Being a vegetarian can be difficult, often because of the social aspect of such a decision. Some of your more carnivorous friends (or you, if you're the carnivore among us) might try to debate you on why eating meat is bad, or if the environmental impact of eating meat is as serious as some people claim. While eating meat is a universally accepted norm, it turns out meat-obsessed culture is actually doing irreparable harm to our bodies and our planet.
Part of the problem is just the extreme ways in which modern farming has evolved. Pollution, pesticides, and the tools that go into mass producing meat for an explosive population that is obsessed with meat has caused a lot of negative byproducts not only in the product itself but on the environment in which it's raised.
The science is in, and it's not looking good for the steak lovers of the world. It turns out that eating meat isn't good for the environment or the human body, and there's plenty of reasons why. Industrial farming and poor eating habits are contributing to a host of problems all around the world. If you needed any more reasons to not eat meat, these are some the debilitating effects from the excessive cultivation of meat that could potentially destroy us all.
Red Meat Consumption Has Been Linked To Increased Cancer Risks
The World Health Organization has taken the official stance that red meat is a carcinogen, meaning that it is a substance that can increase the risk of cancer. Red meat is defined as coming from mammals like cows, goats, and pigs. Over-consumption of red meat is linked to a higher likelihood of developing colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, and prostate cancer, in part because the chemical compound of red meat hardens blood vessels and clogs the arteries, needed to get those veins pumping life. Processed meats are also classified as a carcinogen.
Cows Are One Of The World's Greatest Polluters
Cows are adorable, but put them in a factory farm setting and they can stink up the place like it was their job. That's because cows poop, like, a disturbing amount. An average cow can produce 45 pounds of manure a day and release an unholy amount of methane farts. Methane is a greenhouse gas that contributes to global climate change and is wildly more potent that CO2. According to various studies, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has drastically increased even since the early aughts, and it's estimated that nearly 7% of US greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, contributing to overall climate change and global warming.
Farm Runoff Is Polluting River Systems
Meat production isn't only polluting the sky, it's polluting our water as well. Agricultural runoff consisting of animal manure and other waste products is an unavoidable consequence of factory farming, and this runoff often finds its way into our drinking water. Many of the nutrients in manure can lead to toxic algal blooms, and pesticides and other dangerous chemicals can affected permeate river systems. Cleaning up these messes can cost millions, and the damage to aquatic ecosystems can be quite severe.
A Majority Of Food Poisoning Cases Have Been Attributed To Meat Products
As anyone who's ever been a slave to their toilet after eating a suspiciously funky chicken burrito can attest, food poisoning is the absolute worst. It's actually incredibly common in the United States and actually kills roughly 3,000 people annually. Food poisoning occurs when harmful bacteria is ingested, usually after eating undercooked meat or eggs. Dangerous bacteria like E. coli can be fatal. Cramped and unsanitary living conditions for livestock can be a breeding ground for bacteria that cause food poisoning — those pathogens are live and in the air, and too often make their way all the way to the dinner plate.