Meat oh Meat, what will you cost?

In continuation of my mulling after watching Cowspiracy….I thought about a friend on Facebook’s comment that swinging to the side of environmentalists to reduce meat production and consumption would negatively impact the economy. The claim started some not-very-researched thoughts going in my brain which I will unload here. YES, if everyone ate less meat then the meat/dairy industry would suffer. BUT, if everyone continued to eat as they do, and more and more of the world start to eat as Americans do, which is happening, then:

  • The obesity epidemic would explode. In Canada it is already estimated to be costing health care some $6+ billion dollars. That’s not including loss in work productivity if workers are on medical leave getting heart bypasses, or suffering from weight related mental health issues, slower in productivity because you just don’t move as quickly carrying the extra weight, as well as all the costs of outfitting workplaces, hospital and emergency room equipment to handle the extra large patients that are becoming more common.
  • Health worker injuries are increasing too as they hurt themselves trying to move large patients.
  • Health insurance gets more costly and companies have to pay more which trickles down to increased costs for consumers.
  • Check out this infographic from Forbes on what the obesity epidemic will cost.
  • I wonder if that’s why more North American companies are hiring foreign workers…they’re healthier, smaller, more nimble, you can fit more into a smaller area increasing productivity per square foot and they’re less of a burden from a health cost perspective.
  • Meanwhile, pollution would continue to increase exponentially thanks to noxious bio-gases released into our air (150 billion gallons of methane per DAY and that’s just from cows) and this sixth mass extinction we’re in could see us into a complete global ecosystem collapse.
  • There could be actual climate wars where population areas with bad climates might want to invade another with better climate (air/water). Didn’t the Syrian crisis start in a similar manner? Climate change drought drove people into already crowded cities, straining everything within, including emotions, and then a trigger set everything off. War always costs more than intended.
  • Then you’d have even more desertification of land due to animal over grazing. Fresh waters will be even more scarce. Oceans become more dead. Air quality will decrease. Cities will become more crowded. Welfare burden would increase. There won’t be enough jobs fast enough. Civil tensions will increase. Population health continues to decrease….and it all just looks more and more bleak from there.

In fact, the only people I can see benefiting would be plus-size home and fashion industry, health insurance companies, diabetes associations, pharmaceuticals and weapons manufacturing. Oh and the meat industries…but only for a short while before the whole system faces a collapse. I’m probably missing others but I don’t think it’s going to be the common public who will benefit economically. I really don’t think the national or global economy will benefit in the long term.

Am I a crazy pessimist? Are there other perspectives I need to consider as to why agribusiness shouldn’t be reigned in to healthier sustainable levels? (Though “sustainable” is something like 2oz of meat per person per WEEK.) 

Meat oh Meat, Why Must I Love Thee?

I recently watched Cowspiracy, a documentary by Kip Andersen whose most recent cut is directed by Leonardo DiCaprio. It blew me away. The case against animal protein has been around for a while. While I’d acknowledge the merits to what they were saying, I’d rationalize and find other justifications to keep eating meat. I know the benefits of eating vegetables over meat…and I don’t consider myself a heavy meat eater anyways. I try to keep to serving sizes as recommended by Health Canada even though I know the recommendations by WHO is actually lower. I also acknowledge there are some awfully inhumane animal processing practices out there, because how else are you going to produce so much meat so cheaply and quickly? So I try to by organic or free range or grass fed where possible (read: convenient). I generally don’t have moral issues with eating animal products. I feel that domestic animals are for human use and consumption, so long as we treat the animal with respect and not take it for granted. Kind of like in Avatar where they thank the animal for giving its life for their food. Plus I’m Cantonese and we take pride in our diversity of food and flavors and ability to use the whole animal whether it is from above ground, on the ground, below ground or in the sea. There is very little wasted. 

But this documentary…wow. Scientists predict fishless oceans by 2048…that’s in my lifetime. I do not want that kind of world for us or Nessness. The numbers behind how much agribusiness negatively and devastatingly impacts our planet just astounds me. It’s not as though you could fudge the numbers and round up and sway the argument in its favor. And it IS very curious that none of our local champions of environment care organizations mentions how eating animal products have a direct impact on our environment. Could it really be that the massive and enormously wealthy animal lobbyist groups have bought everyone out? 

Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land, 20 lbs CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life. – Cowspiracy

If enough of us change from our meat-centered life-styles, these are some real numbers that can actually help the health of the planet more than recycling or conserving water and electricity in your home. But going from meat lover to vegan? Or to vegetarian? Or even in just cutting red meat? I’m struggling. Why didn’t I watch this AFTER I made some ox-tail stew or osso buco or rack of lamb or prime rib roast??? 

I’m working it out…struggling. I might not even be “that bad” in meat consumption (much less than 9oz a day which is the American daily average.) But one thing is certain, I have to change. Question is how? Follow our journey as we try to figure this out.