Grass fed promo misses key facts
17 July 2004
Bill Pfleging's promotional article
for grass fed beef did a fine job of exposing some of the horrors of factory
farming, of which even many folks were likely unaware. Unfortunately, there were
virtually no attributions of facts and sources within the article itself,
although some of the sidebar resource may support some points. Many or all of
the assertions made regarding factory farming are echoed in the well-researched
information provided by groups like Farm Sanctuary, the Physicians Committee for
Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and Voice for a Viable Future
. However, the health claims regarding grass fed beef seem to spring from
the promotional literature of this greenwashed wing of the beef industry.
More disturbing are the glaring errors of fact in the first
paragraph. Pfleging asserts vegans "have to be
extremely careful to combine proteins and take appropriate supplements."
This is just plain wrong.
Mistaken notions of protein combining were dismissed decades
ago. A well-planned vegan diet is healthful and complete (American Dietetic
Association). Many vegans, just like meat-eating humans, do chose to supplement
some key nutrients like B-12 (vegan-sourced) and omega 3, (found abundantly in
A vegan diet is more healthful than a meat-based one.
Vegans take in more than enough protein and calcium while
enjoying the benefits of a zero cholesterol diet. People on a plant-based diet
typically consume 25 percent less fat than meat eating Americans. In matters of
heart disease, a zero cholesterol diet has vast advantages over diets that
modestly reduce cholesterol. Readers may look up the work of George
Eismann, RD, or Drs. Michael Greger, John McDougall, Dean Ornish
or Joel Fuhrman as sources.
Pfleging also errs in his anthropolical assessment of meat
eating. Humans were gatherer/foragers (vegan in today's
language) through most of evolutionary history and only took to consuming the
flesh of other species relatively late. Our biology, from our closed, short
mouths to our long, intricate intestines, reveals we are among the planets
herbivores, not its carnivores.
Read Dr. Milton Mills of PCRM or Jim Mason's Unnatural Order
on this point.
By way of errors of omission, Pfleging overlooks the fact that
in the greatest horrors of meat production grass fed animals and factory-farmed
stock are sadly equal. The cramped, treacherous trip to slaughter, without food
or water, in livestock trucks exposed to winter blizzards and blistering summer
heat are inflicted on all transported animals. The terrors of the slaughter
house, from unreliable captive bolt stunning, to being hoisted by a single leg
as tendons tear and bones snap, to the garish slash of the throat yielding a
gush of blood and screams of agony, are suffered by all cattle whether grass fed
or factory raised. As the cattle disassembly processes speeds up, animals often
"die piece by piece." (See
). Given such an end, it is simply wrong to describe any slaughtered food
animal "humanely produced."
People interested in considering a humane, healthful,
sustainable vegan diet can find support locally through the Mid-Hudson
Vegetarian Society at www.mhvs.org
Jim Van Alstine
Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society