Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Beef, It’s What’s for Suckers

Eating meat isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But the way Americans go about it is downright stupid, according to a new feature at the NY Times.

If you’re an American, you probably eat 110 grams of protein. That’s double the FDA’s recommended allowance. And well beyond the 30 grams of protein you need to stay fit (which you could easily get from plant-based sources like nuts, olives, avocados, etc).

Most of the 80 unnecessary grams of protein an American eats in a day come from animals (around 75 grams). That’s equal to about eight ounces of meat consumption per day and close to 200 pounds per year. To feed that completely unnecessary appetite, we need to slaughter about ten billion animals annually.

So what? According to the Times, the super-massive, completely unnecessary, consumption of meat is responsible for “deforestation, pollution, climate change, starvation, heart disease.”

How could this be? A couple of reasons…
  • “Livestock production generates nearly a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases — more than transportation.”
  • “In Iowa alone, factories and farms produce more than 50 million tons of excrement annually.”
  • “30 percent of the earth’s ice-free land is directly or indirectly involved in livestock production.”
  • “2.2 pounds of beef is responsible for the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the average European car every 155 miles.”
  • “Agriculture in the US -- much of which now serves the demand for meat -- contributes to nearly three-quarters of all water-quality problems in the nation’s rivers and streams.”
That last point is an important one. It takes a lot of grain to feed animals. In fact, you have to feed two to ten grain calories to an animal in order to get one calorie of meat.

Take beef, which is on the high end, for example. Remember American eat eight ounces of meat per day. Eight ounces of
top sirloin is 1,325 calories. To create that, you need 13,250 plant calories, or enough sustenance for five days.

Meanwhile, “800 million people on the planet now suffer from hunger or malnutrition,” according to the Times.

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