How food will make us or break us

Posted on August 8, 2007

I have been considering adding this information to Spirit & Politik for some time, and having a short space between essays for university, have finally decided that it is important to properly represent all the information that we need to make good choices about the future of our world.  

Many people feel that humankind is on the brink of a change, but what escapes many of us is how much food relates to this leap. The inefficiencies that make up the way we feed ourselves are mind boggling. The effects of our food production system on the environment is already devastating, not to mention predictions for the future. Our atmosphere will not survive, if we do. Read on to find out why.

While it was never the intention of this site to moralise or criticise people for their own lifestyle choices, it must also be said that the inhumanity of the way we feed ourselves it just as mind boggling as the economic inefficiency and environmental unsustainability. Thus, in accord with this site’s purpose of looking at ways that the collective ideas about life can create positive policies for the future, we need to look at inconsistencies in our value system. And animal food production cuts a rather large hole in the integrity of our values.

Yes, this is an article on the global effects of meat production. It could be just the article you don’t want to read, for many people comfortable with their lifestyle choice as a meat eater. But before we do on, let me assure you that absolutely no adverse health effects can be experienced in cutting back or eliminating meat from one’s diet. How do I know? Of the many healthy vegetarians I know, one is a large, energetic toddler, another is a weightlifter and personal trainer. If anyone was to experience problems, it would the latter. If anyone is the picture of health, it would be both. Don’t believe me? The loss will be the entire planet’s. Here’s why.


Meat Production and the Environment

The relationship between these two is yet to enter into the public consciousness. But beneath the scenes, a battle is being played out. In a sense, it has already been lost for the meat industry, as even if they succeed in convincing the world’s population to continue living as we have, soon enough the world will not be able to sustain this demand. Many agree that this change has begun and is quickening exponentially.

Here are the basic facts about what toll meat production is having on our planet. I’ll present them in the order I think we need to understand them. Bear in mind, this is a summary and simplification of the available information. See the notes for further reading.

  • Trees are more important than we think. They store carbon, prevent evaporation and generally keep the earth’s water and air in healthy balance. Problems like desertification, salinity, erosion and
  • After rapid increases in demand for meat accompanying exponential population growth (that continues today), today 30% of the world’s ice-free surface is cleared for animal production. In central America, two thirds of rainforest have been cleared for grazing since 1950. The meat-vegetable diet requires seven times more land than the vegetarian diet.
  • Raising animals for food uses half our fresh water and pollutes even more, devastatingly so near intensive factory farms.
  • The unaccounted environmental effects of the animal food industry include transportation emissions,