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Environmentalist debate concerning meat: Is a Paleo World Feasible?

Nathalia Bailey

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I'm not sure where in the forums I can put these remarks/questions so I figured I'd put it here. If anyone has any better suggestions please let me know.

Lately I've been hearing people say that Americans should eat less meat because we don't have enough land to support all the animals, the animals are causing too much pollution, etc.

But it seems to me, that if we encourage the opposite, that the world eat less grains, we'd have a more sustainable future.

As we whole 9'ers know, diets based on grains are typically calorie/carb dense, nutrient poor diets. We also know first hand how much more satisfying and filling a meal of meat and veggies is than a meal of rice or pasta is.

For example, this morning I ate a breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, and stawberries. It was actually a bigger meal than I usually have as I'm staying at a hotel and all this stuff was free with the stay, I decided to indulge a little.

Yet I know I won't be hungry again until dinner time because it was so satisfying.

Now imagine I had eaten that same breakfast but added a bagel/toast/cereal. I'd be hungry for lunch 3 hours later because of the accompanying insulin spike. I'd probably have some meat with that lunch, as well as with my dinner. I might even want a snack or two in between meals.

Thus, because I added that grain to my meaty breakfast, I end up consuming more meat/food in general throughout the day than I would have if I had just foregone the grains.

So doesn't it seem reasonable that if we, as a society, ate less grains, we would end up consuming a smaller volume of food overall? We could also convert those grain fields into vegetable fields or animal grazing fields.

Obviously, the veggies and meat are more nutritious than the wheat, so we'd have our health improve.

Possible objections and responses:

1) What about all the poop animals make?

What, you think we're doing a good job with that now? If instead of dumping it all into silos we actually used it for its natural purpose, to go back into the soil and return the soil's nutrients, we would have less methane gas and nutrient poor soil problems. C'mon, manure's not a complicated thing, humans have been using it for thousands of years. Don't even get me started on our own poop.

The other day I heard a chemistry professor say that nitrogen fertilizers are the most important invention of the world because without it there's no way that the soil would have enough nitrogen to feed the earth. Well it's not as if the nutrients in the earth just vanish into thin air, do they? Natural cycle: plants take up nutrients, animals eat plants, animals poop out plants with nutrients and it goes back into the soil. Break in cycle: sewage.

(please look up humanure if you get mad at me about this part. yes, it requires a little bit of work, but just as much work as it takes to make sewage and clean up that pollution problem)

2) What about overpopulated and poor nations?

A lot of those citizens suffer from terrible vitamin and mineral deficiencies that would most likely be solved by eating more meat/veggies and less grains. Now I understand it's a lot of people and maybe there really isn't enough land to make a conversion in that direction. But I've also been reading a little bit about genetically modified crops that minimize the antinutrient content in some foods. I'm no scientist, but that sounds like it's worth developing.

3) Grains are easier to grow and more durable than vegetables.

Wow, I don't really know. I have no farming experience. I'd like to hear other thoughts and opinions on this!

So now I ask you all, who have so kindly read my thoughts on the matter, to input your own opinions, objections, solutions, etc.

Is a Whole 9 world feasible?

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I absolutely think a whole 9 world is feesible, but only if people are willing to better understand where their food is coming from.

The poop that animals create is of grave concern when animals are on a feedlot or in a CAFO (confined animal feeding operation). That poop is concentrated and seeps down into ground water supplies and is filled with antiboitics, etc. It ruins surrounding areas - I know b/c there is one right next to our family farm. When animals are out grazing in a field and pooping adhoc it works well. Today a very, very small number of people are buying sustainably raised meat. There would need to be serious changes in farming in order to support the masses buying this kind of meat. The average age of our farmers is 63 yrs & going up every year. Family farms are being gobbled up by corporations or sold off to developers at a scary rate. These are real problems and something every eater should concern themselves with.

What I LOVE about the paleo movement and the work that Whole 9 is doing is that it is encouraging people to eat healthy meat and fat and healthy means - know your farmer & buy high quality seasonal and local foods. People are sometimes shocked at the high cost of healthy food, but it is just the real cost of food that is not subsidized. Realistically when you are paying a lot for food there is much less food waste, you are more likely to savor and enjoy and maybe not eat as much.

If more of the world was eating healthy, local and seasonal, I think the grains vs. meat conversation might look a lot different.

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