Certain places around the world have high concentrations of people living 100 years or more. What’s their secret to longevity? They improve their nutrition by regularly eat less meat and more foods with vitamins and minerals such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes (nuts, beans, lentils, etc.). The science is clear: according to the American Heart Association (AHA), eating less meat decreases your chance of heart disease, certain types of cancers, strokes, diabetes, and many other chronic illnesses. One study found that simply eating one additional portion of vegetables per day can slash your risk of heart disease by as much as 11% whereas another found that one additional portion of farmed meat per day can increase your risk of heart disease by as much as 20%. The good news is that plants are jam packed with all the protein you need: 1 cup of black beans, lentils, and peanuts, has a whopping 42, 18, and 38 grams of protein respectively. Plus, you likely need less protein than you think: the average person consumes nearly 100 grams of protein per day, twice as much as the recommended amount (50 grams) for most healthy individuals. Together, these plant-based sources of protein provide a healthy dose of fiber and lower cholesterol, promoting regular bowel movements and regulating blood sugar levels. The take home message: eat less meat and more nutritious foods to live a longer and healthier life.
Did you know that meat production significantly pollutes our water and air and is responsible for all sorts of human health issues? One study found that children living near factory farms have a rate of asthma nearly three times above the national average; adults in the area had life expectancies lower by as much as a decade. These findings aren’t that surprising given that the odor from swine manure contains over 300 separate chemical compounds. Factory farms produce an estimated 500 million tons of manure each year - more than three times the sewage produced by the entire U.S. human population. These vast quantities of manure are stored in massive cesspools and often leak into adjacent waterways, releasing nitrates, dangerous microbes, and drug-resistant bacteria into local streams and rivers. High levels of nitrates in drinking water can cause spontaneous abortions and blue baby syndrome. Factory farms can also release harmful compounds like hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, and methane that can cause skin rashes, breathing problems, and headaches, while long-term exposure can lead to severe neurological problems. Eating less meat is a great way to help the communities who are most at risk and to support other industries that minimize harm to human health.
Leads to fewer Diseases
Livestock and poultry production use 80% of all antibiotics sold in the United States. Most of the animals that receive these antibiotics are not even sick. Rather, they are given these drugs to promote fast growth and as a replacement for healthy living conditions. In order to counteract the effects of an unnatural diet (which often includes the ground remains of those animals who had recently died), these animals are given constant doses of antibiotics. This steady stream of antibiotics contributes to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and superbugs that are difficult to eliminate. By eating these animals in high quantities, we repeatedly subject ourselves to these resistant strains of bacteria that may cause unpleasant and dangerous infections.
mitigates World Hunger
Meat production is in part responsible for global world hunger - the nearly 1 billion people who are malnourished and the millions of children that starve to death every year. Farm animals require a lot of food and produce very little food in return. For example, a cow consumes 20 pounds of feed in order to produce 1 pound of flesh; 5 pounds of wild fish are needed to raise 1 pound of farmed salmon or tuna. If all food crops were fed directly to humans instead of animals, around 70% more food would be added to the world’s supply, which would be enough to feed 4 billion additional people. That sudden surplus alone would be enough to feed over half of the humans on earth, let alone the nearly 1 billion who face hunger every day. The wasting of meat during production, transportation and consumption only exacerbates the problem. For example, 200 million pounds of dead fish and other marine animals are discarded daily as unintended “bycatch.” Eating less meat helps support more efficient food production processes that have greater return on investment.
Supports Workers' Rights
Those who work on factory farms are usually those most easily exploited: immigrants, the poor, and children. Not only is their exploitation unethical, but also extremely dangerous for their well-being. Killing animals is inherently dangerous work, but the fast pace, filthy killing floors, and lack of training make working at a slaughterhouse the most dangerous factory job in America.
Nearly one in three slaughterhouse workers suffers from illness or injury every year, compared to one in ten workers in other manufacturing jobs; the rate of repetitive stress injury for slaughterhouse employees is also 35 times higher. Employees who are injured at work are often fired if they take time off or try to file health insurance or worker’s compensation claims. As a result, workers often don’t report their injuries and attempt to continue working, only exacerbating their condition.
Factory farms and slaughterhouses set up shop in the poorest regions of the U.S., where they can use poor and uneducated people to work for low wages. The meat production industry often lures illegal immigrants far away from their homes with false promises of good jobs, knowing that these undocumented workers will likely not report unsafe conditions for fear of being deported.