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Sacred Cow documentary - 80 minute video, sign up with your first name and email to watch it between now and Sunday only for free. (trailer)

The Case for Better Meat
At our grocery stores and dinner tables, even the most thoughtful consumers are overwhelmed by the number of considerations to weigh when choosing what to eat—especially when it comes to meat. Guided by the noble principle of least harm, many responsible citizens resolve the ethical, environmental and nutritional conundrum by quitting meat entirely. But can a healthy, resilient and conscientious food system exist without animals?
Sacred Cow probes the fundamental moral, environmental and nutritional quandaries we face in raising and eating animals. In this project, we focus our lens on the largest and perhaps most maligned of farmed animals, the cow.

Although this is a fairly valuable film, I will point out that there is a definite bias in this film, including the presentation of unbalanced and misleading information but it is, on the whole, a useful documentary to watch because it teaches the public about the dangers of a vegan diet, commercial farming using manmade chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, nitrogen, phosphorus, etc.), and monocrop fields, among other things. It also loosely shows what regenerative farming/ranching is, and how it’s vital for restoring the viability of arable and marginal agricultural land, as well as the future of food production, and a more ethical way to raise livestock. Further, it generically talks about the ethics of slaughterhouses and that they need to change, but didn’t really give specifics.

Not enough of a summary? Here’s more.
One area in which the film had a bias was because several people were paleo diet advocates (including Mrs. Rodgers), so their view of things is just as skewed as the former vegan’s had been previously. This led to lumping together meat and fat into certain statements that gave an inaccurate understanding to the viewers. There are some studies that indicate a definite relationship between excessive beef (and pig) consumption and colorectal cancer.

Another area was when the owner of Polyface farms was talking about the fake meat industry’s use of processed plants to create their “meat”, and how they use manmade chemicals and commercially-grown crops. By saying that, he implied that this is not the case for commercially-raised livestock, which is massively untrue. Where does all the feed for those lots crammed full of livestock with no grass growing come from - outer space? The same food used to create fake burgers is what livestock eat (or, worse, they eat a nutritionally imbalanced meal, like corn, which produces livestock that are potentially detrimental to our health), and what is used for fake burgers is BY ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE less than what is used for commercial ranching. In addition, the volume of water used by most types of farming is FAR less than for ranching, again by a large degree. Finally, while commercial crop production introduces a lot of chemicals into the ecosystem, air and water, that is basically all they do - use water, kill the soil, erode the soil, which goes into seas, oceans, and lakes via waterways, poison everything, and use a fairly proportional amount of land and water. Commercial ranching, in sharp contrast, does ALL of that plus uses huge volumes of water, pollutes land, air and water

While it is true that processed foods are, in general, worse for health than whole/unprocessed foods, some foods MUST be processed to be able to extract the most benefits from them. Seeds cannot be digested unless the hull is cracked or removed. Some vegetables are much more bio-available when cooked. Meat is generally easier to digest when cooked. And, if processed food is made to nutritionally (not just appearance, taste, smell and texture) mimic what it’s replacing, that means that it will be a suitable replacement. Beyond, Impossible, Emerge, Lightland, NotCo and other meat substitute companies, however, are not necessarily aiming at a similar nutritional profile, or even one that is good for health, so it’s important to keep that in mind.

Although the film talks about how some supplements contain versions of vitamins and minerals that are less bioavailable, it failed to mention that people with a good diet don’t usually need them, and it also failed to mention that supplements can be dangerous if they contain excessive levels of nutrients when combined with your diet. Anecdotally, I have experienced this while consuming the multi-vitamin Centrum. I took a pill and started to feel lethargic and unwell. I discovered that if I consumed half a pill, the effect stopped. Ultimately, though doctors don’t generally recommend multi-vitamin supplements BECAUSE they are not geared to what is actually deficient in your diet.

One question that I had was when the methane guy was talking. He said that it’s a falsehood that cows contribution of CH4 (methane) to the atmosphere is a problem because it’s part of the precipitation system. That may be true but, as ranching ramps up, the sheer VOLUME of cow (and other livestock) farts increases, leading to a net increase of methane in the air which, in turn, affects the climate, including local and global temperatures, and weather patterns. Finally, he provides no solid facts about the volume of CH4 produced, or its impact in those 10 years it’s in the air.

After the film, it offers you access to bonus materials (including the full versions of the 20 interviews in the film), a self-paced, 10-module, 7.5±hour course, and the Sacred Cow book - all for sale, of course. They’re also looking for funding, which partially comes from sales.


So, you have to take the good with the bad with this film, and educate yourself. If you have questions, please let me know.
#diet #nutrition #health #cows #bovines #ruminants #ranching #agriculture #farming #regenerativefarming #filmreviews #documentary #environment #ethics

In a planning session for next year’s program with the Sierra Club, I suggested the movie. It was instantly shot down, because the Sierra Club has a very active vegan and vegetarian sector whose mission is to stop people from eating meat altogether. Then there is the animal rights group and the anti-CAFO group, each pursuing their topic with great passion.

I’m not yet giving up, because the team wants to do one of our quarterly 4p1000 webinars focused on CAFOs, highlighting the enormous damage they do. I spent several weeks early this year engaged in an intense exchange with a vegan activist debating pros and cons of our diet. Our discussion group includes the Sunrise Movement, Rural Coalition for farmers and ranchers, Regeneration International, the Organic Consumer Group, a Green New Deal for farmers and ranchers, so these conversations have an impact.

It is a great tragedy that Impossible Meats and other plant based protein companies have chosen to continue industrial agriculture methods to grow their feedstock, with soy from Brazil processed in China, causing more destruction of the Amazon. That is clearly no solution, either.

To understand the film requires context, which is why we have started to show a film, stimulate a discussion, solicit questions, and create a high level panel discussion with experts to engage our membership. The first screening will be with Kiss the Ground come January.

Context here is: CAFOs are an aberration that has to come to an end, we cannot raise animals this way for a host of reasons explained in the film. On the other hand, if we were to go vegan / vegetarian tomorrow, there is not enough protein available to feed the population. It will take years to shift our agricultural production and the entire supply chain to make that possible, and Impossible Burgers are no solution. It’s the next industrial mess wrecking the system.

So the solution, from a practical perspective is to shift animals back into integrated farm operations, and decentralize the supply chain to deal with that. We need to engage the regulatory / political system to allow local processing, and educate the public.

These discussions always remind me of the infamous circular firing squad. It takes a process of discovery resulting in a common vision to define best possible / available outcomes.

In email, @Parmjit wrote:

Glenn McGrew II I’d be interested in what you meant by the bias by Paleo advocates.

I was very impressed by the scope of the film. It seemed to be quite balanced in explaining the intersectionality between economic, human and ecological wellbeing. It addresses imbalances in the views that there isn’t enough land, enough water, too much methane etc. The problems come from Big Agriculture practices.

The message around healthy diet, I took to be ‘leave out processed food rather than any particular food group, including meat’ which as a vegetarian, I happen to agree with. I think it’s really important to ‘listen to your body’ as our dietary needs are going to be different and could change. I went through a period when I felt the need to introduce meat for a time. It was weird because you do take on your choice of diet as ‘your identity’ but I’m a pretty ‘fluxy’ person!

Happy to hear more views.


Rather than continue in email, here’s my response.

Hi Parmjit! Thanks for the response!

I agree with you completely! It is a useful and informative video, which is why I shared it on sosmed, the OGM (almost wrote OMG lol) forum and on Steemit. I really appreciated that they focused on processed foods and commercial agriculture as the villains. I wish they’d taken the time to explain regenerative farming better, though.

I especially appreciated the perspective of the ex-vegan because it was a great example of how diets can come to inform and bias our view of the world. I think it will open people’s eyes to their own biases. I’m not sure how true this is of older diets, like Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, etc., but I know when I was a vegetarian/vegan it definitely impacted me, and it seems that people on diets like keto, paleo and some kind of vegetarian or vegan diet are invested in it in a way that is both good and bad. Some are so into it that they evangelize it as if it’s the solution for everyone but, as you pointed out, everyone is different. Personally, I am not a fan of non-experts advocating a particular diet. Having talked/listened to doctors, I know that neither paleo nor keto are good life diets, but some people are so invested in them that they won’t listen to anyone other than advocates. It’s basically the same psychological phenomenon as the blind faith of religion.

What I noticed was that certain speakers displayed a bias. The Polyfarm guy and his comment about crops used by fake meat companies without admitting that most ranches use the same stuff and far more of it. The paleo guy and how he lumped together fat and meat in a way that I found to be questionable. And so on. If other parts of the movie had countered those misleading statements, I would’ve had no problem. It wasn’t in every comment - it wasn’t the unified message of the video, otherwise I wouldn’t recommend the documentary to anyone.

I hope that makes sense. I’m happy to know what you think!

Thanks Glenn. Good move! I had a vegan friend beg me not to tell another vegan friend that she popped some diary as a quick snack. Such totalitarian approaches behind compassionate aims! Certainly not conducive to good health

I missed the point about crops. Fair point.

Fat I’m not so sure because it’s part of the animal and in some cultures, that aren’t obese, they relish it. I understand that visceral fat is a worse type of fat than body fat - in humans anyway.


I lost the ability to produce lactase because of avoiding dairy for too long. Now I have to swallow a lot of lactase each time I have dairy, and there’s no way to know the right amount lactase. :frowning:

I hadn’t heard about visceral fat, but it certainly doesn’t sound good to have it building up in the abdominal cavity. As for eating fat, my understanding of the movement that started when I was a kid in the US was that some group started promoting a fat-free diet and pushed it so hard that the politicians forced the FDA to adopt it despite a lack of scientific research to back it up, so most of my life people were eating low-fat and fat free foods. At the same time, processed foods, especially frozen dinners, junk food and fast food increased in availability, often with lower prices than good food because of the subsidies for corn, wheat, and soy, and lifestyles changed so much without a concurrent educational improvement/health announcements to make people aware that they were eating themselves into sickness. Nowadays, they’re saying that you should eat fat, but I don’t think it’s cut-and-dried. Aside from trans fats, saturated fats seem to be something we’re supposed to limit. Maybe @Klaus or some others know more about this.

What I find interesting is that a lot of vegetarian/vegan Indians are overweight - some morbidly so. This is an anecdotal observation, and may not apply to the poor in India, since I only met middle- and upper-class Indians in Indonesia. What do you think?

Good move - Moving conversation to this platform. I hadn’t used it before.

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the real culprit is sugar, in particular high fructose corn syrup which our bodies are not designed to process.
Mark Hyman on Sugar

The Blood Sugar Solution

Dr. Lustig from UC San Franciso: Sugar is a toxin

Sugar is cheap, and used as a filler. Subway Sandwich bread for example has 10% sugar, it’s not really bread. High fructose syrup is in jams, sausages, just about any junk food. Look at the labels next time in the grocery store.

I’m not sure how that is relevant to the Sacred Cow documentary, but I certainly agree that sugar is a problem, both because of how our brains’ reward center is triggered by it, and because it can lead to a dependence because our gut biome becomes increasingly full of sugar-loving germs that use the nervous system connection to the brain to push for more sugary foods. So the addictions of our brain and our micro-fauna try to dictate us. And, quite often, they succeed.

I’ve not studied scientific research on the topic of high-fructose corn syrup, but I took a peak at a couple - there were a lot of unfamiliar technical words, and I was just curious if this were a topic I could comprehend fairly rapidly, like the cat food article I completed last week…But, no, it’d take a fair amount of learning, so I can’t just dive in and say whether it’s ‘pop news’ or actual science that says that HFCS is the worst.

That said, I don’t think it is as simple at leveling a finger at sugar. Sugar hasn’t been around that long, yet problems with obesity and related diseases has, which tells us that sugar is ONE of the problems. The EAT video you recently circulated in email is an important resource relating to food, education, the environment and more. Aside from glossing over sustainable farming and ranching, but focusing on Nitrogen and Phosphorus without mentioning natural fertilizers, I think this 30-minute scientific report is excellent. They have given us a clear framework on how to save the planet AND improve health globally. Corporation farms and ranches, farmers, and ranchers will have to shift gears by switching crops, changing what animals they have, reducing production, improving land management practices, and changing their marketing strategies, but will still be able to make good money (a la the law of supply and demand) as the diet is shifted towards vegetables (especially legumes) and fruits, and away from whole grains, starchy foods, meat, dairy and eggs.

Sadly, I think there will be a lot of resistance from people because they are set in their ways about what they eat, limited by what is available, unable to adopt farming changes and so on, and the crazies will call this a plot against their own group. People don’t like change, even when it’s going to be good for them, unless there’s a major economic incentive. Worse still will be the frenetic, furious action of the PACs and lobbyists to keep these changes from ever happening. How does one successfully counter the subversive actions of those groups for the betterment of not just humanity but the planet, too?

here is a quicky on high fructose corn syrup.

The reason I mention sugar within this context is because animal fat is not the problem, as it has been made out to be. The industry phased out beef tally for deep frying and replaced it with vegetable oil in the 90’s, supposedly for health reasons. It had profound impacts on third world countries producing vegetable oil, and created more problems because the oil was hydrogenated to last longer. Hydrogenated oil cannot be broken down in our bodies, caused an upsurge in heart attacks due to clocked arteries. So everyone had to switch to rapeseed oil, creating more disruptions in the supply chain. The public was never informed of any of this. Btw when i say everyone I mean the fast food industry. There are people making decisions on a complex system who do not understand or know how to think in systems context, no better example as the US farm bill, a complete disaster incentivizing all the wrong things.

Sacred cow is a good snapshot of a sub-sector of the food system. The film and the story itself is shaped by an intuitive understanding of the macro imperatives driving the regeneration efforts of the entire food system, and how that applies to farm animals. What it does not explain are the systemic linkages within the entire supply chain that would have to be aligned to achieve these adaptations.

At this point the global food system is fractured, and dominated by sub-optimized formations that collaborate within a complementary industrialized supply chain. That level of specialization is reflected in CAFOs, and in high fructose corn syrup, both of which also reveal the pathology of the entire system.

One should add that food is a $trillion industry to provide perspective on the complexity of change.


Klaus, thank you for responding!

I think it would be really fantastic if you would post an article with links, brief descriptions showing the topics of each video, and maybe a short praise/critique so that the rest of us can catch up to all that you know! :slight_smile:

inserted links in the post above … Klaus

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