As the daughter of a cattle rancher and a person of omnivorous tendencies, I found the article “Vegetarianism humane choice” first unreadable, then annoying and finally, irritating for reasons beyond my initial disgust. After the first few paragraphs, I simply wanted to refute all the arguments made, many of which were based on unfounded evidence.
Indeed, to reinforce my sneaking suspicions about bias and invalid sources, I Google searched “how much water does it take to produce one pound of beef” and voila. Clabaugh’s claims about water consumption and livestock were touted by a number of pro-vegetarianism blogs and websites; that, my friends, is what we call bias.
In order to truly determine the water consumption of, shall we say, beef cattle in direct correlation to their weight gain, one would have to take into account an absurd number of variables, including rainfall for the particular animal’s region, rainfall in the region where the crop is produced, whether or not the crops were produced with irrigation circles, the temperature of the area and so on. However, to deliberate long over the water consumption of cattle and other livestock is trivial, at best; the fact of the matter is Clabaugh’s article mistakenly attributes the water consumption of livestock to the starvation of children.
My beef with Clabaugh is not that he’s a vegetarian and that I think this specific lifestyle choice is absurd; my source of contention is that “Vegetarianism humane choice” is inappropriately aimed at an ill-informed audience while exploiting starving children as the result of livestock consumption. There’s not even a significant foundation for a correlation between the two concepts.
Children in America and Haiti and Kenya and India and other corners of the world are not starving because an inhumane, godless tribe of infidels is bludgeoning cattle to death with baseball bats in a dark cave off the coast of Hell. No, these poor, starving children – for whom I truly do feel pity and anger – are a product of many other factors, including corrupt government systems, familial abuse, war, market prices, etc.
World Food Programme is an organization dedicated to saving lives all over the globe, with a special focus on hunger and malnutrition. At the organization’s website, wfp.org, one of the leading causes of hunger is – no, not livestock – nature. The site indicates that “drought is now the single most common cause of food shortages in the world” and includes poverty, war, agricultural infrastructure and environmental overuse as the other main causes of starvation and hunger.
Those who do not live in farming or ranching households often do not understand the expense associated with farming: equipment, seed, fertilizer, help, etc. A significantly greater amount of effort and money goes into farming crops today than just grabbing a hoe from the shed, tossing some cow manure in for fertilization and praying for rain.
If you’re still feeling uncertain about the source of global hunger, check out the World Hunger Education Service’s website, worldhunger.org. Not only is the website a valid source, but it is also updated frequently to accommodate our changing world.
“World agriculture produces 17 percent more calories per person today than it did 30 years ago, despite a 70 percent population increase,” the site informs readers. “The principal problem is that many people in the world do not have sufficient land to grow, or income to purchase, enough food.” Again, a list of reasons for world hunger is posted, comparable to those listed by the World Food Programme.
I am and always will be a supporter of the livestock industry – especially the beef industry – because many, many lives depend on the income farming and ranching provides. My goal is not to convert anyone, or hurt any feelings; rather, the point of this article is to educate and inform, rather than haphazardly thrust ill-informed opinions into the hands of readers.