While I’m not here to change anyone’s mind about eating meat, I thought to share some considerations to switch a bit in your diet, even if you only eat meat a few times per week. Meatless Monday has been an awareness movement for quite a while so perhaps this will inspire you to join. There are lots of personal, animal, and global health reasons to lessen our meat consumption so let’s take a look.
Some RESOURCE considerations:
- According to the United Nations, raising animals for food (including land used for growing feed crops) consumes 30% of Earth’s land mass.
- It takes roughly 12 pounds of grain to make 1 pound of meat.
- 11 times the amount of fossil fuels are required to create the same amount of protein from plants.
- 2,400 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound meat (although some estimates are as high as 5,200 gallons). Wheat takes 25 gallons per pound.
- Livestock consume 16 times more grain than they produce as meat. This means that about 70% of all the grain we produce go to feeding livestock for meat. Seems like a food factory in reverse!
- Energy is a huge consumer even after the meat is grown. Refrigeration, including during transport and in stores, is necessary for meat (but not for grains and beans).
Consider as well HEALTH. Investigating the life of livestock, the living conditions (“living” being only a term, not an accurate descriptive state) are horrendous. CAFOs, concentrated animal feeding operations, are the housing units in which most commercial meat is grown. (The word “concentrated” reminds me of the Nazi concentration camps.) Packed into restricted areas with no room to roam, the substandard living conditions create fear and stress for the animals. As we know when we are pressured, a variety of stress hormones and energy restrictions create internal chaos and dis-ease. This is no less part of these animals’ lives... and ours when we consume them. Stress is an immuno-suppressant.
Each year, 30 million pounds of antibiotics are fed to feed animals in order to boost their decreased immune system and to make them bigger faster. For chicken, Prozac may also be part of the medication protocol. A 2012 study at Johns Hopkins University found traces of antidepressants, painkillers, banned antibiotics, and allergy medication. And even with all of these antibiotics, meat continues to be loaded with bacteria including salmonella and E-coli, in turn killing roughly 23,000 innocent consumers yearly.
Another thing to consider is GMOs / GEs (Genetically Modified Organisms / Genetically Engineered). While you may try to stay clear of them in the fruits, vegetables, and even chips that you eat, know that livestock are fed corn (almost 90% of which is genetically modified) and grain. They are what they eat. We are what we eat. When they eat GMO food, they produce GMO-concentrated meat. Added to that, as both corn and grain are unnatural to their biological diets, their bodies become inflamed and sick, requiring more antibiotics and medications.
Net result? When we eat most commercially grown meat, we are ingesting more than we bargained for. Also on our plate are GMOs, antibiotics, stress hormones, and fear. With data slowly being reported on the health impacts (we are the longer-term experiment), why wait to make better sense of your eating and health habits?
Consider instead some HEALTHY ALTERNATIVES and at least once per week go meatless. Monday is a great day to start! Try some of these:
- Buy grass-fed and organic meats. The organic seal ensures that animals were raised without the use of antibiotics or growth hormones.
- Research local farms and shops that sell humanely grown meat. Click HERE for some in your local area.
- Eat more beans and veggies! These are a fantastic, healthy, cost effective, and creative alternatives to meat with more than enough protein to satisfy our health requirements. With lots of variety and pennies per serving, you can’t go wrong. More HERE for facts on protein sources and HERE for super healthy non-meat protein sources.
Want to learn more on how to take back your health? Click HERE for the list of upcoming education and workshop events. Many are free. Want to change the system? Consumers are a powerful bunch. Big industry changes when their pocketbooks are impacted. Each and every dollar you spend sends a message so spend wisely!
May health be yours! Peace and Many Blessings!
Mindfulness & Stress Management Coach