Mmmmm MEAT! Eeeeewww MEAT!
I know, I know…it sure tastes good. Juicy steaks, BBQ chicken, turkey dinners, ham sandwiches. Who can deny the primal and sensual appeal of meat to many of us? But the problem seems to be that we’re just getting too darn much of a good thing…way too much. In fact, according to a recently published article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, people will have to substantially cut meat from their diets if the world is to stay within safer limits of planet-warming greenhouse gases, nitrate pollution and habitat destruction.
The fact is that the sustainability of current means of livestock production is seriously in doubt. The study finds that livestock production will consume a huge portion of the earth’s resources and account for high levels of pollution by 2050.
“We need to look at how much animal protein is needed in our diet,” said the report author Peter Tyedmers. “In Australia, in North America, in Europe, we consume a lot more animal protein than we need biologically.”
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), humans are on track to eat 465 million tonnes of meat and consume more than 1 billion tonnes of milk in 2050, up from 229 million and 580 million tonnes respectively, in 2000. And according to PETA, every year in the U.S., more than 27 billion animals are slaughtered for food.
Wait a minute…did I read that correctly? 27 billion animals per year are killed for meat production in the U.S. alone? That’s the equivalent of roughly 74 million per day or 3 million deaths each and every hour. That statistic alone seems absolutely mind-boggling. And lets remember that, even when they are alive, most of these animals endure conditions in factory farms that would make us shudder with disgust.
Yet if all this weren’t enough, the Dalhousie study points out livestock production will account for 70% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, up from 52% in 2000. “We have to think about how we can change consumption patterns,” says Pelletier, “It doesn’t necessarily mean we stop producing livestock. I don’t think that’s realistic, but it’s equally unrealistic to expect that we can bring the entire planet up to the level of meat consumption of North Americans.”