The Instigator
zach12
Pro (for)
Winning
22 Points
The Contender
Lexicaholic
Con (against)
Losing
14 Points

Meat production should be significantly reduced

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/19/2009 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,330 times Debate No: 8351
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (6)
Votes (7)

 

zach12

Pro

I stand in affirmation of the above resolution

I will start my arguments in round two, so this first round is just to get an opponent.
Lexicaholic

Con

I stand in negation of the above resolution. As my opponent has stated that this round is merely for the purposes of acquiring an opponent, I will refrain from arguing this round.
Debate Round No. 1
zach12

Pro

Thank you, Lexicaholic, for accepting my debate

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Contentions:
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------Meat is a very inefficient form of nutrition------

To get 500 calories of meat from the average pig, you must feed them up to five times more grain, that's 2500 calories for 500. Grain-fattened U.S. beef is even more inefficient, taking up to 10 times more grain to get the equivalent amount of meat. With a billion people worldwide under the poverty line, this is something we can't afford. We should eat grain, not meat.

------ Ranch animals make more greenhouse gases than cars -------

Clearing forested land, making and transporting fertilizer, burning fossil fuels in agricultural machinery, and the front and rear end emissions of cattle and sheep contributes 18% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change, a.k.a. Global Warming would have a great many adverse affects on humans, which I trust I do not have to elaborate on here.

------- Red meat and mortality ------

Eating only about four ounces of red meat per day over a period of ten years can make you 30 times as likely to develop cancer and heart disease as well as have high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

-------- Meat is much more perishable than grain-------

Grain and corn can be stored for a much longer time on average than meat, which almost inevitably becomes infected and decomposes from bacteria and fungi.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://www.washingtonpost.com...
Most recent national geographic magazine as well
Lexicaholic

Con

My thanks to my opponent for initiating this debate.

My opponent contends that meat production should be significantly reduced. I contend that meat consumption should be significantly reduced instead, as the market for meat consumption is presently too large, and its economic impact too great, for our economy to bear an imposition upon its production.

My opponent begins by stating that meat is a very inefficient form of nutrition. He also contends that there is a significant correlation between the consumption of red meat and various deleterious health effects, and that meat does not store as well as non-meat food products. All of these are excellent reasons not to consume meat. My opponent, however, calls for significantly reduced meat production. I intend to show why this is a bad idea.

Meat consumption has steadily risen within the United States over the past several years, and shows no sign of abating. [1] [2] The value of the beef industry alone in the United States in 2006, for example, was $74 billion dollars, with approximately $2 billion dollars of export value. [3] Although meat exports are not as great as meat imports, the United States has certainly managed to hold its own. [4] Many jobs depend upon this trade, including the jobs of animal breeders, animal handlers, slaughterers, food scientists, and packagers. [5] To suddenly significantly alter, for the worse, the productivity of the trade on which these individuals rely for their livelihood would be reckless. Especially in a struggling economy. [6]

Moreover, a significant decrease in production without a correlating decrease in consumption would not reduce demand but rather raise the value of meat, as the supply would no longer be sufficient to meet the demand at its pre-reduction rate. [7] This would result in prices for meat being raised. As a consequence, many people would find it more difficult to afford a food products that "supply varying amounts of ... key nutrients, including iron, zinc, magnesium, vitamin E, and B vitamins (thiamin, niacin, and vitamins B6 and B12)." [8] [9] One should not underestimate the dangers of starving a significant (reflecting decrease in production) portion of the population of meat. After all, the proteins in meat were responsible for the development of the modern human brain, and with it, modern civilization. [10] [11] Inefficient though its consumption may be, one could only imagine a society where meat was too scarce for many people to afford.

Perhaps in time, if our consumption of meat sufficiently diminishes and our alternative protein source (tofu, for example) industries take off enough to replace the lost productivity of the meat market, we can talk about reducing or even eliminating meat production. For now, however, we must let them eat steak.

As for my opponent's contention that meat production should be halted for environmental reasons, perhaps better business practices would suffice? [12]

[1] http://www.hsus.org...
[2] http://jn.nutrition.org...
[3] http://www.ers.usda.gov...
[4] http://www.ers.usda.gov...
[5] http://www.bls.gov...
[6] http://www.bls.gov...
[7] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[8] http://recipes.howstuffworks.com...
[9] http://www.powerofmeat.com...
[10] http://berkeley.edu...
[11] http://www.beyondveg.com...
[12] http://www.ses-corp.com...
Debate Round No. 2
zach12

Pro

Once again, thank you Lexicaholic

My opponent contends that meat consumption, not production, should be reduced. He is misunderstanding something however. If meat consumption was significantly reduced, the laws of capitalism would require production to fall also. No company is going to keep making the same amount of meat if their customers are now spending half as much money and there are half as many of them. Therefore, a drop in consumption would result in a drop in production, therefore supporting my resolution.

To defend my points on the nutritive value of meat and the inefficiencies of its production I will say this. When we have millions and millions of people starving to death every year and the only thing we had to do to stop it was significantly reduce our meat consumption and transport all the grain that would have otherwise been wasted on meat production over to those people, then that is reason enough to significantly reduce meat production.

Then my opponent says that if production was reduced but consumption wasn't reduced there would be problems. This is an incoherent statement. Production can't reduce below the rate of previous consumption while consumption stays the same. That's like saying a person who usually eats 3 eggs a day suddenly finds out there are no eggs left in the world, but he somehow still eats 3 eggs. I agree that a decrease in production would increase DEMAND. This is where you must decide what is worse, millions of starving and dying people, or high meat prices and some people out of jobs.

I think my opponent is mistaking a reduced amount of meat with no meat at all. I agree, we need some meat to get our daily amounts of key nutrients that meat provides. However, most middle class Americans get more than enough of these nutrients and could survive with a drop in meat consumption. Poor people already can't afford meat such as steak so it won't affect them. Vegetarians manage to get all their nutrients through alternative routes such as peanut butter etc. We can manage, plus we will still have some meat, just not as much.

Now I must point out that my opponent has offered almost no argument against the environmental detriments of meat production. He has simply suggested we need better business practices. What business practice would get rid of all the CO2 and methane cows and other ranch animals make each year. Large-scale Filters are impractical.

Therefore, my point stands un-refuted.
Lexicaholic

Con

My thanks to my opponent for his brilliant response. I will endeavor to answer with equal skill and consideration.

My opponent contends that (1) in arguing that a reduction in consumption in meat occur, I have necessarily argued for a reduction in production of meat and (2) that the laws of capitalism would ensure that a reduction of consumption would actually generate a reduction in production. These contentions are not necessarily true.

A reduced rate of meat consumption may lead to a reduced rate of meat production for humans as a consequence of supply and demand, but in the face of a changing market there is an alternative to dissolution: adaptation. Perhaps meat production will continue unabated as a source of protein in animal foods, or for use in biology experiments, or perhaps it will become more specialized and cater to the wealthy who often have peculiar tastes (more Kobe beef). Even if it does, my call to reduce consumption would not be diminished, as I am concerned with human health and not the process of the production of meat, as my opponent is. As such, I have neither called for the reduction of production of meat, nor does capitalism necessarily imply a reduction in demand for meat (rather only a reduction in demand for that particular purpose).

Additionally, my opponent seems to believe that I do not understand the difference between consumption and demand. That would make me an idiot. I do not believe I am an idiot, and much to my delight, my prior argument bears that point out. As I stated previously "... a significant decrease in production without a correlating decrease in consumption would not reduce DEMAND but rather raise the value of meat, as the supply would no longer be sufficient to meet the DEMAND at its pre-reduction rate." Emphasis mine. So clearly arguments my opponent makes from that point of contention were spent attacking a strawman. I am happy to burn that strawman to the ground, that we might continue our focus on the real issues of the debate. ;)

As for my opponents contention that "[p]oor people already can't afford meat such as steak so it won't affect them," that is actually an argument for increased production, as increasing supply over demand would lower prices and allow the poor to get their fill of meat. As such, my argument is bolstered by my opponent's contention. Furthermore, I never spoke to the dietary concerns of those who had ease in affording meat, nor did I suggest that some would be left with no meat at all. I merely stated that where demand outstripped supply, significantly, those who already had difficulty affording meat would be unable to afford the same amount as before, and would eat less, perhaps to an unhealthily low amount. I almost never argue in absolutes.

As for my opponent's contention that I have not yet addressed the issue of the environmental impact of meat production, and his contention that we must consider the loss of grain that could be used to feed the world's hungry, I propose the following solution: http://en.wikipedia.org... . No feeding, no methane gas, no mess, no worries. No decrease in production.

For all of these reasons, I contend that it is upon consumption of meat, and not upon production of meat, that we must focus our efforts of dissuasion. I wish my opponent well on this next and final round.
Debate Round No. 3
zach12

Pro

Thank you, Lexicaholic for waiting patiently for my belated response. I had to attend my brother's Memorial Day weekend baseball tournament.

Sorry for implying you were an idiot. I was tired when I wrote my last argument.

I would also like to remind my opponent that this debate's resolution is "Meat production should be significantly reduced" not "Meat production for human use should be significantly reduced." My opponent has ambiguously asserted that "meat consumption" should be lowered instead of production. He seems to take it as an axiom, without informing me, that he means human consumption.

>> "but in the face of a changing market there is an alternative to dissolution: adaptation. Perhaps meat production will continue unabated as a source of protein in animal foods, or for use in biology experiments, or perhaps it will become more specialized and cater to the wealthy who often have peculiar tastes (more Kobe beef)." <<

If an animal eats meat as a source of protein or some rich dude eats some Kobe beef, isn't that consumption? Let me give you the exact definition of ‘consumption'

Consumption - the act of consuming, as by use, decay, or destruction. (Dictionary.com)

>> "as I am concerned with human health and not the process of the production of meat, as my opponent is." <<

My third contention in my first post was concerning the fact that red meat raises mortality!

>> "... a significant decrease in production without a correlating decrease in consumption would not reduce DEMAND but rather raise the value of meat, as the supply would no longer be sufficient to meet the DEMAND at its pre-reduction rate." <<

Don't be distracted by the emphasis, the very first line reveals the fallacy of the statement. He conveniently forgot to put the word ‘human' between ‘in' and ‘consumption.' An overall decrease in production to levels below the previous rate of consumption while miraculously still having the same amount of consumption the same amount is impossible. Like I said before, you can't eat what hasn't been made. (and neither can an animal or a Kobe steak fan)

My statement that poor people can't currently afford much, if any, steak in no way supports my opponent's argument.

>> As increasing supply over demand would lower prices and allow the poor to get their fill of meat. <<

Now my opponent has switched tactics. Where before he said he wanted people to stop eating meat because it raises mortality etc, now he thinks all the poor people should be eating steak like the upper and middle classes.
Then my opponent says that if meat production was lowered, poor people would get even less meat and starve "to an unhealthily low amount."

But he forgets that if the grain that previously went into meat production was now free to be used for other purposes, there would be plenty to feed this poor, meat-deprived person.

My opponent then tries to offer an alternative to the environmentally harmful current method of obtaining meat. It is unrealistic. No practical growth medium has been found for in vitro meat and I suspect one would be hard to produce. It would have to contain all the minerals that make meat so valuable in the first place, which means we might as well drink the growth fluid. Also, in vitro meat doesn't have much less of an environmental impact than normal meat production. All it does is clumsily slightly lower the impact.

Therefore, meat production should be significantly reduced: to save our environment, starving people, and lifespan.
Lexicaholic

Con

I thank my opponent for his astounding lucidity during the course of this debate. It has been superb. Pleasantries aside, I submit my final argument against the reduction of the production of meat:

1. While I am fully aware that the resolution was that "meat production should be significantly reduced" and not that "meat production for human use should be significantly reduced," my opponent's rationale for reducing meat production came in the form of three arguments, spanning two objectives: the improvement of human health and the improvement of the environment.

My opponent, as the Pro side of this debate, has the burden of showing that the objective related benefits obtained by implementing the resolution would outweigh any negative impact of its implementation, and that there is no more effective method of meeting the goals of these objectives. I have no affirmative burden as Con to prove up consumption, and may limit the discussion to human consumption if that is an area where I find weakness in the resolution. There is no need to "inform" my opponent of anything. He must deal with any argument that can be reasonably made before he can expect his resolution to be implemented. I this case, I chose to use consumption as a better alternative, and focused on reducing human consumption in particular to meet the first objective relating to human health.

Therefore my opponent's argument that I do not meet a broad enough definition of consumption in the scope of my counter-argument is irrelevant. While I am trying to prove that we should dissuade consumption, I do not need to do so to win this debate. I merely need to show a weakness in my opponent's resolution, which I do by limiting the scope of my argument to the more discrete act of human consumption. If my opponent would like to get very picky, I mean human personal and commercial consumption for human ingestion (lest any argue that my definition cover the use of raw meat as a bodily salve, toy, or artistic medium). I do this to refute my opponent's contention that reduced production is necessary to alleviate health issues derived from the consumption of meat. My opponent does not debate that the reduction of consumption would not meet this end because he can not. My opponent's argument is therefore refuted.

Note also that my opponent did not define meat production. Therefore, I must interpret it as all meat production, of which that used to meet human consumption for ingestion is only one part (although a significant one). Additionally, while I did not define consumption as human consumption for purposes of ingestion in my debate, I also did not argue for the elimination of consumption, but rather a reduction in it. Because human consumption for purposes of ingestion is a large subset of overall consumption, a reduction in it (as a subset) amounts to reduction in the super set that is consumption. Adaptation of production would occur, in the scope of my argument, to encourage the other or alternative methods of consumption, thereby returning the super set, and as a consequence, demand, to its original size.

My opponent's argument that I can not argue for a reduction in human consumption for ingestion, and thereby consumption, while arguing that consumption can remain large enough to keep demand the same is therefore shown to be inaccurate, in that demand can temporarily decrease until new markets are found to increase consumption and thereby demand. This could result in temporary job displacement, but compare this to my opponent's resolution, which would reduce meat production, I would assume indefinitely from the resolution and argument made thus far, resulting in permanent job loss. My opponent therefore does not prove that his approach would be more beneficial in relation to the objective of improving human health, because the cost would be a greater increase in unemployment over a longer period of time and there exists a better way to accomplish the same end, namely encouraging reduced consumption (by humans, directly, for ingestion).

2. I did not "switch tactics" when I proposed that my opponent had made an argument lending itself to support meat production, in that I was not advocating for an increase in meat consumption. Rather I was arguing against my opponent's contention that a reduction in meat production would not affect poor people adversely because they would not eat much meat anyway. Once again my opponent mistakes the aim of this debate. I do not need to positively resolve to anything; my opponent bears the burden of proving that the implementation of his resolution would have more of a positive impact than a negative one. This argument was not to suggest that I suddenly found the idea of meat consumption valid, but rather that his own argument in regards to consumption rates relative to a reduced supply was invalid. Which it was and remains.

3. Finally my opponent argues that the environmental impact of meat production as it stands right now is too great to be allowed to continue, and that all of the alternatives I have provided are insufficient to meet the concerns generated by the industry, namely "18% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions." Debating this theoretically would take me forever, and I am low on space, so I will merely cite every source I can find disagreeing with Pro's analysis. It should be painfully obvious, however, how growing meat in a vat would reduce greenhouse gases resulting from "clearing forested land, making and transporting fertilizer, burning fossil fuels in agricultural machinery, and the front and rear end emissions of cattle and sheep." If my opponent argues that the food would cost more, well, that just reduces consumption, doesn't it? At least, until better technology comes along and makes it available to all.

For support for in vitro meat growth see: http://www.newsdesk.umd.edu... , http://www.slate.com... , http://www.vatfood.com... , http://www.theecologist.org... .

Please note that even PETA is getting behind this. That's right, PETA wants you to eat meat (at least, this meat)! Keep in mind that reduction of meat production would result in a massive job loss. I'm convinced that allowing this technology time to develop will help naturally streamline the meat production industry into a productive, employee and environmentally friendly future.

It is now up to you to decide how we will proceed, dear voters. On the one hand is the call for the authoritarian hand of the zealot to slam down on the stop production button in the interests of human health and environmental welfare. On the other is the call for the liberal application of human reason to advance meat production so that the danger to the environment is reduced, and for the appreciation of personal autonomy, for others to choose to limit their own consumption of meat, or not, as they decide for their own health. A little patience is all we need to see a better, brighter future through. So for our jobs, and our future, for our environment and human welfare, and out of respect for the personal choices of others, I urge you to vote against the resolution that meat production should be significantly reduced. Like Heinz ketchup on a hamburger, it's worth the wait.
Debate Round No. 4
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Lexicaholic 7 years ago
Lexicaholic
Note: I've conceded this debate in a message to Zach12 and suggest voting for him in regards to argument/who you agree with.
Posted by sherlockmethod 8 years ago
sherlockmethod
I agree Roy.
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
Pro correctly argued that production equals consumption, therefore Con effectively conceded the debate.
Posted by Lexicaholic 8 years ago
Lexicaholic
PS, think nothing of the 'idiot' jab, that was just a debate tactic. A little levity mixed with some sarcastic wit. I'm entirely unoffended. :)
Posted by Lexicaholic 8 years ago
Lexicaholic
Good debate!
Posted by Lexicaholic 8 years ago
Lexicaholic
Being a vegetarian, this was painful for me to write XD
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atheistman
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Lexicaholic
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zach12
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