Let me warn you before you read further, this is a militant blog.

   If you are a vegan or a vegetarian you may want to stop here. If you are offended by reality, you may want to stop here. Some verbal descriptions in this blog may be offensive to people with weak stomachs. Stop here.

   I am a rancher. I raise cattle and at some point in the life cycle several animals a year out of my herd will go to the processing plant where they will die – swiftly, humanely, respectfully – but they will die.

   Why do I bring this up? Well, its reality and I am tired of people telling me that if we just stopped eating meat this could all be done away with.

     First, the vast majority of people are not going to become vegans. We’re omnivores and we both crave and need meat. Secondly, in the worst (or a vegan’s estimation best) case scenario if everyone stopped eating meat, not one cow, pig, chicken, turkey, fish, whatever – not one – would be saved.

   Here’s what would really happen. Big ag gets bigger – because they are the ones with the economy of scale to create all that synthetic food and supplements and whatever that will still be needed to feed the world. All the small ranchers and farmers and fisheries, etc. will go out of business and they will sell their land to some big real estate guy who will crowd four substandard built starter homes on each acre so he can make lots of money to move to that gated (and guarded) community. All the trees will be mowed down (they’re in the way). All the tiny lakes, estuaries and places for wild ducks will be filled in (they’re in the way) and open space will disappear (it will now have no value except maybe as a farm or ranch theme park). And all those cows, pigs, chickens, etc who have nowhere to live will be carted off to the slaughter house to be dispatched.

     What did you think? They’d be adopted by all those nice people buying the substandard built houses!

     And if you think that not eating meat will help the environment, consider this. It is now becoming an acknowledged fact that the greatest disaster to befall the Great Plains was not the arrival of people (although this does usually preclude most disasters!), but the demise of the great buffalo herds. The great animals were an integral part of the environment. Their removal (by people – again that precursor!) and almost extinction led to massive degradation of the Great Plains. The same symbiosis between domesticated animals and their environment can be observed on a well-run ranch or farm. Just ask Joe Salatin or Allen Savory.

     May I suggest an alternative to your current meat eating concern.

   Conscientious Meat Eating

   If you really want to help domesticated farm and ranch animals eat them – but with a conscience.

   What do I mean?

     Eat animals that are grass fed, or (if you must have grain finished) organically grown animals. This ensures two things; 1. The animals are raised humanely – with pasture and space in (for the most part) a natural environment, and 2. The animals are healthy because of how they are raised and what they are eating. I would prefer grass fed completely, but under certified organic you know there are no gmo’s in their system and no herbicides or pesticides on the pastures they are in.

   Check to see where and how they are killed. Small processing plants have the time to kill animals properly – preferably by head bolting for the big animals (which causes instantaneous brain death), or in the case of chickens throat cutting – one stroke across the carotid arteries and the chicken (who is suspended in a cone upside down) is bled out in less than 2 minutes but goes unconscious in less than 30 seconds.

   One of the other advantages to an animal being killed in a smaller plant is that the State Inspector or the USDA Inspector actually has time to do a thorough check of the animal before and after death to make sure it is healthy and has no contamination.

   Become militant and ask questions. The whole grass fed/ natural / organic movement in meat is growing exponentially, consequently, people look to cut corners and make more money. We all need our feet held to the fire! Make sure that what you are buying in a grocery store, restaurant, farmers market, whatever is really what you are being told it is. Look for names and be aware of who is in the market and what their reputation is.

     I know I’m asking a lot, but if you really are concerned for the state of the world’s domesticated animals, it’s worth the effort. And your effort will make a difference. Sarah thanks you!