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Increasing monetary wealth and animal product consumption

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
It seems that throughout history, as countries become monetarily wealthier they also tend to consume more animal products. That is, unless of course there are religious or cultural reasons for not doing so. However, I believe even India is seeing less vegetarians than before. Do you think this is an inevitable process? Would there be any way to change its course?
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post #2 of 15
Traditionally, animal products have been associated with luxury and wealth because they are resource-intensive and required more time, land, and other resources to produce. But now with factory farming, government subsidies, and big ag's negative externalities, the market price of animal products does not reflect the true costs of the products and so a "luxury" that was once only scarcely available is now widely available.

For the benefit of the environment and the continuation of our species I see two solutions:
- remove subsidies, regulate factory farming, and impose taxes to cover the external costs of animal product production (pollution, for example) in order to bump the market prices back up and return animal products to a place of luxury so that the majority of people eat a nearly-vegan diet and only an elite few can afford hamburgers everyday (this is essentially the route promoted by happy meat proonents)
And/or
- stigmatize animal products as morally wrong, dangerous for ones health, and socially unacceptable (think: fur coats, ivory, whale blubber, etc). This is the route of many vegan advocates.

These two methods can be done simultaneously by different groups since morals do tend to differ between the elite vs the masses.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ElaineV View Post

Traditionally, animal products have been associated with luxury and wealth because they are resource-intensive and required more time, land, and other resources to produce. But now with factory farming, government subsidies, and big ag's negative externalities, the market price of animal products does not reflect the true costs of the products and so a "luxury" that was once only scarcely available is now widely available

Isn't this largely a trademark of U.S. and European agriculture? I guess I'm not familiar enough with other countries' government and farm legislation or practices, but I've never really heard of this happening in China, India, or Brazil.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ElaineV View Post

And/or
- stigmatize animal products as morally wrong, dangerous for ones health, and socially unacceptable (think: fur coats, ivory, whale blubber, etc). This is the route of many vegan advocates.

These two methods can be done simultaneously by different groups since morals do tend to differ between the elite vs the masses.

Not that there haven't been success stories, but a lot of countries (perhaps the vast majority) don't view animals as "highly" as we do in the United States (even here, we're caught up with the welfare of the cute, furry ones). I've been to Guatemala and Mexico and neither of the populations seem like they're in for a paradigm shift anytime soon in regard to how they view and treat animals. If you're vegan, you might as well be from another planet or just a pretentious American.
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post #4 of 15
http://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/u...cline-in-2012/

This should put a spring in your step, at least for a moment. According to the above link, the last few years has seen a 12.2% decrease in the amount of meat and poultry that is consumed in the US (since 2007). Mind you, that might be partially a result of the economic downturn, but as a vegan, I'll take it!
post #5 of 15
There is indeed an increase in meat consumption where there is an increase in wealth. There is also an increase in problems and sickness wich didn't even existed in those countries before, like colon cancer.

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post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dieselsmom View Post

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/u...cline-in-2012/

This should put a spring in your step, at least for a moment. According to the above link, the last few years has seen a 12.2% decrease in the amount of meat and poultry that is consumed in the US (since 2007). Mind you, that might be partially a result of the economic downturn, but as a vegan, I'll take it!

That is good news, but I'm more concerned with countries that have very large populations and are growing very quickly economically such as India, China, Brazil, and Indonesia. They represent billions of people and with that comes billions of $$ and probably billions of more slaughtered animals. Is this an inevitable thing for countries like this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by vegan cyberpunk View Post

There is indeed an increase in meat consumption where there is an increase in wealth. There is also an increase in problems and sickness wich didn't even existed in those countries before, like colon cancer.

Do you think something like that is enough of a deterrent? I've found that health usually trumps ethics when people start giving up animal products, but do you think these people will eat substantially more anyway because they have more money?
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post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Green_Gentleman View Post

Isn't this largely a trademark of U.S. and European agriculture? I guess I'm not familiar enough with other countries' government and farm legislation or practices, but I've never really heard of this happening in China, India, or Brazil.

As I said, the negative externalities are one of the primary reasons that animal products have become financially affordable to many people. Those externatlities exist everywhere. China, India, or Brazil are notorious for letting business shift the cost of production away from consumers and into negative externalities.

Here is an article about a solution to change human behavior: tax meat.
http://ideas.theatlantic.com/2009/06/tax_meat.php
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ElaineV View Post

As I said, the negative externalities are one of the primary reasons that animal products have become financially affordable to many people. Those externatlities exist everywhere. China, India, or Brazil are notorious for letting business shift the cost of production away from consumers and into negative externalities.

Here is an article about a solution to change human behavior: tax meat.
http://ideas.theatlantic.com/2009/06/tax_meat.php

That's a nice idea. Whether it's politically or culturally feasible is another issue.
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post #9 of 15
You sound rather pessimistic. I'm sorry to hear that.

To your original point, I do not believe that increased animal suffering is inevitable. I think there is hope if we act quickly and strategically. I think increasing the cost of animal products through taxes and other methods whilst stigmatizing/exposing animal products as immoral and dangerous is probably the best method.
post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ElaineV View Post

You sound rather pessimistic. I'm sorry to hear that.

To your original point, I do not believe that increased animal suffering is inevitable. I think there is hope if we act quickly and strategically. I think increasing the cost of animal products through taxes and other methods whilst stigmatizing/exposing animal products as immoral and dangerous is probably the best method.

I'm not really pessimistic, just thinking realistically. Bureaucracy is bad enough in this country, but it's much worse in many others and in others the government doesn't exist. I don't see politicians acting on this unless they have some huge incentive. I also think that countries are doomed to go through a similar cycle as we have concerning food systems (this might be a bit pessimistic). Plus, people currently see it as a status thing for a middle class family. If they take that away, I don't know if the people would remain content or not...who knows.

I've also been abroad and seen how people in other countries treat animals as well as discussed this with immigrants here. Their beliefs don't really resemble our own. They generally don't care about animal welfare unless they "belong" to them. The wealthy have pets who they care about, but they also eat more meat and we're back to economics. Unless the west can unleash some serious cultural imperialism (while simultaneously changing our own....ugh), which we've already executed, I don't see much changing for a very long time. Multi-nationals have had serious profit motives to set up shop in other countries, but I'm not sure how veganism would work.
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post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Green_Gentleman View Post

I've also been abroad and seen how people in other countries treat animals as well as discussed this with immigrants here. Their beliefs don't really resemble our own. They generally don't care about animal welfare unless they "belong" to them. The wealthy have pets who they care about, but they also eat more meat and we're back to economics.

Are you using the word "they" to describe all nonAmericans? That seems to be a bit of an overgeneralization.
There are animal rights organizations all over the world. Vegan restaurants all over the world.
Examples: PETA Latino and PETA Asia Pacific
Veg Guide lists vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants world-wide: http://www.vegguide.org/
Meat Alternatives lists veggie meats by country: http://meatalternatives.org/
post #12 of 15
It's the nature of man to persist in folly until he realizes his folly.

I have to agree that it's hard to imagine much changing in this area for a very long time, not only because foreigners don't think much like this community does, but also because 95% of Americans actually don't think much like us, either. Yet who could have predicted other changes in history that didn't happen for a very long time and then suddenly did? I just think this idea that mass behavior inevitably follows economic law derives from an extreme Cartesian dualism which isn't natural and would not affect things so much if so many didn't believe in it. Destiny is what we make it.

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Jenner: I learned this much: take what you can, when you can.

Justin: Then you have learned nothing!

 

The Secret of NIMH

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post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ElaineV View Post

Are you using the word "they" to describe all nonAmericans? That seems to be a bit of an overgeneralization.
There are animal rights organizations all over the world. Vegan restaurants all over the world.
Examples: PETA Latino and PETA Asia Pacific
Veg Guide lists vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants world-wide: http://www.vegguide.org/
Meat Alternatives lists veggie meats by country: http://meatalternatives.org/

Well, when you speak of a culture of people, you essentially have to use generalizations. I wasn't really speaking of non-Americans as much as non-wealthy, non-Westerners. I admit my experience is very limited and generalizations shouldn't be used, but the idea that animals somehow have rights is a fairly novel, Western idea (aside from religious groups such as Jains). I suppose I should statistcally provide evidence, but I don't currently have that information.

I'm not entirely hopeless. For the Olympics, China pulled a lot of animal products off the shelves because visitors don't normally eat dogs, cats, rats, and other such animals. However, I could argue that it was an economic decision rather than a moral or cultural one.

On the other hand, my host brother in Guatemala told me that he learned in his university that humans weren't made to eat lots of meat, perhaps only small amounts of chicken. For this reason, he doesn't eat meat too often. It's a small step, but I think it's significant.

We (Americans) have also been quite successful at culturally imperializing other countries, so maybe these ideas too will some day spread.
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post #14 of 15
Right, while meat consumption in the USA is on the decline, it is seriously increasing in China, India, and elsewhere. A larger percentage than ever of USA meat is being exported now. This is bit disheartening. For however positive the news is that Americans are consuming less meat, the industry is set to stay strong since there is so much demand overseas. If the industry relied upon US consumers, they would be in big trouble right now. So much for the benefits of global trade. :-(
post #15 of 15
Call me a pessimist or whatever you like, but I don't think a meat tax or anything similar would go over well right now. Why? Because we are a minority, the sad truth is people like their meat. I'd venture to say vven most veg*ns didn't give up meat because they hated the taste of it, I know I didn't. People are going to be resistant to things that make meat more expensive or harder to obtain because they like it and so they want it to be easy to get. That's part of why meat consumption will go up with wealth. If people can afford more of something they like, they'll get more of it.

Personally, if I ever won a whole bunch of money I would hire a personal vegan chef to make my meals. They could come with me while I travel the world with me so I'd have access to vegan food if I had trouble finding it locally. But if you ask most people what they'd do with a buttload of money their food choices do not generally include veganism, it probably includes trying rare and expensive animal products. It's a simple matter of people getting more money = people getting more of what they like.
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