The debate doesn't come down to whether we have canines for tearing meat, or intestines for digesting it, but is more pressingly about whether we have land, water, food or climate to support the gargantuan and wasteful meat industry for a growing global population.
Over 1 billion animals are killed in UK slaughterhouses every year. If you add marine life, it's 8 billion.
9.8 million pigs 🐷 15 million sheep 🐑 18 million turkeys 🦃 14 million ducks 🦆 945 million chickens 🐔 2.6 million cattle 🐮 4.5 billion fish 🐟 2.6 billion shellfish 🦀
This means that 22 million animals slaughtered every day.
919,000 animals an hour.
15,000 animals per minute.
So 255 animals slaughtered every second.
''The human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage – deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution and climate change.''
Reduce your consumption of meat, or try a vegan diet to drastically reduce your impact.
When buying meat, opt for more ethical options.
The debate has come to an end. Red meat and processed meats are now classed as Group 1 and 2 carcinogens - the same as asbestos, alcohol, arsenic and tobacco.
Cholesterol is only found in animal-derived foods. It clogs the arteries and restricts blood flow leading to coronary diseases like heart attack angina and failure - serious health problems.
Diets consisting of animal-derived foods also put us at increased risk of many other illnesses, including strokes, obesity, osteoporosis, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, allergies, diabetes, and food poisoning.
Compassion in World Farming has released an excellent report on the best practices in meat shopping although the salient suggestions have been summarised below.
Intensive animal farms pack livestock indoors, fatten them up quickly, before slaughtering them on huge production lines. 70 per cent of the 75 billion animals farmed worldwide each year are kept this way.
In the UK, we have different standards for keeping and slaughtering animals, but all of them still want to live and be free. There are definitely higher welfare options, but a meat free diet is a sure way to avoid animal cruelty.
Though our standards are often higher here in the UK, there are no regulations on importing meat from abroad, where welfare is likely to be lower.
Many livestock animals are ruminants, with four stomachs, that emit large plumes of environment-damaging greenhouse gases. Between 15-50 per cent of green house gas emissions comes from the animals and the industry.
Livestock already occupy one third of the land on Earth that isn't covered by ice, but is are also responsible for 80 per cent of deforestation in the Amazon.
One third of global water is given to livestock and two thirds of grain is also given to livestock. We could feed 8.7 billion people with the food for livestock.
170 million tonnes of animal slurry is produced annually in the UK - running away and polluting soil and water ways. And globally, livestock animals produce 130 times more poop than the entire human population.
Cows are ruminants that emit large amounts of methane which over time is about 25 times more damaging to the climate than carbon dioxide (CO2).
The methane emitted from manure also contributes, as does nitrous oxide created by lfertilizer or manure on fields.. Nitrous oxide has about 300 times the global warming potential of CO2.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
In the UK, meat and dairy provide just 18 per cent of our food calories, yet it uses 83 per cent of farmland and produces 60 per cent of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions. Worse still, by 2050, livestock emissions could increase by 30 per cent or more
A person who follows a vegan diet produces 1/2 as much carbon dioxide, uses 1/11th oil, 1/13th water, and 1/18th land compared to a meat-eater for their food. Cutting down on meat is a bit step for helping the planet restore, and vegans are one-ninth as likely to be obese as meat-eaters and have only 40 percent of the cancer rate of meat-eaters. Plus there are at least 57 other benefits to going vegan.
If you choose to occasionally eat meat, find out which meats are better for animals and for your health by choosing local, organic, higher welfare options.