“Out of sight, out of mind”…
We don’t like focusing on unpleasant things like how all that meat ends up in the grocery store for millions of people to enjoy every day. We know we like to eat it but we don’t want to think about how it gets there. We kinda know it’s not a pretty picture.
Maybe you’ve created this fantasy image of happy cows, pigs, chickens etc. traipsing through lush green pastures, soaking up the sunshine. Well, now would be a good time to press the reality button and learn about feedlots.
It can feel like coming out of a dense fog into the clear light of day after seeing firstand the cold, stark and bloody reality that is the life of a feedlot animal. At the risk of feeling like regurgitating that chicken mcnugget or quarter pounder or filet mignon, facing this truth also compels us to accept responsibility. You may not be the person working in the feedlot or slaughterhouse, but would that person be working at that job if you weren’t eating the meat? Paul McCartney’s slogan says it well: “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian”.
But what about small family farms? Aren’t those animals better off? Isn’t that a more humane situation for the animals? The smaller scale of family farms allows the farmers to get to know & interact with their animals in a way that is not possible in feedlots. This interaction gives people the opportunity to see an animal’s character, personality and even soul. It’s impossible to remain unaffected when choosing to kill these animals without rationalizing the act in some way that makes it “OK”.
How does your body process meat?
Long story short: animal proteins cause cancer to grow and spread when the ideal environment exists within your body. In other words, we all have potential cancer cells that remain dormant unless a number of conditions come together to “wake” them up. If all those conditions are present and meat protein is added to the mix, the cancer will be activated. Take away the meat protein, and the cancer cells “starve” to death.
What about meats like ham, pulled pork and bacon?
We have a long-standing tradition of preparing meals focused around various cuts of meats that come from pigs. Can you imagine serving a Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter dinner without ham as the centerpiece of the meal? Or attending a BBQ style event without pulled pork? Or having breakfast on the weekends without bacon? We are so deeply entrenched in expecting these foods for various occasions, we can’t even imagine what to eat otherwise! Bacon has become a glorified term that incites you to start salivating at the mere thought of its aroma as it’s being cooked in the frying pan. Cookbooks and calendars sing its praises and fast-food joints try to lure you in for that bacon-adorned meal. But have you ever given a second thought to the life of that pig before it ended up on your plate? It’s not any more joyful than that of a cow or a chicken and they suffer through their own list of miseries on their way to the slaughterhouse. These highly intelligent animals are subjected to heart-wrenching forms of cruelty that would cause you to never look at bacon the same way again… Here’s an FAQ about Pig Production in Canada
Is there any nutritional value in eating pork?
Many experts consider pigs the most intelligent domesticated animals in the world. They are very social & emotional animals and make great pets with a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years. They need constant mental stimulation to prevent boredom. In Europe, they are used to locate truffles because of their acute sense of smell. Did you know that biologically, physiologically & anatomically, pigs are the animals that most resemble humans? Their organs and skin are the best non-human alternatives for organ donations. That being said, pigs hardly have any sweat glands which are a means of releasing toxins. Combine this with their un-discerning palate (pigs are omnivores) and their rudimentary digestive system, all the toxins they ingest end up stored in their tissues. Another health risk involves humans ingesting the larvae of a common worm parasite that resides in pigs’ bodies. Add the viruses they also carry to this stew and undercooked pork meat becomes are real gamble.
How does the beef industry supply enough meat for everyone?
Through the existence of massive confined animal feeding operations that house millions of cows who suffer through cruel and deplorable conditions until it’s time to become “ground beef”. Conventional beef producers use antibiotics, growth hormones and feed additives to increase muscle and growth in animals to speed up the process that leads them to the slaughterhouse. Methods of raising beef & dairy cattle in North America are destructive to human health, animal health and the environment.
What happens when you eat meat that contains antibiotics, growth hormones and feed additives?
Antibiotic resistance in people is the direct result of growth hormones and medications given to cattle & pigs raised for slaughter. Ingesting this meat has been shown to cause reproductive system interference, growth disruptions, hormone imbalances & development of cancer. *E-Coli risk is heightened in mechanically tenderized meat because the pathogen can be driven into the center of the meat during the tenderizing process. Not only is meat cancerous, it’s even addictive!
How does the resulting urine and manure affect our environment?
Feedlots generate enormous, unmanageable quantities of manure that pollute waterways which kill off fish stocks and contribute to air pollution. Not to mention the millions of cow carcasses that must be disposed of in giant burial pits. Check out The Food Revolution Network’s neat flowchart called The True Cost of Meat
How can I make a difference?
It’s all about supply and demand. Every single one of us can contribute to change simply by choosing to eat less meat, by eating only organic, free-range, grass fed beef or better yet, not to eat meat at all. We are responsible for the existence of these industries through the purchases we make at the grocery store.
Don’t I need meat for protein?
We actually only need 55g of protein per day which is easily available from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, fermented soy products, sprouted brown rice, etc… Plant protein allows for slow and steady synthesis of new proteins, which makes it the healthiest type of protein.
What if I don’t want to completely give up meat?
If you don’t wish to completely remove meat from your diet, then at least reduce its consumption and choose organic meat products that adhere to animal welfare standards and animals are fed a strictly organic diet. Beneficial fats like Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) and Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) such as Omega 3’s are found in higher amounts in organic & grass-fed animals.
- look for “Grass-Fed” & “Organic” on labels certified by a third party agency
- Grass-Fed: the aminal consumed grass most of its life but fed grain a few months before processing to be fattened up
- grass keeps their rumen at the correct pH while grain forms acid
- Grass-Fed & Finished: the animal ate only grass its entire life while providing high quality fertilizer, dispersed over acres of land
- “Green-Fed” & “Grass-Finished” have no legal or regulated definitions & cannot be verified
- Organic meat production employs higher animal welfare standards and animals are fed a strictly organic diet: this meat has lower levels of Saturated Fat, higher content of Omega 3’s, iron, zinc, antioxidants, Vit. A, E & B12, no GMO’s or antibiotics
- Bison is a lean, free range alternative to beef
- In Canada, government legislation does not permit the use of growth hormones in Lamb, Poultry, Pork or Bison SOLD in Canada, but what about beef and all other types of imported meats?
If you’re ready to wean yourself off animal meat, there are endless veggie meat options available that you can enjoy as healthier versions of your typical meat dishes. But keep in mind that even tofu ends up losing all whole food benefits, including anti-cancer properties, when processed into tofu burgers, soy cheese & yogurt, textured veggie protein and soy protein isolate. Also, many of these processed meat alternatives also contain wheat gluten which you want to avoid if you have Celiac Disease or any type of inflammatory disease. Start incorporating traditional forms of soy like edamame, tofu, miso, natto, tamari and tempeh into your regular diet for complete whole food benefits. Also, beans, pulces and grains are always great alternatives to meat in your recipes.
Here are some substitutes you can check out to replace a whole variety of meats that you’ve been used to eating:
- Bacon: veggie bacon is available in different “cuts” as well as bacon-style tempeh
- Burgers: there are countless veggie burger substitutes made of soy, nuts & veggies that can be cooked on the stove, oven or BBQ
- The majority of fast-food joints now have a veggie burger option on the menu
- If you make your own veggie burgers, chill for at least 30 min. and coat with coconut, palm or camelina oil to prevent sticking to BBQ
- BBQ sauces have high sugar content (12 – 15g of sugar per 2 tbsp) – you can use a dry spice rub that includes smoked paprika or liquid smoke instead
- Chicken: frozen veggie chicken nuggets & cutlets make a great alternative
- Fish: veggie fish is available as frozen “fish & chip” style filets
- Ham: can use tempeh in different flavours or veggie ham sandwich meats, there’s even a vegan ham roast!
- Hamburger: veggie ground round is made of soy and is a great source of protein and fibre with no fat or cholesterol and the typical 312g pouch is equivalent to a pound of hamburger, it’s also available in different flavours such as italian or mexican
- Hot Dogs: these contain nitrites that colour, flavour & preserve the ground lips, snouts, spleens and tongues which are what hot dogs are made of. All kinds of veggie hot dogs in different sizes and flavours exist that can be boiled or BBQ’d
- Meatballs: different flavoured frozen veggie meatballs work great in your recipes
- Subway now offers vegan meatballs
- Pepperoni: there’s veggie pepperoni for pizzas and such
- Salami: you guessed it, there’s veggie salami too!
- Sandwich Meat: veggie sandwich meats are available in all the standard flavours
- Sausage: veggie sausage is available as a breakfast substitute in strips or patties
- Turkey: veggie turkey cutlets and even veggie “stuffed” turkey roast is available for holiday occasions