Six Steps to a More Sustainable Animal Diet

How can a conscientious but cash-strapped omnivore avoid cheap, animal factory food? Try these suggestions from the author of the book “Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment.”

| April 7, 2010

Animal Factory David Kirby

In “Animal Factory,” investigative journalist David Kirby exposes the powerful business and political interests behind large-scale factory farms, and tracks the far-reaching fallout that contaminates our air, land, water and food.


The most common question I get about my new book, Animal Factory, is, “Am I going to have to become a vegetarian after reading this?”

My answer usually throws people off.

“No,” I say. “You’re going to want to eat even more meat, eggs and dairy!” Then, as a bemused brow breaks over their face, I add: “But by that, I mean more that is raised humanely and sustainably, without harm to human health or the environment.”

Most people I speak with inherently sense that their meat and dairy should be raised as “humanely and sustainably” as possible, but don’t really know what those terms mean. The whole new morality of shopping the supermarket meat aisle can seem so daunting, especially while trying to sort through the various “cage-free,” “humane” and “organic” labels.

Meanwhile, the painful ordeal of shelling out big chunks of one’s paycheck for pricey protein from boutique sources other than CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or factory farms) is just too onerous for some to ponder. And, even if they were to make the sacrifice to “go sustainable,” they ask, how are they going to find such vaunted foodstuffs, both at home and on the road?

Still others beg off the subject entirely with a wince, a wave, and an “I don’t want to know!”

coalition for cancer prevention
6/7/2010 8:01:54 AM

There is no evidence I have seen that makes one form of meat,fish,eggs,or dairy products healthier than others. All animal products raise cancer risk because we are eating young animals and reproductive secretions that still have growth hormones (naturally, not just the added ones) in them. Growth hormones allow cancer growth and spread because they stifle the immune system's ability to get rid of cancer cells. The immune system sees cancer cells as old cells that it wants to eliminate, but growth hormones suppress the message, because growth cannot occur unless some old cells are kept around for the new ones to grow on top of. Eat plant-based as much as possible.

tommy lee _1
4/29/2010 12:25:33 AM

Wow this is a great article! Just found a food co-op in my area as well as a few farmers markets!

t brandt
4/27/2010 6:19:50 AM

It all gets back to over-population. Ever stop to think how many hens it takes to produce all those eggs you see piled in your supermarket? (Ans: about 20 hens per dozen eggs per day) How many chickens to keep Popeye's, Brown's & KFC in business? (millions) That can't be done in a "free-range" or "organic" way-- takes too much space we no longer have thanks to over-population & continuing land development. Try raising your own hens: they cost little to feed, take up little space, eat pesty insects and provide hours of entertainment as they covort around the garden.

jennifer juniper
4/22/2010 5:50:02 PM

I went ahead and purchased this book and am in the middle of it now. It appears to me to be destined to become a standard in the way that Fast Food Nation and others became. I really think that time will show it to be an important book. It is well written and interesting. It has a lot of examples and is screaming- in print of course- for us to take a look at this issue. And really- this issue is a ticking time bomb. This guy had a lot of guts to write this-I am sure he made people angry with it- but it needed to be done. Have a look at it even if you don't really want to and would rather look the other way. The threats from this issue to public health are truly serious. A good read.

4/9/2010 12:27:23 PM

The book is on my list but having a few things I can do right now until I get around to reading it is great. Thanks for the informative article

4/9/2010 10:58:51 AM

We have been eating "sustainable animal protein" for a long time. We raise a couple dozen Cornish Cross broilers every year, keep a dozen Buff Orpington layers, and raise New Zealand rabbits. Last year I dammed up the creek on my property and created a 1 acre fish pond which I will be stocking with bass and catfish, migratory ducks and geese and a few swans like it too (I'm thinking of installing a mini-hydro generator in the overflow). I also take a few deer every year. I can't remember the last time we bought meat.

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