A more environmentally friendly choice does not always mean a more ethical one


The encouragement of animal rights and welfare activists to give up meat can hardly surprise anyone. But in the last few years, environmental activists have been speaking more and more loudly about the importance of reducing meat consumption, because the meat industry is one of the most polluting industries. The latter usually mention giving up red meat, but few think about what this means for animals.

Avoidance of ruminants

Cows, goats and sheep are ruminants. They eat food, then chew it and eat it again. Their stomachs are full of bacteria to help digest such food, but they also release methane. 

Most of the talk is about the environmental damage caused by raising cows, because there are about 1.5 billion of them in the world, and one cow can emit up to 500 liters of methane per day, which equated nearly 50,000 kilometers driven by a gasoline car. So, in order to reduce their impact on the environment, people are starting to give up the meat of these animals.

Kilogram of meat in individuals

Encouraging the substitution of red meat for poultry or aquatic animal meat usually means higher numbers of animals suffering, so those who want to take animal welfare into account should consider reducing meat consumption in general, rather than switching from one animal to another. 

In the conducted by the international organization "Animal Charity Evaluators". in the study it was calculated that in 2018, out of 772 billion animals raised for food in the world, as many as 88.3 % were fish, 11.1 % were birds and only 0.6 % were mammals. If we look at it through the prism of animals, replacing the least used animals with even more and thus the most killed animals does not seem like such an ethical choice. Renowned ethical philosopher Peter Singer with animal rights activist and author Karen Dawn claims, that one ox may be enough for one person for a whole year or longer, and if we feed only on fish or birds, we may contribute to the deaths of several dozen or even several hundred individuals per year.

Meat extraction should change fundamentally

Strongly growing population and limited resources to feed them encourage to look for ways to fundamentally change the process of food extraction. Technologies that help optimize and make crop production more efficient, virtual agriculture, the use of biotechnology in the production of alternative proteins and fats, and other solutions can bring us closer to a more sustainable and at the same time more ethical way of producing food. 

Meat consumption in the world is increasing and there is no reason to believe that it will decrease. Thus, we must find ways to satisfy the habits of the modern world, but eliminate the accompanying damage to both the environment and animals. 

Currently, the vegetable, fermented or cultured meat produced or extracted in the world is no longer inferior to conventional meat in terms of taste, texture, smell and other properties. For now, the biggest hurdles that still arise are cost and lack of technological capacity. The sooner businesses in this direction establish themselves in the market, the sooner the world will be able to enjoy their favorite taste without harming either animals or the environment.

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