Why meat-eaters are NOT promoting animal cruelty

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Why meat-eaters are NOT promoting animal cruelty

Post Number:#1  Postby RohanKanhai » October 21st, 2015, 8:50 am

How can you love your dog, but not concerned about a cow killed in a slaughterhouse in a factory farm? This is what Tom Regan calls the “paradox” in American society. I will try to explain the paradox using a type of reasoning which may not be familiar to Westerners (I am from Sri_Lanka btw).

Here we, have to make an assumption. i.e. It is unethical to kill animals unnecessarily, in this case for food. This assumption we have to make. Otherwise there is nothing to discuss. i.e. If you believe that killing animals for food is not unethical (e.g. Muslims will say like this), then there is no debate. You have to agree to disagree and go away. No debate or discussion is possible.

What shocks me in this issue, is that animal rights activists or ethical vegans NEVER talk about the “killing” of the animals, and only talks about the “eating” part.

The “unethical” person is the one who goes to the supermarket and buys the meat. It is HE (according to animals-rights activists and ethical vegans), who has no conscience nor compassion. The people in the meat industry, and the people who actually kill the animals (in the slaughterhouses) are without a mind, without a conscience, without any free will. They are like robots or zombies. Ethics and morality does not apply to them.

It’s like this: When we buy meat from the supermarket, somebody has already made the “unethical decision” to kill an animal and put the meat to the market. Therefore when I (as the consumer) go to the market, I have no “ethical” decision to make, since I don’t have a “DIRECT” connection to the “producer”.

Contrast this to a situation where you go to a market where chickens are killed on-the-spot.

Now, if you go to such a market and buy meat, you are “directly” responsible for the death of the animal, because the animal killed is “specifically” for you. Your name is attached to that animal.

But, in the case of the supermarket, the animals are not killed “specifically” for you. The animals are in fact killed for the “market”. Now, when I buy meat from the market, I am not DIRECTLY responsible for the death of the animal. I think this is obvious. But the question is, am I “indirectly” responsible? Am I, by buying the meat, “giving” an indication to the people in the meat industry that I will buy if you kill? In short, am I “promoting” (indirectly) the killing of animals??

The answer to this question is NO. I will explain why.

Remember that, if ethical vegans say that buying meat from the market is wrong, because the consumer has to have a “conscience” and exercise it, then that exact “conscience” should be present in the “producer” as well, since the producer is also part of the same society the consumer lives in. You cannot say that the people in the meat industry are without a “conscience” and “free-will”. If a person in the meat industry harms his dog at home, and somebody sees it, he will report to the police and the police will arrest him and prosecute him for animal cruelty. Just because he goes to the slaughterhouse, nothing can change. Same rules should apply.

Now, I think I have shown that the “producer” (of the meat) also have to have the same conscience. So, can a person "get "encouraged" (to do something unethical,i.e. killing of animals), by some action of some humans (buying meat from the market), to whom he has no direct contact with, which will make him rich (i.e. the promoting or incentive. i.e. the more you kill the more people will buy meat and hence make you richer), but which involves having to make an “ethical” decision (in this case killing of a animal)???

Contrast this to the case where somebody manufactures pencils. You manufacture pencils and puts to the supermarket. More people start buying pencils and that increases the demand and you get more money (which is the INCENTIVE to do anything) by making more pencils. So, the “consumer” is “promoting” (the producer) to make MORE pencils. But, you have to remember that in the process of manufacturing pencils, the producer does not have to make any “ethical” decisions. He does not have to kill animals or illegal logging (or something similar). But, in the case of the meat industry, the producer HAS TO make an “ethical decision” (i.e. kill or not to kill an animal) in the process of putting meat the supermarket. So, since he has the same “conscience” and “free-will” of the consumer, he SHOULD make the ethical decision of not killing animals. Please remember that the produce has absolutely no DIRECT contact with the consumer. Also it is the producer who has the INTENTION to kill animals to put to the market. He has a conscience which tells him it is bad, but he uses his free-will and does it anyway. So, in this instance, the producer is to blame for making the unethical decision.

The consumer is free of even indirect guilt because the producer has already made the ethical decision to kill the animal.

Remember, it is the “producer” of the meat who has the “intention” of killing animals. As Immanuel Kant said, an act is ethical or unethical depending on the “intention” of the person doing it. When you buy meat from the supermarket, there is no “intention” of killing animals in the mind of the “consumer”. So, because of these reasons, the consumer is not even indirectly responsible for the killing of the animal. So, it is the people in the meat industry that has to take ALL the “blame” for the killing and suffering of animals in factory farms. The consumer of free of any guilt. Remember that just like a lack of demand will kill the supply, if the supply stops, then too there wont be any market. It can work both ways.

I will illustrate further that consumers are not responsible even indirectly to the cruelty in the meat industry by using some examples.

Vigilantes: What if a somebody gets raped, and a person who sees this goes and kills the rapist. Is the person being raped responsible, even indirectly for the killing? NO. Think of the vigilante as the producer and the person who got raped as the consumer. The rapist is the animal killed.

The Hunter friend: My friend who is a hunter invites me for dinner. When I go he tells me that he killed a deer for me and made venison stew for dinner. Am I responsible even indirectly for the killing of the deer (i.e. promoting)??? Remember I did not tell him to kill an animal. I did not indicate in any way. The answer is NO. I am in no way responsible for the death of the deer. I had no "intention" of killing any animal nor did I indicate verbally or any other way to my friend. So, you can replace the hunter-friend with the producer, I am the "consumer", the deer is the cow being killed in the slaughterhouse and you can see, that the consumer is not the one promoting the killing of the animals, it is the "producer" who is perpetuating it by killing animals and putting it to the market.

The flimsily dressed girl who was raped: A girl who dressed in a short skirt and flimsy top gets raped. The rapist say that the girl dressing provocatively, "drove" him to rape her. Will you buy this argument? Will you reduce the sentence of the rapist because the girl also "promoted" rape by dressing provocatively??? NO. All the blame has to go to the rapist himself. So here, replace the rapist with he "meat producer", the girl is the consumer", the "girl being raped" is the "producer killing the cow in the slaughterhouse".

The Zoo visit: Suppose you buy a ticket to zoo to see the animals. You know that the zoo has carnivorous animals. So, you know that 1000s of animals have to be killed to feed the animals in the zoo. So, are you promoting killing of animals when you buy a ticket and visit a zoo?? My answer is NO. Because when a person buys a ticket to the zoo, he has no “intention” of killing animals. It is not applicable or irrelevant. He just wants to see the animals in the zoo. Since there is no “intention” to kill, there cannot be any “guilt” as well. Now, you can replace the zoo, with a the supermarket and I think you should see that, consumers are not even indirectly (i.e promoting) the killing of animals in the meat industry. No “intention”, so no "guilt”.

I will give a another example to show how the concepts of “free-will”, “conscience” and “intention”, comes into play when it comes to supply and demand. i.e. Demand and supply are subject to conscience, free-will and intention.

Below are cases which show the reverse. i.e. a supply of something does not justify, unethical action using that supply.

Alcohol Manufacturers: For example, are manufactures of alcoholic drinks responsible for alcoholism?? I have never heard anybody asking to ban manufacturing of alcohol. They blame the people who drink excessively. Because, you have a “conscience” (i.e. knowing that drinking too much can lead to addiction, disruption of your and your loved ones lives, cirrhosis and death) and you have free-will to exercise that conscience.

Smoker: Same applies for smoking. Nobody is asking to stop manufacturing cigarettes because 1000s die of lung cancer because of smoking.

The School shooter: Are gun manufactures “promoting” US school shootings in the US by manufacturing guns? NO. Nobody is saying to stop manufacturing guns. Because, a person who buys a gun has “conscience” and “free-will”. It is HE who is responsible if he kills somebody with the gun. The gun manufactures are not even INDIRECTLY responsible.

If you say that some “activity” which a human (to whom you have no direct connection) does, can “promote” you to do some “unethical” activity, then you will have to find girls being raped “promoting” rape, because she wares flimsy, revealing outfits. i.e. Girls who wear flimsy, revealing clothes are promoting rape.

So, for the case of the meat eater vs the meat producer, they don’t kill because we eat", but "we eat because they kill". That is my view of the meat eating controversy. It is the producer who perpetuates the killing of animals by creating a market.

So, why Americans love their pets but has no qualms about munching down a juicy beefburger is that, they don’t feel any “guilt” because, when they buy food from the supermarket (or Burger King), they have NO “intention” to kill animals. The act is ethically neutral. They are not promoting the killing of animals either, because, the people in the meat industry also has a conscience and free will (in this case kill or not kill animals) and it is they who also have the “intention” to kill animals and put to the market.

This is the Theravada Buddhist view on meat eating. So, according to the Buddha, it is wrong to kill an animal, but there is nothing wrong in eating meat as long as the animal was not killed “specifically” for you.

What do you think??? I would really appreciate your views on this.

PS: I would very much appreciate if you can say which country you are from when replying.
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Why meat-eaters are NOT promoting animal cruelty



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Re: Why meat-eaters are NOT promoting animal cruelty

Post Number:#2  Postby Empiricist-Bruno » November 30th, 2015, 5:09 pm

The computer using my input is located in Canada, Toronto.

I'm vegan. I think you make a good point with your argument. I think your opening statement would be better if it said, "why some meat eaters..." as you seem to suggest that the meat eaters that ask for some specific animals to be killed for them are responsible for the cruelty dished out on the animal that is killed specifically for them. Condor and other scavengers aren't responsible for animal cruelty. Why wouldn't it possible for humans to be in the same way irresponsible for animal cruelty? Yes, you have a point. I won't go into why I wouldn't argue that point though.
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Re: Why meat-eaters are NOT promoting animal cruelty

Post Number:#3  Postby Greta » November 30th, 2015, 7:32 pm

We are inescapably part of a system that kills animals and destroys habitats. We can personally make a difference with our consumption choices - both food and otherwise. The animal killing and dressing industries are affected by supply and demand like every other industry. Our individual choices, such as an individual shopping choice or vote, may seem insignificant so there is an element of hope that one is not a voice in the wilderness but can help to build a majority or at least significant minority.
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Re: Why meat-eaters are NOT promoting animal cruelty

Post Number:#4  Postby LuckyR » December 8th, 2015, 2:32 pm

USA, here. Wow, where to start? I can follow the dots quite easily in the very lengthy OP, but where is it leading?

To think of this issue IMO you have to back the truck up a lot further than from the supermarket counter to the feed lot. From a purely logic standpoint we need to ask ourselves if you agree (and most would not) that killing DOMESTICATED animals for food is wrong, then the blame is squarely at the foot of the Stone Age geniuses who domesticated meat producing animals in the first place. As it is NOT unethical or immoral to use something for it's intended purpose. I would draw a gigantic distinction between hunting wild animals for food and the meat industry making the (correct) use of animals specifically bred and raised for the production of their meat.

To verify the logic carry the idea further: if a hunter doesn't kill Bambi, she runs around the forest, just as intended. OTOH if everyone stops eating meat tomorrow and all of the meat industry goes belly up, what happens to the animals? Uummm, no one feeds them, they starve on the feed lots while the property is in foreclosure. Not a pretty sight. Clearly illogical.
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Re: Why meat-eaters are NOT promoting animal cruelty

Post Number:#5  Postby Littleendian » December 10th, 2015, 5:19 am

LuckyR wrote:As it is NOT unethical or immoral to use something for it's intended purpose.

According to that logic, slavery is moral as long as the "intended purpose" of the slave is to be a slave. By that standard, anything is moral as long as I say that is how I intended it to be.

RohanKanhai wrote:I have never heard anybody asking to ban manufacturing of alcohol.

Prohibition? Islam? Laws regarding sales of alcoholic beverages?

The point is that yes, the slaughterhouse operator has a share of the blame, but I am not the slaughterhouse operator, I am the consumer, and I can always only change my own behaviour, you never change anybody else. The good news is that I can indirectly influence the market by my choices as consumer, eventually the slaughterhouse operator will re-train and manufacture pencils, and that will be a better world for me to live in.

-- Updated December 10th, 2015, 5:20 am to add the following --

LuckyR wrote:To verify the logic carry the idea further: if a hunter doesn't kill Bambi, she runs around the forest, just as intended. OTOH if everyone stops eating meat tomorrow and all of the meat industry goes belly up, what happens to the animals? Uummm, no one feeds them, they starve on the feed lots while the property is in foreclosure. Not a pretty sight. Clearly illogical.

Such an immediate change is highly improbable. More likely demand will slowly ramp down, giving everyone plenty of time to adapt to the new environment, and no animals will starve in the process. :)
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Re: Why meat-eaters are NOT promoting animal cruelty

Post Number:#6  Postby LuckyR » December 10th, 2015, 8:39 pm

Littleendian wrote:
LuckyR wrote:As it is NOT unethical or immoral to use something for it's intended purpose.

According to that logic, slavery is moral as long as the "intended purpose" of the slave is to be a slave. By that standard, anything is moral as long as I say that is how I intended it to be.

LuckyR wrote:To verify the logic carry the idea further: if a hunter doesn't kill Bambi, she runs around the forest, just as intended. OTOH if everyone stops eating meat tomorrow and all of the meat industry goes belly up, what happens to the animals? Uummm, no one feeds them, they starve on the feed lots while the property is in foreclosure. Not a pretty sight. Clearly illogical.

Such an immediate change is highly improbable. More likely demand will slowly ramp down, giving everyone plenty of time to adapt to the new environment, and no animals will starve in the process. :)


Anyone can say anything. The domestication of farm animals is not something I said, it is a historical fact. If it was not for the human desire for agriculture there would be no farm animals to discuss in this thread. That is their "purpose", this is a reality. Humans can be made slaves, but even you agree that is not the "purpose" of humans, so your analogy, just simply isn't. Thus why I make such a big deal of the ethical difference between eating wild and farmed meat.

Talk about an ethical dilemma, is it better for a cow to have never been created (because no one needs it) or to exist and later be eaten?

I won't go there.
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Re: Why meat-eaters are NOT promoting animal cruelty

Post Number:#7  Postby Greta » December 10th, 2015, 10:24 pm

Whether life is a good thing or not depends on the life.
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Re: Why meat-eaters are NOT promoting animal cruelty

Post Number:#8  Postby Belinda » December 11th, 2015, 8:23 am

The fact is that consumers demand cheap meat and dairy. Pennies added on to the prices of those would ensure much more ethically produced meat and dairy. Poor people cannot afford the present prices; the solution is the living wage and adequate social welfare for all, not continued reliance on cruelty to farm animals.

A practical way to stop over-eating of meat and dairy is for consumers to enjoy two meat and dairy free days per week. The meat and dairy industries are environmentally unsustainable, which is another fact that bears upon the necessity to enjoy two meat dairy free days a week.

Another fact that persuades us to cut down on both meat and dairy is the reliance of producers upon antibiotics to grow the meat and dairy faster and fatter resulting in those wonder drugs' not being effective any more. Hip replacements will no longer be viable without antibiotic screens against infections. Farmers must stop using antibiotics to promote growth and this must enforced by law and policing.
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Re: Why meat-eaters are NOT promoting animal cruelty

Post Number:#9  Postby Togo1 » December 11th, 2015, 1:19 pm

UK

I... I'm not convinced by this argument.

1) Chickens are kept on a market stall, if I want chicken it is killed on the spot. - you argue this is unethical - the chicken is killed specifically for me
2) Chickens are killed for the market, the meat is brought to the market, I happen to buy it. - you are that this is ethical - the chicken was not specifically killed for me, thus I'm not even indirectly to blame.

I'm not sure how this disconnect is supposed to work. Let's say I'm a terrorist. I want some Americans to die to make a political point. I don't care much which ones, as long as they're dead. So I hire someone to arrange to crash a plane into a large building, killing the people inside. According to your argument, this is entirely ethical, because no one person was killed by me, or selected by me to die. I just threw some money at the problem, and other people chose the target. Seems a stretch, doesn't it? I don't see that you can argue that the guy organising and financing the terrorist attack isn't responsible for killing anyone, any more than you can argue that the person paying for and collecting a chicken corpse for eating isn't responsible for the death of the chicken.
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Re: Why meat-eaters are NOT promoting animal cruelty

Post Number:#10  Postby LuckyR » December 11th, 2015, 5:44 pm

Togo1 wrote:UK

I... I'm not convinced by this argument.

1) Chickens are kept on a market stall, if I want chicken it is killed on the spot. - you argue this is unethical - the chicken is killed specifically for me
2) Chickens are killed for the market, the meat is brought to the market, I happen to buy it. - you are that this is ethical - the chicken was not specifically killed for me, thus I'm not even indirectly to blame.

I'm not sure how this disconnect is supposed to work. Let's say I'm a terrorist. I want some Americans to die to make a political point. I don't care much which ones, as long as they're dead. So I hire someone to arrange to crash a plane into a large building, killing the people inside. According to your argument, this is entirely ethical, because no one person was killed by me, or selected by me to die. I just threw some money at the problem, and other people chose the target. Seems a stretch, doesn't it? I don't see that you can argue that the guy organising and financing the terrorist attack isn't responsible for killing anyone, any more than you can argue that the person paying for and collecting a chicken corpse for eating isn't responsible for the death of the chicken.



Excellent critique of the flawed logic you cite. As I mentioned earlier, the "fault" of the death of farm animals lies at the feet of the Stone Age genius who domesticated them in the first place. Once that event occurred, all progeny (barring those that escape and return to the wild) will serve out their purpose within the agribusiness complex, not a suprise.

The behavior and choices of individuals does not change that reality. To use the "fresh chicken" example, if customer #1 doesn't order chicken and neither does customer #2, yet customer # 234 does, the chicken dies. OTOH if no one orders fresh chicken, eventually the butcher will kill the chicken and sell it under cellophane (not fresh). To the chicken the outcome is unchanged, thus customer choice is immaterial.
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Re: Why meat-eaters are NOT promoting animal cruelty

Post Number:#11  Postby Greta » December 11th, 2015, 5:59 pm

LuckyR wrote:Excellent critique of the flawed logic you cite. As I mentioned earlier, the "fault" of the death of farm animals lies at the feet of the Stone Age genius who domesticated them in the first place. Once that event occurred, all progeny (barring those that escape and return to the wild) will serve out their purpose within the agribusiness complex, not a suprise.

You are effectively saying that we have no choice but to consume animal flesh every day. That's only true if you're an ancient Eskimo.
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Re: Why meat-eaters are NOT promoting animal cruelty

Post Number:#12  Postby LuckyR » December 11th, 2015, 9:22 pm

Greta wrote:
LuckyR wrote:Excellent critique of the flawed logic you cite. As I mentioned earlier, the "fault" of the death of farm animals lies at the feet of the Stone Age genius who domesticated them in the first place. Once that event occurred, all progeny (barring those that escape and return to the wild) will serve out their purpose within the agribusiness complex, not a suprise.

You are effectively saying that we have no choice but to consume animal flesh every day. That's only true if you're an ancient Eskimo.


No, I am not equating the lack of "fault" for the death of farm animals on consumers of meat, with a free pass to go forth and eat bacon, guilt free. The guilt of a meat eater, though is NOT for the death of the animal, it is for the slow death of the environment from the raising of that animal. A subtle but important difference. Naturally I agree that anyone or everyone can forgo eating meat, for any reason, including the environmental reason above, but it does not make sense to do so because of presumed guilt or responsibility for the death of farm animals, they were effectively born dead.
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Re: Why meat-eaters are NOT promoting animal cruelty

Post Number:#13  Postby Greta » December 11th, 2015, 11:31 pm

We're all effectively born dead, Lucky. No matter how we ... (I was going to say slice and dice it) ... consider the issue, there is still an individual animal that you are chomping on, all or in part. Why be party to more animal deaths and suffering than necessary for "thrival"?
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Re: Why meat-eaters are NOT promoting animal cruelty

Post Number:#14  Postby Belinda » December 13th, 2015, 7:53 am

Lucky, it would be better for most food animals never to have existed. This is not because they die; every living creature dies. It's because humans inflict so much suffering upon food animals while they are alive and have feelings.

RohanKanhai #1 the OP wrote:

When you buy meat from the supermarket, there is no “intention” of killing animals in the mind of the “consumer”. So, because of these reasons, the consumer is not even indirectly responsible for the


But ignorance is not an excuse for indirect cruelty.


The ethical treatment of food animals can be hugely advanced if producers are properly paid for ethically and compassionately created produce, and production methods are adequately inspected according to ethical regulations.

Ethical meat and dairy would mean higher prices to the consumer of meat and dairy. I understand those "higher prices" would be a matter of pennies or cents or pesetas added to the shopping . People need to earn enough or get enough social welfare so that everybody can live ethically without causing animals to suffer extreme torments. Vegetable fats and protein are a lot cheaper than similar animal produce. Most people are bad cooks, unfortunately, and this problem has to be addressed.

One main cause of animal torture is long and unrelieved transport to distant slaughter houses; local abattoirs cost a little more.

Dairy producers meet consumers' demand for cheap dairy foods by causing their cows to calve so frequently that the modern dairy cow is worn out after four years. A well cared for cow lives for twenty- five years. We need to pay more for milk products!

It's impossible for the world's people to be fed on meat and dairy because one kilo of meat or dairy costs more land, water, and fertilisers to grow than fifty kilos of chick peas or corn. My numbers are approximate , you can look it up for yourselves.

EASY and VERY SIMPLE RECIPE FOR DAL FULL OF PROTEIN AND FLAVOUR:

Boil a handful or so of red lentils in water for at least ten minutes. Strain the water away. Add fried onion, carrot, turnip, bell pepper, herbs, spices, olive oil, vegetable stock cubes, to taste, and mash it all up. Eat it with cooked rice , fries, pasta, or whatever carb appeals to you. Basmati rice is the traditional accompaniment. Learn to cook cabbage so it's tender but not overcooked, and add fried onion slices, oil, or pepper to taste.

I bet most of you can cook dal better than this so let us know how you do it. Let's have your cooking tips for vegetable foods.
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Re: Why meat-eaters are NOT promoting animal cruelty

Post Number:#15  Postby Togo1 » December 14th, 2015, 7:08 am

I usually go for vegetable stew.

Fry onions and leeks, add a stock cube or two, fry for a about 30 seconds more then add water and carrots potatoes and sweet potatoes and onion gravy powder, plus rosemary, oregano and thyme. Boil for 20 mins and serve with Yorkshire pudding. Produces a rich 'meaty' stew.

Exploits the fact that a great many stock cubes and gravy powders don't actually contain any meat products, since that would limit their shelf life.

Another one is vegetarian lasagne. Thickly slice an aubergine (aka eggplant), and fry with as little oil as possible. Slightly singed is fine. Set aside. Lightly fry some onions, add peppers and some canned finely chopped tomatoes, add garlic and herbs to taste and some Chinese five-spice and simmer for 20 mins. Put some into the bottom of a casserole dish, lay flat pasta sheets on top, and then spread white sauce over the sheets. add the slices of aubergine. Spread the rest of the mixture on top, add a second layer of pasta and enough white sauce to completely cover the top, and bake for about 20 mins at about 180c.

Personally, I hate chees, so I buy or make white sauce without cheese. If you like it, then add grated cheese to the top before baking.

I'm not vegetarian, but I try and get in a few vegetarian meals each week. Variety is good.


The ethical side of it, is less certain. The recipes above both contain eggs, which means captive chickens. You can buy free range, but those birds will still be eaten at some point. The sweet potatoes are generally imported from quite far away, which means a lot of transport miles. I think the best approach to aim is to be moderate in your approach. Have meals without meat, cut down on the amount of meat in some other meals, and try and eat local produce at least some of the time.
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