The Meat of the Matter
By Jana K
“Globally we kill about 200,000,000 animals per day, and about 74 billion a year. That means that every one and a half years we kill more animals than people have lived in the entire 200,000 year history of humanity” (TedEd). We will address the environmental impact of meat as well as the health repercussions of excessive meat consumption.
As of today, the meat industry is eating away at our resources like a gigantic “black hole.” Currently, humans keep in reserve approximately “23 billion chickens, 1.5 billion cows, and 1 billion pigs and sheep” (TedEd). Tons of energy, food, land, and water are used to produce meat for human consumption. For example, even though chickens are among the most efficient sources of meat, it still “takes about nine calories fed to a chicken to get one calorie back out in the form of chicken meat” (Bruce Freidrich, NPR). Thus, when poultry is chosen over plant-based foods, “nine times as much land, nine times as much water, and nine times as many pesticides and herbicides on the crops” (Bruce Freidrich, NPR) are being used.
What will happen in the future as a result of this? Presumably in 2050? Due to our fixation on producing poultry and livestock for global meat consumption, humans have forgotten about our own species. According to Harvard Professor Walter Willet from the EAT-Lancet Commission, “Over 820 million people are suffering from food insecurity.” These numbers are certain to rise. A new analysis of global ecological threats has stated that rapid population growth, a lack of access to food and water, and increased vulnerability to natural disasters will result in the displacement of more than 1 billion people by 2050 (Reuters). People will be forced to flee their homes and become internally displaced because there will be insufficient food to feed their families. Even people today are sleeping on an empty stomach, eating no more than a meal a day. This is increasing at an alarming rate. That is, only if we do nothing about it.
A significant portion of these 820 million individuals consume “low quality diets consisting of meats that can be at fault for many conditions and diseases, such as coronary artery disease, stroke, and obesity.” (EAT-Lancet Commision) Surprisingly, unhealthy foods such as cheeseburgers and hot dogs are deadlier than other forms of intoxication combined, including alcohol, tobacco, and drugs (EAT-Lancet). According to a new research study conducted by a commission of 37 of the world’s greatest scientists, if individuals choose to consume a diet rich in plants, we can prevent the loss of 11 million lives, yearly. Whether you’re someone who has soccer practice a couple times a week or is an avid swimmer, meat isn’t the only way to meet your body’s needs. Consider your current diet and explore alternative adjustments that work for you while also helping the environment. Here are some suggestions to help you eat more sustainably: Try a meatless Monday! Cook some of your favorite plant-based dishes more frequently. Look for vegetarian or vegan foods that pique your interest. Start with simple goals for yourself and work your way up from there!
About the Author
Jana is a rising 8th grader at Children’s Day School. When not writing, she is quietly reading a book, painting/drawing, or softly playing piano.