Effects of Meat Consumption

cattle_at_pasture_usda_large[1]In past blogs I have wrote about eating meat.  More specifically I outlined the importance, in regards to your health, as to where you are getting your meat from.  Knowing the source of your meat (organic, grass-fed, pastured, etc.) also happens to benefit more than your personal health.  The over consumption of commercial or CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) meat is also detrimental to the environment.

Recently I read the book “Food Matters” by Mark Bittman and he outlined some major statistics about our meat consumption how it effects our earths longevity.  Below are some of the major points from the book that really stood out;

  • People in many developed countries consume 1/2 lb of meat per day
  • 60 billion animals are raised each year for food (10 animals for every human on earth)
  • 40 calories of fossil fuels are required to produce one calorie of beef protein
  • More than 50% corn grown in the U.S. is fed to animals
  • Soy and corn account for 50% of the total U.S. harvest
  • 50% of the antibiotic in the U.S. goes to animals
  • About 70% of the worlds farmland is dedicated to livestock production
  • Livestock produce more greenhouse gas than the emissions caused by transportation
  • Contamination of local land and water by fertilizers used to produce feed
  • Impact of pesticide and herbicides
  • Devastation of worlds forests
  • water usage and stink (nitrogen emissions from all the poop)
    • livestock produce more greenhouse gasses than anything else except energy production
  • Subsidies cost tax payers 19 billion dollars per year and it benefits only 3100 farmers (corn, soy and other subsidized crops)

When I read this section of the book I was alarmed.  However upon taking a moment to reflect on these facts I actually was not too surprised.  We are a very meat driven culture in which most meals center around some sort of juicy slab of tastiness.  It is easy (my self included) to fall into the paradigm that we need a lot of meat all the time to maintain our muscle.  It is just to hard with out it and being a vegetarian we would just wither away.  To a certain extent I would agree, however as a culture we have taken that to the extreme and are over doing it with the meat.  I for one will not give up meat 100% and go vegetarian simply because of the extent and intensity at which I work out.  I use meat and fish as my “Supplement” to hard work outs in order to recover and replenish my muscles (Meat is only non supplemental source of b12 and the only complete protein).  It would take me far to many nuts and beans to fully recover in a timely manner and far to much farting.  If I am not working out at a high intensity then yes I consume far less meat.  Meat is no longer a three meal a day item for me and it is far less often a entre.  On the rare occasion I will splurge (after a long day climbing or post hard week of training) and treat my self to a delectable grass fed steak, smoked ribs or a pastured pulled pork sandwich.  However for the most part I now use meat as a side dish or appetizer and make sure to fill my plate with as many fresh veggies as possible.

If you, like my self, want to continue to eat meat then do your body and the environment a favor and consider the source in which your meat is coming from.   Also take a moment to reflect on how much meat you do eat.  Does your diet include excessive, boarder line “Atkins” diet,  meat consumption and minimal vegetable consumption.  In order to reduce factory farming and the effects on the environment we must lower our demand for meat.  It is not as easy as all of us switching over to eating organic, grass fed meat.  There are just not enough; farms, space, resources for all of us to eat the same amount of meat that we currently do but from local farms.  Meat is great and even better in moderation when used as a tool for your health.

If you don’t know where to go to for well sourced meat EatWild is a good starting point.

 

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