Time to say farewell to steak and chips (fries)

Soon, most of us will stop eating beef,  and it won’t be because we’ll all agree with vegans that meat is murder. It’ll be due to the logic of advanced capitalism. The alternatives to meat now being developed – plant-based substitutes and vat-grown meat produced from cultured animal cells – will taste the same as beef but, unlike cow meat, they’ll be subject to the “transformative power of the modern production line”.

It’s not just a matter of the sheer volume of goods produced; it’s the speed of manufacture from raw material to finished article, and the ability to vary supply with fluctuating demand, to dispense with low-value by-products like offal and excrement, and to develop variations in flavour. “Factory farming”, despite its name, has no such advantages. As for those who think a global industry that rears billions of animals can’t vanish overnight, I give you one word: “horses”. In the early 20th century, our cities and country lanes teemed with them. Then along came the internal combustion engine, and they were gone. As the horse went, so shall the cow. (Peter Franklin, The Week, 7 September 2019)

I must declare my position on this – I haven’t eaten beef for…..I’ve forgotten.  This was because it didn’t agree with me, not for environmental reasons.  But now, as the public view on the global climate is changing, and, as everyone must know by now, cattle rearing puts mega-tonnes of methane into the atmosphere worldwide. It is also rather a poor use of land.  It would be better, and more Epicurean, to plant (or restore) forests and slowly phase out beef production.  So, if plant-based substitutes, are edible and nutritious, and can be marketed cleverly, what objection can there be?  Just a simple request – you try them first and report back!

One Comment

  1. I’m fine with people who don’t want to eat meat for whatever reason, but I’ll never choose a factory-made meat substitute over the real thing. The manufacturers of these foods will say they’re safe, nutritious, and green, of course, but there’s a long history of manufacturers saying things about their products that aren’t true.

    Our species evolved and thrived on a diet that included meat. Maybe someday we’ll be able to say we can thrive on a meatless diet, but we can’t say that yet.

    Feedlot beef is arguably climate-unfriendly and less nutritious than grass fed beef, but that’s a reason to eat grass-fed beef, not a reason to eat fake meat. Livestock can be raised on land that’s unsuitable for raising crops and in a way that’s compatible with biodiversity.

    Offal is highly nutritious and is widely used in products like sausages and pet food. Excrement is valuable for gardening/farming, once composted.

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