(Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.27.11, purport)
Hidden Price of Meat
One of the main problems of modern civilization is hunger. According to the Vedic view, scarcity is the result of the negative karma generated by the destructive actions of the world's population and not the result of overpopulation. The earth is perfectly capable of providing all the food necessary for whoever lives on its surface. Scarcity is due to our own greed and insensitivity to other living beings, such as the animals we kill. More than half the annual world deforestation clears land for beef cattle, which consume about half the world's grain production. Grain cycled through animals looses 90% of its protein. Professor Wayne Meyer, Program Leader for Sustainable Agriculture in CSIRO's Land and Water Division provided a comparison of water-use efficiency for different kinds of foods produced, with meat emerging as by far the worst water-to-food converter of all. To grow one kilo of maize, Meyer explained, requires between 540 to 630 litres of water, wheat needs 715 to 750 litres, rice 1,550 to 2,000 litres, and soybeans 1,650 to 2,200 litres, while to produce one kilo of beef requires between 50,000 to 100,000 litres of water. [Meyer, Wayne, 1998. Water For Food. http://www.clw.csiro.au/publications/water_for_food.pdf] "It is estimated that it takes approximately 16.4 kilos of grain or 30 kilos of forage to produce 1 kilo of lamb; 13.3 kilos of grain to produce 1 kilo of beef; 8.3 kilos of grain to produce 1 kilo of eggs; 6.3 kilos of grain to produce 1 kilo of pork; 4.3 kilos of grain to produce 1 kilo of turkey; and 2.6 kilos of grain to produce 1 kilo of chicken." [Francione, Gary. An Introduction to Animal Rights. Your Child or the Dog? Temple Press, USA, 2000, p. 195] Economically, biologically, ethically and spiritually, the vegetarian lifestyle and the practice of cow protection are not only beneficial for human society, but also can be seen to provide wide-ranging solutions to the intricate network of problems which is the world now facing. Let us take a closer look together at those most important ones.
Eating of cow flesh or the flesh of any other animal, the motivation behind slaughter, is detrimental to the health of human beings. For example, if a human, who has a much longer colon than the carnivorous animals eats flesh
1. Intestinal flora is changed from fermentative to putrefactive bacteria in the long bowel. Poisons inimical to health are absorbed into the bloodstream with deleterious effects.
2. The natural synthesis of vitamin B12 is inhibited and causes anaemia.
3. Animal toxins tend to pervert the metabolism of carbohydrates and cause diabetes.
4. Non-nutritive substances tend to be irritants and therefore carcinogenic.
5. Unwanted substances in the bloodstream have to be eliminated, so energy is diverted from other functions, including thinking. Poisons of any description, however mild, affect all the senses and, if the organs of elimination are at all strained, remain in the system a long time.
6. Parasites are transferred - all carnivorous creatures, including birds, have parasites peculiar to themselves and often cause their deaths - some of these are known to be accommodating themselves to human stomachs.
7. Flesh eating generally results in an excess of proteins in the organism. The minimum daily requirement of protein, which experts on nutrition calculate to be between 10 and 90 grams, is easily received from vegetable food and from dairy products. Protein is found in ample quantity in milk, cheese, yoghurt, whole wheat, corn, many varieties of nuts and beans and vegetables. Excess of proteins, especially that type produced by consumption of flesh, produces liver ailments, hypertension and hardening of the arteries.
Vegetables, fruits, grains and dairy products are in perfect balance for proper nutrition. These same vegetable substances, if they reach us through flesh of an animal, are dangerous to health and carry with them the following disease provoking substances:
- Toxic wastes from the bloodstream, germs and pus, vaccines and drugs injected to offset animal disease.
- Fear poisons released at the time of slaughter.
- Bacteria from putrefactive decomposition, which commences as soon as the animal dies. These are not all killed by cooking, as flesh is an excellent insulator and those which are killed leave their poisonous remains behind.
Meat bearing animals suffer from dozens of diseases and parasites caused through unnatural living and exploitation such as forced feeding, which causes fatty degeneration of organs, endocrine complications through castration diseases including contagious abortion, foot and mouth diseases, fevers, catarrhal conditions, cancer tumours, tuberculosis, mastitis, liver flukes causing ducts to befilled with septic matter (only the liver is condemned, not the carcass), etc; their blood and tissues are impregnated with preventive vaccines. Poultry is often impregnated with oestrogens, which are carcinogens. Animal fats contain cholesterol which is now thought to cause coronary diseases of the heart. Many studies in cancer research reveal that areas in which meat-eating is highest tend to have the highest cancer rate, while vegetarian areas generally have a far lower rate.
Recently there is a threat of so-called "Mad Cow Disease", technically known as the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) in humans. The experts are unsure about its origin and what we can expect from it. One thing seems to be sure: it is much more dangerous than AIDS, and we are sitting on a time bomb. The risk is highest in the brain and nerval tissues, then muscle meat and blood. Those who regularly eat veal (and other beef products) are 13 times more likely to die of CJD than those who don't. [Richard Lacey. The History of Mad Cow Disease. Cypsela Publications, 1995]
T. H. Huxley in his book "Man's Place in Nature" presents some biological and anatomical reasons which demonstrate that the human species is not carnivorous:
1. Flesh eaters have very short bowels for rapid expulsion of putrefactive bacteria. Vegetarians, including man, have very long bowels for dealing with the fermentative bacteria which is involved in the digestion of vegetarian foods.
2. Flesh eaters have long teeth and in many cases have retractable claws for killing and holding prey, whereas vegetarians have sabre-like teeth and claws, though some may have defensive horns.
3. Meat eaters have jaws which open only in an up and down motion while vegetarians have jaws which can move sideways for chewing.
4. Flesh eaters do not sweat, but control body heat by extruding the tongue and rapid breathing. Vegetarians have sweat pores for heat control and elimination of impurities.
5. Flesh eaters' saliva is without ptylin and therefore cannot pre-digest starches. Vegetarians have ptylin in the saliva for this pre-digestive process. 6. Flesh-eaters secrete ten times more hydrochloric acid than vegetarians, sufficient to dissolve bones in the diet.
7. Flesh eaters lap water, whereas vegetarians take liquids by suction.
8. Flesh eaters have a consistent tooth configuration, especially with distended canine teeth, as in the example of the cat, whereas vegetarians have short canine teeth, not suitable for tearing flesh.
The implementation of cow protection and a vegetarian diet support at the international level would be a massive step forward in solving the world food crisis. Some economic advantages:
1. Flesh foods are more than 5O% germ-laden dirty water and therefore extremely costly to buy as a source of protein for which they are eaten. Meat is a very poor source of other food elements, including minerals, vitamins, and carbonhydrates and definitely not the best source of proteins as pretended.
2. Land which will produce one ton of beef will produce ten to twenty tons of highly nutritive food, suitable for direct human consumption in the same time - without any of the disadvantages inseparable from flesh-foods, and infinitely cheaper.
3. A flesh eater needs many times as much land to support himself, and his herds as a vegetarian. Since there is only about one acre of fertile land in the world per person it means that someone will be robbed of a fair share.
4. For every hundred pounds of dry substances eaten by cattle, only four to sixteen pounds come back as flesh-food of very doubtful value. Quite a wasteful and costly method of obtaining food.
5. If those who insist on eating meat, despite all reasonable arguments to the contrary, would eat only the animals who die naturally rather than by violence, the animals would produce more progeny and there would, after an initial period of apparent scarcity, be much more available meat.
Some ethical considerations
Slaughter is a painful process and causes the animal suffering. Animals are sentient creatures with feelings and fears like humans. Not only are they caused to suffer (irrespective of whether they are slaughtered quickly or slowly - most countries have most inhumane laws connected with animal slaughter), but also, as is the case with cows raised on farms for slaughter, the animals live in constant fear of being slaughtered, as they are able to sense and discern what is going on quite easily. The human has no ethical right to end artificially the life of a creature, especially that of a cow, who, through her milk produces wonderful varieties of products, nurses her own offspring and the whole of human society as well. Killing of such highly developed creatures as animals breeds callousness, insensitivity toward all beings and general irreverence toward life.
The smells from dead animal carcasses and dead fish are horrible and can only be tolerated by intoxication or other dulling of the senses. Most children ha...