I actually use some of this material when talking to vegans about their movement. I disagree with their panaceic view of veganism, and the environmental blindspots inherited from agrobusiness, which I point out regularly. But we can easily find common ground on the topic of CAFOs.
My youngest brother, 20 years my junior, has become vegan. We've all been supportive of aspects of it that have led to his development of culinary skills. We've suggested that, as he's eating my parents' food, that he ensure that there be enough made so everyone can benefit. There was some grumbling about that, but it was clear to him that trying to get his parents to adopt veganism without cooking for them was a bit incongruent.
My messaging often suggests to him, and anyone else of the vegan persuasion that I talk to, to focus less on local operations whose foci are local, sustainable, and ethically raised meat and animal products, including butchers and game-to-table or farm-to-table restaurants, and more on the morally and ethically perverse CAFO system.
I am an enthusiastic carnivore when the right fare presents itself, but CAFOs are evil; if veganism took on CAFOs directly, as opposed to the spray-and-pray of attacking all animal agriculture everywhere, their messaging would be targeted, and their targets assailable. If the message was streamlined and targeted at the completely objectionable and demonstrably immoral and disturbing heart of exploitative animal agriculture, more omnivores who have no intention of ever ceasing their consumption of animal products would sympathize. If they applied all their weight to one aspect of animal agriculture, they might be able to achieve the good they seek sooner.
Because then there would be framework and room for a discussion. Yes, vegans would rail at the time it would take, but changing industries and the way people live takes time and caution to get right. Otherwise, you get CAFOs and monocrops, just by other names and in other forms.
Because the industry can't just dissolve, nor should it. But the way I see it, it's necessary to take all those subsidies given for grain to fuel CAFOs and to funnel that, instead, to new and existing family farm operations, ideally in places ideal for pasture and not much else. Likewise, if shipping live animals is to stop, then mobile, ethical slaughter and processing needs to be figured out.
There are so many small and local business opportunities to be had if we can de-globalise certain aspects of life that should remain local. For me, this includes pretty much everything I put into my body that I can. I will grow coffee, cocoa, and avocados in a four-season greenhouse if I have to, but that sort of extremism isn't necessary in my view unless we're heading towards supply shortfalls.
I honestly think that, as people who love meat, we need to be the ones coming after our meat system now. CAFOs and their underlying philosophy are tarnishing and sullying what should be a grateful exchange between partner groups in interlinked ecosystems, not what we see on the videos of slaughterhouses that aren't supposed to exist, because reasons.
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein
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