Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Why We're Off Beef

Barbara & I haven't been eating much beef lately. We're not granola-head hippie vegans, it's just that we've found several good reasons to quit, and an unexpected benefit. First, our reasons:
  1. Barbara's sister Betty was killed last summer by Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a relative of Mad Cow disease. CJD is hard to trace to cows, but then again until relatively recently it was hard to conclusively link global warming to human stupidity, or cancer to cigarettes. And oh by the way, even though Mad Cow deaths are "practically unheard of" and "never happen in USA" according to the news, Barbara and I personally know two people who have died of MCD. What are the odds? We're aware that the beef industry is not to be trusted (click here to see lots of reports, including secret videos, of slaughterhouse workers illegally hauling cattle that were too sick to even stand up in to be prepared as our food) so we're definitely avoiding ground beef, and avoiding other beef when possible.
  2. Bovine flatulence (cow gas) turns out to be a really huge source of global warming; even more than cars, according to some calculations. Methane is chemically 23 times more dangerous as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Catch up on the research here.
  3. Barbara is somewhat lactose-intolerant. We've recently tried soy milk, and find that for most uses we don't detect a difference. Generic house-brand soy milk is even a few cents cheaper than the equivalent milk. Besides, it turns out that adults (and we are definitely past 21) really don't get any good out of real milk, the best thing about it is the calcium which we get in a much more chemically digestable form from cheap calcium pills and Tums. Sorry, Bessie.
  4. Nutritionists seem to routinely come on TV and strongly recommend that we eat far less meat (especially "processed meats", which I'm guessing means Spam) and more vegetables.
I know, by not supporting the American farmer, we're just helping good farm land get irreversably scraped & raped into subdivisions, and we do have mixed emotions about that. We've also started thinking about how much of the American economy is tied up in beef & dairy infrastructure; the farmers, truckers, slaughterhouse workers, inspectors, repackagers and resellers are only part of the picture. Consider also the farm implement makers, geneticists, vets, cattle feed (they don't eat much grass anymore, you know), grain silos, auctioneers, specialized tools and milking machines, cattle drugs (antibiotics, steroids, etc) and a jillion other strange things, right down to electric fenceposts, cattle guns, fly nets, and strong magnets designed to be swallowed & pooped while sweeping up stray metals along the way. Then there's all the secondary industries such as leather, cheese, bone meal and glue. There are a whole lot of people out there who want to keep us all using lots of cows. We think that's why the real dangers of too much beef are being covered up.

Look, I'm from timber and cattle country. I've milked cows, I've fed cattle, I've been to my share of fairs and 4-H events. I even know several uses for Bag Balm. Some beef & dairy are doubtless a good thing, but the vast corporate factory farming systems are way beyond reason, and as the videos show, beyond control.

Oh yeah, the benefit: since we've quit beef, we've found that body odor pretty much disappears. Interesting!

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