Animal factories pack in animals tightly, put them in horrid conditions, and pump them full of chemicals to promote growth and prevent disease. The stress of rapid weight gain and poor living quarters makes the animals sick. Industrial animals yield meat that may pose significant risks to the personal health of consumers through harmful residues and poor nutrition.
Overconsumption of meats, generally, has been linked to numerous negative health impacts, including: Increased risk of heart disease, obesity, stroke, increased risk of certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, and a shorter life span.
Studies have also shown that excessive consumption of meats means excessive consumption of cholesterol and saturated fatty acids, both of which are associated with risk of coronary heart disease. Excessive intake of the iron found in animal products, heme iron, has similarly been linked to certain cancers, particularly colon cancer.
Studies show that countries with higher per person beef consumption also have higher prevalence of diabetes. High meat intake is associated with chronically elevated levels of certain hormones that are linked to diabetes, and meat protein has been implicated in diabetic kidney disease. In contrast, when people with diabetic nerve damage switch to a vegan diet, evidence shows improvements in kidney function and glucose tolerance.
In a study of over 8,000 people, subjects who ate all types of meat once or more per week were 29% more likely to develop diabetes. The healthcare costs attributed to chronic diseases that are associated with overconsumption of meat are incredible.DID YOU KNOW?
Further, residues of animal drugs and other feed additives may be present on meat that reaches consumers, and their impacts on human health are not well studied.
Pork producers use ractopamine to promote last-minute boosts in growth. Ractopamine has been detected on retail pork products, but the human health risks have not been sufficiently studied. It likely poses particular risk to people with heart conditions. A similar drug, used in asthma medicine, is linked to rapid weight gain and difficulty losing weight in humans.
Beef producers use synthetic hormones to promote rapid weight gain and increase feed efficiency. Research shows that hormone levels are higher in meat from treated animals. Impacts of hormone exposure via meat are poorly understood, but any exposure to external hormones may interfere with a person’s hormone functioning.
Many antimicrobials are approved for beef, pork, turkey, and chicken to promote growth and suppress diseases. Overusing any antimicrobials can drive resistance among harmful bacteria. Overexposure to antimicrobials during early development is linked to higher risk of obesity later in life.
Heavy metals are fed to animals due to their antimicrobial properties. CFS worked for years to force the withdrawal of arsenic due to health concerns from residues on meats. Zinc and copper are still commonly used and may be present on meat. They can be toxic in excessive quantities.
Medically important antimicrobials can be fed to animals for disease prevention, increasing the risk of antibiotic-resistant bacteria on meat products. In 2016, harmful bacteria that were resistant to two last-line-of-defense antibiotics was discovered in the U.S. for the first time, both connected to the use of antibiotic drugs in pig production.DID YOU KNOW?
Reducing overall consumption of meat and poultry proteins, sourcing certified humane, organic and/or pasture-raised meats, and increasing portions of plant-based proteins in your diet can reduce risks of several diseases, provide more beneficial nutrients, and reduce exposure to harmful chemical residues.
Whole plant proteins, like beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds, and leafy greens, are nutrient-dense and health-promoting and can help:
- Lower the risk of heart disease.
- Lower cholesterol.
- Lower systolic blood pressure.
- Reduce risk of obesity in children.
- Lower mortality.
- Reduce risk for certain cancers.
- Lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes.
Humane, organic, and pasture-raised meats are more nutritious and beneficial than meat produced in industrial facilities, including:
- Higher omega-3 content. Omega-3 rich diets reduce blood pressure and risk of heart attack, and promote enhanced mental health.
- Higher vitamin E, vitamin A, and vitamin C levels.
- Lower total fat and caloric content.
- Healthier overall fat content.
- Prohibition of unnecessary uses of veterinary pharmaceuticals.
Transitioning to a limited meat diet has a positive effect on consumer healthcare costs. Studies have shown that it could decrease medical expenses by $735 billion per year in 2050.DID YOU KNOW?
The amount of protein your body needs varies depending on your personal attributes, health, and lifestyle. Generally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that 10-35 percent of your daily calories come from protein—roughly 46 grams of protein per day for adult women and 56 grams per day for adult men. Eating extra protein from meats in particular can lead to poor health outcomes, like elevated LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol. Only two servings of pork, for example, would exactly meet the recommended protein consumption for adult women for an entire day.