These darn philosophers—how dare they make you think, even when you disagree with much of what they say? Peter Singer is one of those infuriating people who sometimes sounds so silly, but still makes a strong case.
He has an interview in Salon—if you don’t want to fuss with their ads, I’ve put an interesting excerpt below the fold. Maybe it’s time for me to get back to vegetarianism…
Second factoid: 284 gallons of oil go into fattening a 1,250-pound cow for slaughter?
That’s a figure from David Pimentel, a Cornell ecologist. The fossil fuel goes into the fertilizer used to fertilize these acres of grain, which are then harvested and processed and transported to the cattle for feed. We get back, at most, 10 percent of the food value of the grain that we put into the cattle. So we are just skimming this concentrated product off the top of a mountain of grain into which all this fossil fuel has gone.
So even if we all started driving Priuses we’d still have these cows to worry about.
Yes. In fact, there’s a University of Chicago study that shows that if you switch from driving an American car to driving a Prius, you’ll cut your carbon-dioxide emissions by one ton per year. But if you switch from a typical U.S. diet, about 28 percent of which comes from animal sources, to a vegan diet with the same number of calories, you’ll cut your carbon-dioxide emissions by nearly 1.5 tons per year.
Third factoid: We have more people in prison in the United States than people whose primary occupation is working on a farm?
Isn’t that amazing? Just as an example, when I wrote “Animal Liberation” 30 years ago or so, there were more than 600,000 independent pig farms in the U.S. Now there are only about 60,000. We’re still producing just as many pigs, in fact more pigs, but there has been such concentration that we are now producing more pigs with a tenth as many pig farms. The same has happened in dairy and many other areas.
And finally, it turns out that a wood chipper is not the best way to dispose of 10,000 spent hens?
Yes, this also came to mind when you asked me what most shocked me. This was in San Diego County, in California. Neighbors noticed that a local chicken farm was getting rid of hens at the end of their laying period by throwing them by the bucketload down a wood chipper. They complained to the Animal Welfare Department, which investigated, and the chicken farmer told them that this was a recommendation that had been made by their vet, a vet who happens to sit on the Animal Welfare Committee of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The American Veterinary Medical Association, I should say, does not condone throwing hens down a wood chipper, but it is apparently done. We’ve also had examples of hens being taken off the conveyor belt and simply dumped into a bin, where by piling more hens on top, the hens on the bottom were suffocated. These old hens have no value, that’s the problem, and so people have been killing them by whatever means is cheapest and most convenient.