Worldwatch Waffling: The Cowardly Promotion of “Sustainable” Animal Agriculture
March 23, 2012 2 Comments
Here’s this from today’s Worldwatch Institute’s press release:
“The demand for meat, eggs, and dairy products in developing countries has increased at a staggering rate in recent decades,” says report co-author Danielle Nierenberg, director of Worldwatch’s Nourishing the Planet project. “While industrialized countries still consume the most animal products, urbanization and rising incomes in developing countries are spurring shifts to more meat-heavy diets.”
“Farm-animal production provides a safety net for millions of the world’s most vulnerable people,” says Nierenberg. “But given the industry’s rapid and often poorly regulated growth, the biggest challenge in the coming decades will be to produce meat and other animal products in environmentally and socially sustainable ways.”
While I applaud Worldwatch for drawing attention to the impending crisis of global urbanization and the spiking demand for animal products, I condemn its recommendation as craven. The Worldwatch is aggressively indifferent to veganism. Despite an abundance of evidence demonstrating that veganism is the most effective response to the environmental degradation caused by global food production, it has stubbornly refused not only to endorse it, but to even mention it as a viable ecological (much less ethical) choice. I suspect that it fears alienating fundraisers–an assessment that applies to virtually all environmental organizations.
Let’s be clear about the track record of the solution that Worldwatch promotes to meet demand for animal products in developing countries: there is no such thing as environmentally and socially sustainable production of animal products. Even if there was such a thing, it could never compete against the industrial behemoths that dominate meat production today. For proof, consider that over the last 25 years—a time when efforts to promote small-scale “sustainable” systems have been going full throttle—milk consumption in developing countries came close to doubling, meat consumption tripled, and the consumption of eggs grew fivefold. Eighty percent of this demand was met by factory farmed meat. Doesn’t seem as if the alternatives have had much success.
In light of these figures, to fail to promote veganic agriculture as a viable alternative to industrial dominance strikes me as cowardly at best.