Consequences of the meat industry

For those who have decided to give up eating meat forever, it is important to know that, without causing more suffering to animals, they will receive all the necessary nutritional ingredients, while simultaneously ridding their bodies of all those poisons and toxins that are found in abundance in meat. . In addition, many people, especially those who are not alien to concern for the welfare of society and the state of the ecology of the environment, will find another important positive moment in vegetarianism: the solution to the problem of world hunger and the depletion of the planet’s natural resources.

Economists and agricultural experts are unanimous in their opinion that the lack of food supplies in the world is caused, in part, by the low efficiency of beef farming, in terms of the ratio of food protein obtained per unit of agricultural area used. Plant crops can bring much more protein per hectare of crops than livestock products. So one hectare of land planted with grains will bring five times more protein than the same hectare used for fodder crops in animal husbandry. A hectare sown with legumes will yield ten times more protein. Despite the persuasiveness of these figures, more than half of all acreage in the United States is under fodder crops.

According to the data given in the report, the United States and World Resources, if all of the aforementioned areas were used for crops that are directly consumed by humans, then, in terms of calories, this would lead to a fourfold increase in the amount of food received. At the same time, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Agency (FAO) more than one and a half billion people on Earth suffer from systematic malnutrition, while about 500 million of them are on the verge of starvation.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, 91% of the corn, 77% of soybeans, 64% of barley, 88% of oats, and 99% of sorghum harvested in the US in the 1970s were fed to beef cattle. Moreover, farm animals are now forced to eat high-protein fish feed; half of the total annual fish catch in 1968 went to feed livestock. Finally, intensive use of agricultural land to meet the ever-increasing demand for beef products leads to soil depletion and a decrease in the quality of agricultural products (especially cereals) going directly to a person’s table.

Equally sad is the statistics that speaks of the loss of vegetable protein in the process of its processing into animal protein when fattening meat breeds of animals. On average, an animal needs eight kilograms of vegetable protein to produce one kilogram of animal protein, with cows having the highest rate of twenty one to one.

Francis Lappé, an agriculture and hunger expert at the Institute for Nutrition and Development, claims that as a result of this wasteful use of plant resources, about 118 million tons of plant protein are no longer available to humans every year – an amount equivalent to 90 percent of the world’s annual protein deficit. ! In this regard, the words of the Director General of the aforementioned UN Food and Agriculture Agency (FAO), Mr. Boerma, sound more than convincing:

“If we really want to see a change for the better in the nutritional situation of the poorest part of the planet, we must direct all our efforts to increase people’s consumption of plant-based protein.”

Faced with the facts of these impressive statistics, some will argue, “But the United States produces so much grain and other crops that we can afford to have a surplus of meat products and still have a substantial surplus of grain for export.” Leaving aside the many undernourished Americans, let’s look at the effect of America’s much-touted agricultural surplus for export.

Half of all American exports of agricultural products end up in the stomachs of cows, sheep, pigs, chickens and other meat breeds of animals, which in turn significantly reduce its protein value, processing it into animal protein, available only to a limited circle of the already well-fed and wealthy inhabitants of the planet, able to pay for it. Even more unfortunate is the fact that a high percentage of the meat consumed in the US comes from feed-fed animals raised in other, often the poorest, countries in the world. The US is the world’s largest meat importer, purchasing over 40% of all beef in the world’s trade. Thus, in 1973, America imported 2 billion pounds (about 900 million kilograms) of meat, which, although only seven percent of the total meat consumed in the United States, is nevertheless a very significant factor for most exporting countries that bear the burden of major burden of potential protein loss.

How else is the demand for meat, leading to the loss of vegetable protein, contributing to the problem of world hunger? Let’s look at the food situation in the most disadvantaged countries, drawing on the work of Francis Lappe and Joseph Collins “Food First”:

“In Central America and the Dominican Republic, between a third and a half of all meat produced is exported abroad, mainly to the United States. Alan Berg of the Brookings Institution, in his study of world nutrition, writes that most meat from Central America “does not end up in the bellies of Hispanics, but in the hamburgers of fast food restaurants in the United States.”

“The best land in Colombia is often used for grazing, and most of the grain harvest, which has increased significantly in recent years as a result of the “green revolution” of the 60s, is fed to livestock. Also in Colombia, a remarkable growth in the poultry industry (primarily driven by one giant American food corporation) has forced many farmers to move away from traditional human food crops (corn and beans) to the more profitable sorghum and soybeans used exclusively as bird feed. As a result of such changes, a situation has arisen in which the poorest sections of society have been deprived of their traditional food – corn and legumes that have become more expensive and scarce – and at the same time cannot afford the luxury of their so-called substitute – poultry meat.

“In the countries of North West Africa, exports of cattle in 1971 (the first in a series of years of devastating drought) amounted to more than 200 million pounds (about 90 million kilograms), an increase of 41 percent from the same figures for 1968. In Mali, one of the group of these countries, the area under groundnut cultivation in 1972 was more than double that of 1966. Where did all that peanuts go? To feed the European cattle.”

“A few years ago, enterprising meat businessmen began airlifting cattle to Haiti to be fattened in the local pastures and then re-exported to the American meat market.”

Having visited Haiti, Lappe and Collins write:

“We were especially struck by the sight of the slums of landless beggars huddled along the borders of huge irrigated plantations used to feed thousands of pigs, whose fate is to become sausages for Chicago Servbest Foods. At the same time, the majority of the Haitian population is forced to uproot forests and plow up the once green mountain slopes, trying to grow at least something for themselves.

The meat industry also causes irreparable damage to nature through so-called “commercial grazing” and overgrazing. Although experts recognize that the traditional nomadic grazing of various livestock breeds does not cause significant environmental damage and is an acceptable way to use marginal lands, one way or another unsuitable for crops, however, the systematic pen grazing of animals of one species can lead to irreversible damage to valuable agricultural land , completely exposing them (a ubiquitous phenomenon in the US, causing deep environmental concern).

Lappé and Collins argue that commercial animal husbandry in Africa, focused primarily on the export of beef, “looms as a deadly threat to the arid semi-arid lands of Africa and its traditional extinction of many animal species and total economic dependence on such a capricious international beef market. But nothing can stop foreign investors in their desire to snatch a piece from the juicy pie of African nature. Food First tells the story of the plans of some European corporations to open many new livestock farms in the cheap and fertile pastures of Kenya, Sudan and Ethiopia, which will use all the gains of the “green revolution” to feed livestock. Cattle, whose path lies on the dining table of Europeans …

In addition to the problems of hunger and food shortages, beef farming places a heavy burden on other resources of the planet. Everyone knows the catastrophic situation with water resources in some regions of the world and the fact that the situation with water supply is deteriorating year by year. In his book Protein: Its Chemistry and Politics, Dr. Aaron Altschul cites water consumption for a vegetarian lifestyle (including field irrigation, washing, and cooking) at around 300 gallons (1140 liters) per person per day. At the same time, for those who follow a complex diet that includes, in addition to plant foods, meat, eggs and dairy products, which also entails the use of water resources for fattening and slaughtering livestock, this figure reaches an incredible 2500 gallons (9500 liters!) day (the equivalent for “lacto-ovo-vegetarians” would be in the middle between these two extremes).

Another curse of beef farming lies in the environmental pollution that originates on meat farms. Dr. Harold Bernard, an agricultural expert with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, wrote in an article in Newsweek, November 8, 1971, that the concentration of liquid and solid waste in the runoff from millions of animals kept on 206 farms in the United States “… dozens, and sometimes even hundreds of times higher than similar indicators for typical effluents containing human waste.

Further, the author writes: “When such saturated wastewater enters rivers and reservoirs (which often happens in practice), this leads to catastrophic consequences. The amount of oxygen contained in the water drops sharply, while the content of ammonia, nitrates, phosphates and pathogenic bacteria exceeds all permissible limits.

Mention should also be made of effluents from slaughterhouses. A study of meatpacking waste in Omaha found that slaughterhouses dump more than 100 pounds (000 kilograms) of fat, butchery waste, flushing, gut contents, rumen, and faeces from the lower intestines into the sewers (and from there into the Missouri River) daily. It has been estimated that the contribution of animal waste to water pollution is ten times greater than all human waste and three times industrial waste combined.

The problem of world hunger is extremely complex and multidimensional, and all of us, in one way or another, consciously or unconsciously, directly or indirectly, contribute to its economic, social and political components. However, all of the above does not make it any less relevant that, as long as the demand for meat is stable, animals will continue to consume many times more protein than they produce, pollute the environment with their waste, deplete and poison the planet’s priceless water resources. . The rejection of meat food will allow us to multiply the productivity of sown areas, solving the problem of supplying people with food, and minimizing the consumption of the Earth’s natural resources.

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