Animal cruelty, antibiotics feeding, environmental impact, mass production… so many reasons to start asking yourself if maybe you should actually stop eating meat.
Factory farming has become pretty much unconscionable on several levels.
- First, with regard to the animals.
Animals on factory farms endure constant fear and torment – from the mutilation and the crowding to the lazy cruelty and artificially accelerated growth. They’re often given so little space that they can’t even turn around or lie down comfortably. When they’ve grown large enough animals raised for food are crowded onto trucks and transported for miles through all weather extremes, typically without food or water. At the slaughterhouse, those who survived the transport will have their throats slit, often while they’re still conscious.
- Factory farming also pollutes the earth.
The livestock industry generates more greenhouse gas emissions on Earth than vehicular transport. Not only do cattle methane emissions account for 37% of all human-produced methane, forests continue to be cleared to feed the ever-growing industry. Choosing vegetables, legumes and other healthy, meatless options can greatly reduce your carbon footprint.
- Finally, eating factory meat is dangerous for human health.
To keep production costs low, animals raised in factory farms are fed the cheapest possible grains and feeds. As a result, commercially raised animals, especially chickens and cows, contain excessive levels of several different dangerous chemicals in an attempt to keep animals “healthy” and to artificially increase their size. When we eat this meat, we are eating degraded meat as traces of these chemicals pass into our system. Experts are also citing antibiotic usage in factory farming as a contributing factor to the steadily rising rates of antibiotic resistance in the US.
Knowing all of this, the only way one can eat factory-farmed meat is to not to think about it – or not to care. However, deciding to become vegetarian is a big commitment. Not everyone embraces a vegetarian lifestyle and that’s OK.
If quitting meat is hard, here a few steps to help you move to a more aware and respectful consumption of meat.
Choose poultry, fish, and eggs as your primary source of animal protein
Eggs have the highest protein bioavailability and poultry and fish are much leaner than beef or pork.
Move to organic, low-impact meat as much as possible
If you wonder, could organic, high-welfare farming be our get-out-of-jail-free card? Well, it’s better.
If you can’t or don’t want to give up meat, the best thing you can do is find a local farmer who knows how to raise and kill animals humanely, lets them roam free, and does not feed them growth hormones.
Second best is going to a natural foods store like Whole Foods and buying organic, grass fed meat.
Eat a lot less meat
“Flexitarian“, “Mostly Meatless“, “Meat Minimalist“, the terminology doesn’t really matter as the concept is practically the same; incorporating mostly meatless meals while still enjoying meat on occasion.
Let’s keep in mind that we certainly don’t need a large portion of meat with every meal. A recent study in the New York Times released by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that Americans cut their beef consumption by nearly one-fifth from 2005 to 2014. If you choose to eat meat as part of your diet then hopefully this article will help you to do so in a more healthful and balance way.