Human Cost of Meat

In September PETA posted an article about how KFC chickens were raised “Free to Roam,” but were really stuffed in cages, KFC had to pull its advertising from its Australian website. When I put this story on our Twitter account, I got some interesting comments with the most interesting was “Fuck animals, what about people.”

This got me thinking about if you don’t care about animals then why should you become vegan. Here is a little about what I found.

Hunger

If everyone on the planet converted to a vegan diet we could easily feed the world and no one would ever die from starvation. This is an unrealistic goal in the near future. If just one person gave up meat and started eating grains, vegetables, and beans we could feed twenty times more people. “Over ninety percent of all grain produced in America is used for feeding live stock.” (hknet.org.nz, 2011) If ten percent of the U.S. gave up eating meat, we could give grain to 60 million people.

“For sheer over prescription, no doctor can touch the American farmer.”

Newsweek

Health

Meat consumption can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and colon and other cancers, causing over 1,638,847 deaths in the U.S. every year. 33.7% of U.S. adults and 16.3% of children between 2 and 19 years old are obese. (American Heart Association, 2011) By eating meat you can contract Campylobacter, Salmonella, and E. coli O157:H7. Campylobacter causes fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps and can be contracted by eating “undercooked chicken, or other food that has been contaminated with juices dripping from raw chicken is the most frequent source.”  Salmonella is in the intestines of birds, reptiles and mammals and causes fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. E. coli O157:H7 is found in cattle and causes severe and bloody diarrhea, and painful abdominal cramps after consumption of food or water that has been contaminated with cow feces. Severe cases include temporary anemia, profuse bleeding, and kidney failure.  (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011) 80% of antibiotics used in the U.S. go to agriculture to make the animals grow faster and keep them alive.

Workers

Many workers in meat processing plants are illegal immigrants who are paid low wages to keep the price of meat down. The companies have increased line speed, added automation causing workers to suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive stress injury, and disease. (Genoways, 2011) Employees are in constant fear of injury, organizing, bargaining collectively, or improving working conditions, which can lead to dismissal. (Human Rights Watch, 2004)

“You’d save more water by not eating a pound of California beef than you would by not showering for an entire year.”

– John Robbins, The Food Revolution

Environment

A pound of meat consumes between 2,500 to 6,000 pounds of water. Beef production uses more water than growing fruits and vegetables. “U.S. factory farms generated 1.4 billion tons of animal waste in 1996,” and creates 20 tons of manure for every U.S. household, which pollutes more U.S. waterways than any other industry. (Motavalli, 2001)

Taxes

In August the Department of Agriculture bought “$40 million of chicken products, which the government will then donate to federal food assistance programs such as soup kitchens and its national Feeding America programs” (Kavilanz, 2011) and $60 million surplus purchase of turkey in 2009 (Dow Jones Newswires, 2011) to increase the retail prices. National School Lunch Program gives schools more than $6 billion a year to offer low-cost meals to students, which is supposed to provide healthy meals to children is really subsidizing agribusiness, and increasing demand for beef and milk. The USDA spends more than $350 million on surplus beef and cheese while it only spent over $161 million fruits and vegetables, most of which were canned or frozen. Schools get 20% of their food from this program. (Yeoman, 2002)

I understand that some people think animals are below humans and should not be shown the same compassion as we show each other, but I feel that if we can show compassion for the suffering of a chicken, cow, or pig it will be easier to show compassion for humans. I honestly don’t believe that anyone who says, “Fuck animals, what about people” really cares about people; it is just the standard answer people give when they can’t be compassionate to anyone or anything. Try giving compassion to a spider that is your house and put it outside instead of killing it, and then you will eventually become a more compassionate person. If we can make a promise to do no harm than we can make this world a better place.

Other Articles

Works Cited

American Heart Association. (2011, December 12). Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2011 Update. Retrieved December 12, 2011, from American Heart Association: http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/123/4/e18.full

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011, December 12). Foodborne Illness. Retrieved December 12, 2011, from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/foodborneinfections_g.htm – mostcommon

Dow Jones Newswires. (2011, August 16). USDA purchase boosts poultry prices. Retrieved December 12, 2011, from Agriculture.com: http://www.agriculture.com/markets/analysis/other-commodities/usda-purchase-boosts-poultry-prices_16-ar18391

Genoways, T. (2011, July 1). The Spam Factory’s Dirty Secret. Retrieved December 12, 2011, from Mother Jones: http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/06/hormel-spam-pig-brains-disease

hknet.org.nz. (2011, December 12). The Hidden Cost of Meat . Retrieved December 12, 2011, from NZs Hare Krishna Spiritual Network: http://www.hknet.org.nz/Cost-of-meat-page.htm

Human Rights Watch. (2004, January 1). Blood, Sweat, and Fear. Retrieved december 12, 2011, from Human Rights Watch: http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2005/01/24/blood-sweat-and-fear

Kavilanz, P. (2011, August 16). U.S. places $40 million chicken order. Retrieved December 12, 2011, from CNNMoney: http://money.cnn.com/2011/08/16/news/economy/chicken_prices/index.htm

Motavalli, J. (2001, December 31). The Case Against Meat. Retrieved December 12, 2011, from emagazine: http://www.emagazine.com/archive/142

Yeoman, B. (2002, January 1). Unhappy Meals. Retrieved December 12, 2011, from BarryYeoman.com: http://barryyeoman.com/2003/01/unhappy-meals/

About James Lucas


James has been a graphic designer for over 18 years and owns Wave Hound Surf Shop. James started Doylestown Movie Fans, who meet once a month to see movies at the County Theater in Doylestown, PA. He and his wife Chris started Bucks County Vegan Supper Club in 2009, whose members meet once a month to have a vegan potluck dinner. They are currently working through the Veganomicon cookbook, which inspires experienced and recent vegans to try new recipes. James is proud to support Farm Sanctuary and The Surfrider Foundation.

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