A natural reaction to espousing such practices is “yeah, that’s great. You get to a certain point in life, making a certain amount of money, and decide to discover principle in how you eat.”
I sympathize with such a reaction.
Factory farming definitely keeps the price of meat down. Indeed, that’s a standard defense of it, and it’s not without legitimate ethical and moral considerations. I’ve no doubt that a great many farmers regard their roles in the food supply with considerable gravity.
It’s also rather similar to my standard reaction to the fully industrialized First World countries deigning to dictate to emerging economies how they will control their respective carbon footprints. It is ridiculously and comically haughty for us to look down our noses at China, India, &c. and demand hobbling regulations to which we ourselves were not subject. Prevention isn’t happening. Mitigation is the proper policy context.
But I digress.
I’m not sure what I can say to the objection that will please anyone. Yes, it does take more money to decide you’re going to purchase cruelty-free eggs and free-range livestock and whatever else. Lots of folks would love to know where $50 for next week’s groceries is coming from. Dropping $400 on an auxiliary freezer is kooky talk.
I’ll offer that it’s not a bad opportunity to try to influence the typical American diet, which tends to contain way too much fat. A great many of us eat more meat than we should. It’s highly plausible to scale it back and realize benefits of both health and finance. And two things I definitely learned during my vegetarian Lent were that 1) there are a lot of good alternatives out there; and 2) your affection for saturated fat wanes considerably in less time than you think.
There are also grave considerations about Earth’s capacity to sustain our collective appetite for meat—considerations that are far less nebulous than some of those surrounding global warming.
It’s going to take a paradigm shift. But paradigm shifts begin with enthusiastically engaged practitioners. Enthusiastically engaged practitioners move in a particular direction realizing that they themselves may not see the new world, but that their agitation is necessary for anyone to ever see it.
This is the penultimate entry in the Dominion Over Animals post series at BoWilliams.com. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I have writing it. We’ll wrap up next week.