Tag Archives: meat production

Meat consumption continues to rise

Grilled meatAmericans are eating even more burgers, chicken fingers and bacon, and the trend could say a lot about our health, the environment and, of course, the farm animals.

American consumption of red meat and poultry per capita is forecast to hit 222.2 pounds per person in 2018, up from 216.9 pounds in 2017 and 210.2 pounds in 1998, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s the highest amount of meat consumption within the last 50 years. Production of both red meat and poultry will increase in 2018, at the same time the U.S. economy is growing and Americans have more money to spend on food. Read more

The Forgotten Casualties of Meat – Slaughterhouse workers

slaughterhouse-workerThere’s at least 150,000 of them in America alone. Many authorities consider them to have the worst job in America and few can stand to stick at this job for more than a year. They suffer badly, both physically and emotionally, and by many measures they have the most dangerous job in America. Almost no one speaks up for them. Even fewer stand up for them. They’re slaughterhouse workers. Read more

Please don’t eat the bunnies

RabbitsIt breaks our heart. Cute and harmless bunny rabbits are not meant for dinner. Yet it’s part of the latest trend where they’re being served at a number of America’s top restaurants.

Part of the heartbreak is that rabbit farms are not required to follow the Humane Slaughter Act. Rabbits are classified as “non-amenable” animals, a designation that removes them from humane slaughter regulations.  Recently, Last Chance for Animals, a Los Angeles based animal advocacy group, conducted an investigation of Pel Freez, the nation’s largest rabbit processing plant, located in Rogers, Arkansas. We’ll skip the gory details but it’s as bad as we’ve heard about anywhere.

While clearly rabbit slaughter is bad for these cute critters, it’s none too good for us either. Consider that as with other meat, rabbit has artery-clogging saturated fat, cholesterol, and produces cancer-causing heterocyclic amines when cooked, while lacking any fiber or health-promoting phytonutrients.

We haven’t yet seen any rabbit-meat substitutes as there are with beef, chicken and fish, but that shouldn’t stop us from finding better things to eat. Given the creative abilities of the nations top chefs, we’re sure they can come up with something inspired by their humanity. Let’s hope they give it a try.

We’re Eating Too Much Meat!

Global Meat ProductionThe world is eating too much meat, and that’s bad news for the earth’s forests, arable land, and scarce water. That’s the conclusion of a report released this week by the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute.

Global production of meat hit a new high of 308.5 million tons last year, up 1.4 percent, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the report says. “In response to growing purchasing power, urbanization, and changing diets, meat production has expanded more than fourfold over just the last fifty years says the new report, entitled “Peak Meat Production Strains Land and Water Resources.” Read more

Going Veg is a Climate Must!

City under waterThe latest global warming research makes clearer than ever that there’s no fixing a climate change catastrophe without a worldwide switch to a vegetarian diet. Don’t look for alternatives to save us, such as grass-fed beef which is actually worse.  Nothing else can be substituted for going veg, and even the most optimistic forecast of technological improvements both on the farm and in industry won’t be enough. What’s more, it really needs to happen now!

Scientists from the Department of Energy and Environment at Chalmers University of Technology, in Gothenburg, Sweden, publishing their analysis in the journal Climate Change, show how going veg on a global scale is “crucial” even for a more modest goal of just limiting the global temperature rise to 2C.

This latest research really shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, it turns out that, according to a UN report, livestock and meat production cause the emission of more greenhouse gasses than all the cars, trucks, trains, boats, ships and air planes in the whole world put together. In fact a study by scientists from the World Bank and the World Watch Institute show that livestock causes more global warming than all other causes in the world put together!

While most in the environmental community have chosen to remain comfortably unaware of meat’s overwhelming impact on climate, we are happy to report that this has now begun to change. In fact the world‘s foremost leader in both the national and international movement to prevent the impending climate crisis, Vice President Al Gore, has now gone vegan in recognition of meat’s role in causing the many environmental threats now facing humanity.

The good news is that if you want to have a major impact on climate change, you don’t have to wait for international treaties, congressional legislation or industrial reforms. The biggest part of the answer resides squarely on your dinner plate when you have a veg meal. Not yet veg? No problem, we’re here to help with our free classes and our books and other publications.

Global Hunger – the Veg Solution

African children eatingIt’s official. The world’s population now stands at 7 Billion. Over a billion people are living with chronic hunger and malnutrition, and rising food prices are challenging the household budgets of the other 6 billion. What many people don’t know is that it is meat consumption in the developed world, and rapidly rising meat consumption in the developing world, that are the prime driving forces behind rising food prices and global hunger. For years this went unrecognized by even economists and policymakers. However, this has now started to change.

Starvation kills, and it hurts to have to go to bed malnourished and hungry. Hunger and malnutrition are some of the most serious problems facing humanity and it’s getting worse. Global hunger is at an all time high, with about 1 billion people in the world going to bed each night still hungry. In the next year, over 10 million people will actually starve to death. Even worse, it is the children who are the most vulnerable. 

To understand how a vegetarian diet can help, let’s start with the agricultural facts of life. Farm animals function, in effect, as food factories in reverse; that is they give us less nutrition than they are fed. For instance, a cow will give us as beef only 10% of the protein and 4% of the calories it consumes. The rest is used by the cow to enable it to live and breathe throughout its lifetime. Here in the U.S., we feed 70% of the crops we grow to farm animals, who then return only a fraction of the nutrition as meat. It’s all so wasteful. Even a third of the fish caught worldwide are used to feed farm animals. With 56 billion farm animals raised globally each year, you can see just how much food is being wasted.

Wasting food by feeding it to farm animals fuels the global hunger crisis. With developing countries quickly changing from their traditional plant-centered diet to a western-style, meat-centered diet, it’s easy to see how hunger and malnutrition can spread. Many of these people live in countries which could feed themselves, but farmers, policymakers, and governments choose to feed crops to farm animals instead of people, so most of the nutrition is wasted. The result is that they often need to import grain to feed their human population. This is expensive and drives up prices. A rising global population makes wasting food this way even more harmful.

The recent shift of using some agricultural products, such as corn, to produce ethanol fuel for automobiles, makes switching to a vegetarian diet even more imperative. Now more than ever, the world’s hungry are counting on us to use available crops directly for food rather than wasting them by feeding them to farm animals.

The drive to produce ever more food has had other consequences as well. Many people are surprised to learn that, except for here in the US, almost all of the suitable farm land is already being used. What’s left is land of marginal quality and using it results in greater amounts of pollution and ecological degradation. It has also led farmers in the developing world to embrace technology whose safety is still not proven, such as GMOs.

For far too long, many would not face the role of raising meat in the global hunger crises. Fortunately, this is now beginning to change. For instance, Nobel Prize winning economist Muhammad Yunis (famous for his program of making microloans to poor people in the developing world) explains, “Unfortunately, meat eating is a relatively inefficient use of natural resources , as the number of nutritious calories delivered by meat is far lower than the calories humans can enjoy through the direct intake of grains. Yet today, more and more grain and other foodstuffs are being used to feed cattle than human beings. And more and more of the planet’s farmlands are being diverted from the production of food for human consumption toward to the growing of grains for animal feed, adding several costly steps to the process. As a result even basic foods are becoming more expensive.” And, no less than Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, says that “As they eat more beef and less grains and so on, the demand for food and energy rise and that’s the primary long-term factor affecting the real price of commodities and food.” A recent feature story in Foreign Policy magazine highlighted meat’s role in rising food prices, and a survey of economists reveal “increased demand for meat” as a leading cause of rising food prices and global hunger.

Don’t get distracted from the agricultural facts of life. Natural catastrophes such as earthquakes and floods grab headlines and are a factor in food shortages. Warfare and political instability grab attention too, and can decrease the food supply. But it’s the day-in and day-out wasting of food, by feeding it to farm animals, that’s driving the massive global hunger and malnutrition problem. Sure food gets wasted and sure there’s poverty. But food has always been wasted, and there’s always been poverty, yet global hunger is getting worse. What’s changed is that meat consumption is sky rocketing in the developing world, which is using up crops that could be used for human consumption. With few exceptions, those countries with chronic hunger and malnutrition problems could feed themselves, if they would only stop taking their crops and feeding them to animals, and make them available for people instead.

Yes, the world’s population is rising quickly, and that puts pressure on global food supplies, but a vegetarian diet could easily support a world population much larger than today’s. With a rising population, the only sustainable way out of the global hunger crisis is by reducing meat consumption and becoming vegetarians.

It may seem that one person can’t make much difference, but one person eats three meals a day, 365 days of the year. If that person eats meat at most meals, then by switching to a vegetarian diet, they would be saving over a thousand meat meals. The grain and other crops used for that meat could be used to produce 12,000 well balanced vegetarian meals, so you can see how it adds up pretty quickly. In fact, according to Professor David Pimentel of Cornell University, “if Americans alone took the food currently fed to farm animals in the United States, we would have enough food to feed the entirety of the world’s hungry, and we could do it without plowing even one extra acre of farmland.”

More than just healthy and delicious, adopting a vegetarian diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and legumes is also an act of charity for those who need it the most. And, as is often the case with charity, those who give also receive. By adopting a vegetarian diet, we would not only potentially make more food available for the world’s hungry, but as nation we would also be taking the single most important step towards improving our own health, as well as the health of the planet.  Now that’s a holiday dinner all of us can be truly grateful for.

Making Mincemeat Out of Rainforests

Fire, Fire Burning bright, how much of the Amazon will be destroyed tonight? OK, I’m not much of poet in case you didn’t know it. But there’s an ecological disaster brewing in the Amazon and raising livestock for meat is the primary cause.

There has been a catastrophic clearing of the Amazonian and Central American rainforests, which has largely been done to create grazing land so that cattle can be raised for export. According to the Center for International Forestry Research, beef exports have accel­erated the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. The total area destroyed increased from 102.5 million acres in 1990 to 145 million acres in 2000. In only 10 years, an area twice the size of Portugal was destroyed, almost all of it to clear pasture for cattle. David Kaimowitz, Director of the Center for International Forestry Research, says, “Cattle ranchers are making mincemeat out of Brazil’s rain forests.” To make matters worse half of the Central American rainforest has been destroyed as well to raise meat.

Recently, the Amazon has also seen a rise in soy production, with farm animals raised in Europe as its largest customer. It’s important note that, according to the Nature Conservancy, 80% of the world’s soy production is used for farm animal feed, so even the soy production is primarily meat driven.

The rainforest is home to a large number of animals and plants, including many rare and endangered species, that are being destroyed by cattle ranching. Almost as bad is the fact that tropical rainforest land cleared for pasture is very susceptible to soil erosion, given the special nature of rainforest soil and the special climate in tropical regions.

According to National Geographic, scientists fear that an additional 20 percent of the trees in the Amazon will be lost over the next two decades. If that happens, the forest’s ecology will begin to unravel. Intact, the Amazon produces half its own rainfall through the moisture it releases into the atmosphere. Eliminate enough of that rain through clearing, and the remaining trees dry out and die.

With attention focused so much on global warming, it’s easy to forget other ecological crises that are related to meat consumption. The environmental effects of raising meat are many and include water pollution, soil erosion, as well global warming and ecological destruction. As world meat consumption continues to rise, and the damage to the environment rises with it, the value of a vegetarian diet in sustaining the planet becomes ever more clear.