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Rather than Cull Millions of Livestock, Let’s End Animal Agriculture

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/05/19/rather-cull-millions-livestock-lets-end-animal-agriculture

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Thank you so much for this important piece Joseph Winters.
Keep bringing this cruelty into the light and consciousness of people who (can easily) look away.

In the long term, we must not waste this opportunity to start mending our broken relationship with animals. We will have failed them if, when restrictions begin to lift, we avert our eyes to their suffering.

This is worth repeating to open the eyes, ears, hearts of as many people as possible.

We cannot be fragmented and compartmentalize where our food comes from at a horrific cost any longer.
We must move toward wholeness and compassion of all living things and not accept objectification . . . .

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Indeed, what better place to learn about mankind’s relationship with the earth and all of its inhabitants than Harvard.


As I drive, to and from, my grocery store and other essential places during the time of COVID-19, I see long-ish lines of cars at every big Inter-
national franchise. Arby’s " we have the beef " commercials fill the TEEVEE screens. It just goes on and on; yessiree, Mickey Dees, Wendy’s, The Colonel, Taco Bell, Burger King… they pretty much have all the beef, chicken, pork and fish they need. Same with Kroger’s, Walmart, CostCo, Safeway…WHILE THERE POTENTIAL COMPETITION IS SHUT DOWN BY LAW, THE STATE & FEDERAL GOVERNMENT!!! That’s one way to eliminate the competition, no doubt.
Just sayin’.
All the compassion and animal welfare in the world will not stop China, India and other countries from consuming animal protein in larger quantities as they become wealthier, either.
Yes indeed, this Industrial Agri-Business Model is a giant disaster during a pandemic like COVID-19. However, it was a giant environmental and logistics disaster long before COVID-19. And, consolidation and near-monopolies made it so.
Would someone please remind the average American consumer how, during the Great Depression, people ate " organic " fruits, vegatables and animal protein. How it got to the market and, what has happened in the last 60 years to destroy the connections among humans and their food. Gee…was it collusion among the PTB who write and direct food policies in the U. S. and around the developed world?
Why don’t we ask Mr. Oakey Dokey?
And, please explain to me how a special occasion, or a 2 or 3 Star fine dining place, excluding the Ruth Chris’s Steak Houses of the world, will turn tables enough times to be viable.
Serving a vegan menu and getting $80-100 per seat, including wine and all the accoutrements?
Asparagus/ Green Beans/Beets and 10 different varieties of farmed or wild mushrooms? With pasta?
Plus, just think how much wine, spirits and other consumer items these places sell at a premium. It’s about keeping the ol’ economy rollin’, right?
Sure it is. Just say it enough times, it will become true.
If COVID-19 wasn’t a perfect storm of a fustercluck for the Industrial Agri-Businesses to gain even more power; why they’d have to invent a castrophic event to get this lucky.
Let us all address the issue of animal welfare; how about starting with puppy and othef types of home pet mills, hobby farming and the raising of exotic animals on scarce farmland near urban centers … oh, never mind. Why don’t we all go out for carrot and creamed potato soup; with wine and a a salad or dessert, and dropping 60 bucks for the privilege.
Bon Appetit, indeed.

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Can we please stop this foolishness these types of articles promote.
Should our current agriculture system continue it’s path?
Should animals suffer in our agriculture system?
Absolutely not.
Should we reduce our meat consumption?
Should everyone be required to switch to a vegan diet?
Should we eliminate animals in our agriculture system?
Only if you want to make the system un-sustainable, and crash.
Anyone who answers yes to the last question, please explain to me, using fact based science, how we feed the citizens of this country, with a organic, sustainable agriculture system, with animal manure removed from the system?
Yes, soil health can be maintained with composting, green manures, and added soil minerals, on a short term basis, but not long term in most areas of the country.
We need animals, and they need us, our old family farm systems understood this relationship and treated animals in the system accordingly, with respect.


Interesting that you repeatedly describe vegan food as expensive, and thus only available to elites, presumably “liberal” ones at that. As a lifelong vegan, I can assure you that what I spend on food is a lot less than what my carnivore friends spend on their meat and dairy. And why do think vegans only drink expensive wine??? Oh yeah, must be that liberal elite lifestyle.

As for the suggestion that animal welfare be restricted to puppy mills and hobby farming, exotic animals, etc., the number of animals trapped in these exploitative enterprises is a fraction compared to the billions of animals who endure lives of unrelieved suffering and cruelty in factory farms. The end comes via a brutal death in speeded-up assembly lines in slaughterhouses, now no longer even subjected to the minimal protection afforded them by USDA inspection.

It imakes no moral sense to not do the right thing because people in other countries do the wrong thing. Perhaps the U.S. could lead the way by example and help to create a healthier, more climate-friendly, sustainable, and compassionate world by embracing a vegan diet as the norm. Time to stop arguing for what is indefensible.

No I didn’t say plant-based food was expensive. I said, or implied, that millions of restaurant and dining places can’t/won’t survive with a vegan business model. There’s a ripple effect, as well.
Exactly how many vegans are there in America?
I mean adults, too.
How many adults are employed in all the moving parts of the food industry; in all it various manifestations?
And, your cheap crack of " setting an example " for the world reeks of the general b.s. that came out of the environmental " goals " of the various climate change agreements. No requirements, just goals. More feel good happy talk. Which is even less expensive than a vegan diet, btw.
Start picketing or writing strongly worded letters to Tyson and Smithfield’s Food, Arby’s and Burger King, not me. Try following the food chain.
I’m merely pointing out that COVID-19 …never mind, I never defended factory farms, either. I know what and where straw comes from, and is. I’ve cut and bailed, made bedding- hell, they make houses out of it. Straw man arguments don’t cut it, dude.
There’s room at the discussion table for everyone who has an appetite. There’s room for pets, etc., too. It just seems you have the pecking order confused, dude.
I like humans, pets, plants, animals and…other than saving a dolphin, wolf, whale or a bobcat, I would even save you. What do you think about that?


fern –

Sadly, as Elite control over our colleges/universities has been emboldened there
is every reason to question the state of education –
especially where the MIC also has great influence –

But this article seems a rather personal appeal to rethink our relationship with animals –
bringing us up to date with what we already know of “factory farming” as a huge problem.

Joseph Winters is a Harvard College student studying Earth and Planetary Sciences and Environmental Science and Public Policy. He is passionate about addressing climate change, with a particular interest in the intersection between environment, food, and health.

The VIRUS has basically backed the industry up into living with its own filth.

Meanwhile, the public seems to be being told that there is a “shortage” of “meat” where
the reality is just the opposite –

Meanwhile, I think that being a vegetarian is something either you question and think about
as a child – and where children are likely to meet great resistance from parents concerned
with “nutrition” – or you never question at all. Imagine if children could more easily find real
information, back up and support from society when they ask their questions and try to make
the decision to become vegetarians or vegans. Ruby Roth is a wonderful artist and writer
of “stories” about NOT eating animals –
Some will be lucky enough to find her books at their local libraries … when they open again.

Meanwhile, it seems to be clear that this VIRUS is connected to animal exploitation as 75%
of our Viruses are. The oldest of the plagues – The Spanish Flu – was also connected to
to animals - pigs. Yet, the public doesn’t seem to question the safety of eating animals?
How can that be. Just want to remind everyone that dairy products are also produced by
animals and carry all of the problems that eating “meat” entails.


The bubonic plaque lasted 4 centuries. It spread from fleas to animals to people. 3000 people still die each year from it, mostly from their pets. There’s spots, though they aren’t very hot, currently. Still, being dead isn’t good.
The Spanish Flu v. The Bubonic Plague: there’s a Godzilla v. King Kong Hollywood movie(s) in there somewhere. Go for it. $$$- try Bezos, he’s making a killing right now. Actually, he’s made about 6-8 already, I think. Because of HIPAA he doesn’t have to tell, though.


I’ll make a note to look for a study on this, but given you are science minded I want you to think about exactly what is happening with animal manure and steady state material flows. If you have a lot of animals, you have a lot of manure (in fact often too much to deal with), and it makes sense to return material to the soil since much of it came from there. The only things that might not have come from there are hydrogen (from water) oxygen (air and water) and nitrogen (air). So if you are saying animals are required to fix nitrogen in the soil then I could look at the nitrogen cycle the closest (there are plants that fix nitrogen). If you are saying there are some minerals that need to be returned, I don’t buy that as an argument for needing animials. The minerals end up in human excrement (which could in theory be returned to the land also though there are tougher disease management issues as I understand it) and animals are just a ‘carrier’ of food. If you nix the animals and supply the same amount of minerals to the diet of humans, you get the same mineral depletion (and that is in the ideal case were all animal waste including bones eventually makes it back to the soil).

The amount of plants grown for meat animals to eat is really quite astounding. If everyone were vegan (yes I know that isn’t likely to happen, but we are talking about movement aren’t we? - and any suggestion that a vegan farm economy is somehow unsustainable can prevent movement) we would need a lot less acres actually growing food and could rotate crops that aren’t even for food but are strictly for nitrogen fixing.

So basically, there isn’t any obvious science to me that justifies your statement that animals are required either. But I will review the current studies.

Really, I thought it was a rather superficial article where the ultimate aim was to redirect funding without any real mechanism for solving the problem. Most domesticated animals no longer have a natural ecological niche But yes, everything is connected to everything.

They are called eco-systems and occur naturally, as opposed to the scientifically controlled environments that produce our domesticated food supply. Just because science hasn’t studied it or got it wrong doesn’t make it any less true.

Here is an example:


You bring up some good points, but never forget this country has many, many different macro climate zones, each bringing positive and negative forces to bare on the agriculture systems in them. There is no “one size fits all” for this problem. You bring up nitrogen fixation, so I’ll use that for my example. I’ll use my location (MS. Gulf Coast), compared to VT.
I use nitrogen fixing legumes with the proper inoculate in my system, but they can’t be used all of the time here or you end up with an excessive amount of root knot nematodes in the soil that can devastate vegetable production, and it’s hard to reduce these levels back to a workable level. VT., doesn’t have this problem because their harsh winter temp.'s reduce this pest naturally, so farmers there might be able to use your method sustainably.
VT.'s healthy soils have organic matter (OM) levels around 5%, their low summer heat, low humidity levels, and moderate rainfall (approx. 30 in. year) levels allow this. Our (OM) levels in healthy soils here average around 1-3%, this is due to high summer temp.'s, very high humidity levels (60-100%), and approx. 80 in. a year of rainfall. The temp.'s and humidity break down the (OM) very fast here compared to VT., then the high amounts of rainfall leaches (OM) and nutrients from the soil very quickly also. Optimum (OM) levels for water holding and nutrient holding in the root zone for plants should be 5% or higher. To combat this I set aside 1/2 of productive land each year and grow/till green manure crops to strive for those (OM) levels, then rotate and repeat the following year.
Because of the problem I pointed out above, the green manures are mostly grain/grass, with some legumes, so I don’t raise the pest levels and create a problem.
This means I have to supplement my soils with nitrogen, something VT. farmers may not, as well as other major minerals, all farmers do absent of a rotational animal manure system. What I use is a chicken manure product, that came from a chicken farm that has that abundance you talked about. It’s OMRI listed because it’s pasteurized, then pelletized, bagged, and sold to people like me. I do this because my production acreage is too small to incorporate live animals into my system and due proper crop rotations (organic standards prevent growing food crops on land rotated with live animals until 6 mo. has passed for safety against pathogen contamination).
I’m open to any new information on this subject you find, but IMHO there are many farm systems around the country that will need animals to maintain fertility levels in their soil, to maintain stainability of the system itself, and not have to ship produce around the country, something I think most of us here will agree, is not sustainable in any way. This doesn’t mean I’m ok with the way animals are treated in the current corporate farm model.
This is but one example of many, that show the differences in producing healthy food, in different areas of the country, for our fellow citizens.
The human manure theory you put forward was actually tried about 25 mi. from me, about 20 years ago. The problem ended up being high levels of heavy metals, and when applied to the soil take hundreds of years to dissipate. Not a workable solution right now, maybe in the future.


After rereading your post, I realized I missed a topic.
You are absolutely correct about the amount of grain grown to “finish” livestock before slaughter. IMO all farm animals should spend their entire life on grass, especially ruminate animals. This grain finishing was brought on by public pressure so their steaks would have that prefect “marbling” of fat (think ribeye steak). Even chickens do better on pasture, are healthier, happier, and eat less grown grain, and produce a product that has higher levels of omega-3’s, that’s healthier for the consumer.


Should read “that perfect”.

In the long term, we must not waste this opportunity to start mending our broken relationship with animals.

Our historic relationship with animals has been “prey”. Homo sapiens has always been an omnivore.

That was an interesting article. As I mentioned in ~https://commons.commondreams.org/t/slashing-us-meat-consumption-by-half-could-cut-diet-related-greenhouse-gas-emissions-by-35-study/77348/3 and later post 17 same thread, I think shifting to bison is a great idea though I’m sure there are practical problems for small ranchers. I wouldn’t support the idea as a customer though as I have no interest in quitting being a vegan.

You are pretty knowledgeable on the topic, and I have only read a little and actually grown a very very little (citrus trees, some strawberries as a kid, and tomatoes in pots). I do have an acquaintance whose business helps people transition to vegan farms - I’ll ask her what studies she likes as opposed to just doing an internet search.

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Better yet, let’s cull the human population and save the rest of the planet.

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Before there were giant animal killing grounds–didn’t grocery stores get meat from butchers? Weren’t these local and every city had them? WHY do these farms and slaughter houses have to be so horrible. in their largeness/ BIG farms will breed disease. When a moose is killed on the road in Alaska, the city or county comes out, cuts up the meat and gives it to the poor.
When did the giant plants become the norm? Oh and here’s a weird thought—do animals tortured by packing into tiny spaces…I wonder, does the horror and pain of these creatures in their farm building prisons----does this horror of life affect the health of the meat? Does bad farm karma result in unhealthy and sick meat? A weird question, but when I saw pigs stuck into tiny pens constantly giving birth------it seemed to be a fate that only non human humans could think up. And when I see how the creatures are treated------ then what is the welfare of the workers?