Eating Less Meat

Johnny Izaguirre Professor Orshan ENC1101 June 19, 2013 Eat less Meat As reported in 2007, 275 million tons of meat were produced worldwide. This is enough meat to supply everyone with 92 pounds of meat. What does this statistic really mean? We will find that the mass consumption of animals is a primary reason why humans are hungry, overweight, or sick. Also a leading cause of the depletion, and pollution of water, the degradation and deforestation of natural forest. While causing extinction of species and being a catalyst for global warming.

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Humans are dependent on water, natural resources, and their own body to survive and live on our planet, but everyday we jeopardize all of these things for the savory moment of a nice piece of steak for dinner, or a burger for lunch, or some bacon for breakfast. Now that we know what we are going to discuss, let us first look at the process of cattle turned to meat and how it affects humans health wise. Cattle are often crammed in feedlots shoulder to shoulder knee deep in their own manure.

Pigs are placed in confined crates with barely any space for them to move, and chickens are overcrowded in their cages. With this intense confinement farmers are obligated to give large doses of antibiotics to prevent the spread of diseases between them. The problem with large dosage of antibiotics is the evolution of antibiotics resistant diseases, threatening the animal population as well as the human population with treatment resistant strains. Overconsumption of meat leads to other types of health problems too for example, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol.

According to the Center for Disease Control in 2000, 117 billions of dollars annually to treat these disease, but very little has helped to reduce the amount of obese people. The problem and solution to improving health and malnutrition is our diet. So far we know overconsumption of meat is counter productive to improve our health, as well as counter productive in producing energy. Because only a small portion of the total energy consumed by an animal is converted into edible meat, each step up the food pyramid away from primary producers results in a high loss of energy.

Stated in Henning’s article it takes 21 kilograms of edible grain to yield only 1 kilogram of lamb, 13 kilograms of edible grains to yield 1 kilogram of beef. The amount of fossil fuels used to produce meat is represented by the ratio of 40 calories of fossil fuels are used to make only 1 calorie of meat. One third of the annual global harvest of grains are being fed to livestock . At present, the US livestock population consumes more than seven times as much grain as is consumed directly by the entire American population.

The grain fed to US livestock alone could feed all of the world’s 800 million malnourished individuals. The problem does not stop there the world is moving towards increasing problems of freshwater shortage, scarcity, and depletion. The Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated by the year 2025 the number of people living in stressed water areas will increase from 1. 5 billion up to 3-5 billion people. Domestic use of freshwater is only accountable for 10% of water consumption while agriculture accounts for 66-70% of the global freshwater usage.

For instance, according to a study by the National Geographic it takes 1,799 gallons of water to yield one pound of beef, 576 gallons for one pound of pork, 468 gallons for one pound of chicken, and 216 gallons for one pound of soy beans. Overall, it is estimated that producing one kilogram of animal protein requires 100 times more water than producing one kilogram of grain protein. Without land there would be no water or food to feed livestock. It is estimated that nearly a third of earths land surface has been cleared for global farming and the rate is accelerating.

Latin america is leading the world with the rate of deforestation and its main driving force is cattle ranching. As farmers and ranchers clear forested land and draw ever-larger checks on the non-renewable stores of fossil energy to fuel our global farm, we are pushing many species to extinction. There is wide consensus among biologists that the present rate of extinction is 50 to 500 times the normal “background rate” revealed by the fossil record. Furthermore, the meat we eat contributes more to global climate change than the cars we drive and the energy we use everyday.

In total a third of all greenhouse emissions are caused by livestock production. We are destroying the forests which help convert most of the carbon dioxide to oxygen and we are also adding more carbon emissions to our atmosphere. Methane plays a critical role too, because cattle emit methane into the air it takes 12 years for it to be broken down in the air and is more potent at trapping the suns heat and conserving it in our atmosphere.

To conclude our discussion, the mass onsumption of animals is a primary reason why humans are hungry, fat, or sick and is a leading cause behind the depletion and pollution of waterways, the degradation and deforestation of the land, the extinction of species, and the warming of the planet. The urgency of this realization becomes even more important when considered the rapid accelerating rate of meat consumption, which is expected to more than double by 2050 from the 1990 level of 229 million tons per year to 465 million tons.

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