“Local” Meat Does Not Equal Sustainable

Photo: Flickr user mmassie under Creative Commons License

A report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service reveals that local slaughterhouses are not a sustainable option, despite the public’s notion that local meat may be an answer to factory farms.

The study looked at the number and types of slaughter facilities available in the United States, and found that although demand for “local meat” has doubled over the last decade, the small-scale characteristics of local operations are not necessarily viable.

The Animal and Society Institute (ASI) and the Humane Research Council (HRC) also point out that, when it comes to animal products, the many benefits of buying local – for instance, resource conservation – still do not support the sustainable argument (even though they are better than factory farms). These operations still use valuable resources, produce waste and are not necessarily more humane. So for those who choose to eat local meat thinking they are being environmentally conscious or more humane to the animals, they should think again.

ASI and HRC say the optimal choice is to not eat animals. “Society must examine its psychological addiction to animal flesh and the false rationalization that it is more sustainable if it’s local. Eating animals is inherently unsustainable.”

Unfortunately, most policymakers “lack the courage to ask their constituents to give up meat,” says the ASI and HRC. “If we are to create a truly sustainable and humane food system, we must find ways to reduce and eventually eliminate our use of animal products. Being a locavore isn’t enough.”

With more and more studies revealing how animal agriculture (whether factory farms or local slaughterhouses) is contributing to the devastating effects on the environment, human health and farmed animals, the answer to sustainable food choices becomes all too clear. Veganism is the only answer that provides a solution to all three key factors surrounding this complicated issue. Adopting a plant-based diet is not only sustainable for the health of the planet, but for optimal human health and the health of nonhuman animals.

To learn more about vegan diets and how you can make more sustainable food choices, please visit LiveVegan.org.

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