Avoid meat to save ourselves and planet earth

The Consumers Association of Penang calls on consumers to avoid eating meat for the benefit of our health and environment.

A latest study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found “sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of meat especially processed meat causes colorectal cancer.”

The category includes meat that has been salted, cured, fermented or smoked – hot dogs, sausages, corned beef, dried meat, canned meat or meat-based sauces. The finding supports “recommendations to limit intake of meat” – particularly in processed forms, said the IARC.

Rising prosperity has allowed people throughout the world to eat more meat and Malaysia is no exception. Our per capita consumption of meat has increased from 13.2 kg in 1961 to 52.35 kg in 2009. With rising income, it is projected that Malaysian consumers will eat even more meat in the future.

Eating more meat enhances our chances of getting sick or dying early. Health statistics consistently show that nations which consume the most meat have the highest incidence of heart disease and cancer.
Studies have also indicated that consumers who consume animal products are 40% more susceptible to cancer and are at increased risk for other illnesses including stroke, obesity appendicitis, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes and food poisoning.

Besides the heath effects of eating meat, many consumers do not see the magnitude of the environmental impact caused by their meat consumption.

There may be no other single human activity that has a bigger impact than livestock farming. Some 40% of the world’s land surface is used for growing food crops, most of which are used to feed animals. Globally livestock farming generates 18 % more greenhouse gases than transport. Some 70% of the Amazon forests have been deforested for grazing animals.

To get meat an animal has to be slaughtered. Abattoirs are highly industralised production lines with semi-skilled workers toiling in poor conditions. Some of the slaughterhouses are capable of slaughtering 85,000 head of cattle, 70,000 pigs, and 12 million birds daily. The industry is hidden from view. Animal-rights groups are questioning the ethics of the slaughter industry.

We have destroyed vast ecosystems and drained massive resources to support the world’s burgeoning livestock herds. Food, water and land resources are directed away from human consumption to feed these animals. These animals produce enormous quantities of waste such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, drug residues, disease-causing organisms and heavy metals to pollute our water system.

Producing meat is also most inefficient. To produce one kilogram of beef, one needs 6.5 kilograms of grain, 36 kilograms of roughage, and 15,500 cubic meters of water.

70% of antibiotics produced globally are used for livestock animals. Antibiotics perform two functions: they help animals survive the dismal conditions until slaughter, and they make the animals grow faster. According to WHO, more antibiotics are fed to healthy animals than to human beings.

Livestock are usually given the same antibiotics as humans. Every time an antibiotic is administered, there is a chance that bacteria develop resistance to it. “Superbugs” – pathogens such as Escherichia coli, salmonella or campylobacter which can infect humans

Malaysian meats are tainted with antibiotic-resistant bacteria some studies have indicated that more than 50% of domestic chicken had the bacteria. Imported chicken had the worse results as over 87% of them had ampicillin-resistant bacteria.

Shockingly while other countries have banned the use of antibiotics in animal feeds, Malaysia is thinking of changing our Food Act to allow 147 residues in our meats, most of which are antibiotics.
CAP has registered its opposition to this change in the Food Act which in effect allows the use of the antibiotics to be used for food animals.

CAP had also sent a memorandum to the Malaysian Government to ban antibiotics in animal feeds, a move that is instituted in some countries like the EU and South Korea.
Studies have found chicken droppings used to feed cows, animal parts are fed back to animals (cannibalism which can lead to Mad Cow Disease) and maggots are used as a protein source for animals.

Consumers do not know much about the meat they are buying. They do not know about the antibiotics, hormones and pathogens found in their meat, the animal cruelty, the environment destruction caused and the rubbish fed to animals.

As today is Meatless Day CAP would like to call on consumers to avoid eating meat for the sake of their health and environment.

Press Statement, 25th November 2015