1)WHY KILL A HUGE NUMBER OF LIVING BEINGS?
FAO estimates quantify that every year approximately 50 billion animals worldwide are killed for dietary purposes, excluding fish and other sea animals (100 billion).
In detail, chickens (45.9 billion), ducks (2.3 billion), pigs (1.2 billion), rabbits (857 million), turkeys (691 million), geese (533 million), sheep (515 million), goats (345 million), cows (292 million), rodents (65 million), birds (63 million), horses (4 million), donkeys and mules (3 million), camels and dromedaries (2 million).
We’re talking about approximately 400 million animals that are killed every day to please our palate, with a global consumption of meat that has increased five times, from 45 million tonnes per year in 1950 to 300 millions in 2015.
2) WHY CAUSE UNSPEAKABLE SUFFERING TO A HUGE NUMBER OF LIVING BEINGS?
If we want to breed billions of animals per year (600 million in Italy alone) in extremely urbanized countries and supply low-cost products the answer is just one: crushing the animals in the smallest possible area to get the highest production rate in the least possible time (through genetic selection, enriched feeds and night-day cycle shifts to induce animals to eat more often). In these places the “well-being of animals” is also minimized, while their suffering increases exponentially.
3) WHY IS WORLD HUNGER CLOSELY LINKED TO OUR CONSUMPTION OF MEAT?
On World food day, on the Spanish Steps in Piazza di Spagna, Rome, Save the children installed 155 black cut-outs of children, just like 155 million children are suffering from malnutrition worldwide. “Three millions starve to death every year – explains Filippo Ungaro, Head of Communications and Campaigning of the NGO. The others risk severe physical and cognitive developmental delays
Every day 870 million people go to sleep on an empty stomach. Approximately one eighth of the world population lives in these conditions.
Contrary to what people normally think, there’s a link between the condition of this eighth of the population and meat production.
Currently we already grow enough food for approximately 10 billion people. The entire world population amounts to approximately 7.5 billion people, but almost one billion can’t afford to buy food: these dramatically high figures explain why, today, access to food is one of the main problems that vex our planet.
What does all this have to do with meat consumption?
Usually such a simple question would be followed by a complex answer. We promise that this won’t be the case.
The problem of world hunger is a problem of resources, not because of scarcity (we have already mentioned how we already grow more than enough food for the current world population), but because of their poor distribution.
Let’s start from an indisputable set of data: if we look at the ratio between resources used and food output, breeding doesn’t compare in the least to farming. There’s no type of animal that can produce the same amount of food that we could obtain, using the same resources, from farming.
This is because of a very simple mechanism: in order to produce food from animal sources, we have to use huge quantities of plant-based food. It takes months or years to breed animals in our farms and to do it we have to use huge quantities of feed. This feed needs to be grown.
The most sceptical will be turning up their nose, thinking how plant-based and animal foods have completely different characteristics and maybe the most popular argument will be the different protein performance of these foods. Let’s dispel this myth now.
One acre of land (equal to a little less than half a hectare) used for the production of animal food produces on average 9000 grams of proteins. If on the same area of land legumes are grown, it produces on average 166,000 grams of proteins, as much as eighteen times intensive breeding.
There’s water, but here again the problem is its unfair distribution. 92% of water is used by human beings for the production of food.
One third of this water is used to grow animal-based food: it is used to water feed plots, to process feed, as drinkable water for animals and eventually also for farming facilities.
As mentioned above for lands, water is also a finite resource and as such, especially in a condition in which approximately one eighth of the population doesn’t have access to drinkable water, it should be managed conscientiously. This doesn’t happen now.
The water footprint is a parameter that quantifies consumption and methods of use of water resources. It is measured in volume (litres) of fresh water that is drunk, evaporated or polluted during the life cycle of a product and also considers the place of taking.
An example: in order to make a hamburger we use the equivalent of two months of showers in our flat.
We live in a paradoxical age. We grow enough food for 10 billion people, but more than one seventh of the world population suffers from hunger and thirst. How can all this be possible?
Simple: if we want to keep eating meat, in these quantities and at this output rate, someone else shouldn’t or, even worse, someone else shouldn’t have access to the resources they need.
The sad truth is that the more meat we eat the less will be available for the poorest people of the planet.
One person who eats meat appropriates on average resources that, if evenly distributed, would be enough for five or ten people. Eating meat means creating a dramatic inequality: I can afford to eat a food that is five, ten times costlier than what you eat.”
In this scenario, we have two options: turning a blind eye and pretending to know nothing about all this, or deciding to be part of the change every day by reducing or, better still, completely removing animal-based products from our food habits.
As a consequence, not only will we fight inequality of food distribution, but also the unspeakable suffering inflicted to animals in intensive farming and the damage that this food production system causes to our planet.
The future is not set: it’s all in our hands and in our ability to actively partake in collective processes of change that improve everyone’s future. Humans, animals and the environment.
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