The Bloody Truth.

The Ethical and Health Aspects of Eating Meat:


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The Dome Season 1, Series 1.

The television series 'The Dome' use this scene as a shock factor in the opening to the program each week.

As the dome came down it cut the cow in half.

Cultural Artefact Analysis

When the image appeared on the first episode of 'The Dome' people tended to turn away in disgust each time this scene was displayed, yet these same people are willing to cut meat with their bare hands and throw it on a BBQ, then consume with sounds of enjoyment.
Humans justify things so they can continue to live in their own happy bubble of ignorance: where the meat on our plate, comes from the supermarket shelf. Humans are happy to not know because with knowledge, we would have to have an opinion and make some moral choices

Should we still be eating animals in 2013.

I'm not going to tell you to stop eating meat as you have free will and can make your own minds up. As meat eaters we should take our heads out of the safety of the kitchen and look at what we are eating. We should educate ourselves on where our food has come from, the process for it to get to us and it's impact on our health and the world environment.
If you're willing to read this report then maybe you're willing to start to make a change. This could be as simple as exchanging one meat meal a week. It's a start and if everyone did that, image how much less meat would need to be produced world wide. I'll let you be the judge.

Nutrients and over-consumpton of meat, Cultural and Social Analysis

Some facts about meat: Meat that we consume is usually the muscle of the animal. The muscle in beef consists of 2% soluble non-protein substances, 75% water, 3% fat and 20% protein. The protein is the main reason meat is seen as important to eat.
When meat is consumed as part of an overall, well balanced diet it can be beneficial as the red meat has unsaturated fatty acids (monounsaturated and poly unsaturated), zinc, vitamin B-12, iron and protein. The unsaturated fatty acids have been linked to lowering cholesterol, aiding in blood clotting inhibiting associated with circulatory disease. Red meat is a high source of zinc which aids the immune system and growth development.
Unfortunately with the good comes the bad and in the case of read meat it is the saturated fats, which can be easily separated from the meat before consumption. Over consumption of read meat is very ingrained in Australia’s culture. As an example of this, in Australia we are known worldwide for our BBQ and although it is shrimp that is usually depicted it is the ‘good old’ steak or ‘snag’ that is draped over the flame. The males of our culture are seen as meat and potatoes men and there is pride taken when a person in a pub can eat a 1kg steak in one sitting. There is often a prize or the meal being free. This promotes the over consumption of red meat. The Cancer Council of Australia recommends between 65g and 100g every three to four days but there is an average of 127g consumed every day of the year in Australia. Due to this overconsumption of meat the rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and colon cancer are at alarming levels. There is also links to show (although not conclusive) that high sodium and iron could also be a cause for cardiovascular disease.
With this evidence we as meat eaters should be considering the amount of read meat we consume in a week and look at the possibility of alternate food options. This does not mean we all need to become vegetarians but it would not kill us (possibly save us) if we ate a little less. I believe the health campaigns around eating meat should show these issues, as smoking has done to show its side effects. This would give the average Mr/Mrs population the information they need to make informed decisions about their eating habits. The irony I see is that politics and money for the meat industry is behind current meat eating trends, so they to neglect these facts but it would ultimately cost governments less by having a healthier population that isn’t sucking money from the healthcare system with over consumption related diseases.
Humane meat for eating…what an oxymoron. If you eat meat an animal has died, that in itself is inhumane. As a society we talk about humane in terms of how the animal is treated during its life and how its death occurs. Attached is a copy of a YouTube clip, which outlines the 5-step Animal Welfare Rating and how these are applied to each area of livestock. As each species has needs, so does each have different life and death restrictions and welfare issues to be addressed. Although these protocols are in place in many countries, there are still countries around the world that either have no regulations or authorities turn a blind eye to the cruelty that exists, because of monitory or political pressures.
In Australia the livestock industry worked hard to have its ‘clean, green, disease free’ image in relation to animal treatment and livestock production. This has given Australia a strong economic advantage in the world market. Meat and Livestock Australia (2012) says Australia produced 4% of the world’s beef equating to about 2.1 million tonnes of veal and beef.
WSPA’s 2012 report: An economic analysis of live cattle exports report states that 14.6% of Australia’s veal and beef being exported to the Middle East is still being exported as live cattle. They have been negotiating with countries who still export/import cattle in this way and are working towards a solution to provide positive outcomes for farmers, and countries economies to resolve any further issues, so a “fresh clean meat from northern Australia” can be branded.

This figure is taken from the WSPA’s (2012) report: An economic analysis of live cattle from northern Australia report page 23 showing the regions in northern Australia that still export live cattle.
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To see a clip on Global Animal Partnership's 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating | WEG | Whole Foods Market
visit http://youtu.be/4_f-O9YTdo8

Livestock production and the impact on the environment.



In 2007, an environmental paper called “Livestock’s Long Shadow” was presented by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in partnership with the United Nations. This paper reviewed impacts of livestock on the environment. It found that livestock is a major cause of many of the environmental issues that the world is facing today. Its issues range from land degradation, water usage, pollution and CO2 emissions, which is directly responsible for a part of the global warming.
The FAO (2007) report brought to light, some interesting and somewhat alarming facts such as:
  • Land degradation from livestock covers 20% of rangeland and 73% of dry land.
  • 470 million hectares of arable land is dedicated to animal feed production.
  • Grazing lands occupy 26% of earth’s surface and is a key factor in deforestation.
  • There is an increase demand for transport to move product at each stage of livestock production, from bringing fertilizers to the farmers for the grain, to feed the livestock, through to the meat being delivered to the local butchers. This increases the use of fossil fuels.
  • Water usage by livestock represents 8% and feed production usage is 90% of total Entropic water. This impacts on water availability and water cycles.

CO2 Emissions

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Emissions that affect global warming are directly relatable to livestock results in an overall contribution of about 2.7 billion tons of CO2 emissions.

Methane released from enteric fermentation and animal manure, results in an overall contribution of about 2.2 billion tons CO2 emissions.

13.5% CO2 emissions from machinery for feed production, livestock rearing and the processing of the livestock such as refrigeration and transport.

Livestock production emissions: 18% Globally
This information is taken from "Livestocks Long Shadow"

Global Warming

Carbon dioxide occurs naturally and works by trapping heat. It largely controls the Earth’s climate. Carbon dioxide levels have consistently been increasing in the Earths's atmosphere for decades. A large contributor to the increase is CO2 emissions from livestock production.
Thornton & Herro (2010) state, scarcity in water and land has a potential to restrict future growth in food production. This will have adverse impacts on the health and well-being for humans and affect food security. Agricultural yields and availability of natural resources such as water limitations will be exacerbated by climate change threatening production.
As economies, appropriately place controls and constraints on carbon emissions in the livestock industry, there will need to be new systems created to mitigate these future emissions. These modifications and controls with new systems for emissions control, will have an affect on livestock production costs

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http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/change/

The map depicts running temperature anomalies, covering 12 month periods, commencing Jan 1920 ending Sept 2013.


Population increase - Land availability.

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12% is in protected areas and 3% is utilised by human settlements and infrastructure.

Much of our land reserve may have characteristics making agriculture difficult, with high soil toxicity or low fertility, increasing diseases incidences. Land reserve also has poor infrastructure, is hilly and has difficult terrain to manage.

The world's population is expected to increase by a further 50% by 2020 and this is the driving force behind the demand for meat and the farming of livestock. As the population increases we will need more land, water and fossil fuels, but consider this, as our population increases so does the demand for meat. To produce this demand for meat, we will need to compete for the land, the water, and the fossil fuels. With only a limited amount of land on earth is there going to be enough to go around for livestock, their feed requirements and humans to live?
Thornton & Herro (2010) indicate that livestock systems will have to rapidly change as a response to human population growth and urbanisation. In the decades to come burgeoning demands in livestock products, natural resources and growth in livestock production will have considerable impacts on our natural resources and climate change.

Deforestation

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This is a snippet in time from 10:28pm until 10:30pm on the 14th October 2013 this clock shows how much deforestation has occurred during this time. To see a rate of deforestation on the "World Forest Clock" from the Center for International Forestry Research 'cifor' at http://www.cifor.org


References


Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations & Livestock, Environment and Development. (2006). Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options. Retrieved from. ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/010/a0701e/a0701e00.pdf‎


Goodland, R., Anhang, J. (2009) World Watch, Climate change, http://www.worldwatch.org/files/pdf/Livestock%20and%20Climate%20Change.pdf


McAfee, A., McSorley, E., Cuskelly, G., Mass, B., Wallace, J., Bonhm, M., & Feron, A. (2009). Red meat consumption: An overview of the risks and benefits. Meat Science, 1-13.

Meat and Livestock Australia Limited. (2011). The Australian Beef Industry: The Basics. Retrieved from http://www.mla.com.au/About-the-red-meat-industry/Industry-overview/Cattle

Thornton, P., Herrero, M. (2010), The Inter-Linkages Between Rapid Growth In Livestock Production, Climate Change, And The Impacts On Water Resources, Land Use, And Deforestation. Development in a changing climate. World Bank Policy Research. Working Paper No. 5178. Doi 10.1596/1813-9450-5178 ISSN: 1813-9450

Tornberg, E., Livsmedelsteknologi, Institutioner vid LTH, Lund University, Food Technology, Lunds tekniska högskola, L., Faculty of Engineering, LTH at Lund University. (2005). Effects of heat on meat proteins – implications on structure and quality of meat products. Meat Science, 70(3), 493-508. doi:10.1016/j.meatsci.2004.11.021

Williams, P. (2010). Australian red meat consumption - implications of changes over 20 years on nutrient composition. University of Wollongong; Faculty of Medicine and Health.

WSPA’s 2012 report: An economic analysis of live cattle from northern Australia ACIL Tasman Economic Policy Strategyhttp://wspaliveexport.org.au/media/6189/live%20cattle%20exports%20in%20the%20north%20of%20australia%20acil%20tasman.pdf