Meat Scarcity is Nigh

One would like to think the looming meat shortage in America would motivate Donald Trump (who loves KFC) to do something about the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on meat production. But...nope.

So, if you're not much of a plant eater now, you might want to think about transitioning. It turns out that eating less meat is actually very good for the Earth (SOURCE), as well as for your health.

We vegans didn't cause this meat shortage (nor the Cononavirus that led to it), but we are here to support you if you want to change your eating habits to be more sustainable and healthy.

Two Rules of Thumb to Slash the Environmental Impact of Your Diet


Now Might Be a Good Time to Embrace a Plant-Based Vegan Diet

If there were ever a good time to fully embrace switching to a plant-based vegan diet, now might be that time.

You see, meat-based food is going to be in very short supply soon, according to SOURCE 1 and SOURCE 2, due to this Coronavirus Pandemic shutting down meat processing factories (i.e., slaughterhouses).

Now, as a whole food, plant-based vegan, I fully admit that a part of me wants to play the I told you so card. But I'm not going to play it, because the unsustainability of the industrial meat farming industry has been well documented by smarter people than me for years. It's just that most people were either not paying attention, or they thought it was "fake news," or they had cognitive dissonance about it. This looming meat shortage certainly has an aire of karma about it though, at least from the standpoint of the millions of farm animals killed and butchered every year. I'm an atheist, but if there were a Higher Power, and if (S)He wanted to send a clear and unambiguous message that eating animals is not sustainable, this would be the kind of message you'd expect Him/Her to send.

Anyway, I figure there are two primary options for people who are currently eating an omnivorous diet with meat, eggs, and dairy - one long term and one short term.

The short term option goes something like...hoard a bunch of meat now and store it in a freezer until these hard times are behind us. I don't have much to say about that option other than, "Good luck with that."

The long term (and sustainable) option is to transition from an omnivorous diet to a vegan, plant-based diet, or at least an ovo-lacto-vegetarian diet (it's not clear if or how eggs and dairy products will be significantly impacted by COVID-19). Humans are perfectly capable of thriving on a 100% whole food, plant-based diet, with protein coming primarily from legumes (like soy and lentils), nuts, and seeds. In fact, the world's healthiest and longest lived people generally consume less than 5% of their calories as animal-based foods (SOURCE). So, as diets go, there is nothing wrong with a plant-based diet from a health and wellness standpoint.

It's important to note that growing plant-based foods is far more sustainable than growing animal-based foods (SOURCE 1, SOURCE 2, SOURCE 3). A lot of agricultural land is given over to growing livestock and the crops needed to feed them. If that land were freed up to grow plant-based foods, the environmental impacts would be greatly reduced (SOURCE). It's even better if you can source your food organically. Interestingly, buying your food locally only has a small positive impact on sustainability (SOURCE).

Now, I want to try to keep my opinion out of it as much as possible, but we know that infectious diseases like COVID-19, SARS, MERS, e. coli, and swine/bird flu, illnesses with the potential to cause pandemics, come from the agricultural meat production industry exclusively. When people get sick from eating plant foods, epidemiologists invariably discover that these foods have been contaminated with some sort of animal waste. So, it seems to me that not only are a lot of our current problems solved by transitioning to a more plant-based diet, collectively, but it's generally just better for our health and the planet.


Who You Are vs What You Do

I participate in some online groups on the subject of whole food, plant-based (WFPB) vegan diets. In many of these groups there are some dedicated vegans who comply fully with the way of eating (WOE) and living (WOL).

Invariably though, there are also people who join these groups because they have heard, correctly based on science, that this WOE improves health and can aid in weight loss. Yet many of these wayfarers seem to struggle with adhering to the basic premise of the WOE, to eat only whole, plant-based foods and avoid animal-based foods of any kind. These people report they are still eating animal-based foods and they subsequently post pleas for help in adhering to the WFPB WOE. There is no shortage of advice for these folks. However, most of the advice is action-oriented. That is, it is advice on what to DO in order to be compliant with the WOE. Still, many people struggle to embrace the WOE, notwithstanding a lot of well-meaning advice.

I have ruminated on this for some time and I have concluded that action-oriented advice is not always effective. That's because behavior is external, and compliance with any WOE or WOL depends not on DOING (external actions), but rather on BEING (who you are on the inside). Anyone can discipline themselves to act a certain way. But if this way of behaving is contrary to one's true internal identity and values, there will always be an inherent resistance to changing behavior permanently. It's what Cybernetics Theory calls first-order change (don't worry, that won't be on the quiz). Behavior change doesn't usually stick unless you change the nature of the entire system (aka, second-order change). The reason some people don't succeed at following a WFPB vegan WOE is that they are acting in a way that contradicts who they are at heart. They identify as omnivores or even carnivores who want to act like WFPB vegans for a little while to reap some of the health and wellness benefits. But the internal omnivore/carnivore is still lingering there, either waiting for this phase to pass, or even actively playing the "Devil's Advocate" and tempting the person away from their transitory goal with non-compliant foods. This idea is not unique to the WFPB vegan WOE. It applies to all ways of life and being. For example, smokers have a hard time quitting because they still identify as a "smoker trying to quit," rather than as a non-smoker (setting aside the very real addictive quality of tobacco products). This can be validated by looking at the billions of dollars that cigarette producers put into marketing and advertising - they convey the idea that smoking is the way to be cool, and who doesn't want to identify themselves as cool? Especially if they can be cool just by puffing on a cigarette (Note: Smoking is totally NOT cool).

Anyway, I digress. In order to successfully be a WFPB vegan, therefore, one must identify as one. That is, one's core internal identity must be that of a WFPB vegan, not as an omnivore or meat eater attempting to act like a WFPB vegan for whatever reason, even if the reasons are very sound (health, weight loss, animal rights, the environment, etc.).

At the heart of the matter, the distinction between those who are compliant WFPB vegans and those who are struggling to be WFPB vegans boils down to who you are vs what you do, respectively. If what you do is aligned with who you are, there is no resistance to acting in a way consistent with who you are. Eating food derived from animals just simply isn't a part of a self-identified WFPB vegan's way of life, anymore than smoking a cigarette is part of a self-identified non-smoker's way of life.

So, if you are someone who finds a WFPB vegan way of life appealing and are considering transitioning, you need to give some serious thought to how you truly identify. Are you a WFPB vegan at heart? Or are you an omnivore who is trying to eat a WFPB vegan diet for some external reason, like health or weight loss?

There is no right or wrong WOE/WOL. What is wrong is being someone you are not. Figure out who you are and then be that, wholeheartedly and unapologetically.