At this moment, there is more than 7 billion people living on the Earth, and this number is constantly increasing. Most people in the developed countries eat meat almost every day. At the same time most of them don’t even think about what consequences the growing meat consumption have on the environment.
According to research made in 2008 by KSH (Hungarian Central Statistical Office), only in Hungary every single person eats 61.5 kilograms of meat yearly, for which we pay 50 thousand forints. Multiplying this number with the population of Hungary, 9 million, the result is incredible. Especially if we consider that Hungary is a relatively little country. The whole planet’s demand for meat can only be satisfied with factory farming.
However, this method requires stupendous claims. One third of all the Earth’s land, and two thirds of all the farmland are being used to breed animals. Livestock breeding is responsible for emitting 18 percent of greenhouse gases, which percentage is more than that emitted from traffic. Moreover, factory farming also have harmful effects on human health. Breeding areas are crowded with animals and this unhygienic environment works like a perfect laboratory for new viruses. Epidemics like swine flu, bird flu, salmonella and mad cow disease all originate from livestock breeding areas. Eating too much meat results in high cholesterol and calorie content, and digesting concentrated protein content requires so much energy that it can even worsen the mood of people.
Last but not least, factory farms treat bred animals inhumanly and cruelly. Stock chickens are bred in a way that they grow with unnatural speed, and their breast becomes the strongest of all their body parts, because breast meat brings the most benefit to breeders. As a result, the chickens’ immature skeleton cannot deal with the fast fattening body, this way many of them become incapable to move, they cannot reach the feeder and shortly die from starvation. These animals are being kept so crowded, that they often harm each other because of lack of space. To avoid this, the chickens’ legs, wings, and beaks are truncated, and pigs’ tails are cut and their teeth are broken out, often without any anesthesia, in order to not to gnaw off each others’ tails. Many people says that the more environmentally and animal friendly backyard farming could be a solution to this problem, but the truth is that this would be unsustainable with 7 billion people’s consuming. However, there are other solutions.
The first one is vegetarianism. Vegetarian lifestyle comes together with less risk of heart diseases, cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Not to mention that it is very environmentally friendly. Producing a single kilogram beef needs 20 thousand liters of water, and 30 kilogram cereal, in fact, 80 percent of corn produced in the United States is being used for animal breeding. Vegetarianism could help all of these problems. According to calculations, if 10 percent of those people who lives currently on mixed diet would become vegetarian, the thus remaining cereal would be enough to stop the famine in the underdeveloped countries.
Another, very interesting option could be the consumption of lab meat. Through this method, meat is literally prepared in laboratories from swine stem cells which are bred in fetal calf serum. 56 billions of animals wouldn’t be killed every year if everyone ate lab meat on the planet; only donor herds would be needed that would ensure the stem cells necessary for lab meat. The production needs only half the energy of animal breeding, only one percent of the presently used grassland, four percent of the Earth’s water resources, and its greenhouse gas emission is negligible. Lab meat are produced with added vitamins in contrast to industrial meat which contains antibiotics and hormones. However, the production of lab meat is extremely expensive and long at the moment, according to hvg.hu it takes 250 thousand fonts and six weeks to produce a single burger. Moreover, it has to be proved that its nutrition is the same as the original meat’s and that it is suitable for human consumption.
Maybe the most incredible possible solution is to eat insects. Although many people would sicken even from the idea of consuming bugs, there are cultures in the Far East and in South America where it is a common practice for a long time. Surprisingly, grasshopper “meat” contains three times as much protein as beef does. Factory farming of insects needs less water and fertile land, and emits less greenhouse gases. What’s more, counter to mammals and fowls, insects would actually like the crowded, dirty circumstances of factory farming, and would eat the waste of civilization with pleasure. And since these animals are far from humans in genetic, there would be less risk that their pathogens would infect people.
The only problem of living without meat is that nothing can replace meat in itself, because nothing have the same amount of amino acid. Amino acids are the building blocks of our bodies’ proteins. All of our muscles, thews, organs, glands, nails, and even our hair is made up of proteins. The growth, regeneration, and maintenance of these cells is amino acids’ function, hence their replacement is extremely important. One good alternative for nutrient supplement is the combination of milk, milk products, and egg.
Finally, the easiest way to curb the planet’s enormous meat consumption is to curb our own meat consumption. This solution is good for human health, the environment, the animals and for the whole planet. Installing one meatless day every week in our diet is truly not a great price for a more liveable future.
based on article of bioetikablog.hu, origo.hu, hvg.hu
by Zsófia Luca Szemes