Human consumption of animals

Visualization of narrower problems
Meat eating
Eating animal flesh
Human consumption of dairy products
Human consumption of animal products
Excessive consumption of meat
Eating dead matter
The consumption of animal flesh (whether meat, fowl or fish) or the use of animal products (leather goods, products of bone-processing, eggs and cheese) is unethical, unaesthetic, uneconomic, and without nutritional justification. It may be considered unethical because human beings should not needlessly kill sentient animals. The consumption of animal flesh is not the most economic method of obtaining the highest yield of nutritional products from agricultural land. The economic and social costs of meat consumption include hugely inefficient use of freshwater and land, heavy pollution from livestock faeces, rising rates of heart disease and other degenerative illnesses and spreading destruction of forests.
Since historic times, meat has been served at feasts and celebrations. It is not just a food, but a reward. Throughout the world, one of the first things people do as they climb out of poverty is to shift from their peasant diet of mainly grains and beans to one that is rich in pork or beef.
Between 1950 and 2000, per capita consumption of meat around the globe more than doubled. A European study has shown that regular meat eaters are more likely to become fat. In China, a recent shift to meat-heavy diets has been linked to increases in obesity, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer and colorectal cancer. It is not fully understood what are the health implications for people who eat the flesh of animals that have been fed on genetically modified food, hormones and antibiotics.

In the USA, the number of animals slaughtered annually for food is estimated at between 4.5 and 6 billion. In 1989, the average person in the USA consumed just under 100 kg of meat annually. Calculated in whole lives, both human and animal, an average North American family consumes: 12 cattle, 1 calf, 2 lambs, 29 pigs, 984 chickens, and 37 turkeys. In the UK in 1987 the number included: 4 million cattle, 60,000 calves, 13.5 million sheep, and over 15 million pigs.

90% of land in Europe and America is used to raise fodder for animals; this area is 14 times more than that required to supply a vegetarian diet of the same protein and calorific value. At least eight vegetarians could be fed with the same quantity of grain as is required to produce stock feed for one average meat-eating person. Then there is the water consumption. To produce 1 kg of feedlot beef requires 7 kg of feed grain, which takes 7,000 kg of water to grow. In the USA, 70 percent of all the wheat, corn and other grain produced feeds livestock.

In recent years, livestock waste has been implicated in massive fish kills and outbreaks of such diseases as pfiesteria, which causes memory loss, confusion and acute skin burning in people exposed to contaminated water. In the USA, livestock now produce 130 times as much waste as people do. Just one pig farm in Utah, for example, produces more sewage that the city of Los Angeles.

1. Meat is not necessary for human survival. Its production involves a long and cruel process of forced imprisonment, biological manipulation, transportation over long distances in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, followed by a violent death in a slaughterhouse.

2. Ethical considerations aside, meat provides an excessive amount of fat to the body and is therefore dangerous to the health. Data strongly suggest that a major influence on cholesterol levels and disease rates is the high consumption of animal-derived foods, including dairy products. Heart disease, cancer, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and food-borne illnesses are directly associated with meat-eating. 3. We are living graves of murdered beasts / slaughtered to satisfy our appetites / Like carrion crows we live and feed on meat / regardless of the sufferings and the pain. (George Bernard Shaw).

4. Major viruses today are transmitted through the meat industry to humans -- a result of animals being fed human foetus from abortions and amputated body parts -- a practice now outlawed in Switzerland.

5. If Americans reduced their meat consumption by 10% they would free up 12 million tons of grain for human consumption, which is enough to feed adequately 60 million people, roughly the number who starve to death every year.

6. Passing up one hamburger will save as much water as converting to a low-flow shower nozzle for 40 showers.

7. The shift from wildland hunting and gathering to systematic herding and farming enable us to produce food surpluses, but the surpluses also allowed us to reproduce prodigiously. It was only a matter of time and geography before the large area of wildland, per individual, that is necessary to sustain a top-predator species, was exceeded. Other top-predators that need space are compromised to an even greater degree.

population exceeds that

1. The animal-centred view, while trying to take a higher moral ground, seldom takes into account the suffering of a carrot or potato being boiled alive. For animals, even human animals, to live, they must kill other living things. Plants, too, are dependent on the death and decomposition of living matter. Only in this larger recognition of interdependence of death and life can a meaningful decision about meat eating be made.

2. It is not proven that a vegetarian diet is more nutritious than a diet with flesh. Omission of animal products from diets in industrialized societies may be dangerous if adequate nutritional substitutes are not used. Refusal to consume animal products in some developing countries, such as India, aggravates the problem of providing the poor with adequate protein.

3. It is not meat that is dangerous but meat fat. If the cost of lean meat is excessive, a meat diet can be complemented with cereals, vegetables and pulses.

(D) Detailed problems