Scrolling social media, I came across a shared article, see the picture, about eating less meat. But, what really caught my attention was the blurb atop the article link.
The sharer, a page that identifies as intellectual, boldly claims that not eating meat, thus decreasing the demand for meat, has saved lives.
This is a common misconception regarding many different social justice wars. The idea is that warring against some industry saves the lives of the highlighted animal, which is unfounded and inaccurate.
How can that be?
Cause the oversimplified call to hashtag onslaught slogans and the single-sided sob stories, to tug at your heart strings, do not give the complete or full story of those being attacked or the true and accurate implications of having the desired results achieved. In this complex and interconnected world there is never a one-size-fits-all solution to anything that does not have consequences, usually resulting in different problematic issues or even worse conditions for the protected poster child of the campaign.
In this article we will primarily focus on the topic of the shared picture, just as it is. I have not and do not intend to read the article, as this article is not directed at the article or any of its facts or positions, it just happened to be the share, it is the blurb that is the focus.
It is apparent from the blurb that, the sharer is of the opinion that ranchers, that raise cattle for the meat packing industry, do not control the population of their herds and will maintain the happily ever after life of any and all cattle not sold for consumption. This could not be further from the truth!
Cattle ranchers that produce livestock for consumption are very hands-on about the population control of their herds. To put it bluntly, no cow becomes pregnant, unless the rancher “does the deed himself” either, by specifically letting a bull near the cow, to do his thing, or more commonly, by artificial insemination. Thus NO calf is born without its final destination already planned out. To think otherwise is to have no idea about the cause that you have taken up arms against.
If you think some hashtag war is worth your time and effort, then take the time to research it and find out just what you are advocating and what you are attacking. In this hashtag war, you are attacking ranchers and farmers and slaughter houses and butchers and chefs and grocers and a host of others that either directly or indirectly make a living based on the raising and butchering and consuming of cattle. And you are NOT saving a single cow’s life by doing it.
If a rancher determines that 1000 head of cattle will meet the meat industry’s need, then there will only be 1000 head of cattle bred and raised for that purpose. So if half-a-billion fewer head are needed globally, then that just means that half-a-billion fewer head were born, not that you saved their lives. A life never begun, is not a life saved, it is a non-life, a non-existence. Breeding, birthing, and raising cattle or any other livestock or animal takes money, a lot of money, money that does not grow on trees, by the way. So, while the top ranchers can live well and a large number can live comfortably, none of them can afford to, just for your desire to save lives, breed and feed and care for cattle that do not provide any return to the ranch.
Thus, your campaign has not saved lives, it has, maybe, reduced the number of calf births that would supply the meat industry. However, what your campaign has more probably done is to push subsistence and hand-to-mouth (or paycheck to paycheck) small family ranchers out of business and thus, in lots of cases, more than likely, led to, not only, their loss of livelihood, but, also, their loss of family land and the loss of their traditional and cultural significance and identity.
There are some good things about ranching and other livestock raising; first and foremost it tends to either, leave the land undeveloped or it maintains some specific form of under development and that does lend to the continued existence of natural habitats of indigenous species. In addition, it also maintains a certain amount of greenery that helps reduce the CO2 in the air and the negative impact of CO2 on the environment. It also, provides employment and improved standards of living for those who are employed, not only, on ranches, but, also, in an untold multitude of dependent occupations, as well, that would be at risk if there were no cattle industry. Not to mention, the economic security in the communities that depend on cattle or other food related livestock for their own survival.
Is ranching a complete positive? No, but, neither is not ranching.