Maybe because he’s from New Hampshire, famous for the stubborn independence—political and otherwise—of its population. Maybe because much of the Granite State consists of rugged mountains and relatively undeveloped rural areas perfect for hunting and fishing. Or maybe Dan Williams, a member of the board of contributors to the state’s Concord Monitor newspaper, is simply a little smarter than your average citizen of post-modern America.
Whatever the reason, Williams recently wrote a compelling commentary titled, “Environmentalists really Can Eat Meat,” in which he tackles the controversy over the eco-impact of livestock production that has overshadowed animal abuse as the anti-industry activists’ primary line of attack.
In his essay, Williams, a teacher and musician by trade, recalled how he read Peter Singer’s seminal “Animal Liberation” as a senior in high school. He gave up hunting, and in college found himself sharing a dorm room with a vegan named Trevor, “a skinny, pale, longhaired keyboard player from New Jersey,” as he described him.
“[Trevor] challenged me to become a vegetarian, and I accepted the challenge for two years,” he wrote—“shunning meat and fish but allowing myself dairy products and eggs occasionally. In those two years I actually gained weight because I fell into the ‘pasta trap,’ like many who start down the vegetarian road. I didn’t eat right, and it showed in my waistline.”
He gradually “outgrew” his vegetarian phase, and years later, Williams is back to hunting, fishing and eating meat—only with what he terms “a big difference.” He now “walks a news path,” that of a dedicated locavore who considers where and how the food we eat is produced.
“Death is an inherent part of the meat industry,” he wrote. “But death is also part of the vegetable and soy product industry, [a] reality that many vegans refuse to accept: Nothing lives without something dying.”
The problem with veggies
That sounds simple, but it’s actually quite profound.
For all the happy talk about dietary choices by vegan activists and the apologists who support them, the foods they would substitute for animal protein—primarily soy, wheat, rice and corn—are neither cruelty-free nor without significant, often serious, environmental impacts of their own. To grow vegetables, fruits or soybeans, a forest somewhere needs to be cleared—these days, often a swath of environmentally critical rainforest. Fields have to be plowed, killing thousands of rodents, birds and other creatures.