18

votes

How environmentally responsible/green and sustainable is the paleo diet?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 17, 2010 at 3:01 AM

I've heard all of the environmental arguments against eating meat, from cows farting methane clouds resulting in climate change to the resources - land, water, feed - that growing meat requires.

Is the paleo diet environmentally responsible? Can it be sustainable?

D60897b1c8f2a9e4fe1e94f1f56075ad

(170)

on January 19, 2013
at 12:21 AM

Completely agree Dunnie. For many reasons, variety is important. Better for the environment if we eat a lot of different things rather than relying on meat that is farmed. Animals eating their normal diet contain better fats (more omega 3) among other things--wild kangaroo for example is a great meat, and there is a surplus due to how humans have changed the landscape (tastes great too!) Variety is also better for our bodies. As is eating seasonally. Surely ruminant meat was not available 365 days of the year to our ancestors? We should also use the whole animal, offal etc.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on April 05, 2012
at 12:45 AM

This is an old thread, but Melissa, you are freaking AMAZING. I am saving this question in my favorites to read over and over again!

Medium avatar

(2169)

on November 14, 2011
at 06:30 PM

@ WyldKard-there was recently a thread on here about grassfed beef in the UK (specifically Ireland I think). Someone posted a link to a study that suggested that most Irish cows are grassfed all but during the winter because its cheaper and less environmentally taxing. If you can find that thread and the link to the study, I would think it might include some info on that.

Af005ec9a8e028f2b04bf5367b64e0d6

(2797)

on September 20, 2011
at 01:04 AM

Read this critique of Lierre Kieth. The commenter is correct. This book is extremely poorly researched and I didn't care for her writing either. She's like a radical vegan in non-vegan form. I really did not enjoy reading this, even though, as we all know, she has a lot right. http://www.amazon.com/review/R3M4LC3USB5H3S/ref=cm_cr_dp_cmt?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1604860804&nodeID=283155&tag=&linkCode=#wasThisHelpful

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 14, 2011
at 11:13 AM

+1 for question leading to a very interesting discussion with lots of good info.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 14, 2011
at 11:11 AM

+1 for lower methane production for all.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 14, 2011
at 11:10 AM

Not a study (although I believe that Clemson University has done research at the farm) but Happy Cow Creamery is an example of a totally pastured dairy that increased their output and reduced input by going to a sustainable system. I'm sure the same would work for a meat production farm also. http://www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Project-Products/Southern-SARE-Project-Products/12-Aprils-Grazing-Dairy-Manual/Twelve-Aprils-Dairying (yes, I linked this above also, but it's such a great example of what can be done)

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 14, 2011
at 10:54 AM

As an example of how sustainable agriculture can actually produce MORE food per acre with lower input, take a look at what happens with a total pasture dairy - http://www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Project-Products/Southern-SARE-Project-Products/12-Aprils-Grazing-Dairy-Manual/Twelve-Aprils-Dairying

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 14, 2011
at 10:43 AM

We're already overshot on worldwide population but converting to sustainable agriculture and permaculture will allow better chances for more people than the current system. Unless we start converting pretty rapidly to a non-petroleum dependent system we'll be facing population die-off crashes in poor areas, rather than the natural reduction in family size that occurs when families feel economically secure.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 14, 2011
at 10:40 AM

And as oil runs out, we won't have the petroleum based fertilizers and pesticides required to support large scale grain and soy monocultures. And with increasing amounts of that oil supported corn production being turned into ethanol to replace disappearing oil it all makes even less sense. Although going back to politics, that corn may be grown anywhere, turned into ethanol and shipped to the rich countries. Our current wasteful lifestyle is unsupportable, particularly with the level of world economic inequality leading to unrest & oil burning wars.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on July 13, 2011
at 06:24 PM

My thread shut down, but there appears to be conscious effort by muni governments in Scandinavia to explore the possibility of stopping meat and dairy consumption to reduce carbon footprint. Being from Illinois this would probably mean no reduction in meat eating, but a new tax aka personal carbon credit, with money going to the general fund. But other jurisdictions might just inflict dietary laws on their citizens in the name of reduced global warming. I'm not sure that the underlying reason is cow farts, so much as it is removing a layer from the food chain, forcing us to eat lower.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 13, 2011
at 05:44 PM

I know my methane production goes way up on vegetarian diet.

D8195c5ae6c967027a3133d74969d0e1

(543)

on June 15, 2011
at 05:28 PM

It took me 120 days to find this link! Sure glad I did - this issue has bothered me - but never brought it up - also the moral issue of the poor animals that donate their lives! Thank you Melissa - very articulately put!!!!!!!!!

E2456a3b347d37b526a6b8293faae77b

(758)

on May 10, 2011
at 05:33 PM

Melissa, do you have a book or internet link we can read to get more info on this? The sustainability of eating paleo is really important to me bc my best friend is a militant vegetarian and thinks my diet is about to burn a hole in our ozone layer and kill us all.

145d4b0f988af15acc6b26eccc1f4895

(1932)

on April 19, 2011
at 06:50 PM

Ah, thanks, Wyldkard...so I see my musings are not completely out of the question. I just get so tired of hearing how we all should quit eating meat/beef because "all that methane they produce" is "bad for the planet."

Da8e709acde269e8b8bfbc09d1737841

(1906)

on April 19, 2011
at 04:14 PM

See my comments to the OP; this is very much an issue of what we're feeding cows. It's not so much farting as it is belching, though. Some argue that cows feeding on natural grass, after excreting and trampling the ground, effect a carbon sink that actually traps more carbon than they release.

Da8e709acde269e8b8bfbc09d1737841

(1906)

on April 14, 2011
at 07:09 PM

Some argue that cow production of methane may pollute as much as a car, daily. (http://bit.ly/hVAIgC) However, this is in great part due to what we're feeding cows; natural pasture does not result in the same amount of methane production, whereas ryegrass and other chemically-fertilized pasture is not as nutritious, and results in increased methane production. Does anyone know how substantial this difference is, and can we realistically argue that cows raised on natural pasture are not large contributing factors in methane production and ammonia seepage in the ground?

Da8e709acde269e8b8bfbc09d1737841

(1906)

on April 14, 2011
at 07:08 PM

Since the estimates for water use required to produce beef varies considerably (http://bit.ly/e6FE54), do we know what factors are involved in this computation? Is it based on water an animal needs to drink in its lifetime before it's butchered, or is it in great part based on the need to irrigate corn crops? In other words, has anyone shown that grassfed beef requires substantially less water than conventional beef? (And how much less?) How can we argue that this may be the case?

Da8e709acde269e8b8bfbc09d1737841

(1906)

on April 14, 2011
at 07:08 PM

My related thread was closed (http://bit.ly/i3nVMR), so I'll repeat the relevant sections here in case someone cares to answer in more detail than previously provided.

F040035b2008ec80b205481afbd39ad4

(1837)

on March 29, 2011
at 11:11 AM

One of the most informed books that covers some of the themes above is "Meat, A Benign Extravagance" by Simon Fairlie. It may not provide all the answers, but it is a great starting point.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 29, 2011
at 01:09 AM

If you saw the "no impact man" movie I couldn't help but question Colin Beavan's understanding of environmental impact as he has one child and during the film they get into the decision to have another. The environmental impact of that was never discussed.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 29, 2011
at 01:07 AM

If you saw the "no impact man" movie I couldn't help but question his understanding of environmental impact as he has one child and during the film they get into the decision to have another. The environmental impact of that was never discussed. Hmmmm

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on March 19, 2011
at 07:56 PM

This deserves repetition: "problems with hunger are problems due to distribution and politics." PJ O'Rourke traveled to several countries where famine was a problem, and one common factor is they all seemed to have plenty of food around, both growing locally and coming in from aid agencies. What they tended *not* to have was private property rights and a reliable rule of law. Without those things, people have no incentive to produce any more food than they need. What's the point of raising a few steers behind your hut if the local warlord's just going to shoot you and take them?

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 25, 2011
at 07:13 AM

During the paleo, the population was WAY WAY smaller, so that point is not really relevant.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on August 17, 2010
at 11:17 AM

@zev that would only show that we have indeed overpopulated the planet... That being said, I believe it could be done... The resulting population explosion from healthy people having healthy babies and easy pregnancies would overpopulate the planet in a few dozen generations. Better have your kids work on planet colonization

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on August 17, 2010
at 08:11 AM

Maybe I missed the sarcasm but when has paleo become us vs. them battle ? Live and let live anyone ?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 17, 2010
at 05:42 AM

Very nice quote.

Fe783e04644862c30823614f31b9a996

(499)

on August 15, 2010
at 02:40 AM

can we feed the whole world a paleo diet, though? grass-fed, etc.

9bc6f3df8db981f67ea1465411958c8d

(3690)

on August 14, 2010
at 09:50 PM

Very true Rob. I don't know if we'll have the ability to recognize that we're just too damn much before resources get so scarce that a high portion of the planet starves to death and the problem gets fixed mother nature's way.

9bc6f3df8db981f67ea1465411958c8d

(3690)

on August 14, 2010
at 09:47 PM

Very true Robb.

Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d

(4089)

on August 14, 2010
at 08:54 PM

Overshoot's a bitch. I still plan on eating as well as I can as long as I can, which basically means Paleo.

Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d

(4089)

on August 14, 2010
at 08:52 PM

A solid +1 on this recc. Keith's book's debunking of the case for vegetarianism is solidly convincing. Everybody who eats needs to read it.

C1ea79115a062250a7263764797faa30

(851)

on August 14, 2010
at 08:37 PM

Probably true, but in the long run, you can't feed a population of 6.8 billion people anyway. Soil erosion from current food production methods and the imminent decline of fossil fuels to use to make fertilizer make that a losing game. In either case, focusing on how to feed a population in overshoot - if successful - just makes the overshoot problem worse. n the long run, it can only damage the ecological viability of the environment.

65125edd5aafad39b3d5b3a8b4a36bb7

(6092)

on March 13, 2010
at 02:10 PM

Thank you for the answer Melissa. I can tell that this topic is something you are passionate about.

B1b9f0574aa9571f6aec6adb81d43190

(578)

on March 13, 2010
at 09:16 AM

I agree, super answer. Environmental impact related to the amount of meat I'm eating has been eating away at me. This makes me feel a bit better, and prompts me to make use of my university's database access before I graduate to read more.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 13, 2010
at 04:21 AM

Awesome answer Melissa.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 17, 2010
at 04:03 AM

Good paleo answer- steer you"!

  • 8f2bc05f4c80bbef337cdb5fccbb5471

    asked by

    (801)
  • Views
    10.9K
  • Last Activity
    1279D AGO
Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

17 Answers

78
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on February 17, 2010
at 02:14 PM

Hey, I was trained as an agricultural economist and I work in sustainable agriculture now. There is an increasing awareness that vegetarianism is NOT a panacea for climate change and that those who initially pushed it as such did not know much about the realities of agriculture. The reality, which is portrayed pretty well in the aforementioned Lierre Keith book, is that grain agriculture is incredibly unsustainable and destructive. Grain agriculture is what caused the huge "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico. Vegetarians might point out that some of those grains go to feed livestock, but that doesn't change the fact that the vegetarian diet doesn't do much to wean us from industrial monoculture. I recently heard Wes Jackson, a prominent plant geneticist, speak and he said that currently, the agricultural system we have is point blank unsustainable and destructive whether we are eating whole wheat bread or chicken mcnuggets.

A paleolithic diet based on local grassfed meat is one of the few that is truly sustainable. That brings me to another vegetarian myth, which is that if we stopped eating meat we could feed the world. Sorry, we already produce enough food to feed the entire world- problems with hunger are problems due to distribution and politics. Humans can't eat what pastured livestock can: compost in the case of pigs, grass in the case of cows, brushy weeds in the case of goats. And if you tried to grow grains on pasture you would destroy the grass-based ecosystem, leading to soil runoff and ecological destruction. As far as methane emissions, the report that said that 50% of global warming gases are caused by livestock is laughed at by economists...it makes NO sense and was a hack job.

Methane can be an issue though, so if you are really concerned with that, chose the most sustainable meat: pork. Pigs are fed compost which other animals can't eat and they are not belching ruminants.On a sustainable farm their waste doesn't go in fermentative lagoons, but to fertilize crops. Oh, BTW, let's talk about fertilizer. You can't grow much of anything without fertilizer. Right now, they only respectable alternative to animal waste is oil-based....how is that more sustainable? Unfortunately, right now the waste from factory farms really is doing damage to the environment. Farms aren't integrated the way they used to be, partially because of bad regulations, and instead of fertilizing crops, the manure just sits around polluting the environment. Thankfully, you can chose to get your meat from a small integrated farm...either from a farmer's market or a CSA. Look at localharvest.org to find one near you.

I also think it's frankly laughable and irresponsible that vegan groups like HSUS are advocating a vegetarian diet as a cure for climate change. The effects would be negligible and perhaps even negative given that most people switching would probably go for processed imported trash like Boca burgers. Colin Beavan, No Impact Man, eats a diet of local beans and vegetables, which I will concede might have less impact, but it's so much more complex than meat vs. vegetables. It depends on how destructive to the soil growing these things was...rotational grazing is usually waaaaaaay less destructive.

That said, since I eat a diet based around grassfed local meat, I do eat less meat than people would expect. But that brings me to another way paleo is more sustainable...we don't shun the fat! God knows how many calories goes to waste from people trimming fat. I use ALL my fat and it allows me to eat probably less meat than the average American, but get plenty of calories and fat soluble vitamins from it.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 13, 2010
at 04:21 AM

Awesome answer Melissa.

65125edd5aafad39b3d5b3a8b4a36bb7

(6092)

on March 13, 2010
at 02:10 PM

Thank you for the answer Melissa. I can tell that this topic is something you are passionate about.

B1b9f0574aa9571f6aec6adb81d43190

(578)

on March 13, 2010
at 09:16 AM

I agree, super answer. Environmental impact related to the amount of meat I'm eating has been eating away at me. This makes me feel a bit better, and prompts me to make use of my university's database access before I graduate to read more.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on August 17, 2010
at 11:17 AM

@zev that would only show that we have indeed overpopulated the planet... That being said, I believe it could be done... The resulting population explosion from healthy people having healthy babies and easy pregnancies would overpopulate the planet in a few dozen generations. Better have your kids work on planet colonization

Fe783e04644862c30823614f31b9a996

(499)

on August 15, 2010
at 02:40 AM

can we feed the whole world a paleo diet, though? grass-fed, etc.

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on March 19, 2011
at 07:56 PM

This deserves repetition: "problems with hunger are problems due to distribution and politics." PJ O'Rourke traveled to several countries where famine was a problem, and one common factor is they all seemed to have plenty of food around, both growing locally and coming in from aid agencies. What they tended *not* to have was private property rights and a reliable rule of law. Without those things, people have no incentive to produce any more food than they need. What's the point of raising a few steers behind your hut if the local warlord's just going to shoot you and take them?

E2456a3b347d37b526a6b8293faae77b

(758)

on May 10, 2011
at 05:33 PM

Melissa, do you have a book or internet link we can read to get more info on this? The sustainability of eating paleo is really important to me bc my best friend is a militant vegetarian and thinks my diet is about to burn a hole in our ozone layer and kill us all.

D8195c5ae6c967027a3133d74969d0e1

(543)

on June 15, 2011
at 05:28 PM

It took me 120 days to find this link! Sure glad I did - this issue has bothered me - but never brought it up - also the moral issue of the poor animals that donate their lives! Thank you Melissa - very articulately put!!!!!!!!!

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on April 05, 2012
at 12:45 AM

This is an old thread, but Melissa, you are freaking AMAZING. I am saving this question in my favorites to read over and over again!

20
0d2dec01a5ed9363a9915e111ae13f7e

on February 17, 2010
at 03:27 AM

Just gotta steer you towards Lierre Keith's "The Vegetarian Myth". In short, a perennial grass prairie grazed by various browsers/ungulates, with the myriad fowl and other foragers is what we need. The world will certainly require a reduction in population, but Paleo will be mankind's salvation, or what the survivors will have to fall back upon.

Another good view of this would be to read/watch/listen to everything you can find with/by Joel Salatin of PolyFace Farms.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 17, 2010
at 04:03 AM

Good paleo answer- steer you"!

Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d

(4089)

on August 14, 2010
at 08:52 PM

A solid +1 on this recc. Keith's book's debunking of the case for vegetarianism is solidly convincing. Everybody who eats needs to read it.

Af005ec9a8e028f2b04bf5367b64e0d6

(2797)

on September 20, 2011
at 01:04 AM

Read this critique of Lierre Kieth. The commenter is correct. This book is extremely poorly researched and I didn't care for her writing either. She's like a radical vegan in non-vegan form. I really did not enjoy reading this, even though, as we all know, she has a lot right. http://www.amazon.com/review/R3M4LC3USB5H3S/ref=cm_cr_dp_cmt?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1604860804&nodeID=283155&tag=&linkCode=#wasThisHelpful

8
F38f19b6ec74b2c6bf49531fe5dae567

on August 14, 2010
at 07:57 PM

I don't know if anyone has mentioned it yet, but you probably can't feed 6 billion+ mouths on grass-fed beef and other meats. It seems we long ago exceeded the population limit for the paleo diet. Then there's a whole host of questions regarding socioeconomics, selfishness, and blah, blah, blah.

Yes, there are advances that can and will likely be made in modern agriculture, but I don't foresee a drastic overhaul simply because there are so many mouths to feed. For better or for worse, the human population is near 6.8 billion and increasing.

9bc6f3df8db981f67ea1465411958c8d

(3690)

on August 14, 2010
at 09:47 PM

Very true Robb.

9bc6f3df8db981f67ea1465411958c8d

(3690)

on August 14, 2010
at 09:50 PM

Very true Rob. I don't know if we'll have the ability to recognize that we're just too damn much before resources get so scarce that a high portion of the planet starves to death and the problem gets fixed mother nature's way.

C1ea79115a062250a7263764797faa30

(851)

on August 14, 2010
at 08:37 PM

Probably true, but in the long run, you can't feed a population of 6.8 billion people anyway. Soil erosion from current food production methods and the imminent decline of fossil fuels to use to make fertilizer make that a losing game. In either case, focusing on how to feed a population in overshoot - if successful - just makes the overshoot problem worse. n the long run, it can only damage the ecological viability of the environment.

Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d

(4089)

on August 14, 2010
at 08:54 PM

Overshoot's a bitch. I still plan on eating as well as I can as long as I can, which basically means Paleo.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 29, 2011
at 01:07 AM

If you saw the "no impact man" movie I couldn't help but question his understanding of environmental impact as he has one child and during the film they get into the decision to have another. The environmental impact of that was never discussed. Hmmmm

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 29, 2011
at 01:09 AM

If you saw the "no impact man" movie I couldn't help but question Colin Beavan's understanding of environmental impact as he has one child and during the film they get into the decision to have another. The environmental impact of that was never discussed.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 14, 2011
at 10:54 AM

As an example of how sustainable agriculture can actually produce MORE food per acre with lower input, take a look at what happens with a total pasture dairy - http://www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Project-Products/Southern-SARE-Project-Products/12-Aprils-Grazing-Dairy-Manual/Twelve-Aprils-Dairying

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 14, 2011
at 10:43 AM

We're already overshot on worldwide population but converting to sustainable agriculture and permaculture will allow better chances for more people than the current system. Unless we start converting pretty rapidly to a non-petroleum dependent system we'll be facing population die-off crashes in poor areas, rather than the natural reduction in family size that occurs when families feel economically secure.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 14, 2011
at 10:40 AM

And as oil runs out, we won't have the petroleum based fertilizers and pesticides required to support large scale grain and soy monocultures. And with increasing amounts of that oil supported corn production being turned into ethanol to replace disappearing oil it all makes even less sense. Although going back to politics, that corn may be grown anywhere, turned into ethanol and shipped to the rich countries. Our current wasteful lifestyle is unsupportable, particularly with the level of world economic inequality leading to unrest & oil burning wars.

6
4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

on August 14, 2010
at 04:52 PM

My local grassfed beef is better for the environment and soil than their mass quantity organic produce... I have a lower carbon footprint and I'm healthier too

Eating local is more important if you want to lower your footprint, transportation sucks. The grain production and cafos are destroying our soil.

Edit: wanted to add the re-engineered desert of Operation Hope.

http://challenge.bfi.org/2010Finalist_OperationHope

Literally undoing the damage done by growing grain.

6
E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on February 17, 2010
at 10:49 AM

Ironically the best argument against the sustainability of meat is because of how bad grain is! Notoriously producing meat to eat requires far more production of grain (to feed the animal) than eating the grain directly, producing more damage via agriculture and requiring more food production.

This is all true, but while lots of land could be used for pasture that couldn't support agriculture, none could be used for agriculture that couldn't be used for pasture. So even if minimising agriculture, we still ought to devote huge swathes of the world's grassland to rearing meat.

The argument that meat is unsustainable because it requires producing more food is undermined by the fact that food-production isn't an isolated process. We don't just have the current amount of food-production potential, which we can devote to meat or grain in a zero sum game. We could devote some of the resources we devote to non-food products (cars, ipods etc) and so produce much more food, even if using hydroponics, skyscraper farms etc. Even at present, sheer lack of food isn't the problem, we have more than enough resources to feed the world.

4
0539828e7511bee54f5b86d26449ae17

on August 14, 2010
at 04:59 PM

One of my favorite bookmarks is this: http://www.second-opinions.co.uk/vegetarian.html Towards the bottom of this long article, you will find information on how a vegitarian diet adversely affects the environment, and the lives of animals. There's also good info to help counter a number of other pro-vegitarian talking points.

4
6b73f0c4b971e2dde7147920e329fe7f

(2041)

on February 17, 2010
at 03:16 AM

3
78fcdeee6ac4ee7d071bbac56b9e359f

(1025)

on July 13, 2011
at 04:45 PM

I think part of creating a more sustainable future with paleo or ANY diet is to expand our view of what food is. Quality meat is not just grass-fed beef, pastured pork and chickens, that is just our present-day, narrow-minded grocery store view. Food is everywhere! Insects (crickets, grasshoppers, grubs, meal worms), rabbits, squirrels, opossums, deer, pigeon, quail are all eating their natural diet and good for you. Here's a good article about people who eat roadkill: http://www.chelseagreen.com/content/eating-roadkill-would-you/. When I dig out the sod in my yard, purslane starts growing all by itself. I also have two mulberries trees in my small, urban yard. Many people are happy to give away the fruit from their trees because they don't want the mess of rotten fruit and all the critters that come with it.
I think another issue that goes hand in hand with this one is that people will have to decrease their "stuff" in order to make time to gather foods. With bigger houses, and all the things needed to fill those houses, people have to work (mostly in offices) all day long to pay for it. In order to eat better most people will need to significantly reduce their belongings so they have time to catch, gather, and/or hunt real food and then prepare it.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on July 13, 2011
at 06:24 PM

My thread shut down, but there appears to be conscious effort by muni governments in Scandinavia to explore the possibility of stopping meat and dairy consumption to reduce carbon footprint. Being from Illinois this would probably mean no reduction in meat eating, but a new tax aka personal carbon credit, with money going to the general fund. But other jurisdictions might just inflict dietary laws on their citizens in the name of reduced global warming. I'm not sure that the underlying reason is cow farts, so much as it is removing a layer from the food chain, forcing us to eat lower.

D60897b1c8f2a9e4fe1e94f1f56075ad

(170)

on January 19, 2013
at 12:21 AM

Completely agree Dunnie. For many reasons, variety is important. Better for the environment if we eat a lot of different things rather than relying on meat that is farmed. Animals eating their normal diet contain better fats (more omega 3) among other things--wild kangaroo for example is a great meat, and there is a surplus due to how humans have changed the landscape (tastes great too!) Variety is also better for our bodies. As is eating seasonally. Surely ruminant meat was not available 365 days of the year to our ancestors? We should also use the whole animal, offal etc.

3
03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on March 19, 2011
at 08:37 PM

I don't know the exact answer, and I don't think anyone does, because the kind of people who fund large-scale studies about things don't think in Salatin-style terms, where livestock contribute to the soil not just with their manure, but in a variety of other ways as well. All I'm sure of is that a pasture-based, meat and dairy-focused food supply is a lot more sustainable than mainstream experts would ever predict.

As for overpopulation, I sometimes wonder if the first time two Groks tried to stake out the same cave for the night, one of them scratched a treatise about population control on the wall. From Malthus around 1800, to Ehrlich predicting widespread starvation within the 1970s, to that great climatologist Ted Danson predicting the death of the oceans in the 1990s, overpopulation doomsayers rival Jean Dixon in their predictive powers. Of course, we could be running out of food this time; there has to be some limit to how much food humans can get out of the earth. But historically, the smart bet is the other way.

Right now the US government pays farmers not to grow anything on about 37 million acres of land. This isn't tumbleweed territory; this is previously productive crop ground that farmers have been paid to take out of production. Conservatively, that land could produce 13 billion pounds of beef per year, or 69 billion gallons of milk, or a trillion pounds of potatoes. When they stop paying farmers to keep that land idle, I'll start taking the predictions of food shortages seriously.

2
1c4ada15ca0635582c77dbd9b1317dbf

(2614)

on August 14, 2010
at 04:54 PM

There's probably dozens of ways of describing what 'green' is. Personally, I feel that it's living as we would naturally. Which, is pretty much what paleo is. Dedicating vast tracts of land to a small number of food sources, which normally require lots of chemicals to grow, isn't natural, and not green in my eyes.

1
4e184df9c1ed38f61febc5d6cf031921

(5005)

on November 14, 2011
at 06:14 PM

Nice article here

http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2011/03/operation-hope-meat-is-medicine-for.html

showing how grazing animals can reverse desertification caused by agricultural practices.

Sounds very convincing to me....

1
0310be071889c1f989f1bdfe0fe3b92a

on November 14, 2011
at 05:52 PM

The only sustainable answer is to control the population. Humans have no natural enemy. We are no different from an invading species on this angle. Population will explode until a) overpopulation starts killing us, or b) we consciously control our own population. Preferably the latter happens.

If more people go vegan it's true that it can feed more people, but it doesn't solve the problem in the long run because the population will continue to increase, and eventually to the point where the world can barely feed us all. Then we have to go all grain-based, because vegetables and fruits are no longer able to feed us all and grain has higher calorie yield per acre. This is a recipe for disaster. If that happens, there will be huge epidemics, soil erosion, desertification and etc.

We all say factory farming is bad, but if the population rise to the point where we have to go grain based, then we are literally factory farming our own children: they will be eating an extremely unnatural diet and fed medicine just to keep them alive and able to reproduce. Minus the torture, but not much better.

1
145d4b0f988af15acc6b26eccc1f4895

on March 19, 2011
at 06:30 PM

All very interesting stuff. I'd like to address the "farting clouds of methane."

OK, I understand cows fart. But I wonder if the reason they fart so much is because they are, for the most part, fed foods that do not agree with their digestive system.

When humans eat grains and other foods that we don't digest well or didn't evolve to eat, guess what: WE fart a lot too! One of the first things I noticed on a low carb diet was: I didn't fart any more!

Don't you think it might be the same for cattle? Feed them what their bodies "want," and end the methane menace. That would stop the vegan/veggie lobby from accusing cows of environmental destruction.

Da8e709acde269e8b8bfbc09d1737841

(1906)

on April 19, 2011
at 04:14 PM

See my comments to the OP; this is very much an issue of what we're feeding cows. It's not so much farting as it is belching, though. Some argue that cows feeding on natural grass, after excreting and trampling the ground, effect a carbon sink that actually traps more carbon than they release.

145d4b0f988af15acc6b26eccc1f4895

(1932)

on April 19, 2011
at 06:50 PM

Ah, thanks, Wyldkard...so I see my musings are not completely out of the question. I just get so tired of hearing how we all should quit eating meat/beef because "all that methane they produce" is "bad for the planet."

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 13, 2011
at 05:44 PM

I know my methane production goes way up on vegetarian diet.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 14, 2011
at 11:11 AM

+1 for lower methane production for all.

1
Cabb93d3dd9cd5a560b4cc7fb5cae88a

on March 19, 2011
at 02:27 AM

Does anyone know of any data source that actually looks at the feasibility of raising enough animals on pasture/grass fed system that would make it possible for all of the world's citizens to follow the Paleo diet?

Let's say for example, that we eliminated all grain based agriculture and switched exclusively to pasture based animals. Relying on the combination of agriculture from animals and produce, do we end up with enough food? I'd be really interested to see some data on this as I think it would help clarify this debate.

If not, I see the Paleo diet as having fundamental equity problems. How can promote a diet that is only possible for a fraction of the world's wealthiest citizens?

What's more, I see the goal of the message as not "be vegan" or "be Paleo" but rather, if you choose to eat meat, eat sustainably raised meat (the same argument should apply to all food, ideally), and eat less meat. The problem is if we promote Paleo without the strong caveat of environmental responsibility, people will happily go on eating factory farmed meat forever and use the health benefits to downplay the impact on ecosystems. I live in Beijing, and I can guarantee you 99.9% of people here are not aware of factory farming issues (which are contributing huge environmental problems in China). Having come out of the previous half a century of not having enough to eat, where meat was a once a year type deal, meat (and increasingly dairy/eggs) is now a critical aspect of every meal. Telling everyone that meat is the ideal substance for human health just adds fuel to the fire.

Can the educational campaign for a better diet include awareness about grain issues and meat issues? Can we take a more nuanced approach when promoting a diet that will potentially have large environmental repercussions? I don't think vegan and Paleo proponents have to be so at odds when it comes to getting people to adopt a healthier diet.

F040035b2008ec80b205481afbd39ad4

(1837)

on March 29, 2011
at 11:11 AM

One of the most informed books that covers some of the themes above is "Meat, A Benign Extravagance" by Simon Fairlie. It may not provide all the answers, but it is a great starting point.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 14, 2011
at 11:10 AM

Not a study (although I believe that Clemson University has done research at the farm) but Happy Cow Creamery is an example of a totally pastured dairy that increased their output and reduced input by going to a sustainable system. I'm sure the same would work for a meat production farm also. http://www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Project-Products/Southern-SARE-Project-Products/12-Aprils-Grazing-Dairy-Manual/Twelve-Aprils-Dairying (yes, I linked this above also, but it's such a great example of what can be done)

1
Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d

on March 13, 2010
at 02:14 PM

The sustainability problem isn't a Paleo diet; we ate it for several millions of years without problem.

The sustainability problems Paleo critics point to are not caused by human beings eating a normal human, i.e. Paleo, diet; they're caused by agriculture, especially industrial agriculture, and the unsustainably massive human populations they created.

Vegetarianism isn't the answer. I think that Joel Salatin & his fellow travellers may be on to something that could become the answer if we decided as a civilization to adopt it.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 25, 2011
at 07:13 AM

During the paleo, the population was WAY WAY smaller, so that point is not really relevant.

1
A1003bf08b493b791b0bb2470198dc98

on February 17, 2010
at 11:03 AM

This could be a great Phd thesis.

Current global agricultural systems can't feed adequately a significant number of humans. Havent checked the World Health Organisation figures - last time I looked it was a billion or so malnourished (and thats presumably before taking acccount even of a quality diet ala Paleo). Then add on the sickness of the more 'developed' world part caused by poor nutrition.

Lierre Keith/Joel Salatin go the polyculture route. Looks like ideally this is the way to go, we need to support it with our money and through wider education/dissemination and political-economic change - eg to change government subsidies of corporate agribusiness, make access to land more equitable if necessary, roll back genetic modification patenting, limit advertising and over-fishing et cetera. Just by buying from farmers like Salatin yr making a significan move in a sustainable direction.

Lierre Keith's book dismantles the vegan/veggie argument from a moral, nutritional and political standpoint.

0
08ce57b1bbb3bda8e384234389c36d94

on August 17, 2010
at 04:38 AM

I for one welcome the coming collapse of grain based mass agriculture and a return to environmentally friendly food production in line with sound Paleo principles.

There are entirely too many useless eaters in the world. They're worthless and weak. They do nothing. They are nothing. They sit around all day, and play that sick repulsive electric twagner. I carried an m-16 and, they, they carry that, that guitar. Who are they? Where do they come from? Are they listening to me? What do they wanna do with their lives?

Let the strongest and most intelligent survive.

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on August 17, 2010
at 08:11 AM

Maybe I missed the sarcasm but when has paleo become us vs. them battle ? Live and let live anyone ?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 17, 2010
at 05:42 AM

Very nice quote.

Answer Question


Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!