“How about restaurants in 10-15 years start treating carnivores the same way that smokers are treated? If they want to eat meat, they can do it outside the restaurant.” So said Christiana Figueres, the former execute secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
This is a good jumping off point for chapter one of Sacred Cow. The totalitarians on the left hate meat and blame it for many things wrong with the world. As Wolf and Rodgers state “we’ve been able to boil down the arguments against meat into three main subjects: nutrition, environment and ethics.” They spend much of this first chapter trying to figure out how a food source we have tapped into for millions of year is now equated with smoking by correct thinkers like the charming woman above?
Looking into the past
The authors make a quick survey of human existence and highlight some not so well-known truths: human health went backwards during the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago; the Progressives of the late 19th and early 20th centuries linked immoral behaviour and disease with sinful foods like alcohol, sugar and meat; and today most people are overfed but undernourished due to food-based products replacing whole fresh foods. They even go into a brief, but fascinating story connecting high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) with Richard Nixon and the Cold War. It’s sounds kooky, and it may be oversimplified, but the fact the US GOV stimulates the production of corn through massive subsidies to corporate farmers is no lie.
So the takeaway is that meat has been under attack for longer than many of us think. Moreover, food-based products that are unhealthy have been subsidised and promoted by government and corporate interests for decades. Isn’t it surprising that the people who mean to rule us, like Ms Figueres, don’t seem to get upset with HFCS, industrial seed oils and the like? Very curious.
What’s the Solution
The rest of the chapter discusses how we get ourselves out of this mess. How do we combat people who blame meat for practically all the world’s ills? Rodgers and Wolf provide a series of questions that they are no doubt going to answer in the rest of the book. Here are the really key ones in my opinion:
- What if we could help developing countries produce better meat, not discourage them from eating it altogether?
- Does the science really support claims that meat increases obesity rates, diabetes and cancer?
- Is limiting meat really the answer when most in the West are overfed but undernourished because of food-based products?
- Are Big-Agra, chemically produced monocrops (corn, wheat, soya) really the answer in curing our health and soil?
This chapter is a good foundation for the rest of the book. It tells us briefly how we got here. The authors demonstrate that the demonisation of meat is not a recent phenomenon. Although they don’t state it directly, this has been a leftist attack going back for over a century. In addition, it throws down the gauntlet to those who attack meat eating. If all of these people just tut-tutted and left us alone, there would be no problem. However, too many of them share Ms Figueres’s mindset: they want to tell us what to do. That Rodgers and Wolf are going to spend the rest of the book defending against the enemies of meat is going to make for an interesting read.