You may have read about the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, reportedly beginning a personal challenge that means he now kills animals himself for meat, instead of letting a slaughterhouse or butcher do it. Some articles have indicated this approach is more honest, but is it? Are meat-eaters lying to themselves about where their meat comes from? They may not like to think about the animals that died to feed them, but who could blame them? Another said he has learned from a butcher to slit their throats because it is said to be the kindest way to end their lives, but ending an animal’s life to make it into dinner isn’t the least bit kind–there is no ‘kindest’ way to do it. CNN quoted him as saying he has learned a lot about sustainable farming and raising animals. It may be true that eating meat from animals raised on small farms and fed organic food is probably better for the environment, and might be healthier for consumers, but it still isn’t kind.
Meat-eaters I have met usually say they eat meat because they like it, and that is good enough for me, as I respect the freedom we all have to make our own personal choices. Some say they eat meat to get protein, but a vegetarian diet has plenty of protein, and it doesn’t contain the animal cholesterol that contributes to heart disease. If you have seen the new movie Forks Over Knives, it states that almost all heart disease is related to the use of an animal-based diet, and that for some people they may experience a reversal of heart disease when they convert from an animal-based one to one that is plant-based. The movie’s tag line is “Warning: This Movie Could Save Your Life!” and Roger Ebert said he believes that is true in his review of the documentary.
So it seems a little odd that Zuckerberg stopped in his dietary change at killing his own animals for meat, when it is much easier and less harmful to animals and to one’s own health, to simply stop eating an animal-based diet. It is definitely is better for the environment, as animal agriculture contributes very much to global warming and has disrupted natural landscapes tremendously for conversion to pasture and feedlots. Also, most of the plants cultivated by industrial agriculture today are used to feed animals, so they can later be eaten by people, according to Forks Over Knives. If we shifted all the food grown to feed animals we could feed all the world’s starving people, the film indicates.
It appears Zuckerberg is heading down the path towards vegetarianism, but gradually as many people do. First they give up beef, then fowl, then dairy milk, and some go all the way to vegan. Others continue with dairy milk and and eggs, but subsist mainly on vegetables, grains and fruits. Some are mainly vegetarian, but eat seafood once in a while. Changing one’s diet is not generally an overnight process, unless there has been a medical intervention with some urgency, such as Bill Clinton’s removal of most meat from his diet to help reduce his heart disease situation.
When removing meat from one’s diet initially, a common complaint is fatigue, but this is not due to a problem with the meat-free diet, it is due probably to being uninformed about where to get iron, and an amino acid called carnitine–but you can easily get carnitine from a supplement or by combining rice and beans, which contain the amino acids to make carnitine. Zuckerberg’s reported posting on Facebook of his personal animal slaughters seems more than a little theatrical, and one wonders if it is a publicity stunt. If he is really interested in sustainability, why doesn’t he just drop meat altogether?
Image Credit: Jonathan Billinger