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December 4, 2023

Editorial: The beef about meat

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– guest editorial by Michael McDonald

Firstly, let me declare an interest: I have been a vegetarian for 49 years, so tasty cow parts are not high on my agenda.

My vegetarianism stems from ethical concerns – a retired journalist with ethical concerns? Oh come now – that are now more pressing given cattle farming’s connection to the climate emergency.

The move away from meat, particularly beef, has become more prominent in recent years. The latest convert has been Epicurious magazine, part of the Condé Nast publishing empire.

The magazine announced last week it will not be publishing recipes or articles featuring beef. Its senior editor declared the change is ‘solely about sustainability, about not giving airtime to one of the world’s worst climate offenders. We think of this decision as not anti-beef but rather pro-planet.’

According to National Public Radio (npr.org, an excellent US info source), Epicurious’s concerns include ‘the considerable quantity of corn and soybeans… grown using pesticides and fertiliser to feed cattle; the amount of climate-polluting methane that cows release into the atmosphere; high rates of deforestation to make space for cows and the amount of water that is alternately needed to raise cattle and polluted as a result of runoff from their manure’.

Of course there are other reasons not to eat bits off any once-living animals, as Byron’s PETA representative Desmond Bellamy has pointed out many times in The Echo’s letters pages. The move to the quaintly-named ‘meatless meat’ is growing, and it is an interesting psychological stop-gap to pretend to eat something you’ve decided not to eat.

The big money is behind the move, too, including dodgy-software giant Bill Gates, the chap the folks in silver-foil hats think tried to inject 5G into our brains through a virus, a clever shortcut through all the laws of physics and chemistry. It’s about more than meat, though, and the larger issue of ‘synthetic biology’ is riddled with positives and negatives.

‘We’ll all be rooned,’ cry the beef producers in accents most forlorn, in the spirit of the great Hanrahan created by bush poet John O’Brien, but I suspect we’ll be ‘rooned’ by climate change first before the eating public changes its habits. My evidence for this is the number of KFC and McDonald’s wrappers thoughtfully disposed of each night on the roadway outside my property.

However, if you do wish to cut down on eating cute hairy, furry, feathery and scaly beasts, there are plenty of sources of alternative dishes. SBS’s top 50 vegetarian recipes https://bit.ly/3sXdNZC and Animals Australia’s collection https://recipes.vegkit.com/ spring to mind.


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  1. In America, from birth until death, each meat eater consumes around 3,000 land animals, and thousands of other marine animals. Eating animals is seen by many now as greed and gluttony, resulting in the horrific suffering of billions of animals every year.

    Australia and countries with a high meat and dairy consumption have high cancer rates. The World Health Organisation’s IARC cancer research organisation has classified processed beef a group-one carcinogen.[1]
    ‘That’s in the same category as asbestos.’

    Reduce your risk of 23 types of cancer and other chronic diseases by ditching meat and dairy.

    · Bladder Cancer

    · Breast Cancer

    · Colorectal Cancer

    · Esophageal Cancer

    · Gastrointestinal Cancer

    · Kidney Cancer

    · Leukemia

    · Lung Cancer

    · Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

    · Pancreatic Cancer

    · Prostate Cancer

    · Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

    · Coronary Artery Disease

    · Decreased Bone Health

    · Infertility

    · Stroke

  2. Thank You Michael for your insightful/intelligent and compassionate words of wisdom. I too have been veg (working on veganism only have occasional cheese & less occasionally a dollop of yoghurt) for the past 40 yrs. MY PRIORITY is one of empathy & the fact that I know of too many facts, surrounding the cruelty & brutality within industrial animal consumption. Most people could not slaughter Bambie or even Celeste the chicken, but inoffensive packaging has convinced citizens that the slab of animal they are about to devour doesn’t resemble anything that once lived. I still get enraged when I see factory trucks with smiling / dancing cows on their advertising or chickens portrayed to look human (kinda) with little pretty skirts dancin around a green open field? Do people seriously believe this crap? There are so many plant based options these days which eliminates any valid or sane reason for eating Betsy the cow. DO THE PLANET A FAVOUR & our animal friends and just catch up to the rest of us…..I’ve been waiting decades and it appears finally “A Change is a Comin””..Hooray!

  3. Humans are the cause of all problems
    Not Animals .. !! incidentally
    It’s the luck of the draw !!
    Some people smoke , drink , meats , dairy
    and live past a hundred..
    Conversely you go to hospital
    to the children’s ward and the grief is instant!!
    It’s all in the genes my trustworthy Specialist
    Informs .. apparently 90 % of what to us in our lives !! 10 % is what we do to ourselves..


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