Health and Environmental Impacts You Need To Know About
Do you eat meat at every meal?
Do you discriminate between the types of animal meat?
Are you aware that cow farming is one of the most destructive forces on the planet?
This blog is intended to do one thing: start to reduce the overall amount of meat eaten in our western society and refine our meat choices to improve our lifelong health and stop the environmental degradation.
A host of must see documentaries have stoked the cultural evolution away from this relatively new meat obsession including: Food Inc, Forks Over Knives, In Defense of Food. Download them on Netflix for your next flight or listen on your commute.
These documentaries and countless articles are starting to counter the belief that more meat (and dairy) is better for you, which was embedded by decades of advertising from livestock associations such as the infamous “Beef. It’s whats for dinner” and “Milk. It does a body good”. For most of us our deepest nutrition concepts didn’t come from research studies, they came from marketers. Remember all the commercials making us think that a morning wasn’t a morning without a big glass of orange sugar water! We have to break these habits and eat based on both the current studies and the greater global environmental situation that is impacted by our dietary decisions.
It really is only in this century and only in wealthy Western countries that the level of meat consumption has spiked so high. All due to the plethora of meat (and dairy) made available at very low cost due to “advances” in farming and factory style live stock production. $1 burgers? That is insanely cheap. It’s worth considering the quality it must be and what corners were cut to make it so cheap.
Yes we are omnivores, but for thousands of years eating meat in high quantities was reserved for celebrations, when it was worth slaughtering one of their animals. Usually it was eaten in small portions as a dietary add-on when available to boost protein and calories. But now we have no problem getting our calories and we can have a meat feast every meal of everyday if we want to, but does that mean we should? There are consequences to all this meat mania, both to your miraculous body and to our precious environment.
- 99% of animals consumed in America came from industrial factory farms, which means it is nearly impossible to choose meat that doesn’t support the factory farming industry. Factory farming processes have smashed animals together, forced shorter growth periods, cheapened the feed, pumped them with antibiotics and other efficiencies that sacrifice the hygiene, health and experience of the animals, which is passed on to us when we eat it. The US Department of Agriculture logged 97 meat recalls for serious health hazards in 2018 compared to 53 just 5 years earlier. With plants we can get certified organic and know it’s clean but with meat we have no idea as the labeling has no strong standards or enforcement. Currently the only way to avoid poor quality factory farming meat is eating less or no meat.
- 18% of global greenhouse gases are from live stock which is 40% more than all transportation greenhouse gas emissions. With massive populations in China and India trending higher in meat consumption meat eating emissions are estimated to increase immensely. If we do not curb our meat eating, especially beef we are choosing to heat up our planet. Cows produce 5 times more climate-warming emissions than other meats and 11 times more greenhouse gases than plants. Meat eaters then contribute 7x the greenhouse gas than plant-based eaters do, just through their dietary choices. That is a massive spread, so even if we all ate half the meat as we do now it would have a huge impact. Less meat, less heat.
- Eating red and processed meat has been flagged as an unhealthy choice that should not be a regular part of a diet as it increases risk of cancer and heart disease. Studies have shown saturated fats in animal meats have been proven to be poor for our cardiovascular health. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently classified red meat as probably carcinogenic, and classified processed meat as definitely carcinogenic meaning it can contribute to the development of cancer. They looked at 800 studies and the amount of meat that increased risks was 50 grams, about one meat sandwich or a hot dog. To protect your health, rarely eat processed meats like cured bacon, lunch meats or smoked sausages and keep red meat to a minimum if at all.
- Some animals are terribly inefficient food sources making them unsustainable for the massive global population. The new analysis shows that while meat and dairy provide just 18% of calories and 37% of protein, it uses the vast majority – 83% – of farmland. This means if we just ate mostly plants we could feed the planet and keep most of our land wild. Cows take the cake requiring 28 times more land to produce than pigs or chicken and 11 times more water. When compared to staples like potatoes, wheat, and rice, the impact of beef per calorie is even more extreme, requiring 160 times more land. Huge areas of forest including precious oxygen producing Amazon rainforest are cleared and destroyed to put cheap burgers on our plates. Lambs and pigs are second and third in food efficiency, both multiple times worse than any plant based food source. Just by eliminating or reducing beef, lamb and pork from your regular diet you can protect wild lands and fight global warming.
- Price of houses and cars has increased 1500% over the past few decades, but the price of meat hasn’t even gone up 100%. This breaks from economic logic so you have to question how this is possible. Industry has bred chickens to grow 400% faster than is natural, kept them in 1 sqft cages, and cut off their beaks because they get aggressive trying to get out of their circumstance. It turns out free range isn’t as “free” as we’re lead to believe. If factory farming subsidies were removed or reduced, prices would increase and we would all be eating a more moderate and natural amount of meat.