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The True Cost of Meat
Posted 29 August 2007
Meat and milk prices are set to rise because the worldwide price of grain has increased. Floods, droughts and the increased use of grain for biodiesel are driving these prices skyward. But the underlying insanity in a world where millions go hungry is that so much land, labour and money is devoted to growing crops for farmed animals instead of using these resources to provide food for people to eat.
Animals are inefficient converters of grain into protein and much food is lost in the process. The UN World Food Council has estimated that transferring ‘ten to fifteen per cent of cereals now fed to livestock is enough to raise the world’s food supply to feed current levels’ of the human population. According to Lester Brown, the past president of the Worldwatch Institute, ‘Those who consume livestock products and fish are competing directly with those who need grain for food’.
Already, demand for plentiful supplies of cheap animal products has given the green light to farmers to intensify production. Tens of thousands of chickens, pigs and even dairy cows are permanently confined inside huge sheds. Their suffering is immense.
That farming livestock is responsible for 18 per cent of global greenhouse emissions is well documented but rarely acted on. Animal farming actually contributes more to global warming than all the cars, planes and trains in the world combined.
The farming industry is also incredibly wasteful of land and water, and contributes to rain forest destruction and desertification.
All this destruction is to produce products that no one needs but that are linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some types of cancers.
And yet the demand for meat continues. Are we really prepared to pay this price?