Separating facts from fiction in grass-fed and 'regenerative' beef

Thanks so much for attending “Habitat-Fed Beef: Separating Facts From Fiction in Grass-Fed and ‘Regenerative’ Beef” and joining us on our community platform.

We’d like you to use this space to reflect on the event and your takeaways. We’re interested to hear from you and also have a few questions for you to get things rolling:

  • What do you see as the differences and the overlap between ‘sustainable’ and ‘regenerative’ production methods?

  • The description of this event asks if sustainable beef is “possible”–did your opinion shift during this event at all? If so, how? And if not, why?

  • Are there any points or topics where you disagreed with the panelists? Any important perspectives missing in this conversation?

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Thanks so much for hosting this follow-up discussion. I hope people will continue to post their questions from the webinar which weren’t answered.

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I did only watch the recording but my input would be this:
1.) Thanks to all of you for the discussion, it’s always a pleasure to watch and special shout-out to Table & Tara Garnett for this important platform that brings us all together!
1.1) Just for info / COI: I am an ethical vegan.

2.) To answer your questions (my non-expert vegan opinions / thoughts):
2.1) ‘sustainable’ and ‘regenerative’

  • Sustainable beef = strip away all the intensive animal agriculture and leave only the amount that might be necessary to provide food security & improve diets in low-income countries. No overgrazing / numbers of animals should be strictly limited to avoid environmental problems and keep 1.5°C alive. Limit fences / better use hedgerows and provide (ecological) compensation areas for the displaced wildlife (e.g.: predators).
  • Regenerative beef = improving degraded soils & maybe provide fire-protection services via grazing.

2.2) sustainable beef is “possible”?
At the start of my vegan journey, I’d have said sustainable beef is not possible but after reading some more, stepping out of my bubble from time to time and remaining open to being wrong, I think it’s possible if it’s done with best practices and a sharp reduction in production. My opinion did not change with this event.
Nonetheless, I sill think a future vegan world is possible, preferable and should be the goal. Cellular agriculture & future tech might help with that, although I think it’s unclear if it’s scalable, sustainable and how long it will take to displace beef from an animal. I also think, non-animal agriculture should not be forgotten and has to be made more sustainable & less harmful (pesticides, field deaths, etc.).

I am not sure how abattoirs / the way the animals are killed and transported fits into this discussion, maybe that should be a topic / event on it’s own?

3.) Extensive animal agriculture requires more land, compared to intensive animal agriculture, sadly that’s probably one of the biggest drivers of deforestation, next to commodities like palm-oil, soy (mainly animal feed & oil), etc.
I know this research that puts pastures for cattle as the main driver of deforestation but it only looks at the years 2001-2015.
Question: Is there any similar research that is not limited to the years 2001-2015 that you know of?

3.1) Since the start of the pandemic I’ve read some articles 1 2 that suggest the encroachment of humans into wildlife habitats & deforestation are some of the reasons zoonotic spillovers & emerging infectious disease get more probable.
Question: I know zoonoses are also very problematic in intensive animal agriculture (e.g.: Q-Fever & “High-density dairy-goat husbandry, Dutch style” - quote from the book “Spillover” by David Quammen … great book by the way!), but I feel this is not often talked about in the context of extensive (animal) agriculture. Is this maybe an oversight or did I just miss it? I think this is a very important issue that should be part of the sustainable & healthy food system discussion, maybe you have some thoughts about that?

That’s all for now, if something else comes to my mind, I will make another comment.

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One-sided anti-meat. Vast misrepresentations of Regenerative ag. and the principles and science.