ART BY ANNA MACIAS
In the 21th century, technology has evolved immensely, making it more convenient for the average person, with everything at hand. And yet, one aspect of society that has made little progress is the lack of awareness regarding the meat industry. In an evolving era where the people are making great leaps of progress in breaking the norm, the meat industry and its ethics have remained stagnant and threaten all of us, whether we are aware of it or not.
With over 7.5 billion people on Earth, more than 200 million tons of meat are consumed yearly. The growing population, along with consumers’ high demand for meat, can not compete with the amount of livestock we have on Earth. A byproduct of the current food situation, farmers operate with the incentive to keep up with demands by using methods that can maximize efficiency and profit. Animals raised in farms are commonly subjected to overcrowding, restricted containment. Animals in a constricted and unhealthy environment may cause them to grow restless and agitated, initiating fights among others. Moreover, living in such confined conditions often induce distressing behaviors in animals, increasing their chances of contracting diseases, because stress tends to weaken their immune system.
In addition, to meet consumers’ demand for meat, antibiotic and growth hormone injections are also rampant. These inorganic ways of raising animals pose public health concerns for consumers of animal products and the public in general.
For instance, in a classic demonstration of the ripple effect: though the aim of antibiotics is to reduce animal’s chances of becoming sick, the given medicinal products may do more harm than good. Unsurprisingly, and not unlike the human body’s own reaction to consistent antibiotic pumping, the primary reason is that the bacteria in animals are able to develop resistance over time and grow increasingly prone to disease. If humans contract an infection from contaminated meat with antibiotic-resistance bacteria, the infection becomes more difficult and expensive to treat. In some cases, this can lead to incurable illnesses, such as mad cow disease.
In spite of meat being a major component of protein for most people, there are consequences to eating more meat in the long run. Health risks from eating meat include, but are not limited to, high cholesterol, diabetes, stroke, heart diseases and cancer. In addition to consequences on one’s health, raising animals as livestock also leads to negative effects on the environment.
Notably, livestock occupies at least half of the land on Earth, and like most sentient beings, produce waste. Waste from animals introduces methane as a natural byproduct of production. With waste being dumped in the ocean, the ocean remains polluted from the aforementioned, as well as the excessive methane exposure. As a result, humans and marine animals in the area are continuously subjected to toxicity, harmed health and decline in biodiversity of animals.
Moreover, animal agriculture accounts for 30% of greenhouse gas emission, making a large contribution to global warming. The change in climate leads to other detrimental effects on the environment, such as rising temperature and higher sea levels.
All in all, this is not to say people should stop consuming meat, but people should be wary of their dietary habits and more informed about the meat industry. People should put in consideration of animal welfare, their health and the environment before continuing their consumption of meat.