Debate10 facts many don't want to know

10 facts many don’t want to know

Reading time: 3:45min | The following 10 paragraphs deal with facts on meat.

These facts are based on scientific research (what else) of international or national organisations such as WHO, FAO, the RKI and others. There are, of course, many more facts waiting to be unearthed on that subject, but these are my favourite ones that paint a balanced picture of the many issues meat production and meat consumption causes.

1) The FAO, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, found in its 2015 study that the production of meat and other animal products has been rising about 8% from 2004 to 2014, and account for approx 15.8% of global annual greenhouse gas emissions. That’s more than the worldwide air and sea traffic (together 3.6%) and road transport (11,9%) combined.

2) Germany is a highly developed agricultural country with the most efficient meat industry in the world. Although Germany’s soils belong to the best in the world and over 50% of the country is in farmer’s hands, we cannot feed our cattle and ourselves entirely on our own. More than 20% of the German pasture’s protein (e.g. soy) must be imported from overseas, where it causes harmful monocultures and social disruption.

3) Every year, roughly 55 million pigs are slaughtered in Germany. After 5 to 6 months of life, such a pig weighs about 110 kilograms when it is sent to the block. This is roughly the equivalent to the whole German population in terms of biomass. Besides, there are over 11 million cattle and more than 700,000,000 chickens, plus turkeys, sheep, etc. The environmental pollution caused by animal production is so high that, in a European context, Germany leads the nitrate pollution ranking (if one disregards Malta whose population is 0.6% of the German people).

4) Industrial meat production requires many tons of antibiotics every year (over 700 tonnes alone in Germany) to keep the animals healthy (if that term is appropriate in the context of industrialised animal mass incarceration). These antibiotics make certain germs resistant due to their sheer quantity. If such bacteria attack us and make us ill, they can no longer be controlled with antibiotics. Germany, as have many other countries, has been fighting an uphill battle with deadly germs in hospitals for quite some time without much success, leading to approx. 20.000 deaths per year, affecting mostly the old and feeble fellow citizen. That is an eight times higher death toll than the German annual traffic causes. Insufficient hygienic rules play a role, but the sword antibiotics become blunter by the time.

5) Zoonoses are diseases that spread from animals to humans and, depending on the virus, can be harmless or fatal. Typical zoonoses include Covid-19, Herpes-B, Ebola, yellow fever, noroviruses, SARS, swine flu, rabies and many other infectious diseases. Our extensive meat production significantly promotes zoonoses, as we learn from the news repeatedly when hundreds of thousands of animals are culled again. Zoonoses can trigger pandemics such as Covid-19 which has turned out to be an unprecedented threat to humanity on so many levels.

6) Harald zur Hausen, Nobel Prize laureate and discoverer of the Papillion virus as a trigger for cervical cancer and, through his research, the saviour of millions of women, estimates the consumption of red meat (pig and beef) as a cause for cancer. Prof. zur Hausen is not a vegetarian.

7) President Bill Clinton was put on a meatless diet by his doctors at the beginning of his 2nd term of office. Otherwise, his high blood pressure and blood fat levels could not have been lowered. Meat consumption promotes cardiovascular disease, which is a pandemic of its own.

8) The Roman legion ruled the world for 600 years and was the most successful army in history. Most of the time, Roman legionnaires lived from a quasi-vegan diet of puls and panis (porridge of pulse and cereal and bread). An extensive cattle caravan wasn’t feasible for costs and logistical reasons. But if they had the opportunity, they went hunting or bred livestock at their forts. Even gladiators, an expensive hobby of the Roman rich, were fed primarily on lentils despite huge budgets as scientific analyses of unearthed bones prove. Today, the ranks of top athletes that prefer a vegan diet are growing by the day. Meatless nutrition is just as natural to humans as purely meat-based nutrition (e.g. Inuit).

9) Only a small fraction of global livestock reaches the biological age limit. Most of the animals only are allowed to live 5-10% of their possible life span; even dairy cows only get about 25% of their life span. The short life of these animals is hell on earth, the legal protection of animals a farce, as we have all learned a thousand times from the media (but tend not to care).

10) Meat is considered to be a dominant supplier of critical vitamin B12. Still, since quite some time it’s possible to produce B12 by other means. There are a plethora of supplements on the market. Rationally speaking, are we going to go through all this trouble, environmental damage, health risks and moral brutalisation just for this one vitamin?