About meat

About meat

Franck WALLET – 10 nov 2015

We recently heard in the news that eating too much meat is probably one of the numerous factors causing cancer. It’s funny how many people who didn’t, for most of them, get into the WHO scientific studies cheerfully criticize it (yes, it may be embarrassing to have to question comfortable and profit-making habits), but I have to say that even if I’m neither a vegetarian nor a scientist, I’m not surprised of this “news” – experts would say they’ve known about it for a while -, in the light of the already well-known major impacts of our meat-eating habits on climate change and food waste.

First, in a world where 800 million people are starving, logic would say that it’d be a good idea to feed Humans before animals. Indeed, 40%1 of the world crops are today designed to animals feeding. The problem is that 2 kg of vegetal proteins must be used to get 1 kg of chicken proteins, 5 kg for 1 kg of pork, and 10kg for 1 kg of beef. This means that when you feed 1 person with beef, you could provide the same amount of proteins for 10 persons, with the crops you gave to the cow. To make this 1kg of beef, the cow also drunk 16 000L of water, that could instead have been drunk by Humans.

But this huge crops waste is not the only aspect of meat over consumption. Animals could, and used to be fed from food not eatable by humans, including industrial and households foodwaste. This is a sane way to give a real value to our waste, by transforming them into meat. But today, the main part of food given to animals comes from soy and corn, mostly grown in South America, on the land of the disappearing Amazonian forest – at the speed of a half-Austria per year. If animals were fed from waste, it would contribute to reserve the crops to Humans feeding, to higher the amount of recycling, and to stop the tropical forest disappearance.

Unfortunately, many laws forbid today the breeders to feed their animals from any waste that may have been in contact with meat, especially after the scandals of foot-and-mouth disease (which can occur when the food for animals is not boiled enough) and mad cow disease (BSE) (which can occur when bovines are fed from meat waste). Our politicians have taken radical decisions to reassure the populations about food security, going far further than what food security requires.

Actually, there would be no risk to give all our food waste, including meat, to pigs, when boiled enough. And this would extremely reduce both hunger in developing countries by making more crops available, and our pressure on the environment. Impulse a change on this point is the goal of the association Feedback’s Pig Idea campaign.

Man is a meat-eater and I’m not pleading here for a world where everyone would become vegetarian. But maybe, if we all reduced by a little our meat – especially beef – consumption, it would be a great benefit both for our health and the planet.

1 – All figures from La grande surbouffe, Bruno LHOSTE (in French) and Uncovering the global food scandal, Tristram STUART