I have had many dealings with food activists in the social media world, mostly people that hate GMOs, gluten and glyphosate. Luckily (as I’m quickly learning), I don’t have to deal with the world of animal activists on a regular basis, as we are grain farmers. My friend Andrew started his own project 365 to let the public into his daily life as a dairy and crop farmer in Ontario with the goal of educating people about what he does. He’s using #farm365 on his Twitter and Instagram accounts so people can follow along. His Twitter following has jumped >4000 in just a few short days this January when national news outlets picked up his story. I’m happy that his project has received such good attention, but inevitably the anti-agriculture (or at least the anti-animal agriculture) crowd quickly hijacked his hashtag with awful memes and “infographics” about the alleged cruelty of animal agriculture. They call farmers rapists and murderers for breeding by artificial insemination and then the slaughter of animals for consumption. I have to wonder how many of these people have sat down and talked with farmers about these practices or even bothered to tour a real farm?
I am fully aware that not all people who avoid meat in their diet are extremists, but after some lengthy conversations on Twitter, it’s very apparent there’s a loud and abrasive anti-animal farming movement that would like to see all farm animals set free. I live in Alberta where it is currently in the -30s with the wind chill. I’m pretty sure that chickens, pigs, dairy cattle and a lot of other farm animals would not survive long-term in climates like this. I did some researching and came across a great article by Dr. Jude Capper. If we set all the beef cattle in the United States free…
Within five years we’d have 602 million cattle in the USA, within 20 years we’d have 3.7 billion – a 40-fold increase on our current national herd. That’s 40x more cattle belching methane, drinking water and producing waste, every single day, all as a result of our changing our diet in an attempt to reduce environmental impact. – Jude Capper
Animal agriculture has an environmental impact, but so does all food we grow and eat. What we really need to be looking into to help save the environment is less food waste, which does not discriminate against any diet—we’re all guilty. It is estimated that approximately 1/3 of all edible food produced is wasted annually, which adds up to 1.3 billion tons. With the use of research and technology, the production of beef cattle is using less water (12%), less feed (10%) and less land (33%) than it did in 1977. Innovation and science-based research will continue to improve ways for animal agriculture to be more environmentally sustainable.
I have always been pro-food choice and I cannot reiterate that enough. I don’t care what you eat or don’t eat, but what I do care about is what you have to say about what I eat. If you want to eat an organic-only diet, go ahead. If you want to be a raw vegan, go ahead. But please, please do not become a diet preacher condemning people for making the opposite food choices that you do. When did we become so intolerant of other people’s decisions? You don’t have to compromise your convictions to be compassionate towards others’ choices. It’s flat out disrespectful to preach that your diet or your way of life is superior to others’, and even more so by taking it a step further to spread lies and fear about others’ choices.