I'm considering inventing a new kind of vegetarianism, for myself. I'm calling it, "Band-aid Vegetarianism." Why? I like vegetables okay, but I rarely think to myself, "Man, I could really go for some broccoli
right now." Actually, I do, but it's more along the lines of snap peas and artichokes for me. And while I have a moral problem with the animals' quality of life in factory farms, I'm okay with raising animals to kill and eat in general. I wouldn't want to do the killing myself, no, but if I had to kill to eat, I'm sure I would learn to be fine with it. Occasionally. I might hunt down all the vulnerable potato plants in the area first.
But not all meat is raised on traditional farms. There are, it seems, "farms" that conform to this particular
business model. The article discusses a pork factory company in the southeastern United States that produces so much and such volatile waste that people fall in pools of chemical pig manure and die.
That's beside the enormous environmental damage. In my mind, this is obviously an immoral use of land and animal, and causes more harm than fair.
Smithfield estimates that its total sales will reach $11.4 billion this year. So prodigious is its fecal waste, however, that if the company treated its effluvia as big-city governments do -- even if it came marginally close to that standard -- it would lose money. So many of its contractors allow great volumes of waste to run out of their slope-floored barns and sit blithely in the open, untreated, where the elements break it down and gravity pulls it into groundwater and river systems. Although the company proclaims a culture of environmental responsibility, ostentatious pollution is a linchpin of Smithfield's business model.A lot of pig shit is one thing; a lot of highly toxic pig shit is another. The excrement of Smithfield hogs is hardly even pig shit: On a continuum of pollutants, it is probably closer to radioactive waste than to organic manure.
It's an interesting article if you're feeling morbid. Unconscionable to even dream of supporting of this monstrosity by chance, and beside the issue, livestock is a pretty inefficient way of feeding the human body. The animals we eat need resources to support them, plus the food that the animals eat requires resources of its own. And we sit on top of this ginormous inefficiency pyramid! Well, if I want people to take me seriously, I mean, as an economics major, I can't let myself be tarred by that kind of inefficient... thing. And as for my Environmental Studies concentration, well, that goes without saying. Vegetarianism of some kind might very well be crucial to my sense of proper scholarship. I'm going to ignore the business minor for now.
The problem is, I rather like meat. In my mind, chicken is a kind of palette for gastronomic creativity, and red meat is just delicious. But what if I just ate them for special occasions, or when I'm at home? Thus, band-aid vegetarianism.
Lucky for my conscience, I hate pork. Joseph Luter III, chairman of Smithfield, mentions, "Most vegetarians I know are neurotic." I wonder if maybe it is impossible for anyone with a heightened social conscience to look at the world and not
be a little neurotic?