Letter: Another perspective on meat production

Interested candidates for summer jobs should contact Amber Mohmand at amber.mohmand@iowastatedaily.com for more details. Those interested in applying to work during the fall/spring term should contact Katherine Kealey at katherine.kealey@iowastatedaily.com. 

Interested candidates for summer jobs should contact Amber Mohmand at [email protected] for more details. Those interested in applying to work during the fall/spring term should contact Katherine Kealey at [email protected] 

Meat. Something once so simple and a staple in our diets is now something so controversial that I’ve found myself drawn into debates with friends, family and strangers. So, to at least make the last point a little less problematic, I want to first say hello. My name is Jacob Yarian. I am a recent graduate of Iowa State, earning my Bachelor of Science in animal science with a minor in speech communication.

Now, before you roll your eyes and dismiss this as a typical response from those who have skin in the game, I want you to take a moment and think. Think what products you use that a pig is a part of. Or a cow. Or a chicken, sheep, etc. Did you think of a slab of meat? How about your leather shoes? What if I asked if you thought of antifreeze, crayons, waxes, adhesives, heart valves, insulin, various other pharmaceuticals, paint or shaving cream? How about that Jell-O shot last Saturday?

The truth is, we think of livestock animals as meat and meat alone. The reality is that they are much more integral in our lives than most of us care to realize.

What used to be thrown away decades ago is now kept, further processed or sold to other markets. That is part of why international business is so important to those in agricultural industries; there are markets for us to utilize every part of the animal. 

I will move on from that point to the question of health. While there can be detriments to the overconsumption of muscle-based protein, there are also important benefits. What some people fail to realize is the importance of the type of protein that you’re consuming.

Protein is only good to us if we can absorb and use it, which is why understanding what’s in your food is just as important as eating it. You can have a balanced diet without consuming meat. That is true.

However, you must pay greater attention to ensure that you are getting essential amino acids. If you are lacking in one essential amino acid, your muscle production will be lacking too. This applies to those of us who didn’t make it to the gym as often as we should have, since our bodies continuously build and break down muscle.

Animal protein contains all essential amino acids, making it a one-stop shop for those of us who consume meat. I could also discuss trypsin inhibitors, but holding your attention while talking about the function of trypsin is likely a lost cause, so I’ll just recommend that you make sure that your soybean sources and lima beans are fully cooked to ensure that you can absorb all of the delicious protein in your meal. 

I love these conversations and could go on for many more paragraphs. But for your sake, I will withhold and touch on one more point that must be addressed: the (incorrect) perception of how animals are treated by their caretakers. I could write pages on this one topic, with first-hand experience and second-hand knowledge.

I did not grow up on a farm, but through internships, summer work and undergraduate research, I gained valuable hands-on experience working predominately with swine and dairy cattle. I was there, rain or shine, often before dawn broke against the horizon, ensuring the animals were fed and had water.

I have given my hands to help deliver animals that would have otherwise died during birth. I have administered medicines to animals to ease their discomfort and restore their health. And, when absolutely necessary, I have had the burden of extinguishing life when other options were exhausted. It brings great joy to help bring life into the world; it brings great sorrow when a life must be taken too early.

I am just one of millions in agriculture. I encourage you to visit with your classmates and hear their stories, their joys and their heartaches from working with animals. Yes, these animals were raised with a purpose, and that purpose was to provide for me; I won’t debate that point. But these animals, and millions more across this country and the globe, are raised with love.

The farmers of America face frigid cold, humbling humidity and blazing heat to ensure that our animals are well looked after. The simple truth is this: I care more about my food because I’ve had a hand in producing it.

So perhaps you want to eat less meat. I won’t stop you. I couldn’t really stop you, now could I? That isn’t the point to all of this. I wanted to present to you another view of the issues at hand, and I believe I did.

To me, moderation, not omission, is the healthiest option to take. While I find information cited back to PETA laughable (surely we know how to verify credible sources by now, right?), I do not discount or ignore the core concerns and opinions of many vegetarians and vegans. I hold many of the same concerns that those opposed to animal agriculture have: clean water, a sustainable environment, animal welfare and food security. All in all, we’re not so different. 

That being said, Superdog after midnight on Welch? That’s just something that no one should miss out on.