För ett bra tag sedan så skrev jag en artikel om djurhållning och om hur köttätande påverkar både människors och djurs liv. Ju längre jag kom i skrivandet och ju mer jag läste på om ämnet, så märkte jag att jag har gjort rätt i mitt val att bli vegan. För det är inte bara köttkonsumtionen som påverkar djurs (och även människors) liv negativt, utan även mejerikonsumtionen i form av mjölk, ägg, yoghurt osv. Jag höll föredrag om det jag hade skrivit och den gruppen människor som lyssnade på det jag sa blev både förvånade och lite rädda. Rädda för att de inte visste hur mycket det vi äter påverkar miljö, hälsa och djurliv. Så nu när det gått en tid sedan jag skrev det här, tänkte jag att det kanske var på tiden att publicera texten här på bloggen. Så att alla kan få läsa. Det är skrivet på engelska, men det går alltid att översätta med hjälp av olika program som finns på nätet, med observation för dålig kvalité!
The Animal Issue
When we think of farms, we see a picture of a country environment, barns and loads of hay, green grass and, of course, happy animals. This is the picture of a family farm, which in the US is quite a rare phenomenon. Only 1 % of farmed animals in America are allowed to live in this picturesque vision that most of us have (1). Have you ever thought about how for example the chicken breast that you buy can be so cheap? Well, in short it’s because it is factory farmed.
Less than a century ago animal agriculture was everyday life for most people; maybe they had some hens from which they got eggs used for own consumption. The first factory farm was an attempt to farm large amounts of broilers (about 500 pieces), selling them while still young, at affordable prices (2). What Celia Steele, who invented this whole industry, didn’t know, was that this kind of farming soon would become a worldwide industry, threatening the animal welfare and also the people who eat this processed food – in the form of dairy products and meat.
So, what are the consequences of eating factory farmed animals? First of all I think we have to sort out what a factory farm really is. Jonathan Safran Foer, author and journalist, has in his book, ”Eating Animals”, a whole chapter about the meaning of words. He writes the following about factory farming:
This term will sure fall out of use in the next generation or so, either because there will be no factory farms, or because there will be no family farms to compare them to. (3)
What really happens in factory farms is hard to investigate, because these places often have barbed wire-covered fences and big padlocks hanging on the doors of the ”barns”. Today it is not the amount of 500 broilers anymore, but up to 10 sheds, often without windows, each holding 25,000 birds (4). With this said, and I’ve only mentioned the lives of poultries, you can imagine how the lives of cows, pigs and other ”edible” animals look like.
To make farming as affordable and profitable as possible the animals are given antibiotics, growth hormones and other drugs to reduce their pain and make them grow faster. The shortness of these creatures’ lives makes the meat that you’re buying cheaper and cheaper. The thing is that the drugs that are put into the animal feeds remain in the meat you eat (5), and these facts make the issue of eating factory farmed animals even more interesting. Statistics show that meat consumption has a strong connection to today’s top killing diseases: heart disease, cancer and stroke (6). But the effects of eating the vast majority of farmed animals don’t end there. The hormones in dairy and meat are making children enter puberty earlier than ever, girls at the age of 7 to 12 years old, and boys at the age of 9 to 14 (7), compared to the 1800’s when the age of puberty was around 15 and 17 years of age (8). What the scientists who conducted one of these studies in Michigan saw was that it is toxic chemicals and hormones that lead to this premature puberty, which is found in dairy, fish and meat (9).
The environment is another subject that the “animal issue” concerns. It is often said that growing soybeans is a big cause of the destruction of the world’s rainforests (10). This is often an argument from meat eaters who are skeptical of vegetarianism. What they don’t know is that no one eats as much soy as carnivores do, and that is because cows, pigs and poultries are fed with soy and corn. It takes up to 6 to 26 calories to make 1 calorie of meat. As most people know, cows are built to ruminate and eat grass, which humans cannot do. By keeping the bovines inside, in factories, feeding them corn and soy (which are foods very suitable for human consumption), we make it extremely unsustainable when the facts show that 98 % of soy crops go to livestock. (11). If we started to use these resources of crops to fight world hunger, we would probably succeed.
Some people wonder how vegetarians and vegans can stay healthy without eating protein. First of all, protein does not have to come from meat. Many protein resources come from beans, grains, nuts, wheat and greens. And second, vegetarians are often very thoughtful about what they eat and make sure to have a good variety in their diet. The ADA (American Dietic Assosiation) claims that “Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for all individuals during all stages of life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.” (12)
The choices that we make every day have big effects on the life of animals, future generations (today’s children), the environment and ourselves. Many people think that it’s a choice of all or nothing. But it’s not. It’s not a question of excluding things from your life; instead it’s a question of including things. It is always better to do something instead of nothing. You don’t even have to be a vegetarian. If everyone in the US removed one serving of meat every week, replacing it with a vegetarian option instead, it would have the same effect as taking 5 million cars off the roads (13). On the whole it’s all about thoughtfulness and caring, and as Jonathan Safran Foer said at a conference in Washington D.C. 2009: “Caring is a muscle. The more we use it, the stronger it gets, the better we get at caring.” This is what matters. And maybe, to make a change, all we have to do is to start growing that muscle.
1. J. S. Foer, Eating Animals p. 12 and 271, 2009
2. http://www.sussexcountyde.gov/about/history/events.cfm?action=broiler, viewed 10th of February 2011
3. J. S. Foer, Eating Animals p. 59, 2009
4. J. S. Foer, Eatng Animals p. 85, 2009
5. http://www.sustainabletable.org/issues/hormones/, viewed 13th of February 2011
6. J. S. Foer, Eating Animals p. 143, 2009
7. http://www.livestrong.com/article/161596-what-causes-early-puberty-in-children/, viewed the 17th of February 2011
8. http://www.meditationexpert.com/blog/2010/06/the-age-of-puberty-has-dropped-further/, viewed the 17th of February 2011
9. http://www.livestrong.com/article/161596-what-causes-early-puberty-in-children/, viewed 17 of February 2011
10. http://www.grist.org/article/growing-demand-for-soybeans-threatens-amazon-rainforest, viewed 17th of February 2011
11. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHdf7MkGmg4&feature=player_embedded), viewed 3rd of August 2010
12. http://www.eatright.org/search.aspx?search=vegan&type=Site, viewed 18th of February 2011
13. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHdf7MkGmg4&feature=player_embedded, viewed 3rd of August 2010