Nowadays, we constantly hear about the destructive impact of various industries, car transport and our own habits on the environment. But what about industrial livestock production? Is our unrestrained appetite indifferent to the Earth?
People in many parts of the world still find it difficult to imagine a meal that does not contain animal products. Bloody steaks, juicy burgers, grilled sausages, cheese, and eggs are an integral part of the diet of a large part of the population. Although more and more people choose to go vegan, they still make up a marginal percentage. How do our eating habits affect the environment and ourselves?
The area of our planet suitable for agricultural use is very limited. Meanwhile, according to scientists from the University of Oxford, we use almost 80% of the available land for breeding animals for meat and dairy products. However, animal products do not cover even 20% of the world’s caloric supply or 40% of the protein supply. Does that not sound like sheer madness and a perfect example of waste?
Would it not be wiser to devote this land to the cultivation of plants for humans instead of using most of it to produce animal feed?
Industrial livestock production is deadly to our planet
It is estimated that about 40% of the methane released into the atmosphere comes from cattle farming. Every year, thousands of tons of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, as well as manure, enter the soil and water. Due to the increasing demand for land for forage farming, deforestation of the planet continues. Not without significance is also the fact of reducing biodiversity – currently cattle and pigs constitute about 60 percent of all mammals on Earth, and poultry about 70 percent of all birds.
You can read about the consequences of species extinction in another article.
What about our health?
As reported by the World Health Organization (WHO), consuming beef and pork increases the risk of colon, pancreatic and prostate cancer. Processed meat is on the list of carcinogens next to exhaust fumes, asbestos and cigarettes.
Industrial livestock production with the use of antibiotics contributes to the formation of bacteria that are completely resistant to all known specifics. In the European Union alone, they cause over 30,000 deaths a year. In addition, the concentration of animals in a small area promotes the spread of diseases among them (e.g. African Swine Fever) and the emergence of new ones (e.g. mad cow disease). Some of them may be transmitted to humans or even cause pandemics.
Animals should be eaten and not heard
Animals, while they may not tell us so, are definitely not content to be part of industrial livestock production. This is evidenced by frequent cases of self-mutilation and mutilation of other members of the herd, and even cannibalism. This is due to the high level of stress and life in often extremely inhumane conditions. It is enough to imagine, at least for a moment, existence in an extremely small space, without the possibility of free movement. Not having access to fresh air, natural light and a suitable enclosure would be unlikely to please anyone. Add to that forcing procreation and then prematurely separating offspring from mothers. And all this suffering just to please people’s taste buds for a few minutes.
Along with the increase in consumption, the demand for animal products, and thus their production, also grows. Greater production causes lower prices and increased demand. And so, the circle is closed. In addition, along with the development of this industry, the concentration of profit in the hands of the few owners rises and the profitability of running small family farms, which can provide much better breeding conditions, decreases.
Big changes start with little steps
We do not need to radically change our diet. Going vegan, while it seems like the only solution, is by no means the only option. However, it is worth introducing various vegan products to your diet and choosing meat that is not from industrial livestock production. The same applies to dairy products – milk from a local farmer is definitely better for our health than the one stuffed with antibiotics from the store shelf.
‘The great need today in every phase of our social, economical and political life is understanding. It has always been so, but today the need is even greater.’
Charles R. Hook
Maybe it is time to understand that we could live without meat, but not without animals?
BEng. Rita Lisiewicz
for Insider Release
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