are predominantly from livestock – are not capped, as they are in most other sectors.

    • 159Annie Leymarie November 19th, 2017

      Part 3 and last:

      You also write that the fossil fuel industry provides fertilisers – but there is an increasing number of growers who are doing very well using neither animal fertilisers (manure) nor fossil fuel fertilisers. A good example of this in the UK is Iain Tolhurst , who achieves great yields as well as a positive carbon balance (http://farmcarbontoolkit.org.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/case_study_-_tolhurst_organics_v3.pdf)

      So what misleading statement are you accusing me of? Your argument that somehow the fossil fuel industry would be actively promoting the removal of livestock doesn’t make any sense. For instance a new study shows that livestock farming currently contributes 23% of global warming, but that the stronger the fossil fuel industry is – with less CO2 removed – the more relatively small the livestock share would become(How much do direct livestock emissions actually contribute to global warming? http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.13975/abstract). And this 23% figure has been calculated with only the direct emissions from animals and pastures. It doesn’t take into account farm emissions for transport, buildings, heating, lighting, refrigeration, incineration of waste products such as carcasses, etc. At this point I’d love to quote you! You wrote: “Most UK offal now goes to China, although an awful lot is also incinerated, as it isn’t worth removing”. It’s interesting that suddenly doing things locally and ecologically doesn’t seem to matter!

      Your other theory about a link between plant-based diets and human overpopulation is equally utterly unfounded – can you name one person with credentials who might have put this idea forward? The main well-established correlations are between education/women’s empowerment and family size. I would be prepared to bet a large sum that in the West vegans and those moving in that direction have smaller than average families, because they can and because they care. If you google you will find plenty of posts such as this one http://www.all-creatures.org/murti/art-vegan-response-overpopulation.html – showing vegans’ range of concerns.

      And of course livestock overpopulation is a gigantic problem in itself (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/19/population-crisis-farm-animals-laying-waste-to-planethttps and http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/environment/planet-of-the-cows for instance).

      The problem with overpopulation of human carnivores, which you mention, is that their footprints are so much bigger and they live long often at the expense of huge inputs form the health services, as well as transport emissions etc. Currently 40% of adults worldwide are overweight or obese (and children increasingly too!), with a high proportion also diabetic, and the leading cause of obesity is consumption of meat, cheese and eggs (http://www.pcrm.org/nbBlog/stop-sugarcoating-obesitys-leading-causes) which is also a leading cause of the vast majority of the top health problems. In the UK and other Western countries, one person in two will be affected by cancer at some point. 21 experts have urged all their colleagues to promote a plant-based diet to reduce 80% of non-communicable diseases (http://www.thepermanentejournal.org/issues/2018/6536-lifestyle-medicine-a-brief-review-of-its-dramatic-impact-on-health-and-survival.htm ).

      I’m taking a break from this now! Best wishes to you!

    • 160Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 19th, 2017

      I’m sorry, I didn’t realise that the ‘How Not To Die’ book was a joke, I thought it was a serious text.

      You seem to have (deliberately?) missed my point about the funding of research and the food industry – there’s no doubt that research is influenced by funding and what makes money, which means you have to be very careful about using peer-reviewed research and non-peer reviewed reports based upon PR studies, because they can be heavily influenced by politics and industry. This applies equally to any research that promotes ‘plant-based’, as many vegan products are owned by the very same companies too, and in any case we can all see that industrial meat production is reaching it’s peak and there is no financial incentive to continue such research as profits decline from meat and dairy. The money, now, is in sourcing cheaper ingredients and turning them into high-value processed goods. Of course, you don’t need to influence the research so much as the way the research is presented to the public, and by controlling what reaches the press it doesn’t actually matter what the research says, most people will only ever read the article, or even the headline of the article.

    • 161Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 19th, 2017

      “Part 2 of my response:
      I don’t understand the next point you make: “As an industry we all grow food, whether you eat dairy, meat or vegetables the vast majority comes from farms.” What are you trying to say? Something relevant in this context is that the UK National Farmers Union is not a union but an agribusiness lobbying group, often using its power to distort facts about farming and working against consumers and environmental interests (see for instance http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/commentanalysis/corporatewatch/thenfureport.aspx ). “

      I am saying that your supposition that the farming industry supports meat because it produces meat ignore that it also produces non-meat food. I didn’t make a point about the NFU but while I agree with your point to a degree, the NFU takes care of the interests of it’s members – I’m not sure what you think a union should do, even if you don’t agree with the outcome.

      “You then tell me that “arable, and particularly vegetable crop production is a high-value sector, requiring more inputs but giving more profit [than livestock farming]”. I don’t disagree (though extra inputs are just or mostly for labour) but why on earth aren’t more farmers switching, then, since we have such a huge deficit and the demand can only keep growing, with Brexit threatening our imports and dietary guidelines regularly updated in favour of plant-based over animal-based food?”

      As a farmer I can give my reasons but it’s it is perhaps easier to ask why non-farmers aren’t doing so? Farming is tough and making a living from it is even tougher, and with many livestock farms being sold every year there is huge potential for more people to become farmers if they think they can do a better job.

      I’d say that the answer is two-fold. Firstly, I’ve got to deal with what is possible. You can’t reliably grow food without animals in most situations, so it is restricted to the deep, fertile, easily cultivated soils. Secondly, I’m quite fond of the wildlife and habitats that farming produces. To wipe that away to grow more crops would be irresponsible in my view. With no financial security there’s little incentive to go against doing what you feel is right.

      Farming and the food industry are two separate things, farming produces what it can sell to the food industry so the latter has a strong influence on what farmers produce. However, simply demanding is not enough – it’s got to be balanced by what is possible with the resources, both financial and non-financial, available, and that is where farming and the food industry (and consumers) come unstuck.
      “A recent briefing on Horticulture in the UK states that “between 1985 and 2014 the area growing vegetables in the UK has declined by 26% and the area growing fruit by 35%. Only 3.5% of UK croppable land is down to horticulture, yet producing £3.7 billion worth of produce. But for every one hectare of land under fruit and vegetables, 4.5 hectares are used for wheat for animal feed – with the inevitably slower and less efficient energy conversion rates”. (https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Tim_Lang/publication/299445494_Horticulture_in_the_UK/links/56f971c308ae81582bf439dc/Horticulture-in-the-UK.pdf).

      Surely the reason livestock famers continue is that they are propped up by various subsidies?”
      Not really, the subsidies are for land, not land use – non-livestock farming is subsidised in exactly the same way as crop farming. I’d say that the consumer is not paying enough for non-animal foods to make it worthwhile and the industry is not supporting growers – they are using growers in competition with eachother.

      Most consumers who increase the crops in their diet do so to make their bills cheaper (even the ones who claim to want to make a difference to the environment or animals) – meat is expensive and veggie options are often cheaper, so the value that goes back to the farmer is little or nothing in this highly competitive industry. If consumers want farmers to produce human food instead of animal feed then they must PAY the price and not expect to make much higher quality demands whilst paying animal feed price, because it just isn’t possible.

      “You then write “climate change was very much focussed [sic] on fossil fuels in the 1990’s but is now shifting to diets”. Do you mean climate change science? Policies? Activism?

      The science has been stressing the role of both fossil fuel combustion (CO2) and other greenhouse gases from agriculture for quite a long time – certainly since I have taken an active interest in this some 14 years ago.

      Already in 1985 scientists were warning us of the impacts of the two main greenhouse gases emitted by farming, and more particularly livestock farming – methane and nitrous oxide – writing : “The amounts of some trace gases in the troposphere, notably carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4), ozone (O3) and chloro-fluorocarbons (CFCs) are increasing. The role of greenhouse gases other than CO2 in changing the climate is already about as important as that of CO2. If present trends continue, the combined concentrations of atmospheric CO2 and other greenhouse gases would be radiatively equivalent to a doubling of CO2 from pre-industrial levels possibly as early as the 2030’s.” (https://web.archive.org/web/20131121040937/http://www.scopenvironment.org/downloadpubs/scope29/statement.html)

      Their prediction is coming true, especially since there have been recent reductions in CO2 emissions but big increases in methane emissions – which will be getting much worse as we are reaching dangerous tipping points.”

      Activism, mainly, which often comes not out of a concern for the environment but is mixed in with other motives. This is clear to see in the anti-livestock films that reported the emissions to a wider audience, using overstated figures and not taking into account that fossil fuels are emissions-only, whereas livestock are part of a natural cycle with carbon being sequestered and emitted as an integral part of the process.
      I’d agree that increased emissions from agriculture are important to reduce, but cows are a convenient distraction from the effect of land drainage and cultivation. Cows can be part of the problem but they are also a massive part of the solution – the same cannot be said for cars which will always emit.

      “You mention “THE study you referred to about it being more environmentally friendly to ship food around the world than grow it locally”. I didn’t mention one but four studies, including one which was a review of many more. And here are more, all reaching similar conclusions. One says that “A clear result that emerges from these analyses is that what you eat matters at least as much as how far it travels, and agriculture’s overwhelming “hotspots” are red meat and dairy production”. (Is local food better? http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6064). Another one explains that “dietary shift can be a more effective means of lowering an average household’s food-related climate footprint than ‘buying local.’ Shifting less than one day per week’s worth of calories from red meat and dairy products to chicken, fish, eggs, or a vegetable-based diet achieves more greenhouse gas reduction than buying all locally sourced food!. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es702969f. Here another one is mentioned: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/local-organic-carbon-footprint-1.4389910. Zero Carbon Britain, which compared many diets in relation to various impacts and ranked the vegan one best overall, came to similar conclusions (http://foodresearch.org.uk/2014/07/people-plate-planet-a-report-from-zero-carbon-britain/).

      There is a clear graph, together with explanations, in ‘Shrink that footprint’ (http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/food-miles) .
      I could continue listing more studies – and the arguments making choice of food other than meat and dairy overall more important than food miles keep growing in strength because 1) most previous studies have been based on outdated – and too low – global warming potentials for methane and 2) transport is moving away from fossil fuels and into renewables, with a growing fleet of electric vehicles (e.g. the new Tesla truck http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-42021713), various sailing cargo ships (e.g. http://www.nextgeneration-cargo.com/) and other similar initiatives. Of course in the UK (and other countries too) farming benefits from cheap diesel through the Red Diesel scheme, so the incentive to switch is low. And of course agricultural greenhouse gas emissions – which are predominantly from livestock – are not capped, as they are in most other sectors.”

      OK, so do you seriously think that transporting food around the world would happen without cheap fossil fuels? I’d say that they are totally dependent upon fossil fuels, without which we wouldn’t even be discussing the climate impacts of growing our fresh produce half way round the world. Cows are a convenient scapegoat, if you ignore that methane emissions plateaued while cow numbers continued to rise.

      The incentive to switch to renewables in farming is governed more by the lack of technology than the price of diesel. Farmers, even with red diesel (the public transport industry also benefits from fuel subsidy btw), cannot afford to use it unrestricted. Many are looking to more efficient diesel engines and reduced use such as no-till farming, so it’s wrong to say that farmers are not cutting back. That is one reason why I champion cows – grazing animals are extremely efficient in terms of fossil fuel use, requiring no fuel up until they need to be transported to the abattoir, but you could even walk them there if you had to.

    • 162Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 20th, 2017

      “Part 3 and last:
      You also write that the fossil fuel industry provides fertilisers – but there is an increasing number of growers who are doing very well using neither animal fertilisers (manure) nor fossil fuel fertilisers. A good example of this in the UK is Iain Tolhurst , who achieves great yields as well as a positive carbon balance (http://farmcarbontoolkit.org.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/case_study_-_tolhurst_organics_v3.pdf)”

      So ask yourself this – earlier you said that there is huge and growing demand for more fruit & veg, so why is Iain Tolhurst not scaling up his production to supply the UK market?
      He is a great grower and I don’t mean to discredit him personally in any way, but you can’t hold him up as an example unless you address the fundamental problems you face with implementing his system on a wider scale. As a small market garden within a pastoral landscape he’s great, but you must factor this in. I too champion organic matter as a means to improve fertility and soil structure, and while you can incorporate it without cattle, you could do it without fossil fuels if you allowed cattle in, but with neither cattle nor fossil fuels?

      ““So what misleading statement are you accusing me of? Your argument that somehow the fossil fuel industry would be actively promoting the removal of livestock doesn’t make any sense. For instance a new study shows that livestock farming currently contributes 23% of global warming, but that the stronger the fossil fuel industry is – with less CO2 removed – the more relatively small the livestock share would become(How much do direct livestock emissions actually contribute to global warming? http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.13975/abstract). And this 23% figure has been calculated with only the direct emissions from animals and pastures. It doesn’t take into account farm emissions for transport, buildings, heating, lighting, refrigeration, incineration of waste products such as carcasses, etc. At this point I’d love to quote you! You wrote: “Most UK offal now goes to China, although an awful lot is also incinerated, as it isn’t worth removing”. It’s interesting that suddenly doing things locally and ecologically doesn’t seem to matter!”

      Now what are you on about? Why are you implying context into my words such as “locally and ecologically doesn’t seem to matter” – I did not say that, nor imply it (this is a misleading statement in itself). If you’re going to start making things up like that I can’t continue to discuss important matters with you unless you can follow the discussion accurately. Perhaps you should stop looking for references to support your bias and concentrate on *this* discussion because this makes you infinitely less credible. It seems that you wish to frame my position as one of maintaining the status quo which, given our location here on the low impact site is clearly absurd.

      “Your other theory about a link between plant-based diets and human overpopulation is equally utterly unfounded – can you name one person with credentials who might have put this idea forward? The main well-established correlations are between education/women’s empowerment and family size. I would be prepared to bet a large sum that in the West vegans and those moving in that direction have smaller than average families, because they can and because they care. If you google you will find plenty of posts such as this one http://www.all-creatures.org/murti/art-vegan-response-overpopulation.html – showing vegans’ range of concerns.”

      Are you asking me for evidence that a plant based diet feeds more people? I’m not sure what you would accept as suitable ‘credentials’ but as this is one of the most commonly supposed benefits of a vegan diet that would be a long list but it starts with Annie Leymarie. You yourself have, earlier in this discussion, claimed that a vegan diet reduces the death rate significantly, which means that the birth rate must also decline significantly. I have not seen evidence of this happening and I can’t say that I have any anecdotal evidence either – I have vegan friends with .3 kids (so far).

      Thanks for doing a quick google – perhaps next time you could read the links you post first though as this one appears to contradict what you said earlier about meat being the cause of too much protein in our diets with this one making the case for an omnivores diet being a poorer source of protein than a vegan one. This article also makes the case for veggie diets being considerably cheaper which supports what I said before about 1) people cut out meat for financial savings & 2) cheap food policy is bad for farmers. It also aligns with what I said about consumption increasing as our food spend has decreased.

      “And of course livestock overpopulation is a gigantic problem in itself (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/19/population-crisis-farm-animals-laying-waste-to-planethttps and http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/environment/planet-of-the-cows for instance).
      The problem with overpopulation of human carnivores, which you mention, is that their footprints are so much bigger and they live long often at the expense of huge inputs form the health services, as well as transport emissions etc. Currently 40% of adults worldwide are overweight or obese (and children increasingly too!), with a high proportion also diabetic, and the leading cause of obesity is consumption of meat, cheese and eggs (http://www.pcrm.org/nbBlog/stop-sugarcoating-obesitys-leading-causes) which is also a leading cause of the vast majority of the top health problems. In the UK and other Western countries, one person in two will be affected by cancer at some point. 21 experts have urged all their colleagues to promote a plant-based diet to reduce 80% of non-communicable diseases (http://www.thepermanentejournal.org/issues/2018/6536-lifestyle-medicine-a-brief-review-of-its-dramatic-impact-on-health-and-survival.htm ).
      I’m taking a break from this now! Best wishes to you!”

      Now you’re flip-flopping around like a fish out of water perhaps it is time you took a break to collect your thoughts and decide exactly what your point is.

      You can’t have it all ways with a vegan diet, either is healthier and makes us live longer, or it reduces human overpopulation, not both. Either it is a better source of protein, or it is worse, not both. Either a meat eating diet kills us sooner or it makes us live longer to be a burden on the health service, not both.

      Dietary analysis shows that we, as a population, are eating more meat, but also more vegetables, fruits and refined sugar. To isolate meat by correlation is inconsistent and inconclusive unless you also include everything else we are consuming more of. It’s also not consistent with my own experiences which suggests that other lifestyle factors play a bigger part than the amount of meat we eat. I’d say that refined sugars and general carb consumption play a much bigger part than Dr Barnard would care to admit and the benefits to people with diabetes in controlling the condition with a low carb diet are now emerging into the mainstream.

      No doubt you’ll go away from this conversation even more convinced that you are doing the right thing, and I hope it works for you, as indeed it can in a modern, complex food system. I’ve been on that journey and come out the other side with a healthier outlook both on the environmental and personal health effects of my diet, and I’m not alone. As long as vegans continue to use emotion over hard evidence to try and ‘win’ the debate it will always be regarded by the mainstream as less credible. You lost me when you rejected what I told you about dairy cattle and AI to repeat your original (incorrect) statements as fact. That is one area, livestock biology, that I know inside out, so with your use of emotive language and wilful ignorance has tarnished your subsequent comments, especially when I read your sources to find them contradicting each other.

    • 163Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 20th, 2017

      A couple of points that I forgot to add;

      “I would be prepared to bet a large sum that in the West vegans and those moving in that direction have smaller than average families, because they can and because they care.”

      I’d rather just see the figures to back that up – famous vegetarian/vegan Paul McCartney has five kids, one of whom was adopted but two were born after his switch to a veggie lifestyle.

      I also find the claims made by vegans to be doing so in order ‘feed hungry people’ disingenuous because, just like doing so for biodiversity reasons, there is no connection between personal consumption patterns and either an increase in biodiversity nor feeding hungry people. Food is an investment in the kinds of systems we want to see and withdrawing investment from one scenario doesn’t invest it in the alternative. If you don’t buy meat from me it doesn’t help feed hungry people any more than buying veggies from my neighbour does. In fact, if you don’t buy meat from me but buy veggies from my neighbour instead then the neighbours land is even more intensively farmed and the biodiversity also decreases on my side of the fence too. No more people are fed in that situation.

      Earlier you cited Iain Tolhurst as an example of someone who was growing without animals. But in terms of biodiversity he is cropping 19 acres but doesn’t say how many of his acres are set aside for wildlife. In your ‘Go Vegan in Response to Overpopulation’ source it cited that vegan diets were 20 times more efficient in terms of land use which would suggest that Tolhurst Organics should be cultivating less than one of their 19 acres. I’m willing to bet he is cropping considerably more than that.

      By contrast on average I stock land for between 2 & 14 days in the year which means that wildlife have it completely to itself for 96% of the time, however, because of the lack of invasive management, many species live quite happily alongside cattle 100% of the time.

    • 164Annie Leymarie November 20th, 2017

      Response Part 1 of 3

      Rob you are again ignoring much of the evidence I send you whilst failing to back your claims, many of which totally contradict well-established facts.

      You write: “You can’t reliably grow food without animals in most situations”.
      Getting our food from animals is so inefficient that stopping this would free plenty of suitable land for crops and much else, including for carbon sequestration, biodiversity, biofuel and flood defences. Much land has become unsuitable for cropping precisely because it has been used too long for livestock production, with heavy animals eating up useful vegetation, compacting the soil and causing erosion.

      “Removing domesticated animals from the planet is the best way to restore ecosystems. Livestock emit more greenhouse gas emissions than cars. They use more water than any other aspect of agriculture. They trample potentially healthy land into hardpan. They take up one third of the globe’s arable land. They are a menace to the environment and no amount of theorizing about how herds and predators once kept carbon-sequestering grasslands safe and healthy will rectify the reality that the reason those grasslands are no longer safe and healthy is because humans domesticated animals to eat them”. (Slate piece on Earth Day http://james-mcwilliams.com/?p=3681).

      You write: “I’m quite fond of the wildlife and habitats that farming produces. To wipe that away to grow more crops would be irresponsible in my view”.
      The truth is precisely the opposite:

      “Almost all forms of animal farming cause environmental damage, but none more so than keeping them outdoors. Grazing is stupendously wasteful. A paper in Science of the Total Environment reports that “livestock production is the single largest driver of habitat loss”. Grazing livestock are a fully automated system for ecological destruction: you need only release them onto the land and they do the rest, browsing out tree seedlings, simplifying complex ecosystems. Their keepers augment this assault by slaughtering large predators.

      The vast expanse of pastureland, from which we obtain so little at such great environmental cost, would be better used for rewilding. Not only would this help to reverse the catastrophic decline in habitats and the diversity and abundance of wildlife, but the returning forests, wetlands and savannahs are likely to absorb far more carbon than even the most sophisticated forms of grazing.

      If we were all to switch to a plant-based diet, 15 million hectares of land in Britain currently used for farming could be returned to nature. Alternatively, this country could feed 200 million people”.
      (Good bye – and good riddance – to livestock farming https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/04/livestock-farming-artificial-meat-industry-animals).

      Also:
      “Grazing animals produce at most a quarter of the calories per acre typical plant-based production systems do. Grass-fed beef produces unnecessary low-quality calories at ostentatious environmental costs while displacing threatened wildlife”. (Grass-fed beef packs a punch to environment. http://blogs.reuters.com/environment/2010/04/08/grass-fed-beef-packs-a-punch-to-environment/ )

      Currently badgers in the UK are being slaughtered as scapegoats for bovine tuberculosis caused by the dreadful conditions dairy cows are kept in.

      You write: “Subsidies are for land, not land use – non-livestock farming is subsidised in exactly the same way as crop farming”.

      Since livestock farming requires far more land than crops and horticulture to produce an equivalent amount of nutrition, it benefits from relatively higher subsidies. George Monbiot has written at length about the perverse current subsidy system, including this:

      “Farmers here have developed a toxic dependency on European subsidies. These now provide, in aggregate, over half their income. Every year €50bn (£43bn) is taken from the pockets of European taxpayers of all stations, and poured disproportionately into the pockets of the very rich. The money is paid by the hectare, so the more land you own, the more cash you are given, with no capping.

      To claim most farm subsidies, you must keep the land bare: the system amounts to a €50bn perverse incentive for clearing wildlife habitats. Across the European Union, hundreds of thousands of hectares of woods, scrubland, reed beds, ponds and other “ineligible features” have been destroyed for the sole purpose of claiming public money. The subsidy system sustains the greatest cause of habitat and wildlife destruction in Britain (whose impacts are far wider than all the building that has ever taken place here): sheep grazing on infertile land”. (Of course farmers fear Brexit, but it could save the British countryside https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/11/farmers-fear-brexit-save-british-countryside-european-subsidy-wildlife-agriculture)

      You write: “Most consumers who increase the crops [I believe you mean plant-based food?] in their diet do so to make their bills cheaper”.

      It is certainly an extra benefit to a choice that is also heathier and more planet-friendly! Alas, the sad reality is that most consumers, who are misinformed, pay more than they should by choosing an unhealthy diet– as shown by the Institute of Economic Affairs, which mentions red meat as both expensive and unhealthy. It says: ‘A diet of muesli, rice, white meat, fruit and vegetables is much cheaper than a diet of Coco Pops, ready-meals, red meat, sugary drinks and fast food. A wide range of healthy alternatives are available at the same price as the less healthy options” (Healthy food cheaper than junk food, finds new IEA research. https://iea.org.uk/media/healthy-food-cheaper-than-junk-food-finds-new-iea-research/ )

      A briefing from the Food Foundation says that:
      “Our veg consumption is in decline and is no better than it was in the 1970s. Diets that are low in veg are associated with more than 20,000 premature deaths across the UK. Eating one more portion of veg while reducing meat consumption could reduce our diet-related greenhouse gas emissions by almost a fifth. Eating more veg offers a triple win: a win for the economy, a win for our health and the NHS, and a win for our carbon footprints. All three are in need of urgent action.”

      It also says that “A meagre 1.2 per cent of all food advertising spend goes on vegetables” (demolishing again your crazy theory that the fossil fuel industry is behind an anti-livestock campaign !) (Veg Facts http://foodfoundation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/FF-Veg-Doc-V5.pdf )

    • 165Annie Leymarie November 20th, 2017

      Response Part 2 of 3

      You write: “Fossil fuels are emissions-only, whereas livestock are part of a natural cycle with carbon being sequestered and emitted as an integral part of the process.”

      Another untruth! Cattle and their manure are constantly emitting methane and nitrous oxide, two greenhouse gases far more potent than CO2, so any carbon sequestration is cancelled by these emissions. There is absolutely nothing natural in the vast numbers of ruminants we create, control and kill!

      “The aggregate mass of cattle and humans is crushingly larger than the total mass of all wild vertebrates, and it clearly leaves too little space for the multitude of other species. Cows and men occupy much of the available land, consume much of its photosynthetic product, and generate an increasing amount of greenhouse gas. No wonder we are in the midst of mass-scale species extinction, with no readily acceptable and effective relief in sight. By 2050 there will be 9 billion people and, most likely, 2 billion cattle, together augmenting their already crushing dominance of Earth”. (Planet of the cows http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/environment/planet-of-the-cows ).

      And there is nothing climate-friendly about grazing cattle:
      “If we want to continue to eat animal products at the levels we do today, then the livestock sector will continue to be a very significant emitter of greenhouse gases. Grazing management, however good, makes little difference” (Why eating grass-fed beef isn’t going to help the climate http://www.fcrn.org.uk/fcrn-blogs/tara-garnett/blog-post-tara-garnett-why-eating-grass-fed-beef-isn%E2%80%99t-going-help-fight )

      You write: “Cows can be part of the problem but they are also a massive part of the solution”. Once again, there is plenty of evidence proving the opposite:

      “The carbon footprint of the most climate-friendly protein sources is up to 100 times smaller than those of the worst – i.e. extensive cattle farming”. (The price of protein. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/257160858_The_price_of_protein_Review_of_land_use_and_carbon_footprints_from_life_cycle_assessments_of_animal_food_products_and_their_substitutes)

      “The largest potential reduction in GHG emissions is achieved by eliminating meat from the diet (35% reduction), followed by changing from carbon-intensive lamb and beef to less carbon-intensive pork and chicken (18% reduction)”. (Mitigating the greenhouse gas emissions embodied in food. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421513009701).

      “A landscape grazed by livestock, which often consume the bulk of native plant production, suffers numerous negative consequences for native plants and animals. Native herbivores depend on the same plants that the cows or sheep are eating for food, and other animals depend on native vegetation for cover.” (G. Wuerthner in Keeping the wild – Against the domestication of the Earth)

      “Potential GHG savings of 22% and 26% can be made by changing from the current UK-average diet to a vegetarian or vegan diet, respectively. On average, this is equivalent to a 50% reduction in current exhaust pipe emissions from the entire UK passenger car fleet – more for a vegan diet”. (The relative greenhouse gas impacts of realistic dietary choices http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421511010603?via%3Dihub ).

      You write “Do you seriously think that transporting food around the world would happen without cheap fossil fuels?”

      The many studies I have shown you were looking at the footprint, not the price of fuel, so you are misplacing the gist of the argument (that climate wise, choosing plant food over meat and dairy is overall more important than choosing local food). As I have already shown you, the shift to electric, as well as directly wind and solar-powered transportation is happening very fast. The cost of electric vehicles is dropping very fast and there are now efficient electric trucks (https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/18/canadian-grocery-chain-orders-25-tesla-electric-semi-trucks/ ). In the UK we are trailing behind but already in 2006 50% of all rail transport was carried by electric traction worldwide, and far more so in 2017 – increasingly from renewables.

      You write: “Methane emissions plateaued while cow numbers continued to rise”.
      Another untruth from you! Methane emissions have kept rising recently, together with cattle numbers.

      “We estimate global livestock emissions of 119.1 ± 18.2 Tg methane in 2011; this quantity is 11% greater than that obtained using the IPCC 2006 emissions factors, encompassing an 8.4% increase in enteric fermentation methane and a 36.7% increase in manure management methane. Revised manure management methane emissions for 2011 in the US increased by 71.8%.
      Our revised bottom-up estimates of global livestock methane emissions are comparable to recently reported top-down global estimates for recent years, and account for a significant part of the increase in annual methane emissions since 2007”. (Revised methane emissions factors and spatially distributed annual carbon fluxes for global livestock. https://cbmjournal.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s13021-017-0084-y )

      And methane emissions from cattle had been underestimated by at least 11% (Methane emissions from cattle 11% higher than estimated. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/29/methane-emissions-cattle-11-percent-higher-than-estimated ).

      You write “It’s wrong to say that farmers are not cutting back [on fossil fuels]”. I never said that. I said that cheaper Red Diesel for farmers reduces the incentive to switch – just as the lack of accountability for methane and nitrous oxide emissions allows livestock farming to get away with a very high climate footprint.

      You write “That is one reason why I champion cows – grazing animals are extremely efficient in terms of fossil fuel use”.
      They are highly inefficient in terms of overall greenhouse gas emissions (and much else), which is what matters!

      Another aspect rarely taken into consideration is that meat, unlike many grains, vegetables and fruit, always require refrigeration which according to one major project is the most important single factor we need to focus on to mitigate climate change (adopting a plant-rich diet comes at No 4 – http://www.drawdown.org/solutions-summary-by-rank ). If refrigeration was factored in, the environmental cost of meat would be higher still!

      Of the 13 urgent actions recommended by 15,000 scientists to avoid catastrophe, one is “promoting dietary shifts towards mostly plant-based foods” and six others would be greatly aided by such shifts (World Scientists Warning to Humanity https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/advance-article/doi/10.1093/biosci/bix125/4605229)

    • 166Annie Leymarie November 20th, 2017

      Response Part 3 of 3

      Here is more evidence:
      ‘”n developed economies, shifts away from animal products, which are land- and water-intensive commodities, can reduce the health-related costs of overconsumption, including mortality. Such shifts would decrease food prices in developing countries, reduce mortality and deforestation, and enable progress toward food security for all’. (Assessing the land resource-food price nexus of the Sustainable Development Goals. http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/2/9/e1501499.full )

      “A kg of beef protein reared on a British hill farm can generate the equivalent 643 kg of CO2, i.e. more greenhouse gas emissions than a passenger flying from London to New York. The figures are so high because this form of husbandry is so unproductive. What is good for farmed animals is often bad for the natural world. The cruelties of intensive indoor production are matched by the wreckage of extensive outdoor production”. (Sacrifice http://www.monbiot.com/2015/12/22/sacrifice/).

      “A global food transition to less meat, or even a complete switch to plant-based protein food, would have a dramatic effect on land use with many other positive implications as well, like increased carbon uptake and substantial reductions of methane and nitrous oxide”. (Assessing Global Land Use: Balancing Consumption with Sustainable Supply. http://wedocs.unep.org/handle/20.500.11822/8861 )

      “Meat is a major driver of climate change. Reducing consumption is critical. Public awareness is low and meat remains off the policy agenda. Governments must lead in shifting attitudes”. (Changing Climate, Changing Diets, Pathways to Lower Meat Consumption. https://www.chathamhouse.org/publication/changing-climate-changing-diets )

      “Earlier death [from a diet with red meat] is not the only concern for human health. A high meat economy brings with it accelerated sexual development and antibiotic resistance, together with shortages of food, and animal to human disease epidemics thrown in for good measure. As for the effects on the planet, water depletion, methane production, and pollution of air and groundwater are just the beginning. We must of course reduce the use of fossil fuels in transport, but livestock production outstrips this as a cause of climate change”. (Red meat, another inconvenient truth. http://www.bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j2278 )

      “Nearly 60% of the world’s agricultural land is used for beef production, yet beef accounts for less than 2% of the calories”. (Agriculture at a crossroad http://www.globalagriculture.org/report-topics/meat-and-animal-feed.html )

      “Our recommendations focus on increasing the share of plant-based protein in diets while reducing consumption of animal-based protein, and beef specifically. Only 1% of gross cattle feed calories and 4% of ingested protein are converted to human-edible calories and protein, respectively.
      These two diet shifts could make the most significant contribution to a sustainable food future in terms of closing the food gap and reducing agriculture’s resource use and environmental impacts”. (Shifting Diets for a Sustainable Food Future. http://www.wri.org/sites/default/files/Shifting_Diets_for_a_Sustainable_Food_Future_1.pdf )

      “The results [of the study] show increased risks of all cause mortality and death due to nine different causes associated with both processed and unprocessed red meat”. And: “Red and processed meat are likely to be harmful to human health in many different ways, often linked to more than one outcome”. (Mortality from different causes associated with meat,. http://www.bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j1957
      And http://www.bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j2190 ).

      “If we want to make serious gains in minimizing harms to the environment and public health, we need concrete policies that take a serious stance on minimizing animal agriculture”. (A leading cause of everything – one industry that is destroying our planet and our ability to thrive on it https://gelr.org/2015/10/23/a-leading-cause-of-everything-one-industry-that-is-destroying-our-planet-and-our-ability-to-thrive-on-it-georgetown-environmental-law-review/ )

      “The production of beef emits 40 times more greenhouse gases than that of legumes (beans, peas, etc.). Substituting legumes for beef could account for 46 to 74 % of the US required greenhouse gas reductions and would also free 42 % cropland”. (Substituting beans for beef as a contribution toward US climate change targets. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-017-1969-1 )

      “Animal product consumption by humans is likely the leading cause of modern species extinctions since it is not only the major driver of deforestation but also a principal driver of land degradation, pollution, climate change, overfishing, sedimentation of coastal areas, facilitation of invasions by alien species, and loss of wild carnivores and wild herbivores”. (Biodiversity conservation: The key is reducing meat consumption. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969715303697 )

      “One cannot be serious about climate change and still be a significant consumer of dairy and meat products. (Environmental groups as climate deniers” http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2017/05/23/environmental-groups-as-climate-deniers

    • 167Annie Leymarie November 20th, 2017

      You write: “you can’t hold Iain Tolhurst up as an example unless you address the fundamental problems you face with implementing his system on a wider scale”.

      Please expound! As I see it, the biggest obstacle is cultural, but this is changing fast with many others now running farms using neither animal inputs nor fossil-fuel based fertilisers, including some listed on http://veganorganic.net/uk-farms-directory/ . Another great UK demonstration farm is http://shumei.uk/.

      Sorry I upset you with your own statement that “Most UK offal now goes to China, although an awful lot is also incinerated, as it isn’t worth removing”, just after you had stressed the importance of eating local meat for its environmental benefits. It seemed perfectly in context. I don’t doubt that you have good intentions, but we are looking at facts, aren’t we?

      You write: “Perhaps you should stop looking for references” and, a few sentences along: “As long as vegans continue to use emotion over hard evidence (…)”.
      Oh dear, you are accusing me of too many references and not enough references!

      You write: “Are you asking me for evidence that a plant based diet feeds more people?”

      What the scientists I have quoted have shown is that a plant-based diet CAN feed more people. So Monbiot writes: “If we were all to switch to a plant-based diet, 15 million hectares of land in Britain currently used for farming could be returned to nature. Alternatively, this country could feed 200 million people”. He is definitely not implying we should feed 200 million people!
      (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/04/livestock-farming-artificial-meat-industry-animals).

      You write: “(…) this study appears to contradict what you said earlier about meat being the cause of too much protein in our diets with this one making the case for an omnivores diet being a poorer source of protein than a vegan one”.

      Which study? The link closest to your sentence is a blog quoting a dozen sources. I have sent links to several studies which show that 1) plant protein are far healthier than animal protein and 2) indeed we in the West tend to consume far more protein than needed, including vegans, but the major difference is that animal protein is harmful whilst plant protein is beneficial.

      “Animal protein was associated with higher mortality, especially from heart disease, whilst plant protein was associated with lower mortality” (Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality. http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2540540 ).

      You write: “This article also makes the case for veggie diets being considerably cheaper which supports what I said before about 1) people cut out meat for financial savings & 2) cheap food policy is bad for farmers. “

      I have already shown you that most people are not cutting out meat for financial savings (I wish they would!) – they are choosing an overall less healthy diet, with less veg (and also less sugar) and more junk food, cheese, fish and and processed meat.

      I agree that cheap food policy is bad for farmers (hurrah, we agree on something!). I would love subsidies to encourage forms of agriculture that are best for us and for nature, including to support agroforestry and horticulture – so needed! http://foodresearch.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/horticulture-briefing-final-24-March.pdf

      You write: “it is time you took a break to collect your thoughts and decide exactly what your point is”.

      My point couldn’t be clearer. As shown by hundreds of scientists, a diet rich in meat and other animal protein is bad for our health, bad for the climate, bad for the wider environment and bad for the animals.

      You write: “You can’t have it all ways with a vegan diet, either is healthier and makes us live longer, or it reduces human overpopulation.”

      You are compounding two issues. One can live a healthy and long life and use contraception. In fact, as education helps with both, they’re likely to be correlated.

      You have mentioned one vegan – Paul MacCartney and his kids. Here is another one: myself. After reading ‘Silent Spring’ and ‘The Population Bomb’ I decided I wouldn’t have children. I attempt to shrink my footprint in many ways besides a plant-based diet and I am slim and healthy, not needing any medical attention. Meanwhile “people [mostly omnivores] are living longer but spending more years in ill health” (Poor diet is a factor in one in five deaths https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/sep/14/poor-diet-is-a-factor-in-one-in-five-deaths-global-disease-study-reveals )

      You write: “Dietary analysis shows that we, as a population, are eating more meat, but also more vegetables, fruits and refined sugar”

      We are in fact eating less veg, and a lot less refined sugar (but more junk food including sweet junk). For fruit, there is contradictory data – I guess it always depends how far back one looks. Recently there’s been a decline. I’ve already sent you relevant info. For instance “Our veg consumption is in decline and is no better than it was in the 1970s, in spite of the 5-A-Day campaign” (http://foodfoundation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/FF-Veg-Doc-V5.pdf). Also: “We are eating less fruit and vegetables than we used to” (https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/sep/19/uk-changing-food-habits). And http://britains-diet.labs.theodi.org/.

      You write: “I’d say that refined sugars and general carb consumption play a much bigger part than Dr Barnard would care to admit”. Dr Barnard is constantly backing his claims with well-established science, from peer-reviewed studies. You? Plenty of expert nutritionists have shown that we are not eating enough whole grains.

      Even the very conservative official UK ‘Eatwell’ dietary guidelines recommend
      “an increase in consumption of ‘potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy carbohydrates’ (+69%) and ‘fruit and vegetables’ (+54%) and reductions in consumption of ‘beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins’ (−24%), ‘dairy and alternatives’ (−21%) and ‘foods high in fat and sugar’ (−53%)” http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/12/e013182.full?keytype=ref&ijkey=Uo55Bu2X5HD3ukv and https://theconversation.com/how-reliable-is-the-eatwell-guide-the-official-chart-of-what-foods-you-should-be-eating-69947 .

      Dr McDougall, for instance, has obtained remarkable results by putting patients with a range of serious chronic health problems on a diet based largely on whole carbs (https://www.drmcdougall.com/2014/10/31/the-mcdougall-program-cohort-the-largest-study-of-the-benefits-from-a-medical-dietary-intervention/ ).

      As to “my emotive language having tarnished my subsequent comments”, you did not refute any of the facts I wrote about dairy. It’s easy to label inconvenient truths as ‘emotive’. You didn’t like my use of the word ‘rape’ for artificial insemination , yet farmers themselves use the term ‘rape rack’ for the device they use:

      “Perhaps the only thing that the animal agriculture industry and animal rights activists can agree upon is the name of the device in which dairy cows are impregnated – the ‘rape rack’ (https://theirturn.net/2016/06/15/2016061420160613the-rape-rack/).

      Yes, knowing what happens to farm animals and their impacts on life on Earth brings up emotions – and so it should! We have been long enough in full denial and repression of our feelings. I’ll end with yet another study, as it’s a good summary of where we are now:

      “Around 70% of agricultural land and 30% of the global land surface are used by animal production, which has significant repercussions on virtually all aspects of environmental well-being. The livestock sector is the leading cause of reduction of biodiversity and has serious implications for the future of the world’s climate. Per unit of protein, GHG emissions from beef production are around 150 times those of soy products. Meat production and consumption play an important role in depleting and polluting the world’s scarce freshwater resources. High meat consumption causes social conflicts and aggravates the problem of hunger. It also has a proven record in harming human health.

      Diet is a function of habit, of social identity, of the history of personal relationships, and of the subtle manipulation of the advertising and food-linked industries over personal choices. What is particularly pernicious is the manner in which this manipulation is so pervasive and persuasive that it shapes values, behavior, and self-esteem. The consumer is anesthetized from the “wide and the long” repercussions of eating. In the context of these “dark forces,” efforts to raise diet-altering awareness over the wider social and ecological repercussions of livestock production, particularly over the coming 25 years, for the most part have landed on stony social and moral ground. The ultimate challenge of sustainability science is to grapple with these “dark forces” of interconnected self-replicating power and influence by bringing their moral and ecological dangers into the day-to-day public consciousness.

      There is growing evidence that the cultural meaning of meat consumption during the 21st century is changing, at least among some groups of the population. There are studies for several European countries showing that young people of higher educational level prefer a vegetarian diet, with those who eat meat shifting to lower meat diets. A new lifestyle is emerging in which a vegetarian and increasingly even a vegan diet is a central part of the social identity. The infrastructure is adapting itself to this new demand by vegan supermarkets and restaurants. From a policy perspective this suggests more sensitive targeting of environmental and health campaigns toward the very young—7 to 18 years old—who are increasingly predetermined to respond and to use social media to influence their friends and peers”. (The Sustainability Challenges of Our Meat and Dairy Diets. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00139157.2015.1025644 ).

    • 168Annie Leymarie November 20th, 2017

      I don’t have figures on vegans’ family size and I have already answered this point elsewhere.

      You write: “there is no connection between personal consumption patterns and either an increase in biodiversity nor feeding hungry people”.

      Frankly, at this point, I completely give up.

      Also: “A source cited that Vegan diets were 20 times more efficient in terms of land use which would suggest that Tolhurst Organics should be cultivating less than one of their 19 acres”.

      Big sigh! Tolhurst 19 acres are around 20 times more efficient in feeding us than 19 acres of a beef farm for instance, which means that if the UK had more farmers like Tolhurst we would free much land for other purposes, as explained in many studies I have referred you to. And the population would be healthier. And the climate would greatly benefit. And so would the water, the air and much else.

      Good bye, I wish you well!

    • 169Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 20th, 2017

      “Big sigh! Tolhurst 19 acres are around 20 times more efficient in feeding us than 19 acres of a beef farm for instance, which means that if the UK had more farmers like Tolhurst we would free much land for other purposes, as explained in many studies I have referred you to. And the population would be healthier. And the climate would greatly benefit. And so would the water, the air and much else.”

      The degree of use is the crucial factor here – Tolly uses a small area of land very intensively, I on the other hand, use a large area of that ‘freed up’ land to produce beef *but* I’m only using it to produce beef for up to 3.8% of the time. The rest of the time the land performs multiple functions as a water reservoir, a carbon reservoir, wildlife habitat (breeding, feeding and migratory), flood alleviation. It’s not a case of either/or, we can do both simultaneously.

    • 170Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 21st, 2017

      “Sorry I upset you with your own statement that “Most UK offal now goes to China, although an awful lot is also incinerated, as it isn’t worth removing”, just after you had stressed the importance of eating local meat for its environmental benefits. It seemed perfectly in context. I don’t doubt that you have good intentions, but we are looking at facts, aren’t we? ”

      Apology accepted – tbh I don’t know why you quoted that line and tried to suggest that ‘suddenly doing things locally and ecologically doesn’t seem to matter’, when you read my original post it’s clear that I neither said nor implied that eating local “doesn’t matter”. It’s just such as odd thing to try to suggest.

    • 171Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 21st, 2017

      “You write: “you can’t hold Iain Tolhurst up as an example unless you address the fundamental problems you face with implementing his system on a wider scale”.

      Please expound! As I see it, the biggest obstacle is cultural, but this is changing fast with many others now running farms using neither animal inputs nor fossil-fuel based fertilisers, including some listed on http://veganorganic.net/uk-farms-directory/ . Another great UK demonstration farm is http://shumei.uk/. ”

      In sustainable regenerative ag we have the problem that there are more producers willing to produce than there are consumers. Veganic farming seems to have the opposite problem with many people saying it can be done on former livestock farms but very few of them people seem willing to actually do it. Maybe that is a cultural problem but it is a fundamental one with expanding numbers of vegan people demanding what isn’t available, so unless you address it the market will be filled by conventional products that are using animals, fossil fuel fertility and/or feeding by-products back into the animal feed market.

    • 172Annie Leymarie November 21st, 2017

      Precisely! You use far more land, in a highly inefficient way, still stopping trees and much other vegetation growing, etc. We could produce the same amount of nutritional value, in a far healthier way, without harming the climate, on a much smaller area whilst rewilding or just reforesting he rest of the land – which would be far better for all the things you mention (water reservoir, carbon reservoir, wildlife habitat and flood alleviation).

    • 173Annie Leymarie November 21st, 2017

      OK so maybe I need to apologise again. It’s true I didn’t read much of the context (I’m frankly spending much too long here!) – the sentence just jumped at me. What happens to carcasses and unwanted offal and other parts is so rarely mentioned! Tolly doesn’t need to send his waste to China nor to an incinerator – he composts it on farm.

      Equally left unmentioned is the high need for refrigeration of meat and dairy, which has such an enormous impact on climate (http://www.ammonia21.com/articles/7571/refrigerant_management_tops_list_of_climate_change_solutions).

      Rob, I don’t mean to get at you personally. I am sure you are trying your very best to be sustainable. But, as written in one of the studies I’ve mentioned, we live in a culture where, for a very long time, a “pernicious manipulation of people’s food choices has been so pervasive and persuasive that it has shaped values, behavior, and self-esteem. The consumer has been anesthetized from the ‘wide and the long’ repercussions of eating”.

      I am one of the many waking up and trying to bring some light on issues kept far too long in the dark.

    • 174Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 21st, 2017

      “You write: “Perhaps you should stop looking for references” and, a few sentences along: “As long as vegans continue to use emotion over hard evidence (…)”.
      Oh dear, you are accusing me of too many references and not enough references!”

      No I’m not, you are suggesting that your references support your view but as you have posted references contradicting eachother it can have the opposite effect. You also used emotive language regarding dairy cattle with zero references to back it up, and then repeated what you had said after I explained the reality.

      I’d rather you could explain your own logic, rather than relying on information that you seem to have accepted, rather than thought about in any detail. The dairy cattle being a prime example.

      “As to “my emotive language having tarnished my subsequent comments”, you did not refute any of the facts I wrote about dairy. It’s easy to label inconvenient truths as ‘emotive’. You didn’t like my use of the word ‘rape’ for artificial insemination , yet farmers themselves use the term ‘rape rack’ for the device they use:

      “Perhaps the only thing that the animal agriculture industry and animal rights activists can agree upon is the name of the device in which dairy cows are impregnated – the ‘rape rack’ (https://theirturn.net/2016/06/15/2016061420160613the-rape-rack/).”

      It’s not that I ‘didn’t like it’, it’s more that you said something utterly banal that gets repeated ad nauseam despite having no basis in reality. And you’re doing it again. The term ‘rape rack’ is one only used by animal rights activists, everyone else calls them AI stalls. I didn’t mention your use of the word ‘rape’ at the time because I felt it detracted from the more fundamental gap in your knowledge about the reason why farmers use AI. You are welcome to express your emotions but being emotive does not justify lying.

      Clearly you have zero interest in learning about dairy farming as you reject any information that doesn’t fit with your established world view but being happy to reject that information is wilful ignorance. I don’t need you to agree with me about the principles of domestication of animals but there’s no need to lie, unless you feel that the truth isn’t sufficient to support your view point. However as I am in the position of knowing all about this subject your willingness to part company with the truth leads me to suspect that very little of what you say is credible.

      Incidentally, I don’t disagree that cultural change is changing our diets and attitudes towards meat – that is the basis of my point. You see this as a good thing but my emotional connection to the land, wildlife and livestock sees this for the selfish human-centric view that it is. To ignore the negative aspects of this change is your prerogative but I see the folly in such an approach and find it so sad that increasingly people seem to feel justified in breaking our unwritten contract of domestication with the species that have enabled us to progress to a point where we feel able to reject them completely.

    • 175Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 21st, 2017

      “Precisely! You use far more land, in a highly inefficient way, still stopping trees and much other vegetation growing, etc. We could produce the same amount of nutritional value, in a far healthier way, without harming the climate, on a much smaller area whilst rewilding or just reforesting he rest of the land – which would be far better for all the things you mention (water reservoir, carbon reservoir, wildlife habitat and flood alleviation).”

      You’ve just described Iain Tolhurst – as I explained, he is using 5% of the land for 100% percent of the time, I’m using 100% of the land (not strictly true, as there are ponds, watercourses, reedbeds, peat bogs, woods and hedgerows in the mix) for 3.8% of the time. As a result the levels of biodiversity are much higher here. Because the other 95% of the land is not under his control it is disingenuous to claim that it is acting as any of those things. If his methods were as efficient as you claim then he would be able to devote the same resources (and more) to helping wildlife as I do. The fact that he doesn’t suggests to be that the benefits are overstated. In fact he’s just operating a successful intensive food business and letting others, like me, take care of the wildlife, yet, oddly, I’m the one being told I should be more like him, not vice versa.

    • 176Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 21st, 2017

      “OK so maybe I need to apologise again. It’s true I didn’t read much of the context (I’m frankly spending much too long here!) – the sentence just jumped at me. What happens to carcasses and unwanted offal and other parts is so rarely mentioned! Tolly doesn’t need to send his waste to China nor to an incinerator – he composts it on farm.

      Equally left unmentioned is the high need for refrigeration of meat and dairy, which has such an enormous impact on climate (http://www.ammonia21.com/articles/7571/refrigerant_management_tops_list_of_climate_change_solutions).

      Rob, I don’t mean to get at you personally. I am sure you are trying your very best to be sustainable. But, as written in one of the studies I’ve mentioned, we live in a culture where, for a very long time, a “pernicious manipulation of people’s food choices has been so pervasive and persuasive that it has shaped values, behavior, and self-esteem. The consumer has been anesthetized from the ‘wide and the long’ repercussions of eating”.

      I am one of the many waking up and trying to bring some light on issues kept far too long in the dark.”

      Thank you. I don’t need to send waste to China either – that’s just the way changing consumer patterns here in the UK have affected the sustainability of meat production and led to food being shipped both in and out of our country. Here if the grass is ‘waste’ it just rots in the fields, but this isn’t good for the wildlife that depend upon grassland habitats because these birds and mammals have co-evolved alongside grazing animals.

      I think also left unmentioned is the amount of refrigeration of fresh produce – I used to work in vegetable cold stores and it’s the side of fruit & veg that most people don’t ever see. The good thing about cattle is that they can be grazing an maintaining the habitats until you are ready to kill and consume them. With vegetables you are restricted to the timings of when the crop is ready and/or how long you can store it in cold storage for.

      I don’t expect any consumer to just take my word for it, the evidence is out there in the fields with some of our countries rarest landscape features, birds, plants and mammals all benefiting from grazing animals. The cows too benefit in the same way as the wildlife, though on an individual level the cows stand more chance of a longer life than their wild counterparts but because it is a natural system, it is unrealistic for all members of the species to live forever. This is atypical of farming, granted, but only because of what the consumer chooses to buy and eat. In the past farmers were able to make sufficient living from the land to justify putting a bit back by grazing the meadows, and the meat went into the mainstream marketplace, however with added financial pressures many are getting rid of their cows and it is left to the small number of ecologically-minded consumers to support graziers like us. I can only see this problem getting worse as long as meat is given bad press, despite cattle having given us everything in terms of pulling our carts and ploughs for centuries, maintaining our meadows and providing us with meat and milk, we now, as a society, see fit to put them on the scrap heap. ?

    • 177Annie Leymarie November 21st, 2017

      You could learn a thing or two from Tolhurst, whose farm is extremely wildlife and biodiversity-friendly (see his website http://www.tolhurstorganic.co.uk/about-us/biodiversity/ and I already sent you proofs of this, within an assessment made by inspectors who gave him an award, if you had cared to look). His book ‘Back to Earth’ is an eloquent testimony to his strong dedication to biodiversity and the health of the Earth. Why do you think he chose to grow stockfree as well as organic?

      Here are his words, from 2004 (I have shortened the text, without altering the meaning):

      “I started work on a large dairy farm back in the early 1970s. I had a picture-book idealistic image of what made up a farm. The reality was somewhat different: the land was under intense pressure to produce and was looking rather sick. The unhealthy animals rarely managed to last more than four lactations before being sent off to slaughter, riddled with disease. So this led me to explore the organic alternative. We found a scrubby piece of land in Cornwall. In part we were an example of the “back to the land” movement. I wanted to prove that it was commercially viable to grow organically to serve as an example to others. By this time we had been vegetarian for several years – a radical lifestyle change that was an inevitable result of the large dairy unit. How would we be able to grow organically without animals?

      It was an accepted philosophy of the Soil Association that animals were an integral part of the system: you needed the muck to grow the food to feed the animals to grow the food, But I was only interested in growing food to feed people, not animals! We kept a few goats for a while, then toyed with brining in manure from off the holding, but in time we developed another system based almost exclusively on green manures.

      I had heard that the Chinese had managed to feed their people on a mostly vegetarian diet with the extensive use of green manures, so thought that this ought to be achievable here too. It was a clear fact that you could certainly feed a lot more people this way, as much as three to five times more, so why wasn’t everybody doing this? For the same reason that most farmers were not organic: vested interests from the global conglomerate boys selling all those expensive goodies to support the system.

      Farms that run on green manures don’t have to buy much at all, apart from seeds, and even those could be home produced. Farmers are locked into believing that to produce you have to be plugging in massive inputs. And then of course everybody tells you that this concept is impossible to operate in the real world. But then that is what they told me about organics more than 30 years ago.

      In time, I designed a completely stockfree rotation and we still make some vegetable compost. It’s not just small intensive production units such as ours that can make this system work; the big boys can play this game too. Trials at Elm Farm Research Centre over many years have shown that large-scale stockless systems work both in terms of sustainability and economic viability. This has been endorsed by similar trials at ADAS Terrington, growing potatoes and cereals using red clover.

      What about feeding the green manures to livestock so that you get both earnings from the animals and fertility for crops, I hear you say. Actually no, it’s not that simple. Firstly animal production, unless done on a huge scale, will lose you money – because of fences, buildings, water supply, a market for small amounts, too much bureaucracy. Secondly, you don’t get anything for nothing: animals use energy and produce heat, methane and lots of waste product. You cannot expect to get more fertility than you started with. Look around the countryside, what do you see? Lots of grass and maize in the West, lots of cereals and maize in the Midlands and East. More than 65% of these cereal crops go to feed animals, and then there is the huge amount imported from all over the world at great cost to the environment. Organic farmers are no exception here, importing feed cereals to support their stock farms. Some of this manure is going to support vegetable and more cereal production.

      So the organic movement is far from sustainable in its present form. An increase in organic conversions in the UK would compound this problem even more, as stocking levels would be lower and more land would be needed to feed animals.

      Clearly there has to be a reduction in livestock farming if we are to even contemplate being able to feed the growing global population. Much good land is going to livestock production, which could be growing primary food products for feeding direct to people. On land in poorer hill parts, where it is not possible to grow crops, how about planting trees? They will grow in the worst soils, provide fruits, nuts and timber for fuel and enhance the landscape as well as providing real rural jobs for local people.

      Sure enough people love meat but they use up too much land in the process – they will have to reduce or remove this from their diet. And of course people love to see animals wandering in the countryside – but there could be herds of semi-wild beasts wandering around on common-type land. We just need a bit of land reform to bring about some sensible sustainable land use. The time is now ready to move forward to stockless systems that truly respect the land and our fellow animals”.

      In 2016, Tolly wrote: “From a young age I developed a keen interest in nature and what it could teach me, especially birdlife. It was from that interest that I have been able to develop a ‘systems approach’ to managing biodiversity on the farm in an endeavour to produce a more efficient food production system”. He described his agroforestry project, within which he has been planting lots of trees, with a vision to have “for 100 years from now a sparsely planted oak forest with vegetables still growing between the trees on about 60% of the land area. The other trees will be there in various forms, some pollarded, some coppiced, but still producing materials for composting and other uses. By this time the fruit trees would have come to the end of their life and have been replaced by new ones. The whole system will be working with Nature and be self-sufficient in fertility – a sort of ‘forest garden’”.

      On his land Tolly sequesters far more carbon than he produces so his farm is highly climate-friendly (and will be even more so, as well as wildlife-friendly, when all the trees he has planted have matured).

      Your farm is producing every year over the next two decades, just from the animals and nothing else, yearly emissions that roughly correspond to a fleet of 200 average cars (21.6 miles per gallon) driven for 11,400 miles/year. I have made the calculations using UK official data for methane and nitrous oxide per head of beef cow (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/573178/UK_National_Inventory_Report1990-2014annexes.pdf) the current global warming potential figures from the IPCC as well as EPA data (https://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/greenhouse-gas-emissions-typical-passenger-vehicle-0) using the figure you gave of a herd of 150 cattle. If the animals were all adults, the fleet would be of nearly 300 cars per year, so I just cut down the number by one third to give an estimation. All this climate warming is not good for biodiversity! Yes you may be sequestering carbon in the pastures and trees, but nowhere as much as if you were to use some of your land to grow plant food for an equivalent nutritional output as the meat you produce, and reforested the rest – essentially if you were to follow the path Iain Tolhurst has taken.

    • 178Annie Leymarie November 21st, 2017

      You write: “Here if the grass is ‘waste’ it just rots in the fields”.

      We were discussing the carcasses, offal and all the rest animal waste, not grass – i.e. the vast amounts that get incinerated, adding of course to pollution and climate change. Once again, you are going at a tangent.
      You write: “I used to work in vegetable cold stores and it’s the side of fruit & veg that most people don’t ever see”.

      People can see by themselves the supermarket aisles, compare the butcher and the fruit-and-veg shop, go picking fruit on a farm or indeed check in their own home what needs and what doesn’t need refrigeration.
      You write: “Many farmers are getting rid of their cows (…) I can only see this problem getting worse as long as meat is given bad press”.

      Indeed, people are waking up! Good bye – and good riddance! – to livestock farming: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/04/livestock-farming-artificial-meat-industry-animals.

      PS Help for farmers to transition is available in various forms including: https://www.vegansociety.com/take-action/campaigns/grow-green.

    • 179Annie Leymarie November 21st, 2017

      Farmers are very good at adapting to demand and to all sorts of circumstances – indeed they have to because of the weather. One major problem at the moment is the subsidy system, which rewards far more people with 600+ acres, such as yourself, than someone like Tolly with 19 acres, since subsidies are provided per unit of land, whatever is done or not done on that land. It is highly likely that your income has been coming entirely or at least mostly from taxpayers, including myself and others who do not eat meat and are trying to combat climate change and other problems that livestock farming contributes to. (https://fullfact.org/economy/farming-subsidies-uk/).

      “Sadly, horticulturalists are more likely to be tenant farmers and receive the smallest amounts from subsidies (CAP Pillar 1 and 2) of all farmers” (http://foodfoundation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/FF-Veg-Doc-V5.pdf )

      We have now situations where “farm businesses continue to receive taxpayer subsidies despite being found responsible for pollution. Indeed, serious pollution incidents in the UK from livestock farms are now a weekly occurrence, leading to damage to wildlife, fish, farm livestock and air and water pollution. The number of prosecutions lags well behind the number of serious incidents with farmers hampering inspection by exhibiting hostile behaviour towards government officials, thus deterring future inspections. (ttps://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2017-08-21/farming-pollution-fish-uk and
      https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/21/serious-farm-pollution-breaches-increase-many-go-unprosecuted. )

    • 180Rosewood Farm's Rob November 22nd, 2017

      “Farmers are very good at adapting to demand and to all sorts of circumstances – indeed they have to because of the weather. One major problem at the moment is the subsidy system, which rewards far more people with 600+ acres, such as yourself, than someone like Tolly with 19 acres, since subsidies are provided per unit of land, whatever is done or not done on that land. It is highly likely that your income has been coming entirely or at least mostly from taxpayers, including myself and others who do not eat meat and are trying to combat climate change and other problems that livestock farming contributes to. (https://fullfact.org/economy/farming-subsidies-uk/).”

      Remember I asked you earlier to stop looking for references and to start to apply thought & logic to situations? There was a good reason for this which you’ve demonstrated above – you begin to draw conclusions from what you think you know rather than enquiring & so you get things wrong. If you’d just discuss with me rather than debating with your own assumptions then you wouldn’t get things so wrong.

      1. I am a tenant farmer and most of that 600 acres is a national nature reserve, owned by the taxpayer. The tax payer claims the subsidy but they are not eligible to claim the environmental payments. About 5% of the land is owned, but the rest is either rented or contract grazed as part of environment schemes for other people.

      2. Tolhurst land is part of the Hardwick Estate, which is a part of a HLS scheme that does receive support for environmental work.

      Whilst Tolly, with his 19 acres does not receive the subsidy of 600 acres neither does he need to buy/rent 600 acres, so he is at a major advantage. Assuming both Tolly & I were owner-occupiers, and the land was equal in value – he would have to buy just 19 acres representing a much lower cost than my 600 acres BUT we both receive the same amount of money in subsidy, roughly equivalent to 1.73% of the value per annum, therefore it would take ~60 years for us both to pay for the land out of subsidy received.

      Also, as I explained before, he uses his 19 acres very intensively so that he can produce a living off 5% of the land area. However the other 95% is not ‘saved’ for wildlife because someone else is free to use it, be that for an intensive farm like his or an extensive farm like mine. In order for that 95% figure to have any validity then Tolly would have to control 100% of the acreage and devote the 95% share to wildlife and other uses, like I do.

      ““Sadly, horticulturalists are more likely to be tenant farmers and receive the smallest amounts from subsidies (CAP Pillar 1 and 2) of all farmers” (http://foodfoundation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/FF-Veg-Doc-V5.pdf )””

      You have to ask the question why that is, if vegetable production is so much more efficient in terms of feeding people it *should* be able to support itself. However, even under the current system, if the owner receives subsidy he can afford to rent the land more cheaply to the tenant than if he didn’t receive subsidy, so it’s not necessarily just the owner who benefits from this situation.

      “We have now situations where “farm businesses continue to receive taxpayer subsidies despite being found responsible for pollution. Indeed, serious pollution incidents in the UK from livestock farms are now a weekly occurrence, leading to damage to wildlife, fish, farm livestock and air and water pollution. The number of prosecutions lags well behind the number of serious incidents with farmers hampering inspection by exhibiting hostile behaviour towards government officials, thus deterring future inspections. (ttps://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2017-08-21/farming-pollution-fish-uk and
      https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/21/serious-farm-pollution-breaches-increase-many-go-unprosecuted. )””

      I agree, but that is unrelated to the livestock v crops issue because it occurs across the farming industry and crop farmers are not any more likely to be prosecuted, in fact I would say that fewer arable farmers are prosecuted because much of their pollution is diffuse and it’s difficult to prove the degree to which is has come from a specific source.

    • 181Rosewood Farm's Rob November 22nd, 2017

      “You write: “Here if the grass is ‘waste’ it just rots in the fields”.

      We were discussing the carcasses, offal and all the rest animal waste, not grass – i.e. the vast amounts that get incinerated, adding of course to pollution and climate change. Once again, you are going at a tangent.”

      No I’m not, you referred to Tolly’s ‘waste’, post-harvest waste, as being composted and tried to bring in an unrelated point about what happens to offal. My offal doesn’t go to China, it is fed to people in this country, or to their pets but it could be composted too.

      “You write: “I used to work in vegetable cold stores and it’s the side of fruit & veg that most people don’t ever see”.

      People can see by themselves the supermarket aisles, compare the butcher and the fruit-and-veg shop, go picking fruit on a farm or indeed check in their own home what needs and what doesn’t need refrigeration.”

      With respect you can’t compare what you see in the supermarket with the rest of the supply chain. Yes, fresh produce can be displayed without refrigeration but the wasteage would be much larger if it wasn’t refrigerated between harvest and sale. Refrigeration slows down decay in both meat and veg. It can also be achieved by preserving in other ways. If you go down the frozen veg aisle in the supermarket you will see many different vegetables that would spoil without freezing. Equally you can go down the tinned ailse and see both veg and meat, at ambient temps.

      “You write: “Many farmers are getting rid of their cows (…) I can only see this problem getting worse as long as meat is given bad press”.

      Indeed, people are waking up! Good bye – and good riddance! – to livestock farming: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/04/livestock-farming-artificial-meat-industry-animals.

      PS Help for farmers to transition is available in various forms including: https://www.vegansociety.com/take-action/campaigns/grow-green.”

      Good riddance, seriously? So you don’t care that we’ve lost 97% of our traditional wildlfower meadows and that this decline is threatening the remaining 3%, along with many of the rare species that depend upon this habitat?

    • 182Rosewood Farm's Rob November 22nd, 2017

      “You could learn a thing or two from Tolhurst, whose farm is extremely wildlife and biodiversity-friendly (see his website http://www.tolhurstorganic.co.uk/about-us/biodiversity/ and I already sent you proofs of this, within an assessment made by inspectors who gave him an award, if you had cared to look). His book ‘Back to Earth’ is an eloquent testimony to his strong dedication to biodiversity and the health of the Earth. Why do you think he chose to grow stockfree as well as organic?”

      Are you seriously trying to claim that Tolhurst’s 19 acres contain more biodiversity than my 600, even per acre?

      I’ll just list some of the species you can find, at various times in the year, on our land;

      Barn Owl
      Little Owl
      Short Eared Owl
      Tawny Owl
      Kestrel
      Buzzard
      Red Kite
      Marsh Harrier
      Peregrine
      Red Fox
      Badger
      Roe Deer
      Lapwing
      Curlew
      Whimbrel
      Reed Bunting
      Corncrake
      Kingfisher
      Redshank
      Quail
      Brown Hare
      English Partridge
      Wigeon
      Teal
      Little Egret
      Grey Heron
      Greater Water Parsnip
      Greater Burnet
      Musk Thistle
      Water Mint
      Water Pansy
      Spaghnum Moss
      Oak
      Willow
      Alder
      Ash
      Hedge Sparrow
      Ragged Robin

      I could go on but I’d be here all day…

      I don’t know why he chose to go stockfree – that seems like a very obvious way to immediately eliminate many forms of biodiversity. However, as he says below “But I was only interested in growing food to feed people” – there we have it, he’s not interested in feeding animals, only people.

      “Here are his words, from 2004 (I have shortened the text, without altering the meaning):

      “I started work on a large dairy farm back in the early 1970s. I had a picture-book idealistic image of what made up a farm. The reality was somewhat different: the land was under intense pressure to produce and was looking rather sick. The unhealthy animals rarely managed to last more than four lactations before being sent off to slaughter, riddled with disease. So this led me to explore the organic alternative. We found a scrubby piece of land in Cornwall. In part we were an example of the “back to the land” movement. I wanted to prove that it was commercially viable to grow organically to serve as an example to others. By this time we had been vegetarian for several years – a radical lifestyle change that was an inevitable result of the large dairy unit. How would we be able to grow organically without animals?

      It was an accepted philosophy of the Soil Association that animals were an integral part of the system: you needed the muck to grow the food to feed the animals to grow the food, But I was only interested in growing food to feed people, not animals! We kept a few goats for a while, then toyed with brining in manure from off the holding, but in time we developed another system based almost exclusively on green manures.

      I had heard that the Chinese had managed to feed their people on a mostly vegetarian diet with the extensive use of green manures, so thought that this ought to be achievable here too. It was a clear fact that you could certainly feed a lot more people this way, as much as three to five times more, so why wasn’t everybody doing this? For the same reason that most farmers were not organic: vested interests from the global conglomerate boys selling all those expensive goodies to support the system.

      Farms that run on green manures don’t have to buy much at all, apart from seeds, and even those could be home produced. Farmers are locked into believing that to produce you have to be plugging in massive inputs. And then of course everybody tells you that this concept is impossible to operate in the real world. But then that is what they told me about organics more than 30 years ago.

      In time, I designed a completely stockfree rotation and we still make some vegetable compost. It’s not just small intensive production units such as ours that can make this system work; the big boys can play this game too. Trials at Elm Farm Research Centre over many years have shown that large-scale stockless systems work both in terms of sustainability and economic viability. This has been endorsed by similar trials at ADAS Terrington, growing potatoes and cereals using red clover.

      What about feeding the green manures to livestock so that you get both earnings from the animals and fertility for crops, I hear you say. Actually no, it’s not that simple. Firstly animal production, unless done on a huge scale, will lose you money – because of fences, buildings, water supply, a market for small amounts, too much bureaucracy. Secondly, you don’t get anything for nothing: animals use energy and produce heat, methane and lots of waste product. You cannot expect to get more fertility than you started with. Look around the countryside, what do you see? Lots of grass and maize in the West, lots of cereals and maize in the Midlands and East. More than 65% of these cereal crops go to feed animals, and then there is the huge amount imported from all over the world at great cost to the environment. Organic farmers are no exception here, importing feed cereals to support their stock farms. Some of this manure is going to support vegetable and more cereal production.

      So the organic movement is far from sustainable in its present form. An increase in organic conversions in the UK would compound this problem even more, as stocking levels would be lower and more land would be needed to feed animals.

      Clearly there has to be a reduction in livestock farming if we are to even contemplate being able to feed the growing global population. Much good land is going to livestock production, which could be growing primary food products for feeding direct to people. On land in poorer hill parts, where it is not possible to grow crops, how about planting trees? They will grow in the worst soils, provide fruits, nuts and timber for fuel and enhance the landscape as well as providing real rural jobs for local people.

      Sure enough people love meat but they use up too much land in the process – they will have to reduce or remove this from their diet. And of course people love to see animals wandering in the countryside – but there could be herds of semi-wild beasts wandering around on common-type land. We just need a bit of land reform to bring about some sensible sustainable land use. The time is now ready to move forward to stockless systems that truly respect the land and our fellow animals”.”

      His last sentence makes no sense – he wants to keep ‘semi-wild’ beasts for people to see. That sounds like an even more frivolous justification. What I have to ask is why we can’t produce food from those beasts?

      “In 2016, Tolly wrote: “From a young age I developed a keen interest in nature and what it could teach me, especially birdlife. It was from that interest that I have been able to develop a ‘systems approach’ to managing biodiversity on the farm in an endeavour to produce a more efficient food production system”. He described his agroforestry project, within which he has been planting lots of trees, with a vision to have “for 100 years from now a sparsely planted oak forest with vegetables still growing between the trees on about 60% of the land area. The other trees will be there in various forms, some pollarded, some coppiced, but still producing materials for composting and other uses. By this time the fruit trees would have come to the end of their life and have been replaced by new ones. The whole system will be working with Nature and be self-sufficient in fertility – a sort of ‘forest garden’”.

      On his land Tolly sequesters far more carbon than he produces so his farm is highly climate-friendly (and will be even more so, as well as wildlife-friendly, when all the trees he has planted have matured).

      Your farm is producing every year over the next two decades, just from the animals and nothing else, yearly emissions that roughly correspond to a fleet of 200 average cars (21.6 miles per gallon) driven for 11,400 miles/year. I have made the calculations using UK official data for methane and nitrous oxide per head of beef cow (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/573178/UK_National_Inventory_Report1990-2014annexes.pdf) the current global warming potential figures from the IPCC as well as EPA data (https://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/greenhouse-gas-emissions-typical-passenger-vehicle-0) using the figure you gave of a herd of 150 cattle. If the animals were all adults, the fleet would be of nearly 300 cars per year, so I just cut down the number by one third to give an estimation. All this climate warming is not good for biodiversity! Yes you may be sequestering carbon in the pastures and trees, but nowhere as much as if you were to use some of your land to grow plant food for an equivalent nutritional output as the meat you produce, and reforested the rest – essentially if you were to follow the path Iain Tolhurst has taken.”

      Cultivation and land drainage are acknowledged as two of the largest land use changes that have resulted in the loss of soil carbon. You’ve failed to take account of wetlands in the storage of carbon – peatlands hold 20x more carbon than forests per acre, so Tolly would be better off, in terms of carbon storage potential, rewetting his land and preserving the existing peat and innocculating with spaghnum mosses and grasses to rebuild peat.

    • 183Annie Leymarie November 22nd, 2017

      Sorry you don’t like inconvenient evidence and I will definitely not take your advice of dropping the science.

      Acclaimed author Prof Yuval Noah Harari (author of Sapiens and Homo Deus) has just published a video. Here are his first words:

      “More and more political and ethical questions, especially in the 21st century, depend on scientific knowledge, on knowing the scientific facts and theories. Examples range from global warming to the rise of artificial intelligence and genetic engineering. You can have different opinions about these matters, but if you don’t know the scientific facts, your opinions shouldn’t count so much.”

      His last words on that video are also very relevant to our discussion about the ethics of meat and dairy production:

      “When it comes to humans, we indulge our desires and urges even when they are unnecessary today. But when it comes to animals, we tend to ignore them and this causes tremendous suffering. A calf which is separated from his mother and from other calves and is locked in a small cage without any opportunity to play will be extremely miserable, just like a child or a puppy would be under such conditions. And yet this is the fate of millions upon millions of calves every day across the world.

      So I hope scientists will take a far more active part in the ethical and political discussion about the welfare of animals. They can’t decide the ethical questions but they should clarify the facts and they should lay to rest ignorant claims such as “cows can’t feel pain” or “other animals don’t have emotions – only humans do”. Scientists who know the facts but choose to remain silent should know that they are not being neutral. Silence in the face of misery is an extreme and very unfortunate ethical choice”. (http://www.ynharari.com/role-scientists-debate-animal-welfare/ ).

      You write, about huge pollution problems from the livestock industry remaining unstopped and unpunished: “I agree, but that is unrelated to the livestock v crops issue because it occurs across the farming industry”.

      More disingenuity! For a start, one third of crops are for livestock feed so that’s one third in the responsibility for pollution from N fertilisers and pesticides. But livestock covers 80% of agriculture land worldwide – and particulate matter, ammonia from fertilisers and manure, plus methane (as well as nitrous oxide) – i.e. specific emissions from livestock – are top factors in air, soil and water pollution (see below).

      As already shown in the reference we are debating, the livestock industry keeps intimidating those who are trying to redress the problems. Thus a recent EU proposal to halve air pollution deaths was blocked by UK lobbying “in part to protect the dairy sector” (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jun/03/eu-dilutes-proposal-halve-air-pollution-deaths-uk-lobbying). There was a very weak acknowledgement, but no plan for action, from the NUF, which George Monbiot calls ‘a mafia’ (and you defend as protecting its members). Here are some ways pollution is being ignored : https://www.theguardian.com/environment/georgemonbiot/2016/mar/23/has-the-nfu-presidents-farm-led-by-example-when-it-comes-to-bad-practice-in-the-countryside.

      It is again the livestock lobby which blocked regulation of methane emissions, which not only cause climate change but also contribute to forming the air pollutant ground ozone (Forget the oil lobby, livestock farmers may curb climate talks https://www.cnbc.com/2015/10/28/farmers-opposed-to-eu-emission-caps-could-stunt-climate-talks.html

      Stories of water pollution from livestock farming abound – usually with the same theme of denial or intimidation: Examples: ‘Think dairy farming is benign? Our rivers tell a different story’ (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/oct/05/think-dairy-farming-is-benign-our-rivers-tell-a-different-story ). And ‘Tons of cow poop is messing with these people’s water but they’re afraid to speak up’ (https://fusion.net/story/359158/the-problem-with-dairy-cow-manure-in-washington/?platform=hootsuite).

      The huge ocean dead zones – one of the saddest and most acute manifestations of pollution – are caused mostly by livestock farming (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/01/meat-industry-dead-zone-gulf-of-mexico-environment-pollution ).

      Another gigantic problem linked specifically to livestock farming is the current resistance to antibiotics, with at least twice as many antibiotics given to farm animals as they are to humans in the EU (and much more so still in the US) and much of these plus other medicines given to animals reach the wider environment. Some action is being taken but nowhere near as much as required – and of course a plant-based diets eliminate this problem entirely. (http://www.saveourantibiotics.org/media1777/asoa-report-real-farming-solutions-to-antibiotic-misues-what-farmers-and-supermarkets-must-do.pdf )

      So pollutants are of course not just in the air, the water and the soil, but in the food we eat:
      “We know the intake of many classes of pollutants is almost exclusively from the ingestion of animal fats in the diet. What if we take them all out of the diet? It works for dioxins. Vegan dioxin levels appear markedly lower than the general population. What about for the flame retardant chemicals? Vegans have levels lower than vegetarians, with those who’ve been vegan around 20 years having even lower concentrations. This tendency for chemical levels to decline the longer one eats plant-based suggests that food of animal origin contributes substantially to the problem.” (https://nutritionfacts.org/2017/08/17/comparing-pollutant-levels-between-different-diets/).

    • 184Rosewood Farm's Rob November 22nd, 2017

      “Sorry you don’t like inconvenient evidence and I will definitely not take your advice of dropping the science.”

      Good, because I didn’t say that, in fact I think you should take notice of more science, particularly the bits that run counter to your view. Also apply the science, think critically about what is covered in the science, and what isn’t. The major limitation of science is that in order to be of value it must reduce the variables to a point that never happens in the real world, and therefore it requires multiple studies to cover the intricate relationships we find in nature.

    • 185Rosewood Farm's Rob November 22nd, 2017

      I never said ‘cows can’t feel pain’ – it’s extremely pointless of you to discuss such things as if I have, because I do not believe that any more than you do.

    • 186Rosewood Farm's Rob November 22nd, 2017

      “You write, about huge pollution problems from the livestock industry remaining unstopped and unpunished: “I agree, but that is unrelated to the livestock v crops issue because it occurs across the farming industry”.

      More disingenuity! For a start, one third of crops are for livestock feed so that’s one third in the responsibility for pollution from N fertilisers and pesticides. But livestock covers 80% of agriculture land worldwide – and particulate matter, ammonia from fertilisers and manure, plus methane (as well as nitrous oxide) – i.e. specific emissions from livestock – are top factors in air, soil and water pollution (see below).”

      And it is your suggestion that we should switch to a diet that relies 100% upon crops which, as 86% of livestock feed consists of things we can’t convert directly to human food, that means a lot more waste. The pollution would then also be transferred to people.

      Again, as I keep having to say, and you continue to ignore, I am not arguing for a continuation of the status quo with regards to the way plants or animals are produced, therefore is it of no value to you to continue this debate as if I were.

    • 187Rosewood Farm's Rob November 22nd, 2017

      “As already shown in the reference we are debating, the livestock industry keeps intimidating those who are trying to redress the problems. Thus a recent EU proposal to halve air pollution deaths was blocked by UK lobbying “in part to protect the dairy sector” (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jun/03/eu-dilutes-proposal-halve-air-pollution-deaths-uk-lobbying). There was a very weak acknowledgement, but no plan for action, from the NUF, which George Monbiot calls ‘a mafia’ (and you defend as protecting its members). Here are some ways pollution is being ignored : https://www.theguardian.com/environment/georgemonbiot/2016/mar/23/has-the-nfu-presidents-farm-led-by-example-when-it-comes-to-bad-practice-in-the-countryside.”

      Actually I asked you what you thought a ‘union’ was, if not a body to protect the interests of it’s members but unless I missed it, I don’t believe you answered?

      Please debate with me based upon what I say, not upon what you think I think as it’s getting tiresome.

    • 188Rosewood Farm's Rob November 22nd, 2017

      “It is again the livestock lobby which blocked regulation of methane emissions, which not only cause climate change but also contribute to forming the air pollutant ground ozone (Forget the oil lobby, livestock farmers may curb climate talks https://www.cnbc.com/2015/10/28/farmers-opposed-to-eu-emission-caps-could-stunt-climate-talks.html

      You seem to have a very negative view of farmers, as if we have immense power even though we earn so little from our inefficient trade. I don’t understand where you think this power comes from.

      If controls on methane were based upon measurements, I would welcome them. The issue is that the controls are based upon estimates, who is doing the estimating and what they are taking into account in doing so makes a massive difference to the results.

    • 189Rosewood Farm's Rob November 22nd, 2017

      “Stories of water pollution from livestock farming abound – usually with the same theme of denial or intimidation: Examples: ‘Think dairy farming is benign? Our rivers tell a different story’ (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/oct/05/think-dairy-farming-is-benign-our-rivers-tell-a-different-story ). And ‘Tons of cow poop is messing with these people’s water but they’re afraid to speak up’ (https://fusion.net/story/359158/the-problem-with-dairy-cow-manure-in-washington/?platform=hootsuite).”

      In the UK we have a traffic light system for reporting on water pollution. When a watercourse is found to be causing pollution it is tested at various points. The farmers in the catchment are all contacted and made to attend meetings to curb the problem, rather than going straight in with enforcement action. Here is the link to the report for my catchment; http://bookwhen.s3.amazonaws.com/assets/documents/6557/original.pdf?1387016491 I’m proud to say that I, with an all livestock farm, was surrounded by green dots and the inspectors told us to keep doing what we were doing.

    • 190Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 22nd, 2017

      “Another gigantic problem linked specifically to livestock farming is the current resistance to antibiotics, with at least twice as many antibiotics given to farm animals as they are to humans in the EU (and much more so still in the US) and much of these plus other medicines given to animals reach the wider environment. Some action is being taken but nowhere near as much as required – and of course a plant-based diets eliminate this problem entirely. (http://www.saveourantibiotics.org/media1777/asoa-report-real-farming-solutions-to-antibiotic-misues-what-farmers-and-supermarkets-must-do.pdf )”

      Not entirely, http://www.animalagriculture.org/Resources/Documents/Conf%20-%20Symp/Symposiums/2012%20Antibiotics%20Symposium/George%20Sundin.pdf

    • 191Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 22nd, 2017

      And the award for most spurious reason to give up animal products goes to…

      “So pollutants are of course not just in the air, the water and the soil, but in the food we eat:
      “We know the intake of many classes of pollutants is almost exclusively from the ingestion of animal fats in the diet. What if we take them all out of the diet? It works for dioxins. Vegan dioxin levels appear markedly lower than the general population. What about for the flame retardant chemicals? Vegans have levels lower than vegetarians, with those who’ve been vegan around 20 years having even lower concentrations. This tendency for chemical levels to decline the longer one eats plant-based suggests that food of animal origin contributes substantially to the problem.” (https://nutritionfacts.org/2017/08/17/comparing-pollutant-levels-between-different-diets/).”

      As the study shows, the source of the pollution is domestic human activity and recycling of human waste. The pollutants would end up on Tolly’s veg if he recycled the human waste.

    • 192Annie Leymarie November 22nd, 2017

      You write: “Are you seriously trying to claim that Tolhurst’s 19 acres contain more biodiversity than my 600, even per acre?”

      Sorry it’s taking you so long to get it but yes, I am claiming that Tolhurst’s overall impact on biodiversity and the environment in general (including of course the climate) is far smaller than yours, on an acre-per-acre comparison, as well as per kg of protein produced. It’s not me claiming this of course, but the very many ecologists who have been studying the question in depth for a long time and have repeatedly confirmed that :

      “Meat production is one of humanity’s most destructive and least efficient systems, accounting for astounding levels of wildlife losses, land and water pollution, deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions, The ecological costs of livestock grazing exceed that of any other western land use.

      While “grass-fed” beef is arguably more humane for the livestock animals and doesn’t produce the concentrated manure and runoff found at factory farms, it isn’t as sustainable for wildlife or the planet as many people believe, especially in the context of a human population of billions that needs to be fed. By destroying vegetation, damaging wildlife habitats and disrupting natural processes, livestock grazing wreaks ecological havoc on riparian areas, rivers, deserts, grasslands and forests alike — causing significant harm to species and the ecosystems on which they depend.

      Studies have shown that grass-fed cattle are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than those raised on grain feed — as much as 500 percent more — in addition to requiring more land and water per pound of beef. And while there are a lot of important reasons to support local agriculture, replacing meat one day per week with a plant-based meal saves more greenhouse gas emissions than eating an entirely local diet.

      When it comes to meat production, wildlife face threats from every angle. Livestock grazing and growing feed crops destroy habitat. Manure — 500 million tons of it per year in the United States alone — pollutes rivers, lakes, wetlands and groundwater. Methane emissions from production and digestion are a major contributor to climate change. Wild animals are targeted to protect livestock herds and profits”. (Take Extinction of your Plate. Centre for Biological Diversity. http://www.takeextinctionoffyourplate.com/earth-friendly_diet.html .

      I have already sent you many other references proving that “Grass-feeding produces unnecessary low-quality calories at ostentatious environmental costs while displacing threatened wildlife” (Grass-fed beef packs a punch to the environment http://blogs.reuters.com/environment/2010/04/08/grass-fed-beef-packs-a-punch-to-environment/ ).

      Here’s an ecologist getting rather exasperated:

      “I saw first hand the bogus arguments that ‘good grazing’ was good for wildlife. It’s like saying that city dumps are good for wildlife because ravens and gulls love them. You can always point to some wildlife that benefits from habitat destruction or degradation, but it’s the big picture that is important. And the ‘good grazing’ misses the big picture”.

      The bit of the big picture you seem to be mostly missing, Rob, is your high contribution to climate change (which of course affects all life) and your very inefficient land use, whist producing food shown to be unhealthy (red meat is in placed by the World Health Organisation in the second category of carcinogenics).

      Unlike Tolhurst, who is modelling best practice to produce healthy food, especially with his more recent venturing into agroforestry, your own production system is highly unreproducible on a larger scale.

      “It would be physically impossible for the animal protein production produced today – about 27 g/person/day – to be supplied by grazing systems, at least without an unthinkably damaging programme of forest clearance, which would vastly increase the livestock sector’s already large (at 7 Gt CO2-eq) contribution to global GHG emissions”. (Grazed and confused http://www.fcrn.org.uk/sites/default/files/project-files/fcrn_gnc_report.pdf) .

      The conclusion reached by a consensus of experts is that “if we want to make serious gains in minimizing harms to the environment and public health, we need concrete policies that take a serious stance on minimizing animal agriculture”. (https://gelr.org/2015/10/23/a-leading-cause-of-everything-one-industry-that-is-destroying-our-planet-and-our-ability-to-thrive-on-it-georgetown-environmental-law-review/ )

      Next, you write: “I don’t know why he [Tolhurst] chose to go stockfree”.

      I am sorry you have such problem understanding! He explained that he has felt much love for nature right from childhood and as a young man got to work on a dairy farm. There he saw first hand how environmentally damaging and cruel this was. He switched to a vegetarian diet, felt good on it (and still does at a pretty ripe age) and decided to try organic farming. He did some research and found that there were examples of very successful farming feeding a big population well whilst using relatively little land and no animals or animal inputs. He tried it and fourty years later is still doing it very successfully, and is quite happy to demonstrate it.

      Then you quote him out of context. Indeed he wasn’t interested in feeding FARM animals… so as to get their manure, so as to grow crops that would partly be used to feed the very same animals… He is a bright man! Getting to a lower trophic level for efficiency, providing more healthy food, avoiding greenhouse gas emissions, avoiding animal cruelty as well as other complications inherent in livestock farming made complete sense to him.

      You name badger as one of the species found on your land. Isn’t it a shame that the cattle industry has pushed for tens of thousands of them to be killed (+ wounded and impacted in many other ways by the cull), without any sound foundation for these actions? Not very biodiversity or wildlife-or welfare-friendly!…

      Finally, you write: “You’ve failed to take account of wetlands in the storage of carbon – peatlands hold 20x more carbon than forests per acre, so Tolly would be better off, in terms of carbon storage potential, rewetting his land and preserving the existing peat and innocculating with spaghnum mosses and grasses to rebuild peat”.

      Tolly is in the business of producing healthy food efficiently and sustainably on a relatively small farm, not of creating new peatland. Why don’t you suggest your wonderful idea to DEFRA and the NFU who could, for a start, ban peat-based compost (not used by Tolly, of course). Tolly is doing extremely well and I suggest you attend one of his open days to get some inspiration! Here again is what inspectors had to say:

      “A policy of creating habitat for wildlife in the fields has given opportunities for a lot of carbon sequestration. Hedgerows are allowed to grow tall and wide, accounting for 17% of total sequestration. A small area of woodland, along with an area of willow coppice in a damp corner of one of the fields, account for over 24% of all sequestration. One of the most surprising figures perhaps was for the amount sequestrated in the field margins. This permanent pasture around fields and beetle banks within fields is actually quite a large area, nearly 1 hectare in total, and accounts for nearly 9% of total sequestration.

      The biggest challenge for growers is how to build Soil Organic Matter, because cultivating soil is the best way to lose it! Over the course of the last 25 years, Tolly has managed to continually build organic matter levels without the use of external inputs. This is a remarkable feat, and the positive contribution of rising organic matter levels across cropped areas accounts for an impressive 49% of all sequestration.

      Total emissions come to 16.6 tonnes of CO₂e per year, a remarkably low figure for a business producing veg for 150 families. But most excitingly, total sequestration comes to around 21t of CO₂e per year, meaning the whole farm is ‘carbon positive’ by over 4t CO₂e per year. This shows that there are methods of growing vegetables with minimal inputs, producing good yields and still sequestering far more carbon than is emitted.

      All Tolhurst Organic Produce customers receive vegetables every week that technically lowers their carbon footprint. This is an exciting concept and demonstrates the power of farm land to turn agriculture and horticulture into a carbon positive activity that can help to bring down atmospheric CO₂ levels and reduce the impacts of climate change”.
      http://farmcarbontoolkit.org.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/case_study_-_tolhurst_organics_v3.pdf
      (PS Since this was written some 5 years ago, the farm has created even more wildlife habitats and carbon sequestration).

    • 193Annie Leymarie November 22nd, 2017

      You write “If controls on methane were based upon measurements, I would welcome them. The issue is that the controls are based upon estimates, who is doing the estimating and what they are taking into account in doing so makes a massive difference to the results”.

      So that makes you a climate change denier, then! It’s all about estimations!

      (PS Respiration chambers work very well)

    • 194Annie Leymarie November 22nd, 2017

      Fair enough!

      “It is estimated that the amount of antibiotics used for crops is relatively low in comparison to the quantities used in livestock, with estimates ranging from 0.2 to 0.4 percent of total agricultural antibiotic consumption”.

      Meanwhile the same report has the striking figures of 30% of antibiotics consumed by humans and 70% by animals in the US.

      But thanks for sending a reference – very useful, and I’ve learnt something (which I knew but had forgotten)…

    • 195Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 22nd, 2017

      “You write “If controls on methane were based upon measurements, I would welcome them. The issue is that the controls are based upon estimates, who is doing the estimating and what they are taking into account in doing so makes a massive difference to the results”.

      So that makes you a climate change denier, then! It’s all about estimations!

      (PS Respiration chambers work very well)”

      No it doesn’t, denier would imply that I don’t believe that the climate is changing. I am merely able to look at the figures and draw a conclusion based upon facts, not what I wish to see.

      The facts are that methane emissions plateaued 1999-2006, despite worldwide cattle numbers continuing to rise during that time;

      ‘Euan Nisbet, a methane expert from Royal Holloway, University of London, thinks natural wetlands account for the lion’s share of the increase since 2007. Not only is the geography right, he explained via email, but international agricultural statistics provide no evidence for a large, matching increase in either ruminant populations or rice cultivation areas in 2007.’

    • 196Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 22nd, 2017

      “Fair enough!

      “It is estimated that the amount of antibiotics used for crops is relatively low in comparison to the quantities used in livestock, with estimates ranging from 0.2 to 0.4 percent of total agricultural antibiotic consumption”.

      Meanwhile the same report has the striking figures of 30% of antibiotics consumed by humans and 70% by animals in the US.

      But thanks for sending a reference – very useful, and I’ve learnt something (which I knew but had forgotten)…”

      You’re welcome, but remember – I’m not advocating the use of antibiotics in farmed animals.

    • 197Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 22nd, 2017

      I forgot to reference the following extract;

      ‘Euan Nisbet, a methane expert from Royal Holloway, University of London, thinks natural wetlands account for the lion’s share of the increase since 2007. Not only is the geography right, he explained via email, but international agricultural statistics provide no evidence for a large, matching increase in either ruminant populations or rice cultivation areas in 2007.’

      https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/after-2000-era-plateau-global-methane-levels-hitting-new-highs

    • 198Annie Leymarie November 22nd, 2017

      You write:
      “it is your suggestion that we should switch to a diet that relies 100% upon crops which, as 86% of livestock feed consists of things we can’t convert directly to human food, that means a lot more waste”

      Firstly, where do you get this figure of 86%, please? And what are all these things fed to livestock?
      There are many possible uses to what you call ‘waste’: with grass, we can for instance create green gas (https://www.ecotricity.co.uk/our-green-energy/our-green-gas/how-green-gas-works). With crop residues we can create compost or leave them in situ to enrich the soil. On poor soils we can plant fruit trees, nut trees, trees for timber and trees for all kinds of other things (increasingly textiles). And because plant-based diets are so much more efficient in terms of land use, we can also just let the planet do what it wants to without our interference (http://www.half-earthproject.org/).

      You write: “The pollution would then also be transferred to people’.
      What pollution?

      You write: “I am not arguing for a continuation of the status quo with regards to the way plants or animals are produced”

      Please prove it and I’ll rejoice immensely! I have acknowledged and am convinced that you are trying to do things more sustainably but I am sending you tons of evidence showing that because of the methane and nitrous emissions – which are actually worse in your type of extensive husbandry than in more intensive farming – because of the inefficient land use (also worse in your scenario) and because meat is unhealthy (as well as involving always some cruelty – as we will start seeing now that all slaughterhouses will have to have a camera) – the widely-spread theory that extensively reared, grass-fed beef is sustainable is just a fiction! There are some (relatively small) parts of the world where it will be extremely difficult to shift to other forms of agriculture (such as parts of Africa where I have lived), but not in England!

      I really don’t want to give you, Rob, personally a hard time – but I want to raise awareness on issues which are crucial to our future on this very threatened planet, and on which so much misinformation prevails.

      I may stop this conversation at any point because we need to turn a page – but am still aiming to respond to you about dairy – as this is one area I know a lot about, contrary to what you wrote. (By the way, I come from a French livestock farming family).

    • 199Annie Leymarie November 22nd, 2017

      You write: ” Actually I asked you what you thought a ‘union’ was, if not a body to protect the interests of it’s members but unless I missed it, I don’t believe you answered? Please debate with me based upon what I say, not upon what you think I think as it’s getting tiresome”.

      A mafia is also a body to protect the interest of its members. A mafia is how Monbiot has described the NFU. There are unions who protect the interest of their members with a wider goal of helping society progress towards more justice and other similar values, and then there is the NFU… I am debating upon what you write.

    • 200Annie Leymarie November 22nd, 2017

      You write: “Remember – I’m not advocating the use of antibiotics in farmed animals”.

      Fair enough! Sadly, they are very common and used even of course on organic livestock farms – though to a much lesser extent – because of the health problems encountered.

    • 201Annie Leymarie November 22nd, 2017

      You write “Euan Nisbet, a methane expert from Royal Holloway, University of London, thinks natural wetlands account for the lion’s share of the increase since 2007. Not only is the geography right, he explained via email, but international agricultural statistics provide no evidence for a large, matching increase in either ruminant populations or rice cultivation areas in 2007.”’

      It’s so great when you send references, thank you! The text you referred to says:

      “The case for a biological, microbial source is strong, but it’s less clear exactly which source or sources it is. (…) we have some ideas why, but no definite answers.
      Agricultural sources of methane include rice farming and belching from ruminant livestock. Rice farming depends on periodic flooding of growing areas. Drowned soils and animal stomachs favor species of microbes that can survive without oxygen. These microbes respire methane (CH4)instead of carbon dioxide (CO2). With respect to geography, both sources are plausible”.

      What’s pretty certain is that all three – ruminants, rice paddies and wetlands – are playing a role in the recent increases, very probably more so than from fracking and similar other sources https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/26/what-is-causing-the-rapid-rise-in-methane-emissions

      Whichever way methane emissions are rising – which is a big deal! – and for sure ruminants emit methane, so that the need to reduce those emissions is not put in question.

      This recent article, for instance shows how much uncertainty remains but warns that “the warming impact from methane is enough to derail Paris” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-40669449 . Many others have stressed the importance of urgent methane emissions reductions: . http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2016/06/howarth-alerts-white-house-growing-methane-danger

      I have already sent you references showing that methane emissions from ruminants have been underestimated (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/29/methane-emissions-cattle-11-percent-higher-than-estimated ) and there are quite a few others with similar messages, if only because methane’s global warming potential is a tricky issue (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-bad-of-a-greenhouse-gas-is-methane/). So for instance it has been suggested that we need to again revise methane’s GWP upward (as it has been every time the IPCC has written a new report (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2016GL071930/abstract ). This scientist has recalculated and feels that livestock’s direct impact (not counting farm emissions, etc) is equivalent to 23% of current global warming (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.13975/abstract.

      What’s also certain is that as climate change advances, various methane vicious circles take place: more emissions from frozen areas, more emissions due to the change in fodder for livestock (Spiral of doom as hotter world increases cattle emissions http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2988807/spiral_of_doom_hotter_world_increases_cattle_methane_emissions.html . Also as climate change incrases, the capacity to sequester CO2 diminishes – and we may have lost it already on land: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160309135706.html .
      I don’t have time to send more info – and it’s complex! – but one message is clear: less methane and less nitrous oxide, as well as less CO2, is crucial.

    • 202Annie Leymarie November 22nd, 2017

      No! “In the general population, exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) comes primarily from the consumption of animal fat like fatty fish, meat and milk products” (https://fanaticcook.com/2014/05/14/animal-fat-is-a-natural-reservoir-for-environmental-pollutants/ ).

      And of course saturated fat is in all meat (http://www.pcrm.org/health/saturated-fat).

    • 203Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 23rd, 2017

      “You write:
      “it is your suggestion that we should switch to a diet that relies 100% upon crops which, as 86% of livestock feed consists of things we can’t convert directly to human food, that means a lot more waste”
      Firstly, where do you get this figure of 86%, please? And what are all these things fed to livestock?”

      It’s from the UN FAO; https://www.elsevier.com/about/press-releases/research-and-journals/more-fuel-for-the-foodfeed-debate-new-study-indicates-livestock-production-is-a-much-smaller-challenge-to-global-food-security-than-often-reported
      Many by-products are fed to livestock from sugar cane molasses, sugar beet pulps, potato waste, soya bean meal, copra (coconut) meal, almond husks, grass, of course.

      Cattle in particular are efficient converters of non-protein nitrogen into edible protein and they can also access complex carbohydrates that we can’t.

      “There are many possible uses to what you call ‘waste’: with grass, we can for instance create green gas (https://www.ecotricity.co.uk/our-green-energy/our-green-gas/how-green-gas-works). With crop residues we can create compost or leave them in situ to enrich the soil. On poor soils we can plant fruit trees, nut trees, trees for timber and trees for all kinds of other things (increasingly textiles). And because plant-based diets are so much more efficient in terms of land use, we can also just let the planet do what it wants to without our interference (http://www.half-earthproject.org/).”

      Thank you for the recognition that grasslands are important ecosystems, though I am surprised by your turn around on this matter now that it supports an alternative use that you seem to think it more sustainable. But think about it – wildflowers meadows co-evolved with grazing animals, and species decline with the loss of grazing. This is my job, restoring ecosystems with grazing animals. The alternative of cutting all the material by machine to feed factory farmed animals is one of the major problems with environmental sustainability, and those issues apply whether you are feeding cows or turbines. Meanwhile cows waste a lot of the energy in grass by trampling & pooping it back into the soil – I say waste, they are actually feeding soil microbes that incorporate atmospheric CO2 & MH4 into soil organic matter. This also benefits masses of insect life, which in turn feeds birds and small mammals that in turn feed larger predators. A cow can do all of that without fossil fuels, but meanwhile transporting all that grass to biodigesters (which are basically cows that don’t produce meat, only methane).

      “You write: “The pollution would then also be transferred to people’.
      What pollution?”

      The pollution from the crop production, that which you mentioned. You say that there would be less area needed, but populations have a habit of growing to fill a niche where they is surplus food available (I don’t necessarily believe that would be the case, because of the 86% figure, but I’m indulging your point here.)

      “You write: “I am not arguing for a continuation of the status quo with regards to the way plants or animals are produced”
      Please prove it and I’ll rejoice immensely! I have acknowledged and am convinced that you are trying to do things more sustainably but I am sending you tons of evidence showing that because of the methane and nitrous emissions – which are actually worse in your type of extensive husbandry than in more intensive farming – because of the inefficient land use (also worse in your scenario) and because meat is unhealthy (as well as involving always some cruelty – as we will start seeing now that all slaughterhouses will have to have a camera) – the widely-spread theory that extensively reared, grass-fed beef is sustainable is just a fiction! There are some (relatively small) parts of the world where it will be extremely difficult to shift to other forms of agriculture (such as parts of Africa where I have lived), but not in England!”

      I prove it every day in my actions, which speak louder than words. You, however, keep sending me half the information and I can keep referring to the fact that 1) I don’t think only feeding people (as per Tolly’s words) is necessarily a good thing and 2) I don’t think the information necessarily supports your views, when it is placed into context and analysed in a holistic way.

      “I really don’t want to give you, Rob, personally a hard time – but I want to raise awareness on issues which are crucial to our future on this very threatened planet, and on which so much misinformation prevails.”

      I’m pleased to hear that – I want to do that too, but I don’t want to fall into the trap of swallowing everything that is fed to us because, as you say, much of it is misleading. I believe in nature and natural solutions, mimicking nature wherever possible, not changing ecosystems to suit our ideology. I don’t believe that everyone should eat meat, far from it, but equally I don’t believe that everyone should not eat it because it can’t possible be more biodiverse to remove livestock completely from our world.

      “I may stop this conversation at any point because we need to turn a page – but am still aiming to respond to you about dairy – as this is one area I know a lot about, contrary to what you wrote. (By the way, I come from a French livestock farming family).”
      You gave a very poor summary of what AI is and enables us to do – I was just responding to that information. You don’t need to be a farmer but a biologist to know that you cannot serve a cow (successfully) by doing it against her will, as she needs to be in standing heat. Also the AI technician does nothing that a bull doesn’t – it’s simply a case of delivering semen to the right place at the right time and from there nature takes it’s course. Far from increasing breeding success, farmers know that a bull can achieve better conception rates, but they use AI for a variety of reasons, not least so they can choose genetics from bulls they don’t own to the level of control I explained earlier to prevent cows that are too young, too old or not at the ideal stage of lactation from getting pregnant.

      People can make their own choices about dairy, I just want them to make it based upon accurate information, which all too often they don’t.

    • 204Annie Leymarie November 23rd, 2017

      You write: “In the UK we have a traffic light system for reporting on water pollution. When a watercourse is found to be causing pollution it is tested at various points. The farmers in the catchment are all contacted and made to attend meetings to curb the problem”.

      I am glad you are not causing problems on that front, that’s good! The worse culprits tend to be dairy farms (as well as poultry and pig farms).
      I have recently moved from Devon – where there were lots of problems – to Sussex, where to my dismay and the extreme frustration of all the neighbours downstream, the local agricultural college – supposed to teach best practice – has been repeatedly polluting the local river.

      I don’t want to spend long digging old news but it’s been a very long saga of repeated infractions http://www.sussexexpress.co.uk/news/1-200-fish-found-dead-after-plumpton-mill-stream-pollution-1-7716167 and http://www.lewes.co.uk/forum/post/Plumpton_College_pollution_incidents_again/203605 and much else.

      Monbiot again has written about his own anger about the problem (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/oct/05/think-dairy-farming-is-benign-our-rivers-tell-a-different-story ).

      And of course we cannot change the fact that the amount of excrements cattle and other livestock produce is far greater than that of all humans. I am quite tall and yet a dairy cow produces in one day almost the same mass of excrements as my own weight (a beef cow less, of course). Multiply that by the billions of farm animals and it’s a gigantic problem. Some of it is used as manure in a useful way but much of it is just polluting air, water and soils.

    • 205Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 23rd, 2017

      “You write: ” Actually I asked you what you thought a ‘union’ was, if not a body to protect the interests of it’s members but unless I missed it, I don’t believe you answered? Please debate with me based upon what I say, not upon what you think I think as it’s getting tiresome”.

      A mafia is also a body to protect the interest of its members. A mafia is how Monbiot has described the NFU. There are unions who protect the interest of their members with a wider goal of helping society progress towards more justice and other similar values, and then there is the NFU… I am debating upon what you write.”

      Monbiot has his own agenda at play, I don’t particularly want to get into the murky depths of his motivations. Neither do I wish to defend everything the NFU has ever supported, however I agree with about 50% of what both Monbiot and the NFU have ever said. Monbiot has made a very good career out of saying things that will upset some people, thereby gaining the support of their opponents whilst also ensuring that the people he is attacking will share it too and therefore make him more promotion and money. Reading his back catalogue of articles you can see this happening time and time again.

    • 206Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 23rd, 2017

      “No! “In the general population, exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) comes primarily from the consumption of animal fat like fatty fish, meat and milk products” (https://fanaticcook.com/2014/05/14/animal-fat-is-a-natural-reservoir-for-environmental-pollutants/ ).

      And of course saturated fat is in all meat (http://www.pcrm.org/health/saturated-fat).”

      As I said, the solution is to stop putting those pollutants out there in the first place. They are persistent so it is impossible to avoid them once they are out there. The animals have accumulated them through eating plants therefore we will too. The article doesn’t even hint at the levels of toxins filtered out by the animals – toxins that many plants naturally produce to protect themselves from being eaten.

      As for the second article, it is highly biased, coming from the pro-vegan PCRM. I believe you do more harm to health by avoiding fats than by eating highly nutritious organic food.

    • 207Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 23rd, 2017

      “You write: “Remember – I’m not advocating the use of antibiotics in farmed animals”.

      Fair enough! Sadly, they are very common and used even of course on organic livestock farms – though to a much lesser extent – because of the health problems encountered.”

      I suspect that if we all lived a more natural life we would have stronger immune systems and ability fight infections except in the event of injury or trauma. And the same goes for both humans and animals.

    • 208Annie Leymarie November 23rd, 2017

      I have already responded about uncertainties and certainties about methane. There is a great deal of methane emissions that are under-reported (if you care to read the references I’ve sent you) .

      You have just re-sent just the one opinion, which actually diverges from what is said in the rest of the article.

      So here are other opinions, from several scientists, which refute your theory:

      “Our study concurs with Schaefer et al. [2016] that the methane rise [since 2007] is a result of increased emissions from biogenic sources. They considered but rejected the hypothesis that wetland emissions have been the primary cause of methane growth. This was on the basis of remote sensing data that suggested that growth was led from the Northern Hemisphere and also isotopic arguments, as they assumed that tropical ruminants were C3-fed. They preferred the hypothesis that growth has been driven by agricultural emissions”. Nisbet EG et al, (2016) Rising atmospheric methane: 2007–2014 growth and isotopic shift. Global Biochemical Cycles. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2016GB005406/full

      There’s also:

      “Methane emissions from increasing agricultural activities seem to be a major, possibly dominant, cause of the atmospheric growth trends of the past decade.

      The rapid increase in methane concentrations offers a growing mitigation opportunity, acknowledging the need to balance food security and environmental protection (Wollenberg et al 2016). Keeping global warming below 2 °C is already a challenging target, with most of the attention placed primarily on CO2 emissions. Such a target will become increasingly difficult if reductions in methane emissions are not also addressed strongly and rapidly.”

      Saunois M, Jackson RB , Bousquet P , B Poulter B and Canadel JG (2016) The growing role of methane in anthropogenic climate change.. http://www.smh.com.au/cqstatic/gt95n6/methanespike.pdf.

      Also https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/12/11/atmospheric-levels-of-methane-a-powerful-greenhouse-gas-are-spiking-scientists-report/?utm_term=.9a67abb5733c

      Also https://phys.org/news/2016-12-surge-methane-emissions-threatens-efforts.html and https://www.pri.org/stories/2016-03-14/us-methane-emissions-are-drastically-underestimated-new-study-shows

      And here’s what the FAO says this year:

      “Agriculture contributes the largest share of global methane and nitrous oxide emissions. Most of its methane emissions is produced by enteric fermentation during the digestive processes of ruminant animals, and by rice cultivation. The nitrous oxide emissions originate mainly from the application of nitrogen-based fertilizers and animal manure management” . (The future of food and agriculture – Trends and challenges. Rome. http://www.fao.org/3/a-i6583e.pdf

      They also write: “Over the past 50 years, GHG emissions resulting from ‘Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use’ (AFOLU) have nearly doubled, and projections suggest a further increase by 2050 (FAO, 2014). In 2010, emissions from the AFOLU sector were an estimated 10.6 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon dioxide equivalent, and were mainly caused by land use, livestock production, and soil and nutrient management (Figure 4.1)

      Emissions produced by the use of energy in primary agriculture (e.g. fuel for tractors) are not included in the IPCC’s AFOLU classification. If they are taken into account, emissions from the sector rise by a further 0.9 Gt (FAO, 2016c). If GHG emissions resulting from energy use in processing, trade and consumption of food (approximately 3.4 Gt) are also considered, the total amount of net GHG emissions from the food and agriculture sector would amount to 12.3 Gt, or around 26 percent of total GHG emissions (FAO, 2011).”

      If you’d rather look at a simple chart, here’s one: http://www.globalmethane.org/documents/analysis_fs_en.pdf

      On the topic of methane, since you have written that you do not welcome any control of livestock emissions, perhaps you might have a certain amount of bias on this topic?

      What seems to me key is that methane emissions are rising, life on this planet is under terrible threat, ruminant livestock emit much methane and their products are not good for our health – so a wise course of action is pretty obvious!

    • 209Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 23rd, 2017

      “You write: “In the UK we have a traffic light system for reporting on water pollution. When a watercourse is found to be causing pollution it is tested at various points. The farmers in the catchment are all contacted and made to attend meetings to curb the problem”.

      I am glad you are not causing problems on that front, that’s good! The worse culprits tend to be dairy farms (as well as poultry and pig farms).
      I have recently moved from Devon – where there were lots of problems – to Sussex, where to my dismay and the extreme frustration of all the neighbours downstream, the local agricultural college – supposed to teach best practice – has been repeatedly polluting the local river.

      I don’t want to spend long digging old news but it’s been a very long saga of repeated infractions http://www.sussexexpress.co.uk/news/1-200-fish-found-dead-after-plumpton-mill-stream-pollution-1-7716167 and http://www.lewes.co.uk/forum/post/Plumpton_College_pollution_incidents_again/203605 and much else.

      Monbiot again has written about his own anger about the problem (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/oct/05/think-dairy-farming-is-benign-our-rivers-tell-a-different-story ).

      And of course we cannot change the fact that the amount of excrements cattle and other livestock produce is far greater than that of all humans. I am quite tall and yet a dairy cow produces in one day almost the same mass of excrements as my own weight (a beef cow less, of course). Multiply that by the billions of farm animals and it’s a gigantic problem. Some of it is used as manure in a useful way but much of it is just polluting air, water and soils.”

      It’s caused by the mistaken belief that the best way to manage pollution is as a problem to be contained rather than a resource to be valued. All my excrement flows into the local watercourse, just upstream from one of those green dots – but it is filtered through a reedbed first.

    • 210Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 23rd, 2017

      “On the topic of methane, since you have written that you do not welcome any control of livestock emissions, perhaps you might have a certain amount of bias on this topic?

      What seems to me key is that methane emissions are rising, life on this planet is under terrible threat, ruminant livestock emit much methane and their products are not good for our health – so a wise course of action is pretty obvious!”

      No, I said that I’d welcome emissions controls based upon reliable data, not someone’s estimation. The fact that methane emissions plateaued for 7 years while global cattle numbers continued to rise suggests that they aren’t the most significant source and that we aren’t taking into account the effects of healthy soils in mitigating emissions.

      Contrary to your belief, I tend to think (and feel!) that these products are very good for my health, and my doctor is happy with the way I manage my health. But when it comes to personal health we should all do what works for us – we are all individuals and although health studies can produce a line of best fit through the population, most people will fall either side of that line.

    • 211Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 23rd, 2017

      Thanks for the links, as ever they are enlightening;

      “I don’t have time to send more info – and it’s complex! – but one message is clear: less methane and less nitrous oxide, as well as less CO2, is crucial.”

      Couldn’t agree more – emissions from livestock represents less energy converted into either food or soil carbon stores. Maintaining healthy soils, full or organic matter is key to addressing emissions from other sources. For farmers to ignore methane emissions is like turning the heating on and leaving the door open.

      http://www.sciencealert.com/adding-seaweed-to-cattle-feed-could-reduce-methane-production-by-70

    • 212Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 23rd, 2017

      I don’t understand your viewpoint on this one little bit. You seem to have given Tolly an awful lot of credit for doing less of the things I do on my farm and somehow coming up with a net positive effect that you claim is a negative effect when applied to my farm. Even though I have a greater variety of habitats, more trees, more hedges, more wetlands, more birds, more insects, more mammals, but less cultivation – the diversity in biodiversity. Considering Tolly is surrounded by cattle farming it seems reasonable to assume that much of that biodiversity is also utilising the grassland habitats that surround him. Last year I had 1% of the passage population of Whimbrel feeding up on my 20 acres – granted 1% isn’t a massive proportion but neither is 20 acres as a proportion to the 32192000 acres in England. Whimbrel favour land grazed tightly by cattle in their Spring passage to build up body mass in order to make it to Iceland where they breed. As Tolly seems to agree with keeping cattle in this way, only without the added advantage of gaining human food from them, then we must also attribute methane emissions from wild or semi-wild animals to his farm, as those emissions still exist as they are produced by the living animal, not just when we slaughter them for food. I believe that actions speak louder than words and if the veganic movement is to gain traction in terms of biodiversity then practitioners of the craft must being to put their ideas into practice, this means taking on the land and farming it themselves, in their own vision, not relying upon people like me to do it for them. Seeing biodiversity flourish is it’s own reward, so I don’t seek recognition, but it would be nice to receive some credit instead of having to constantly deflect criticism for increasing biodiversity.

      I’m amazed that you’ve used the presence of badgers as another stick to beat us with rather than having anything positive to say.

      “Tolly has managed to continually build organic matter levels without the use of external inputs” – except from the imported woodchip.

      I’m sure I could learn plenty about organic veg growing from him, and I’m sure he could learn a lot about habitat restoration from me but vice versa? Not so much. Let’s just stick to what we do best. I’m not going to criticise him for growing healthy organic vegetables and neither do I expect it from him for growing healthy organic beef while also promoting biodiversity. I merely aim to lead by example.

    • 213Annie Leymarie November 23rd, 2017

      I will be winding down this conversation. I have already quoted opinions from bona fide ecologists. I don’t for a second doubt that there is more biodiversity on your land than on an equivalent acreage of feedlot beef farm, for instance – but a shift away from cattle would have immensely greater benefits all around.

      You persist in ignoring crucial factors:

      1) Your herd emits greenhouse gases equivalent to several million miles of car driving per year (this is a conservative figure. A kilo of protein from British beef can cause more greenhouse gas emissions than a passenger flying from London to New York https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/22/festive-christmas-meal-long-haul-flight-meats-damaging-planet)

      2) Grazing beef is a highly inefficient land use (“Grazing is not just slightly inefficient; it is stupendously wasteful. Roughly twice as much of the world’s surface is used for grazing as for growing crops, yet animals fed entirely on pasture produce just 1 gram out of the 81 g of protein consumed per person per day. A paper in Science of the Total Environment reports that “livestock production is the single largest driver of habitat loss”. Grazing livestock are a fully automated system for ecological destruction” (http://www.monbiot.com/2017/10/06/the-meat-of-the-matter/)

      3) ‘Healthy beef’ is an oximoron: all health organisations, including the World Health Organisation (which doesn’t take any outside funding) are telling us to eat less red meat or none at all – whether organic or not.

      Here are the recent opinions from the Editor in Chief of the British Medical Journal and the ex-President of the American College of Cardiology (who famously said: “There are two kinds of cardiologists: vegans and those who haven’t read the data”). Both explain that the science is very strong and the obstacles to shifting diets away from meat have to do with cultural and marketing pressures:

      “Evidence continues to emerge linking high meat consumption with increased mortality (…)
      Earlier death is not the only concern for human health. A high meat economy brings with it accelerated sexual development and antibiotic resistance, together with shortages of food, and animal to human disease epidemics thrown in for good measure. As for the effects on the planet, water depletion, methane production, and pollution of air and groundwater are just the beginning. We must of course reduce the use of fossil fuels in transport, but livestock production outstrips this as a cause of climate change.

      What can doctors do? We can lead by example, as our predecessors did with smoking cessation, by reducing our own red meat consumption”. (Red meat – another inconvenient truth http://www.bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j2278 )

      “Evidence for the benefits of plant-based nutrition continues to mount. This now includes lower rates of stroke, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, obesity, myocardial infarction and mortality, as well as many non-cardiac issues that affect our patients in cardiology, ranging from cancer to a variety of inflammatory conditions.
      Challenges with the science are, however, less daunting to overcome than inertia, culture, habit and widespread marketing of unhealthy foods. Our goal must be to get data out to the medical community and the public where it can actually change lives”. (Introduction to the “A plant-based diet and cardiovascular disease” special issue https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5466935/ )

      If one insisted on keeping your land grazed and highly controlled by humans (of course nature’s inclination would be to grow more trees), we could have a much smaller stocking density of semi-wild ponies that are not ruminants, for instance. Or if we chose true rewilding we would also allow predators such as wolves (or lynxes – as might hopefully happen soon in the UK) that would keep the population of herbivores down. In scenarios away from livestock farming, wild ruminants would be smaller in size and in far smaller numbers than in farming.

      Another reason livestock farming has a much bigger climate impact than wild populations is that your animals are for ever young and growing, with a big appetite: as soon as they reach their adult size, or very soon after, they are slaughtered – so that their consumption of natural resources and their corresponding emissions are much higher than ‘natural’. Also the animals are removed from the land instead of being ‘recycled’ on it. In fact, carcasses and other waste are incinerated, adding to the already big carbon bill, as well as need to refrigerate already mentioned, etc etc

      You write “I’m amazed that you’ve used the presence of badgers as another stick to beat us with rather than having anything positive to say.” What on Earth do you want me to say that would be positive about the ridiculous badger cull – which needed mentioning in this conversation on livestock farming and ethics? The cull is once again showing the power of misinformation from the industry you work in. Sorry, but there are so many untruths to uncover – and I feel that your denial of many of them doesn’t help your cause!

    • 214Annie Leymarie November 23rd, 2017

      You write “I said that I’d welcome emissions controls based upon reliable data, not someone’s estimation”

      Much of climate science is based on some estimations, but this doesn’t stop clear scientific consensus.

      Respiration chambers are very good devices for measuring emissions from ruminants, and we don’t need one on every farm! There are other good methods too, as well as very sound peer-reviewed studies on carbon sequestration potentials from pastures. Clear conclusions have been drawn!
      The inspectors who assessed Tolhurt’s carbon balance didn’t reject estimations.

      Here is what scientists say:

      “Many good methods for measuring and estimating methane emissions from ruminants are already in use”. ( Methods for Measuring and Estimating Methane Emission from Ruminants https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4494326/)

      And (again, sigh!…)

      “We have sifted through the evidence. Most studies conclude that if you look at the amount of land used and greenhouse gas emissions produced per kilogram of meat, pasture-based cattle actually have a greater climate impact than animals fed grains and soy.

      Grazing livestock – even in a best-case scenario – are net contributors to the climate problem, as are all livestock. Good grazing management cannot offset its own emissions.

      Methane is emitted and continues to warm the planet for as long as cattle are still reared. The problem only disappears if ruminant production is abandoned.

      Grazing ruminants have historically driven deforestation and the carbon dioxide emissions associated with it.

      Whatever the system and animal type, rising animal production and consumption is driving damaging changes in land use and associated release of greenhouse gases. The more the demand for meat increases, the harder it will be to tackle our climatic and other environmental challenges.”

      (Why eating grass-fed beef isn’t going to help the climate https://theconversation.com/why-eating-grass-fed-beef-isnt-going-to-help-fight-climate-change-84237 )

      You write: “The fact that methane emissions plateaued for 7 years while global cattle numbers continued to rise suggests that they aren’t the most significant source and that we aren’t taking into account the effects of healthy soils in mitigating emissions”.

      Again, you are arguing like a climate change deniers would, ignoring and/or distorting the science.
      Let’s look at data from NASA. You will see on the last graph from this report (titled ‘Global methane emissions by source’) that enteric methane emissions are shown to have kept growing in the period you mention: https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/MethaneMatters/

      You write “when it comes to personal health we should all do what works for us”.

      It’s not that long ago that we saw medical doctors posing on advertisements for cigarettes, claiming they did wonders for them and they were in wonderful health!

      Our own health has huge repercussions on everyone else. Take for instance the fact that the UK has the highest level of obesity (38%) in Western Europe. “Along with smoking, obesity is one of the two main drivers behind the biggest killers of the modern world: cancers, heart attacks, strokes and diabetes”. (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/nov/10/uk-most-obese-country-in-western-europe-oecd-report-finds).
      In fact poor diet is by a long way the leading cause of death worldwide since the top one is high blood pressure and the two are correlated (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/sep/14/poor-diet-is-a-factor-in-one-in-five-deaths-global-disease-study-reveals and http://www.pcrm.org/health/health-topics/high-blood-pressure-hypertension ).

      The link between obesity – as well as all other major health problems in the Western world – and our consumption of meat and other animal-based food is well established (e.g. https://www.pcrm.org/nbBlog/stop-sugarcoating-obesitys-leading-causes). Obesity currently costs us, in the UK, at least £19 billion a year. The other health issues linked with the consumption of meat, dairy and eggs (cardiovascular, cancers, diabetes, Alzheimer, etc )cost us many more billions – and many trillions in the whole world. But these are just the financial costs. Of course there are other costs too, such as, just for obesity and excess weight, the extra greenhouse gas emissions from additional transport weight, food consumption, medical services .

      By choosing a carnivorous diet you are also directly affecting the health of others by increasing climate change, itself a major health issue (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs266/en/), as well as air pollution and resistance to antibiotics – both major health issues – and much else.

      No wonder there are so many studies showing the cobenefits of shifts away from meat and other animal-based food! I have already mentioned various papers written by health experts urging for such shifts. Here is yet another one:

      “Physicians should use their societal influence for the common good and advocate for healthy lifestyles and healthy public policies aligning efforts of medicine, public health, and planetary health. In moving towards a locally produced, biologically grown, plant-based diet, everyone can participate in promoting planetary ecosystem stability and global health” (Physicians’ responsibility for planetary health. The Lancet Planetary Health. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2542519617300232)

      Also:
      “Our recommendations focus on increasing the share of plant-based protein in diets while reducing consumption of animal-based protein, and beef specifically. By one estimate only 1% of gross cattle feed calories and 4% of ingested protein are converted to human-edible calories and protein, respectively.
      We demonstrate that these two diet shifts, if implemented at a wide scale, could make the most significant contribution to a sustainable food future. Shifting diets is indeed an an essential item on the menu for a sustainable food future”.
      Shifting Diets for a Sustainable Food Future. World Resources Institute. http://www.wri.org/sites/default/files/Shifting_Diets_for_a_Sustainable_Food_Future_1.pdf

      And:
      Plant-based diets could save millions of lives and dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions. Oxford Martin, http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/news/201603_Plant_based_diets

      And:
      “We reviewed the evidence. Reductions in environmental footprints are generally proportional to the magnitude of animal-based food restriction. Dietary shifts also yield benefits in all-cause mortality risk. The largest environmental benefits across all indicators are seen in diets with the lowest consumption in animal-based foods. Ranking of sustainable diet types show similar trends for land use and GHG emissions, with vegan diets having the greatest median reductions for both indicators (-45% and -51%, respectively).

      The Impacts of Dietary Change on Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Land Use, Water Use, and Health: A Systematic Review S http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0165797

      And:
      “Taxing red meat and other carbon-intensive items has the potential to be a global win-win policy”.
      Mitigation potential and global health impacts from emissions pricing of food commodities. Nature Climate Change
      http://www.anthropocenemagazine.org/2016/11/tax-on-meat-and-dairy-slashes-emissions-and-save-lives/

      And:
      “The production of beef emits 40 times more greenhouse gases than that of legumes (beans, peas, etc.). Substituting legumes for beef could account for 46 to 74 % of the US required greenhouse gas reductions and would also free 42 % cropland.”
      Substituting beans for beef as a contribution toward US climate change targets.
      https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-017-1969-1

      And:
      “It is found that in all circumstances and with all assumptions, some form of dietary change [away from meat and dairy consumption] will be necessary to reach EU climate change targets.”
      Protein futures for Western Europe: potential land use and climate impacts in 2050,. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10113-016-1013-4

    • 215Annie Leymarie November 23rd, 2017

      You’ve written about “the mistaken belief that the best way to manage pollution is as a problem to be contained rather than a resource to be valued. All my excrement flows into the local watercourse, just upstream from one of those green dots – but it is filtered through a reedbed first”.

      I am so glad you have managed to filter all “your excrement” (presumably not just yours?) through a reed bed. Well done! And I’d love to understand how this works for more solid excreta, where you place reed beds in relation to your 660+ acres and rivers, etc. If the solution is that simple, why aren’t you converting all your colleagues who keep polluting our waterways? What are you doing about air pollution? What happens to your carcasses?

      Some info here about the scale of the problem (with beef farms mentioned as the second major polluters after dairy farms in the UK).

      “An estimated 200 million tonnes of undiluted excreta are produced annually in UK [i.e. the same amount as that of untreated human excreta causing such a problem worldwide https://www.livescience.com/16713-7-billion-people-world-poop-problem.html%5D
      that’s 60% from grazing livestock, going straight onto grassland. Remaining 80 million tonnes collected from buildings for storage and spreading. Of this 50% handled as solid manure and 50% as slurries. The majority of total quantity of excreta is produced by cattle. Virtually all livestock waste is recycled to the land”. (http://www.ecifm.rdg.ac.uk/farm_waste.htm)

      As already shown in various references, worldwide the problem is huge, with eutrophication causing dead zones in oceans ( http://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/how-factory-farm-run-off-threatens-marine-life/) and killing all life in rivers (https://www.dairyherd.com/article/60000-fish-allegedly-killed-manure-iowa-dairy and in the UK http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/14942454.Stream_leading_to_River_Ouse_polluted_by_slurry_killing_hundreds_of_fish/ – as examples)

      Also shown before: in the UK there is one serious farm pollution incident reported every week (and plenty less serious ones – as well as even more that go on unreported.

      “Sheffield University environmental engineering professor David Lerner thinks the Environment Agency which regulates the problem in the UK must be reformed [Another article called it ‘toothless’]. ‘We need more frequent monitoring, more surprise visits, more volunteers,’ he told the Bureau. ‘If this problem grows we’ll be getting back to the situation where our rivers used to be killed by industrial and municipal waste. We sorted out that problem but we’ll replace sewage-related pollution with farm-related pollution.’
      Clearly, no one has a complete solution. However, given how serious the problem is, it seems appropriate to try every possible fix.” (Toxic byproducts from farms are destroying our environment https://futurism.com/toxic-byproducts-from-farms-are-destroying-our-environment/ ).

    • 216Annie Leymarie November 23rd, 2017

      You write: “You gave a very poor summary of what AI is and enables us to do “

      Please specify about my poor summary (which wasn’t a summary) – and I know only too well what AI enables you to do!

      Let’s not forget that the start of this part of our conversation was triggered by your statement that “[Farm] animals tend to breed themselves without human intervention”.

      You write: “You cannot serve a cow (successfully) by doing it against her will, as she needs to be in standing heat”.

      So it’s OK to rape a woman, for instance, as long as you do it at the right time in her cycle, when some physical signs are exhibited? These signs will prove that she is willing for anyone to do anything to her and her vagina – and get her pregnant from anyone? (https://www.livescience.com/10828-booty-call-spot-fertile-woman.html)

      It’s interesting to see how farmers debate among themselves how to spot the right time for AI. One writes for instance:

      “It’s a female. Doesn’t matter what species. Don’t try and make any sense of em. Hormones….”
      (https://thefarmingforum.co.uk/index.php?threads/in-calf-cow-and-standing-heat.48222/)

      I firmly believe that in the very welcome media opening about abuse to women (and some men too), we should be adding to the slogan ‘Me too!’ another one: ‘Moo too!’

      The way you continue describing AI only confirms the problems with a controlling patriarchal mentality that objectifies fellow animals as well as women and has been all-pervasive but is now, at long last, showing major cracks.

      “The AI technician does nothing that a bull doesn’t”. That’s all of romance and sex sorted, then! We’re fully ready for our romantic, sex and family lives to be controlled by robots who will make all decisions on our behalf. Hallelujah!

      “Farmers use AI for a variety of reasons, not least so they can choose genetics from bulls they don’t own”. Perfect. Let’s force-breed humans with gorillas as it will bring up desirable genetic traits.

    • 217Annie Leymarie November 23rd, 2017

      You write “People can make their own choices about dairy, I just want them to make it based upon accurate information, which all too often they don’t.”

      Indeed! Lots of relevant information for instance on the website ‘White Lies’ from Viva (https://www.whitelies.org.uk/) I encourage any reader to keep very alert and curious about facts, where they come from and who funds them.

      There’s a nice very short video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcN7SGGoCNI&t=22s

    • 218Annie Leymarie November 23rd, 2017

      You write “I suspect that if we all lived a more natural life we would have stronger immune systems and ability to fight infections. And the same goes for both humans and animals.”

      Agreed! Let’s re-watch the short film I’ve just re-discovered about some ways we can avoid an unnatural life (and animals too!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcN7SGGoCNI

    • 219Annie Leymarie November 23rd, 2017

      You write “The solution is to stop putting those pollutants out there in the first place. They are persistent so it is impossible to avoid them once they are out there. The animals have accumulated them through eating plants therefore we will too. The article doesn’t even hint at the levels of toxins filtered out by the animals – toxins that many plants naturally produce to protect themselves from being eaten”.

      As always, you are more than welcome to substantiate your claims with evidence – that would help! As to stopping the pollutants, that’s a terrific idea, but in the meantime, how about avoiding ingesting them?

      You write: “As for the second article, it is highly biased, coming from the pro-vegan PCRM. I believe you do more harm to health by avoiding fats than by eating highly nutritious organic food”.

      The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is not pro-vegan, it is pro-health and pro-truth. As I have already shown you, there are many plant-based food items that it does not recommend at all (e.g. most plant oils, as shown before). It is also very critical of much vegan processed food, etc. If it mostly advocates a whole food plant-based diet, it is precisely because it not biased and dares to go against prevailing industry-funded bias. PCRM is not funded by the meat, dairy, egg nor any other food nor any pharmaceutical nor any other industries and it doesn’t endorse any.

      PCRM founder, Dr Neil Barnard, has published more than 62 peer-reviewed papers without ever any conflict of interests (http://www.pcrm.org/media/experts/neal-barnard-publications).

      PCRM has some 12,000 physicians on board – not just Barnard! – and is funded by 150,000 members such a myself with an interest in getting to the truth in nutrition, without bias.

      As to “doing harm to one’s health by avoiding fats” – of course it depends what fat and how much fat – (and there’s been serious debate on these issues recently: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/apr/25/saturated-fats-heart-attack-risk-low-fat-foods-cardiologists)

      … but the point was about pollution and the fact that persistent organic pollutants remain in animal fatty food – which is not put in question (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3408385/).

    • 220Rosewood Farm's Rob November 24th, 2017

      OK, by your opening paragraph you mean to discredit my information by suggesting that any ecologist who suggests cattle is not bona fide – perhaps you need to do some wider reading.

      1) I have not ignored emissions, I have raised several points about the limitations of such an approach throughout this discussion that YOU have chosen to ignore. These include the fact that the land on which the animals live sequesters carbon – cars do not. The fact that if you destroy the grassland habitat for crops you emit emissions from the soil. The fact that if you maintain the grassland be reintroducing wild herbivores the emissions remain. The fact that fossil fuels are fossil carbon while the emissions from (my) cattle are part of the carbon cycle from the atmosphere. You are applying reductionist science to a holistic (natural) scenario – if you only measure one small part of one small part of a natural ecosystem then it is possible to draw conclusions that only apply to that one small part, and not the system as a whole.

      2) “Grazing beef is a highly inefficient land use” – it is if you are only concerned with one tiny part of life on Earth – your own (human) stomach. There is more to life (and ecology) than feeding greedy humans. When you consider how the cattle are part of system that involves millions of other organisms you find that it is highly efficient. This your reductionist humans-are-the-most-important-species thinking at work.

      3) You are welcome to believe that if you wish – like I’ve always said, I’m not trying to make you eat meat if you don’t wish to but it is a terribly anthro-centric position to take. It’s clearly not that unhealthy as even with the industrial model of food production that most people subscribe to, we are still seeing people living longer. You want them to live even longer, that’s also fine, but I maintain that more people living on this planet on your ‘more efficient’ diet is not sustainable, whether they die younger or not.

      Now, rewilding, my area – I’m glad you managed to raise your amazing arrogance on this subject as it shows that you are making lots of assumptions rather than asking – it’s clear that you know already so need I bother refuting what you say?
      “What on Earth do you want me to say that would be positive about the ridiculous badger cull – which needed mentioning in this conversation on livestock farming and ethics?” – I never mentioned the badger cull, I didn’t particularly want to say anything about it as it wasn’t relevant to what we were talking about. I visited the massive sett today as it happens while checking my cattle and it’s clear the badgers are doing very well. With no predators and no cull here, that is not surprising, but as you have expressed an interest in reintroducing apex predators it would seem that you are more in favour of a cull than I am, albeit a cull by non-human predator.

      I really wish I could post pictures in my replies as a picture is worth a thousand words, you can see many pictures on my blog, however; http://www.rosewood.farm/blog

      You appear to have fallen into the ‘more trees’ trap of rewilding – I take it you haven’t visited Lincolnshire (or read much on the history of the UK landscape), one of the most productive counties for human-food, and also very few trees. Meanwhile, back in my home ground, most of the placenames are associated with trees – Ellers, Oaks, Hawthorns, such is the association with trees in this livestock rich area. Today, walking through heathland, terribly inefficient for cattle, as you say, but full of trees.

      Wild ponies – correctly not ruminants, they are hind gut fermenters, like rabbits, but in some stages of this discussion you have expressed a desire to have more wild herbivores, and now less. It’s all rather confusing. Fewer herbivores would indeed produce fewer emissions, but less grazing would also reduce the amount of active growth. As you say, younger animals take more in than mature ones – and the same goes for trees! Grasses that aren’t grazed will also take in less CO2 as they are not actively grazing the mature leaf material, nor are they trampling it into the ground as my cattle too and locking it up in soil biomass where the herbivores can’t access it. But at least what growth does occur will just oxidise and be released straight back to the atmosphere.

      So, I guess that my wild ponies will also, somehow, be planet-damaging when you find out about them. Perhaps your wild ponies will produce no methane while mine do?

      Thanks for the reminder about waste & composting too – I find it a little annoying that you seem to be implying that I advocate not returning the waste to the land and instead incinerating it. Seems odd, as that is exactly what Tolly moved *away* from doing, but anyway. I went past the farm where I used to work today (the one with the five massive refrigerated sheds for storing potatoes) and they have diversified into composting. Lots of waste goes in, including animal parts that are composted and returned to the land – that seems like a much more sustainable future than you advocate (though I’m sure you can’t move for dead animals in Tolly’s plot, given the amount of biodiversity there).

      And refrigeration – I took a walk around the supermarket yesterday and noticed how many of the shelves in the fruit & veg department were refrigerated – you were right, thanks for that, I didn’t realise myself that this too would prove my point.

    • 221Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 26th, 2017

      “You write “I suspect that if we all lived a more natural life we would have stronger immune systems and ability to fight infections. And the same goes for both humans and animals.”

      Agreed! Let’s re-watch the short film I’ve just re-discovered about some ways we can avoid an unnatural life (and animals too!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcN7SGGoCNI

      Ahh, you’ve rediscovered the vegan propaganda – well done you. Sorry, I was under the impression that we were having a sensible discussion here.

    • 222Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 26th, 2017

      And more propaganda – you’re on a roll now, you’re losing respect rapidly now. Come back to me when you’ve grasped the concept of AI not increasing fecundity & I’ll take you seriously.

    • 223Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 26th, 2017

      You’re equating AI with raping a woman now? I guess giving a cow access to a bull constitutes something different to ‘letting nature take it’s course’ then? If you think of animals as humans then we’re never going to get anywhere as cattle are not humans and it is important to recognise them as animals in their own right. I’d love to see your uptopia where we’re all like Tolly, growing our veg with wild cattle running around, not breeding because they couldn’t manage it without human help…

    • 224Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 27th, 2017

      So tell me, if PCRM is not pro-vegan, then how many times has PCRM or Dr Barnard released any data suggesting that plant based foods may be less than optimal for us?

      As regards stopping ingesting domestic pollutants – I do, I’m not sure where you got the idea that I was seeking out pollutants.

      I’m not sure what you’re asking for evidence of – protective plant toxins? Or the detox capabilities of these compounds by animal livers & kidneys? Or the millennia of plant breeding that has reduced the levels of these compounds in modern crop varieties?

    • 225Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 27th, 2017

      Clearly you can’t be holding me responsible for all the pollution incidents in the world just as you wouldn’t blame Tolly for all the sediments & nitrates reaching our waterways. As I have shown, pollution is monitored and tested, and good results can be achieved with farm livestock just as it can with humans.

      Reedbed systems are increasingly popular on farms these days, and I’m happy to lead by example. The effluent passes through the reedbed solids are collected in a conventional enclosed septic tank. The cattle waste, that which isn’t deposited on the land to provide food for up to 250 different species of invertebrates, which in turn feed many farmland & wading birds, bats and mammals, is composted before being spread on the land in a similar fashion.

      As a traditional floodplain farm maintaining the grasslands that border our rivers are an integral part of protecting the river from pollution and particularly sediments from cultivated land. The same, I imagine, as the meadows that surround the Hardwick estate – as I believe the Thames is now a much cleaner river than it once was. If it’s anything like here it will be benefiting greatly with species such as otter and Kingfishers doing well.

      However, I’m clearly not doing enough to satisfy your own high standards, so tell me more about what you’re doing to restore former livestock land?

    • 226Annie Leymarie November 28th, 2017

      You’ve nailed it! “Cattle are animals in their own rights”, just like we are!

      (Perhaps time to watch Yuval Noah Harari again: http://www.ynharari.com/role-scientists-debate-animal-welfare/ )

    • 227Annie Leymarie November 28th, 2017

      Even our conservative Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, agrees! Speaking in the House of Commons on 20 July, he said:

      “Before we entered the European Union, we recognised in our own legislation that animals were sentient beings. I am an animal, we are all animals, and therefore I care— I am predominantly herbivorous, I should add.”

    • 228Rosewood Farm's Rob November 28th, 2017

      “You’ve nailed it! “Cattle are animals in their own rights”, just like we are!”

      Misquoting me again, I see.

    • 229Annie Leymarie November 28th, 2017

      You wrote: “cattle are not humans and it is important to recognise them as animals in their own right”.

      Thank you for giving me another chance to spell it out: cattle are indeed mammals in their own right, just like we are, with a very strong and long-lasting mother-to-baby bond, high intelligence and a wide range of emotions, sensations and feelings that largely overlap with ours. Even beef farmers recognise their high intelligence (though the intelligence of a farmer who admits that hey don’t like sending their beloved cows to death but have to do it or otherwise they wouldn’t have cows… might need reassessing!)

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/intelligent-inquisitive-loving-secret-life-cows/

    • 230Rosewood Farm's Rob November 28th, 2017

      You now seem to be implying that I have denied that cattle are cattle!? A (cattle) farmer knows better than anyone what cattle are – it was your suggestion that cattle are, essentially, the same as humans which is the anomally here. We must appreciate cattle for being cattle and not constantly try to make them into something that they aren’t. They have different breeding strategies to humans and are highly perseptive in some respects, and less so in others. That said, cattle have many similarities to humans too, many of which we have sought to deny in our own species out of convention and (modern) culture eg allosuckling, which is pretty taboo in most human societies.

    • 231Rosewood Farm's Rob November 28th, 2017

      He said that humans are animals, not that animals are human – there’s a big difference.

      He also said that he was predominately herbivorous, or in other words omnivourous, as are most humans. Although, of course, in the case of ruminants they are also farmers, digesting the ruminal bacteria that allow them to extract energy from cellulose, so to call them vegan would be a tad disingenuous as the majority of their nutrition (unless fed grain or other starchy plants) comes from animal, rather than plant cells. Apologies if this is a bit beyond your ken, but it is an important biological similarity to humans.

    • 232Annie Leymarie November 28th, 2017

      Oh dear.
      Bacteria are not animals (but humans are, and as such also carry loads of bacteria – all animals do!).
      And the cows don’t exactly slaughter the bacteria :

      “Cows and their gut microbes are an example of symbiosis – two organisms living together. The relationship between cows and their gut microorganisms is mutualistic. This means that both organisms benefit from the relationship. The microbes get a suitable place to live and a supply of food delivered to their door.” (Wikipedia)

    • 233Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose November 28th, 2017

      Oh really, do you misquote everyone in life? I didn’t say that bacteria are animals but have animals cells – OK, that’s a bit simplistic my point being that they are digesting the bacteria without which they couldn’t digest the cellulose.

      Likewise;

      “Cows and humans are an example of symbiosis – two organisms living together. The relationship between cows and humans is mutualistic. This means that both organisms benefit from the relationship. The cows get a suitable place to live and a supply of food delivered to their door.”

    • 234Bonce November 30th, 2017

      I have been watching the messages on this debate. I have watched this film and yes it is extremely disturbing I can only assume that the film resulted in a prosecution by the RSPCA. If not why not?

      As to the rest, it is all very thought provoking. Again I point out that not all country, soil, climate is easy to cultivate. I do believe that local food is the best. I spend 5 hours a day, 365 days a year providing a balanced diet for 3 and all heating, cooking and hot water. Although this would actually heat more than 3 and therefore, is an argument for communes. However, I wonder if everyone out there would be prepared to do this for annual wages that merely cover the cost of food and heat?

      Yes I do get the under-valued benefits of freedom, in lovely, if fairly inhospitable working conditions, and plenty of fresh air and exercise.

      Farmers do not get paid the true cost of food, animal or vegetable, hence subsidies that result, inevitably, in poor farming practise. People are not willing to pay the cost of food which is why it is now cheaper than almost ever before, most people spending far more on holidays which are considered essential.

      If farmers were paid a worthwhile wage then there would be easier for them to perform to higher standards. I must point out that the NFU is NOT representative of ALL farmers, merely large farmers.

      I think all the arguments show confusion and lack of understanding of the main issues. If diet was solely a matter of nutrients then we could all just keep popping pills at what carbon foot print? I understand that a Vegan diet is often deficient in the following; Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Long-Chain Omega-3s, Iodine, Iron, Calcium, & Zinc.

      Other people talk glibly about growing trees, again it depends where you are. For example I have been trying to grow Hazel Nuts as an alternative protein source for 16 years & haven’t achieved a single nut yet. Where I live, at 1,000 ft. is also very wet and this has a direct knock on to how productive the soil is – the wet keeping the ground cold for longer in the Spring than elsewhere many nutrients being washed away, manure – human/livestock has the best results, being careful about run off as I now have a number of wildlife ponds to look after too. It is very easy to provide glib criticisms and answers without actually having done things yourselves. Go somewhere other than the south and try it yourselves.

    • 235Annie Leymarie November 30th, 2017

      Hi Bonce. Many thanks for joining in but sorry I can’t spend much longer on this thread at the moment as I’m just too busy! No prosecution by the RSPCA from the (Canadian) film because it only shows routine practices. Farm animals are not treated in any way like companion animals are. What I wrote about dairy farming that angered Rob the beef farmer is entirely correct (even if I used one word normally applied to humans only). Here is a film about the UK industry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=631&v=dvtVkNofcq8

      You write: “Not not all country, soil, climate is easy to cultivate”. “I do believe that local food is the best”. I agree, but if we look at climate change, other environmental emergencies and our growing health problems – as well as Brexit – we need to make major changes to agriculture and food supply mechanisms fast!

      Yes of course communal living and growing makes much sense! Creating sharing communities, reclaiming commons, finding alternatives to the current economic system, all of these are essential processes to our future resilience! I believe Dave Darby who wrote the initial article here (and sadly never replied to my comments to his article, which seemed to have been deleted) is on the Board of the Ecological Land Cooperative – their emphasis is not on communal living but still they look into such possibilities. I was very involved for a number of years with the Transition Town movement – and also with other community growing projects – for instance creating community orchard and forest gardens where I used to live. There are many worthwhile initiatives happening on those lines…

      And yes for sure farming needs to be better remunerated, especially for small holders, but also better regulated, with incentives to do the right things for the environment and for healthy food production! And yes also I wish we could pass on the message to more people that if they spent more on their food they could avoid massive costs from health problems, etc. But also some studies have shown that in fact healthier diets don’t cost more than junk ones so information and education come into it to a great extent (https://iea.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Cheap-as-Chips-PDF.pdf ).

      I fully agree about nutrients being far less important than the bigger picture with nutrition. And someone who has been saying this for a very long time is a scientist who many think should get a Nobel prize for his ground-breaking work on the benefits of whole food plant-based diets – T Colin Campbell. Here’s are recent blog post by him where he, once again, says exactly that (he’s not the best writer in the world): http://nutritionstudies.org/scientific-reductionism-detracts-whole-food-plant-based-message/ .

      The only added nutrient needed on a vegan diet is B12 – which is routinely added to livestock feed. We used to get enough of it when we had more contact with the soil and bacterias in it, as animals do. Most of us in this part of the world need vitamin D in the winter – unless we spend enough time outdoors – not just vegans. These days it’s easy to get vitamin D from mushrooms, for instance. Everything else can easily be provided by plant food.

      Re trees: I am sorry you didn’t succeed with hazel. I wish there was so much more research and support in the UK! I was brought up in Switzerland, in very wet and cold Geneva, and we used to grow very nice hazel cobs in our garden there! Below are some words by someone in Ireland. I don’t know where you live!

      You write; “It is very easy to provide glib criticisms and answers” – please be a bit more specific, that’s rather vague and I don’t know what you are alluding to!

      “Fruitandnut.ie nursery at the Sustainable Institute, Westport, Co Mayo
      “There is a perception that not many fruits or nuts will grow in Ireland, but the biggest limiting factors are the lack of knowledge or accurate information, and the dearth of ongoing research.
      “For the last number of years I’ve been researching disease-resistant and dampness-tolerant varieties of fruit and nut that have the potential to do well here – plants from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Russia and western France. Norway is significant because in spite of long winters and a short growing season the farmers produce commercial quantities of apples, plums, cherries, some pears and a wide range of berries.
      “Conventional agriculture in Ireland is massively dependent on imported animal feedstuffs – something in the region of two million tonnes each year – not to mention a few hundred thousand tonnes of imported fertilisers. Both are predicated on the availability and affordability of oil. Nut crops are more immune to things like oil prices or poor weather at harvest time.
      (https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/people/get-cracking-and-grow-some-nuts-1.1358453)

    • 236Dave Darby November 30th, 2017

      Hi Annie
      That’s a mystery. We don’t delete comments unless they’re abusive, and I’ve checked, and none of yours have gone into the trash folder.

    • 237Rosewood Farm's Rob November 30th, 2017

      Annie, you’ve said several times that you don’t have time to respond to this thread but you keep coming back almost as quickly – I don’t think anyone believes that any longer so you may as well stop saying it.

      I wasn’t ‘angered’ by your wilful ignorance about animal biology and the dairy industry so much as exasperated by your resistance to information and logic.

      Like Bonce I’m also wondering about what you actually do/have done. You keep posting studies to suggest what others should be doing but very little input on a practical level. I’d love to see more people achieving what you claim is possible as it would show that it can work.

      I have invested my life into pursuing a farming system that I believe is the most sustainable for wildlife and it’s achieving good results. Iain Tolhurst has done the same with his own beliefs and systems, and if we are to achieve a sustainable food system I believe that we need to work together so that farms like ours are what prevails against the more prevalent industrial growing systems. But ordinary people are not going to be convinced by multiple studies, as it has to work on a practical and financial level so we need to see more working examples covering larger acreages otherwise the counter argument will always be that organic farming can only work on a small scale.

    • 238Andrew Rollinson November 30th, 2017

      Rob, in response to your latest comment about Annie, only one person here has displayed ignorance about animal biology, and it is you. I stopped contributing early on when I saw how you were shifting between arguments, not receptive, and responding using non-sequitur.
      In pedagogy, it is common for some people to have threshold concepts where their views are so entrenched that they cannot make a shift beyond what “they believe” even when the scientific proof is laid before them. As you say, you “believe” that your farming methods are achieving good results, or at least you have a business model to defend.
      I do not wonder what Annie does. I wonder though how she had the time and patience to persevere with this. She is right to back away for many reasons. There is only so much that someone can do if a student refuses to go beyond their threshold concept, and she has eloquently and rigorously laid before you all the science. I stopped after two posts, so she deserves credit for persevering.
      Andrew

    • 239Annie Leymarie November 30th, 2017

      Hi Dave, I assumed you’d fully left the discussion. Mystery indeed, as my response to your article wasn’t long and I remember seeing it fleetingly, a few days after writing it, as I was responding to someone else, with the mention ‘awaiting moderation’ , or something similar. I have much appreciated you starting this discussion and found your comments very thoughtful. Maybe I’ll respond again – though quite busy at the moment! Thanks and best wishes!

    • 240Joshua Msika November 30th, 2017

      I have enjoyed the debate going on here, and I find myself siding more with Rob, contrary to some of the other commenters. But I would suggest that the argument is setting up a false dichotomy between systems that are actually quite similar. I would (controversially?) argue that Tolhurst’s stockfree organics and Rob’s conservation grazing have more similarities than differences when compared to the industrial methods of “food” production.

      The key here for me is that some farming/land-use systems build soil, biodiversity and ecosystem health while others destroy it (of course, in reality it’s a spectrum). What kind of food they produce depends entirely on their climate, landform and the skills and interests of the farmers.

    • 241Dave Darby November 30th, 2017

      I noticed that a lot of posts on this thread were going into moderation, and I think it was because of the number of links in the posts – wordpress tends to think that posts with lots of links are spammers. I’ve set it now so that hopefully, no-one who’s successfully posted before will be moderated. I’ve approved everything in moderation though, so don’t know what happened to your posts, sorry.

    • 242Dave Darby November 30th, 2017

      ‘I would suggest that the argument is setting up a false dichotomy between systems that are actually quite similar. I would (controversially?) argue that Tolhurst’s stockfree organics and Rob’s conservation grazing have more similarities than differences when compared to the industrial methods of “food” production.’

      Hear hear.

    • 243Joshua Msika December 1st, 2017

      Cheers. And I would therefore argue that making meat from people like Rob a bigger part of my diet is an effective way of giving the middle finger to the industrial food complex.

      The more I can eat (plant and animal) from local producers who care for the domestic species, soils and ecosystems that they work with, the better. In my area, there are more meat producers than vegetable producers that fit into that category, so I am learning to eat more meat. It’s delicious as well…

      It’s basically about what you’re displacing. To me, if supermarket veg is displacing supermarket meat, that’s positive. If it’s displacing non-industrial meat, that’s negative. Supermarkets and the industrial food supply are the problem.

    • 244Dave Darby December 1st, 2017

      Exactly – that’s what we’re trying to promote with Lowimpact – alternatives to the corporate model, and not just for food. Independent, local, small-scale, co-operative, non-corporate, sustainable – which includes DIY as well as small businesses. As the original article was trying to point out, we don’t see the dichotomy as between meat vs vegan, but as non-corporate and sustainable vs corporate and environmentally-damaging (usually), exploitative (almost always), cruel (often), undemocratic (always) and extrative (always). We’re happy to host debates about meat-eating, but that’s a philosophical / ethical debate rather than an ecological one. Our focus is on sustainability, and it’s possible to produce meat sustainably (like Rob), although it usually isn’t.

    • 245Annie Leymarie December 1st, 2017

      Hi Joshua, Dave, Andrew: welcome to the conversation, though I’m short of time at the moment so may not respond at length!

      Joshua, you are leaving out key factors in your analysis: Climate change, land use, environmental impacts, human health, efficiency, economics, wildlife – and more.

      Climate expert Kevin Anderson confirmed this week that “we are rushing headlong towards oblivion”. The very high methane and nitrous oxide emissions from extensive beef farming, and its huge land use footprint, cannot be compensated by any carbon uptake from the land (which are always short-term anyway). In contrast, Tolhurst’s method of food production is highly climate-friendly and efficient in land use. That in itself should be a decisive element!

      George Monbiot explains that when we choose grass-fed beef over meat from industrial farms “we swap one disaster – mass cruelty – for another: mass destruction”. (http://www.monbiot.com/2017/10/06/the-meat-of-the-matter/ ).

      We have romanticised what looks like bucolic images of cows on green meadows because we can’t see climate change taking place (nor most other pollution), but isn’t it time to wake up to the urgency of the situation?

      Tolhust’s system avoids other environmental problems inherent to cattle farming: air pollution from ammonia, particular matter and methane, thus also ground ozone (farming, not cars, is the single biggest cause of major air pollution, with manure a key factor https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/17/farming-is-single-biggest-cause-of-worst-air-pollution-in-europe); water pollution form manure runoff; tree seedlings being grazed (whereas Tolhurst has planted many trees right amidst his crops); the use of antibiotics adding to antibiotic resistance, etc,

      Red meat is clearly harmful to our health, as evidenced by hundreds of studies. Here is just one published this week, which shows that at least 42% of cancers in the US (and probably a lot more, say the authors) are due to avoidable factors among which is consumption of red meat, next to tobacco https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29160902.

      For cardiovascular problems, the number one killer, the evidence is just as strong. When President of the American College of Cardiology, professor Kim Williams said: “There are two types of cardiologists: vegans, and those who haven’t read the data”. Red meat consumption is also linked to all the other major non-communicable health problems: diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer, etc., and this health burden causes yet more greenhouse gas emissions and economic problems.

      Rob has written several times on these pages that “we are consuming more vegetables than we used to”. The opposite is true. Sadly in the UK the consumption of vegetables has declined – even though eating more would have considerable benefits for our well-being, the economy and the environment.

      The UK currently imports more than 80% of its vegs and 40% of its fruit. Professor Tim Lang keeps warning us of the immense risks our current food system entails. He co-writes in ‘A food Brexit – Time to get real’:

      “From a food perspective, it’s certain that more UK land could and should be used to produce crops for direct human use. (…) It should begin a transition towards a more ecologically efficient food system, while rebuilding food security and supply. This requires a stronger focus on plants rather than animals. This would also help meet health guidelines, which recommend more plant-based diets rather than a reliance on meat and dairy products. A recent meta-analysis even suggested that the optimal health advice might not be 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, which the UK currently fails to reach, but nearer ten a day”. (https://www.sussex.ac.uk/webteam/gateway/file.php?name=foodbrexitreport-langmillstonemarsden-july2017pdf.pdf&site=25)

      Another reason beef farming is less efficient than veg farming is that more matter is regularly removed from the land. Tolhurst removes veg and fruit but he leaves residues in situ or composts them to enrich the soil. He can also compost all veg peelings and use other waste such as wood chippings, etc. In fact he can potentially operate a close loop recycling system with humanure – and being on a plant-based diet, his own poo is particularly ‘healthy’ (vegans’ poo is ‘gold standard’ https://www.plantbasednews.org/post/vegans-your-poop-is-solid-gold-heres-why).

      Today top organic grower Guy Watson from Riverford Organic has admitted to “finally seeing the light about the advantages of compost versus animal manure”. And when compost is made entirely from plant materials, as Tolhurst makes it, the obstacles Guy Watson mentions entirely disappear: https://www.riverford.co.uk/blog/.

      In contrast a beef farmer has to get rid of carcasses, which are, at best, incinerated (causing – guess what – more greenhouse gases and pollution). And not just carcasses! Rob himself has written on these pages that “most UK offal now goes to China, although an awful lot is also incinerated, as it isn’t worth removing”.

      Wildlife: Cattle farmers have pushed for the killing of tens of thousands of badgers (shot at night, often wounded, families displaced and much havoc caused) despite zero reliable evidence that this is in any way solving the problem of chronic tuberculosis in UK cattle herds (caused by the dreadful conditions cattle, especially dairy cows, are kept in).

      Finally: farming is undeniably hard work. But which job do you think is healthier: working in a slaughterhouse (unavoidable in beef farming) or picking veg and fruit? The former job is clearly inhumane – but also for the humans involved! See https://yaleglobalhealthreview.com/2016/01/25/a-call-to-action-psychological-harm-in-slaughterhouse-workers/ Can you deny the reality on what is shown in this film as taking place in UK slaughterhouses? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvtVkNofcq8&t=716s

      But even if we just looked at two aspects – climate change and health – how can such crucial facts be ignored whilst claiming to be supporting ethics and sustainability?

    • 246Annie Leymarie December 1st, 2017

      Thank you so much for your support, Andrew! This is really heart-warming as I know that my own debating skills can improve. I have been persevering certainly not to try and convince Rob but because I care, for justice and for life on Earth, and I am dismayed to see so many very intelligent people remaining misinformed on food issues – some choosing to be so. Ii thought that if someone else per chance ventured on these pages it was worth countering the misinformation displayed here. Indeed we see now that Dave, the author of the article, has been following the debate to some extent. I feel very sad that my initial response to him has vanished somewhere and that I now have to start all over again digging scientific evidence because my points were not answered as I laid them out, one by one, to Rob (you might see my response to Dave and Joshua posted today).

      Someone I hold in high esteem is George Monbiot for his ability to publicly change his mind on an issue when he examines new evidence and his theory doesn’t hold any more – which is what happened with his one-time favourite omnivorous diet. He is of course much more eloquent than I am and we need more courageous and bright people like him prepared to look carefully at the science and other forms of information and dare to go against social norms. I feel the situation on Earth demands it!

    • 247Annie Leymarie December 1st, 2017

      Dave you wrote: “debates about meat-eating are philosophical / ethical debate rather than ecological” and “It’s possible to produce meat sustainably (like Rob)”.

      I applaud your overall aims and certainly share them (or I wouldn’t be writing here) but with respect to the above sentences, I look forward to reading your responses to my arguments about climate change, land use, air pollution, water pollution, human health and much else.

      If you are serious about wanting a genuine debate, please also look back at the many dozens of relevant scientific references I have posted elsewhere on this thread. It’s rather frustrating to have to start all over again! Meanwhile, I’ll try and find the time to re-write my initial response to your article which has bizarrely disappeared (but am currently pushed with time!).

      As to the dichotomy you mention between the ethical and ecological perspectives, here is what acclaimed author Yuval Noah Harari has to say about it (essentially that you can’t have an ethical debate unless the scientific facts are recognised first):
      http://www.ynharari.com/role-scientists-debate-animal-welfare/

    • 248Dave Darby December 1st, 2017

      Hi Annie
      I used to live at Redfield community, where we had (and they still have) sheep, pigs, chickens and bees (and I’ve visited other communities and organic farms where they had a few cows). There was no manure runoff – it’s a valuable resource and it all went back to the soil. Chickens ate waste scraps and free-ranged. Pigs were in the woods. We planted thousands of trees. The animals didn’t eat any seedlings, and we didn’t pump them with antibiotics or hormones. We also had extensive gardens, polytunnel, woodland, orchards, soft fruit and a pond. And the places we know/knew didn’t incinerate any carcasss or kill any badgers, and don’t take calves away from mothers. The abbatoirs in the youtube video are production lines for supermarkets, and neither we, nor anyone else we know, would use places like that. We / the people we know prefer to kill animals at home, swiftly and without them ever knowing – although we did also use a small, local abbatoir.
      I think that generally, abbatoirs are problematic because I think that intelligent animals like pigs know what’s going to happen to them; and, as you say, what’s it going to do to you psychologically if your job is killing animals all day?
      I’m certainly not advocating extensive animal farming – just a few animals on mixed smallholdings, although smallholdings with no animals are great too.
      I’m not 100% with Rob, however, as I’d like to see not just a move to sustainable meat production, but a huge reduction in meat-eating overall, which the dismantling of industrial agriculture would necessitate.
      The kind of agriculture I’d like to see (and again, I think I might differ from Rob), would mean forested uplands (producing timber, firewood, charcoal, and possibly as much meat – although pork not lamb – as the uplands do now), and mixed lowland smallholdings with no more animals in total (and their methane and ammonia production) than have been lost from the wild through human ‘development’.
      We could all spend days, weeks and months swapping studies that show that eating meat is either healthy or dangerous (and everything will change in a few years, as it always does with food). As long as it’s eaten in moderation, surely it’s not a problem – we evolved eating meat, and our ancestors have eaten meat for millions of years.
      I agree with you on veg consumption. DEFRA figures show that veg consumption is much the same as the mid-70s, but has fallen in the last 10 years. I’d like to see us produce more of our own.
      Of course we’re headed for environmental disaster, and I’m with you in combating industrial agriculture, but sustainable meat production in forested uplands and mixed organic smallholdings is the wrong target, I think, in a world where the human population will have gone from 3 to 10 billion in one lifetime, we have a countryside doused in pesticides, plastics are everywhere and every country in the world is chasing economic growth.

    • 249Dave Darby December 1st, 2017

      Sorry, just noticed your first post. I watched the Yuval Harari video and agree with him entirely. His arguments apply to industrial animal agriculture, and not the the kind of animal agriculture that I’d ever be associated with.

    • 250Annie Leymarie December 1st, 2017

      Hi Dave
      I know we are on the same wavelength for most things in life. I have many delightful friends in communities such as Redfield. Until recently I lived in Totnes where I have spent much time at Landmatters (permaculture community) – with their goats, pigs, poultry, bees and ponies, for instance. A very good friend of mine is Larch Maxey, whom you are likely to know through the Ecological Land Coop. I applaud most of what you stand for and I am not a hardline ‘black-and-white’ vegan! But I do feel passionate about looking carefully at evidence.

      So my beef here is not with a few chicken or bees (in fact I might encourage chicken ownership as pets instead of cats, for instance) but specifically with a big beef business – 150 cattle, 600+ acres (average beef cattle herd size in England is 27 head) which you are officially promoting, despite the farmer insisting we all need to eat more red meat. As a tax payer I am subsidising this enterprise and I want to become more vocal about objecting to this, for all the reasons I have already mentioned.

      If you don’t want to respond to me about the climate change and land use issues, among others, what would you reply to George Monbiot when he writes that with the type of farm Rob runs, we “swap one disaster – mass cruelty – for another: mass destruction.” Or that “What is good for farmed animals is often bad for the natural world. The cruelties of intensive indoor production are matched by the wreckage of extensive outdoor production”…. That he has no clue about ecology?

      You are telling me about grazing animals that didn’t eat tree seedlings? Your friends’ cows and sheep had been trained to carefully avoid young oak trees growing amidst the grass?

      You write “the places you knew didn’t incinerate any carcass” – so please tell me what happened to cows’ carcasses (and their horns, hides, hoofs, offals, etc)? And we’ve already had Rob’s statement to what happens in most farms.

      Re the health aspect. I am reminded of my youth, when my mother was prescribed cigarettes against her asthma by her GP: such was the power of the tobacco industry to distort the science. It has taken many decades to combat the myth of health-sustainable tobacco.

      If you’re interested in looking closely you will see that the science is very clear about the harm of animal protein to our health. And yes, of course, the less you consume these, the less harm there is. Of all the large scale nutritional studies undertaken, only one has concluded it needed longer-term evidence, all the others have shown very definite benefits of leaving meat (and dairy) out. Please show me significant, unbiased evidence of the contrary! When the World Health Organisation advises against red and processed meat, do you think they are charlatans?

      Kim Williams is one of the top cardiac experts in the world, ex President of the American College of Cardiology. He writes: “Reading the existing literature and evaluating the impact of plant-based nutrition, it clearly represents the single most important yet underutilized opportunity to reverse the pending obesity and diabetes induced epidemic of morbidity and mortality. Evidence for the benefits of plant-based nutrition continues to mount. This now includes lower rates of stroke, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, obesity, myocardial infarction and mortality, as well as many non-cardiac issues that affect our patients in cardiology, ranging from cancer to a variety of inflammatory conditions. Challenges with the science are, however, less daunting to overcome than inertia, culture, habit and widespread marketing of unhealthy foods. Our goal must be to get data out to the medical community and the public where it can actually change lives – creating healthier and longer ones”. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5466935/ ).

      Or prof T Colin Campbell (whom many feel should get a Nobel Prize): “Since The China Study was first published in 2005, the human health benefits of a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet has become ever more convincing, and many individuals are speaking of this evidence. These dietary effects are real and substantial, theoretically having the capacity to simultaneously resolve major societal problems, such as restoring personal health, upgrading primary health care services, reducing exorbitant healthcare costs, resolving environmental problems, optimizing animal welfare, and improving school lunch and related public service programs. The answer is simple. Adopt, as much as possible, the WFPB diet”. (http://nutritionstudies.org/scientific-reductionism-detracts-whole-food-plant-based-message/ )

      Yes we have been eating meat in the past but our ancestors, just like our current ape cousins, were mostly herbivores (https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/human-ancestors-were-nearly-all-vegetarians/ ), and some were fully ‘vegans’ (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/mar/08/neanderthal-dental-tartar-reveals-plant-based-diet-and-drugs ). In any case, even if we look at our ancestors who did eat meat, should we not conclude like this author that “just because a meatier diet was good for our early Homo forbearers does not necessarily mean it will keep each of us contemporary humans alive longer. Now that we no longer have to fend for ourselves in quite the same way, increased red meat consumption has actually been linked to shorter individual life spans. So next time you’re flummoxed by food choices, don’t be afraid to go a little Paranthropus and hit the salad bar”. (https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/early-meat-eating-human-ancestors-thrived-while-vegetarian-hominin-died-out/ )

      Currently in the UK one person out of two will be directly affected by cancer in their lifetime. The UK is the most obese country in Western Europe, with 26.9% of the population obese (and many more overweight) – and this in turn is correlated with all the major health issues. Of course the problem is not just with animal-based food. For sure, one can be on a vegan junk food diet. But questioning the evidence that animal-based food plays a huge role in our health problems is disingenuous (see for instance https://www.pcrm.org/nbBlog/stop-sugarcoating-obesitys-leading-causes).. Please have a look at some of the other studies I have flagged – they are not just the odd small study that could be misinterpreted! I just hope you will get interested and examine the science (which sadly is loaded with misinformation, so one needs vigilance). The food and livestock industries are extremely powerful – far more than the tobacco industry has been…

      So: promoting a large-scale beef farm which itself promotes more meat consumption is in my eyes both unecological and unethical. I do not deny that a long transition will be required – both for consumers and farmers – but I would love an organisation such as Lowimpact.org to be guiding people in the right direction on these issues.

      Thanks for reading and very best wishes!

    • 251Annie Leymarie December 1st, 2017

      Dave, my point was about Yuval’s first (and also last) words. Here they are:

      “More and more political and ethical questions, especially in the 21st century, depend on scientific knowledge, on knowing the scientific facts and theories. Examples range from global warming to the rise of artificial intelligence and genetic engineering. You can have different opinions about these matters but IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE SCIENTIFIC FACTS, YOUR OPINIONS SHOULDN’T COUNT SO MUCH!”

      I keep expecting a response from you based on scientific facts. I would expect a Low Carbon organisation to have something to say about the huge climate impact of a 600+ acres, 150 free-range cattle farm: “A kg of beef protein reared on a British hill farm can generate the equivalent 643 kg of CO2. A kg of lamb protein produced in the same place can generate 749 kg. One kilo of protein from either source, in other words, causes more greenhouse gas emissions than a passenger flying from London to New York” (http://www.monbiot.com/2015/12/22/sacrifice/ )

      The same kilogram of beef protein from an industrial farm will actually have a LOWER carbon footprint. This is a FACT!

      And also a response about the fact that:
      “The results show increased risks of all cause mortality and death due to nine different causes associated with both processed and unprocessed red meat” (http://www.bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j1957)

      And
      “Red and processed meat are likely to be harmful to human health in many different ways, often linked to more than one outcome”. (http://www.bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j2190 )

      And
      “Based on at least six cohorts, summary results for the consumption of unprocessed red meat of 100 g per day showed increased risk of 11% for stroke, 11% for breast cancer, 15% for cardiovascular mortality, 17% for colorectal and 19% for advanced prostate cancer” (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/joim.12543/abstract)

      And
      “Our data provide an unusual mechanistic explanation for the epidemiological association between red meat consumption and cancer risk. This mechanism might also contribute to other chronic inflammatory processes epidemiologically associated with red meat consumption”.
      (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4299224/).

      And plenty, plenty more. How can a decent ethical discussion take place without first a sound factual basis?

      (And by the way, a lot of Yuval’s video was about the pain a cow and her calf feel at being separated soon after birth – and this is not just in industrial systems, but in lovely small-scale local organic farms too! Elsewhere I have listed some of the other atrocities most dairy cows suffer – even on organic farms – but this not my focus here).

      (And sorry if I’m starting to lose my patience. You can refer to the many pages of evidence I have already gathered and presented to Rob – and that have been conveniently avoided! I have spent many, many hours here and the topics keep being evaded)

    • 252Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose December 1st, 2017

      Hi Andrew, Annie has raised many, many points relating to farmed animals and despite claiming (constantly) to be short of time, she continues to do so. I chose to discuss only one from her extremely prolific post about dairy farming because, frankly, to address all of her misinformation would keep me busy for a long time and I do have better things to do with my time. However, as she has failed to address that point other than to proclaim that she is in fact correct about the purpose and effect of AI in cattle then we really are getting nowhere on this point. If you would prefer to take up this debate and discuss how exactly AI increases the fecundity of farmed cattle then let’s hear it?

      My ‘business model’, as you describe it, does indeed rely upon beef sales and if it weren’t for the declining fortunes of mixed farming I doubt that it would exist. I praise Annie for her dedication in finding scientific studies that, taken in isolation, would suggest that ‘her’ model for farming should displace my own. I don’t praise her inability to take on board what I say, however, as she continues to summarise her version of the truth, out of convenience. Financially I would find it very easy to be displaced by Annie’s farm – she could literally out compete me very easily for land rentals and my business would be no more. However, practically and morally I think she would find it much more difficult to do so, and that is perhaps the reason why I am still doing what I do.

      Morally speaking my motivation is driven by the results I see from reintroducing cattle grazing to the floodplain meadows of the Ings meadows. Compared to the sounds of many snipe returning to sites they had previously vacated or seeing fledged corncrakes darting for cover, the criticisms I have received here are insignificant to me. I do not agree that we should sacrifice their habitat to drain, cultivate and/or forest the meadows as Annie advocates because I seek to promote biodiversity in our countryside, rather than to produce the maximum amount of food possible for a single species – humans.

    • 253Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose December 1st, 2017

      “I would (controversially?) argue that Tolhurst’s stockfree organics and Rob’s conservation grazing have more similarities than differences when compared to the industrial methods of “food” production.”

      Agree with you 100% Joshua – Tolhurst’s model is, IMO, far superior to the standard stockless farming methods that are the norm. As a means of growing food for humans they are just what we need, but I do recognise the limitations of what can be achieved on a small scale organic stockless farm too in terms of the variety of habitats & numbers of species that are feasible on an area of 19 acres. I wouldn’t expect such a farm to be capable of supporting the variety of wildlife that we do.

      I would like to see more farms like Tolhurst’s integrated into the landscape alongside us not because they can add positively to biodiversity but because they do less to harm it. We can provide large areas of favourable habitat for beef, badgers and barn owls without expecting to accommodate them within the brussels’.

    • 254Annie Leymarie December 1st, 2017

      Just published: yet another report explaining that when it comes to climate impact (and, the authors add, quite likely animal welfare too) more intensive indoor beef production is usually better than extensive grass-fed beef. This is just confirming what many different studies have already shown. It might make you feel uneasy – it does me too, but for me this just confirms that the best option is to move away from beef (and dairy) altogether. That’s the only win-win-win option for the climate, the animals and our own health.

      Managed well, feedlots can be the environmentally and ethically smart choice. https://ensia.com/voices/feedlots/

    • 255Annie Leymarie December 1st, 2017

      HUGE REWARD!

      Wanted: anyone who can explain to Rob concepts such as:

      Greenhouse gas emissions and climate change
      Land use, land sparing and rewilding
      Ecological efficiency and trophic levels
      Healthy diets and reduction of the health burden

      The prize is my eternal gratitude.

      Amen

    • 256Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose December 1st, 2017

      All my figures for consumption patterns originate from a source I was given in a previous debate (by a vegan who was arguing the opposite case, ironically, as I prefer to use sources from the counter argument rather than my own, possibly bias, ones). The figures come from the UN FAO, which is a respectable organisation that isn’t particularly pro-meat. The reference period is 1961-2011, and shows that in 1961 the average world citizen was consuming 488g of fresh produce increasing to 749g in 2011, in the UK the figures were 579g & 878g respectively.

      Annie, I have never flown on an aeroplane myself but I think that you are missing one important factor for which I cannot find a study to back up my claim but I am fairly confident in making it anyway. An aeroplane burns fossil fuel to fly from London to New York & release its emissions. My cattle also release emissions through enteric fermentation and respiration but their source is from plants that don’t use fossil fuels to grow. Granted, I do use fossil fuels to make it possible for me to exist in modern society, however I do try to minimise it both from an environmental and financial point of view. This includes keeping them grazing fresh grass for as long as possible (and not eating hay that has been made by tractor) and moving them between fields on foot where ever possible. However, the alternative to grazing with cattle, for maintaining the habitats I manage, is to either graze with non-food animals, which would be responsible for the same emissions were they domestic or wild livestock, or cut with tractors and burn fuel in the process as well as being much more indiscriminate when it comes to directly harming other wildlife. I’d like to replace the tractor with men & scythes for the hay cut but we are woefully short of volunteers on the reserve as it is so a pragmatic approach has to be taken just as I’m sure your travels around the world have not all been by sail ship either.

      I find your use of the term ‘scientific fact’ to justify your position a little inconsistent when I use the facts you have provided to crunch my own numbers. I used the figures from your DEFRA source to calculate my own emissions (based upon 107.1 kg/cow CH4 from both enteric and manure emissions) x 25 to give a CO2e x 150 to give the whole herd which came out at 401.6t. I used last years beef sales (because I couldn’t be bothered to work out production in my expanding herd) of 1200kg @30% protein giving 360kg of protein. That comes out at a massive 1115kg CO2 per kg protein – ouch, but then you have to remember that my cows are 1/3 of the size, consuming 1/3 of the forage of the continental animals that most beef comes from so that leaves a figure of 371.66kg CO2 per kg protein. Then you have to factor in that 90 of those 150 are youngstock, consuming less than adult cattle and that because conservation grazing is my main aim, I do not kill anything I can’t sell so my production would also be higher (I could have easily doubled that production without keeping more cows). So with less CO2 production from younger animals and more production to spread it over. the 371kg figure becomes even less.

      Now, Monbiots figures have it at 643kg – 73% over my actual figures or 246% over my increased production figures (excluding the adding effect of younger animals emitting less). With stats that wildly out between your sources I find it difficult to accept it as ‘scientific fact’ because science is all about repetition of results to produce accurate data. If you get wildly different data from different studies either the studies aren’t consistent or the subjects of your studies aren’t the same.

      However we’re not comparing like for like anyway, as there is another variable at work (aside from the time factor in working out CO2e) – a cows food absorbs carbon but a plane’s doesn’t. We can swap studies and argue over how much that equates to; so based upon the figures you provided from Tolhursts permanent pasture of 1.89t C/ha it’s 459t for all the land I manage (243ha), not taking into account the increased growth as a result of grazing in my case, or the trees contained within my pasture, or the peat bogs within it) but I’ve only emitted 401.6t CO2e anyway. However, we’re now comparing CO2e of emissions to C sequestration so we need to convert the figures based upon the mass of C emitted v sequestered. Given the molar mass of carbon (78.4%) contained in 16.065t CH4 from my herd (assuming they were all full sized adult cattle, which they’re not) that’d be 12t of C released into the atmosphere with 459t put into the soil. Assuming all your sources are accurate scientific fact and I’ve done my sums right, of course.

    • 257Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose December 1st, 2017

      Annie, I have long suspected that you don’t read your own posts & sources in this debate, but this confirms it, you wrote;

      “The UK currently imports more than 80% of its vegs and 40% of its fruit. Professor Tim Lang keeps warning us of the immense risks our current food system entails. He co-writes in ‘A food Brexit – Time to get real’:”

      But your quoted source says;

      “Overall, the UK produces about 15% of the fruit it consumes, and 55% of its vegetables.”

      I make that imports of 45% veg & 85% fruit. However, that is a matter of production, not consumption – I didn’t say we are producing more but consuming more, as per the FAO data.

    • 258Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose December 1st, 2017

      “but for me this just confirms that the best option is to move away from beef (and dairy) altogether. That’s the only win-win-win option for the climate, the animals and our own health.”

      How is it a win for the animals? Are you assuming that a) cows do not wish to exist or b) cows wish to exist as wild species? If b) then it is hard to imagine a scenario where a wild cow experiences better welfare given that you have already said welfare is improve by farming them more intensively.

    • 259Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose December 2nd, 2017

      On trophic levels;

      “Grazing animals produce at most a quarter of the calories per acre typical plant-based production systems do.”

      “Currently 40% of adults worldwide are overweight or obese…
      …the leading cause of obesity is consumption of meat, cheese and eggs”

      So let me get this right – livestock are inefficient because they consume more and produce less calories yet they are simultaneously responsible for us all consuming too many calories, go figure.

      On health;

      “It’s not that long ago that we saw medical doctors posing on advertisements for cigarettes, claiming they did wonders for them and they were in wonderful health!”

      “What can doctors do? We can lead by example, as our predecessors did with smoking cessation, by reducing our own red meat consumption”

      So, you’ve claimed that doctors will say anything for money and they’re now saying eat less meat…

    • 260Annie Leymarie December 2nd, 2017

      Dear Rob

      “The food report notes that with the UK importing 80% of its fresh vegetables and 40% of fresh fruit, a falling pound, and potential tariffs and costs from customs delays there could be significant price rises”

      https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jul/17/uk-sleepwalking-into-food-insecurity-after-brexit-academics-say

      Meanwhile, you have been persisted in peddling untruths:

      “As well as eating more meat we are also eating significantly more vegetables” (Oct 16)

      “The grasslands are either being ploughed up for vegetables or non-food crops, (…) While people eat more chicken and vegetables, farmers are going to produce them”. (Oct 31)

      “If this system worked we would be calling upon people to cut the amount of vegetables they eat to afford organic instead”.

      “Dietary analysis shows that we, as a population, are eating more meat, but also more vegetables, fruits and refined sugar. To isolate meat by correlation is inconsistent and inconclusive unless you also include everything else we are consuming more of.” (Nov 10)

      [and no, we are not eating more refined sugar either, another fact you have made up]

      “people are eating more chicken, they are also eating more vegetables”. (Nov 14)

      “we are experiencing a decline in meat consumption from grasslands with people’s diets shifting towards both chicken and vegetables”. (Nov 15)

      While I was sending you other references saying:

      “A recent briefing on Horticulture in the UK states that “between 1985 and 2014 the area growing vegetables in the UK has declined by 26% and the area growing fruit by 35%. Only 3.5% of UK croppable land is down to horticulture”

      https://www.researchgate.net/publication/299445494_Horticulture_in_the_UK

      “Our veg consumption is in decline and is no better than it was in the 1970s. Diets that are low in veg are associated with more than 20,000 premature deaths across the UK. Eating one more portion of veg while reducing meat consumption could reduce our diet-related greenhouse gas emissions by almost a fifth. Eating more veg offers a triple win: a win for the economy, a win for our health and the NHS, and a win for our carbon footprints. All three are in need of urgent action.”
      “We are eating less fruit and vegetables than we used to” (https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/sep/19/uk-changing-food-habits).

      A meagre 1.2 per cent of all food advertising spend goes on vegetables” (Veg Facts http://foodfoundation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/FF-Veg-Doc-V5.pdf )

      http://britains-diet.labs.theodi.org/.

      Re the UK Eatwell official guide:

      “because of the growing evidence for the detrimental effects of meat consumption on health, particularly red and processed meat (…) we need to cut down on meat more than we thought 20 years ago, we also need to compensate for that reduction and get our protein from vegetarian alternatives”

      https://theconversation.com/how-reliable-is-the-eatwell-guide-the-official-chart-of-what-foods-you-should-be-eating-69947

      One urgent action recommended by 15,372 scientists in a declaration to avoid catastrophe is “promoting dietary shifts towards mostly plant-based foods”. They say we need to “drastically diminish our per capita ¬consumption meat”
      (and they also recommend rewilding, recreating forest habitats, creating nature reserves, etc)
      https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/advance-article/doi/10.1093/biosci/bix125/4605229

    • 261Joshua Msika December 2nd, 2017

      Cheers Rob ?

    • 262Dave Darby December 2nd, 2017

      Annie
      Yes, I know Larch – sound bloke. Haven’t seen him for probably 12-15 years though.

      First, three asides:
      1. the kind of places I’m talking about don’t have very many animals at all, and killing a cow wouldn’t happen very often; and when it did, every part of it is used, and the bones boiled for stock. After that, the bones could be buried, given to dogs or chucked in the woods. (What to do with offal? Eat it.).
      2. yes, of course, if a field is grazed, trees aren’t going to grow on it, but that’s the same if the grass is mown, or if there’s a garden, a field of wheat, a house, or a road. We planted lots of trees, but not everywhere is going to be woodland.
      3. we don’t support the kind of dairy that separates calves and mothers. We’ve been blogging a series of articles about how you can run a small dairy with the calves with the mothers. I can’t get milk like that locally, so I drink oat milk.

      But I don’t want to get into details – I have a confession and a suggestion.

      Rob and Annie,

      It’s true that I haven’t followed this thread very carefully. It took off at such a speed, and I’ve got so many other things on the go, that I let it go, having disagreed but semi-agreed with both of you on the way. But it’s really important – and this thread has got a bit out of control – there are several conversations going on, and it’s too long to wade through now.
      Here’s a suggestion. Both of you state your case in terms of meat production and sustainability, in 500 words, and I’ll turn it into a blog article. You, and anyone else who wants to, including me, can join in the debate below. I’ll ask for clarifications, stop any punching below the belt, and look at evidence. I’ll try to pull things out of the evidence and question your positions.
      But just sustainability (for now at least – let’s try to nail this), so a) not about human health. I used to smoke, I sometimes drive on the motorway, I drink, I eat chocolate. I only eat meat about once or twice a month. There are worse risks for people like me. We’re a sustainability organisation – that’s our focus. But having said that, we’re not an organisation that wants to promote cruelty – so taking babies away from their mothers – no. Deaths that aren’t swift and unexpected – no. Lives as ridiculously close to wild lives as possible (apart from being hunted by predators) – yes.
      And b) not about the philosophy of eating animals at all. Herbivores are always killed and eaten. That’s their role in the food chain. But again, it’s something we can talk about later. Let’s nail the sustainability issue first. Is meat production only sustainable in very small numbers, on mixed smallholdings? Or in forests? Or not even that? We’re all agreed that industrial agriculture has to go, of both the plant and animal variety.
      Would you be up for sending me 500 words each, by email – dave at lowimpact dot org?

    • 263Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose December 2nd, 2017

      Thanks for the summary of my posts Annie, they’re all true but if you want to believe otherwise and rubbish the UN FAO as a source, you go ahead. If you wish to believe that we only import 40% because it was written in a newspaper then clearly you are welcome to do that too – I see little point in trying to break you out of it. I suspect that if I now said the sky was above us you’d be away to find a source that said otherwise.

      I find it ironic that your last paragraph advocates rewilding, forests and nature reserves yet you’ve spent the entire conversation telling me that I should do something else instead because it isn’t sustainable. Your entire stance is a total contradiction that is getting even more convoluted with every new source.

      Unfortunately I have to live in the real world, maintaining and preserving the nature reserves we *already* have that you are determined to destroy. Good luck creating whatever your ideal vision of the future of agriculture is, it’s still unclear what that is aside from being completely devoid of animals.

    • 264Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose December 2nd, 2017

      TBH Dave I’m losing the will to live here – sustainability is a very complex subject with so many facets that often compete with one another. Much of Annie’s argument seems to boil down to the idea that land use is a binary choice, not a living ecosystem with multiple benefits for both humans, domestic and wild animals alike.

      My original point, that kicked off my conversation with you, can be summarised in the following four points;

      1) Getting rid of factory farmed meat (and food in general) requires people to stop eating it.
      2) Producing more sustainable meat requires people to start eating it.
      3) 1) & 2) are exclusive so it does not require a reduction in meat consumption to achieve 2.
      4) Reducing meat consumption *may* be a consequence of 1) – it is not a requirement.

      Abolitionists seek to exclude animals as far as possible because they believe that animals would rather not exist at all than exist alongside humans. As such there is little point discussing the figures, as I have tried to do in this thread, because no matter how sustainable meat is, they are objecting, fundamentally, to animals being a part of the system and will only acknowledge figures that support this outcome.

      I can do the 500 words but words can be twisted & misquoted – as we saw with the offal comment (or the badgers), and it might be a complete waste of time. As they say, a picture paints a thousand words so perhaps instead we should send four photographs of our respective food production systems?

    • 265Annie Leymarie December 3rd, 2017

      Dear Dave
      Many thanks for your offer but I feel the issue of sustainability cannot be oversimplified. How can health not be part of it? There are some 2.5 billion overweight humans – who eat more and add to health services and transport footprints (+ clothing and much else). Highly unsustainable! You’ve just explained that you cared for the well-being of cows as part of your own sustainable vision, so why wouldn’t you want to include humans?

      An increasing number of relevant studies link planetary and human health to show the multiple co-benefits of diet shifts. The recent declaration urging us to shift to a mostly plant-based diet has brought together some 16,000 signatories from the medical, Earth, social and other scientific disciplines (World Scientists Warning to Humanity
      https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/advance-article/doi/10.1093/biosci/bix125/4605229

      And here are just a few other recent co-disciplinary examples:

      “Physicians should become aware of their potentially healing role, not only for patients’ health, but also for planetary health. In promoting healthy lifestyles, physicians should consider that animal products are not only an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease and cancer, but also that their production causes 25% of global GHG emissions and harms biodiversity due to its large land requirements”
      Physicians’ responsibility for planetary health. The Lancet Planetary Health (2017) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2542519617300232

      “There is enormous potential for our food choices to have positive effects on our environment as well as on our health and health care costs. Our findings add weight to the conclusion of several other recent studies: Diet change [away from meat and dairy] must be part of successful climate change mitigation policies, and climate change mitigation must be included in policies to improve the food system”.
      A healthier US diet could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from both the food and health care systems. Climatic Change (2017) https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-017-1912-5

      “Greenhouse gas emissions are inversely related to the Healthy Eating Index”.
      Relation between healthiness of the diet and greenhouse gas emissions from food in the USA. The Lancet (2017). http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(17)31130-3

      “It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. They are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes. Plant-based diets are more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal products because they use fewer natural resources and are associated with much less environmental damage. Vegetarians and vegans are at reduced risk of certain health conditions, including ischemic heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke, certain types of cancer and obesity.
      Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: vegetarian diets. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Diet (2016). http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212267216311923.

      You also mention that we shouldn’t write about philosophy but illustrate this with biology: “Herbivores are always killed and eaten”. Of course that’s not true! Not every elephant, rhino, koala, giraffe, grasshopper, camel, bee, gorilla, manatee, iguana, kangaroo, megabat, tortoise or beetle, for instance, gets killed and eaten, far from it (in quite a few cases, none at all)! If all bees got eaten, we would probably be barking at the wrong tree to try and save them! Can you see the danger in over-simplifying?

      I have not made any strong statements in this long conversation without backing them with evidence (or offering to do so), so the opinions I have shared are not mine but those of many scientists (16,000 and counting). As I don’t know how to embed links on this site, this is another reason to find 500 words too short a space to make my case.

      For instance you suggest various questions we could consider around ‘meat’, as if we could include in the same category home-kept chicken and beef cattle: they have hugely different impacts! It’s a broad topic!

      So my main reason to decline your offer is that first and foremost I wish to fight misinformation, which is so prevalent, so that people can make informed choices. Sadly I feel there has been far too much misinformation posted in these pages and I feel I wouldn’t be able to counter it.

      I would love you to have a look at my very last brief responses to Rob, which I hope to post soon. Of course I have already posted here a large amount of scientific evidence about meat and sustainability: anyone genuinely interested can go and look. And perhaps there will be other ways of continuing valuable conversations on this site. For now, I thank you for having started this one but need to take a well-deserved break!

      (PS If you really want to air different viewpoints, why not publish one of George Monbiot’s many pieces on the topic – he is a highly experienced ecologist and writer, much better qualified than I am. His post from October 6th, called ‘The Meat of the Matter’, is pretty succinct (though still 1167 words). You could even just post two sentences opposite Rob’s piece:

      “Almost all forms of animal farming cause environmental damage, but none more so than keeping them outdoors. The reason is inefficiency. Grazing is not just slightly inefficient; it is stupendously wasteful”.

      (http://www.monbiot.com/2017/10/06/the-meat-of-the-matter/)

    • 266Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose December 3rd, 2017

      George Monbiot wrote a good article, in 1994; http://www.monbiot.com/1994/11/19/the-maasai-and-the-mercedes-men/

    • 267Dave Darby December 3rd, 2017

      Rob & Annie,

      I want to investigate at what size meat production becomes unsustainable – i.e. whether it can be sustainable at all, and if so, whether there’s an upper limit, as long as it’s sustainable – and this thread is too diverse (and long) to do it here. I’d like to come up with a policy for Lowimpact.org. I’m completely open to what that policy might be – it could even be that we don’t advocate the keeping of animals at all. At the moment, we provide information on, and we blog about, keeping animals – but of course we’re all opposed to industrial animal agriculture, involving battery sheds, intensive feedlots and removal of habitat to grow food for animals in those battery sheds and feedlots.

      Let’s take a mixed smallholding. The kind of animal agriculture I personally would like to see involves (for example) a few cows, sheep, chickens, goats etc. grazing under orchard trees (and/or pigs, which could also be kept in woodland) – not taking up any more land than the orchards (or woodland) would, providing manure for the trees, plus keeping weeds down and in the case of chickens and goats, keeping pests in check, whilst providing an extra resource and additional income for organic smallholders, who need all the help they can get. The vast herds of herbivorous animals have gone, apart from in Africa, and even there they’re shrinking. I’m not talking about any additional methane than would have been produced by the wild herds. In this kind of agriculture, ideally, animals would be killed at home, all parts of the animal would be used, and young animals would be kept with their mothers until weaned.

      Annie, is that a reasonable starting point for you? Is that a form of animal agriculture you could agree is sustainable? Bearing in mind that you’re vegan, you may not personally and philosophically agree with anybody killing or eating any animals at all. But it’s the sustainable aspects of meat production I want to look into. It may be the case that the type of animal agriculture described above is the only kind of animal agriculture that we promote.

      But where does it start to become unsustainable? Is it possible for a 600-acre, grass-fed beef farm to be sustainable, for example?

      I have criticisms of some of what you’ve both said.

      Annie, your links to health studies are about excessive meat eating. I’d like to see meat-eating reduced massively. If you know of studies that show eating meat once or twice a month is unhealthy, I’d like to see them. You said ‘shift to a mostly plant-based diet’ – which is exactly what I’m saying. Just not necessarily 100%. And I’d like to look at how reliable your sources are. I want to see that they are peer-reviewed, who’s funding them and if there is any other, reliable research that contradicts it.
      Plus – you’ve lumped in sustainable animal farming with industrial agriculture. For example, your figures animal agriculture overall, not the type of animal agriculture I’ve described above; and you’ve tarred Rob with the ‘badger-cull’ brush, even though he’s said clearly that he has plenty of very welcome, unculled badgers on his farm.
      Plus – you say that not all wild herbivores get eaten. Virtually all of them do. Wild animals don’t tend to die in their sleep of old age. The vast majority of them will be eaten before they reach maturity, and if they weaken, become ill, or just get old, at some point they’ll be picked off by something – jackals, birds of prey, snakes, lizards, crocodiles, sharks – something will kill them in the end. The only way that most herbivores will avoid this fate is if they have a heart attack, fall off a cliff or drown – quite unlikely (another option is death in a forest fire, which is probably more likely but no less gruesome). I’ve even seen videos of old lions being killed and eaten by hyenas. Herbivores would have to be very, very lucky not to avoid their ultimate fate in the food chain. (I wasn’t really talking about insects, but I guess that almost all of them end up as food for spiders, lizards, frogs, hedgehogs, shrews, birds etc. too.)
      [NB you can’t embed links in the comments section, but you can in the main article.]

      Rob, first, the kind of agriculture I describe above would help to reduce meat-eating overall, but you insist that meat production/consumption overall shouldn’t, or at least doesn’t have to, fall. This doesn’t take into consideration a) the information that Annie has provided that purports to demonstrate the unsustainability of large-scale animal agriculture, grass-fed or not, and b) the land issue. It takes more land to feed x people with meat than it does with plants, but you’ve provided several arguments as to why this is not necessarily a problem, although I haven’t found them convincing. We agree that we need to dismantle industrial agriculture, but you say that this necessitates an increase in sustainable meat production and consumption. It doesn’t – it can stay the same, while industrial meat consumption falls, resulting in an overall (massive) decline.
      Second, trees. You seem to have come out against trees a couple of times too – in favour of pasture. I’d like to look at what you mean – how climax vegetation might not be the best end-point, in terms of habitat, carbon storage, soil retention, biodiversity and other resources, because I’m having difficulties seeing how that could be.

      As far as I can see, there’s room for sustainable meat production, a huge increase in the number of trees and a massive reduction in overall meat production and consumption – all at the same time, which should, theoretically, keep you both happy.

      But I don’t want to get more into these arguments here – as this post slips back in time, we’re talking to ourselves for a start. If we start a new thread, we can reach more people, we can focus on the sustainability / size issue, and I can act as a ‘referee’, checking sources (facts, as you say, Annie, are very important – we can all have different opinions, but we can’t have different facts).

      I’ll enlarge and adapt this post to create a new blog article – ‘at what size does animal agriculture become unsustainable?’ – something like that, and you can both get stuck in.

    • 268Dave Darby December 3rd, 2017

      I’m going to try to post it today or tomorrow, but please let’s not continue the discussion here – it’s just getting lost.

    • 270Rosewood Farm's Rob December 3rd, 2017

      Hi Dave, I’m in a better frame of mind today, still kackered from working hard but I have been thinking about your 500-word limited piece on the sustainability of meat and how I might succinctly summarise it, so I’ll be in touch when I finish it.

      As regards being ‘against’ trees – not at all, though I am against Annie’s suggestion that trees don’t exist in a pastoral landscape. Having spent my weekend surrounded by trees (quite literally not being able to see the cattle for them) I felt photographs might have been a better way to show the kind of landscape I live in, as my words seem to be falling on deaf ears.

      Trees certainly have their place – we have trees, lots of them, and our local villages are largely named after trees or woods. I think Annie may be imagining a landscape like the Lincolnshire fens, wide open tracts of farmland with very few trees. Also very few grazing animals, but lots of vegetables, so I’d say that I am actually very pro-tree. We are all very proud of our English hedgerows and hedgerow trees but we easily forget how important livestock, and mixed farming, were to creating this landscape – before this we had the large open fields.

      It’s true that we don’t like trees in the wrong place though. In the floodplain meadows in which wading birds breed & feed trees are discouraged because wading birds prefer large open spaces and won’t nest under trees. This is because trees give predators a vantage point which decreases breeding success to unsustainable levels.

      I am also against the idea that trees = biodiversity, as diversity is key here – a forested landscape is not more biodiverse than a patchwork of different habitats as not all species live in or near trees. Changing landscape to bland monocultures is what I am against, whether that be trees, vegetables, or, indeed, wildlife-less livestock farms.

    • 271Dave Darby December 3rd, 2017

      Thanks Rob – duly noted re: trees. I’ve posted a piece now (see https://www.lowimpact.org/does-the-sustainability-of-meat-production-depend-on-the-size-of-a-holding-and-the-number-of-animals-kept-on-it/) – I want to keep it focused on sustainability, and I promise to check links / get involved. You could post your 500-word piece in the comments there (if it’s possible for either you or Annie to ever use fewer than 500 words, that is ………. ? ? :))

    • 272Rosewood Farm's Rob December 3rd, 2017

      I’ve already responded and it’s come out at 438 words – although it is in response to your article, it is about more than the sustainability of food production. I shall continue to attempt to condense that into 500 or less.

    • 273Annie Leymarie December 3rd, 2017

      Dear Dave,
      You write: “I’m not talking about any additional methane than would have been produced by the wild herds”. This is like me writing I want to promote coal, but no more than in the 19th century! The world’s livestock population is rising more than twice as fast as human population. Any additional methane and nitrous oxide is contributing to catastrophic climate change. Each cow in the UK adds per year at least 65-155 kg of methane – a greenhouse gas 84 times more potent than CO2 over two decades – as well as much nitrous oxide – nearly 300 times more potent than CO2 (plus other emissions). I have already explained that a grazing cow emits more methane than a grain-fed one. I have also already quoted Monbiot showing that “A kilogramme of beef protein reared on a British hill farm can generate the equivalent of 643 kg of carbon dioxide. A kilogramme of lamb protein produced in the same place can generate 749 kg. One kilo of protein from either source, in other words, causes more greenhouse gas emissions than a passenger flying from London to New York”.

      Here’s another opinion (from 2014 – since then emissions have risen): “Because the Earth’s climate may be near tipping points to major change, the need to act is increasingly pressing. Lowering peak climate forcing quickly with ruminant and methane reductions would lessen the likelihood of irreversibly crossing such tipping points” (http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2015/comments/uploads/CID230_Ripple__2014_NatureClimateChange-Ruminants.pdf)

      The atmosphere doesn’t give a damn as to whether the methane come from a small or a big farm, a happy or a miserable cow. Although I am clearly against factory farming, animal welfare is less a priority for me than stopping climate change and other environmental destruction caused by animal farming – simply because they will very soon annihilate ALL LIFE on Earth as we know it, the way we are going! In this context, ‘sustainable ruminant farming’ (if not all animal farming) is an oxymoron. (And by the way, I rarely call myself ‘a vegan’).

      You would like “to provide manure for the trees” (releasing more methane and nitrous oxide). There are at the very least 200 million tons of it produced in the UK each year, finding their way to our rivers and oceans, creating a gigantic problem. I have recently shown that top organic – and highly experienced – farmer Guy Watson is turning away from manure and towards compost. Here’s another opinion:

      “The idea exists that one has to choose between industrial and sustainable animal agriculture, or between synthetic fertilizers and manure. This is simply false. (…) There is no ‘magic’ that goes on inside the animal that makes their manure better for the soil or plants than if we used the base material. Manure simply contains recycled plant nutrients—it is more efficient to use these nutrients without passing them through a cow’s digestive tract beforehand.

      When people say that farming cannot be done without the poop of farm animals, what they are effectively saying is that the only real way to farm is the European way. Cattle were brought to the Americas with colonization; indigenous agricultural systems did not use domesticated animals. The milpa system in Mesoamerica, based on corn, beans, and squash, still exists and requires no animal inputs, nor did it ever use draft animals. This system is so efficient that before colonization, it fed what was likely the densest population on the planet at the time”. (http://millahcayotl.org/open-letter-to-the-owners-of-gracias-madre-and-cafe-gratitude/)

      You write “your links to health studies are about excessive meat eating”. I have posted many studies showing the direct correlation between amount of animal protein – and red meat in particular – and health problems. It’s very much like smoking (or coal!). For sure, two cigarettes a day are better than two packs but smoking – like eating animal protein – is bad for one’s health… full stop. Do read the China Study – the largest nutritional study ever conducted: it makes this point very clearly. Just one example: recently an Irish GP proved with his own patients the direct correlation between consumption of animal protein and cancer incidence. The more consumption, the more cancer risk, when consumption was reduced, so was the risk – it was proportional. Read his book! (Or this http://nutritionstudies.org/doctor-inspired-by-the-china-study-for-his-cancer-patients/).

      There are plenty of medical studies advising zero consumption of animal based food, e.g. this recent one co-authored by 21 health experts: http://www.thepermanentejournal.org/issues/2018/6536-lifestyle-medicine-a-brief-review-of-its-dramatic-impact-on-health-and-survival.html. You can imagine that it would be hard to get 16,000 scientists to agree straight away to promote zero animal food consumption. They are trying to be realistic (some of the lead authors have also shown elsewhere all the benefits that would accrue from substituting beans for beef in the US (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-017-1969-1 ). Clearly a transition is required, with some situations better than others, but shouldn’t an organisation like yours explain well what is the best direction to head for, for the planet and our health?

      You have questions about the research I have provided. I am glad you are curious: please, please do check (this is why I provide links!)! I would like to show the extent to which the meat and dairy industry has used its immense financial (and thus also political) power to distort science. It’s so huge it seems surreal. You could read ‘Meatonomics’ written by a lawyer. Or of course watch for instance Cowspiracy (and ‘What the Health’) – both very easy to watch, like thrillers, with no ’difficult’ scenes.

      I haven’t “tarred Rob with the ‘badger-cull’ brush”. I am interested in the best guidance for all. It is a fact that tuberculosis is endemic in UK cattle – which are vulnerable to a whole range of health issues – and that the industry has been heavily pushing for the cull which has killed many dozens of thousands of badgers (and some 260,000 cattle), despite no scientific basis for it. When we are encouraged by Rob to eat much more beef, surely this is one of the many factors to take into consideration – or would you like this information also brushed under the pasture, so that we are not making informed choices?

      Re herbivores getting eaten, here are a few with no important predator (or none at all – other than humans): pandas, koalas, buffalos, elephants, gorillas, swans, kangaroos, bisons, rhinos… No doubt there are many more and I’ll pay attention to this. Frankly this is not that important here but the idea that we protect farm animals against nature “all red in tooth and claw” doesn’t land at all well with me. Give me the life of a bison rather than that of a dairy cow any day!

      Dave, I am very short of time and have invested huge amounts of it here. I repeat that for most things in life I probably agree with you and that I am grateful for your willingness to open up debates. I am sorry that you are catching me when I am at the end of my tether, having listed so many highly valid references (very much peer-reviewed studies with no conflicts of interest) that are being ignored – so I’ll be quitting now. To sum up my views:

      Climate change is threatening all life on Earth. Consumption of all animal-based food, but particularly from ruminants (beef, lamb, goat and dairy), plays a very big part in it. Grass-fed ruminants are the worse ‘culprits’. These products also have, by a very long way, the biggest land use footprint of all food and damage the environment in many other ways. In addition they turn out to be really bad for our health, whereas a whole food plant-based diet has been shown to be the healthiest.

      A shift in diet is the easiest thing each one of us can do at any time to halt the worse of climate change – with more than 60% of all emissions caused by our own individual consumer choices.

      I agree that smallholders need help (and I am campaigning for that) but I have focused on one example, Tolhurst’s farm, because it demonstrates that everything you are keen to promote, including plenty of wildlife and plenty of trees (orchard and others), can be obtained on a highly efficient, highly climate-friendly, quite economically-viable small farm using no animal or animal inputs and providing the healthiest of food. In addition Tolly is very happy to educate others. Isn’t that the kind of model to promote for low impact?

    • 274Annie Leymarie December 3rd, 2017

      You are referring to a document that is nearly 15 years old with no mention of the UK.

    • 275Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose December 3rd, 2017

      “but I have focused on one example, Tolhurst’s farm, because it demonstrates that everything you are keen to promote, including plenty of wildlife”

      ‘Plenty’ is a strong word to use, given your lack of evidence for this. How many badgers does Tolly have on his farm? Barn owls? I’m not criticising his farm btw, just your over egging of the spoon. As he says on his website;

      “We are surrounded by a diverse range of habitats – river meadow, chalk downland, arable fields, pastoral fields with beech and oak woodland.” –

      a clear indication that he values pastoralism as a valuable contribution to biodiversity.

    • 276Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose December 3rd, 2017

      BTW, the fact that you can copy & paste is not in doubt – you’ve managed to reproduce lots of studies that you claim support your view but you don’t seem very capable of fact-checking them, such as the reference to the UK importing 80% of it’s fresh vegetables – I gave you the opportunity to retract that statement, as it was glaring error but instead you stood by it, because it was in The Guardian.

      FYI here are the actual figures, and no, the UK doesn’t produce more fruit than vegetables;

      https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/646536/hort-report-22sep17.pdf

      You will also note, if you bother to read it, that UK production of both fruit AND vegetables is rising.

    • 277Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose December 3rd, 2017

      To which document are you referring to here?

    • 278Annie Leymarie December 3rd, 2017

      FAO, which you’ve referred to several times http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/ac911e/ac911e05.htm

    • 279Annie Leymarie December 3rd, 2017

      Oh FFS, if anyone else reads this they can click on the link and check for themselves whether your repeated statements that we consume far more vegetables than we used to makes any sense!

    • 280Annie Leymarie December 3rd, 2017

      When have I ever written (or thought!) that welfare of animals was improved by farming them more intensively? You’re just adding distortion upon distortion, untruth upon untruth, using the well-trodden strategies of climate change deniers, for instance. I shall ignore you now, as no-one else is reading this, and spend time more constructively.

    • 281Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose December 3rd, 2017

      Yes, they can.
      Sorry to burst your bubble.

    • 282Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose December 3rd, 2017

      No, I posted the link earlier on (National Geographic but here is the direct link to the dataset; http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#home)
      The graphic was 1961 – 2011 but there is more current data in the dataset.

    • 283Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose December 3rd, 2017

      You literally just quoted it;

      “yet another report explaining that when it comes to climate impact (and, the authors add, quite likely animal welfare too) more intensive indoor beef production is usually better than extensive grass-fed beef”

    • 284Rosewood Farm's Robert Rose December 3rd, 2017

      You’ve been ignoring me for some time now, it seems, regularly mis-quoting me, and not even reading your own sources, never mind mine.

    • 285Malcolm Purvis December 18th, 2017

      Hi, Interesting debate! Maybe we are going off beam here? One of the real issues in our food and farming debate must surely be how we are going to provide food for our population in the future?

      As Patrick Whitefield said some time ago ‘ It is the wrong question to ask if natural farming/permaculture can feed the world.We should ask if the current form of agriculture can feed the world in the future. The answer is almost certainly no. It is dependent on a one way flow of non-renewable resources. It destroys land by soil erosion, desertification and salination of irrigated land. In the next decade one third of the worlds agricultural land is likely to be degraded and not able to produce food.’

      The key here is not should we eat meat or not but how can we make our agricultural and food systems truly sustainable. However, from a health perspective it seems from studies of the ‘blue zones’ where people have both health and longevity, i.e. healthy at 100 in much larger percentages than anywhere else, in these zones a plant slant diet is universal. At the moment we also seem to have a food system that takes no account of health and a health system that takes no account of food.

      Time for change!?

    • 286Annie Leymarie December 18th, 2017

      I’d say yes, time for a change! There are many criteria to our food choices. Some key ones are land use, efficiency and climate change. Eating lower down on the food chain (i.e. plants) is far more economical in land and in other resources and saves greenhouse gas emissions. Many recent articles by George Monbiot on that (e.g. ‘We can’t keep eating like this’ or ‘The meat of the matter’ on http://www.monbiot.com/). For land use, see for instance some charts here: https://ourworldindata.org/yields-and-land-use-in-agriculture/#note-9. For climate change, some of the studies are listed here: https://freefromharm.org/animalagriculture/diet-climate-change/. Masses of studies also show health benefits of plant-based diets (thus again also greenhouse gas emissions savings). For biodiversity and wildlife, again plant-based diets overall best by a long way…

    • 287Rosewood Farm's Rob December 19th, 2017

      “For biodiversity and wildlife, again plant-based diets overall best by a long way…”

      You keep saying that you have more wildlife than I do in your food growing system but you’ve ignored my request to see it at least three times now.

    • 288Rosewood Farm's Rob December 19th, 2017

      Indeed, we need to commit to food production systems that not only protect the resources on which we all depend but start rebuilding them. Producing lots more food from that degraded land and land set aside for wildlife is going to be vital to future food security. We’re not going to have the luxury of choice to be able to select a diet by importing our food from around the world.

    • 289Rosewood Farm's Rob December 19th, 2017

      “far more economical”

      We also need to change away from this attitude of expecting food for nothing – that’s the basic problem we have with our food system – the notion of making a profit from food production is often used as a negative by society. That needs to change or people will(/are) stop producing food.

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