All these facts, quotes and figures have been taken from Farmageddon: The True Cost Of Cheap Meat, with kind permission of author and Compassion for World Farming CEO Philip Lymbery. If you have not read the book, I strongly suggest you do. You can buy it here.
The truth about factory-farmed meat
- Farm animals’ feed uses 90% of the world’s soya meal, third of the world’s cereal harvest and 30% of the world’s global fish catch. All this food could be fed to people. Animals can eat grass, people can’t.
- If all the cereals fed to factory-farmed animals were given to people, they would feed as many as 3bn.
- Resistant bacteria from food animals are being transmitted to people.
- Farming uses half of all antibiotics used in the world. 80% of antibiotic use in America is on farms; 70% of that total is to boost growth or prevent disease rather than to treat it.
One consequence is the breeding of antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’ in humans. 25,000 people die in the EU from infections caused by drug-resistant micro-organisms.
- Factory farms promote disease.
- “Factory farming has as much potential, if not more than, terrorists to kill and cause chaos.”
- The intensification of animal farming has “virtually destroyed” the nutritional quality of our food.
- The best quality meat comes from animals allowed to forage for food as nature intended. Ratio of bad to good fats in farmed animals is 50:1, compared with less than 3:1 in their wild counterparts.
- Factory-farmed animals are “selected for obesity”, and get virtually no exercise. The result is meat “marbled with excess fat”. Who wants to eat fatty meat?
- Free range and organic chicken contains up to 50% less fat than its factory farmed equivalent.
- The “normal” level of meat consumption in industrial countries is excessive in terms of individual health and environmental benefits: 200 to 300 grams per day instead of 90 grams per day. Eating this amount would have a “likely reduction in the risk of colorectal cancer, breast cancer and heart disease”.
- Factory farms use more land, not less.
- 70% of the world’s freshwater supply is used for agriculture
- On factory farms, pigs are separated from their mothers at four weeks old, rather than at three or four months old.
- A lot of the meat on supermarket shelves, and indeed sold in restaurants and fast food chains, bank on the consumer not knowing where it’s come from. “Farm fresh” or “locally produced” does not mean the animal has not been intensively reared or led a happy life.
- People living near factory farms have their life expectancy shorted by as much as a decade. Heart disease, birth defects and stunted lung development is found among children living near these farms who spend a lot of time outside playing sport.
- Factory farming is being exported to parts of the developing world, with disastrous consequences, especially in India, where the land is just not suited to intensive farming practices. Since 1995, more than a quarter of a million of farmers are reported to committed suicide, equating to one every 30 minutes.
- Factory farming does not feed the world; feeding grain to confined animals uses more food than it produces.
- Of 6kg of plant protein fed to animals, only 1kg of animal protein is given back to humans.
- The more free rein the animal is given, the healthier the resulting food.
- Free range pigment is richer in vitamin E and iron than meat from factory farmed pigs
A short pointer on milk
- Dairy cows in the US are pushed “so grotesquely beyond the natural limits that they survive for just two or three of years of milking before being sent to slaughter”. On average, dairy cows live for five to six years.