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Why Are Vegetarians Annoying? (An Exploration of a Cultural Rift)

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Published on Jan 22, 2016

In which Hank delves into the meme of the annoying vegetarian, where it comes from, why it annoys us, and what's really at the root of it all.

In researching this video, I found that a lot of the numbers we throw around when talking about how bad meat eating is for the environment are really confusing and occasionally just wrong.

The most damning report (which I have quoted before) from WorldWatch turns out to have a bunch of obvious problems. Like, it counts the exhalations of livestock as a carbon emission. This isn't accurate as all carbon exhaled by livestock was recently extracted from the environment by the plants that the animals eat. I was pretty frustrated to find that WorldWatch had made this mistake (or worse, stuck by it intentionally.)

It's all further complicated by the fact that making a cow in America is actually far more efficient than making it other places. Often times we'll talk about how the food being eaten by animals could be eaten by people, but that's not always the case. Raising corn for animal consumption is much easier and cheaper and requires less resources and can be done on less-fertile land than raising it for human consumption.

So, I came out of this video with a more nuanced view, but nonetheless knowing more than ever that less meat eating means more food for more people with less impact, which is what we need most of all in this world right now.

I hope this video isn't too controversial. The number one thing I wanted to say is that I wish I were better, and I will keep working toward that, but that it is also OK to be an imperfect person in an imperfect world. And so it is possible to agree with all arguments in favor of vegetarianism and remain an omnivore.

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