Critical Response To The Article “If You Want To Save The World, Veganism Isn’t The Answer” By Isabella Tree

I am writing in response to the article “If you want to save the world, veganism isn’t the answer” by Isabella Tree. To me, sustainable cattle grazing is not the way to solve the environmental degradation and immoral killing of animals. Vegans still hold its status for being the best lifestyle regarding the environment and animal welfare.

First and foremost, it is not feasible for the farm to change their meat consumption to sustainable ones. This farm has low production levels. Without antibiotics, the fatal rate of cattle is higher due to increased infection. The free range environment contains trillions of microorganisms and is a cause of disease. Fewer animals can survive in the wild environment. It is also worth noting that the farm sizes around 3,500 acres. Fewer animals can be housed at maximum and the number is insignificant before commercial farms. These reasons contribute to the low output of meat. The supply is simply not enough for consumers to purchase at 75 tons a year, not mentioning modern farms which could produce at a hundred times more yield with similar farm size. This farming approach has few economic incentives for people to adopt. Not much animal harm is reduced in the end.

The writer claims that the DHA, one of the essential nutrients for developing the brain cells, is hardly to get in vegan’s diet. They are only naturally available in fish or dairy products and vegans do not consume them, hence eating meat is justifiable. However, the argument does not stand upon careful examination. Thanks to recent technological advances, DHA tablets made from algae are readily available now: UN statistics show that the production of algae DHA with respect to the whole industry rose from 10% in the 90s to nearly half now. Vegans can obtain DHA by pills that is made of plants, because plants cannot feel pain and thus ethical to kill for food. The reason is that plants do not have a nervous system and killing its life would induce no negative feelings. Furthermore, it was mentioned that meat is rich in protein and vitamin K, helping us to develop a more balanced diet. But the fact is that vegans are able to acquire a variety of nutrients by careful planning. Tofu could be a great source of protein; broccoli provides valuable Vitamin K. As long as we keep our menu with vegetables that contains all our nutrient needs, our health will be of no difference with meat eaters. What’s more, vegans live a longer life in contrast with omnivore eaters! Therefore, the vegan plan can definitely replace meat in our diet.

Though the natural grazing does reduce the suffering of animals, there is one ultimate pain that they need to face. We must bear in mind that the animals kept will be killed in the end, and it is immoral regardless of the farm environment. As humans, morality tells us that we should not kill. In fact, animals have a sense of empathy, which is displayed in humans too. We should take their rights and welfare as serious as we are to humans. This way, we should not deprive of their living rights, but we are now killing animals. Although these domesticated creatures live in an organic and non-industrial farm with a higher quality of life than industrialized farming, their destiny is already decided once they go into the farm. If they are not kept in captivity, they can roam in the wild freely, without fearing that they may be slaughtered someday. But the fact is that they will be manipulated, turning their lives into consumable goods of human. Based on the above, it is evident that the farm is unable to respond to the concerns of being a vegan. When it comes to killing, the immorality also extends to the butchering process. The farm (Knepp Castle Estate) does not carry the butchering work on its own; instead the work was outsourced to external butchers. Frequent news reports have already discovered that many unethical practices are found in various slaughterhouses. Animals are beaten and suffer from redundant pain even before their deaths. In some cases, they are electrocuted if they are not behaving. They are indeed experiencing the worst time of their lives. They are tortured to death literally. A case would be at Knepp, most of the meat was sent to Garlic Wood Farm, a local butcher, but there was no ethics statement on the farm’s website. It is highly probable that the butcher does not have a strict code for action. Cruel practices are not prohibited on the killing. This shows that the sustainable grazing is not a panacea to the ethics issue, many aspects in meat production is not well regulated. The ethics requirement is still incomplete. So why should vegans support meat that was not guaranteed to be produced righteously?

To sum up, the Knepp Castle Estate’s mode of farming is incapable to solve the animal cruelty problem. It is hoped that by technology, we could strike the balance of moral and production with novel food production methods, say synthesized meat. I am looking forward to this bright future.

13 January 2020
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