I hope you’ve been able to participate in meat-conscious week. I know your diet choices may not seem like an obvious environmental cause, but the meat industry is incredibly resource intensive. Food, water, land, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and energy are all necessary for producing meat on the scale that the ‘Western diet’ requires. I have a hard time blaming the producers for using cheap corn, laced with antibiotics, on huge feedlots. They have the daunting task of supplying 112 million pounds of meat to the United States every day, over half of which is beef (USDA’s 2012 food intake estimate). This demand is outrageous, and there is an increasing body of evidence that consuming this amount is unhealthy.
The Mayo Clinic found that, in a study of half a million people, those who ate four ounces of meat or more (the national average is 5.7 ounces –USDA) every day were 30 percent more likely to die in 10 years for any reason than those who ate less.
Personal benefits aside, large-scale animal production requires large amounts of resources. In 2007, J. L. Capper tallied the resources required in beef production and published it in the Journal of Animal Science. He found that 5.7 ounces of beef requires 10 pounds of grain, 75 gallons of water and 1500 British thermal units of fossil fuels, enough to run a microwave for a half hour. Can we afford to use these resources on an unnecessary food source on every person, every day?
-SB Loder, Sustainability Coordinator