The Ethics Of Eating Meat In Moderation

By: Ron Lagerquist

“We are collectively carrying around our waistlines enough food to feed 6 million starving children three meals a day for two and a half years.”

The USA and Canada eat a lot of meat. In spite of the growing popularity of vegetarianism, over the last 12 years the average per capita consumption of red meat and poultry has increased by 18 pounds per year. The average North American puts back 187 pounds of red meat and poultry a year, equal to 748 quarter-pound hamburgers.

As the world’s population is projected to increase by 50 percent to 8.8 billion by the year 2030, we hear a lot about an impending population explosion. Yet we hear nothing about the real danger of diminishing resources due to a farm animal population explosion. Humans are consuming more meat and humans are increasing in population. Today’s 15 billion farm animals now surpass in weight humans five to one.

What does this mean for the environment? It requires 12,000 gallons of water and about 220 square feet of stripped rain forest to grow a single pound of ground beef. Think of how many pounds of produce like soy, tomatoes or melons 220 square feet could grow! The environmental impact of excrement from feed lots has become front page news. One pound of beef will result in 40 pounds of manure. A brand-new study released by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization shows that cattle flatulence is having a greater impact on global warming than all forms of transportation put together. One third of all the earth’s methane gas comes from cows, and methane warms the earth 20 times faster than carbon dioxide. In South and Central America, they are plowing down billions of acres of oxygen-creating rain forest for pastureland to accommodate North America’s voracious appetite for meat. This destruction of the oxygen-creating rain forests will have a drastic effect on the earth's ecological balance. Being a father of three children and anticipating the joy of grandchildren, I find it difficult to detach from these figures.

I have stated before that if all North Americans were to climb onto a huge scale we would be about two and a half billion pounds overweight. Each pound represents 3,500 calories. That means we have collectively consumed 8,750 billion unnecessary calories: unnecessarily slaughtered animals, unnecessarily polluted streams, and unnecessarily cleared rain forests.

Let’s take this a step future. We are collectively carrying around our waistlines enough food to feed 6 million starving children three meals a day for two and a half years.

Could you imagine if we all ate naturally raised meat in moderation? The next time you say that you cannot afford the higher price of naturally raised meat, look in the mirror, because that extra five inches of waistline cost you some serious money to grow. My point is that if you were to eat in moderation, you could use the extra grocery money to buy naturally raised meat. Not only would you enjoy the good feeling of buying a quality product, we would all force the food industry to sit up and notice, and you can guess what would happen. Instead of organics being a fringe market, it would become mainstream, lowering costs and increasing availability.

 If we learned to eat animal foods in moderation, oceans would fill with fish again. Countless stretches of land used for feed-grain and livestock could be reclaimed to forests. We could easily feed the hungry. People would be healthier, the atmosphere would improve, and health care costs would lower. All the associated problems of large meat farms would disappear, and I believe, with it a bad mentality toward the world around us.

Related Article: What If Christians Were Healthy?

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