Global Carnism

(Meat Atlast 2014)

Meat Society: Number 3 in a series exploring issues related to curbing demand for animal products, an important climate change solution for individuals and nations alike, especially in Western states where meat and diary consumption dwarfs other regions.

Excerpt from Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming by Moses Seenarine, (2016). Xpyr Press, 348 pages ISBN: 0692641157)

Intake of food animals is high in the global North, but the global South is catching up and this confluence spells disaster. While the international food trade complicates using national figures, a country-specific analysis of carnism is still instructive. China is the biggest consumer of both animal carcass and cow's milk products, with the US, the EU, and Brazil in the top five.(529)

In 2011, Americans ate 38 million tonnes (mt) (83 billion lb) of pig, chicken, cow, sheep, and goat carcass, and 40 mt (88 billion lb) of cow's milk and eggs. In the same year, Brazilians ingested 19 mt (41 billion lb) of carcass and 30 mt (66 billion lb) of cow's milk and eggs. Meanwhile, Russians consumed 10 mt (22 billion lb) of animal flesh and 20 mt (44 billion lb) of cow's milk and eggs.

In 2011, Mexicans ingested 8 mt (17.6 billion lb) pig, chicken, cow, sheep, and goat carcass, and 10 mt (22 billion lb) of cow's milk and eggs in 2011. As well, Indians ate 5 mt (11 billion lb) of flesh and 64 mt (141 billion lb) of cow's milk and eggs. While, the Japanese had 6 mt (13 billion lb) of carcass and 8 mt (17 billion lb) of cow's milk and eggs, the Vietnamese ate 5mt (11 billion lb) of animal flesh, and Argentines consumed 4 mt (8.8 billion lb). In addition, people in Europe (EU27) consumed 40 mt (88 billion lb) of carcass and 43 mt (94 billion lb) of cow's milk and eggs. 

Per capita, carcass consumption in China has multiplied six-fold over the past 40 years, from an average of 20 kg (44 pounds) per capita in 1980, to 52 kg (114 pounds) in 2007. In 2011, the Chinese consumed 75 mt (165 billion lb) of pig, chicken, cow, sheep, and goat carcass, and 64 mt (141 billion lb) of cow's milk and eggs. Pig carcass has been the main component of total flesh consumption, and constituted 54% of total animal flesh intake, 80% of red carcass intake, and 99% of fatty red meat intake in 2011.(530)

In 2011, the proportion of Chinese adults who consumed red meat surged from 65% in 1991 to 86%, while chicken consumption soared up from 7 to 21%, and seafood from 27 to 38%. In 2011, the average intake of red meat was 86 g (3 oz) a day; for chicken it was 71 g (2.5 oz) day; and seafood was 70g (2.5 oz) a day. In India, animal consumption has grown by 40% in the last 15 years, though it is still 40 times less than average consumption in the UK.(531)

Every week, the average person in the UK eats 1.6 kg (3.5 lbs) of animal carcass and 4.2 liters (1.1 gal) of cow's milk. This is equivalent to 6 pig sausages, or 450g (16 oz); 2 chicken breasts, or 350g (12 oz); 4 ham sandwiches from pig, or 100g (3.5 oz); 8 slices of bacon from pig, or 250g (9 oz); 3 burgers from cow, or 450g (16 oz); 3 liters (0.8 gal) of cow's milk; 100g (3.5 oz) of cheese; and a portion of cream.(532) For the entire year of 2011, each UK resident ate an average of 82 kilograms (180.7 pounds) of carcass, equivalent to 1,400 pig sausages, or nearly 4 a day. What’s more, chicken consumption in the UK has doubled from 1987 to 2007.(533)

The average UK carnist eats in excess of 11,000 animals in their lifetime - 1 goose, 1 rabbit, 4 cattle, 18 pigs, 23 sheep and lambs, 28 ducks, 39 turkeys, 1,158 chickens, 3,593 shellfish and 6,182 fish. The diet of each British carnivore requires a vast quantity of land, fuel and water to raise and process the animals that reach their plate.(534)

By way of illustration, the soybean equivalent required to produce a UK citizen’s average annual intake of animal flesh and cow's milk products is 54.4 kg (120 lbs). This total equates to 22.2 kg (49 lbs) of soy for chicken, and 12.5 kg (27.5 lbs) for pig flesh. In addition, 6.7 kg (14.7 lbs) of soy are required for chicken eggs, another 3.8 kg (8.3) for cow carcass and veal, and 1.9 kg (4.1 lbs) for milk. On top of this, 1.7 kg (3.7 lbs) of soy are needed for cheese, and 5.6 kg (12.3 lbs) for other products.(535)

One large-scale survey in the UK looked at the average greenhouse gas (GHG) discharges associated with a standard 2,000 kcal diet in kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents per day (kgCO2e/day). It was 7.19 for high meat-eaters (defined as in excess of 100 g or 3.5 oz per day), 5.63 for medium meat-eaters, 4.67 for low meat-eaters, 3.9 for fish-eaters, 3.81 for vegetarians and 2.89 for vegans. Dietary GHG outflows in meat-eaters were twice as high as those in vegans.(536)

Chapter 14, DIET OR POPULATION? pages 139-140

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