Monday, December 6, 2010

Problems In the United States-Overconsumption of Meat

When you see meat in grocery markets or restaurants, what does it mean to you? For some Americans, it can be an indulgence, or even a necessity. For others, it is a reminder of the animals they once were, standing as the justification for their meatless lifestyle. Surprisingly, few realize those pieces of meat are just a few out of billions that contribute to the rapidly increasing overconsumption and overproduction of meat in the United States.

Overconsumption itself is a large problem within the United States. It is branched into two main issues—health and demand. While the health issues that accompany the overconsumption of meat are quite straightforward. The overconsumption of meat increases the chances of developing diabetes. In addition, it raises both blood pressure and cholesterol, which in turn raises the chances of heart attack, stroke, and even obesity. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) even discovered that antibiotics and hormones found within meat is a leading cause of cancer! For instance, John Wayne, the beloved actor and American icon, was 72 years old when he died of stomach cancer. Autopsy reports revealed that at the time of death, he had large amounts of compacted fecal matter, or a build up of waste, as a result of meat overconsumption and bad eating habits, lodged in his colon. Clearly, this is an obvious sign of the dangers afflicted by meat upon the human body.

The global demand for meat has multiplied in recent years, and show no signs of receding. According to the Organic Consumers Association, the world’s total meat supply in 1961 was 71 million tons. Just 46 years later in 2007, it was an estimated 284 million tons. That is over four times the count from five decades ago. If one looks at the United States, the increase in meat consumption is even more prominent. Recent studies on Earth Trends reveal that the average American consumes about 222 pounds of meat annually. The average Canadian, however, consumes about 137 pounds annually, nearly a hundred pounds less than the average American. Canada is right above the United States also! The average African consumes a mere 57 pounds annually, that is 4 times less than the average American. As you can see, the overconsumption of meat in the United States is unrivaled, and as a result the meat market is being over pressured to increase it's output.

Furthermore, the meat production in the United States has a devastating effect on the environment, in the forms of pollution and ozone depletion. The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that livestock production generates nearly a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases— even more than that of which is caused by transportation. The pollution is mainly produced through methane gas released from livestock, and the pastures that are destroyed through grazing. Just last year, a study conducted by the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Japan estimated that 2.2 pounds of beef emits the same amount of carbon dioxide as an average European car every 155 miles, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days. However, Greenhouse gasses aren’t the only effects caused by meat production that affect the environment. Tainted agriculture in the United States contributes to nearly three-quarters of all water-quality problems in the nation’s rivers and streams, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Livestock waste pollutes most of all available groundwater, contaminating more than 100,000 square miles annually. This poses a huge threat to human health and safety as most of our drinking water comes from groundwater. With our health and environment at risk, we must take action to prevent this national problem from spreading into the international community. Thus I advocate the following two part legislative plan.

Step one, implement a 10 percent tax on meat similar to the one imposed on cigarettes. The luxury item tax discourages the over purchase of items such as tobacco. Similarly, if we enact the same law upon meat, but in moderation, it will not only discourage people from buying too much meat, but also provide a rational budget solution for the United States. With a drop in demand, companies will have less incentive to provide as much meat and thus lower overproduction, which in turn lowers overconsumption.
And step two, educate the youth more about the overconsumption and overproduction of meat. In its peak year, the '5 a Day Vegetable Campaigns' total advertising budget in all media was a mere 2 million dollars, while McDonald's spent over 1.4 Billion dollars. It is clear that the focus on advertising is aimed in the wrong direction. Children are being taught and encouraged to eat unhealthy foods and too many meat products. It is essential we educate youth earlier on about healthier options. Instead of focusing solely on meat or vegetables, advertising and education should focus on a balance so that children may live overall healthier lifestyles.

The overconsumption of meat is a growing problem, and needs to be addressed immediately. If not, the environmental and health issues that plague our society will not only stay, but increase even more, year by year. As more and more people consume meat products, the environmental and health risks increase as well. We as consumers have the choice in what we eat, and how we live our lives. We are a nation that prides itself on being bigger and better, but how big is too big, how much is too much? In essence, where do we draw the line? It is clear, that we must draw it here and now, so that we, as a nation, can prevent our meat from biting back.

Most of the information above I used for a school presentation, so the language may be a bit sophisticated xD Please try to cut down on meat from here on out, it would really help our nation a lot :)


1 comment:

  1. Many of the above "facts" can be very easily rebutted as false statements and are more opinions than anything else.


Please refrain from using R rated language. Thanks :)

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