As a whole, the Meat is Murder social movement is working to decrease the livestock population and the negative impacts large farming corporations have on the environment. The largest issue is that livestock production is not sustainable. There is a constant need for new land, feed and water. The growing number of livestock populations and the intensifying of production have a negative impact on the climate. “Globally, approximately 56 billion land animals are reared and slaughtered for human consumption annually, and livestock inventories are expected to double by 2050… as the number of farm animals rise, so do their GHG emissions.” The most popular GHG emissions, or greenhouse gas emissions, are carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. The FAO found that livestock agriculture emits 1/5 of the GHG emissions which is more than the transportation sector. The Environmental Health Perspectives journal does a good job of changing the cultural conversation. They use statistics that are relatable. The EHP compared the levels of livestock emissions to transportation emissions. As a society, we regularly see the emissions of transportation. We understand how many cars are in the city and why we need to cut down on emissions and take public transportation. So, by showing that livestock emissions are greater than transportation, they can paint a picture of why this is so important. Another important statistic they nail home is that “farm animals and animal production facilities cover one-third of the planet’s land surface, using more than two-thirds of all available agricultural land including the land used to grow feed crops”. As a result, to keep up with the increase of livestock population, deforestation, land degradation, soil cultivation, and desertification create emissions that are attributed to the livestock sector. This article does a good job framing this issue as a part of climate change. If the production continues at this rate, or increases like it is projected, the number of emissions will increase. With increasing emissions, the rate of climate change will also increase and we will begin to see those negative effects.
Lyrics - Meat is Murder "Heifer whines could be human cries// Closer comes the screaming knife// This beautiful creature must die// This beautiful creature must die// A death for no reason// And death for no reason is MURDER// And the flesh you so fancifully fry// Is not succulent, tasty or kind// It is death for no reason// And death for no reason is MURDER// And the calf that you carve with a smile// Is MURDER// And the turkey you festively slice// Is MURDER// Do you know how animals die?// Kitchen aromas aren't very homely// It's not "comforting", "cheery" or "kind"// It's sizzling blood and the unholy stench// Of MURDER// It's not "natural", "normal" or kind// The flesh you so fancifully fry// The meat in your mouth// As you savour the flavour// Of MURDER// NO, NO, NO, IT'S MURDER// NO, NO, NO, IT'S MURDER// Who hears when animals cry?" Although this song gets away from the environmental impacts this movement is specifically about, the Smiths released their song Meat is Murder in 1985. The song frames the consumption of meat as murder. It gives a different framework and it was a way that the movement really grew. This song opened the doors to people joining the movement. After this song was released, apparel started to be sold and people would wear shirts with the words ‘meat is murder’. Having a pretty popular band use their platform to sing about important issues like farm animal production helped the movement gain global recognition. The Smiths have been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and been named the most influential English band since the Beatles. The Smiths were able to use their platform as an incentive to join the movement. They used their popularity to spread the idea against meat consumption and if someone joined then they too could be a part of pop culture.
Everyone welcome the Environmental Protection Agency to the table. They report, “The belches and farts of livestock, mostly cattle—is the second biggest source of US methane emissions. Those emissions added up to the equivalent of 648 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2014. Their manure added another 60 million”. The Vice News outlet uses the EPA to frame this issue as murder on the climate. Like the previous journal, Vice uses statistics to help the audience understand the major impacts of meat production on the environment and climate. Vice also does a nice job relating to the audience and putting the effects of one’s choices into perspective. Vice impacts the readers by giving them ulterior options in their diet to cut down on pollution even just a little bit. The article talks about how having a four-ounce serving of chicken is equivalent to driving a car two miles. Like the other journal, it puts the pollution into perspective. You can tell me that the amount of chicken I eat in a week produces a certain number of pounds of carbon dioxide, but when you tell me eating half the amount of chicken I usually do in one serving is equal to driving around the neighborhood, I understand. It is framed in a way that eating meat is bad for the environment. Next, Vice takes a turn and frames eating meat as part of a bad diet. The article goes on to mention eating too much meat is a contributing factor to the rise of obesity, cancer, and diabetes. By educating people on the environmental implications of eating meat, and the health factors (both because of the environment and nutritionally) it encourages them to join the movement. Vice News also has a documentary series where they go more in-depth on these topics and the effects of large farming. It is beneficial to use this media outlet. The audience that documentaries reach broadens the scope of the movement. They are also a great way to use different strategies. By making a film, the movement can control what images are shown and how they are portrayed. The documentaries are often filled with cruel images of animals being slaughtered. The worst of the worst. But, because of this, it pulls at the heartstrings and people will react, and join the movement. This is not the only movement to use this strategy. In class, we watched "If a Tree Falls" and "Soldiers in the Army of God". Both of these films are for different social movements, but both worked towards the same goal of educating and including people on the movement.
Guess who joined the movement. The Animal Liberation Front, no surprise there. We have learned quite a bit about the ALF through the ELF movements we studied in class. The ALF uses violence to put on public displays of protest. While the motives of the ALF are not solely aligned with the environmental aspect, they are closely tied. We know the ELF and the ALF have similar motives, and are often times working on the same issues. In 2012, the ALF bombed/set fire to the largest cattle ranch in California. 14 cattle trucks caught fire. The FBI investigates the total damage at $2 million. The ALF understands that this action will not shut down Harris Cattle Ranch. However, they will continue to perform acts like this for the meaning behind it. They want to work on shifting the cultural conversation from passive politics to a direct form of action. Participants that are a part of this section of the social movement are filled with a greater sense of achievement. Their actions are loud and attention-grabbing. The participants feel like they are making a difference. They create a struggle for the ranch, and they create a national news story allowing a platform to speak about the important environmental issues. This part of the movement is similar to how the ELF set fire to the horse meat packing plant. By taking on similar strategies, they will achieve similar results. The ALF took out cattle trucks this time. They knew they couldn't shut down the whole operation. However, creating a $2 million setback is a good start.
Achieving an eatwell plate recommendation can lead to a more sustainable way of farming. An easier way to get people on board with a social movement is to ease into it. It is unrealistic that a person who is just learning about the social movement will jump right in with the ALF crowd and burn down ranches. However, it is more likely for a person to make small changes in their diet to help cut down on the emissions. The Nutrition Bulletin pulled information from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey to determine that the eatwell plate is a representation of the food groups and the proper amount needed to have a healthy diet. They also specifically looked at the different options for protein to fulfill the diet requirements. They calculated the GHG emissions that played a part in global warming for both plant based proteins and mean proteins. It only takes 2.2 kcals of fossil energy to produce plants, whereas it takes 25 kcals to produce meat. The article lays out a proper diet, and proves it is possible to be healthy while also limiting meat proteins. Nutrition based journals and articles such as this one plays a crucial role in the social movement’s call to action. With no drive to gain supporters who will change their lifestyle, the movement will die and there will be no change. Part of if the movement will be successful or not is if the supporters are actually contributing to the movement. In this particular example, if all the supporters educated themselves on a healthier diet with fewer meat proteins and more plant proteins, the movement will continue to be successful. However, if the supporters and people joining this movement do not take action, nothing can change. If society continues to consume the amount of meat that we are, then the demand for it will remain high. If society stops eating meat as much as we are, there will be no demand, and the farms will eventually stop because they will lose money. The goal of the movement is to educate the people on how they can be a small part of something much larger than them.
Large corporations like McDonald's are starting to join the movement. As of 2016 McDonald's buys a portion of their beef from sustainable sources. There is still a long way to go for such a large operation like McDonald's to be completely sustainable. However, it brings hope that companies are starting to make moved towards reducing their carbon footprint. The McDonald's website has a fancy layout and has spent a lot of time using earthly colors and cute little cow pictures. Although they are working towards becoming a sustainable company, they are still somewhat deceptive. They link to their suppliers on the website, but only the small sustainable farms. The only thing the McDonald's website even says about purchasing sustainable beef is that they now purchase a 'portion'. It is good for globally recognizable companies to work towards sustainability but it needs to happen quicker.
In 2016, the US ranked as the largest consumers of beef worldwide. Finding a counter argument is somewhat challenging when it comes to the carbon footprint beef and large animal production makes on the environment. There is no denying the emissions that are released because of factory farming. In a way, everyone who makes meat a large and regular part of their diet is a counter to the movement. Like previously mentioned, if people stopped creating a demand for so much meat the farms wouldn't make any money and they would have to close. Without as much livestock production the emissions would subside and a large factor of global warming would be stopped.