'Ethical omnivores' want meat from cruelty-free environments - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 08-14-2003, 12:13 PM
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I'm sorry, there's nothing 'humane' about killing an animal that is young and healthy.



http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/food/1...mindful13.html



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By REBEKAH DENN

SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER



KENT -- Anyone who buys vacuum-sealed packs of ham, bacon and chops from Shelley and Mike Pasco-Verdi is welcome to come down and see how the meat was treated when it was part of a living pig.



On Thursday morning at Whistling Train Farm, they would have seen nine piglets grunting with satisfaction as they clustered close to mother Violet in a spacious pen, nursing on and off as they pleased. Then the sow nudged the Chihuahua-size babies with her nose for their first trip outdoors to wallow in the dirt and explore.



The ample shelter and pastoral setting, the clean straw and vegetarian feed, the undocked tails and mother's milk -- even the affectionate shoulder rubs that inspire Violet to lean her whole body against Shelley's side -- are summed up in two words on the farm's Web site: "Happy Pigs."



And that's part of why Whistling Train's pork is a hot seller, entirely aside from the flavor.



The search for such "humanely raised" food is opening up new ground in what was previously a no-man's land between carnivores and vegetarians. An increasing number of consumers are acting as "ethical omnivores," saying that they'll only eat meat and dairy products that have been raised in a cruelty-free way.



"I was very close to becoming vegetarian, only because of the things I have been reading ... about factory-farmed animals and how horrendous it really is," said Marcia Friedman of West Seattle. Instead, she began ordering Whistling Train's pork last year.



"You know what, we are made with canine teeth and we were made to eat meat and I feel if I'm going to, it may as well be meat and animals that are well-treated and happy until the last minute and killed in a humane way."



Such choices tend to be pricier for consumers. One study suggested that humane improvements instituted by the United Egg Producers cooperative would raise the price of eggs by 8 to 10 cents per dozen -- and animal rights advocates criticize even those improvements as minimal. Prices for free-range chickens run more than 50 percent higher than standard brands this week at QFC.



Regardless, the trend is the fastest-growing segment in grocery shopping, said Trudy Bialic, editor and marketing manager at Puget Consumers Co-op, which has long had "cruelty-free standards" for its animal products.



"People want clean dairy and meat. They want wild-caught salmon. 'Fast Food Nation' (the muckraking best seller on the food industry) did a lot, I think, to wake people up to what's happening, and a lot of people are asking more questions about their food."



It's leapt beyond a niche market, with a majority of consumers in a May Gallup poll said they would support strict laws concerning farm animal treatment. National chain groceries now offer milk from "happy cows" and eggs from "naturally nested" birds. Some restaurants are jumping in, such as University of Washington-area favorite Agua Verde, which recently switched to organic and cruelty-free meats despite the whack it took to restaurant profits.



"I don't know if we're all still trying to change the world, but I think a lot of people are," co-owner Mick Heltsley said of the switch.



Industrial farms have been stung by high-profile campaigns from groups such as PETA and reports such as the recent book "Dominion," where a former speechwriter for President Bush detailed how the economics of factory farming -- and the separation of farming from the average consumer's life -- has led to a numbing cruelty where animals live out short and painful lives.



Even fast-food purveyors have made improvements: For instance, McDonald's now refuses to purchase eggs from suppliers who don't give hens at least 72 square inches of cage space.



"I think people are getting more aware that the factory methods of creating meat and dairy products and eggs and things is not consistent with how they view food ought to be produced," said Bruce Babcock, a professor of economics at Iowa State University.



There's still an enormous gap between industry improvements and true humanity, animal welfare advocates say. The United Egg Producers, for instance, required increasing cage space for birds from 53 to 67 square inches per bird over six years as one of the requirements for its "animal care certified" label.



"If you're trapped in an elevator with 20 people as opposed to 10 people your entire life -- yeah, it's going to be a little better with 10 people, but it's still going to be excruciating and horrible," said Jennifer Hillman, legislative coordinator for the Progressive Animal Welfare Society in Lynnwood.



However, "the problem is so huge that it's not fair to the animals, from our perspective, to say wait until they're not in cages at all. If we could at least give them a few extra inches, we'll take it," Hillman said.



And the United Egg Producers label is just one in a confusing sea of claims, with cartons advertising grazing animals and words like "natural" without specifics to back up the beatific claims.



"Natural is kind of a misnomer, really. All it means is minimally processed and no added ingredients. So to go out on a natural beef program, you're really not telling the whole story, you're just using (the marketing)," said Lee Pate, meat and seafood merchandiser for PCC.



Pate said there's no substitute for seeing firsthand how the animals are treated -- or shopping from a place that does so.



He loves taking his meat managers on ranch tours like a recent one to Oregon, visiting Umpqua Valley Lamb's pasture-fed animals. He praised the producers' work in controlling a weed without pesticides; their work controlling hillside erosion, and their passion for their work that showed in healthy lambs.



"You just walk away from that and go wow, these people really care about what they're doing ... I can just look at an animal (and see its living conditions)," he said. "You're also looking people in the face and seeing if they're telling you the truth, which is important."



In a move that might add more clarity, a coalition of animal care organizations recently backed a new national "Humane Farm Animal Care" program that will certify producers who follow standardized animal welfare guidelines (Full guidelines are online at www.certifiedhumane.com).



Pigs must be free to turn around without difficulty at all times as part of the certification requirements, for instance, rather than the standard practice of confining pregnant animals to "sow crates" so small they can't comfortably lie down (In Florida last year, voters banned such crates). Laying hens must have enough room to turn around and stretch their wings without difficulty. Producers are not permitted to withdraw food from chickens to induce molting, and they must provide a shaded area for dairy cows when daytime temperatures are consistently above 85 degrees.



But humane-certified companies can continue with other practices that leave animal rights groups aghast, such as docking pigs' tails and trimming chicken beaks. The guidelines note that when more research is done and alternatives developed, such practices might be banned.



The standards, while a needed third-party oversight, are "probably not as strict as some people would expect," said Humane Farm Animal Care board member Jack Sparks.



"People, when they hear the animal welfare community is behind it ... think we demand the cows be tucked into the sheets with chocolate on the pillow. That's not the case, they're very common sense."



Still, a spokeswoman for the National Pork Producers Council told The Associated Press that the labeling program is part of "an anti-meat agenda" with no scientific basis. Other major industry groups are cooperating with the Food Marketing Institute and National Council of Chain Restaurants on their own set of animal welfare guidelines.



But neither will guarantee the small-farm approach of organizations like Whistling Train, where 200 chickens can freely roost inside a henhouse or wander outdoors to peck for bugs under the hazelnut trees in a two-acre field.



The business isn't a sentimental one -- the week-old piglets will be slaughtered in December, after all. And the laying hens have an eight- to 10-year lifespan, but Whistling Train sells them for stewing meat when their production drops off sharply at the age of 2 or 3.



Even so, it's hard for them to make a profit from livestock -- part of the reason why factory farms took off in the first place.



Whistling Train makes more of its money on its vegetables, Shelley Pasco-Verdi said, only breaking even on its eggs at $3.50 per dozen (they're debating adding more chickens to achieve some economy of scale). Pork sales only became profitable when the state began allowing farmers to sell meat at farmers markets. They can charge $4.50 to $8.50 per pound for the smaller quantities, a profitable jump from the $3.50 per pound they could get when selling a quarter- or half-pig at a time.



A sudden loss -- such as the boar who stopped inseminating the sows last year, or the hot weather that reduced the chickens' laying last month -- can completely disrupt the careful balance of costs and profits.



But Pasco-Verdi raises animals because she likes them and wants to, and because she's comfortable with the way she does it.



The chickens and pigs are allowed to range "because, well, they should," she said, gesturing at Violet's pen. "I mean -- I don't want to be stuck there."

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#2 Old 08-14-2003, 01:59 PM
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We have a lot of ominvores that want meat from "happy farm animals" here in Germany.



Unfortunately, animals still die for their flesh, but at least their lives have been less miserable. If people can't live without meat, it's good that at least they pick the one connected with the least cruelty, even though they have to pay double prices.



We also have farms here where you can buy your pig or whatever when it is still a baby, and have the farmer keep until it is big enough for you to want to eat it. It has always been a mystery to me how people can really eat it up after they have seen it alive and happy. Happy, because these animals are usually on organic farms, which usually care more for the animals' well being than regular farms.
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#3 Old 08-14-2003, 03:49 PM
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I think that this is WONDERFUL. I really do. I understand those that eat meat, and I might do the same, IF I knew that these were the circumstances in which the animal was raised.



Good for them.
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#4 Old 08-14-2003, 03:56 PM
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"WE ARE MADE WITH CANINE TEETH, WE ARE MADE TO EAT MEAT"



Buy that lady a copy of "Fit For Life"!



It's amazing how so many people out there are still conditioned to believe that Vegetarian, Vegan or Raw is unnatural!



But...from the humane point of view...I guess this is a good start.



Good article Jim O.
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#5 Old 08-14-2003, 04:39 PM
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I look at it both ways, I think it's better for the animals that they are raised this way, but they still are murdered for food.



And then there's the other way I look at it. This sums it up:



Quote:
"I was very close to becoming vegetarian, only because of the things I have been reading ... about factory-farmed animals and how horrendous it really is," said Marcia Friedman of West Seattle. Instead, she began ordering Whistling Train's pork last year.



It changes peoples minds, makes them think they are being 'humane' to the animals which are being slaughtered. Once again, nothing humane about this when other alternatives exist.



Animals still die, people still become diseased, the world still suffers and meat businesses still profit.
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#6 Old 08-14-2003, 08:37 PM
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Hey cool.



This is actually how I'd like to see the meat industry move as a whole. If everything was done like this I'd consider reintroducing meat into my diet, albeit with smaller portions
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#7 Old 08-14-2003, 09:17 PM
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I think it's great that they're starting to make these changes. I still wouldn't eat meat, just because I originally went vegetarian because I love animals, and couldn't bear to eat another creature.
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#8 Old 08-14-2003, 10:00 PM
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The chickens and pigs are allowed to range "because, well, they should," she said, gesturing at Violet's pen. "I mean -- I don't want to be stuck there."



Does she want her throat slit?
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#9 Old 08-14-2003, 10:22 PM
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Good point, Kurm.





Who in their right mind would pay 8 bucks a pound for chunks of rotting flesh? Wouldn't that money be better spent on fresh fruits and veggies, tofu, and whole grains?



No one friggin needs meat. People are just plain greedy.
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#10 Old 08-15-2003, 01:27 AM
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"Ethical omnivore" is an oxymoron..... but it's nice that they strive, however uselessly, to attain even a fraction of our ethical superiorty.
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#11 Old 08-15-2003, 02:31 PM
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Kurmy...your intolerable intolerance is showing again.











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#12 Old 08-15-2003, 02:45 PM
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For many people, "cruelty-free" meat is a stepping stone to veg*nism. Eventually, these people will get there, and that's good. Also, mild cruelty, while it still sucks, is better than extreme cruelty. At least people are becoming aware of the issues.



The problem with "cruelty-free" in the long run is that it's economically impossible to feed the masses (billions or hundreds of millions of people) meat without extremely cruel factory farming. Also, factory farming is not environmentally sustainable for feeding the masses, even if you ignore the cruelty issue. Feeding billions of people veg*n food, however, is cruelty-free, and economically and environmentally sustainable. Indeed, the ONLY feasible long-term solution to feeding billions of people is veg*nism. The meat and dairy consumption of the industrialized world is a bad habit that is extremely cruel and environmentally disasterous. I hope those of you who have made the honorable change to veg*nism will NEVER go back, no matter how "nice" the meat and dairy industry is treating the born-in-the-wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time nonhuman animals.
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#13 Old 08-15-2003, 08:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by mushroom

Kurmy...your intolerable intolerance is showing again.




Nothing like a closed mind.
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#14 Old 08-16-2003, 01:10 AM
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eh at least they care at all and know about factory farms
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#15 Old 08-16-2003, 01:29 AM
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Bravo mountainvegan!
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#16 Old 08-16-2003, 07:28 AM
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Happy farm animals give a nice excuse. Some omnis will say: "I only eat humanely treated animals!" Some might say: "I eat humanely treated animals, when I have a chance!" and so it won´t change the system.

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For many people, "cruelty-free" meat is a stepping stone to veg*nism.

Maybe people, who are conscious enough to eat "only" humanely treated animals, will eventually drop the habit.

If I'm not answering quickly enough - leave a note on Twitter for @Rheumatologe
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#17 Old 08-16-2003, 08:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by mountainvegan

For many people, "cruelty-free" meat is a stepping stone to veg*nism. Eventually, these people will get there, and that's good. Also, mild cruelty, while it still sucks, is better than extreme cruelty. At least people are becoming aware of the issues.



The problem with "cruelty-free" in the long run is that it's economically impossible to feed the masses (billions or hundreds of millions of people) meat without extremely cruel factory farming. Also, factory farming is not environmentally sustainable for feeding the masses, even if you ignore the cruelty issue. Feeding billions of people veg*n food, however, is cruelty-free, and economically and environmentally sustainable. Indeed, the ONLY feasible long-term solution to feeding billions of people is veg*nism. The meat and dairy consumption of the industrialized world is a bad habit that is extremely cruel and environmentally disasterous. I hope those of you who have made the honorable change to veg*nism will NEVER go back, no matter how "nice" the meat and dairy industry is treating the born-in-the-wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time nonhuman animals.



AMEN!! You just said exactly what i was thinking, except better.
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#18 Old 08-17-2003, 01:22 PM
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Hard to know exactly how to respond to this. Murder without torture beforehand is better than murder after prolonged torture ... this is logical ... but it's also still murder. I'm thinking about human murders I've read about ... I feel worse about the person who suffered horribly in the hours before their death than I do about the one who -- BAM! -- suddenly got it without seeing it coming. I'd certainly rather be the person who didn't see it coming.



I think it's a step in some sorta right direction ... but I still wouldn't eat meat, personally.
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#19 Old 08-18-2003, 07:26 PM
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I agree, sunnyk.
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#20 Old 08-19-2003, 06:26 AM
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I agree with SunnyK too. Plus Kurm, Meadow & Grain_Girl



The canine teeth thing just makes me so mad. Well, I'd like to watch some humans work on chewing up raw animals in the wild. Should be some amusing choking involved, followed by severe diarrhea & vomiting. Tsk, tsk.. don't try to craft any knives or flames there punks .



Is more humane better? certainly.. is it good enough? not at all. Death is death, and eating dead bodies is revolting no matter how you "slice" it. Pun intended .



"Well, judge.. please take mercy on me. Yes, I kidnapped, raped & murdered these people, but I was always gentle with them. I gave them soft places to sleep, room to roam and quality food. When I finally did kill them, I was super humane. I didn't want to cause any suffering"



Uhh.. I'm not feeling that defense. So long as there are meat eaters, the more humane the better I suppose. Still, eating dead animals, even if it was only those that dropped dead of natural causes (which I believe is what a lot of people think is the case) is morally questionable, not to mention disgusting.
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#21 Old 08-22-2003, 05:31 PM
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While I agree with mountainvegan that it's not viable in the long-run, I still find this article encouraging because it shows that animal activism is making a real difference. We're at a point where people are starting to find out about the cruelties, the economic and environmental degredation that results from factory farming, and amazingly enough, they actually do care.



If omnis get a sense of pride from declaring that they support "cruelty-free" food, it's because they believe, as we do, that hurting animals unnecessarily is wrong and bad for the world. They just haven't moved "animals as food" to the "unnecessary" category yet. It's frustrating that change is happening so slowly, but it's encouraging to see that it is in fact happening.
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#22 Old 08-22-2003, 08:27 PM
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"Let's kill just for the taste of meat, but let's do this ending of the lives of sentient beings in a humane manner" has something really twisted about it. But it's good for some animals maybe. Hard to say anything general about it.

"and I stand

upon a mountain

made of weak and useless men"

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#23 Old 08-22-2003, 10:48 PM
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Look, there are people out there who will never give up eating meat. I have several friends who have told me that they simply don't want to know what is going on, because if they did, they would have trouble eating meat. For them, ignorance is bliss (and, trust me, I've tried to get them to listen in the best way that I can without damaging our friendship).



HOWEVER,



These are the same people who most definitely WOULD purchase humane meat, even if it was pricier. They purchase the Buddy's natural chicken, etc. and are as concerned about animal welfare as entrenched omni's are ever going to be.



If meats of this type were availabe at the high end supermarkets, along with some info about current "normal" meat production methods, they would probably purchase this meat.



It's not the ideal situation, but it IS a good alternative to the status quo.



And, even though you think that dead animal carcasses are barf-worthy, there are plenty (myself included), who love the taste of meat. I still salivate at the look and smell of a nice filet headed for and coming off of the grill. I know that the sacrifices that I make to remain Vegan are harder for me than for some, but I do it anyway.



My friends, though not willing to make the complete sacrifice WOULD do their part if something else were available.
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#24 Old 08-23-2003, 01:53 PM
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Okay, I'm going to dream for a minute. If I were a billionaire (or even half that), one of my charitable contributions to factory farm animals would be to pay BIG money for ads on TV during peak times that would make these "blissfully ignorant" people watch 30-60 second clips of extreme animal abuse on farms and in slaughterhouses and "nasty factoids" about the food they eat. Then I would have a huge army of the best attorneys money could buy to protect the ads and the organization that ran them from the corrupt, big corporate interests that were being slowly destroyed. It's fun to dream sometimes.



Back to optimistic reality. It's going to take a while, but I believe more and more people will go veg*n over the next 10-30 years, the veg*n industry will begin to thrive, and only 10 to 30% of the world's population will be regularly omnivorous (20-30 years from now), with another 10 to 20% occasionally omnivorous. The big corporate interests are already preparing for this consumer shift by owning most of the well-known brands like White Wave, Silk, Morningstar, etc. These brands are already in "mass market" world. Along with this shift, the demand for meat and dairy products will decline significantly, allowing more humane treatment and less environmental hazard. This may be a little optimistic in terms of time frame, but I believe it is possible and will happen.
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#25 Old 08-23-2003, 10:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mountainvegan View Post


Back to optimistic reality. It's going to take a while, but I believe more and more people will go veg*n over the next 10-30 years, the veg*n industry will begin to thrive, and only 10 to 30% of the world's population will be regularly omnivorous (20-30 years from now), with another 10 to 20% occasionally omnivorous.



Just curious, but what do you base this optimism on? If you look at the recent survey numbers (last couple of years), there has not been a significant change in the number of vegans or strict vegetarians in the past 10 years. The number has hovered around 3-5%. What do you see causing such a dramatic shift?
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#26 Old 08-23-2003, 11:42 PM
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Did the animals say they were happy and treated well? I know most can't speak English: French, maybe? Who translated for them?
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#27 Old 08-24-2003, 08:04 PM
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stepping stone indeed.



I went "cruelty-free" for about two years, until I read more about the industry (thanks to John Robbins and Eric Schlosser) and realized that you can't actually BE "cruelty-free" - it's impossible.



But I do think this is a step in the right direction. More people are thinking about what they're eating and are opening their eyes to the food industry's practices.



At least they're thinking. Something I don't think most people do often enough.



amy
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#28 Old 08-25-2003, 10:40 AM
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Damn, I just lost a long reply to Tame's question. I think it was because I logged in on the "reply" screen, then it kicked out when I hit "submit reply." I don't have time right now to re-post, but I will later today.
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#29 Old 08-25-2003, 03:53 PM
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Before I go into reasons for optimism, I'll say something about predictions of the future that I should have included in the post in question. That is, as most of you know, predictions of the future, especially the long-term future, are unreliable, even with lots of statistics supporting them. So my prediction is admittedly a "semi-educated guess" at best. Also, I was under the impression that the trend of the last 10 years was better than little or no change, but I have no statistics to back that impression up. In fact, I have not done any research on veg*n trends.



Now for reasons for optimism or a dramatic shift:



1) Again this is my impression through personal observation, but it seems that the organic, natural, and veg*n food sections of grocery stores have expanded a lot in the past 5 to 10 years. Also, there appear to be significantly more and bigger natural / veg*n food stores in the past 5 - 10 years (at least in the Denver suburbs).



2) Two popular books were published in 2002 and seemed to do well in the major bookstores, Dominion (a conservative Christian view) and Fast Food Nation, that promote a shift at least away from factory farming and the cruelty involved. Also, in the past 10 years, there have been many veg*n cookbooks and "how to" books introduced. I think much of this will be followed up with talk on TV shows, magazine and newspaper articles, and yes, more books.



3) This is the biggest reason for a dramatic shift. Social and cultural trends usually follow a nonlinear or curved pattern. In other words, social attitude and behavior trends usually spike (in the case, for example, of fashion) or increase at an increasing rate. For example, back in the 1960s and early 1970s, many people in mainstream USA laughed about drunk driving and were against strict DUI laws and penalties. By the 1980s, most if not all of those same people had drastically changed their opinions about drunk driving and considered it very serious and irresponsible - nothing to laugh at. If you were to graph the trend of those attitudes, you would not see a steady linear trend, but a curve of attitudes changing at a steep increasing rate. Another example along the same lines: In the 1970s, there were perhaps several thousand veg*ns in the US, now there are at least a few million, if not several million veg*ns. The point is, because of the nonlinear nature of social attitude changes, one should not necessarily look to the recent (5 year) data and project the trend as a straight line. In short, nonlinear behavior is dramatic, Im just claiming that its starting in the early 2000s.



Having said all of that, I'll go back to what I said at the beginning of this post - the future is nearly impossible to predict. If it weren't, stock market and economic experts with tons of statistical data wouldn't be wrong so often. I definitely went out on a limb making a prediction, especially an optimistic one. Only time will tell if it was bogus or correct.
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#30 Old 08-25-2003, 05:59 PM
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sorry, but i must display a little intolerance here as well. while the idea certainly sounds better, and at least the animal isn't *torture* and then killed, let's be honest.

okay, so you have a pet pig and you rub it's belly and you name it fluffy and it comes when you call it. and that makes it a heck of alot better when you turn around and kill it. as a matter of fact, i think it would take a pretty sick individual to kill an animal they have developed a relationship with. how could anyone so lovingly care for tiny little babies and then stab them to death and sell them for there flesh? just thinking about it is a real wake up call as to what meat actually is.
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