Eat Less Beef

Back in the mid-’80s when I was between jobs I went up to a small town near Burlington, Vermont to help a friend start up an old dairy farm that hadn’t been used for decades.  (The barn was made with wooden pegs instead of nails ~ easy to move, back in the day.)   Six months of sunrise-to-sunup work (it was summer too, so the days were really long!)  Great experience, learned lots of things.

Cows may be really big and a little slow on their feet, but they’re quite sensible.  They’re always waiting patiently at sunrise by the barn door, for milking (and again just before dusk).  They always go to the same stall in the barn when it’s milking time.  We had names for many of them, and they always responded to their name.

You know how cats rub your leg as a sign of affection?  Cows do the same thing!  Except they’re really big and quite strong, and if they rub you against the barn wall they can crack your ribs!  

Over the years since then, I have eaten less and less beef, to the point where 20 years ago I stopped eating beef altogether.  Milk and milk products are okay, but not beef.  It seems so barbaric.  

Beef is the most expensive, energy-intensive food.  It takes the equivalent of 32 kilowatt-hours of energy to produce one pound of beef. That’s 32,000 watts of electricity used over a one-hour period.  A 100-watt bulb burning for 320 hours; an LED burning for 3000 hours (4 months straight!).  The average monthly electric bill is around 1000 kWh.  Every pound of beef equals one day’s electricity use in your house.  

These days, “ranchers” raise commercial beef inside cages so small the cow can’t even turn around.  They spend their whole life ankle-deep in their own excrement, breathing the flatulence of a thousand cows all around, all living in the same abject misery.  That’s so cruel ~ and that’s what you’re eating on the dinner table.