Take me to the slaughterhouse … I’ll wait there with the lamb.” ~ Leonard Cohen
Richard Branson has made a revolutionary prediction: “I believe that in 30 years or so we will no longer need to kill any animals and that all meat will either be clean or plant-based, taste the same and also be much healthier for everyone.”
In Jeremy Rifkin’s 1992 book, “Beyond Beef: The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture,” he wrote, “There are currently 1.28 billion cattle populating the earth. They take up nearly 24 percent of the land mass of the planet and consume enough grain to feed hundreds of millions of people. Their combined weight exceeds that of the human population on earth.
“Above all, ‘Beyond Beef’ adds up the cost of all this. It depicts a world in which the poorer peoples of the planet have been starved to the beef addiction of a handful of wealthy nations. In Europe, the United States, and Japan, this addiction has resulted in millions of deaths from heart attack, cancer, and diabetes — the diseases of affluence. The book also describes the grim ecological effects of the cattle culture: rain forests burned, fertile plains turned into desert, and climate threatened by global warming.”
“Meat is the new tobacco,” according to a chart on Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine website.
Now nearly a third of the world’s land mass is used for slaughterhouse production.
Other grim statistics: Two-thirds of wildlife on the planet have ben destroyed in 50 years. Millions of acres of American public lands and rainforest across the world continue to be grazed cheaply for private profit of livestock ranchers. Taxpayer dollars subsidize federal wildlife “services” that kill millions of indigenous cougars, wolves, coyotes, bobcats, lynx, buffalo, grizzly and black bears, foxes, wild horses and wild burros, beavers, and even groundhogs — many of these species reduced to 1 to 5 percent of their former numbers and ranges.
“13 billion hectares (32.1 billion acres) of forest are destroyed for use as croplands or pastures each year. According to the WorldWatch Institute, 51 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture. Those emissions, and the harm associated with them, would be eliminated by choosing lab-grown meats rather than killing animals for food,” Karla Landt reported in September in Futurism.
In 2017, more than 150 billion animals are killed annually by the meat, dairy, egg and fish industries. Billions of wild animals are killed to facilitate it. One can get a real scope of the slaughter at this website, which has a count of how many of each species are being killed as you open and scroll down the page.
We are decades late, given the predictions of Winston Churchill in 1931 that by the 1980s, lab-grown meat would replace raising livestock on farms altogether. He wrote: “Nor need the pleasures of the table be banished. That gloomy Utopia of tabloid meals need never be invaded. The new foods will from the outset be practically indistinguishable from the natural products, and any changes will be so gradual as to escape observation.” A Fortune article in April 2017 describes some of the innovations.
To satisfy beef cravings, Impossible Foods has developed a plant-based burger that looks, tastes and behaves uncannily like one made from the real McCoy. Its secret is heme, an iron-rich molecule that gives meat its meaty taste.
Memphis Meats is commercializing what it says is the “world’s first chicken produced without the animal.” The company grows meat in tanks by feeding living animal cells oxygen, sugar and other nutrients. The process uses about 1 percent of the land and 10 percent of the water needed for conventional animal agriculture.
Leonardo di Caprio, Bill Gates, Cargill, and Kimbal Musk (younger brother of Elon Musk of Tesla) join Richard Branson as heavy investors in removing animals from our food system in the next couple of decades. “They recognize that our diets are unsustainable, and that changes are coming whether we like it or not, so might as well get on board sooner than later,” Michael Pellman Rowland writes in Forbes.
Tyson has invested in Beyond Meat, which can be found at Whole Foods in the meat section in Madison. Tyson and Cargill investments show that large companies recognize the inevitability of the end of animal agriculture.
This changes everything in our relationship to animals. Trapping for skins and hunting for heads on walls will no longer be the camouflaged killer’s pride, but seen for what it really is — needless and horrifying animal cruelty.
Natural predators will no longer be demonized and persecuted for trophy or to enable a holocaust of “farm” animals.
Branson says: “One day we will look back and think how archaic our grandparents were in killing animals for food.
This column was originally published in the Madison CapTimes on November 5, 2017
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