Visualize 8 cattle, 36 sheep, 36 pigs and 550 poultry birds. That’s the number of animals the average person in Britain consumes in a lifetime according to this article in The Guardian. Scarier still is British meat consumption isn’t as high as it is in the USA or Australia.
Meat consumption in the UK is now 50 per cent higher than it was 40 years ago the article says. When you take into account recent increases in other countries where meat features heavily in diets, and then you throw in emerging markets such as China and India, it’s hard to comprehend that many animals being produced and slaughtered for our tables – not to mention the production and slaughter practices themselves are often quite cruel.
The Guardian article states that in Britain alone, 1 million tonnes of beef, 1.3 million tonnes of pork products and 1.8 million tonnes of poultry are consumed annually.
I’m a meat eater, so this isn’t about a vegan bashing those who are yet to be converted :). I’m a sucker for steak, a fool for a fillet and go head over heels for a hamburger. If I could eat meat 3 meals a day, I would (and I have). I once lived on chicken for a month; breakfast, lunch and dinner – and very little else.
Having now established my carnivore credentials, it’s becoming increasingly apparent to me that this is not only unhealthy, I’m likely supporting the inhumane treatment of animals and I’m certainly contributing significantly to environmental problems including deforestation and global warming.
Several studies have pointed the finger at the livestock industry as being the primary culprit for greenhouse gas emissions – more than cars, more than coal. That’s how much meat we eat.
While I’m still pretty much of the belief that we are omnivores and most of us need meat, if we’re serious about greening our lives, then this is an area where many of us can make a difference. I’ve made a few improvements, but still have a really long way to go.
Learn more in my article on cutting meat consumption