Douwe Osinga's Blog: Eating Animals

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Followers of this blog have noticed that lately there hasn't been much to follow. My last post is from January. I've gone through dry spots before, but at least this time I have an excuse: Twitter. It is just so much easier to send out a tweet than a blog post. If you're interested, you can follow me here:

I've always been a fan of vegetarianism. I'm not a fan of how the bio industry works. Animal welfare just isn't part of growing meat. Understandably maybe, but I think if we would play videos of the lifes of the animals next to the meat coolers where we sell their bodies, sales would depress rather markedly.

And it is not just the animals. Meat is a rather resource intensive food and we're getting to the point where we don't have enough planet to go around. Take Australia for example. Australia is in a draught and has been for 10 years. TV spots tell you to not have the water running while you brush your teath to save the continent. Wider discussions are going on about peak-water, the idea that the production of drinkable water has peaked and that the next wars will be about water, not about oil.

If you look at the numbers agrigulture is the big consumer here. 70-80% of all water is consumed by farmers. Showers, baths and drinking costs maybe a few hundred liters of water a day. Growing one kilo of meat costs 20 thousand liters of water. Australians eat about a third of a kilo a day. All in all you can probably reduce your water consumption by more than 50% when you become a vegetarian.

According to FAO (, Meatproduction is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse effect gasses. Airtransport sits pretty around 3% (though admittedly more people eat meat than fly). Vegetarians probably eat slightly more vegetables, but not nearly enough to make up for that 18% gap.

Lastly, if we don't come up with something new, we'll run out of food. The world population is set to grow by another 3 billion. Yields in agriculture aren't going up much. Total amount of land used for agriculture is falling (more cities, more degraded land). Last years food panic shows what can happen when demand and supply get mismatched. Eating plants directly rather than feeding it to a cow and then eating the cow is obviously more efficient.

And yet. Steak just tastes really good. Saying to the world I am going to eat that anymore? Augustinus saying springs to mind: "Give me chastity and continence, but not yet." Of course you can decide to eat less meat and lots of people seem to have done that, but it always sounds a bit hollow. Like a smoker saying I won't quit, I'll just smoke less.

So I have a new plan and an uggly word to go with it: Weekatarian. Week + Vegetarian, sounding a bit like a weak vegetarian, which it is. Weekatarians eat meat, but only one day a week. You get to pick the day so you can line it up with special occasians. You'll probably end up eating more meat that day than average, but quite a lot less than in an average week. You can keep eating the odd steak, don't have to say good bye to bacon in the morning and you'll reduce your water use by half, cut greenhouse gasses by maybe 10% and have less animals tortured in your name.


Anonymous said...

Another solution is "synthetic" meat, on which work is being done. It's real meat, just grown in a lab. Sounds creepy, but it's better than the current method, if it works. Work is even being done on "excercising" the meat to give it texture. Which also sounds creepy.

Pi. said...

Great idea Douwe, Gonna try this for a while...