Today I will bring you my reflections on meat and animal products backed by some of the science in the field. In reality this article is by no means taking up all angles of how animal products affect the personal, social and planetary wellbeing. That would demand a whole library and beyond. So I urge you to see this as an introduction in my knowledge about the subject. I also urge you to seek your own knowledge and your truth about this.
needed or not?
I don't eat meat, and I haven't done so for several years. What made me move away from eating other animals flesh was really not eating other animal parts. I started to feel uncomfortable eating it. I didn't get satisfied eating it, I felt heavy, lethargic and sometimes a bit sick. So I stopped eating meat. And that was the beginning of my journey towards raw food.
Pretty soon I stopped looking at meat as a food item and that's when I shifted to seeing meat for what it really is, another animals flesh.
Anyway, that's my journey. Yet knowing what I know today (even if I started seeing meat as food again) I wouldn't eat meat. The only exception would be if the world collapsed during winter and all I could find to eat was an animal I had to hunt down myself. These are my arguments for eating less meat and animal products.
1) The protein myth of meat - is is really good and necessary?
Meat is not a good source of protein. Only about 30% of the protein in meat is usable for humans. Besides that we have to break down the proteins to amino acids and then rebuild them to human proteins. Heating the meat makes it coagulate and makes the bindings stronger, i.e. heating the food makes the protein even harder to assimilate for the body. Microwaving the food makes all the protein unusable. On tom of the protein being made unusable by heat, the heat also produce carcinogenic substances in the meat.
Studies also suggest that partial breakdown of animal proteins that end up in the blood stream might induce auto immune diseases due to the bodies immune system marking them as foreign substances. Since they are similar (but not identical) to human protein the immune system then have trouble separating human protein from animal foreign protein and therefor starts attacking the bodies own protein.
Vegetable protein is easier assimilated (especially if eaten raw) and since all vegetables contain protein and even more important - amino acids - getting enough protein is not a problem, not even on a fruitarian diet. Besides, science have proved that we don't need much protein at all. Studies of people around the world have shown that as little as 15 grams per day is a satisfactory intake. That would mean about 60 calories or 3% of the total energy intake on a 2000 calorie diet. Careful investigations by Dr. Max Rubner, director of the Hygienic Institute of the University of Berlin, showed that only 4% of the entire caloric intake had to be in the form of protein. On a 2,500 calorie diet, this is about 100 calories of protein or about 28 grams.(1)
12 grams of protein
Another disturbing thing about animal protein is the casein in milk. Casein makes up about 80% of the protein in cow's milk and is also isolated as glue for it's adhesive ability. In the body the protein creates mucus and thereby constipates the body's elimination channels.
2) Acid overload and disease
One great problem with all animal product is the acids it contains. Today the delicate balance of pH (the measurement of prevalence of hydrogen, H+), or acid/base balance, is being recognized as a strong source of disease by several doctors and universities. Some even claim that this is the source of all disease, dis-ease and even ageing. (2, 3, 4) Acid is related to disease and alkalinity/base is related to health. The body is alkaline by design and acid by function. (2)
Within the human body life is creating waste. These waste products are acids and therefor contributing to disease and ageing. To maintain health and sustain life the body eliminates these acid waste products thru four elimination channels. We detoxify thru breathing, sweating, urination and defecation. Yet if we put acid producing foods into the system the elimination process is being overloaded. If we on top of that put mucus forming foods into the system the system is clogged and it's function is lowered. To protect itself from acidosis the body then stores acids in different ways in the body. These include belly fat, muscles, joints, brain fat, cholesterol on artery walls, and so on. Sometimes it leaks minerals from the body to balance the pH. This might lead to muscular breakdown (magnesium) or osteoporosis (calcium from bones) for example.
The main problem with meat is that it's loaded with acids. Some due to the acid production of the animal itself, some introduced from the lifestyle of the animal. Especially meat from the meat industry is a problem since these animals often live under stress, eat unhealthy foods (not their natural foods) and are being drugged. Acids in animal flesh are (among others) phosphoric acid, sulphuric acid, hydrochloric acid and uric acid.
3) Bacteria and other pathogenic lifeforms
It's a well known fact that animal products often carry disease inducing and sometimes even lethal bacterias, viruses and other pathogenic lifeforms. That is why milk is denatured by pasteurization for instance. (This process unfortunately also makes the milk more acidic.)
Several rapports have shown that meat regularly are contaminated with pathogenic lifeforms. (Sometimes even vegetables are contaminated yet the source is never the vegetable itself since for example salmonella is not a spinach disease but an animal disease.) One showed that 83% of chickens where contaminated with campylobacter, salmonella bacteria, or both. (5)
In a survey done in the state of NY the average white blood cell count per milliliter was 363 000 WBC/ml and the milk contained on an average 24 400 bacterias per ml. And between October 1 1993 and September 30 1998 dairy products was the most commonly recalled product by the FDA. (6) Another study concluded that an average meal with animal products contained between 750 000 000 and 1 000 000 000 pleomorphic pathogenic lifeforms while a vegan dish made from only plant food contained less than 500 pleomorphic pathogenic lifeforms. (3)
It's also been shown in studies that Bovine Leukemia Virus are more prevalent in humans in areas near dairy farms. BLV is thought to cause leukemia in humans. (6)
A 1996 study by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) showed that nearly 80 percent of ground beef is contaminated with disease-causing microbes. The primary source of these bugs is feces. (15)
A recent rapport from USDA concludes that the control of contaminated meat in the US is anything but good. (7) It's heavily contaminated, and not only with bacteria, but with chemicals, antibiotics and veterinary drugs.
"What's truly disturbing about this is that the USDA knows why meat it getting tainted but it's doing nothing about it. In fact, the agency regularly allows toxic meat to make its way to store shelves without even trying to stop it." (7)
In Sweden another problem arose some time ago; the illegal slaughter of horses pumped with drugs (and therefor not allowed to be sold as food). (8)
So the problem with chemical contaminated animal products is not just an American concern, yet it is a widespread practice and the consumer is the one paying, both for the meat and for impaired health. Also having antibiotics in your food (and eventually in yourself) makes bacterias resistant and thereby increasing the risk of "super bacterias".
5) It's the nature of man, isn't it?
A widely accepted guess is that mans brain developed because he started to eat animal proteins. That might be true. Another guess is that because man got smarter he managed to make tools and manage fire, and that made hunting and eating meat possible. Also eating the meat made man feel good (see why below) and full for a longer period of time thereby decreasing the time spent eating. There was never a lack of food, it's just that eating vegetables takes longer time.
is this human nature?
Another interesting thing is all the predator gadgets humans have, like claws, predator teeth, short colon and a need for sleep 12-20 hours per day. No, not really right. We have rather flat teeth that grinds the food, not tear it apart. We chew our food, don't swallow it in whole bites and the main digestion takes place in mouth not the stomach. Also our intestines are way to long for meat elimination and therefor the meat rottens on it's way our creating lots of waste, acid and harmful bacterias. Nothing in our nature ever suggests that humans are made to eat other animals.
6) Happy cows farm, where is that?
I'm sure there are a lot of farms who really take care of their animals, have them grass feed and do not use chemical drugs unless absolutely necessary. And I'm really grateful for the engagement of these people. They are at least caring about the animals, to a certain extent. Yet most animals are grown in hostile environments and never see grass in their whole life.
You can also watch the videos here; http://www.vegsource.com/news/2010/05/happy-dairy-propaganda-vs-undercover-reality-video.html.
Or for a funny (child friendlier) version; http://www.meatrix.com/
7) Peace, love and slaughter
Eating meat will keep man in war, violence and anger. Part of this is chemical; acids making your mindset acid and thereby producing negative thoughts and also indulging in the negative thoughts of the animal, whose chemicals from stress and other negative emotions are released into its flesh. Part is focus and meaning. What does it mean to slaughter an animal, to take a life? When killing it's always always necessary to kill a part of yourself. All things affect each other and everything is connected. Humanism is taking care of other humans, animals and nature. This because all things affect each other. Humanism cannot exist as long as we kill other animals, neither for food, nor for fun.
This is not human; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3adsbkIrdY&feature=related
This cannot create peace, love and understanding in the human world. This creates violence!
Also growing meat is creating hunger around the world. Look at these numbers (9);
Number of people worldwide who will die as a result of malnutrition this year: 20 million
Number of people who could be adequately fed using land freed if Americans reduced their intake of meat by 10%: 100 million
Percentage of corn grown in the U.S. eaten by people:20
Percentage of corn grown in the U.S. eaten by livestock:80
Percentage of oats grown in the U.S. eaten by livestock: 95
Percentage of protein wasted by cycling grain through livestock: 90
How frequently a child dies as a result of malnutrition: every 2.3 seconds
Pounds of potatoes that can be grown on an acre: 40,000
Pounds of beef produced on an acre: 250
Percentage of U.S. farmland devoted to beef production: 56
Pounds of grain and soybeans needed to produce a pound of edible flesh from feedlot beef: 16
This is not a peaceful human way of life. I will never be, even if you gave all your money to the red cross. On top of that, look at this;
I'm sure you are doing all you can, or at least something, to lessen your carbon footprint. That is good. Thou there is one problem about the picture of the problem. At least the one in Al Gore's "An inconvenient truth". There is one big part of the puzzle missing - the meat industry.
These are the facts;
Cows and sheep are ruminants which means their digestion produces much methane, a gas with about 20 times the global warming power per puff than carbon dioxide. It comes out in breath, burps and farts and their manure is also heavy with nitrates which pollute both water and air.(10)
Some interesting statistics have been published showing greenhouse gas emissions could be cut by about 10% if we just changed our eating habits slightly. If we at only 70g of beef and 325g of chicken or eggs in a week, this would leave around 15 million square kilometres of land spare to grow plant based foods for humans. (11)
Also according to a report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock sector generates 18 percent more greenhouse gas emissions, as measured in CO2 equivalent, than the transport sector. It is also a major source of land and water degradation.
When emissions from land use and land use change are included, the livestock sector accounts for 9 percent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities, but produces a much larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases. It generates 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. Most of this comes from manure. And it accounts for respectively 37 percent of all human-induced methane (23 times as warming as CO2), which is largely produced by the digestive system of ruminants, and 64 percent of ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain. (12)
An article on Cutting the carbon says "A recent Cornell University study also concluded that animal protein production requires more than eight times as much fossil fuel energy as production of a comparable amount of plant protein." (13)
So eating meat and dairy adds a heavy load on the ecological system of our planet, which is the the only one of its kind we have and know of. Killing the planet is suicide and homicide from a certain perspective.
Besides the green house effect, growing meat is a highly pollutive business. It's causing land degradation thru overgrazing and followed erosion, that sometimes leads to desertification. The livestock business is among the most damaging sectors to the earth’s increasingly scarce water resources, contributing among other things to water pollution, euthropication and the degeneration of coral reefs. The major polluting agents are animal wastes, antibiotics and hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and the pesticides used to spray feed crops. Widespread overgrazing disturbs water cycles, reducing replenishment of above and below ground water resources. Significant amounts of water are withdrawn for the production of feed. (12)
Meat and dairy animals now account for about 20 percent of all terrestrial animal biomass. (12)
Eating meat obviously is an environmental problem and a problem for the body with acids, bacteria, viruses and chemicals. Yet how does it affect our health then?
The largest ever epidemiological study of older women - the Harvard Nurses Study - concluded that women drinking two glasses of whole milk a day had 67% more risk of heart disease than those drinking no whole milk. (13)
Another study done in 1985 (and pays for by the dairy industry) showed an increased risk of osteoporosis among post-menopausal women who drank extra glasses of milk every day. (6)
Another linked dairy to weight gain, when not balanced with antacids. (6)
Another factor is lactose and casein intolerance, especially among groups that haven't traditionally eaten dairy - Latinos and Afro Americans. Caucasian people seem to tolerate these substances better.
Asthma is highly linked to dairy. (14)
One study looked at the records of more than half a million men and women aged 50 to 71, following their diet and other health habits for 10 years. Women who ate large amounts of red meat had a 20 percent higher risk of dying of cancer and a 50 percent higher risk of dying of heart disease than women who ate less. Men had a 22 percent higher risk of dying of cancer and a 27 percent higher risk of dying of heart disease. That's compared to those who ate the least red meat just 5 ounces per week, or 25g per day. (15)
Science news wrote in article that high protein intake may be associated with increased risk of inflammatory bowel disease, and according to Dr. Robert Young all animal products are acid forming and therefor disease forming. (2)
10) Are you on drugs?
I'm sure reading this have made your mind go crazy, comming up with every possible excuse and explanation to why we should eat meat and cheese and drink the mothers milk of other animals. Here's why!
You are addicted!
Yes, it's true. Eating meat is causing the brain to release dopamine (the body's own morphine) which makes you feel great. And this is why man started to eat meat, and couldn't get of it. Eating nuts creates almost the same response and scientists believe it's the high fat content of the food that gives the reaction. The problem thou is that nuts are only available in season, meat every day.
And dairy is even worse. First of all it contains milk sugar (lactose) which also creates a dopamine reaction, just like all other sugars (especially heat treated, processed and refined). Second, it contains casein which is broken down to pioid peptides (morphine is a opioid substance as well). Casein has been documented to break down to produce the peptide casomorphin, an opioid that appears to act primarily as a histamine releaser. (16) Histamine being the cause of asthma and some say that casomorphin might cause autism.
(2) pH Miracle
(3) Sick and tired
(14) my own experience and testimonials from others
Movies and lectures
Perils of dairy; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJvrlwnEqbs
Omaha lecture; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhaGOiknQQ0 (7 parts)