Where’s the Beef?

Where’s the Beef?

By Rose Eveleth

Today we go to a future where animal products are banned. It’s one that lots of listeners have asked for so here you go. We talk about what happens to the land, the animals and the humans in this equation.


 In this episode we discuss the arguments in favor and against banning meat. How does that impact culture? Why should we do it? Does it help or hurt the environment? Can you really grow meat in a lab? And is that meat vegan? 


 First we talked to folks in the “ban the meat” camp. Marta Zaraska, the author of Meathooked: The History and Science of Our 2.5-Million-Year Obsession With Meat, tells us about the evolution of meat consumption and why we don’t actually need meat to survive. Then, David Agranoff, the author of The Vegan Revolution with Zombies, makes the vegan argument. 


 Then we talk about the environmental argument in favor of kicking our global meat habit. And as promised here are the citations for the statistics I talk about.


 In 2014, the entire world produced 315.3 million tonnes of meat from cows, pigs, chickens and sheep. 1.3 billion tons of grain is consumed by those animals every year as feed. Livestock production uses about a third of the world’s fresh water every year, and contributes about between 14 and 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, depending on whose numbers you trust. Fourteen to eighteen percent might not seem like that much, but it is. That’s about the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions that come from the transportation sector every year. And a recent study in Science suggested that increases in livestock farming go hand in hand with decreases in biodiversity. Livestock, both the actual animals and the plants we grow to feed them, also takes up a lot of land. According to the United Nations, twenty six percent of the land on this planet is used for livestock. 


 After that, we hear about why it’s so hard for many people to give up meat, and how culturally important foods can be. To help us with that segment, we talk to Psyche Williams-Forson, a professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland and the author of a book called Building Houses Out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food, and Power. Psyche explains why people get so angry and frustrated when you tell them what to eat. 


 Then we hear from listeners about what you think! 


 After the break, we talked about lab grown meat, and whether or not you can grow animal products in the lab. And are those products vegan? Could they be? Researcher Abi Aspen Glencross explains her work on trying to grow steaks in the lab. 


 Then we round out the episode with a surprise guest: my grandma. She grew up on a farm and then farmed sheep until she retired. And she had some very good questions about this future. 


 Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth, and is part of the Boing Boing podcast family. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Broke for Free. Special thanks this week to Caroline Sinders, Jess Zimmerman, Kevin Wojtaszek, and John Olier. The break music is by Black Ant and the episode art is by Matt Lubchansky.


 That's all for this future! Come back soon for a new one.



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