“The problem I see, is that very few cows are raised according to this poetic description. If we all decreased our beef intake, then we could all share these environmentally friendly Sandhill cows; win win, yes? Making the argument that the beef industry in its current iteration is a good thing for the environment is a stretch that makes rubber bands jealous. I feel for the farmers, absolutely, but this just sounds like super biased hogwash.”
I recently received this comment on my blog post entitled “Will Going Meatless Save the Planet?” And because I have a feeling there are more folks who may have similar questions and concerns, I thought I’d just go ahead and dedicate an entire blog post to my response.
Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment with your concerns. I truly appreciate respectful dialogue! So, let’s break this down.
“The problem I see, is that very few cows are raised according to this poetic description.”
I’m honestly flattered that you think my writing is poetic and honestly glad that’s the problem you see, because it’s not a problem.
Most cattle are raised just like this, grazing pastures and eating grass, in different parts of the country of course. And they spend most of their lives there.
It’s true that some of them stay on grass for their entire lives, while others go to feed yards for a short time before they go on to provide us with beef. But that only makes beef more sustainable. Grass-fed/finished cattle help with things like preventing erosion and carbon sequestration, while grain finished cattle help reduce waste and emissions. Because contrary to popular belief, grain-finished cattle actually emit less methane than their grass-finished counterparts. You can read more about those emissions HERE.
“If we all decreased our beef intake, then we could all share these environmentally friendly Sandhill cows; win-win, yes?”
Win-win? Not really. It’s not just Sandhills cows that are environmentally friendly. It’s all cows.
All cows are upcyclers, recyclers, and overall, good for the environment. I say “overall” because cows do emit methane (again, read more about that HERE). However, the benefits of beef on the environment far exceed the drawbacks.
As I said at the very end of the article in the fine print, I kept it short for the sake of brevity. Quite frankly, it would take a (large) book to touch on how all the different operations and segments of the beef community work together as part of the entire food system to benefit the environment.
The fact of the matter is everything we do as humans has an impact on the environment. And I stand by what I said in the article – if we really want to become more sustainable, the greatest impact we can make is reducing waste. No one has to eat less of anything, but rather waste less of everything.
“Making the argument that the beef industry in its current iteration is a good thing for the environment is a stretch that makes rubber bands jealous.”
I’d be thrilled to make rubber bands jealous, unfortunately this is not a stretch. It’s the truth. But as I stated in the article, we do have improvements to make and we’re working every day toward becoming even more sustainable.
We do this by investing our own dollars in scientifically sound, peer-reviewed research (such as the Beef Lifecycle Assessment) to help us pinpoint areas of improvement, develop new technologies and help us become more efficient, and thus, more sustainable.
“I feel for the farmers, absolutely, but this just sounds like super biased hogwash.”
Thank you for your compassion and feeling for those of us who farm and ranch. Your compassion truly means a lot.
And, you are 100 percent correct. I am biased toward beef.
I’ve spent my entire life raising cattle (I grew up on a feed yard). I studied, and have a degree in, animal science. And I’ve seen the positive impact they make on the environment first-hand. So, yeah – biased I am.
To say this piece is “hogwash” – well, that’s one way to look at it. But we’re going to have to agree to disagree there, friend. I’m fully aware that not everyone will agree, and that’s okay. I’m just thankful you reached out.
Let me leave you with this
This isn’t part of my response. This is for you. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
I was being 100 percent serious when I told this commenter thank you for commenting. I do truly appreciate respectful dialogue. So, please do not hesitate to come to me with questions you might have about beef.
I’m happy to help!