Why are we obsessed with eating meat?

22 Oct, 2021 - 00:10 0 Views
Why are we obsessed with eating meat?

eBusiness Weekly

In a world of increasingly worrying climate change, a UN report says the greenhouse gas footprint of animal agriculture rivals that of all global land, sea and air transportation combined.

The negative effects of animal agriculture on our climate have been well documented. Deforestation, air pollution, water pollution and soil degradation can all be linked to animal agriculture, but when did it all begin?

According to researchers, the earliest hominin species, our ancestors, began eating meat around 2,5 million years ago.

They know this because archaeologists found fossilised animal bones that showed visible, deliberate break and cut marks consistent with what seemed like primitive butchering techniques using stones or sticks. Do we know why we started eating meat?

Hominins, like modern-day primates, fed primarily on leaves, seeds, fruits and tubers with the occasional scavenging off an animal carcass. 

Then the Earth experienced a period of gradual warming around the same time.

This led to the thinning of lush green forests into what eventually became grasslands which limited the food sources our ancestors previously relied on.

Herbivores are efficient at converting low-calorie vegetation into nutrient-dense body mass, meat. 

Our ancestors needed a new food source and so began actively seeking out carcasses and later hunting these animals.

But 2.5 million years later, our obsession with meat has long surpassed the need for survival. Having this nutrient-dense food source did prove crucial to the development of our brain but why do we still crave meat even though we have healthier and friendlier alternatives?

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Environmental Outlook 2030 reported that global meat consumption in 2018 reached 346,14 million tonnes and is set to hit 453 million tonnes by 2030 if current trends do not change.

People in the West are the biggest meat consumers with the United States taking the top spot, eating an average of 124kg a person annually.

The World Economic Forum reported in February 2019 that globally, we slaughter an estimated 22,5 billion farm animals and produce 150 million tonnes of seafood annually. Animal agricultural practices currently wreak havoc on the climate and sensitive natural ecosystems.

The United Nations Environment Programme reported that the greenhouse gas footprint of animal agriculture rivals that of all global land, sea and air transportation combined.

Besides the direct contribution of greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere, there are numerous other negative impacts this industry is responsible for. The Guardian reported in October 2017 that 60 percent of global biodiversity loss can be linked either directly or indirectly to animal agriculture.

Meat is an incredibly inefficient method of producing calories. For example, grain-fed beef has to consume approximately 3.5kg of grain to produce 500g of live-weight beef.

According to the Meat Eaters Guide to Climate Change, chicken and turkey would be the most climate-friendly meat to consume as they do not produce methane, use the least resources and are the most efficient at converting grain feed into protein.

If you are keen on reducing your environmental impact, but love meat, try as much as possible to consume chicken or turkey in place of red meats. Climate change is happening now, and it is not waiting for anyone. — iol.

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