TO EAT OR NOT TO EAT
Meat or Fish? No
Excellent meat and fish alternatives now exist and more are on the way.
In the USA, 200 pounds of meat per person per year are eaten, their high meat consumption is hurting their national health. Hundreds of clinical studies in the past several decades show that consumption of meat and dairy products, especially at the high levels seen in this country, can cause cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and a host of other illnesses. Thus, Americans have twice the obesity rate, twice the diabetes rate, and nearly three times the cancer rate as people in the rest of the world. Eating loads of meat isn’t the only reason that people develop these diseases, but it’s a major factor.
Animal food production is one of the world’s leading causes of climate change.
If we could just cut back on animal foods by half, the effect on greenhouse-gas emissions would be like garaging all U.S. motor vehicles and vessels for as long as we keep our consumption down.
Two acres of rain forest are cleared each minute to raise cattle or the crops to feed them. And 35,000 miles of American rivers are polluted with animal waste. We’re watching a real-time, head-on collision between the world’s huge demand for animal foods and scarce resources. It takes dozens of times more water and five times more land to produce animal protein than equal amounts of plant protein. Unfortunately, even “green” alternatives such as raising animals locally, organically, or on pastures can’t overcome the basic math: The resources just don’t exist to keep feeding the world animal foods at the level it wants.
Factory fishing ships are exploiting the world’s oceans so aggressively that scientists fear the extinction of all commercially fished species within several decades.
Like an armada bent on victory at any cost, the 23,000 factory ships that patrol the world’s oceans have destroyed one-third of the planet’s commercially fished species. They also indiscriminately kill and discard 200 million pounds of nontarget species, or “bycatch,” every day. Because of such colossal destruction and waste, the United Nations says fishing operations are “a net economic loss to society.”
9. Fish farming isn’t the answer.
Sometimes hailed as the future of sustainable food production, fish farming is actually just another form of factory farming. Farmed fish live in the same stressful, cramped conditions as land animals, and concentrated waste and chemicals from aquaculture damage local ecosystems. Escapes lead to further problems, as in the North Atlantic region, where 20 percent of supposedly wild salmon are actually of farmed origin. When genes from wild and farmed fish mix, it degrades the wild population.
10. If they treated a dog or cat like that, they’d go to jail.
Industry-backed laws passed in the last 30 years make it legal to do almost anything to a farmed animal. In 1996, Connecticut, for example, legalized maliciously and intentionally maiming, mutilating, torturing, wounding, or killing an animal—provided it’s done “while following generally accepted agricultural practices.” Since most states have similar exemptions, farmed animals have almost no protection from inhumane treatment.