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The Meat Conundrum

We're struggling with it too

Following the introduction of our first vegan line, Matt and Nat, there has been some moral confusion about meat eating in the REV office.

Irving Penn

Irving Penn

Researching vegan fashion seemed like an average day’s task in the REV office, until I found myself pages deep in PETA’s website, flinching at horrific videos of emaciated animals in filthy conditions. I was disgusted by the treatment of these animals, and was baffled at who would condone such behaviour…until I glanced down at my own chicken sandwich and realised the culprit was me. What right did I have to be preaching about the welfare of animals while stuffing honey-roasted chicken slices into my mouth?

It was a common reaction throughout the office. The fact that our meat is marinated in aromatic spices, baked to a golden perfection, and precisely arranged on top of salad leaves, doesn’t change the fact that we are eating a chunk of bird/pig/cow. Once you see the realities of the meat industry, it’s hard to enjoy that succulent chicken with such blissful naivety.

Factor in the environmental impact of meat and it seems everyone in the REV office has acquired a taste for chickpeas and tofu. Could we go vegan for the sake of the earth or is that too far out? It seems to be a growing trend. Certainly some of the celebrities we follow are getting on board with veganism - Jennifer Lopez, Olivia Wilde and Anne Hathaway to name a few (admittedly for some it may be the alleged health and beauty benefits taking precedent but we say right on despite the reasons).

Irving Penn

“The biggest intervention people could make towards reducing their carbon footprints would not be to abandon cars, but to eat significantly less red meat” -Professor Tim Benton

However model and DJ Ruby Rose recently took to Twitter to plead with her followers to give up the meat in the name of climate change. Why? Because statistics like the fact that animal agriculture gulps up a hefty 56% of water in the U.S. alone, or that meat rearing has lead to the deforestation of over 91% of the precious Amazon rainforest. When compared to vegetable staples like potatoes, wheat and rice, the impact of beef per calorie is extreme, requiring 160 times more land and producing 11 times more greenhouse gases. When cutting our personal CO2 emissions greatly is as easy as avoiding meat, it begins to seem like a bit of a no-brainer for us even if it sad to think of a world without steak frites.

"Animal agriculture gulps a hefty 56% of water in the US, as well as accounting for over 91% of the Amazon deforestation."

Liv Tyler, on and off vegetarian

The Debate

It is in our nature to eat meat.


It’s true that our ancestors relied on meat to survive, and thanks to its high levels of protein it did a pretty good job of keeping them alive. But can we really compare our current living situations to that of the cave men? Things have advanced ever so slightly, and now that we have instant access to supermarkets and endless meat substitutes, can we justify still tucking into innocent animals?


Okay, but we need animals for calcium and protein.


It turns out that the human body is a pretty flexible organism. Studies suggest that our bodies adapt to our level of calcium intake, meaning that if we decided to chug glasses of milk then our bodies cope just fine, but equally, if we decided to pretty much cut out the mineral then that’s cool as well. And if calcium levels are still a concern, then there are always leafy greens or even supplements to turn to.


As for protein concerns, there is a whole host of healthier and cheaper alternatives to meat that fill us up just fine. Beans, lentils, and even peas, rival meat in terms of protein content. In fact, cheap cuts of meat that could actually be doing more harm than good in terms of the hormones and antibiotics used in their rearing. Meat consumption consistently correlates with high levels of cancer, and a good chunk of the meat we do consume is heavily processed and full of fats. Not so good for us after all.


But I like the taste of meat.


It’s true that we are biologically wired to crave meat (It’s a survivial thing). But give a quick consideration to the filthy conditions in which that meat is reared, and the mental distress that the animal endured during its short life, and a taste for chicken nuggets just doesn’t seem justifiable.


"Meat consumption consistently correlates with high levels of cancer."

We at the REV office have different debates about this all the time. They go something along the lines of, "but is organic meat from the farmer's market o.k.?" or "Linda McCartney sausages have palm oil in them so is that worse because I am supporting deforestation and killing all the orangutans??" And we often disagree, or our boyfriends disagree. But what is so interesting about this conversation is the ethics-one of us might feel animal rights is more important than ever eating meat, whilst another might think the carbon footprint of meat production would be the most detrimental aspect. As with anything in sustainability, we have learned that we will all have different approaches to the subject but provoking the conversation is the most important thing.

The evening after I made this revelation I was slumped on the sofa, mentally exhausted by my findings, only to come across a BBC programme aptly named ‘Carnage’. Intrigued, I had to watch it. Despite the comedic undertone of the show, the sci-fi future of our meat consumption seemed somewhat believable. Minus the ridiculous meat musical (starring a cow) and the cheese-shaming therapy groups, the idea that future generations will look back on our meat consumption with confusion seems plausible. After all, there have been far greater historic examples of a major shift in attitudes (women’s rights anyone?).

So, a simple research task on an ordinary Wednesday morning turned into a minor life re-evaluation, and sparked some moral confusion in the office – can we justify tucking into a chicken wrap while fighting to improve the social and environmental situation of our planet? Definitely some food for thought.

Irving Penn