So back to Steakerella and her predicament with cutting down on the red meat. My first point was overall personal health. You gotta be a little selfish with your health, right? I mean, what good are you to others if you’re just in no good shape? So I can’t understand why some people, despite knowing better, will neglect their health. But I ain’t no psychologist.
Maybe we should look away from personal health, look at something that has an effect on everyone.
First off, when we see steak on the plate, we actually have very little context for it. We’re unaware of how it got there, where it came from. Then if we think about it, we may picture a field of cows or bulls, doin’ their thang, chewin’ their cud, and playing poker. Alright, maybe nix the poker, but you see what I’m saying.
Then again, nix the field. How about a gated vicinity of cows, with barely inches to move. Hoards of them. They’re standing around in their own waste. The air is heavy with the stench of manure, disease, artificial hormones, antibiotics, and chemicals, which are used to combat the filth. It’s dangerous just to stand by and breath. And it all permeates the ground, gets into the water, even the steak on the plate. Sure, the manure can be used as fertilizer. Problem is, there’s so much of it (about 500 million tons a year) that the amount that’s applied often exceeds the soil’s ability to use it up. So then it seeps into groundwater, streams, residential drinking sources, etc. Cheers. Then, as the truck that transports the cattle (or carcasses) burns up fossil fuels, it passes by the ever-growing “lagoon” where a slurry of farm waste resides. The slurry is a concoction of what the animals produce, as well as the aforementioned hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, etc. First, the slurry will release noxious gasses into the air and contribute to acid rain, as well as pollute the the surrounding earth and water. Then, it will be used to fertilize the corn and soy that is grown strictly for feeding cows, chickens, and pigs. And then we are supposed to eat those cows, chickens, and pigs. Circle of life!
That’s factory farming, folks. To keep up with the demand for meat and other animal products, the agriculture system has mutated into something far from organic or real. In turn, it’s pretty much killing the little ecosystem we have left, as well as poisoning our food. Natural habitats like the Amazon are slowly disappearing to accommodate factory farming. And much of the earth’s water is used towards it as well. Either that, or it’s as polluted as a filet mignon. More than two thirds of the earth is dedicated to livestock and genetically modified crops for feeding that livestock, even though the livestock would never eat that stuff in nature. Cows eat grass, not corn and soy. But growing feed crop is cheaper and faster than the natural way. And it certainly doesn’t matter that antibiotics, genetic modification and pesticides are encouraging the growth of resistant bacteria and cancer.
Bottom line. The insanely excessive consumption of meat and the efforts to sustain it have contributed to: air pollution, water pollution, loss of natural habitats, and food that’s tainted with hormones/antibiotics/bacterial disease… The earth can’t keep up with this. When we choose to eat excessive amounts of meat (or poultry, eggs, dairy), the same thing that happens to our bodies happens to the land and water. Natural balances and cycles are thrown out of whack. Good organisms that perpetuate growth and health disappear, and the bad ones take over. Things become sick and die. The difference is that humans adapt way more quickly than the environment. We can figure out how to deal with illness in a snap, even if it’s not good for us in the long run. But it takes a hell of a lot longer for a forest to grow, or a river to run clean again.
Even if you don’t care about your own health, isn’t it kind of a big deal for future generations to have clean land, air and water? Or to eat food that’s not contaminated? Food is not just food these days. Food has consequences. I know it’s not easily reversible, but it’s not a lost cause. The farmers who are doing things right– raising livestock naturally, avoiding hormones, antibiotics and pesticides, working in sync with nature to perpetuate organic cycles– they need to be supported. I think it’s totally worth it to track down sources that sell pasture-raised animal products. And yes, they will be more expensive. But not only are you paying for something that’s healthier and tastes better, you’re paying for sustainability. And yes, you will probably have to cut back your consumption of these foods due to the cost. But that’s what I was getting at anyway…
Here, I’ll make it easier for you to track down a sustainable burger.