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Carnivorous confusion

(article, Culinate staff)

According to the food activist Nicolette Hahn Niman, eating free-range beef might help save the honey bee. The trick? Bees seem to prefer the plants that grow on lands recently grazed by cattle. As domesticated honey bees struggle with disease and stress, wild bees and other pollinators — which are responsible for pollinating at least a third of California's crops — are thriving in the state's natural habitats. So: bring on the grass-fed beef, because it's good for the land.

Or not, as James McWilliams argues just a few webpages over from Niman on the Atlantic's food channel. According to McWilliams, eating meat, whether it's industrially produced on a large scale in a factory feedlot or raised on a small scale on grass surrounded by buzzing bees, is a questionable practice, because raising and killing animals "for food we don't need" simply isn't humane, regardless of whether it's sustainably done. 

As McWilliams asks, "How can this sentiment (concern for animal welfare) and this act (killing the animal) coexist? To this question, there is no compassionate answer . . . It might feel good to call ourselves 'conscientious carnivores,' but at some point we'll have to recognize that the only conscientious carnivore is, alas, an herbivore."