Enjoying health, not making animals suffer and reducing environmental impact are the three factors put forward by Marly Winckler, honorary president of the Brazilian Vegetarian Society (SVB), to abandon the consumption of meat and animal products.
In an interview with NAMU, the sociologist talks about three points. “The range of implications is very wide, it’s not just about ‘I like it’. I was born into a family of gauchos, I ate a lot of meat. If I changed, then people can change,” she says.
BENEFITS OF GIVING UP MEAT CONSUMPTION HEALTHIER
First of all, there are many health benefits to eating vegetarian. We are experiencing near epidemic outbreaks of certain diseases that are very much related to diet.
Studies show, for example, that vegetarian populations have a 31% lower risk of heart disease. In addition, they are 50% less likely to have diabetes, 88% less likely to develop large bowel cancer and 54% less likely to develop prostate cancer.
A sociologist, who is always concerned about the measures that could be taken that would have an impact on the population as a whole. The abandonment of meat consumption, i.e. vegetarian diet, would have a huge impact.
The Brazilian Vegetarian Society (SVB), would like not only the non-governmental organizations, but also the government itself, to have this awareness. In addition, we would like to see public policy measures to promote vegetarianism instead of meat consumption.
Today, the government stimulates meat consumption. This is despite the fact that the Ministry of Health’s food guide says that Brazilians eat too much salt, too much sugar and too much fat and that they should eat more grains, vegetables and fruits.
This means that they themselves have difficulty doing so. In other words, their research shows one thing, but politically it shows another.
GIVING UP MEAT CONSUMPTION REDUCES ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
This is a new problem for humanity, but one that is here to stay and may even mean our extinction as a species. It’s not us vegetarians who are saying this. There are signs of nature’s violent reactions to its destruction. Indeed, meat consumption has several impacts on the environment.
Livestock is one of the main emitters of greenhouse gases. In Brazil, we have a cattle population of about 200 million heads for almost the same number of inhabitants, about 210 million. In fact, a trend states that 18% of greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock. While all transportation combined emits 13%.
This amount of livestock also requires that new areas be cleared to create herds. As a result, the Atlantic Forest biome has all but disappeared, with only 8.5% remaining. After all, when you destroy forests, you also destroy biodiversity. And they are doing it ruthlessly with the closed and the Amazon forest.
Soybean cultivation is another cause of forest destruction. And it should be noted that most of these products are not for human consumption, but for animal feed. Even to export food. There is a huge waste, because it takes 8 to 10 kg of soybeans or other noble grains like corn to produce 1 kg of meat. In a world where a billion people are starving, it is unethical to opt for a meat-centered diet. Abandoning meat consumption would therefore be the best solution.
There is also the issue of water. One individual has a water problem that will only get worse. For now, only the tip of the iceberg is showing, which is hidden. However, it is a very serious problem.
Meat production is also a big consumer of water: to produce 1 kg of meat, 15,000 liters of water are needed. While the United Nations (UN) indicated consumption for one person is 110 liters of water per day.
CONTAMINATION OF RIVERS AND SPRINGS BY UNTREATED WASTE
Another aspect of giving up eating meat and animal products is the amount of animal waste. After all, it is ten times more than that of human beings and the waste is not treated.
In addition, it contaminates springs, micro-watersheds, streams. People may even think that the waste is fertilizer and that it spreads, but the quantity is so great that it is impossible for it to spread.
First, because it is not economical. Second, because it would cover the entire surface of the Earth and it would not be possible to spread all this waste. In other words, this is a very serious problem that is not being addressed by any government.
In the Netherlands, for example, home of the famous Dutch cows, the environmental protection agency recognizes that the issue of animal waste is the biggest environmental problem they face. And what do they do? They export it to Africa. In other words, it’s another problem that’s being hidden so that some people can indulge in meat consumption.
PUTTING AN END TO ANIMAL SUFFERING
The meat industry makes a point of hiding what is happening to animals today. Anyone who takes the trouble to lift the top of this carpet will see a Dantean scene. You cannot generate peace if you generate violence, if every day you sit at the table and eat meat.
The way animals are raised and slaughtered is very cruel. However, concern for animals is also a recent phenomenon. About 40 or 50 years ago, animals entered a production line and are raised entirely in confinement. Even in Brazil, 100% of chicken and pork production is confined.
And even if cattle are not yet, they are already getting close to it, as the areas are becoming more scarce.
You’re not working with a being, you’re working with an object in the production chain. We still have the problem of fish. In the world, there are 70 billion beings killed and generated to feed this herd per year. Do you know what 70 billion animals are?
MEAT CONSUMPTION VERSUS GOVERNMENT
Why doesn’t the government advertise to reduce meat consumption? Because it is connected to the meat industry, after all, it funds its campaigns. There are many interconnected things, because things don’t fall out of the sky by neglect. Sooner or later, society has to discuss, but first it has to have knowledge. People don’t know this and we are there with our actions, with our possibilities.
We’re trying to share this information, because it’s not generated by us, so people don’t say, “Oh, they’re distorting the data.” No, this is UN data. We only quote data from entities that are above suspicion. We even quote the government, the health department, because then they can’t claim that we are distorting the data.