Bob Dylan said that “The times they are a-changing”. Dylan predicted doom for those who resist change, those who “stand in the doorway and block up the hall”. Fortunately, in the change away from animal based food, no one is doomed; everyone benefits. The purpose of the current blog post is to support this everyone-benefits claim by looking at the areas of jobs, property values, and profits in the wake of the escalating popularity of meat alternatives.
Just as forty years ago it was claimed that moves to decrease tobacco use would cost jobs, so too some now worry that decreased consumption of animal based food will lead to job loss. The good news is that many of the jobs on factory farms and in slaughterhouses are among the least desirable jobs available, jobs often taken by migrant workers who have few other options. These jobs are also among the most dangerous, both for workers’ physical well-being as well as for their psychological welfare (1).
What about the places where factory farms and slaughterhouses are sited? These places might seem to benefit from the money and infrastructure that come into their area. However, this proposed calculation of benefits overlooks the high pollution levels associated with animal based food production (2). This pollution leads to horrible odours and increased rates of chronic diseases, not just among workers but also among the children and others who live in the area.
Finally, what about the businesses that might suffer lower profits when meat sales fade? Fear not for them. First, the big meat producers, such as Tyson Foods, are already investing in the plant based and clean meat alternatives (3). Second, restaurants, as large as McDonald’s and as small as local cafés, are already adding plant based options to their menus. Third, supermarkets and other shops are stocking up on new choices. After all, everyone still needs to eat; thus, with a bit of flexibility, profits are safe. Plus, won’t it be nice for companies to offer customers healthier, greener, and kinder food.
In conclusion, everyone wins as we move away from foods from animals and toward foods from plants and other sources. Therefore, when we encounter those who criticise us for promoting the move away from animal based food, let us smile and remind ourselves and them of the many benefits of transitioning toward plant based diet and let us remember that as the times change in the food industry, we have no enemies, only friends.
Lastly, with thanks to https://www.paul-shapiro.com, here’s a fun video.