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August 17, 2021

Beefing Up Sustainability

by Anne Paddock

A few years ago I stopped trying to deter people from eating animal products because its an impossible task.  Most people defer to their doctors (most of whom eat animal products) but they should also read the medical studies (who paid for it, how it was done, and what the conclusions were) because these studies provide valuable information (both good and bad).

No one (including me) wants someone giving them bad news about their bad habits. And, yet I still feel compelled to write from time to time about the realities of eating animals and dairy products because the impact on our health and our planet is significant.

Food is emotional and and one of the few things we derive joy from every day.  It’s hard to break habits but if hamburgers, hot dogs, fried chicken, bacon, cold cuts, eggs, and dairy products, and eggs are a regular part of your diet, consider the following:

  • Hot dogs, bacon, and cold cuts are labeled a Type 1 carcinogen (same as cigarettes) according to the World Health Organization;
  • The world has about 7.7 billion people and we slaughter about 77 billion animals a year – about 10 animals for every person. In the US, the average American eats about 8 ounces of meat a day (this is clearly not sustainable);
  • We are the only beings who drink another animal’s milk on a daily basis; Lest you think eggs are better, know that a large egg has about about 180 mg of cholesterol (which you don’t need) and that male chicks (an estimated 7 billion a year according to The Counter (.org)) are slaughtered right after birth in a process called culling, which is a nice way of saying the chicks are ground up alive, gassed, or suffocated because the industry has no use for them;
  • The horrors of the dairy and livestock industry are largely hidden from the public because its easier for people to look the other way than confront the truth and ask themselves if its right to artificially inseminate cows, take a baby calf from its mother so that a human can drink its milk, and tie male calves to a small shed (to prohibit muscle growth) and slaughter them at 18-20 weeks for veal;
  • Heart disease kills more than 600,000 people in the US annually (by comparison, Covid killed about the same number of people in 2020);
  • Diabetes, particularly Type 2, has rapidly increased both in real numbers and as a percentage of the population in the past 75 years primarily as a result of the Standard American Diet (SAD) that is full of processed foods and animal products that are high in saturated fat and sugar;
  • Many people would rather take a statin, beta blocker, diuretic, an ACE inhibitor or other types/classes of drugs to manage high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes, instead of changing their diet and lifestyle which begs the question:  Why is the medical community focused on treating the symptoms instead of the cause?
  • High cholesterol and blood pressure are not primarily genetic although people often claim these conditions are (did they ever consider what their parents and grandparents ate?); only 1 in 300 or 0.33% of the population has familial hypercholesterolemia (according to Web MD); and
  • Most of the corn and soybeans grown in the US  feed livestock which greatly contributes to the environmental damage causing climate change.  A few days ago (August 14, 2020), a full page ad was placed on page A5 in the Wall Street Journal that claimed “if all US livestock were eliminated and every American followed a vegan diet, greenhouse gas omissions would only be reduced by 2%, or .36% globally,” which is absolutely not true.

The ad cites the EPA as one of the sources of this conclusion to give creditability but the ad does not state that the EPA is clear in that animal agriculture is the major driving force for methane and that methane has 80 times the warming effect of CO2. The EPA also only looked at warming, and climate change isn’t just about the increase in temperature.  We are growing vast amounts of corn and soybeans to feed 77 billion animals who in turn produce huge amounts of waste that seep into our lakes, rivers, streams, and oceans (as Dr. Garth Brooks points out “why do you think romaine lettuce could be contaminated with e coli, which is an intestinal bacteria?).

The beef industry must be feeling threatened (why else would they place a full page ad in a right-leaning newspaper?).  More and more people are recognizing the health benefits of reducing meat and dairy consumption and the realities of the animal agriculture industry.  The health and environmental impact of our dietary choices cannot be underestimated.  Just ask yourself:  Why is so much land allocated to growing corn and soybeans to feed animals whose parts and by-products adversely affect our health and destroy the earth when we could allocate the land to growing food to feed people directly?  Growing healthy and nutritious food to feed the population is infinitely more sustainable then growing food to feed animals to feed the population.

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