Can we keep eating that much meat? What consequences does it bring?

Can we keep eating that much meat? What consequences does it bring?

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By Esther Vivas

The consumption of meat is associated with progress and modernity. In fact, in the Spanish State between 1965 and 1991 its intake multiplied by four, especially that of pork, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture. In recent years, however, consumption in industrialized countries has stagnated or even declined, due, among others, to food scandals (mad cows, bird flu, dioxin chickens, horse meat instead of beef). cow, etc.) and to a greater concern about what we eat. In any case, it must be remembered that here too, and more so in a context of crisis, broad sectors cannot opt ​​for fresh or quality food or to choose between diets with or without meat.

The trend in emerging countries, such as Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the so-called BRICS, on the other hand, is increasing. These concentrate 40% of the world population and between 2003 and 2012 their meat consumption increased by 6.3%, and it is expected that between 2013 and 2022 it will grow by 2.5%. The most spectacular case is that of China, which has gone in a few years, from 1963 to 2009, from consuming 90 kilocalories of meat per person per day to 694, as indicated by the Meat Atlas. The motives? The increase of the population in these countries, their urbanization and the imitation of a western way of life by a broad middle class. In fact, defining oneself as "non-vegetarian" in India, a vegetarian country par excellence, has become, among some sectors, a social status.

An expensive consumption for the planet

But increasing the world's meat intake is not free, it is very expensive, both in environmental and social terms. To produce a kilo of veal, for example, you need 15,500 liters of water, while to produce a kilo of wheat you need 1,300 and for a kilo of carrots 131, according to the Meat Atlas. So if more than 60 billion farm animals are needed each year to meet the current demand for meat, eggs and dairy products around the world, fattening them is very expensive. In fact, industrial animal husbandry creates hunger, since 1/3 of the arable land and 40% of the cereal production in the world is used to feed them, instead of directly feeding people. And not everyone can afford a piece of agribusiness meat. According to data from the ETC Group, 3.5 billion people, half of the planet's inhabitants, could be nourished by what these animals consume.

Furthermore, cows, pigs and chickens, in the current model of intensive industrial production, are some of the main drivers of climate change. Who'd say! Livestock and its by-products are estimated to generate 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, a cow and her calf on a beef farm emit more emissions than a car with eight thousand miles behind it, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). We, by eating meat, are co-responsible.

Abuse is the bloodiest face of factory farming, where animals stop being living beings to become things and merchandise. The documentary Samsara, without scenes of explicit violence, shows the hidden, extreme brutality of the farms that produce meat, milk ..., where the animals live badly and the workers butcher them, beat them, gut them as if they were objects. A production model that has its origins in the slaughterhouses of Chicago, at the beginning of the 20th century, where line production allowed, in just fifteen minutes, to kill and chop a cow. A method so "efficient" that Henry Ford would adopt it for the manufacture of automobiles. For capital, there is no difference between a car and a living being. And for us? The distance between the field and the plate has become so great in recent years that as consumers we are no longer aware many times that after a cold meat, a lasagna or some spaghetti carbonara there was life.

Precarious work

The working conditions of those who work on these farms leave much to be desired. In fact, there is more common ground between the animals that are slaughtered and the employees who work than the latter could imagine. Upton Sinclair in his brilliant work The Jungle, where he portrayed the precarious life of Chicago slaughterhouse workers in the early years of the last century, made it clear: "There men were slaughtered just like cattle were slaughtered: their bodies and their souls to pieces and turned them into dollars and cents. " Today, many slaughterhouses hire immigrants in precarious conditions, Mexicans in the United States, as portrayed in Richard Linklater's excellent film Fast Food Nation, or from Eastern Europe in the countries of the center of the Union.

Sinclair's work continues a hundred years later, being very topical. The livestock industry, likewise, has a disastrous effect on our health. The systematic supply of medicines in a preventive way to the animals so that they can survive in terrible housing conditions until the slaughterhouse and to obtain a faster fattening, and with less cost for the company, leads to the development of bacteria resistant to these drugs. Bacteria that can easily pass to people through, among others, the food chain. Currently, according to the World Health Organization, more antibiotics are given to healthy animals than to sick people. In China, for example, it is estimated that more than 100,000 tons of antibiotics a year are given to animals, most without any type of control, and in the United States, 80% of the antibiotics that are supplied go to cattle, as the Atlas of Meat indicates. And that is not all, the FAO itself recognizes that in the last fifteen years, 75% of epidemic human diseases have their origin in animals, such as bird flu or swine flu, a consequence of an unhealthy livestock model.

Who wins with this model? Obviously not us, although they want us to believe otherwise. A few multinationals control the market: Smithfield Foods, JBS, Cargill, Tyson Foods, BRF, Vion. And they obtain important benefits with a system that pollutes the environment, generates climate change, exploits workers, mistreats animals and makes us sick.

A question is imposed: can we continue to eat so much meat?

Video: How to Burn the Most Fat Possible: WEBINAR (July 2022).


  1. Mannie


  2. Tearlach

    Faced with the problem of choice (whether we are making a large purchase or buying a nice trinket), it is important for us to know about the qualities of the product. Expert advice, which can be found in each article posted on this site, will help you to understand the whole variety of goods or services.

  3. Rafiki

    In my opinion, this is obvious. I recommend that you search

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