“Meet Your Meat” is an excerpt from “The Consumption Cleanse” chapter on “Meat”…..
There are three areas I will cover here being animal cruelty, the impact of livestock farming on the ecosystem and the impact of eating animals on your health.
I did consider myself fairly well read on the topic of animal cruelty in meat production. I was very wrong. Day after day of investigating stories of impossible cruelty which I assumed for certain must have been fiction or at least exaggerated turned out to be true.
It was a very depressing time for me particularly to know it was my eating choices that were driving it. Most of the acts and indeed some standards in the industry have come about in the name of efficiency in order to cut costs and maximise yield and profit. You’d never think I was talking about sentient intelligent beings would you. Imagine talking about a human like that. Actually in some workplace environments we do, oops. At least we’re not eating each other yet.
As mentioned earlier the manner in which our demand for animal flesh has these beings raised, fattened, butchered, prepared and sold is appalling. The meat industry knows this and that is why you don’t see or read about it in your everyday lives, particularly about what goes on in factory farming operations. If you did, the animal flesh industry would fall out of bed.
Factory Farming is the practice of raising usually thousands of animals in close confinement and high density with the purpose of producing meat, eggs, or milk in the fastest, most efficient, and cheapest way possible for human consumption. Note that I don’t mention anything about the welfare of the animals or the safety of the food produced. Common sense dictates that in order for food to nourish the body, it has to itself have been nourished and well-cared for, yet the gruesome holocaust against these animals is de riguer. This type of treatment is completely unnecessary, as any small farmer can tell you. Some awful examples from our world’s factory farms are:
- Raised. In some western countries calves, after being taken from their mothers days after birth are raised for veal. They are confined in individual crates too narrow for them even to turn around, they’re virtually immobilised for their entire 16-week long lives. Unfortunately, this confinement is common in the veal industry.
- Fattened. Growth hormones, genetic engineering, and specific breeding programs are used to create more desirable and consistent animal anatomies, and to stimulate faster growth. This potent chemical cocktail fattens only the animal parts that consumers pay most for. The animal exists SOLELY for us to eat it.
- Prepared. The miserable lives of chickens raised for meat and eggs ends at the slaughterhouse. The process of capturing them and putting them into crates is so rough and tumble that broken bones are common. Once at the slaughterhouse the birds are hung upside down in shackles further injuring their legs. Machines then cut their throats before they are immersed in scalding-hot water to remove their feathers. They are often conscious throughout the entire process. They are often not stunned before their throats are cut.
- Butchered. A cow can live up to 25 years. Dairy cows usually meet their ends at beef slaughterhouses when, at just two to five years of age, their milk production has slowed or they are too crippled or ill to continue in the industry.
- Sale. Millions of Australian sheep and cattle suffer unnecessarily during live export because of the unbearable conditions on board ship. In suffocating conditions they are forced to stand and sleep in their own shit for excruciatingly long periods of time before arriving at their destination, often dead. Those not dead on arrival, if it is a Halal destination, will suffer a fully conscious slaughter, condemned to a painful and prolonged death.
You don’t have to dig very deep to see countless standard practises that are utterly inhumane. I have not included the most gruesome practises I came across here, as I did not want to lose your readership.
The process of raising livestock for food has a massively negative effect on our ecosystem. It’s vital that you watch a documentary called “Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret”. It sheds light on the modern day meat industry and its relation to climate change, as well as its detrimental effect on the Earth’s environment. Remember, I challenge you to follow this chapter closely, to really process what I’m saying and to be with the reality. Heads do not belong in the sand. Some of the environmental issues around raising livestock are:
- Inefficient Land Use. Land use to support livestock is massive. Not so much for the animals themselves (in factory farming a sow will take up no more land than the size of its shadow), but in the production and acquisition of feed and water. 70% of U.S. grain production is used to feed farm animals. The grains and soybeans fed to animals to produce the amount of meat consumed by the average American in one year could feed seven people for the same period.
- Inefficient energy use. It takes 28 calories of fossil fuel to produce 1 calorie of protein from cows. It takes only 2 calories of fossil fuel to produce 1 calorie of protein in soybeans.
- Deforestation. The production of crop feed for livestock is the leading cause globally of land clearing and habitat loss for native animals. 33% of the world’s arable land is set aside for growing animal feed.
- Water Use. To produce one pound of beef is 1,799 gallons of water; one pound of pork takes 576 gallons of water. As a comparison, the water footprint of soybeans is 216 gallons; corn is 108 gallons. ‘Cowspiracy’ tells us animal agriculture is responsible for 20%-33% of all the fresh water consumption in the world.
- Greenhouse gases. Again according to ‘Cowspiracy’, animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.
- Water Pollution. The widespread use of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilisers used in the production of feed crops often interferes with the reproductive systems of animals and poisons waterways.
And if all of this is still not tipping the scales, there is the effect on your health:
- Inefficient Land Use. A vegetarian diet reduces your risk significantly of heart disease, cancer (more closely linked to processed meat, and meats preserved by smoking, curing, or salting), osteoporosis and kidney and gall stones.
- Toxic Chemicals. Factory farmed animals contain high levels of antibiotics, growth hormones and pesticides. Meat is not just meat any more, it is highly contaminated with industrial poisons.
- Sodium Nitrite. Bacon, hot dogs and other processed meat have a special place in the ‘bad for you’ Bacon contains 45 calories per strip, loaded with fat and sodium. They all use the preservative sodium nitrite. This carcinogen has been linked to leukaemia in children and brain tumours in infants. Other studies show that sodium nitrate also promotes some other forms of cancer.
- Meat Glue. What the?!?! This is an ingredient that is added to cuts of meat from the supermarket and even in restaurants. Itacts as a binder to ‘glue’ multiple scraps together to ultimately create one steak, chicken breast, or pork chop. Known as transglutaminase, and harvested from animal blood, it is made by the fermentation of bacteria. The gluing of many pieces of the resultant Frankenstein steak traps bacteria at the joins. So when you eat such a steak that rare, medium-rare, or just not fully cooked, you are exposing yourself to this bacteria, increasing your risk of contracting a food-borne illness.
- Carbon Monoxide. This is the practice of injecting meat with deadly carbon monoxide gas, so that retailers can make old meat look presentable for weeks after it should have already gone bad. It colours meat an unnatural red even as it is ageing on the shelf.
- Fattening. Meat-eaters are three times more likely to be obese than vegetarians are and nine times more likely than vegans. On average, vegans are 10 to 20 pounds lighter than adult meat-eaters. Vegetarian diets are also associated with higher metabolic rates than those of meat-eaters.
- Death. “Mainly due to the facts above, animal eaters just don’t live as long as vegetarians and vegans. “According to a study of over 70,000 people published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, vegetarians were 12 per cent less likely to have died during a six-year follow-up period than their meat-eating peers. Vegetarian men live to an average of 83.3 years, compared with non-vegetarian men who live to an average of 73.8 years. Vegetarian women live to an average of 85.7 years, which is 6.1 years longer than non-vegetarian women according to the Adventist Health Study-2.”
Read about our way out of this shocker in “The Consumption Cleanse”
Until next week.
Kai Olsen-Sawyer, “Meat’s large water footprint: why raising livestock and poultry for meat is so resource-intensive”, http://foodtank.com/news/2013/12/why-meat-eats-resources, accessed 25/2/16.
Dr. Deborah Wilson, “Eating Meat is linked to Obesity”, http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/obesity/, accessed 25/2/16.
Sarah Glynn, “Vegetarians Live Longer Than Meat-Eaters”, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/261382.php, accessed 25/2/16