You don’t have to be a science whizz to understand that our desire for meat is devastating the planet. Us humans are now consuming more meat more frequently than at any other time. Our current levels of consumption and the way we are using the Earth to satisfy our hunger simply cannot be sustained. However, beyond the environmental considerations are some serious health concerns. We are not only eating more meat, but we are also eating meat that is about as connected to nature and natural processes as a twinkie. Below are 15 reasons you should think twice next time you fancy a burger.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that 81% of the raw turkey, 69% of the pork chops, and 39% of the chicken they have tested have been found to contain superbugs, that is, bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. The National Chicken Council explains that it is a widespread practice in the farming of livestock to repeatedly treat animals with antibiotics. This results in the emergence of bacterial strains that are resistant to antibiotics. In summary, the meat industry is giving rise to bugs that we have no way of treating. If you are concerned with your health or life quality/expectancy, you certainly want to take this into account.
The reason why farmed animals reared by US farmers are much larger and grow more quickly than they would in the wild is because they are injected with massive amounts of hormones. This is particularly the case with cows. This practice is deemed detrimental to human health in many nations globally, so much so that US meat imports are banned in several nations. If other countries refuse to allow their citizens to eat this stuff, why should we?
13. Inhuman treatment
Hideously cramped living space, hormones and genetic modification have resulted in deformed poultry unable to support their own weight and move normally. Moreover, the beaks of factory farm-raised turkeys, ducks, and chickens are cut to stop distressed birds from harming and cannibalizing other animals. Switzerland and Germany have now implemented a complete ban on factory farming.
Slaughtering and processing livestock, especially large livestock such as cows, is a dirty business. Animal carcasses will often be contaminated by the feces stuck on the hides of animals or in their intestines. This is why it is so important to cook meat properly. If meat is not properly cooked, the feces on your meat put you at risk of blood infections and E. Coli. This is also why it is so important to wash your hands after handling meat. You don’t want to spread the poo on your meat around the house.
The meat industry is backed by powerful lobbyists who are doing all they can to stop the industry from being accountable for its actions. To enable meat producers to escape scrutiny and violate humane animal treatment and hygiene USDA regulations with impunity, lobbyists are aggressively pursuing ag-gag legislation. This anti-whistleblower legislation outlaws the unofficial documentation of any meat processing activities so meat producers have complete control over the information reported about their organizations and businesses.
10. Carbon monoxide
Meat is treated with carbon monoxide to hide its natural discoloration. The New York Times reports that the law allows for carbon monoxide-treated packaged solid cuts to be sold as many as 35 days following slaughter, with ground meat able to be sold four weeks after slaughter. However, the University of Georgia’s Director of the Center for Food Safety, Michael Doyle, has found that carbon monoxide-treated meat kept in a refrigerator at 10 degrees higher than the temperature recommended grows salmonella more readily than non-treated meat.
A key burden the meat industry places on our planet is its insatiable demand for water. It takes 2,400 gallons of precious water to produce just a single pound of beef. If you choose not to eat that one pound of beef, you’ll have saved the same amount of water as you would if you went six months without showering. In the US, water use in private homes accounts for 5% of all water consumption, with livestock farming accounting for 55%. Worldwide, it is estimated that as much as 33% of all the freshwater consumed is used for livestock farming. This precious source of energy can be better used elsewhere.
8. Eyesight loss
Wild salmon gets its pink color from all the krill it eats. Farm-raised salmon don’t eat krill so they aren’t pink, they’re gray. However, as gray salmon looks a bit, well, yuck, artificial dyes are added to the fish’s feed to color them. These dyes include the chemical Canthaxanthin, which has been tied to the loss of eyesight in humans. Maybe salmon isn’t the healthy option after all.
McGill University has published a study showing that urinary tract infections can be caused by contaminated chickens. Researchers found that raw chicken bought from your local grocery store is home to large numbers of bacteria that can cause UTIs. Pork, beef, and chicken can all be carriers of E. Coli, but the strain found in chicken is more similar to the bacteria that cause UTIs, making chicken-eaters potentially at greater risk of these nasty infections.
Around one-third of all our planet’s ice-free land is dedicated to livestock farming. While you can produce 53,000 pounds of potatoes, 30,000 pounds of carrots, or 50,000 pounds of tomatoes on one acre of farmland, if you’re farming cattle, you’ll be able to produce just 250 pounds of meat on the same amount of land. All the more reasons to trade cattle farming for vegetable farming.
5. Climate change
We are used to hearing that driving and flying are bad for the environment, but did you know that livestock farming contributes more (18%) to climate change than every form of transport combined? Methane is more damaging than CO2 by 25-100 times and 150 billion gallons of the stuff is produced by cows daily. Moreover, every second, an acre or two of rainforest is cleared to create grazing land for cattle. The Amazon rainforest has been devastated by cattle farming, with 91% of the land lost being cleared for livestock. You should consider reducing your purchase and consumption of meat if you care about climate change.
4. There are alternatives
Eating meat, dairy and eggs is not our only choice to achieve a balanced diet. Far from it. A plant-based diet can be healthy and give us all the vitamins and minerals we need. Meat is not a must. Moreover, every day you spend eating only vegan meals, you save 45 pounds’ worth of grain and 1,100 gallons of water, protect 30 square feet of forest, prevent 20 pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, and enjoy a diet that does not cause harm to animals. Ready to trade your lifestyle for a healthier, more sustainable one?
3. Unequal government support
The meat industry enjoys government subsidies that are more than twice the value of those provided to the vegetable and fruit industries. Specifically, the meat industry is subsidized by the government to the tune of $38 million, with just $17 million in subsidies going to the vegetable and fruit industries. Proof is made that there is definitely a meat-lobby in the United States.
2. Meat glue
Its scientific name is transglutaminase but it is more commonly known as meat glue. As the name suggests, meat glue holds meat together. Rather than the steak on your plate being one piece of meat, it is often made up of little pieces of meat kept together using meat glue, a product made of fermented bacteria. Importantly, the FDA considers meat glue safe for consumption but the whole idea of adding a powder to scraps of meat to hold them together is, unsurprisingly, off-putting for many.
Livestock produces a vast amount of waste. In the US, livestock produces 7 million pounds of feces every minute. Not every year, every single minute.