Meat = Death

A guest article By Kevin Marriott

This timely article discusses the devastating effects of a carnivorous diet for animals, man and the planet.

Meat = Death

We are living in a difficult and uncertain age. Our planet, ourselves and all other life, are faced with numerous developing crises. The environment is severely compromised with animal and plant species becoming extinct by the thousands during the course of every year that passes. There are growing problems with the price of food and the shortages of such, brought about by the effects of climate change but also by our increasingly irresponsible behaviour, our colossal waste of food, through over consumption and the inappropriate and ineffectual use of resources. And of course; sheer unadulterated greed.

One of our most significantly damaging and wasteful behaviours is as a society, our continued insistence upon the maintenance of a carnivorous diet, the eating of meat, as the standard.

The stark truth is that this diet and the industry behind it, is literally killing us, aided and abetted through our ignorance and their greed. Land which could vastly be more productively used to grow crops is instead used for livestock for the meat industry which provides only a fraction of the food, and often not for the local communities but for overseas consumers in the developed world, which leaves many subject to poor diets, food shortages and inevitably higher priced food. This industry causes mass deforestation in order to provide land for cattle, wastes enormous quantities of water in production leading to shortages of clean drinking water and also consumes vast amounts of our ever vanishing, and polluting, fossil fuels. The US alone consumes a staggering 25% of the fossil fuels used globally, an entire third of which is exhausted solely by the meat industry.

We do not need to eat meat, for health or for any other reason. Tradition and habit is no excuse. One of the more absurd justifications that I have heard vented more than once, is that agricultural livestock such as sheep and cattle will become extinct if we cease to use them in this manner. This is so bizarre and ridiculous I’m often at a loss for words as to an appropriate response. Numbers would dwindle, naturally, and these animals could simply be left in the long term to get on with their lives as with any other animal in the wild. The more harmful of our effects upon these species would eventually in most cases be reduced and disappear altogether. Plus, the very concept that we have to continue to use and abuse, and kill, other sentient animals with the notion that we are somehow preserving them and ensuring their continuity in doing this, is so absurd that it beggars belief.

Carnivorism is unethical, immoral and selfish. It harms the environment, involves the grotesque abuse of other sentient beings, squanders precious and rapidly diminishing resources and contributes to global food shortages. Furthermore, for the consumer it is increasingly expensive and dangerous to the health, meat products being often contaminated with waste, chemicals and toxins that are either incidental or a direct result of the production process.

If you want to make a significant contribution towards change, to benefit the environment for us all, and even to lessen the burden upon your finances with the soaring costs of meat products; then become a vegetarian. It is the only option which makes sense.

Meat = Death

As a parting note, regarding the recent outbreak of Swine Flu; an excerpt from David Kirby at the Huffington Post:

Large-scale swine producers in Mexico deny that their industry is the source of the deadly new influenza strain, saying the animals are all healthy, and that it is scientifically “not possible” for hogs to infect people with the illness. But lawmakers in the eastern state of Veracruz are now charging that large-scale hog and poultry operations are “breeding grounds” of infection that are making people sick and fuelling the pandemic.

Why am I not surprised?

Some points of information regarding the environmental and social damage of meat consumption:

– Livestock production is responsible for:

The production of more climate change gases than all the motor vehicles in the world

70% of the Amazon deforestation

64% of all the acid rain-producing ammonia

That 15 out of the 24 vast global eco-systems are in decline due to livestock

Source: The United Nations Food & Agriculture Organisation

The amount of greenhouse gases produced by driving a typical car in one day

= 3 kilograms

The amount released by clearing enough of the Cost Rican rainforest to produce beef for one burger = 75 kilograms

Source: Worldwatch Institute

Daily water use of:

A meat eater: 15,000 litres a day

A vegetarian: 5,000

A vegan: 1,000

Source: International Water Management Institute (New Scientist Feb 25th 2006)

Agriculture uses 70% of all water worldwide, with a rise to 85-95% in developing countries that are often producing more food for the affluent developed world than for themselves.

Source: United Nations Food & Agriculture Organisation – Water & Food Security

1,000 litres of water is used to produce one kilogramme of wheat

100,000 litres of water is used to produce one kilogramme of beef

Estimated amount of beef produced globally in 2002: 49,700,000 metric tons

Source: Worldwatch Institute

70% of all agricultural land in Britain is used to feed animals.

If we all became vegetarian in Britain, only 35% would be needed.

Source: Reading University

10kg of good plant protein is used in order to produce 1kg of meat protein

Ten hectares (equivalent to five football pitches) of land is need to produce enough meat to support two people. However, the same area could support 10 people if used to grow maize, or 24 people if used for grain production. In light of the fact that 852 million people go hungry every day, this colossal waste is scandalous.

Furthermore, hunger kills more than 5 million children every year.

Source: Worldwatch Institute

A parting quote from George Monbiot (The Guardian Dec 24th 2002):

“Famine can only be avoided if the rich give up meat, fish and dairy. We stuff ourselves and the poor get stuffed. Veganism is the only ethical response.”

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