Friday, October 11, 2019

The Effects of Meat Consumptions and the Meat Industry on the Environment, Society, and the Human Body

By: Corinne Hill

Imagine, you are born out of forced insemination, taken from your mother at ten weeks old, put in a cage, pumped full of steroids to fatten you up and will be killed because your ass tastes good. Not only that, but your death contributes to health problems, global hunger, climate change, deforestation, and is the leading factor of the death of a habitat for over 100 million species. Yes, the meat industry is what we are talking about.  So, whether you choose to contribute to the meat industry or not, you are affected by it every day.
What Does Meat Do to Our Bodies?
You might think that meat is healthy for you because it gives you protein, but do you know what meat can do to your body? As a society, the United States consumes the highest diet of meat in the world, a condition that is contributing to the high rates of obesity in the United States with an estimated 160 million Americans categorized as such.  Along with obesity, the meat you so desperately desire at your dinner table with a side of mashed potatoes has been labeled a carcinogen. What is a carcinogen? A carcinogen is defined as a substance capable of causing cancer in healthy living tissue. So, the same harmful chemicals found in cigarettes and gamma radiation is found right on your dinner table. The deli meats you get for your kids’ lunches and the processed meats you eat daily can increase the risk of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes. 

How Does Deforestation from the Meat Industry Affect Society?
You might be thinking, how does the meat industry that gives us something to eat lead to world hunger?  Well, deforestation is caused by four main contributors, but the meat industry is responsible for twice as much deforestation than the other three combined.  In a span of 26 years, we have lost 502,000 square miles of forest, an area larger than South Africa. In the Republic of Congo, families like your own who have a mother, a father, sisters, and brothers have been forced to skip meals, eat leaves, and be taken out of school to work because school fees are too high, due to the fact they can no longer farm because of deforestation. Could we now end world hunger? We currently produce enough food to feed almost 11 billion people, but most of that food goes back to livestock and not the 805 million people suffering from hunger. About 70 percent of our freshwater is given up to livestock instead of the 805 million malnutrition suffering people. What if the USA simply gives up meat?  If just the USA alone gives up meat, we could feed 1.4 billion hungry people across the world, almost ending world hunger.

How Does the Meat Industry Contribute to Climate Change?
The world’s livestock produces more greenhouse emissions that contribute to climate change than cars, planes, trains, and ships combined into one. Yet, a survey revealed most people believe transportation, rather than the meat industry, is the main contributor to climate change. If human beings were slaughtered at the same rate as animals, the entire human race would be gone in 17 days. 17 days to slaughter over 7 BILLION people. Is there a domino effect from climate change?  Since the ozone is growing due to the greenhouse emissions, it will raise the temperatures in the ocean, which leads to coral bleaching and the death of coral reefs, which are habitats for millions of species. Those species will and are dying out right now, leading to deaths of other species, because fish contribute to a food chain. In the past 100 years, we have lost 90% of our fish population. Baby polar bears are being victims of cannibalism because fish, the main food for polar bears, are running scarce.

How is Tyson Food Company Affecting the Ocean?
What is a dead zone?  A dead zone is caused by manure and fertilizer toxins being pumped into the ocean, invoking harmful algal blooms which produce oxygen despoiled stretches.  This causes marine life to either die or flee. In the 1950s, less than 5 dead zones were on record, but now 500 dead zones are on record. Tyson is being identified as the main cause of what is expected to be the worst dead zone on record, which is estimated to be the size of New Jersey. Because of this, migration of marine life that can tip the balance of the food chain, which could lead to species migrating,  leading to invasive species. Foul-smelling, green slime could also to wash up onto the shore, and if these contaminants get into our drinking water, it will lead to humans and animals getting sick.

So no matter whether you slap that carcass with spices and feed that big hunk of carsinage to you family or not, it still affects you.  It affects the air you breathe, water your drink, and yard your kids play in. The only way to stop is to stop eating meat or merely cut down your meat consumption. Cutting meat right out of your diet or merely swapping out another food in place of meat could help the earth and yourself.

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Smith, Rob “These are the countries that eat the most meat” World Economic Forum, 29 August 2018
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“Beef Cattle” Union of Concerned Scientists, 
Nunez, Christina “Deforestation Explained” National Geographic Society, 7 February 2019
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Carrington, Damian “Oceans suffocating as huge dead zones quadruple since 1950, scientists warn” Guardian News & Media Limited, 4 January 2018
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Milman Oliver “Meat industry blamed for largest-ever 'dead zone' in Gulf of Mexico” © 2019 Guardian News & Media Limited , 1 August 2017

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