Largest Beef Recall in US History a Natural Consequence of Industrial Agricultural Practices

My regular readers by now should know what I think of confined animal feeding operations (CAFO’s), which are the backbone of the meat industry in the United States: they create unsafe environments for humans and animals, cause untold amounts of animal and human suffering, they lead to unsafe, dirty meat supplies, and they are just plain old, downright bloody evil. (Yes, I said it–evil.)

When the story broke last month about a videotape taken undercover by members of the Humane Society of the United States which showed slaughterhouse workers beating, kicking, and using forklifts to force “downer cows”–cows so ill they were unable to walk–to stand and walk so they could legally be slaughtered and used for human consumption, a quiet trickle of controversy began. That trickle became a flood as more and more Americans got a first-hand glimpse of the hideous cost, both human and animal, of cheap beef, and people began talking, both in the media and in homes across the country. Voices were raised in outrage, not only because of the vicious cruelty shown to the already hurting cows by the slaughterhouse workers, but because US government regulations disallow such cows from being declared fit for human consumption because of the dangers posed by eating meat from animals who could have bovine spongiform encephalopathy , known popularly as “mad cow disease.”

The loudest exclamations came about, however, when it was made clear that the meat from this particular slaughterhouse supplied ground beef to the federal school lunch program which serves hot lunches to schoolchildren across the United States.

The idea that innocent, unknowing children might have been fed beef contaminated with BSE among other diseases sent chills up the spines of parents everywhere.

As well it should; this story is a case of corporate greed taking precedence over the health and well-being of not just human beings, but the most vulnerable humans–children.

As if the brutal treatment of sick, defenseless cows wasn’t bad enough, it was done in the name profit, with not only the cows suffering the consequences of this senseless worship of money, but schoolchildren were also the target of uncaring, faceless corporate drones and their minions on the killing floor.

In an unprecedented move, the generally toothless, spineless and utterly worthless USDA, requested the largest beef recall in US history yesterday, imploring the corporation fingered in the Humane Society video, Westland/Hallmark Meat Packing Company in Chino, California, to voluntarily recall 143 million pounds of beef from circulation.

Please note my use of the words “requested,” “implored” and “voluntarily,” in that last sentence.

Many media outlets, including CNN are saying that the USDA “ordered” this recall, even though that is not the case. The USDA, even though it is in part a regulatory agency charged with overseeing the safety of the US food supply, does not have the legal authority to order recalls of diseased, tainted or otherwise unsafe food products.

The best that the USDA can do is ask food producers to voluntarily remove unsafe products from the human food chain, hopefully before too many people get sick and die.

In this case, which the USDA says involves a very low risk of the beef being contaminated with disease-causing organisms, it turns out that the recall is utterly worthless since most of the 143 million pounds of meat in question (apparently that is enough ground beef to make two hamburgers for every man, woman and child in the US–what a treat!) has probably already been consumed. A good amount of it presumably by kids eating school lunches.

Most of this beef was slaughtered and ground up over the span of two years, so of course, most of it has already been bought, paid for, and eaten, meat being a perishable item and all. And I guess that the USDA figures that there is a minimal risk of illness because this meat, having already been eaten, hasn’t seemed to cause anyone to get sick, now has it?

On the other hand, if some of those downer cows were infected with BSE, and meat from them contaminated with the prions which cause the disease were eaten by American citizens, we wouldn’t know about it yet anyway, since the incubation period for new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is what people get when they eat prions in meat from BSE infected cows, is anywhere from 16-50 years. (I have read a bunch of different estimations on the incubation period for CJD–it seems that no one really knows for certain.)

By which time, the owners of the Westland/Hallmark Meat Packing Company may have made billions of dollars selling possibly tainted meat to the US government to be fed to school children–a captive audience if ever there was one–and to restaurants and individual consumers. The fact that those who eat this meat may well die in sixty years or so with brains that look like hunks of grey swiss cheese is immaterial. The money will have been made, and our government, ever in the service of corporate greed, will have done nothing to stop it.

When I read letters and posts the other day on the NY Times blogs about the Humane Society video, I wasn’t really surprised to see people expressing shock and disbelief at what they were seeing, not to mention the implications of the information presented in therein. People acted as if it was a great surprise to learn what the true costs of the flood of CAFO-produced cheap meat are in this country.

Of course, the truth is that when you industrialize any process, and treat any living creature involved in that process as a product or commodity, the natural consequence of this action is that -all living creatures- involved in the process also become seen only as cogs in the profit-making machine. What I mean is that when animals, in this case, cows, are treated not as living creatures, but instead as objects or products, the humans who are involved in the process, whether they are slaughterhouse workers or consumers, are also disregarded as objects. When monetary gain is the highest goal set by a corporation, and greed becomes the ruling law of the day, and animals and humans alike are commodified and their suffering or potential safety is disregarded as immaterial to the goal of making as much cash as possible by cutting every possible corner, then it should come as no surprise to learn that animals are made to suffer heinously, workers are put into unsafe working conditions which not only threaten their lives, but also their humanity, and consumers, including children, are endangered by the consumption of unsafe food.

What should also come as no surprise is that our government is not only not doing anything to stop this sort of criminal activity, but is also complicit in it. For decades, our government has been less “by the people and for the people,” as it has been “by the corporations and for the corporations.” Laws that were once enacted in order to keep workers and consumers safe have been gutted in favor of helping large businesses make more money at the expense of human wellbeing.

And what is really amazing is that people act as if this sort of horror has not happened before. Does no one read The Jungle anymore, or do people believe that just because it Upton Sinclair’s novel inspired the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act and The Meat Inspection Act into federal law that animals, consumers and workers are protected from the hellish brutality depicted therein?

I guess that what has happened is that consumers have assumed that because of these laws enacted early in the twentieth century, that the meat industry has changed its ways and the US government food inspectors are a well-funded, powerful group who are able to keep us all safe from corporate wrongdoing when it comes to our food supply. What consumers do not know or think about is how those laws have been weakened over decades of successful industry lobbying, and as a consequence of this how the USDA’s inspection process has been hampered by lack of adequate funding and lack of congressional and consumer oversight.

Of course, it isn’t as if there has not been public outcry on the subject of food safety over the hears. I remember a few reports on 60 Minutes in the seventies, and more recently, Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma have both pointed out the precarious situation our food supply is in, all because Americans insist upon cheap widely available meat and the industry which provides it insists upon as little regulation and oversight as possible.

Neither of these works has resulted in the kind of outcry we are seeing over the Humane Society video, however.

And that is fine–I don’t care if it is a book, a video or somebody’s grandmother which get Americans off their duffs and springing into action over the issue of CAFO’s and food safety. I just want them to stop slumbering on the issue and start acting.

Whether they act by boycotting beef, becoming vegetarians, calling their congresspersons and demanding legislative action, by switching to locally produced grass-fed meat or by demanding better food in schools–I don’t care.

The silver lining to this ugly stormcloud is that finally, Americans are moved to demand action.

I just hope that people see through the sham of this “recall” and keep making a fuss. Loudly. And that they start hitting the beef industry in the wallet, so that there is financial impact. Because frankly, that is all that the meat industry in this country will understand–if their bottom line is hurt, and only if they lose money, will they change.

Upton Sinclair would be sad to see the current way that meat is produced in this country, but I believe he would be heartened by the fact that Americans are once again awakening from their complacent consumer slumber, and are realizing that the ugly face of meat is not just a historical curiosity.

It is alive and well, and stalking our children even today.

27 Comments

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  1. What’s worse is that some studies estimate that the young/teens are more susceptible to infection by BSE than older (>20 years of age).

    Also mean incubation period is more on the order of 16 years or so, not 30. That would make it so that school-age children who could potentially be infected would be symptomatic just at the prime of their lives (when they’re ~30, thinking about getting married, having children).

    Reference: Valleron, A-J, et al. Estimation of Epidemic Size and Incubation Time Based on Age Characteristics of vCJD in the United Kingdom. Science, 2001.

    In any case, it’s a horrible situation even if the cattle don’t carry BSE. They’re downers for a reason.

    Comment by autumnmist — February 18, 2008 #

  2. Autumn–I had read in various places that it could be as long as 30-60 years–and as short as 20.

    So, I amended the post to reflect the article you mentioned–thank you for pointing it out.

    You are right–of course, even if the cows are downers for other reasons, it is still not safe for humans to eat their meat.

    Nor is it right to torture animals who are already in pain, either.

    The entire episode disgusts me–there is a reason I eat local grass-fed meat when I eat meat.

    Comment by Barbara — February 18, 2008 #

  3. These videos horrified me. And not because I believed that cows romp around the field, then listen to Bach in flower-filled pastures before being “convinced” into dying, either.

    How many words is a video worth? Quite a few. For me, watching that video really drove home that when you purchase supermarket meat, you are supporting – not just ignoring, but supporting – the outright torture of an animal.

    I’m vegetarian, and I eat cheese with vegetarian rennet, but I now wonder whether this is enough. I can’t inspect every dairy. How can I know whether “humane” cheese is really all that humane?

    The safety issues are huge, too. But I know far too many people who will watch this video, but who will compare prices in the grocery store and go for the cheaper option. Yeah, you save some money. But at a staggering cost.

    Comment by Karyn — February 18, 2008 #

  4. Great post. We’ve had discussions over the years with our now 7yo about how animals are treated in large farming operations and why we buy meat from our local farmer’s market. I drove him out to a local buffalo farm last week to see some unconfined animals in pasture being animals (and also to take pics because bison are cool and he was learning about Plains Indians in school). He had flirted with the idea of not eating meat for a bit last year because he didn’t want to eat animals, then backed down when he realized how many foods he loved actually contained meat. I joked with him about that after visiting the bison, and he said he had decided only to eat meat that we get at farmer’s market because “the animals are treated nicely and are happy before they die.” It sounds morbid, but I think that is one heck of a moral breakthrough for a 7yo!
    My partner and I briefly discussed showing him the Humane Society video, and opted against it. While it reinforces what we’ve been teaching, I think it is just too disturbing for a child to watch. Heck, *I* was disturbed, and I thought I already knew what there was to know about the vile CAFOs.
    It beaks my heart to think of my baby suffering 20yrs down the road because of humanity’s loss of ethics and moral when it comes to the food supply. While I can make good choices for us at home, we do eat out occasionally and I sometimes have him buy lunch at school when I’m pressed for time. I don’t think Virginia was on the distribution list for the Hallmark plant, but that doesn’t mean another sick animal at another processing facility didn’t contaminate the meat his school received. I’m sick just thinking about it.

    Comment by De in D.C. — February 18, 2008 #

  5. I sure hope that the next president will be both progressive and active in reinstating the laws that used to be enforced about food safety. So much of what’s coming out now is because our current administration has completely gutted the USDA and filled it with it’s own appointees, spineless and gutless and completely lacking in ethics.

    Comment by Nancy — February 19, 2008 #

  6. I saw the video only once, and it appeared that the forklift cow was a holstein (a milk cow) and not a hereford. It sadders me deeply that this is how it was treated after years of devoted milk production.

    Comment by pa farmer — February 19, 2008 #

  7. I saw the video only once, and it appeared that the forklift cow was a holstein (a milk cow) and not a hereford. It sadders me deeply that this is how it was treated after years of devoted milk production.

    Comment by pa farmer — February 19, 2008 #

  8. Meat production in the U.S. is incredibly unhealthy for people and animals. I get pissed everytime newspeople mention E.coli, because it’s really only one specific type of E. coli that causes problems, and other forms of E. coli are in fact vital to our digestive tract and harmless. In fact, E. coli in general may be partially controlled by a change in diet:

    http://www.sciencenews.org/pages/sn_arc98/9_19_98/food.htm

    I suspect concerns over mad cow are a little overblown, but only time will tell.

    Comment by deadlychameleon — February 19, 2008 #

  9. I have been following this story at my own blog. Look, I am a dedicated omnivore, and i have come to grips with my inner daemons on this. The two things that seem to jump out at me throughout this are:

    A: How come the treatment of these cows hits the national news, but the everyday treatment of Battery chickens doesn’t?

    B: Why in all the TV news coverage I saw was there no mention of the 8 on-site USDA inspectors charged with overseeing the plant.

    The bottom line for me is that just as we are addicted to oil to our collective detriment, we are also, as a nation, addicted to cheap meat.

    Comment by Scotty — February 19, 2008 #

  10. Barbara, I admire your optimism, but I predict that once the furor dies down in a few weeks or months, there will be absolutely no changes in laws or practice as a result of this incident. People will go right back to sleep assuming that their outrage actually changed something, but nothing will have happened. The media gets bored with stories quickly, and without chronic reminders, most people think to themselves “Well, I’m not hearing about it anymore, so everything must have been fixed right up.” And they go back to their “normal.”

    I do hope that maybe it will help a small number of people change their personal choices!

    Comment by Alexis — February 19, 2008 #

  11. I fear that omnivores’ solution of “Buy Local Meat” does not properly address the issue. Some are assuming, as do most “localvores”, that meat from local animals is safer. Just because one eats meat from a farm closer to her does not mean: a) the meat does not contain any disease; and/or b) the meat comes from animals that were humanely reared and slaughtered. Sure, items a and b are more likely to occur on a smaller scale farm compared to a giant factory farm. But how many “localvores” have actually VISITED the farm they buy their meat from? How about just not eating meat?

    Comment by SkippyB — February 20, 2008 #

  12. “He had flirted with the idea of not eating meat for a bit last year because he didn’t want to eat animals, then backed down when he realized how many foods he loved actually contained meat.” Perhaps this was the perfect opportunity to re-teach him to like other things? Or at least to give just a bit so that one may have a bit more?
    I’m vegan – so the “happy meat” scenerio just sounds like an excuse of convience to me…..

    “I can’t inspect every dairy”….. Dairy cows are the saddest creatures. They are left in a constant cycle of impregnation – never one being able to feed their own calves (which often, if male are immediately crated for veal – or slaughtered within days for ‘bob veal’. Youtube has many videos as does animal rights website exposing the lie behind the mustache – They’ve gone to the dairies so you don’t have to.

    And finally…. why aren’t eggs/chickens in the news? Because simply, It’s so prevelant it hardly moves most people anymore – and of course, for the pragmatist, they don’t have big brown eyes.

    For health & heart….. Go Vegan!

    Comment by Provoked — February 21, 2008 #

  13. Skippy8 and Provoked:

    Not everyone WANTS to be a vegetarian. End of story. And the more you exhort people to do so, the less likely they are to listen to you. Just a clue.

    What people choose to eat and not eat is a personal decision, and some people do not want to stop eating meat completely. It isn’t my or for that matter, your, place to tell them that they are wrong for doing so, or tell them what to do.

    Skippy8–I am one of those “locavores” you talk about and I believe that my solution does INDEED properly address the issue. I know the farmers who supply the meat, dairy and eggs I consume, and all of their farms are pasture-based.

    Provoked–pastured dairy cows do not live the lives depicted in PETA’s videos. They really do live outside, roam about and eat grass. Hence the term, “pastured.” Their milk is also higher in valuable nutrients, and doesn’t contain growth hormones and excessive amounts of antibiotics, because they are not fed these chemicals as a matter of course.

    I do bother to know my farmers and their farms. Maybe not every locavore does that, but a lot of us do, so don’t just go painting us all with a broad brush so you can make your point.

    Another thing, Provoked–I may, in the future go vegetarian, but I will never, ever become a vegan. For one thing, I like eggs, cheese and milk too much, and since my eating choices are based as much on pleasure as on health and personal ethics, I refuse to give these things up. I am not a Puritan, and I do not believe in giving up every pleasure in life, so long as I am doing as little harm as possible in my choices. And I happen to believe that if we did not drink milk and eat eggs, cows and chickens would no longer exist–they would die out. Domesticated animals have partnered with humans for thousands of years, and frankly–I don’t want to lose them. They are unique, interesting species who deserve to exist as much as any wild animal, and for them to exist, because they are domesticated, they have to live in partnership with humans. That is the way of things.

    That doesn’t mean they deserve an unnatural life of torture. It means that they deserve to be treated well, and allowed as natural a life as possible. This partnership with these animals means that we humans agree to take care of them to the best of our ability, while they provide milk and eggs, and when they are old, we end their lives with care and with as little pain as possible. We use every bit of their bodies and let the rest fertilize the earth.

    That is what the partnership between humans and farm animals should be, and in many cases, with small farmers, is th e way that it works.

    Remember, just because someone has not made the same exact choices you have does not make them bad people. It just means that they are different than you.

    Comment by Barbara — February 21, 2008 #

  14. This is a good example of how the subjectivity of experience causes omnis and vegos to clash and why it’s so hard for us to understand the other’s perspective. For me, I liked milk, cheese and eggs an awful lot when I ate them, but I don’t think I would have listed any of them in the top 100 pleasures of my life. Obviously, Barbara would. None of us can live completely cruelty free lives so we all draw our lines in different places. How can we get along?

    Comment by sgt pepper — February 21, 2008 #

  15. I see no reason why any vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore -shouldn’t- get along, Pepper!

    It just depends on how we all talk with each other, I think. Not being judgmental–in either direction–is a good start. Also, not being sanctimonious or holier-than-thou–in either direction is a great second step. AND–talking to each other from a position of honest respect for each other as individuals who are trying to do the best we can for ourselves, our families, our environment, and other living beings is a perfect culmination to the process.

    Oh, and ditching stereotypes is another big one. I don’t know how many omnivores I have heard go on about how holier than thou “all” vegans are–when in truth, not every vegan acts like that. Out of all of the number of vegetarians and vegans who have read my blog, only one has posted in a sanctimonious and obnoxious way. Everyone else has been polite, even when they disagreed with me. (I cannot say the same for the freegans, however….)

    On the other hand, I have also heard a lot of vegetarians go on about how awful omnivores are about making them feel uncomfortable and whatnot–and I am sure that there are plenty of omnivores who tease vegetarians and vegans and might “trick” them into eating meat as a “joke,” but not all omnivores are like that. Most of us just happen to eat meat, and many of us do so in as ethical a fashion as is possible. And–in addition, a lot of us try and work with other omnivores who do support the cruelty that is modern CAFO meat production by their buying habits, to get them to make different choices–not by making them feel bad, but by presenting other information, maybe giving them a taste of ethically produced meat (which by the way–tastes better than CAFO meat–which has worked as an incentive with plenty of my friends in switching their buying and eating habits), and talking to them in a non-judgmental and uplifting way. (I also talk about health issues with them, too.)

    As my Gram always said–you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

    Pepper–maybe I should write a post about this–because I think it is important that ethical eaters, whether vegetarian, vegan, freegan, and omnivore, need to work together to help combat the evil of CAFO meat production. Cheap meat is not really cheap when you factor in all of the damage to our environment and public health that it causes.

    Oh, and yeah–out of my top 100 pleasures of my life, the joy of cooking and eating great food is in the top ten.

    Otherwise, I don’t think I would be chef, or if I was, I don’t think I would be a good one. You kind of have to be food obsessed to be a chef.

    Comment by Barbara — February 21, 2008 #

  16. Excellent post. This is why we buy all of our meat, eggs, and milk from a local farm.

    Comment by Novembrance — February 21, 2008 #

  17. “De in DC”

    “…quite a moral breakthrough for a 7 yo…”

    I find that comment really disturbing.

    Just look how footage of this repulsive industrial farming is so easily consumed by vegetarian ideologues and spat out as anti-meat polemic.

    Comment by christopher gordon — February 21, 2008 #

  18. “De in DC”

    “…quite a moral breakthrough for a 7 yo…”

    I find that comment really disturbing.

    Just look how footage of this repulsive industrial farming is so easily consumed by vegetarian ideologues and spat out as anti-meat polemic.

    Comment by christopher gordon — February 21, 2008 #

  19. I find it sad that the public is not generally aware this is and has been a problem for a very long time. As you pointed out, it is as much a symptom of the fact that “corporate citizens” count more than John Q Public any day.

    Dr Temple Grandin has fought this problem with information and smart alternative techniques for as long as anyone. Long enough to say there is just no reason for it, profit or otherwise. It is just bad business.

    There has been good, scientific information on these issues since the 1930′s – at least. Sad – just sad.

    Comment by Mike Dunham — February 21, 2008 #

  20. This is not all about being an omnivore or vegan or vegetarian or whatever..It was a shock to me to see people’s reaction to this issue as “oh my! will i get mad cow disease?” . Do they really know the meaning of ‘human’, people really care about getting mad cow disease,they donot care about dying cows..Live and let other living things live. Its a common sense , I agree people are different. But killing other living organisms for food is just like spanking your child who doesnot have the muscle power to defend himself.Will you set a tiger free and go in front of him,kill him and eat him? It purely depends on what your heart feels about killing animals for food. If you think that ‘its okay to eat animals as long as they don’t suffer much when they are dying’ is all up to you..nobody can change you.

    Comment by victoria — February 21, 2008 #

  21. Victoria, I wouldn’t eat a tiger, nor would I even kill a tiger, unless it was trying to kill me.

    Do you think that a tiger is evil for killing and eating other creatures?

    Yes, I think that there is nothing wrong with killing an animal in order to eat it, so long as I do not torture it in life or death.

    It is the torture that I object to.

    Comment by Barbara — February 22, 2008 #

  22. Barbara – I have had people tell me that predatory animals are not moral, and should be killed if they are removed from the wild and no longer have an ecological niche to fill.

    I’m not convinced that I object to the idea of animal consumption, though it eating chicken, pork, or beef is not something I’m interested in at this point.

    I stopped eating those animals when I learned how evil factory farming is – I couldn’t afford grassfed organic meat, and had never enjoyed meat enough to justify spending extra on organic or spending less on supermarket meat. I’ve always been happy with my decision, but I know it’s not for everybody.

    That being said, I think if you do choose to eat meat, you should eat meat from an animal that has not spent its life suffering. People should eat less meat and should spend more for their burgers.

    The problem is the scale of meat production and people’s belief in their “right” to cheap meat three times a day, which is unhealthy for everybody involved.

    I have seen dairy cows treated properly and with respect (and otherwise) and there’s a huge difference in their health, happiness, and quality of life.

    My problem is this: how do I know which dairies do respect the animals that provide them their living?

    A vegan, actually, gave me this site, which ranks large scale organic dairies. I only wish I could find something similar about goat and sheep farms, since I prefer their milk products:

    http://cornucopia.org/dairysurvey/index.html

    Comment by Karyn — February 22, 2008 #

  23. I am not telling that carnivore animals are evils, Barbara.. I mean , these poor animals couldnot defend themselves,thats why we capture them, feed them well with nutritious food ,so that we can kill them later for our food. Tigers are not evils because they donot have sixth and sense and hence no emotions. As we humans, do have sixth sense which we can use to analyse good and bad, we have plenty of other options of food rather than ‘choosing’ to eat animals.If millions of people in India could be VEGAN, we can also be vegan. Lazy man started eating animals becuase it was easier for him rather than cultivating food crops. If its okay for us to kill animals ,then its okay for animals to kill us, just like the one happened in san francisco zoo,where a tiger escaped a grotto and killed a man.

    Please people ,donot enjoy poor animals which are in captivation at Zoos. They are born free and are supposed to live free.

    Animals have equal rights just as we do.

    Comment by victoria — February 22, 2008 #

  24. Victoria – I do agree that eating vegetarian or vegan leaves a lot of delicious, satisfying possibilities – we do not need to eat animal products. However, India is known for vegetarian, nt vegan, cuisine, though almost every culture has a few signature dishes that are vegetarian, if not vegan.

    Comment by Karyn — February 22, 2008 #

  25. Victoria, no one is talking about eating animals in zoos. What does that have to do with eating domesticated animals–animals which have been domesticated for thousands of years, which we eat? A tiger is not a cow.

    I have to say, however, while I agree with you that the animals in zoos should be allowed to live free in the wild, with the way that people from around the world are destroying habitat, the only place safe for tigers may be zoos. (BTW–most zoo animals were born in captivity, and lots of zoos have breeding programs where they breed animals in captivity and release them into the wild. People don’t eat these animals.)

    And with global warming and polar ice melting, the only place for polar bears to be safe may well be zoos. In fact, zoos may save these species from extinction.

    The thought of a world without tigers and polar bears makes me want to weep–but there you are.

    Every time you see the evil of humanity–such as in the video that fomented this beef recall, you see other humans doing their best to save animals–from other humans, from extinction, from global warming.

    And yes, I agree with Karyn. There are very few vegans in India. There are plenty of vegetarians, but dairy products are widely used in Indian cuisine, both in the north and the south.

    For indigenous vegan cuisines, you need to look to the Buddhists in China and Japan. The foods of the monasteries in those countries is vegan, in large part, because dairy foods were seldom seen in these countries. (There are exceptions. Some tribespeople in China eat dairy products, and in Mongolia and Tibet, which are now claimed by China, there is a tradition of using yak’s milk and butter in their food.)

    Comment by Barbara — February 22, 2008 #

  26. Oh ! Am not talking about eating animals in zoos (I don’t get that?) or is cow equal to tiger…Anyway animal is an animal, no matter whether it is a cow or a tiger. All I feel is we ,people donot have any rights to kill them to eat(even if it is not a torture way of killing ). Who gave us the right to kill the cow? All they offer is Milk and good cheese and their skin for people to enjoy. They deserve a natural way of dying just like our elders die. Animals need peace in death too.. Okay I got the point that my writting in a blog or my little voice for animals would never make billions of people stop eating meat.The big change should come from inside of their minds, and I owuld be very very happy if atleast one person reading this page would consider stop eating meat.Thanks Barbara for your courtesy in letting me use your web page to tell what I feel about this.

    Comment by victoria — February 22, 2008 #

  27. Skippy, Victoria, and the other Vegans I have missed:

    As a matter of fact, I am a locavore who did go out to visit a local beef farm before buying meat from them (And the same with a poultry farm in the area). I got lucky enough to live within twenty miles of a half dozen farms that offer vegetables, fruits, meat, poultry and eggs, so I do buy locally when possible.

    Eating locally will not solve all the problems with modern food production, but once you’ve shaken hands with the people who produce the food, you get a better idea of what is going on and can be more comfortable with the whole process.

    Not everyone can eat locally, I know. Most of my girlfriend’s family lives in Houston, with little access to local produce or meat. There are still a number of ways to follow the locavore mindset (or at least a path of less dependance on coporate farms). Her mother took one approach and became vegan, her father decided not to and continues to hunt and eat game, but not beef or chicken from feed lots.

    So many people tout the advantages of veganism as a way of life, whether others want to hear it or not. It is not ‘cruel’ to eat meat, it is how our bodies work. I hunt, eat local meat, and dairy products from dairies I have either been to or trust. I also believe that animals raised or hunted for food should be respected, treated with reverence, and consumed properly.

    Just because someone decides not to cut meat or animal products completely from their diet does not mean they support the inhumane, unsanitary, and downright insane practices of the modern food industries. There are alternatives. Yes veganism can be a good path to better health, personally and for our environment, but please get off the soapbox and see that most of the world can not or will not stop eating animals.

    Comment by Blue — September 16, 2008 #

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