Written by Jonathan Aluzas

“He don’t eat no meat?!? That’s okay, that’s okay, I make lamb!”? So goes one of my favorite lines from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” that romantic-cultural comedy from almost 10 years ago, when the leading lady (Nia Vardalos) introduces her new, non-Greek fiancee (John Corbett) to her Greek Aunt.? It’s a great line because it sums up her aunt’s incredulity that a non-meat-eating human being could actually exist, and it resonated with me because, at the time, I felt pretty much the same way.? I ate meat with every meal and professed to a lack of trust for anyone who didn’t eat meat or drink beer.? Nearly 10 years later, I have almost become that which I didn’t trust in the not-so-distant past.

Nowadays, I know a surprising number of vegetarians and vegans.? I never thought I’d join their ranks (and I haven’t yet), but recent research into the factory farming industry coupled with a little bit of soul-searching has me working my way toward a life with….well, if not NO meat, then certainly LESS meat.? The reasons behind this are three-fold;

  1. The more research I do, the more I become convinced that the meat we eat today (primarily if not entirely from factory farms) is simply not good for us and may be a contributing factor to chronic illness.
  2. Ethically, as a life-long animal lover, I find it horrifying that I’ve been the source of so much animal suffering due to my meat consumption.
  3. Factory farming has a significant, negative impact on the environment.

I want to primarily, and briefly, address the first issue.? I will leave the other two for another time.

The issue of whether CAFO’s (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations), commonly referred to as “factory farms,” are “good” or “bad” is complex, convoluted and highly subjective.? Whether they negatively impact environmental, human and animal health is much more straightforward.? Consider this:

Meat consumption is rising.

As meat production rises to meet demand, infectious diseases are rising, and antibiotic-resistant microbes are increasing due to widespread overuse of livestock antibiotics.

More and more studies are linking meat-eating with cancer and chronic illness.

Here are some facts about factory farming, and they are pretty much indisputable:

  • Animals are packed into small spaces in which disease flourishes, and they live among decaying bodies and their own excrement.
  • For economic reasons, they are fed horrible and unhealthy food.
  • They are pumped full of antibiotics and other medicines because they live in such disease-prevalent filth.
  • They are slaughtered inhumanely and in unsanitary conditions.
  • Their processing and packaging facilities are unclean and unhealthy.

Would you eat a candy bar produced under the same conditions?? Or a piece of fruit?? Does it seem realistic to assume that these factors would result in the production of a healthy food product?

My opinion is this, and I am totally unqualified professionally to make it, but it is based on research and a smidgen of common sense:

Factory-farmed meat is not healthy.? It is raised, fed, medicated, slaughtered and packaged in horrifically unsanitary conditions.? Is it a reach, then, to suggest the possibility that the foulness of the product is absorbed by our bodies every time we eat it?? I don’t think so.? I’m not necessarily of the mind that meat, in and of itself, is bad for us.? But we’re not talking about a deer you took down by bow and arrow out on the frontier!? We’re not talking about animals which were born and raised in a natural environment and ate the natural foods they were intended to eat.? We’re talking about millions of chickens packed into a pen, living in their own shit!? That CAN’T be good!

I’m not suggesting that everyone stop eating meat.? What I am suggesting is this; eat less meat, and try to eat meat that has been raised under more healthy conditions.? I, myself, have cut down my meat consumption by about 50% over the last year.? My goal is to be a Weekday Vegetarian and only consume meat on the weekends.? In doing so, I believe I will be healthier, happier and more ethically/environmentally honorable.

But that’s just my take on it.? Do your own research online.? In the meantime, here are a few books I recommend, as long as you understand you’ll never look at a chicken kabob the same again:

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer (#hexometer-broken-link-repair-https://www.eatinganimals.com/)

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan (https://michaelpollan.com/books/in-defense-of-food/)

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