Can a Sustainable Food System Exist Without Animals?


This is short, but interesting, chapter. I don’t know the authors’ politics other than they’re not radical leftists. They do believe that climate change is a real concern but ruminants are not the problem. This thorny topic will be addressed in later chapters we’re assured. One thing Rodgers and Wolf do well here is turn vegan “assumptions” and use them against vegans. For instance, vegans often worship at the Church of Gaia. Our authors point out that the current drive for monocrop agriculture is destroying the Earth’s topsoil. Similarly, vegans tend to be the same people who tout diversity. Yet, where do they come down on biodiversity? Rodgers and Wolf are very much against our current paradigm and harping vegans:

“The current monocrop industrial food process has effectively crushed traditional food systems, replacing them both at the production and consumption levels with what is arguably a less diverse, less nutritious diet. Is it reasonable for a few wealthy, largely white vegan-centric activists to push a global food agenda that would make verboten every other food system on the planet?”

No, it isn’t reasonable.

Lab Meat and Hydroponics?

This was news to me. Did you know Silicon Valley is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in tech to “grow” meat. The big problem with this idea is the amount of energy and resources one needs to grow this stuff assuming the boffins ever get it to work. You need the lab/factory; you need energy to keep the lab/factory going; you need all kinds of water to clean the machinery; you need sodium hydroxide to clean the machinery. I think you get the point.

“It’s clear that these systems generally require enormous amounts of energy to produce any appreciable quantity of food, and again, at present, most of this energy is coming from fossil fuel sources. Advocates who portray lab meat and hydroponics as a viable option to feed the world have failed to do some simple, albeit boring, arithmetic.”

In contrast, sustainable farmers have all the free energy they need. It’s called the sun.

Why then are the Silicon Soy Boys throwing in so much cash for something that makes no economic sense at least at first blush? The same reason why Big Pharma take natural compounds, isolate them and create synthetic products: Intellectual property! Patents!!!! If you grow lab meat “you need cell lines, cell culture media, scaffolding and structuring and bioreactors – all things that can be patented.”

Consider if these companies can make this technology work, demonise natural meat and get people to buy their “meat” products. You are talking about billions, maybe trillions, of dollars at stake.

Although our authors didn’t consider this, imagine further if these companies, through their cronies in government, could ban meat or put more and more restrictions and regulations on farmers. What kind of profits would they make then? Too far-fetched? Thirteen months ago being locked in your home for a year was far-fetched.

Rodgers and Wolf conclude that what could happen to the meat industry has already happened to arable farmers. Patented GM seeds are foisted on farmers who lose the ability to bank their own seeds.


Fascinating and nightmarish. I could say Orwellian but that would be wrong. It’s more like Huxley’s Brave New World where Big Corporations and Big Government work to keep everyone in line while they live the highlife.

Our authors conclude with this “What is the goal of our time here? Is it supporting intellectual property held by a few multinational corporations, or can we try to build a resilient food system that relies more on solar power and less on fossil fuels?”

To ask the question is to answer it.

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