Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Hello, and welcome to another edition of Ripping Slate a New One ™, the feature on Where's the Revolution that gives our friendly little pseudo-liberal journal a beating and makes it come begging for more. Last week, we tried to convince them that picking local apples is not a societal ill. Today, we look at their main headline: Vegans vs. Vegetarians: Who's Greener?
The funny thing about this article is that it's not really about veganism or vegetarianism. After admitting that vegetarian diets are better for the environment, and furthermore that veganism has even greater impact, the article goes on to talk about how it's not realistic to expect Americans to "forgo steak for the benefit of the planet" (yeowch!) and how it's therefore better to simply decrease our meat consumption. A teeny bit. Some of the time. Well, not really at all, rather, just to be more aware of where our "extra-long bacon cheddar cheesesteak" comes from.
This article has so many logical inconsistencies that it would be a shame not to tackle it. The fact that Slate magazine claims to be fairly progressive (even featuring regular articles on environmentalism and green living) is even more reason to do so, since it's this sort of pseudo-enlightened response that can really throw ethical vegans for a loop. It's one thing to fight against a mythical ignorant meat-eating opponent, it's another when your opponent basically cedes all your points, but still can't take their knowledge to its logical conclusion and give up meat, for reasons of convenience, pleasure, or habit.
At first, I thought it would be fun to do another point-by-point refutation of this article like I did with the apple article last week. That was fun! But I decided, why not make this a collaborative project and share the fun? I'm challenging all my readers to find a fact, a claim, an argument, or a statistical figure in this article that is wrong and call Slate out for it. It's easy- there are a lot of them packed into this tiny article. All fun aside, it is also important for vegans to hone our argument- let's not let the scientific acrobatics here throw us for a loop in future arguments. Read the article and leave a comment with your findings!
I look forward to reading your comments and to a lively discussion- hopefully, we will all walk away with new knowledge and resolve.
Daiku can have the first crack:
The article claims that: "to optimize land use, [...] limit their meat and egg consumption to two cooked ounces per day—3.8 ounces less than the national average."
According to this USDA website, in 2005 Americans consumed an average of 200 pounds of meat a year. That's about 8.7 ounces a day, almost 3 more ounces than the Slate article claims. This is data straight from the horse's (or in this case, the cow's) mouth, not including eggs, which the Slate article does. There might be shrinkage and therefore a discrepancy between "meat" and "cooked meat", but the fact remains that this is typical of a lot of arguments that underestimate consumption in order to downplay the urgent need for reform. The fact is that Americans are eating more meat than ever, their consumption is not going down, and the vast majority of the meat that they eat does not come from local, sustainable sources. The point is, 2 ounces of (responsible, green, sustainable) meat a day is a ridiculous figure- very few meat-eaters would take care to always be aware of exactly where their tiny portion of meat came from.
What about you? What do you find most objectionable in this article? C'mon, everybody, let's Rip Slate a New One™ - again!