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Vegan Economics

In A Vegetarian Sourcebook (1983), Keith Akers observed:

"Here we have a country (Mozambique) which recently liberated itself from colonialism. Yet Mozambique then proceeded to import beef from abroad to satisfy the demands of the urban elite for meat. Perhaps even worse, they are intensifying their productio n of corn--one of the most erosive of all plant foods--and feeding it to their cattle! This is, of course, a recipe for disaster; and disaster is now precisely what Mozambique has on its hands. This is a most depressing pattern throughout many third world countries. They throw out colonialism, but they keep or even intensify the colonial system of food production.

"Africa is not the only area of the world directly affected by problems related to meat production. Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union are also experiencing serious problems in this regard. In Poland, prior to the workers' riots in 1979 over rising meat prices, the per capita meat consumption was nearly as high as it was in the United States. In 1979 the government allowed the price of meat to rise, and the workers expressed their intense dissatisfaction. Regardless of what else one can say about the situation in Poland, there is no question that meat consumption has placed a severe strain on the Polish economy. No matter what kind of government the Poles have, they will have to recognize economic realities; and these realities are, that the Polish economy simply cannot sustain the level of meat consumption which approaches the 'American' level. They could subsidize meat production or import meat or feed for meat animals; and this is, of course, precisely what the government has been doing for some time. At best, however, this can only shift their economic problems from agriculture to those sectors of the economy which are subsidizing agriculture.

"The Soviet Union is affected with similar problems of resource availability due to their wastefulness of their diet. Today, their agricultural system is a serious burden to their economy, and they are forced to import vast quantities of what from their chief ideological opponent, the United States, in order to keep it afloat. But the Soviet Union's well-publicized agricultural difficulties only arise because it tries to feed its citizens a Western-type diet high in meat and animal products. The SovietUnion would not have the slightest difficul ty in feeding itself from its own resources, but grain has to be imported for their cattle.

"Other countries are hardly doing any better...Latin America provides us with yet another example of how food problems contribute to social tensions. Throughout Latin America, land availability is a prominent social issue. Revolutionaries as well as reform-minded moderates have made land reform a major issue. Yet in many Latin American countries, forests are being leveled in order to create pastures for cattle grazing land. In a region where land availability is a central social issue, existing land is being gobbled up by livestock agriculture. The resulting social tensions have resulted in civil wars, repression and violence.

"And, finally, what about the United States? Despite its vast resources, even this country is not immune from the ecological effects of livestock agriculture. Theresources which have up to now so generously supported agriculture are becoming scarcer, harder to get to, and therefore more expensive. It is becoming increasingly expensive to farm in the United States. As in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, it is always possible to subsidize meat production in order to maintain the availability of meat; but this does not really alter the problem, it merely shifts it somewhere else--in this case, to the federal budget deficit.

"How quickly do nations abandon their ideals in order to consume meat! The third world countries copy the methods of their former colonial oppressors; the socialist countries strive to imitate the foods of the decadent West; and the United States throws its free enterprise system aside in favor of government subsidies. We are closer to the Orwellian '1984' than ever, in which everything becomes its opposite for the sake of meat consumption: colonial methods become liberation, decadence becomes the progressive future, and government intervention becomes free enterprise."

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