Food, a basic human need, is the cause which has the biggest impact on animal suffering. Since schools started studying the basic diet of humans, foods of animal origin have always been considered the norm. Luckily, more and more studies are showing that humans can live perfectly well, and achieve great sporting and intellectual prowess, without the need to eat products of animal origin.
Athletes such as Fiona Oakes, Carl Lewis, Scott Yurek, Bart Rasso or the Catalan athlete Elena Congost Mohedano all have 100% vegetable diets. Also elite sports stars such as the climber Alex Honnold, Spanish footballer Carlos Cuéllar, NFL player David Carter or Spanish double champion cyclist Anna Ramirez Bauxell. Being vegetarian is not a problem in Strength sports either, weightlifters such as Robert Cheeke and Frank Medrano, or the Iranian Patrick Babouniam who holds the title of Germany’s strongest man are vegetarians.
It is even known that the current level of meat consumption in the first world is seriously harmful to human health. According to a study by the WHO in October 2015, the consumption of red meat and processed meats is associated with an increase in risk of suffering or worsening certain types of cancer. By processed meats we understand everything that has been transformed, in other words, meats like ham, cured meat, sausages, hamburgers, tinned meat, etc. Most contain pork or beef but many also have meat by-products such as blood.
Factory farming also leads to unnecessary risks which endanger our health because of the drugs or hormones which are added to these products. There is a risk of zoonotic disease; the possibility, as we have seen above, of different types of cancer related to the consumption of processed meat; an increase in emissions which are harmful to the environment; an increase in the use of oil in the transportation of the animals and their feed; a squandering in the use of drinking water; the destruction of nature and the transformation of fields in order to increase food production for the purpose of feeding the animals; as well as unemployment, exploitation and an increase in poverty in some regions.
Throughout the world 60,000 million animals die each year for human food.
The consumption of products of animal origin in our diet has caused us too commit all types of atrocities against animals. Genetic selection of hens so that they lay more eggs, so that chickens grow bigger or so that cows have larger calves. Intensification of production systems which means overcrowding and therefore making it impossible for animals to express their natural behaviour, the separation of mother and offspring or mutilations. Transportation in deplorable conditions and over long distances.
Above everything else, the use of animals in food implies a serious ethical problem. Non-human animals, just as any living sentient being, has the need and longing to live its life. And to do so without suffering or stress, in conditions which allow them to develop the intrinsic behaviour of its species and to enjoy natural relations with the other animals.
Ultimately, and independently of how their existence plays out, animals used for human consumption are killed ahead of time. This fact on its own makes it impossible to justify the use of animals for food as there is no “humane” way to kill someone who wants to live.
Next you can learn more in the different sections of Food, especially the problems regarding the most common products of animal origin, so that you can make an informed decision.