Despite the glowing reports I read even up to last night on various blogs about the “progress” we are making as “more and more people are becoming vegetarian and vegan,” here are the latest sobering US government statistics as reported by FARM:
“10,153 million (nearly 10.2 billion) land animals were raised and killed for food in the United States in 2010, according to data extrapolated from U.S. Department of Agriculture reports. This is a 1.7% rise from the 2009 totals, larger than the 0.9% increase in US population, meaning that animals killed per-capita increased slightly.”….
“Based on January-August 2011 USDA slaughter numbers, it is projected that the number of land animals killed in 2011 will increase an additional 1% from 2010 numbers, rising to approximately 10,266 million animals. Fortunately, due to increased feed prices and sinking domestic demand Bloomberg.com is speculating that there may be a 5% drop in animals raised for food in 2012! [see: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-29/meat-supply-s-precipitous-drop-to-spur-prices-to-records-rabobank-says.html%5D (http://farmusa.org/statistics11.html).”
With pathos, I note the desperate need for optimism in the FARM citation of this Bloomberg report, as suggested by the enthusiastic and joyous explanation point. But markets are fickle and prices could drop or government could provide more subsidies, and the estimate 5% drop is not an iron-clad prediction but a speculation. Moreover, no mention is made of China, India, and other parts of the world where meat consumption is rising, so in fact the animal holocaust is worsening dramatically. AND it must be emphasized that any current or future drop in some sectors of the US consumption market (again, it has risen over the last year) has little to do with the success of vegan education/outreach, but rather principally stems from other factors, such as China’s with growing demand for corn, wheat, and other crops, thereby raising prices globally, and with market dynamics generally.
“Globally,” the FARM report continues, “the number of land animals killed each year for food has exceeded 65 billion, according to conservative U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization figures. Aquatic estimates are unavailable.”
As far as I can discern, the number vegans use to prove they “save” thousands of animals a year remains a fantasy figure; I spent some time on the Vegan Outreach in every case I clicked on a hyperlink to a report, study, or data that I thought was going to lead me to some kind of evidence to support their claim, almost every link was broken! I find it hard to believe this is an accident, and my suggestion to the VO group, if in fact they have some supporting data, is to fix these links (of all links!) immediately, and support your claims with the best studies and science you can provide. I suspect no such data exists or, if it does, has been peer-reviewed, checked, and cross-checked.
I have been criticized for saying, in my recent Germany speech that vegans claim that they save an animal life for every pamphlet they hand out; this was hyperbole, I admit, but more accurately is was satire, and I stick to my argument that vegans have no idea how many lives their “boycott” of meat, dairy, and eggs save; that no liberation should make boycotting commodities a central tactic and strategy; that no matter what a minuscule population of vegans do is virtually meaningless; and that “ethical vegans” should drop the moral posturing and just admit, to revise the bon mot of Isaac B. Singer, that they are vegans not for the chicken’s health, but for their health, because nothing they are doing or can do (perhaps for decades to come, if ever) will make a difference in the life of a chicken or any farmed animal.
Other statistics kept, such as the US Census Bureau shows a steady rise in meat and dairy consumption from 2003-2010 (http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/cats/international_statistics.html).
The gross inadequacies of looking only at countries like the UK and US, where meat consumption is leveling off, compared to China and other developing nations, is clear in this 2009 Guardian report:
“Increased meat-eating has followed rising affluence in many parts of the world. China’s levels doubled between 1990 and 2002. Back in 1961, the Chinese consumed a mere 3.6kg per person, while in 2002 they reached 52.4kg each; half of the world’s pork is now consumed in China.
The US and the UK are among the few countries whose meat consumption levels have remained relatively stable. Surprisingly, it is not the US with the largest consumption (124.8), but Denmark with a shocking 145.9kg per person in 2002” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/datablog/2009/sep/02/meat-consumption-per-capita-climate-change).
Of other developing countries, a recent USDA Government says the following:
“India [now] displaces the United States as Third Largest Exporter. Beef exports are forecast to rise 5 percent in 2012 on robust global demand, particularly by Southeast Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. India accounts for nearly half of world growth in 2012 of increased supplies and price-competitive shipments to emerging markets. Expansion enables the rising exporter to nudge the United States to become the world’s third largest exporter. The United States maintains gains achieved since in 2003, the last year before the BSE detection in Washington State, to reach record level exports. Despite a weak dollar, additional U.S. growth is constrained by lower production. Russia is the world’s largest beef importer (http://www.fas.usda.gov/psdonline/circulars/livestock_poultry.pdf).
There are certain things I don’t believe in — like the Rainbow Bridge, the eternal afterlife, and a benevolent God — that I prefer to be wrong about, and this includes the overwhelming amount of statistics which support the fact that world meat production, the animal holocaust. and environmental destruction continue to rise or deteriorate dramatically, as vegans keep that smile pasted on their face. I’ve read the fuzzy math, seen the fantasy figures, looked for credible data, listened to the arguments (not one of which transcends the US or even a limited sector of the US to address the global dynamics), and I remained decidedly unconvinced and continue to believe veganism is more of a wish fulfillment and religion than an ethics or science.
So the vegangelicals who insist “we” (who is “we”? One sector of the US? The entire US? The whole world??) are “making progress,” and are leading the world from a trail of tears and river of blood down the primrose path, please, tell me, what am I missing here?
It amazes me that vegetarian and animal rights conferences continue to hold the same panels and talks, year after year, whereas there ought to be a annual World Congress Meeting on how to tackle this problem and dramatically rethink vegan philosophy, education and outreach efforts, and tactics from the bottom up. Because clearly what we have been doing for decades has not been working and is surely a dead-end and recipe for total failure for the years and decades to come.