No More Meat

Photo: Tomas Castelazo via Wikimedia Commons

by Peter W. Burchard, contributor –

No more meat.

What? That’s preposterous. Well, just hear me out.

COVID-19 originated in a meat market where rare pangolins were stacked in cages, one on top of the other, along with bats and who knows what else. Their bodily fluids followed the laws of gravity and contaminated the entire stack. Disgusting! 

They say it coulda been seafood too, but the same sanitary protocols were followed. Whatever it was, COVID-19 came from animals that people kill and eat, and it jumped species. And now we’re paying for the depraved indifference of these wet market food dealers.

And it’s not just COVID-19. 

Animals are the source of coronaviruses in general. SARS came from civet cats and MERS came from camels. From eating them.

A variety of species in Africa including bats, monkeys, chimpanzees and gorillas carry Ebola. This disease can spread to humans.  You have to come into contact with their body fluids or eat them to get it. Yum.

The H1N1 flu virus has been tied to the pig trade, which principally supplies meat for human consumption. H1N1 is also linked to avian sources, read: chickens, turkeys, geese, etc. H1N1 caused the most deadly pandemic in modern human history in 1918, killing upwards of 50 million people worldwide.

Some awful diseases like Hantavirus are not directly from eating meat. Carried by rodents, Hantavirus is transmitted by exposure to their feces, urine and saliva. 

Animal shit is also involved in E. coli bacterial infections. Feces happens in virtually any processed meat; it cannot be avoided in the slaughtering and packaging process. We get E. coli from eating undercooked meat but the bacteria also infects other food items if they come into contact with crap. E. coli can taint lettuce that has been bathed in contaminated run-off from farms where cattle, pigs and chickens defecate. Then the pollution flows to the waterways and eventually the ocean.

And let’s talk about water.  Agricultural grazing by livestock covers a substantial portion of earth. The run-off from cattle production by beef and dairy producers pollutes our lakes, rivers and oceans with shit and high-phosphorus fertilizer. To produce one pound of feedlot beef, it takes 2,500 gallons of water, 12 pounds of grain, 35 pounds of topsoil and the energy equivalent to the power of 1 gallon of gasoline. The average American eats 217 pounds of meat per year. That’s about 586 thousand gallons of water just for meat for each one of us. Yipes!

It’s the raising or hunting of animals for human consumption that causes these deadly, contagious diseases. Why continue to eat meat? It’s bad for us.

If you don’t care about humans, what about our planet? The Amazon rainforest loses about 2100 square miles per year to deforestation for agricultural development, according to the Brazilian government. This is almost exclusively for beef production. They call the Amazon rainforest “The Lungs of the Earth.” We’re losing our oxygen. 

And here’s more scatological news: the famous methane gas emitted by cow farts contributes to greenhouse gases that heat up the earth. The trees that disappear every day in the Amazon were helping cool us down. 

Some people say they need meat. Plants just don’t taste like meat and they need the protein. Of the five recognized tastes, umami is the “meaty” one that some carnivores say they can’t do without.  The Impossible Food Company and companies like it to the rescue with the Impossible Burger providing that coveted umami flavor, now found at Burger King and other fast food chains. Beyond Meat and Gardein serve up “chicken” and plant-based fish products too. 

You no longer have to say, “an animal died for me to eat today.”

Then there’s the fiction that athletic performance, or just plain physical performance of the human body will diminish if it’s powered by plant-based food. That’s a bald-faced lie. The recent film “The Game Changers” follows several athletes from diverse countries in diverse sports, from weight lifting to track to ultimate fighting to extreme foot racing. The movie demonstrates that the elimination of meat enhances performance, from speed to endurance to strength. It even enables faster recovery from injury. The consumption of animal-derived nutrition is actually less efficient than that of plant-based food.

So, there’s really no reason to eat meat. It’s better for everybody if we just cut it out.

Bon appétit!

Peter W. Burchard
About Peter W. Burchard 1 Article
Peter W. Burchard is a world traveler and an internationalist. He has been writing since high school and contributes opinion pieces from time to time to various publications. He is quatra-lingual, a fencing master, a drummer and a teacher.