Even when its not May, our journey to educate you on the many benefits of a meatless diet will continue year round! As you may know, one of the central beliefs of ISF is that EVERYTHING is interconnected--the environment, the animals that live among us, and of course, us humans! That being said, having a meat-FULL diet doesn’t just affect animals, it affects those who partake, as well as the environment.
The Welfare of Mother Earth’s Creatures
A lot of the animals that are consumed for food are raised on factory farms and most animals living on factory farms are raised in confinement, regardless of how this may affect the animals, physically or mentally. They are exposed to high levels of toxins found in manure, thus disease spreads easily. To prevent disease, they are consistently given low doses of antibiotics, and are sometimes given hormones, for the sole purpose of increased productivity. These animals are often fed a diet that is unnatural to them, and are often kept in crates too small to allow them room to move around, explore, or be social. Many mother pigs are kept in confinement their entire life, or kept in a stall too narrow to even allow them to turn around. Studies have shown that this confinement causes them to “behave abnormally and to become depressed and unreactive to stimuli which would normally elicit a response.”
Commonly, animals suffer from lung damage and pneumonia, due to the poor ventilation of where they are held. Many factory farms use artificial light to prevent animals from sleeping, which causes them to eat, therefore grow quicker. Living in confines with continuous lighting can cause physiological stress, and increased leg problems. 1
Dairy cows are usually pushed to produce 10-20 times more milk than what is needed to feed their calves. Subsequently, their life span is cut short. They are often forced to live in too small of confines so they are unable to exercise their natural movement and instincts. Many cows develop infections and can have problems walking, as well as back problems. They are often fed high intensity feeds and grains to boost their milk production, which can cause digestive upset. Commonly, calves are separated from their mothers within twenty-four hours of birth, and weaned from milk within only eight weeks. By doing this, they do not receive any immunities through the milk causing them to be more vulnerable to disease.
How a Meat-full Diet Can Impact Human Health
Some of the risks from eating excessive amounts of meat include heart disease and cancer. Studies have shown that people who eat too much meat are twenty percent more likely to develop cancer, (pancreatic cancer is specifically mentioned) especially if it’s red meat. Meat also contains saturated fat and cholesterol, which is linked to heart disease. Processed meats, (such as hot dogs) can contain nitrate, which can become carcinogenic when heated.
Part of your kidneys’ job is to remove excess protein from your body. By eating too much, they can become stressed, thus creating the potential for kidney damage. Also, high levels of protein in your body may cause it to excrete more calcium, which can contribute to osteoporosis.2
And What About Mother Earth Herself?
Animals that are raised for human consumption generate more greenhouse gas emissions than all of the cars, trucks, trains, and airplanes in the world combined; over fifty percent of human-caused greenhouse gases can be linked back to livestock and their by-product.
There are approximately 500,000 factory farms in the United States; they produce an estimated 130 times more waste than the human population. The waste from livestock, feedlots, chicken, and hog farms are major contributors to water pollution. As it enters waterways, the waste can both ruin aquatic ecosystems and make water unsafe for consumption. Cattle emit methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide, which are three of the four gases responsible for trapping solar heat.
Think about this: it takes roughly 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef and approximately 815 gallons of water to produce one pound of chicken.