Is eating meat part of our culture?

‘The greatest influence in the causes of climate change is determined by large corporations.’
This sentence is of an absolute and undeniable truth.
Yet it can at the same time, and incredibly, represent the most dangerous enemy in the struggle for the protection of our Planet.
Because it allows the consciences of each of us, even those of us who are most aware of the seriousness of the problem, to move away from the assumption of individual responsibility and consequently avoid or postpone the start of radical choices for Sustainability.

Just think of the most obvious, daily political choice we must make : choosing what to eat.
It is the greatest personal act in material terms: deciding what to pass through our body to provide it with the necessary energy not only to keep us alive but to conduct all the various activities, work or play, with which we fill our days.

But do we really stop and think about what, where and how to buy our food?
Or are our daily eating routines determined by family habits, in turn influenced by cultural traditions?

After all, we like making fun of this topic, but why do we let the customs and habits of the place where we were born or grew up, determine what is right or wrong for our organism and even for our conscience?
Why is it wrong to consume horse meat in Great Britain, when there are regions of Italy where it is considered a delicacy?
Why do people in the United States applaud the turkey placed in the center of a nice set table and are horrified at the thought of replacing it with a puppy as is customary in some areas of China?
What are the reasons that determine the goodness of one choice over the other?
Cultural, you say?

And what will you reply to me if I report here the definitions of the word Culture offered by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary?
Culture is :
the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group;
the characteristic features of everyday existence shared by people in a place or time;
the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization;
– the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic;
– the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations.

Pause for a moment on that last part: it “depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge”.

Limiting ourselves to stating that the consumption of meat is now part of our culture and therefore represents an immutable element is absolutely wrong: culture, by definition, is not static. It changes, it evolves. It adapts for the better, for the benefit of the women and men who pass through it. Culture is the antithesis of a virus: it needs humans to spread, but it doesn’t kill.

We use Culture, in its most severe and inflexible form, Science, to avoid diseases and to cure them, to build a bridge, to travel faster and safer, to replenish ourselves with energy and even to look more beautiful.
Why should we keep Culture out of our most important daily decision, which is deciding what to eat?
Science, for example, offers us reliable data on meat consumption in the world…

Referring to the data updated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the Unitend Nations, the consumption of meat in the world has been increasing since the 1960s, precisely in coincidence with the economic boom of many Western countries; in 1961 about 70 million tons of meat were produced, while in 2018 we were producing more than 345 million.

This connection between the spread of economic well-being is confirmed by the recent increases in meat consumption in Brazil and China, the last nations to have entered the logic of mass capitalism.
This immense need for meat can only be satisfied by intensive farms that have over time applied technologies to living beings such as cows, pigs, chickens, sheep (93% of the world’s meat sources) to increase production capacity and reduce costs.
By replicating on animals the same persuasive techniques on consumers, price controls on small suppliers and financial logic that is used for the automotive industry, the large meat corporations have become industries whose single profit is made up of several billion dollars $$$.

This has also allowed them to influence the environmental policies of all countries by keeping them under the constant and effective threat of the traditional media narrative: “if this sector closes, there will be millions of unemployed …”.
Or even slipping into the meshes of public subsidies for agriculture, a word that would like to sound like sustainable production of vegetables and fruit, but which in reality ends up being something else: 77% of agricultural crops in the world are destined for consumption by animals who have been raised for the production of meat and dairy products.

In reality, science always offers us incontrovertible data on the damage that the blood industry causes to the planet.
For example, about 300 km2 of Amazon Rainforest are cleared every year to make room for cattle grazing.
Producing 1 Kg of beef means emitting 60 kg of CO2, representing a decisive negative contribution to the global climate emergency.
Another element that confirms how self-destructive this is, is the fact that growing animal feed means more land per calorie of food, which is needed to produce beef rather than spinach (two thirds of “agriculture” land is used for pasture).
Making it even more simple: the climate impact of meat is roughly the equivalent of all the driving and flying of every car, motorbike, bus, truck and plane in the entire world.

And now try to add this indigestible piece of information: meat is responsible for human rights abuse and land-grabbing. That’s a fact.

Indigenous people, all over the world, are threatened, harassed, detained, abducted and killed in order to leave their homes, their places, so that big corporations can destroy their forests and farm the land using underpaid workers forced to operate in unsafe working conditions, therefore profiting from slavery.

Last but not least, the definitive proof of the fact that the consumption of meat is not a culture but a negation of culture is offered by the confirmations from world medicine regarding what effect meat has upon our body: obesity, cardiovascular diseases, heart attacks, diabetes, infections, cancer.
Diseases that are now barely cured through public health because the public funds are committed to the sustenance of other sectors: fossil fuels, weapons and meat.
Due to these industries we get sick.
Due to them we cannot cure ourselves.

Are we therefore sure that the presence of meat in our diet is a cultural factor that we cannot give up?
Or rather does the consumption of meat indicate a deficit of culture and lack of intelligence?

Even if we wanted to consider ourselves the most selfish beings in the universe, it is inevitable that every day, day after day, every time we decide what our meal will be, we also decide the quality of our own life and demonstrate our intellectual abilities, the ability of learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations.

And if we still want to look like strong, wild and bloody people, well, we have a better option: we can show the world how cool we are when we smash down these huge corporations just deciding every day, day by day, to not eat meat.

Cover photo: David Blackwell – There is nothing like a nice piece of meat – Licensed under Creative Commons BY-ND 2.0

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