The Paw Print
In the average American home meat is eaten so excessively that it is not only causing health problems, but potentially also taking away our very humanity. Let’s consider an average typical American breakfast, which may contain eggs, pancakes, hash browns, bacon, and maybe even some sausage. This meal has probably been on every American’s table at some point in their lives. How about lunch? We have a club sandwich; what is going to be on it? How about some chicken, turkey, ham, maybe even some pepperoni, a little bit of lettuce, onion and tomato? I’m sure we’ve all eaten this exact same sandwich. What will be served for dinner? A chicken fried steak, perhaps, or maybe there will be burgers on the grill. Let’s add up the math. That’s two servings of pig for breakfast, a turkey, a chicken, and two more pigs for lunch, and to top it off some cow for dinner. There’s the potential to eat seven servings of animal in just one day. This is not including the beef jerky being snacked on between meals and gummy candies with gelatinous bone marrow that will be enjoyed for dessert. These habits are the perfect breeding ground for obesity, disease, infection, and even depression. Now consider what it takes to keep this constant supply of meat flowing. Is all the suffering worth that Philly cheese steak?
According to an article by Eliza Barclay, in the past decade meat consumption overall in the U.S. has risen drastically from 9.8 billion pounds of meat consumed per year to a stunning 52.2 billion pounds per year. Broken down further, the average American annually consumes about sixty pounds of beef, sixty pounds of chicken, forty-five pounds of pork, and around sixteen pounds of turkey. That’s a whopping total of 181 pounds of meat consumed by just one person per year. The USDA website provides data explaining that in order to supply this demand we slaughtered around 31.8 million head of cattle in the year 2013. Eliza explains that this number has dropped significantly with the inclusion of hormones and other methods farmers use to have larger cows, which means less slaughter. Unfortunately to keep up with our constant demand for meat, breakfast, lunch and dinner, we have to go through some barbaric methods.
David Kirby writes in great detail the daily gruesome experiences that can be witnessed in factory farms. A factory farm is an industrial corporation that can supply dairy, eggs, and meat on an extremely large scale. This leaves animals in tight, unsanitary spaces. They are left crammed together in small cages and small pens, unable to move freely and often getting into bloody battles as they literally fight to stay alive. Unfortunately, for the majority of meat being distributed throughout America, the animals walk through fecal matter, infecting their battle wounds. They get abused and beaten as they are forced to head toward slaughter. Animals should not be left in such tight quarters. They should not have to fight to survive massive overcrowding and fecal contamination just to face abuse by their handlers before they face their slaughter. The best way we can give animals freedom of space to roam around is by shortening the demand, simply opting to order the eggplant parmesan rather than the chicken parmesan.
Vegetarian Nutrition, edited by Joan Sabate, is a book that explains about maintaining proper nutrition while cutting meat out of the diet. Studies have proven that on average for both men and women, their body mass indexes increase as the frequency of consuming meat increases. This leads to the theory that the rising overindulgence of meat may give clue to the rising number of obese Americans. Obesity increases the risks of a number of other chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia and certain types of cancer.
Now on a code of health and morals I believe the increase in depression that is generally associated with the increase of obesity and other health factors could be caused simply by the ingestion of trauma. After an animal has lived its entire life knowing nothing but pain and suffering, just to be killed and consumed, how could it then be “clean” for consumption?
I personally have not consumed meat in over four years, and though I will never forget what a Philly cheese steak tasted like, I have no desire to pick one up any time soon. Having suffered through severe depression throughout my life and struggling with many illnesses, including fibromyalgia, I believe turning vegetarian has greatly improved my life. I still suffer from pain and from time to time I still go through depression waves, yet I must admit that in total I believe myself to feel much healthier, more active, and feel less daily pain.
Americans do not need to stop eating meat entirely and it would be crazy for a young woman like me to ask. Cutting back in the massive amounts of meat we eat could be a cure to the obesity and depression we face on a regular basis. Mankind was able to survive on much less than what we have been engorging ourselves with in recent years and we may need to revert back before we as a species allow ourselves to become riddled with obesity, disease, infection, and depression. Health foods such as spinach, broccoli, and asparagus have become a rarity in the kitchen and we need to reincorporate them into our dishes. Growing food fresh and consuming it straight out of the garden is far better for us spiritually and physically. The issue is whether more Americans will be willing to cut back and put down the steak and pick up a salad.