For about four years, I have been careful to avoid creating my own demand for meat – that is, I do not buy it or ask others to buy it for me. This is first and foremost because I have researched the way meat is produced in the U.S., and I find it morally reprehensible.
Webster University students are likely to have come across the pamphlets that circulate around campus a couple times a year, featuring grim photographs of pigs, cows, and chickens that have likely never seen sunlight. These photographs are of Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), a type of facility that concentrates thousands of animals into as small a space as possible. Animals kept in these conditions are born and raised solely to breed and become fat – their physical and psychological wellbeing are not a concern.
Although CAFOs occupy only five percent of U.S. animal production facilities, they produce 50 percent of the country’s animal products, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.
CAFOs are responsible for immense levels of fecal waste that frequently runs into groundwater and pollutes nearby ecosystems. The fact that animal production is the source of more greenhouse gas emissions than all private or public transportation combined is the subject of a whole other column, or dissertation.
In a capitalist economy, spending money on a product is analogous to voting for that product as it currently exists; and that includes the method used to create it. This is a major reason why millions of people refuse to purchase meat.
The “circle of life” stance is a weak one in this case. Humans are omnivorous and have the capacity to live happy, healthy lives without consuming animal products or interfering with ecosystems. It is, in fact, no longer the ice age – we’ve invented agriculture and vitamin supplements, and we don’t have to worry about saber-toothed cats.
Your concept of free-range meat indicates a lack of research on the subject. To be “free range” tends to only mean that the animals are not raised in cages, but are rather allowed to roam around a shed and occasionally outdoors.
However, these sheds are filled to the brim with animals. They have little more room to move than they would if they were caged. Even though free-range farmers are required to let their animals outside, many keep them in sheds for almost the entire year.
I encourage you to look at Kavahn’s points as perfect examples of things an uninformed person might typically say as knee-jerk responses to the idea of giving up meat as a staple. Kavahn is clearly unaware of how eating meat affects human physiology or cool-level. I think it’s safe to say that he is unconcerned with any scope larger than his own appetite.