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Thread: Affluence and meat-eating

  1. #1
    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Affluence and meat-eating

    I was a bit shocked by the figures in this editorial in today's Guardian

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf...orld-editorial

    where it says "The British eat 85kg of meat a year; in newly rich but often vegetarian India, that figure falls to 3kg. The problem is not population numbers but consumption, and here the west punches well above its weight."

    I gather other newly-affluent countries such as China are tending to increase their consumption of meat, which even not particularly pro-vegan sources expect to put a strain on the world's resources (to say nothing of the other objections to meat-eating).

    I wonder what, if anything, could be done to break the link between affluence and meat-eating? India seems to have cracked it but I guess that's because people are vegetarian for religious reasons there?

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    Default Re: Affluence and meat-eating

    I've heard the same about Japan too. Obesity linked to increased meat consumption.

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    Default Re: Affluence and meat-eating

    I'm not entirely convinced anything could break that link. Affluence tends to give people a sense of entitlement, a sense of "I can do whatever the hell I want" (generally speaking). I don't know what could chill out people's excessive meat-eating habits, except maybe those warning labels like you see on cigarette packs, the "smoking causes lung disease", except it would be, "meat causes heart disease" and "milk causes premature sexual development". I dream of the day

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    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Affluence and meat-eating

    Valuing meat could be a sort of phase though doesn't it - I mean, I don't think eating meat is seen as a sign of affluence in the UK any more, and maybe not in some parts of the USA either?

    I have the impression that there is more prestige attached to it when it is, or has been, in short supply. Perhaps there is some way to accelerate the cycle? Trouble is, no one in newly affluent countries is going to take kindly to westerners telling them not to do what the west does itself :/

    Japan is interesting because they're further down that road. I wonder whether the advent of western-style diseases is making them rethink the adoption of a western-style diet at all.

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    Default Re: Affluence and meat-eating

    Harpy,

    I think we are on the right way.

    I have read some articles about studies in Germany to the effect that meat is becoming the food of choice of 'lower social classes' and that affluent people actually consume less and less of it. Don't know whether I can find an English version of that, let me try.

    Similar to what you see in the US. The most important precursor for obesity, e.g. is low income. Those who are most likely to rely on McDonalds and similar for their nutritional needs increasingly come from lower income classes. That may be because fruit and produce is more expensive than subsidized animal product crap, or because of better education of those who are in different social classes.

    Best regards,
    Andy

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    Default Re: Affluence and meat-eating

    Quote Andy_T View Post
    Harpy,

    I think we are on the right way.

    I have read some articles about studies in Germany to the effect that meat is becoming the food of choice of 'lower social classes' and that affluent people actually consume less and less of it. Don't know whether I can find an English version of that, let me try.

    Similar to what you see in the US. The most important precursor for obesity, e.g. is low income. Those who are most likely to rely on McDonalds and similar for their nutritional needs increasingly come from lower income classes. That may be because fruit and produce is more expensive than subsidized animal product crap, or because of better education of those who are in different social classes.

    Best regards,
    Andy

    YES I agree Andy T

    The middle classes have historically been associated with a superior diet.

    In the past it may not have been the healthy diet of the 'rocket and balsamic vinegar' middle class brigade of today . In fact in the past a middle class diet would have classically been one of over indulgence usually with a heavy meat base but always coupled with good quality fruit and veg. Their superior position would have been measured by their ability to consume meat every day at a time when the lower social classes could only put meat on the menu a couple of times a week

    Ironically for a time in England in about the early sixties( if my childhood memories dont fail me )the advent of 'mass produced' animals gave the lower social classes access to a constant and cheap supply of meat which saw them emulating the middle classes. Suddenly , not only Sunday roast but Saturday sausages and Tuesday chops were on the menu.

    Now.. in a shift -related more to personal health considerations than animal welfare- the middle classes appear to be breaking their long relationship meat. It might be a gradual shift but it is a noticeable one. The middle classes first dabbled in organic meat because they had the luxury of being able to afford to do so.They took up a superior position and lectured to those beneath on the merits of organic and free range over ' offal burgers' The lower classes signed and nodded as they munched on their Kentucky and tried to ignore the information the middle classes gave them because they too deserved meat and Kentucky was the standard of meat they could afford to deserve. The middle classes stood back shrugging their shoulders and accusing those beneath of being badly educated on food.

    Then ..the exclusion of meat, and the inclusion of wacky or ethnic alternatives to meat became quite a status issue with the middle classes. Meat began to be deemed 'socially questionable' not only because of its health issues but also because of its association with the lower classes clamouring to consume as much meat as possible in any form. Organic fruit and veg had come in on the same gravy train as organic meat and the middle class pre-occupation is now centred around good food. The sort of food that only 'we could afford'. Any one removing meat from their diet was obviously of high intellect and was concerned with good , wholesome food. Meat is increasingly not seen as fitting this wholesome agenda and the badge of 'Veggie' denoted social status.

    The middle class, the affluent, the intellectual have the luxury of choice and the luxury of education. They can afford good quality food to replace the meat . They are normally educated about food groups and nutrition from childhood.

    The lower classes, the low earners have choices too but often not the education to realise it. They normally have scant knowledge of nutrition. They are brought up in a culture where meat is prized now because for many generations it was a rarity. For them meat, any meat is better than no meat at all because of its historic significance.

    Slack Alice

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    Bad Buddhist Clueless Git's Avatar
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    Default Re: Affluence and meat-eating

    Quote harpy View Post
    I wonder what, if anything, could be done to break the link between affluence and meat-eating?
    I think the nature of the link would need to be understood to answer that one. Simplisticly;

    Meat is historicaly linked to affluence and affluence linked to 'strength' leaving no meat linked to poverty and poverty is linked to 'weakness'.

    The weak want to be strong and so they copy whatever (so long as it requires little to no effort) those they perceive to be strong do.

    Any reversal of that would require veg*ans to be perceived as 'stronger' than meat eaters.

    The only way of acheiving that within the essential 'little to no effort required' criteria would be for when veg*ans and meat eaters clash for the veg*ans to to be seen to win effortlessly every single time.

    One problem there is that it requires collosal effort and a totally "do the right thing and to hell with the consequences" mentality in order to be seen to 'effortlessly' win.

    Another problem is that, to the toothless weak, gentleness in others is only perceived as the same weakness that they themselves are afflicted by unless that gentleness has another face which sports some pretty ferocious teeth.
    All done in the best possible taste ...

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    leedsveg
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    Default Re: Affluence and meat-eating

    I've said this before but in the UK when the 'mad cow scares' were at their height in the late 80s, 50% of the population was eating less meat and the other 50% was eating more meat as it became cheaper. Ok I'm exagerating the figures but the drift of what I'm saying is that a priority for some will always be health and for others, it will always be cost.

    lv

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    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Affluence and meat-eating

    Trouble is, even if it's a phase, there are a hell of a lot of people in places like China, so if they all start eating loads of meat it could do a lot of damage in the time it takes them to get past it. I gather there are some pro-animal groups in China now, so perhaps they can think of a way to make it seem uncool :/

    ETA also closer to home it would be good if vegetarianism and veganism weren't seen by some people here as a kind of elitist fad - though as we know there are people from a wide range of social backgrounds who are vegetarian and vegan.

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    Default Re: Affluence and meat-eating

    I watched a Dutch docu today.. they said by 2050 we will be 9.1 billion and consumption of animal products will have doubled because of rising standards in China, India,...

    They had an advertisement agency brainstorm on how they could bring the message to reduce consumption and one striking thing they said was "It can't be brought by a vegetarian. It has to be someone acclaimed to liking good food and knowledgeable about food. Someone that enjoys the good life but is not too fat. But not a vegetarian because that has a negative connotation to it." (freely translated, not exact phrasing)

    People are dumb. But they are probably right, the messenger is probably more important than it should be.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Affluence and meat-eating

    I'd say the best messenger would be someone who is knowledgeable about health and is a former meat eater who can understand what it's like to have had meat as a main part of diet BUT can get the message across that a vegan diet is a lot tastier with more variety and that it is "good food"

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    Default Re: Affluence and meat-eating

    I think the health perspective is lost on most people. And health shouldn't be the primary reason anyway, nor the environment or sustainability but injustice to the individual non-human animal.

  13. #13
    leedsveg
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    Default Re: Affluence and meat-eating

    If a person goes vegan, I personally don't care a monkeys what their 'primary reason' for doing so was. All that matters is that they've gone vegan. Try telling omnis that health, the environment and sustainability are somehow of lesser importance and they'll just laugh in your face.

    Leedsveg

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    Default Re: Affluence and meat-eating

    With health there are always studies that say some meat is ok. The environment can handle us eating some meat as well some studies will say. The individual that is enslaved, abused, raped and murdered however will never say that a little is acceptable. Flakey vegans are not a long term solution. People have to truely get behind the idea that they are making a difference for others.

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    Default Re: Affluence and meat-eating

    I think that people who become Vegan have a much better chance of remaining Vegan, if their motivation for doing so is to reduce animal suffering rather than for health or environmental reasons.

    A lot of people who try to be environmentally friendly will every now and again throw a can away rather than recycling, or will drive when they could have walked. Similarly I think that vegans who become Vegan from a health/environment point of view would be more inclined to treat Veganism this way - I remember reading about one in the past who spoke of "Cheating" every now and again or being Vegetarian when they go to restaurants, and IMO this firstly undermines the concept of Veganism and secondly portrays it as a difficult and unhappy way to live where you need to "Cheat" to eat nice foods and where you need to compromise your ethics to have a social life/eat out.

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    leedsveg
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    Default Re: Affluence and meat-eating

    I think the best reason for going vegan is because you have compassion for all animals, human and non-human and you can see things holistically. Whether the majority of vegans like it or not, some people are drawn towards veganism because they see the health benefit for themselves. Nothing at all wrong in having compassion for yourself and being a healthy advert for veganism. Other people may be drawn to veganism because of the environmental advantages and these advantages will probably gain more prominence as time goes on. If the environment goes tits up, then we all (human and non-human animals) will suffer so where's the compassion in that?

    As I've said, I don't think it matters a monkeys why people go vegan. Perhaps it's only when a person has actually gone vegan that the full interconnectedness of everything is apparent. There are billions of ways a person can cheat with veganism but essentially it boils down to having selective compassion.

    I'm afraid that statements such as 'I'm only vegan for the (non-human) animals', that keep cropping up on the forum, always leave me serially unimpressed.


    Leedsveg

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    Default Re: Affluence and meat-eating

    Quote leedsveg View Post
    I think the best reason for going vegan is because you have compassion for all animals, human and non-human and you can see things holistically. Whether the majority of vegans like it or not, some people are drawn towards veganism because they see the health benefit for themselves. Nothing at all wrong in having compassion for yourself and being a healthy advert for veganism. Other people may be drawn to veganism because of the environmental advantages and these advantages will probably gain more prominence as time goes on. If the environment goes tits up, then we all (human and non-human animals) will suffer so where's the compassion in that?

    As I've said, I don't think it matters a monkeys why people go vegan. Perhaps it's only when a person has actually gone vegan that the full interconnectedness of everything is apparent. There are billions of ways a person can cheat with veganism but essentially it boils down to having selective compassion.

    I'm afraid that statements such as 'I'm only vegan for the (non-human) animals', that keep cropping up on the forum, always leave me serially unimpressed.


    Leedsveg
    Hi LV
    I agree with what your saying but IMO most Vegans become Vegan because of the way non-humans suffer under humans. I completely agree with the Interconnectedness only becoming apparent after you have become Vegan - for me I only realized the environmental impact of being Vegan afterwards (it was a very quick change from Omni to Vegan for me) and I think its great that my health and the environment can be improved through being Vegan.
    If people ask me now why I am Vegan I explain it is because of compassion for non-human animals, also for my health, and it also has a positive effect on the environment, but my primary motivation was and still is to reduce the suffering of non-human animals.

    Please dont take offence at this, but if that leave people unimpressed then so be it.

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    Default Re: Affluence and meat-eating

    I'm not in it to impress. My fear is that if people come to a vegan diet from other angles than ethics they will miss things like why you shouldn't ride the ponies or donkeys on the beach, why you shouldn't go to zoo's, what is wrong in buying puppies or other pets, how inconsistent it is to be on a vegan diet and wear leather shoes or wool,... That is the risk that media popularizing a vegan diet for health and/or environment bring. Ethical veganism ticks all the boxes in one go though.

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    Default Re: Affluence and meat-eating

    I am wondering though, if a person becomes vegetarian/vegan for health reasons at the beginning, would they not eventually, from looking up vegan recipes, vegan or vegetarian health articles etc, come across information about the cruelty to animals, and then this would be an additional reason for them to be vegan?

    When I first thought about becoming vegetarian, it was for health reasons, because at that time I was not aware of what happens to the animals and had never really given it much thought. Then I saw a news article on a major news site online that had an undercover video of a factory farm and when I saw that, I was shocked and that was it for me. Then just researching recipes and vegetarian health articles online I came across another article about the dairy industry. So, what started out as health research ended up in a very different way for me...i'm sure other people have had similar things happen to them?

    Its sad, but there are people out there who don't really care about animals or the environment, and the only way they may ever eat less meat or stop eating it altogether is for their own health... but still every meatless or dairy free meal they eat is still one less animal harmed and the demand goes down.. so hey whatever it takes..

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    Default Re: Affluence and meat-eating

    Quote snowflower View Post
    I am wondering though, if a person becomes vegetarian/vegan for health reasons at the beginning, would they not eventually, from looking up vegan recipes, vegan or vegetarian health articles etc, come across information about the cruelty to animals, and then this would be an additional reason for them to be vegan?
    This ^ is a very good point!

    For as long as a person wants to eat meat then they have to be selectively blind and deaf to absolutely any reason that makes the eating of meat not ok.

    Once a person stops eating meat (for any reason at all) then the 'need' for that selective deafness and blindness no longer exists and all further reasons to not eat meat can then be seen, and thus recieved, with an unblocked mind.

    The only exception I can think of to that is the social pressure meat eaters apply to veg*ans to not close down ALL the flimsy arguments they use to justify their eating of meat as somehow 'ok'.

    It is definitely true that many veg*ans succumb to that pressure and keep a 'mental block' along the lines of "it is wrong to offend the offenders" quite firmly in place.
    All done in the best possible taste ...

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    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Affluence and meat-eating

    Regarding China and other newly-affluent countries with large populations, though, I think the most realistic short-term objective is to get people to limit, or not increase, the amount of meat etc that they eat, and like LV I think any (true) argument against meat-eating is a good one for that purpose.

    Looking at the relatively modest rate at which people in the west are going over to veganism and the urgency of the problem, I'm afraid the world can't afford to wait for veganism to catch on in those places though obviously it would be good if it did in the longer term.

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    Default Re: Affluence and meat-eating

    I agree that any argument against meat eating is good and I count health/environment as some of my reasons for being Vegan, but I only discovered these after becoming Vegan for non-human animal reasons. I think that the problem that I have is that I find it difficult to visualize the beneficial impact that being Vegan is having on health/the environment (less so with the health benefits) but the beneficial effect for non-human animals I can.

    If I choose to buy Vegan cheese over non-vegan cheese I know the impact that it is having, I can visualize the animals it will benefit, but I cant visualize what the benefits to the environment will be although I know that they are there, this probably comes down to ignorance on my part for not researching more (might need a little research session later), although I tend to find that the majority of Vegan literature does focus on the non-human animal impact over the others.

    For me this is why non-human animal rights are still the major factor for me staying vegan (not the only reason, its probably a ratio of 60% Animals, 20% Health, 20% Environment) once I have done a bit of research this may change. It is also the reason that I said that people could be more inclined to "Cheat" or be half hearted about being Vegan if they do it for environmental/health reasons because its IMO harder to visualize the benefits.

    What I'm trying to get across is (and please excuse me because I'm not good at explaining myself) is that I think the environmental and health benefits of Veganism need to be more publicized which would allow dimwits like myself to understand the impact that being vegan has, and as LV said have a Holistic approach to Veganism that would benefit both the planet and ALL animals.

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    Bad Buddhist Clueless Git's Avatar
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    Default Re: Affluence and meat-eating

    Slightly related to topic ...

    My personal two favourite advocates of the vegetarian diet (not vegan, mind) are the buddha and Gandhi. Buddha started life as a prince and Gandhi was of enough of a priveledged background to have been English educated as a lawyer and spent a fair part of his life wealthy enough to have big houses with staff.

    Point I was pondering is something along the lines of this:

    1. Is it easier to give things up, turn right against them even, if you have ever been able to indulge entirely to your hearts contents?

    2. Is it harder not to want something or to give something up when it has always been in short supply, a luxury as it were, for most if not all of ones life?

    If so it might partly explain why previously people of the newly affluent countries are so keen to get their hands on meat that they couldnt afford very much of before.
    All done in the best possible taste ...

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    Default Re: Affluence and meat-eating

    You'll have to forgive my crappy maths logic here -but i am vegan 100% for animals and 100% for health and 100% for the environment. i am also vegan 100% for compassion for all and everything. My veganism is a representation of the whole of me and all the things i think are important and it wouldn't make sense for me to live any other way So far as getting the message across to others - I agree with LV that the holistic approach is the best. I agree very much with the points Slack Alice made about the recent (twentieth century) history of meat eating/eating across the lower and middle classes. I also think that once you become vegan (for whatever reasons) you do begin to find other reasons why it makes sense. For me, intially, if I had to come down on one reason why i became vegan i would say it was for the animals but it didn't take me very long at all to realise that I was also vegan for my health and for the environment. Obviously this is a personal, individual thing but its seems unlikely that many people remain vegan for one reason once it becomes blindingly obvious that veganism makes sense on very many levels. I also think that as people begin to suffer from more and more diseases of affluence that they are going to be forced to think about what they are eating. This has happened to my ex recently who as an ardent over-indulger in all ways, including ridiculous consumption of meat and dairy foods he has now been diagnosed with diabetes. He has been forced to totally re-evaluate his diet. He hasn't become vegan by any means or even veggie but he is finding that he simply cannot continue eating the way he was. he is not a stupid person but his knowledge of nutrition was shocking. When he rang me for advice I mentioned avoiding white carbs and he replied that he did not know what I was talking about! Of course, it would be nice if people could think about these things before they become afflicted with diseases of affluence. I was watching tv at the weekend and I saw a benecol advert and I thought how nice it would be if I won the lottery and could put out a series of ads myself advertising the benefits of a plant based diet saying things like 'did you know that only animal foods contain cholesterol' etc. I will stop rambling now

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    Default Re: Affluence and meat-eating

    Quote harpy View Post
    Regarding China and other newly-affluent countries with large populations, though, I think the most realistic short-term objective is to get people to limit, or not increase, the amount of meat etc that they eat, and like LV I think any (true) argument against meat-eating is a good one for that purpose.

    Looking at the relatively modest rate at which people in the west are going over to veganism and the urgency of the problem, I'm afraid the world can't afford to wait for veganism to catch on in those places though obviously it would be good if it did in the longer term.
    It's unethical not to allow China, Pakistan, India, Africa,... to reach our standards of living. So to deny them meat comsumption at the levels we consume is not acceptable. Weirdly enough. It's a case of practice what you preach. You can't tell them not to increase their wealth and consumption if we don't reduce ours.

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    Default Re: Affluence and meat-eating

    I agree, we're in no position to deny other countries anything. If westerners attempted to lecture them about it in a neo-colonial fashion they wouldn't take a bit of notice, and I don't blame them.

    If anyone is going to persuade them that you don't need to eat a lot of meat to have a good standard of living, it will probably have to be done locally. It's a bit like that business a few years ago about the west not wanting less developed countries to use fridges with CFCs, although China at least came around to using other technologies I believe.

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