In Seitan's Lair

Edible Media: In Seitan’s Lair
By Tom Philpott
From Grist, an environmental online magazine
Grist staff writer Tom Philpott focuses on food and agricultural issues. Tom is a founder of Maverick Farms, a sustainable-agriculture non-profit and small farm located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina.

It’s been a rough couple of months for meat eaters. In late November, the FAO issued a startling report claiming that livestock production emits fully 18 percent of global greenhouse gases—more than all the automobiles in the world.

Then out comes a big book: The Bloodless Revolution by British scholar and proud “freegan” Tristram Stuart. The book seeks to trace the “cultural history of vegetarianism from 1600 to modern times.”

The existence and long history of vegetarianism should make us meat-eaters squirm a bit. Who are we to make other sentient creatures suffer and die painful deaths, so we can gain our sustenance in a world with many non-animal choices on offer?

It’s not inconceivable that our meat habit could one day seem monstrous. As Laura Miller put it in her review of Stuart’s book on Salon:

“We, like the people of the early 1800s, could be living through a period of slow but profound ideological change. … In the future, right-thinking people might look back at us meat eaters with the same disapproval we heap on those who considered slavery acceptable 200 years ago.”

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