A recent report from the Worldwatch Institute stated that global meat consumption is up 20% over the past 10 years. The report claims the majority of the increase is from developed nations and the expanding size of factory farms. In fact developed nations consume 80 kg (176 lbs) per person on average a year, while in developing nations the average person only consumes 32 kg (70 lbs) per person. This can cause many sustainability issues since factory farms pollute the environment and use mass amounts of resources. Factory farms use massive amounts of water, feed (grains and corn that could be used to feed the largely growing human population), antibiotics, and land space. They also pollute mass amounts. The waste that is created from factory farms is not able to be used as fertilizer since the animals are fed corn and antibiotics and the waste is basically toxic. If animals are raised in more natural or pastoral ways they may still use massive amounts of resources but their waste is usable and it is healthier for you to eat.
A few interesting tidbits from the report are:
- “Pork is the world’s most-eaten meat. Followed by poultry, beef, mutton.”
- “Poultry production is the fastest growing sector of the meat industry, now accounting for 98 million tons of meat annually.”
- “Livestock raising takes up 23% of all water used in agriculture on a global basis.”
- “75% of all antibiotics used on livestock (and remember 80% of all antibiotics in the US go towards livestock) are excreted in their waste, “posing a serious risk to public health.”
- “11% of all deaths in men and 16% in women could be prevented “if people decreased their red meat consumption to the level of the group that ate the least.”
Three hundred trout are needed to support one man for a year. The trout, in turn, must consume 90,000 frogs, that must consume 27 million grasshoppers that live off of 1,000 tons of grass.
– G. Tyler Miller, Jr., American Chemist (1971)
What can you do to reduce the amount of meat being consumed:
- “Eating less meat and supporting pastoralist communities at every level is essential to combat the destructive trend of factory farms.” We need to reduce our meat consumption to be more sustainable.
- If you think eating less meat is hard, try starting off with eliminating for just one day. A new trend, Meatless Monday, is becoming very popular.
- When you do eat meat, choose more sustainable options: local or organic meats, or join a meat share.
- Know where your meat comes from and how it is raised.