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Is the Consumption of Meat Essential? How Is It Affecting the Environment and Health

Updated: Mar 19, 2022


When it comes to the eco-friendly, meatless or animal-derived food diet, one of the most talked about issues is meat itself. Some are of the opinion that meat is nowadays essential for human survival and there are those who are ready to contradict this. The production of meat actually has one of the worst effects on the environment and nowadays, due to overproduction, a lot of meat loses its healthy part because of the addition of chemical elements present in it. I had the pleasure of being able to interview and discuss this topic with nutritionist and Dr.Eylul Yavuz, gaining important information from a medical point of view.


How is the production of meat becoming a problem? Which factors does it affect?

"There are three major environmental issues with the production of meat. Climate change comes first place. Carbon pollution is released when natural habitats are converted to agricultural lands. As the manure decomposes, it produces methane, ammonia, and carbon dioxide, all of which contribute to climate change. Furthermore, livestock produce methane (burps) during digestion, and additional emissions occur during the processing and transportation of the animals. Secondly, feed sourcing is another problem. Meat production requires a large amount of feed. Most of the staple food (barley, wheat, rye) which is produced all around the World is used as a feed source for animals. Lastly, manure processing. During this process, many chemical substances are used. Antibiotics, germs, pesticides, and heavy metals are all released into the environment as a result of this. Briefly, meat production is not sustainable and eco-friendly" (Dr.Yavuz).


What are the scariest statistics regarding meat production?

"In 2020, there were 146 million pigs, 76 million bovine animals, and 75 million sheep and goats in Europe that are used for meat production. Just over half of Europe's meat production was from pigs (23.0 million tonnes) in 2020. The EU produced 13.6 million tonnes of poultry meat in 2020, which is the new high. As we can see, the numbers are very high. Unfortunately, the demand is also very high" (Dr.Yavuz).


How does the consumption of meat affect our health nowadays?

"Meat is a rich source of protein and several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12, niacin, selenium, iron, etc. Sufficient meat intake can help us to take needed vitamins and minerals which we don't need to supply anymore. Protein-rich foods have benefits for muscle and bone health, appetite, metabolism, and iron absorption. For meat to be healthy it should be unprocessed, not cooked in high temperatures, grass-fed and organic. On the other hand, processed meat is very unhealthy for us. Processed meats are high in nitrates and sodium, and you do not really know which part of the animal you are eating. Overconsumption of red meat and processed meat can raise the risk of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers, especially colorectal cancer. If anyone has cholesterol or any heart disease, they should consume meat limited" (Dr.Yavuz).


How does the production of meat affect the environment?

"Well, meat production is not eco-friendly. Meat is a key nutrient source. However, it is obvious that excessive consumption of this protein source might have negative environmental consequences. Several environmental variables are harmed by livestock production, including greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and water pollution. Meat consumption is responsible for releasing greenhouse gases such as methane, CO2, and nitrous oxide. These gases contribute to climate change, such as global warming. So, we can say that meat consumption does not affect the environment in a good way"(Dr.Yavuz).


Is the consumption of meat essential to us?

"Humans have evolved to be omnivorous, surviving by eating both animals and plants. This evolutionary truth, however, does not imply that you must consume meat. Meat is a good source of protein and also some vitamins and minerals. With sufficient meat intake, daily requirements are met. If you're not consuming meat, then these vitamins and minerals should be supplemented because deficiencies of these vitamins and minerals can harm you" (Dr.Yavuz).


How can we replace meat properly?

"By eating a plant-based diet that is rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals you can replace meat properly. Explore all plant-based protein options. Beans, veggies, seeds, nuts, and ancient grains are all good sources of plant-based protein that you can swap meat out for" (Dr.Yavuz).





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