Pun Salad Dietary Advice: Don't Eat Anything You Wouldn't Kill Yourself

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There are some surprising answers to the question posed at Our World in Data by Hannah Ritchie: What are the trade-offs between animal welfare and the environmental impact of meat?. It's an article full of Fun Facts, and here are some of the Funnest (footnotes elided):

Swap a beef burger for a chicken one, and you’ll cut the carbon footprint of your dinner by around 80%. The problem, however, is that you’ll need to kill 200 times as many chickens as cows to get the same amount of meat. An average chicken might produce around 1.7 kilograms of meat, while a cow produces around 360 kilograms.

This is true for other types of livestock, too. In the chart below, I’ve shown each type of meat’s carbon footprint on the right and the number of animals killed to produce one tonne on the left. You can see the trade-off. Bigger animals — cows, pigs, and lambs — emit more greenhouse gases but produce much more meat per animal. Chicken and fish might have a low carbon footprint but are killed in much higher numbers.

The consequence is that many more smaller animals — chickens and fish — are slaughtered. As my colleague, Max Roser shows in another article, every day 200 million chickens and hundreds of millions of fish are killed, compared to several million pigs and sheep, and about 900,000 cows daily.

To give these figures some context, the average person in the European Union consumes around 80 kilograms of meat per year. If all of this came from chicken meat, about 40 chickens would have to be killed per person. From beef, it would be less than one-sixth of a cow. That’s one cow every 6 or 7 years.

But it’s not just the number of lives that matters. The life of an average chicken is likely much worse than a cow's. Nearly all of the world’s chickens are factory-farmed. I’ve written about the painful conditions that many chickens experience throughout their lives. While it is certainly the case that some cattle will also experience poor standards of care, they’re more likely, on average, to have higher levels of welfare.

It is difficult to navigate this tradeoff. Swapping beef for chicken and fish will reduce your environmental footprint but at the cost of more animals living more painful lives.

Hannah has gone vegan, an admirable choice. I've been evaluating my dietary options lately. This article didn't make things easier for me.

Also of note:

  • Irony alert. Exercise for the reader: construct the the Venn diagram showing the intersection of (a) people who shriek about "book bans" when parents gripe about school libraries with copies of Gender Queer; and (b) people who think this sort of thing is just great: The Olympics Create List Of Banned Words For Journalists Regarding "Trans" Athletes. Victory Girls Blog quotes the Daily Mail:

    In a new 33-page document, the International Olympic Committee warned the media against using terms such as ‘born male’, ‘born female’, ‘biologically male’ and ‘biologically female’, which they claim is ‘problematic language’.

    The IOC also urges the press to avoid ‘sex change’, ‘post-operative surgery’ and ‘transsexual’. They said these phrases ‘can be dehumanising and inaccurate’ when describing transgender sportspeople and athletes with sex variations.

    The IOC's document doesn't seem to use the word "ban". I'm not sure what they would do if some renegade journalist committed an act of honesty.

  • Well, that's good news. Andrew McCarthy says Steve Bannon’s Remand Is Consistent with the Law. Ah, but there's a catch.

    There is gnashing of teeth over the federal court order on Thursday that former Trump White House aide Steve Bannon surrender on July 1 to begin serving, finally, the four-month sentence imposed on him nearly two years ago by Judge Carl Nichols. Naturally, much of the caterwauling comes from Bannon himself, who, as our Zach Kessel reports, claimed that the ruling by Nichols — a Trump appointee — was “about shutting down the MAGA movement, shutting down grassroots conservatives, shutting down President Trump.”

    While I am chagrined to see Bannon confined, just as I was to see him prosecuted, there is nothing untoward about Judge Nichols’s directive.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think Bannon was guilty of obstructing Congress . . . just as I think Attorney General Eric Holder was guilty of obstructing Congress. The difference is that, in their Trump-deranged norm-breaking, the Democrat-controlled House January 6 Committee — which was rigged to exclude members tapped to serve on it by Republican leadership — referred Bannon to the Biden Justice Department, which dutifully prosecuted him; by contrast, the Obama Justice Department (shock, shock!) chose not to prosecute Holder, Obama’s attorney general, when he provided false information (in connection with the Fast and Furious fiasco) to the then-Republican-controlled House.

    That's a gifted link, so RTWT.