It was roughly two years ago when my sister-in-law, who has been a vegetarian for a couple of years now, asked me:
“How often do you eat meat?”
Such a simple question, yet something I hadn’t thought about much. The reality was that my husband and I usually consumed meat several times a day. Cold cuts for breakfast or lunch, protein and some sort of side dish for dinner. Chicken was one of the default items on my weekly shopping list and something we always had in the fridge or freezer. Every takeaway dish we ordered included meat – chicken curry, pepperoni pizza or pork fried rice.
Don’t get me wrong, I truly enjoy eating meat and would choose steak over salad in a heartbeat. However, I didn’t appreciate the fact that an animal had to die for me to enjoy my steak. Obviously, I was aware of it but I didn’t think about it much.
The horrors of modern factory farming
What is factory farming?
a system of rearing livestock using highly intensive methods, by which poultry, pigs, or cattle are confined indoors under strictly controlled conditions [Oxford English Dictionary]
Factory farming exists so that we can buy cheap meat all the time. Have you ever been to a supermarket that ran out of meat? Probably not. Even if you go shopping just before the store closes, you will find a huge selection of meats and cold cuts for very little money.
There are 3 very good reasons to avoid buying meat from factory farms:
1. Your health
EU factory farmed chickens typically get a living space smaller than an A4 sheet of paper. That means should one of them ever get sick, they would all get sick. That would result in massive losses for the company so naturally it’s something they want to avoid. Thus, antibiotics are being used on healthy livestock. In other words, factory-farmed animals are being continuously dosed up with these drugs via their feed and water in order to prevent illnesses and infections – even when there are no signs of disease in sight. [Source: CIWF]
Through the regular consumption of meat from animals that have been given antibiotics the human body will built up a resistance to these drugs. And if the drugs won’t work, infections become a lot more threatening.
2. Animal welfare
It’s ironic, isn’t it? If a pet is mistreated, it’s all over the news. It upsets people greatly, and rightly so – animal cruelty is a disgusting crime! However, factory farming is the biggest cause of animal cruelty in the world yet people choose to look the other way.
But why? Farm animals are intelligent beings, they experience stress, fear and pain. They also long for social interaction and companionship. Yet we consider it justifiable to sentence them to an existence in physical and emotional agony.
Is chicken for £2.43/kg really worth it?
3. The environment
When President Trump pulled out of the Paris climate agreement, a lot of people were very angry. Again, rightly so – we all (or at least a lot of us) want to protect the planet we live on.
However, more than 37% of the world’s methane emissions come from factory farming. The potency of methane is 25x worse than of carbon dioxide.
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to boycott factory farming. Here’s a nice little video that looks at what could happen if the whole world decided to go one step further and become vegetarian:
About half a year ago I decided not to consume or purchase any meat that comes from factory farmed animals. My husband and I switched to a primarily vegetarian diet. Once or twice a month we drive to a local farm shop to buy meat. The meat is more expensive than supermarket meat but you know what you’re buying.
It was definitely a good decision. We only have meat a couple of times a month now but when we do, we really appreciate it. The quality is so much better and you can really tell the difference. Supermarket meat (especially chicken) is often watery. The meat we get from the farm shop isn’t. In fact, when I make curry I now use 1/3 less chicken than suggested in the recipe!
Everyone can make a difference!
We can all make a difference to end factory farming, for our health, the well-being of animals and the planet:
- Eat less meat – There are so many exciting vegetarian dishes out there so there really isn’t any reason to eat meat every day. Humans are omnivores, not carnivores ;)
- Buy local – Find a farm shop that sells local meat. Ask where the meat is from (some will sell a mixture of local cuts and factory farm meats).
- Read labels – Learn more about the food you buy. So many things include “hidden” animal products. When buying jelly sweets, for example, there are brands that don’t use animal gelatin but you won’t taste the difference so why not? (For example these Katjes piggies are amazing).
- A little vegan every now and then – Vegan dishes aren’t just for vegans ;)
Sources: https://www.ciwf.org.uk/books/farmageddon-the-true-cost-of-cheap-meat/take-action-to-stop-farmageddon/ https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/sep/25/industrial-farming-one-worst-crimes-history-ethical-question?CMP=share_btn_fb http://www.target100.com.au/Environment/Emissions/What-is-methane