Eating an animal's flesh is eating meat. Period.
All aspects of large scale animal farming degrade the environment and debase the lives of animals raised as food for humans.
On the issue of global warming, all animal agriculture is a nightmare, relative to producing grains and beans. In a 400 page report from the United Nation's Food and Agricultural Organization, Livestock's Long Shadow, scientists conclude that the business of raising animals for food is responsible for about 18 percent of all warming -- in fact meat causes about 40 percent more warming than all cars, trucks, and planes combined.
That is in part because turning animals into meat requires many stages of (energy intensive and polluting) production (i.e., transporting feed, animals, and meat; running feed mills, factory farms, and slaughterhouses; refrigerating carcasses during transport and in grocery stores -- chickens are at least as energy consumptive as cattle for all these stages), compared to plant foods.
Environmental Defense calculated that if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads. Imagine if we dropped all meat from our diets altogether.
And it's not just global warming, of course: In a story about chicken waste pollution, the New York Times reported in November that "[a]lthough the dairy and hog industry in states near the bay produce more pounds of manure, poultry waste has more than twice the concentration of pollutants per pound." I assume that's in part because poultry are given a lot more drugs than pigs and cattle -- because they're kept in even worse conditions and thus require more drugs.
The benefits of eating meat to our health are dubious, at best.
...the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health leads the "Meatless Mondays" campaign, which is supported by 28 other public health schools. Their goal is to cut Americans' meat-consumption, in order to lessen our risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and so on. And of course, they rightly impugn all meat, not just "red" meat.
The choice to end eating meat from our diet will help the planet recover, enhance our health and reduce animal cruelty.
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