Shots resound in the grassy savannah and the gentle grey giant beast succumbs to the ground. Lying on the ground barely alive, the elephant watches the man pull out a saw and slowly saw into its mouth, opening its skull. Its ivory tusks are gouged out, its face mutilated. The earth soaks up its blood as the gentle giant slowly slips away in agonizing pain and fear. Soon, carnivores will ravage its body, and all that will be left are bones becoming bleached by the sun.
Thousands of endangered species are poached and killed every year unnecessarily and mercilessly. But what is worse is that there are millions of animals cruelly killed without mercy or need every single day. Imagine if you shoved a chicken into a tight little cage with four or six others. Its wing snaps in an awkward position as you shove it in, but you just push it in further and only a few feathers stay caught on the lock. Cages on top of cages. The smell of feces reeks and your nose and eyes burn. Eventually, you’ll get used to it.
Why does it seem that we “value” one animal over the other? For one, we plead ignorance and look the other way, and for the other we cry aloud in protest of their killings.
Yes, endangered species are important. I would love for my children and grandchildren to be able to see tigers in the future, but the fact is I am helping kill millions upon millions of animals today. And just because one is made for my consumption and is not even close to being endangered, does not mean I can treat it inhumanely.
All this in the name of the people of a nation who likes to eat and eat and eat…
To Kill Is To Gain…
Over 56 billion farmed animals are killed every year by humans. The majority of those animals are raised and slaughtered in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), or factory farms. As a meat-eater, finding myself somehow part of that statistics made me question a few things. And I have had an opportunity to learn and see where our food comes from, and how and why our agriculture system works the way it does. I learned about the effects factory farming has on us as individual human beings and as well as the detrimental effects it has on the environment.
Till Sickness Do You Part
Because of the growing demand for meat animal products, more than half of the meat that we get from the grocery store is coming from CAFOs.
According to the World Watch Institute, “[M]any of the world’s 17 billion hens and meat chickens each live in an area that is less than the size of a sheet of paper. Cattle in feedlots often stand knee-high in manure and arrive at slaughterhouses covered in feces.”
To fatten quickly and to prevent death from the rampant bacterial overgrowth of their unsanitary conditions, all the animals are administered an excessive amount of antibiotics.To further fatten the animals, many are given high doses of hormones. The only food they are given is a grain feed, which their digestive tracts are not evolved to handle.
“As a result, cows, pigs, and chickens raised in [CAFOs] are extremely inflamed and have rampant fatty acid imbalances. If you eat [CAFO] animals, you promote fatty acid deficiency and inflammation in your own body,” says Lauren Geersten, certified nutritional therapist and founder of Empowered Sustenance.
Problems with CAFO meats are:
- The meat is high in inflammatory omega-6
- The artificial hormones may pass from the meat to your body (Causing an array of hormonal imbalances that have drastic effects in your body.)
- The use of antibiotics is leading to antibiotic resistance (In the United States, livestock now consume 70 percent of all antimicrobial drugs.)
Consuming meat in general (whether local, grass fed, free range, wild caught, or CAFO) at the average American rate is not particularly good for us. Unfortunately, the average American has an improper balance when it comes to this type of protein in our diet.
Less meat in your diet will:
- Reduce Heart Disease and Stroke
- Limit Cancer Risk (Evidence shows red meat and/or processed meat may increase the risk of colorectal, esophagus, lung, pancreas, stomach, and prostate cancer.)
- Fight Diabetes
- Curb Obesity
- Live Longer (Evidence suggests that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and a limited amount of red meat can increase longevity, whereas red and processed meat consumption is associated with increases in deaths due to cancer and cardiovascular disease.)
Let’s just say reducing the amount of meat consumed or going meatless once a week will definitely benefit your health.
The Most Serious Environmental Problem Is Actually Livestock
“Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.”
– United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization
In order to reduce our carbon footprint, some use energy-efficient light bulbs, or drive a hybrid car, and recycle faithfully. But did you know that the single most powerful environmental friendly change anyone can do is simply to indulge in a slightly more vegetarian diet. Meat production requires staggering amounts of land, water, and energy compared to plant foods.
Massive herds of cattle and other grazing animals blanket 26 percent of the earth’s beautiful plains. The grain produced to feed those animals take up ⅓ of all arable land on the earth. More than 260 million acres of US forest have been cleared to grow grain just for livestock–which results in more than 70 percent of the grain produced in the US going towards animal feed.
Essentially, it’s more efficient to eat the plants directly instead of paying the extra expenses of producing the feed and transporting the meat. The devastation of our land is also the number one cause of species extinction in the US–and around the world.
The process of raising and slaughtering farmed animals, as well as producing feed, accounts for 70% of global freshwater use, and causes 93% of global water depletion. Not only is water usage amazingly extravagant, animal agriculture is a top polluter of rivers, lakes, and wetlands in the US. The Chesapeake Bay is under major scrutiny for chicken manure pollution. In 2008, a study was done in the Delmarva Peninsula about the pollution flowing into the Chesapeake Bay. The area’s chicken farms produced 1.5 billion pounds of manure–more than the annual human waste of New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco and Atlanta combined.
To learn a bit more about animal agriculture’s detrimental effects on the environment, click here.
For all these reasons and more, I am glad to say that I have been successfully keeping #MeatlessMonday since the first Monday of February 2017.
I am not becoming a vegan nor a vegetarian. I still love eating meat, but I am trying to be more conscientious of my meat consumption. So one of the ways I have decided to help out is by embracing at least one aspect of the Three Rs of #HumaneEating, which are the following:
- Reducing (this is me) the consumption of meat and other animal-based foods;
- Refining the diet by avoiding products from the worst production systems (e.g., switching to cage-free eggs);
- Replacing meat and other animal-based foods in the diet with plant-based foods.
Just doing this small change can help a lot. I am being kept accountable by friends and family, and I hope that I have encouraged you to take on the meatless monday challenge, too!
Btw check out this short video about meatless monday. I thought it was really well done and funny.